Beer Review 0054: Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

It only took fifty-four reviews to get to our first canned beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, produced in Lyons, Colorado, by Oskar Blues Brewery.

Launched in November 2002, the brewery began with Dale’s Pale Ale, named after founder Dale Katechis. It has received several awards, including being named the Top American Pale Ale by the New York Times and the World’s Best Canned Beer from Details magazine.

So, why the can? According to Katechis, putting beer in a can makes “beer immensely portable for outdoor enjoyment fun,” and that a can also “keeps beer incredibly fresh by fully protecting it from light and oxygen.”

The cans used by Oskar Blues, made by the Ball Corporation, are lined with a coating so the beer and aluminum that make up the can never touch. The cans are also easier to recycle than glass bottles, and are significantly lighter.

We’re not going to get into a can versus bottle debate on this website. We have no preference; if the brewery prefers cans to bottles or bottles to cans, we say LIVE AND LET LIVE.

And hey, the Oskar Blues ethos is one to be admired: “We’re in this to have fun and put some extra joy on the planet. We love the way people’s heads spin around after the try one of our four-dimensional canned beers. ‘That came out of a can?’ We hear it all the time.”

Dale’s Pale Ale pours an amber/orange/copper color, a beautiful sight contrasting against an average sized white head that is extremely long lasting and rocky in texture. The body of the liquid was hazy, with a very light amount of sediment floating around and some soft carbonation. The lacing was fair with small bits left along the surface of the glass here and there. This was a high quality looking beer.

Not to jump ahead to flavors, but note that this is a beer that is about different contrasts in two ways. First, the aromatics compared to the flavors. On the nose, you get a well balanced but subdued scent — there’s light hops, with citrus and grapefruit notes, then there are an equal amount of malts, coming in caramel and nutty. The yeast gives off an earthen aroma. Judging by this category alone, we have a very unassuming beverage.

But when Dale’s Pale Ale hits your tastebuds, you’re getting ready to step on a rollercoaster. Right off, there’s a smooth hint of caramel, followed by a complete volume-11-blast-in-the-face of hardcore grapefruit and pine hops, a very bitter sensation. This eases up rather quickly to a malty transition that is both roasted and nutty, and opens into a very long finish that turns more and more bitter as it goes on, eventually fading into an alcohol/medicinal haze (the ABV, or alcohol by volume, on this beer is 6.5%). The mouthfeel of the drink itself is creamy and drying.

Those contrasts I hinted at earlier come in aromatics versus flavor — there’s a huge difference between the two. Whilst the aromatics are subdued and tender, the flavors are anything but, drop kicking your palate in a nice manner. And within the flavors themselves, the initial hint of malt, followed by a hard burst of hops, then back to the malts, and ultimately finishing smooth on the hop note, provides the second contrast.

I enjoyed this beer very much, and I think Dale’s Pale Ale would make for a wonderful daily drinker. The can format — who really would think a beer this good would come in a can, truly — is a winner.

Dale’s Pale Ale, 92 points. Price: $7.99 US for six pack.

And be sure to scope out the bottom of the cans for special messages from the Oskar Blues canning personnel!


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