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Oskar Comes to Town

dalespalealeIt is not often when one accidentally stumbles across a beer that is regarded as one of the best of its breed. The other day I had a meeting at the Underground and, as usual, quickly perused their daily rotational list. To my surprise they had Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale on tap, claiming to be the first place in Alberta to carry the product. Dale’s may not “define” the style, but it is generally regarded as a very well done version.

It was a surprise as I had no idea this beer was coming. Usually (although not always) I hear one way or another about significant new products coming to town. Either the rep will send me a note, or someone in the beer community will whisper in my ear (the “word on the bar stool”, so to speak). But this one slipped past me. My bad.

At any rate, I quickly ordered a pint. I have had Dale’s Pale Ale before, last summer while in Boston, and have positive memories. But who am I to pass up the opportunity for another. It is a dark orange, verging on red, beer with bright clarity throwing up a thin layer of white head. The aroma is soft and  welcoming with some toffee and light biscuit and a generic fruitiness. A delicate hop comes through as well, accenting wood, pine and some citrus.

The sip is a full mouth experience. It starts quietly but with a medium malt body. I get touches of fruit and light toffee. The middle is a bit sharper and thins out a bit. Then comes the hops. A pleasant mix of pine, floral and citrus. What is nice about it is that the bitter is not too harsh; it builds slowly and runs into a sharp, noticeable lilnger.

The beer is very clean without losing its assertive edge. Overall I think it is fuller than many versions I have tasted, and with a complex, but not over-assertive hop character. It might be my memory playing tricks, but this one seemed fuller than the one I had in Boston. However, it was 30 degrees in Boston that day, which might have made a huge difference.

As a lark, I grabbed a sample of Alley Kat Full Moon Pale Ale to do a bit of a side-by-side test. I am glad I did. They are two very different interpretations of the style. The Full Moon was sharper, drier and thinner. And the hop character was completely different. The Full Moon had a classic West Coast Cascade hop, while the Oskar’s had a mixed, complex hop impression. In a way I preferred the drier, more subtle Full Moon body, but the hop flavour and linger of the Dale’s was unbelievably enticing.

A nice reminder for me about how you can have two excellent beer in the same style family that taste very different. I would be hard pressed to place one above the other. It is more about appreciating what each one has to offer. Dales’ Pale Ale is fuller, bolder and more assertive. Full Moon puts itself forward in a more straightforward fashion, but with classic lines and detail.

It makes me glad to live in a province where I can drink both and fulfill whichever best fits my mood.

So, Dale’s Pale Ale has been on tap, exclusively, at Underground since (I think) last Friday. I believe it is also on tap at Craft in Calgary at the moment (but could be corrected on this). I am told it is a one-off shipment, so it won’t last long. If you REALLY want a pint of this beer, move quickly, my friends, as it won’t be around very long. Especially if I have anything to do with it.


7 comments to Oskar Comes to Town

  • SDot

    Just saw 6-packs available at Keg & Cork….$21.

  • Tico

    That is bugus price. They are just ripping off the consumer by using the Hype-up model. Guess I can’t blame them…just upsetting. I am sure the rep has a nice mark-up also…sigh

  • Nice solid pale ale, but no way I would pay that kinda cash. It’s about $8/6er just about anywhere in the US, 16oz pints are $3-4.

  • Jim Pettinger

    I think you’re jumping to an unfair conclusion about them. Assuming the price is all-in, that retail price is based on their standard mark-up, so they haven’t taken extra margin. I can’t speak for the rep, though typically they do take more than the retailer. however, taxes are still the majority of it though. I’d estimate it would retail for $8-$10 with zero taxes.

    • I crunched some numbers recently on the SLGA markup here in SK, and yeah, the retail price is basically 50% taxes. And that was before the 3% increase on retail prices went into effect on April 1st!

      I was also told by SLGA execs that some agents and even some huge multinational breweries have put additional markups on their own products being sold in SK as compared to other provinces. Reasons given by agents are that they don’t sell enough product in SK, so need to markup higher to make it worth their while (yeah, that is sure to stimulate sales growth). Reasons given by multinationals is mumbo jumbo about marketing, target markets, sales targets, etc.

      So it appears that in SK, there is plenty of blame to go around for the high prices.

  • Tico

    Yes meant the reps not retailers…but everyone needs to make a living right…

  • Jaylynn

    Craft Beer Market in Calgary does indeed carry this brew as I just sampled it last night at their launch party and was told they are carrying it on a regular basis on their beer menu.

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