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.


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