Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, craft beer brands successfully positioned themselves in the market by highlighting what they weren’t—bland, fizzy, “yellow beer.” In an effort to make this distinction as clear as possible, this earlier heyday of craft beer was defined almost entirely by a reliance on bottles as the go-to packaging format for all craft beer styles, whether they were standard 12 oz brown glass bottles, or the 22 oz “bombers” that have faded almost into extinction at this point. One option that was almost entirely ignored was aluminum cans, and the reasons were primarily symbolic—craft beer drinkers looked down on cans as a supposedly lower quality package because they were indelibly associated with Budweiser, Miller and Coors.
Suffice to say, things have completely changed on that front in the last two decades, and there’s no denying that the company to start that ball rolling was Longmont, Colorado’s Oskar Blues. By choosing to put their flagship Dale’s Pale Ale in 12 oz aluminum cans, Oskar Blues was defying industry convention and going out on a limb, but it ended up being the first step in a craft beer packaging revolution. Today, craft cans are dominant, and have effectively become the expected packaging option for a wide array of styles. Dale’s, meanwhile, is celebrating its 20th anniversary as one of the genre’s more influential beers in 2022, and Oskar Blues—despite the recent acquisition of parent company CANarchy by Monster Beverage—is celebrating that occasion by creating Double Dale’s, an imperial IPA version of the icon. It’s already hitting shelves nationwide, being sold (of course) in 12 oz cans, in addition to 19.2 oz “stovepipe” cans and draft lines.
The idea of a “Double Dale’s” seems immediately obvious, to the point that it’s kind of shocking this isn’t a product that has already existed for a decade or more—though there is Deviant Dale’s. Perhaps Oskar Blues resisted making a full-on imperial version of Dale’s over the years, fearing it might hurt their own market for the original, or perhaps they were saving the concept for just such an occasion. Regardless, the company’s press statement makes it sound as if the 9% ABV imperial version will be notably different in several aspects to the original beer, as it will feature “juicy, tropical El Dorado and complex Talus hops.” As the company puts it:
“It’s impossible to improve upon such a classic recipe, so we went in a slightly different direction with Double Dale’s,” said Oskar Blues Lyons’ Head Brewer Juice Drapeau. “Double Dale’s captures some of the citrus and caramel character of Dale’s, while achieving its own unique flavor profile and identity. We wanted to create something new and fresh that would live up to the legacy Dale’s Pale Ale created – most importantly being a boundary stomping, hopped-up beer.”
Ultimately, this decision to create not just an embiggened but reimagined imperial version of Dale’s Pale Ale likely speaks to how much the craft beer scene has changed in the last two decades, as tastes have increasingly moved away from malt-balanced pale ales and IPAs like the original Dale’s, in favor of drier and less malty backbones and sweeter, fruitier hop profiles. Here’s hoping that regardless, “Double Dale’s” satisfies fans of the original.