Monday, December 2, 2013

The Cellar Project Review #1 - 2011 Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

Posted by: Stonecipher

Dec. 22, 2013

To kick off The Cellar Project we’ll begin with a beer that the majority of Americans can easily get their hands on any time of year, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout.  This is not a “classic aging beer”, but it certainly fits the criteria; a big, boozy, rich, malty beer in a can.  The IBUs are much higher than most other age-able beers, but as we’ll see below, many of them are, surprisingly, still there.   

This is a beer that I very much enjoy when fresh, but I have never aged more than one year.  So I’m very excited to check this one out.  Here’s a few stats to start:

Location: Liquor Mart – Boulder, CO
Cost: $3.99
ABV: 10.50%
IBUs: 98
Brewery Location: Lyons, Colorado
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Average Beer Advocate Rating: 4.37
Beer Advocate Score: 97 – World Class
My Original Beer Advocate Rating: 4.2
My Aged Rating: 4.1
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 5,094
Brewery Description: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
Canned On: 10/28/2011
Age at Time of Review: 2 years, 1 month, 4 days.
Electoral Votes for Distribution: 377 (415 w/ limited) Huh?  What’s this?

APPEARANCE:  (Original 3.5/Aged 4.0) When I read my BA review, I didn’t believe myself about how dark this thing was, but it is still not letting a single ray of light through.  Awesome.  The head is the color of coffee with a creamer or two added and about a half-inch of it has been resting atop this beer for the past ten minutes.  This is quite a spectacular display of head retention.  Plus the lacing is still solid, covering about 30% of the back of the glass.

SMELL:  (Original 3.5/Aged 4.5) Taking a sniff straight out of the can after it was popped provided a big, blast of straight up chocolate, and it was not straight dark chocolate, almost a blend of milk and dark.  Once this beer got in the glass, however, I see why I said it was just straight coffee last time.  It’s still there in full force, but now the other malt flavors seem to have developed in the can over the past two years, most notably, the chocolate and a nice dose of vanilla.  Also, for no reason at all, some dry oak seems to linger beneath the big, sweeter malts.

TASTE:  (Original 4.5/Aged 4.0) The coffee is still the dominating flavor, but it has changed.  The roastiness has most certainly mellowed, but somehow, the bitterness remains.  Oddly enough, and this is counter to all logic and reason here, but I am tasting hops in this beer that I never have previously; very grassy and bitter hops.  Some chocolate and vanilla are present, but not nearly to the same extent as they are in the nose.  A nice, subtle caramel flavor helps to round it all out.

MOUTHFEEL:  (Original 4.0/Aged 4.0) In spite of the impressive head retention, the carbonation has nearly vanished at this point; only a very subtle tickle reminds the palate that this is still beer.  The body is still big, but slightly thinner, and that light carbonation is a good fit for it.  Last time I said that this beer was smooth and oily – the smooth part is still very true, but I would not say oily at all, in fact, it seems a lot dryer. 

OVERALL:  (Original 4.5/Aged 4.0) Two years of aging this beer drastically improved the aroma, I really, really liked it a lot and it was far more complex than it was when fresh.  The taste is still outstanding, but as I already mentioned, it is a bit thinner and the body did not come through as strong as the nose did.  I was hoping that some of those chocolate and vanilla smells would have developed as nicely in the taste as well.

RECOMMEDED FOR AGING:  Yes, but...  If nothing else, it was worth a small investment just for the improvement in the nose.  Also, the can probably had a lot to do with the fact that, after two years, there is absolutely no sign of oxidization or skunking.  My complaint is that it does taste a bit thin for Ten Fidy and ultimately I do think it has lost a step from its fresh state, but many people will probably prefer it in the aged state.  Sadly, this was the only one I had aging.  I’d like to grab another 4-pack and let it sit for one year instead of two, I have a feeling that would be just about right for this one.

New Stat

Posted by: Stonecipher

Dec. 2, 2013

This may be for my own personal amusement only, but the geek in me can't help it.  I am a political junky as well as a beer nerd and this stat will combine both, but hopefully it'll be somewhat practical - Electoral Votes for Distribution.

I'll let Wikipedia field your questions about what an Electoral Vote (EV) is, but in our case here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights, they can be used as a very imperfect (and highly flawed), rough estimate of what percentage of the U.S. gets distribution for a particular beer.  Basically, in every Presidential Election each state is assigned a number of Electoral Votes (based on their population, sort of).  So with 538 total EVs, the closer to that number in our "Electoral Votes for Distribution" category, the closer the U.S. is to access for everyone for that particular brewery/beer.

In the past I tried to list every individual state each beer was distributed, but that's pretty time consuming.  This method will allow me a slightly quicker and more efficient way to estimate how many U.S. consumers have direct access to this beer.

Also, in some cases, a brewery will only provide limited distribution to a certain state.  In these cases I'll have two numbers for the category.  The first will be for the number for full distribution states, then in parenthesis I'll have the total number including those states that only have limited distribution.

Hopefully this makes sense.  If not, you can skip it, I'm indulging myself here.


The Return - One New and One Old Project

Posted by: Stonecipher

Dec. 2, 2013

Funny, it's been almost exactly a year since the last time I posted.  My life has changed quite a bit since that point, mostly for the better, but one of the drawbacks has been that writing about beer has become very difficult.  In part due to time constraints and to a larger degree because I have felt that my current job may create some conflicts of interest.  In all honesty, I am torn on whether or not it is appropriate to publicly discuss exactly what my role is and who I work for.  On one hand, it is only fair to disclose when I am discussing a product that I represent.  On the other hand, I am still simply a fan of craft beer, and still fully capable of subjectively judging the quality of a beer, regardless of whether or not it is one of mine.  So maybe the best approach is to simply give you a heads up if I represent a certain beer that is being reviewed.  Eventually, those of you who don't already know me will be able to figure it out.

With all that said, my reason for getting back into this is twofold.  One, it is simply time for me to start writing about beer in a meaningful way again.  The last few weeks I have been itching to sit down on a quite night with no one else around except for a glass full of beer and a blank page.  Two, I truly want to finish up The Barleywine Project.  I have knocked out 12 beers already and I have written (but not yet posted) two others.  On top of that, at least one of the Barleywines on the list that had gone away for a while is scheduled to come back within the next couple months.

Of course, as it was before, The Barleywine Project will be slow going as obtaining the necessary beer is not always easy (or cheap).  On top of that, I have an ever-expanding cellar that really needs to be thinned out a bit.  So, in order to kill two birds with one stone, the plan is to begin the fourth project here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights - The Cellar Project.  The goal is to drink and review 20 of those beers and compare them to either a brand new review of a fresh one or to one of my Beer Advocate reviews from when it was initially consumed fresh.  I'll provide more details soon, but the beauty of this project is that anytime I find myself with a couple free hours I can post something.  I won't have to worry about whether or not I have a bottle in my fridge or not.

Anyhow, I can't promise that this is the beginning of me diving right back into regular posts, but I do have a desire to move towards that again.  We shall see what happens.  Thanks, as always, for reading.  I look forward to completing an old project and starting anew with #4.