Beer Review 0385: Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA
With great pride I can now call Oskar Blues a local brewery — cans from their new facility in Brevard, North Carolina, have just started hitting shelves and this can of Gubna is a fresh example.
Oskar Blues began life in 1999 in Lyons, Colorado; Dale Katechis turned his restaurant into a brewpub, and while the beer was merely a side project at first, it quickly turned into big business. With customers really liking the beer they could get at the pub, Katechis wanted to start packaging the beer for sale outside of his restaurant.
In 2002, Oskar Blues began packaging beer… in cans. That’s right, all cans. Imperial Stout (Ten Fidy, 98 points) in cans. Everything. Today, canning craft beer is a hot trend, especially since the advantages of the can really outweigh bottles.
In late 2012, Oskar Blues opened an east coast facility in Brevard, NC. The brewery sells 35% of its beer on the east coast, so the new brewery helps with distribution. Over the last few weeks, we here in North Carolina have been enjoying super-fresh cans of all Oskar Blues beers, which has been a tasty experience!
The beer up for review today is Gubna, an Imperial IPA brewed with a blend of Cascade and Summit hops. The malt bill features rye malt; after fermentation, Gubna is massively dry-hopped, and comes in at 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) and over 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
Out of the can, this beer creates a large, off-white head that is frothy and loves to hang around. The liquid itself is tangerine orange colored, clear in body, and featured no particles or sediment. Lacing started to form just as soon as the head began to settle, and continued impressively down the glass as I sipped, leaving thick, puffy suds.
The nose is a little deceiving, as the rye malt comes to the forefront and gives the nose a bready, spicy scent. But eventually those Cascade and Summit hops shine through, issuing up grapefruit and general citrus, especially orange juice. Dig deeper and there’s a significant amount of pine, too; unfortunately, this is a little underplayed because the rye is so strong. And for a high ABV beer, the alcohol isn’t present.
On the palate, there’s a different story: the hops are front and center; big notes of orange and lemon. Just a smidgen of bitterness starts to develop when the rye sweeps in, offering a spiciness and turning the hops quite sweet. Flavors of grapefruit and caramel develop until the swallow, when the rye kicks up again, this time gentle, and brings about a ton of heavily bitter pine and grapefruit rind. There is a touch of an alcohol kick, but if you ask me, it plays well with the heavy bitter finish. Gubna is full-bodied, with a medium, foamy and gritty mouthfeel; the final conclusion leaves the tongue dry and ready for more.
Honestly, I was very surprised by this brew — while I tend to really enjoy IPAs brewed with rye malt, I do find that the rye coupled with the bitterness tends to give off a soapy flavor that tires my palate quickly. Gubna isn’t like that, and the rye is a welcome addition. Excellent flavors and a nice story this beer tells. Pick it up if you see it.
Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA, 94 points. Price: $4.79 US for one twelve ounce can.