Quick Characteristics Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewing Co. Location: Longmont, CO Style: American Double/Imperial IPA ABV: 8.7% IBUs: 60 Appearance: Subdued Orange-Red With a Little Murkiness Within Aroma: Fruity & Clean, Minimal Hints of Pine & Malt Flavor: Fresh Citrus & Pine, with Hints of Malts Trailing Behind Availability: Year-Round Pairs With: Cajun cooking, Spicy sausages, Saucy BBQ, Sharp Cheddar, Strong Blue Cheese Many times when I go looking for beer I have something in mind; a style, a brewery, something. But this week, amid a push to get a bunch of things done at home before I take off for six weeks, I went hunting with nothing concrete in mind. I wandered aimlessly for a while, like a ship with no rudder, stopping here and there, retracing my steps to stand in front of beer I’d just seen, hoping that something would pop out at me. Well, nothing popped and after about ten minutes the practical side of my brain overrode the part seeking divine, beer muse, intervention. What had I not reviewed in a while? Several styles ran through my mind, but something hoppy jumped and plastered itself all over my brain wall, like a jar of lobbed molasses. So, here I am reviewing something hoppy. The Oskar Blues Grill and Restaurant opened in 1997 and their first beer was brewed in the basement the following year. Oskar Blues has won multiple awards, their first was in 1998, a bronze from the Great American Beer Festival. Some will claim they were the earliest craft brewery to start canning, but there’s some dispute on this point, so we’ll just say they were one of the first. Though, it is safe to say that canning great beer has become Oskar Blues “thing.” They have proved that the same world class beer can be packaged in this eco-friendly and lighter container. A can protects the beer from the oxidative effects of any light, they offer a tighter seal than bottles, get cold faster than bottles, and are easier to take into the outdoors and public places. “Sip from the red river and learn of the Hop Giver” The one standing argument against cans is the metallic taste some claim the can imparts to beer. But, this is more a fault of the drinker and not the packaging. These days all cans have a liner inside that stops any direct contact between the aluminum and beer… that is until you drink. When you take a sip your lips are in contact with the can as is the beer. Guaranteed if you pour that beer into a glass or cup there will be no metallic taste. But, I digress… This particular beer was first dubbed Gordon Ale, but the name had to be changed after a trade mark dispute with Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. It was brewed as a tribute to Gordon Knight, a Vietnam vet and early forerunner in the Colorado craft beer movement, who died in 2002 while fighting a wildfire. G’Knight has won multiple awards including World Beer Championships in 2008 and 2010. It’s a big beer in every sense of the word. From what I can gather four different malts and three different hop varieties are used, with a generous dose of Amarillo, dry hopped, just to round things out. The Pour and Aroma A whopping three and a half fingers of loosely packed, off-white foam builds through the pour. It retreats slowly over the next several minutes to a finger high stronghold of wet dense foam. Color is a subdued orange-red with a little murkiness to it, no doubt a consequence of the hop amounts within. Aroma is fruity and clean, like standing in a meadow with a slight breeze pushing through a stand of citrus trees, mixing with the air above fresh grass and flower. Pine and minimal sweetness lurk here too. I catch very little malt character. Mouthfeel and Taste The body is big and thick with a warming mouthfeel that runs smooth at the front, but transitions into a viscous stickiness toward the back. Fresh citrus and pine pervade with hops knocking bitter close behind. Malt comes through more here then in the aroma and it’s bigger than expected. Though, it feels a bit like the race is being run with the hops continually getting just faintly ahead of the malt. It balances on the very edge of being balanced and drinks like it might fall to the hop-side at any moment. Swallowing leaves some nice heat. The aftertaste is viscous, creating a cottonmouth-like gumminess that lasts a long time. Finishing The Impression This beer will certainly not be to everyone’s liking. It’s not gonna quench any thirsts and its high ABV and viscous-like mouthfeel make the thought of drinking more than one in a sitting a little, well… terrifying. It’s a beer worthy of its bigness, but G’Knight is definitely a sipper, one of those beers you reach for on a relaxing quiet evening; a beer to accompany a movie or good book. Cheers! More Beer Reviews: Rebel IPA from Samuel Adams Hopothermia by Alaskan Brewing Company Ruthless Rye IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing BridgePort India Pale Ale from BridgePort Brewing Co.