Oskar Blues Gordon Imperial Red Ale

Review Date 1/26/2006   By John Staradumsky

For some reason, I have this aversion to canned beer. Maybe it’s all those years of making six-packs of Bud and Miller out of 30-packs when I worked in a liquor store so many years ago. Then too, I’ve always detected a tinny taste in canned beer.

It could be psychological though, because Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery makes some really great beer, and sticks it in cans. Haven’t you had their Old Chubb Scottish Ale yet? Yes, you can.

And Oskar Blues Gordon comes in cans. Only unlike Old Chubb and Dale’s Pale Ale, this one is sold in singles at about $2.99 each (or four packs for $10.99). And trust me, it’s worth every penny. The cans themselves are interesting in that they’re plain aluminum with a paper label pasted on. Hand-crafted, as it were.

The name is derived from a local beer geek, now sadly passed. I quote from the brewery website:

Gordon is brewed in tribute to the late Gordon Knight. In addition to opening some of Colorado’s first microbreweries, Knight was a Vietnam vet, grade-A citizen, and huge promoter of craft beer. He lost his life in 2002 while fighting a wild fire outside of Lyons, Colorado.

I’ve yet to taste a beer from this brewery that wasn’t absolutely wonderful. And Gordon is no exception. It’s unequivocally one of the best beers you can buy. And buy it you must, without hesitation, because I hear only 400 cases are being released. I could drink that myself.

Gordon pours to a dark orange amber color with a thick, rocky head formation and a Pine-Sol hoppy nose. Yeah, it really does smell as piney as Pine-Sol to me. Now that’s piney. A thick (very thick) layer of Brussels lace forms on the sides of the glass.

This is a big and very, very hoppy Imperial IPA. Unlike a lot of beers that claim to be in that style (if it really is one), I don’t think this one necessarily ends up being a barleywine in reality. There’s a lot of malt, but it’s not so much chewy-caramelly as it is toasty (and OK, somewhat chewy). It’s very big indeed at 85 IBUs and 9.3% alcohol by volume.

But the hops here definitely overpower the malt. They’re intensely resiny and piney, very fruity, and in the finish, oh so wonderfully bitter. Gordon really is a toasty-malty, juicy-fruity, lips-puckeringly bitter hop monster. Man, I love this stuff.

The hop bitterness really lingers on your tongue like an 900-pound gorilla on your back. And the hop burps are really great, too. OK, I know that sounds disgusting, but to a true hophead, hoppy burps are the hallmark of a really great beer.

Gordon Knight would be proud.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, canned