It sounds a little bit absurd to say that Oskar Blues has never truly released a packaged IPA before, but bear with me for a moment.
Dale’s Pale Ale, by just about any conventional definition, should be considered an IPA. It’s 6.5% ABV, far higher than the American pale ale average and comfortably in IPA territory. It’s plenty hoppy. It would be a comfortable fit in the IPA category.
The previously manufactured Deviant Dale’s, on the other hand, exists in a weird limbo between “strong IPA” and “weak DIPA” at 8% ABV. It was never quite clear what Deviant Dale’s was supposed to be, but most leaned toward DIPA. So that one didn’t count either, which means the only “true IPAs” that Oskar Blues has produced over the years tend to be ones that existed solely as taproom-exclusive experiments. This has finally ended with the release of the new Oskar Blues IPA, which may or may not have “Metamodern” officially in its title—it’s a little hard to tell. Suffice to say, it’s the new one in a blue can, and at 6.4% ABV it’s actually lighter, alcohol-wise than Dale’s. We’ve now seen it all—a brewery whose IPA is lower ABV than its pale ale.
This beer arrived in the Paste office just in time for IPA Day with a rather cryptic fact sheet that projects a certain “ransom note” quality—we’re still not entirely sure what “cotton mouth killer” means, but I think they’re trying to say that the beer is refreshing. And that part is true. Tests on whether the beer proves an effective repellent against Cottomouth snakes will be forthcoming.
The most important thing on the fact sheet is the provenance of this IPA’s hops, which all hail from Australia. It’s amazing how a new variety can emerge overnight—a week ago, I had never heard of “Vic Secret” hops. This week, I discover no fewer than four new beers coming down the pipe that all feature them. It’s nuts. Same thing with “Enigma,” another new style featured in this Oskar Blues beer, along with slightly more familiar Australian styles Ella and Topaz.
Those Australian styles are often known for funky, unusual, typically tropical-fruity flavors, and that certainly comes through here, especially on the nose. The aromatics are pungent—a “smell it from a foot away” bouquet of very “ripe” melon, citrus and red berries—all in all, it’s almost like fruit punch.
The flavors can’t quite hold up to the hugeness of the aroma. A nice biscuity malt note unexpectedly manages to sneak in, which is appreciated, before it’s followed up by lightly tropical hops that remind me of grapefruit and pineapple especially. The body is light—almost a bit on the thin side—and dry, although it does come off as a bit richer as it warms. All in all, though, this IPA has more in common with Pinner than it does with Dale’s, especially in terms of how it drinks. Bitterness is quite low for the style, and drinkability is through the roof—it drinks frighteningly easily. I’m reading a press release that states 70 IBU, but that’s just one more indicator of how unreliable a measuring stick IBU really is in describing relative bitterness.
This is a bit of an unusual IPA, with tropical fruit flavors that are difficult to categorize thanks to the novelty of its new Australian hop varietals. It should be a worthy addition to the Oskar Blues lineup, especially for those who really love aromatically assertive, very fruity, lighter-bodied IPAs.
Happy IPA Day!
Brewery: Oskar Blues
City: Lyons, CO and Brevard, NC
Style: American IPA
Availability: Year-round, 12 oz cans
Jim Vorel is Paste’s news editor. You can follow him on Twitter.