Over my relatively young craft beer lifetime, I’ve honed my tastes quite a bit from the beginning. The first craft beer I ever tried was a massive Imperial IPA, and I absolutely hated it. I thought it taste like gasoline and nightmares. Of course, now I’m ashamed of the brew newb that I was, but I can definitely appreciate that massive distance that I’ve crossed to be where I’m at now – a hophead to the core. Well, really a crafthead, but hops are most definitely my jam right now. During this personal odyssey of brewdom, I’ve come to know who the major players in craft beer are. Not simply the most popular or those with the greatest reach, but those who consistently make class-leading quality beers. Oskar Blues is one of those breweries. Not only do they make one of my favorite brews , but their Dale’s Pale ale is a wonderful elixir that showcases the majesty of pale malt and “strong-handed hoppiness” together in a zen-like oneness. In other words, it’s damn tasty. Today’s brew is Deviant Dale’s, the older brother of Dale’s Pale Ale, and categorized as a “standard” IPA. I focus on the word “standard” because it’s as potent as some imperial IPAs, and packs so large a hop punch within each can, you’ll swear someone just slapped you in the face (with a hand of deliciousness). Just what makes Deviant Dale’s so damn nice? Come along and let us find out.
Upon pouring this from its Tallboy can, huge notes of freshly cut pine tree and juicy carrot-like vegetation fills the air around you. Orange and lemon zest follow immediately after, inundating your nose with a multi-layered onslaught of hop. A mellow vibe of peaches arrives next, adding a touch of sweetness before mildly toasty cracker malts take their position beneath the hops, creating a wonderful base. A touch of caramel sweetness rises up to mingle with the hops, bringing out a once-underlying resin quality that arrives with its own hints of hop-cone sweetness. A final dash of burnt brown sugar ensures that you, the soon-to-be drinker, understands not only the balance fo this brew, but just how much of both hops and malts went into each can (hint: a shit ton). It pours a burnt gold with a fluffy white crown situated prominently upon its head.
The first taste arrives upon a chariot made of hop cones and dark magic. Mildly sweet hop resin creates a flavor akin to a hop candy, with notes of pine flowing in from the sides. A strong base of cracker malts creates the same malt presence as was in the aroma. It’s quite a unique experience. The amount of hops in this brew often led me to thinking it was a double, but then the malt punch would find its way to my tongue and remind me that it was indeed a highly balanced standard IPA, just supercharged with some kind of delicious demonic power. As the drink continues, caramel and brown sugar sweetness mingle with the initial resin qualities, bringing out the true flavor of the Columbus hop. I happen to love when the actual flavor of the hop shows up in my beer, not simply a flavor of tropical fruits or pine. It’s a magical thing. On the tongue, it flows crisp and bubbly, atop a bitter rumble that doesn’t overpower, but only because there is so strong a malt presence. The end of each taste showcases orange zest and peaches, adding another hop layer and catapulting the complexity through the roof. The constantly shifting and rolling strength of flavors will ensure no two tastes are ever the same (save for the underlying pure hop flavor. I just can’t get enough of that). It truly is a devious beer.
Deviant Dale’s is as close to an Imperial as a standard IPA can come. Featuring hugely potent hoppage, it would be were it not for the equally massive malt characteristics. The end result is a brew of colossal flavor, wonderful balance, and air-guitar-solo inducing potency. Let’s face it, an IPA at 8% is a wonderful thing, not because one can will leave you feeling all kinds of loose, but because Oskar Blues somehow managed to fit so much into one little can. If that’s not high-five worthy, I don’t know what is. At times, the strength of each flavor can become a bit overpowering, washing away other flavors without a care. But these are relatively rare, allowing the rest of the drink to be near epic.
There’s no best situation to enjoy this beer. Just about any time and place will be perfect. By yourself, with friends, watching a movie, eating a pizza, or standing out on your porch, tending to your grill. If you love IPAs, the smell of hops in the morning (which of course smells like…victory) or simply a delightfully awesome beer, you won’t go wrong with this one. Deviant Dale’s IPA earns a potent 9.2 Beards out of 10 for an A.
Lasting Strength: 9.5/10
Overall: 9.2/10 A