Beer Chronicles – Oskar Blues Brewery Ten Fidy Imperial Stout


The modern U.S. craft beer revival may have begun in San Francisco in 1965 with Fritz Maytag and Anchor, but many believe that the movement’s true epicenter has shifted to Colorado. It is difficult to think of another state that has as many high-quality breweries as the Centennial State. To wit:

New Belgium
Great Divide
Left Hand
Twisted Pine
Oskar Blues

And those are beers by breweries that I have tried personally. There are many other fantastic Colorado-based breweries that aren’t distributed in my area that I would love to sample one day.

The last brewery on the list–Oskar Blues–brews the beer under consideration here. The brewery is probably best known for two things–Dale’s Pale Ale and the fact that every one of their beers is sold in cans (as opposed to bottles). Oskar Blues Ten Fidy is a stunning example of the Imperial Stout style of beer and is quickly gaining legendary status with beer connoisseurs.

Jargon alert: An “Imperial Stout” (sometimes referred to as a “Russian Imperial Stout”) is the darkest of all dark beers. The color is almost always dark brown or black. Imperial Stouts are sometimes jokingly referred to as “motor oil” due to their dark color and thick consistency. Imperial Stouts usually feature high ABV and prominently feature roasty or malted flavors. Although hops are present in Imperial Stouts, they do not contain the kind of aggressive, overly hopped bitterness associated with an India Pale Ale (IPA). It would a stylistic no-no for an Imperial Stout to be overly hoppy. If you love good coffee, there is no reason in the world you couldn’t grow to love a good Imperial Stout.

The picture above hardly does justice to the actual color of the beer’s head. It foams up to a very dark, oaken brown. As for the body of the beer itself, I have seen many motor oils that were lighter in color than the inky darkness of a well-poured Ten Fidy. It’s like emptying a can of liquid black vinyl into one’s beer glass. Taken together, the head and body of a Ten Fidy combine to create one of the most visually pleasing beers I have seen.

The aroma of a Ten Fidy is a real wonder.  The first smell to greet you as you raise a glass is the aroma of roasted dark chocolate; the kind of smell you might experience if you melted good chocolate. Think less like Hershey’s and more like a gourmet chocolate you might purchase from a specialty chocolatier. My hunch is that the beer’s aroma would have been even more focused and in-your-face had I used a snifter instead of my trusty WuShock pub glass. Snifters are designed to take the aroma of a stronger drink and focus all of those flavors toward the nose.

Quick tip: Unless otherwise noted, the beer pictures on this blog are snapshots of actual beer I have purchased at my local bottle shop and poured into my glassware at home. In many of the pictures I am using the “wrong” glassware for a given style of beer. There is a simple reason for this. I either don’t own the proper glassware for the style (yet!) or previously owned the proper glassware and it has gotten broken over the years. It happens. Besides, my useage of the “wrong” glassware is Exhibit A that I am anything but a beer snob.

As for the taste of a Ten Fidy…I struggle to find the words. There are a couple of other more “refined” or “balanced” Imperial Stouts on the market. North Coast’s Old Rasputin and Great Divide’s Yeti come to mind. What the Ten Fidy lacks in refinement (which is very little) it more than makes up for in a hostile takeover of one’s taste buds. Ten Fidy punches you in the neck meat and then asks you if you would like to be punched again. Like Diane Court in the movie Say Anything, the taste of a Ten Fidy proclaims, “Hey world. Check me out.”

As for actual flavors, Ten Fidy provides equal parts chocolate, espresso, and roasty caramel that leaves a delicious coating in your mouth even after you have swallowed. Since it is a beer with a higher ABV, it is a sipping beer. However, it tastes so good that sipping it is almost impossible. Strangely enough, when you reach the bottom of the glass, you’re done. Ten Fidy is so satisfying, so filling, and so heavy that you can’t imagine drinking another one right away. That’s one of the reasons God invented tomorrow, after all.

What’s in a name? The name “Ten Fidy” is a reference to the beer’s alcohol by volume (or ABV) rating. The ABV rating of a Ten Fidy is 10.5%. Get it?

Dark beers sometimes get a bum rap from folks who like beer but are reticent to venture beyond lagers and pilsners. “Why would you want to drink something you can’t even see through?” “Dark beers are too bitter.” “It probably tastes like burned chocolate bits on the bottom of a fondue pan.” I say “balderdash” to all of that. Get thyself to thy local bottle shop and take home a can (or two) of Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Be forewarned: this level of gastronomic excellence isn’t cheap. A 12 oz. can of Ten Fidy at my local bottle shop is $4.99. Your results may vary but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. And what you are paying for here is liquid perfection with an unusual name. In a can.

Beer prayer: Most gracious God, we give thanks for brash, assertiveness of the Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. This is surely a beer your servant the Apostle Paul would have loved–so bold and so aggressive in its approach to all who enjoy it. We thank You for the gift of chocolate, the gift of espresso, and the gift of carmel that synchronize so luxuriously in this beer. This is the kind of beer that makes our hearts glad, our faces shiny, and mouths to exclaim, “All of this and Christ too?” Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!

My Untappd rating for Oskar Blues Brewery Ten Fidy Imperial Stout: 5/5, but I would give it 6/5 stars if I could.


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