Deviant Dale's IPA: Break out the hot wings
December 27, 2012
Oskar Blues Brewing has been steadily growing over the past 10 years or so, and are one of those craft brewers from the west that have recently expanded operations to North Carolina in order to supply the rest of the country with their fine beer. They are also one of the big forerunners of canning -- which is finally beginning to take off now, but is still underutilized. Bad beer in a can always was and will be bad beer, but any decent beer will remain decent far longer if it is canned instead of bottled. Cans simply cannot be beat for keeping beer fresh, and they are ideal for their Deviant Dale's IPA. The hops are so fresh they taste as if they were just picked and swirled in the beer. I am convinced no IPA should ever be bottled again. While I generally lean towards malty beers, this IPA is one of the best hop-heavy beers I have had.
Deviant Dale's is a ramped up version of Oskar's regular IPA at 85 IBUs and a very hefty 8% alcohol. It is a good combination that works well together, though. The bitterness from the hops helps hide some of the alcohol, and the warmth of the alcohol takes the edge off some of the hops. It is not one of those massive hop bomb beers that are meant to shred tongues, though. There is also enough malt to carry the hops most of the way and soften the finish. Those hops are still properly the star of the show, and are a nice combination of pine and grapefruit. Which is exactly what is revealed in the nose—the aroma is superb. I have had beers that were strained through batches of fresh hops that still had less of that fresh hop flavor than this beer has.
Much of the huge popularity of IPAs right now is almost certainly down to how well they pair with bar food—especially spicy bar food. Deviant Dale's and nuclear-hot chicken wings are a match made in heaven. Just enough sweetness from the malt to ease the burn and a good complimentary bite of citrus and pine from the hops make that pairing as natural as peanut butter and jelly. Despite the high alcohol content, the beer is not particularly heavy. It will even look good next to the plate. It pours a nice deep amber/orange which is on the hazy side, and topped by a dense, off-white head that leaves great lacing. "Balanced" is still probably not the operative word for this beer, which could easily be labeled an Imperial, or double, IPA—but clearly a great effort was made to raise this beer from the muck of many typical IPAs. It is contrary to popular opinion right now, but many average beers are being over-hyped these days solely because the brewer crammed it with as many hops as would fit in the kettle. Oskar proves that, with a little effort, an IPA can be much more than a tongue blistering hop bomb.
IPAs have become a session beer for many. Deviant Dale's is a bit too strong for that. It is strange to call such a big beer an entry into IPAs, but if you are on the fence about the amount of hops you prefer in your beer, give this one a try. It is a very well-crafted IPA that brings a lot more to the table than just the dry, sticky, pine-needle-chewing bite that many over-hopped beers rely on. If this one is still too hoppy for you, then you should probably be drinking malty beers. On the other side of the coin, it probably will not please those hopheads that seem to think the quality of a beer is solely determined by its bitterness—the more extreme the better. I like how the grapefruit and pine flavors play so well together. I like the soothing warmth from all the alcohol. I especially like how well all these elements work with a plate of wings. Welcome to the east, Oskar—we are all the richer for it.