I knew going into the Oskar Blues Crafty Ladies that I was going to have to pace myself, as Oskar Blues has some incredibly high ABV beers, but when I walked in and was handed a G’Knight (8.7% ABV) as the “starter” beer I really had to watch it. G’Knight is a smooth, yet strong, Imperial Red named for former master of brewing Gordon Knight. Lucas Allen, our Oskar Blues guide for the evening, shared some nice words about Gordon who won three GABF titles from three different breweries in the 1990s. Unfortunately, we lost Gordon too young while fighting a fire near Rocky Mountain National Park in 2002. But his glory lives on with the folks at Oskar Blues and G’Knight.
Oskar Blues is no stranger to Crafty Ladies events, so to mix it up a bit the focus of the evening was around their Hops and Heifers Farm in Longmont. Hops and Heifers is the 50 acre home to 100% Oskar Blues raised Black Angus cattle. The cows feast on the spent grain from brewing, which Allen described as “candy for the cows,” especially the grain from the Ten Fidy. They also have two acres of hops including Centennial, Columbus, Nugget, Chinook, Willamette, Mt.Hood, Cascade and Sterling.
This was not a meal for vegetarian grazers, beef was most definitely for dinner. After some delicious goat and blue cheeses paired with the G’Knight we moved along to the ever popular Deviant Dales (8% ABV) and thinly sliced strips of Oskar Blues steak and fries. The USDA Certified Organic beef was the star of the evening. And the Deviant Dales beer is one of those great “mistake beers” where the brewer accidentally doubled the malt, which meant they then added double the hops to salvage the beer. With four hop additions of mostly piney and resiny Columbus hops, they ended up with a cult following 85 IBU and 8% ABV brew, which also took home a silver at the 2011 GABF. I love when brewers make mistakes.
Allen shared two newer offerings from the Oskar Blues and Sun King Brewing (Indiannapolis) collaboration: Chaka, a Belgian-style Ale and The Deuce, a hopped-up Brown Ale. Both are packaged in new and resealable bottle-shaped aluminum cans from the Ball Corporation; leave it to Oskar Blues, the leaders in canning craft beer, to keep pushing the envelope of the beer vessel. The Deuce has a very special and somewhat odd ingredient that is said to give it a lighter body . . . popcorn. That’s right, 70 pounds of fully popped popcorn went into this beer. You don’t taste the popcorn in the brew, but it’s very light and drinkable for 7% ABV, and I loved the tropical citrus notes paired with the maltiness of a well made brown ale. The Deuce is a great beer that I hope Oskar Blues starts distributing beyond the Tasty Weasel Tap Room, which is always worth a visit.
My old friend Old Chub rounded out the evening, paired with beef ribs and cole slaw. Chub is a Scottish Ale low on hops and high on beachwood malts. It’s a great pairing with food, especially these ribs, because of the smokey-malty-caramel notes throughout. It’s also a go-to beer for beer can chicken and other culinary delights.