Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.
Good beer in a can? You have to be kidding, right...
That's pretty much the look I give the bartender as he plants the Oskar Blues Brewery American Double Imperial IPA, dubbed simply "Gubna," on the bar in front of me.
I've come to Tryst on the recommendation of a friend who tells me the pub has quite a few craft brews available. With more than 70, I'd say their list -- which ranges from import Belgium-style ales to your average, run-of-the-mill pilsner -- has more than just a few.
It's a respectable line-up, to say the least, with an equally appealing menu to pair with all that flavorful brew. And so comes my usual conundrum: what to order?
There's rumor the bar has an impressive back room storage of hard-to-find favorites and seasonal selections. But, if you don't know what to ask for, you don't get to try it, confirms bartender Greg Cimino.
Getting your hands on some Dogfish Head Bitches Brew -- a shot in the dark, if you will. The Gubna, however, is not.
The Beer of the Week should be something unique -- the aluminum can a clear category winner in this situation. It also has to be pretty damn good, and the Gubna's sweet, smooth taste earns it another check-mark.
But, most importantly, it has to be unique to the bar where it's served -- possibly unobtainable elsewhere. That's confirmed here at Tyst, where even the bartenders admit to hoarding the stuff from willing patrons to keep stock for themselves.
Lucky me they've decided to share.
"I haven't really seen it anywhere else [that serves craft beer], and it's the bar staff's favorite on [our] list, by far," says Cimino. "I'm at a loss for words to describe what makes it so good."
Ahem. Allow me to step in. Brewed with three malts and Summit hops, I find these three ingredients make for plenty of satisfying flavor. Cimino cracks open the can, and right away I'm breathing in a heavy citrus aroma.
"This is beer from a can? Who woulda' thunk it? This s**t is good!"
-- Me, taking my first incredibly delicious sip of the Gubna
I brace myself for a hefty hop taste, but it doesn't come -- the Gubna isn't at all bitter. It's actually too damn drinkable. Probably thanks to the German Dark Munich and Rye malts, which give it a spicy tang, while the barley sets the foundation for a slightly tart, back-end bite.
Last, the lengthy post-fermentation dry hopping gives the Gubna that kick-in-the-ass, high-alcohol hit -- a strong 10% ABV -- and finishes clean, with a crisp citrus snap.
The Gubna is the first Imperial IPA from this Longmont, Colorado-based brewery that, in 2009, crafted the special recipe, deeming it worthy of a four-pack (just two other Oskar Blues brands come packaged this way). That means more ingredients and more alcohol -- for more money ($10 at Tryst).
For me, it's nothing short of caramel-colored cream-a-liciousness in a can -- the best can of beer money can buy. My taste buds are singing.
But why in a can? According to Oskar Blues, the brewery began hand-canning its Dale's Pale Ale, one can at a time, using nothing more than a table-top machine. Back then, it was the first American craft brewery to make the move from bottle to can.
The resulting product was nothing short of genius -- it made for a more portable, fresher-tasting beer, much the way some wine snobs will argue screw tops win out over the traditional cork.
But, unlike most aluminum cans, Oskar Blues' are lined with a special coating. That means your beer never touches metal -- and no metallic taste lingering on the tip of your tongue, or sucking away at the inside of your cheeks.
We suggest using a can (or two, if you can handle it) to wash down the bar's Happy Hour fish tacos, a double dose stuffed so full I resort to fork and knife to keep the whole production from ending up on the floor. There's more than enough to share, plenty of fried fish fingers mixed with tomato, lettuce and onions, smothered in a creamy dressing with a dash of house hot sauce on the side.
So get out there and make a tryst with this impressive imperial IPA. Your taste buds will thank you.
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