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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oskar Blues beer arrives in Chicago

Posted By on 08.21.12 at 10:34 AM

Cross-eyed. Cyclopean. Concupiscent.
Oskar Blues, the Colorado-based brewery that broke ground for the concept of craft beer in cans (locally, Half Acre caught on a couple years ago), launches in Chicago today. It'll be widely available at liquor stores including Fischman Liquors, the Noble Grape, Evolution Wine & Spirits, Warehouse Liquors, Andersonville Wine & Spirits, Binny's, and Whole Foods, as well as in bars all over the city. The brewery, which produced 340 barrels in 1999, its first production year, brewed 59,000 barrels last year; its production brews are Dale's Pale Ale, Old Chub (Scotch ale), G'Knight (imperial red/double IPA), Ten Fidy (imperial stout), Mama's Little Yella Pils (pilsner), Deviant Dale's IPA, and Gubna (imperial IPA).

I was recently sent samples of all them except Gubna, and last night at the office a few of us did an informal tasting. Except for the Dale's and the Pils they're all fairly intense both in flavor and alcohol content, ranging from 8 to 10 percent ABV. It's not the type of beer you'd typically expect to find in cans, and the decision to put the 8 percent ABV Deviant Dale's in a tall boy is an interesting decision on the brewery's part. As one coworker commented, "Someone's liable to get hurt."

Overall, the least distinctive of the bunch—the Dale's Pale Ale and the pilsner—were also our least favorite, though they're perfectly pleasant. The brewery does such an excellent job of balancing hops and malts in its more intense beers, though, that we all ended up preferring them. The Ten Fidy imperial stout, for example, pours dark as motor oil and tastes chocolatey and even a bit sweet; I'd never dream that the backbone of hops brings it to 98 IBUs. While a good part of the lineup is heavily hopped, the beers really aren't aggressive—in the Deviant Dale's IPA, herbal, piney notes come through as much as the bitterness of the hops. My two favorites were the hoppy but well-balanced G'Knight imperial red and the intense, raisiny Old Chub Scotch ale.

There are dozens of launch events taking place today through Saturday at locals bars and liquor stores; below are the ones that feature food pairings and/or unusual beers (all those listed will also have all or most of the standard Oskar Blues lineup, many on draft).

Tuesday

6 PM, the Publican, 837 W. Fulton: beer and food pairings

6 PM, Fountainhead, 1968 W. Montrose: firkin of amarillo dry-hopped Dale’s Pale Ale

7 PM, Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark: drafts and cans of all available Oskar Blues beers, plus food pairings and meat from Oskar Blues Farm

Wednesday

7-10 PM, Small Bar Division, 2049 W. Division: five-course dinner with beer pairings, including a firkin of Gubna brewed with oak and vanilla bean, $60

7 PM, Jake Melnick’s, 41 E. Superior: Jim Beam barrel-aged Ten Fidy; beers from the new Naperville brewery Solemn Oath are also featured

7 PM, Sheffield’s, 3258 N. Sheffield: Wild Turkey barrel-aged Old Chub

Thursday

7 PM, Bar on Buena, 910 W. Buena: Nitro G’Knight and Wild Turkey barrel-aged Old Chub

7 PM, the Beer Bistro, 1415 W. Fullerton: firkin of Old Chub with vanilla bean

Friday

7 PM, Riverview Tavern, 1958 W. Roscoe: firkin of dry-hopped IPA blend

Saturday

7 PM, Bangers & Lace, 1670 W. Division: Nitro G’Knight, Leopold Brothers apple whiskey barrel-aged G’Knight

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