Oskar Blues with Ska Brewing “OSKAr The G’Rauch” Double (Imperial) – American Double/Imperial IPA – 8.5% ABV
IBU’s (unknown but I would venture to guess 60-70)
Ladies and gentlemen: here is another weird entry into the experimental world of cross-eyed craft beers. This is a “canlaboration” between Colorado brewers Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing. It is marketed as a “smoked IPA”. The term “rauch” (which is German for “smoke”) is in the brew’s title. It implies the beer may be made in part with the same methods as the 500+ year old style “rauchbier”, which is made with malts that are dried over an open fire, giving the beer a robust smoky flavor, similar to the pronouncement of bacon, smoked sausages, and very peaty whisky. Yet, this is not a “rauchbier”, but an imperial IPA (basically an IPA with the pedal to the metal). I am not quite sure how this beer was brewed, as a formal explanation by the brewers is eluding me in an online search. But I certainly would like to find out, because this is one hell of a tasty but weird and improperly advertised beer (at least with my experience so far).
I had this beer on tap at a restaurant in downtown Chicago so I did not get a chance to hold and see the can in which it can be purchased. When my server brought it to me I noticed it had a beautiful orange and cloudy color. The head wasn’t very tall but I could tell by the carbonation and the lacing that one could give this pour a packed, snowy, cottony top. It had a very sweet citrus aroma with a malty and floral hoppiness. Hand in hand with the malt was the very slight presence of smoke, but I would likely not have picked up on it if I hadn’t seen the advertisement. The flavor was fantastic. It has a strong citrus orange flavor with the fresh and crisp presence of piney, bitter hops as well as apricots, tobacco, and syrupy malts. This has the creamiest texture of any brew I have ever tasted. The texture along with the citrus flavor of the hops dares me to compare it to an orange creamsicle. There was no smoke at all, although the tobacco and malt profiles are probably what set off people’s smoke detector taste buds. The aftertaste is wet, refreshing, very bitter, slightly malty, and fades away leaving the afterglow of bubblegum for a few minutes.
Here is my problem with this brew: the smoke flavor is not pronounced. I have not reviewed a true rauchbier yet for my beloved readers of BaDoink, but I definitely intend to. It is a style that I adore. I love smoked meat. I love Scottish whisky with the heavy taste of peat smoke. And when I drink a beer with the word “rauch” on the packaging I expect to be mentally projected into a forest at night with a blazing, beautiful campfire that saturates every odor and taste I consume while I am there (including my female companion’s split mutton). For a “rauch style” beer, OSKAr The G’Rauch is barely a burning lit match. The flavor of smoke is weaker than the legs of a prematurely born kitten. Beyond a dab of it in the aroma and a pinch of it in the after-flavor it is sorely missing. Don’t tell me you’re going to suck me off until my forehead caves in, but then only just kiss the tip of my cooter crankshaft, for Christ’s sake.
To be fair, the vast majority of those who have had this beer claim to taste the unmistakable flavor of smoke, so I submit that perhaps my taste buds were out of order. Regardless of my disappointment in the lack of smoke flavor, I want this beer again. I won’t be too heartbroken if I can’t taste the smoke, although I certainly hope I will in my next encounter. As an imperial IPA it contains many standard IPA profiles but balances them in a way that gives it its own distinguishable flavor, and it should be respected… much like my salty yogurt slinging ham-howitzer.
Style (as an Imperial IPA): 8.5/10
Style (as a SMOKED Imperial IPA): 4/10