Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout: 10.5% abv
Background: Oskar Blues, a Colorado brewery started in 1997, has just released their seasonal imperial stout for this season, and it is making an impact (on my wallet). Oskar Blues is a cool brewery, because they were the first American brewery to can their beers, and they’re still doing it. Ten Fidy, is a stout made with two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oat and hops, and it is rated at 98 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Oskar Blues even says that the amount of malt is ENORMOUS. Well now, this sounds like my kind of beer already.
Nose: Immediately, a chocolaty maltiness comes through the nose prominently. The nose actually has some fudge in it, along with a good amount of frothy cream right on the top of the glass. There is actually a heavy whipped cream-like smell right in the glass, with a slight yeast complementing the dark, smooth notes. The nose here isn’t horribly complex, but does resemble a classic stout, offering up a pleasant balance in the flavors. There is a bit of vanilla ice cream smell coming through, with dried fruits and slight anise becoming noticeable as the beer warms up. There is a definite sweetness to the nose, but neither the sweetness nor the richness over-dominates the meek aroma of the beer.
Arrival: The arrival of this beer lets you know you’re dealing with a blast of malt without hesitation. The malt tastes roasty and nutty, but it’s almost like a light roast. There is a subtle earthy, raw barley grain note that sits in the background of the arrival as well. The arrival is still characteristically creamy and smooth, with a strong presence of chocolate and vanilla bean. With a little bit of agitation, the arrival shows off some vanilla-dominant root beer flavors. After the beer warms up, there is a slight bit of hops that starts to play into the beer, but it isn’t very overbearing. There is a slight presence of apple and berries that comes through in the arrival, but it is a soft, implied note.
Body: The body is where a hoppiness in the beer starts to peak. The absolutely fantastic thing about this beer is that, even at the peak of the hops, the balance of malt and hops is so harmonically coordinated, it doesn’t stand out at all in the medley of flavors. The vanilla is big here, but with the texture and creaminess, this can most accurately be described as a root beer float. The fruit from before bleeds into the body and trickles off as the beer progresses on the palate.
Finish: The finish, contributing a huge amount of flavor, is such a pleasurable experience. This is a truly quality crafted beer. Besides the balance, the chocolate flavor doesn’t just taste like Hershey’s chocolate. It tastes like high quality authentic German chocolate straight out of the chocolate factory. The maltiness, creaminess, and vanilla are balanced near perfectly with the gentle, controlled, perfectly implemented hops. The malt in the finish is artfully crafted as well. There is a dry yeastiness that finishes off the beer.
Final Comments: Oskar Blues, as far as I’m concerned, just started coming out of the woodwork here in Michigan this year. The first product of theirs that drew my attention was Dale’s Pale Ale. I actually drink the Old Chub Scotch Ale on a regular basis. When this beer came out, I was very interested in seeing what it had to bring to the extremely crowded stout table, while many others have just criticized it for its steep price ($17/4). Ten Fidy, besides its admittedly embarrassing name, is one of the most delicious, traditional style American stouts I’ve had thus far. It is not what one would call unique, and it is definitely malt heavy in comparison to other stouts. Regardless of the price, I would recommend this one to anybody, although it is not the most complex beer on the shelves by any stretch of the imagination. Still, Oskar Blues is doing something right in my mind, and I am convinced they’re here to stay.
Why you’d buy it: You want a malt monster stout with incredible balance.
Why you wouldn’t: You can’t afford a beer that costs $17 for four 12 ounce cans.