I had heard that finally, for the first time, Oskar Blues was finally going to distribute Dale’s Pale Ale and other beers of theirs here’ in the midwest, namely Illinois. I had my first taste of DPA at the Midwest Brewers Fest last August. Although I only sampled about two ounces of the beer amid tasting a myriad of other beers and styles at the fest, this one really stood out. This was the beer that I heard so much about on Reddit’s r/beer subreddit. It was there at the beer fest that I finally realized what all the hubbub was about.
Later, at a visit to the Four Seasons Beer Store, I mentioned to Barry that this classic favorite was finally being distributed here and he should get it. He wrote the name on a paper bag. I paid for my selection and walked out, wondering if he really understood the significance of this beer in the craft beer circles.
Sure enough, the very next week, there were sixers of cans of Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale on the shelf and in the cooler. I had already bought the This one goes to 11 Ale from Cardinal Liquors in Joliet and thought that I had a better than average chance of getting it locally at Four Seasons the following week.
I went there on Friday to specifically purchase a sixer of DPA for review. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I went to the counter and asked if they still had Dale’s Pale Ale. “Some guy came in and bought all of what we had.” CRAP! I picked up some Sierra Nevada beer for Friday night and I planned another road trip beer run to Cardinal in Joliet on Saturday.
I went back late Saturday afternoon. It was perhaps the first time that I ever walked into a beer store knowing exactly what I wanted. Of course I had to pick up some Ten Fidy for future tasting. Ten bucks for the six DPAs and 15 for the four-pack of Ten Fidy cans. That one smarted a bit.
I chucked the loot in the beer fridge hoping four hours would be enough to chill the DPA to a drinkable temp of at least 50° or below. I really don’t mind drinking good craft beer at these temps as I get more flavor out them compared to the same beer at 38°.
When beer time rolled around, the DPA felt nicely chilled to the touch. I deemed it ‘drinkable.’ I grabbed the first can and wrestled it from the familiar plastic holder. The sixpack ring looked the same but it was a tad bit wider and held the cans more towards the middle. It was unusual to have to dig my fingers down into the mass of cans to grab a hold of the carrier to transport. It wasn’t until the third canful that I noticed the handy carrying handle built into the side of the holder. Jeeze.
Now the question that begs to answered: who is Dale of Dale’s Pale Ale? It was one other than Dale Katechis opened Oskar Blues in 1997 as a restaurant in the upper floor of a strip mall in Lyons, Colorado. And Dale himself did not brew this beer the first time.
Craig Engelhorn, the originator of Dales Pale Ale was a homebrewer in the same town of Lyons and convinced Dale to brew and sell one of his recipes.
My homebrew pale was, “GASP”, actually based upon a very tasty West-Coast commercial pale that was heavy on the Columbus hops – to which I added a Centennial final finish for my homebrew – and ultimately Dale’s Pale Ale.
I grabbed a Sam PerfectPint glass and began my journey once again into the land of malts and hops knowing I didn’t need a designated driver to get me to my back door 15’ away.
The beer had a golden amber color to it and was crystal clear. It looked like at any give time there were a million micro-bubbles rising to the top. The head came up about 2” and had a yellowish tinge to it. Thick and fluffy. The aroma held a nice scent of light malt essence and a tad bit of hops.
The first sip was amazing. A nice medium body with a wisp of sweetness followed by a slight hop swallow. Looks like Dale nailed this style right to the front door of the BJCP headquarters. I couldn’t get over how bold the flavor was in this beer.
The malts carry this beer. The hops put the period at the end of the sentence. There were no roasty flavors or outrageous bitterness. This could almost be interpreted as an Oktoberfest lager on steroids. Tastes of bread crust were intermingled in. Another magnitude of maltiness to Boston Lager, I’d say. Then again, this is an ale. Does it really matter?
The beer is rated at 65 IBUs but ya coulda fooled me. I was probably fooled by the great maltiness that the beer was wooing me with. 6.5% alcohol makes this a beer worthy of drinking this time of year. Hell, all year round.
The BJCP style book stats for American pale ale do not match up to Dale’s. You might consider Dale’s an overachiever. It beats both the IBUs and the ABV perhaps pushing it into a different style category. But this was not an IPA. This was a really ballsy pale ale and an absolute pleasure to drink.
At the end of the first glass, the foam petered out, but there was some lacing on the inside of the glass but the beer started tasting ever so much better as it warmed up a bit. The malt character was unrelenting. The hops were along just for the ride and maybe crack the whip a few times. I hoped I bought enough for myself tonight. (And I hoped nobody showed up bringing a spontaneous party with them. I wanted this beer all to myself.)
Dale’s Pale Ale is perhaps the best pale ale I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Not overwhelmingly malty and not over the top hoppy. The beer is nicely balanced but the balance is tipped in favor of the malts. The sweetness blended in perfectly with the overall taste and the alcohol probably won’t be felt until the last can is partially gone. After having tasted this beer, I finally understood what all the rave was about on the beer forums and why that one guy bought the remaining stock at the Four Seasons.
BeerAdvocate stated that Dale’s Pale ale was:
One of the quintessential American hoppy pale ales of our time.
To be quintessential is saying a lot. It’s true. This beer is that good. If you are able to find this beer at your LBS, or somewhere else in your travels, I urge you to pick up a sixer or more of Dale’s Pale Ale. Once you taste it, you’ll scramble to buy some more. Again and again.
Taste: Amazingly drinkable.
Smoothness: Like a freshly waxed Corvette hood.
Drinkability: You may wish that this came out of a faucet.
Bang for the buck: Right in line with the other outstanding craft beers.
Paid price: $9.99
Get it again? Absolutely to infinity.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Looks clear. I smell yeast more than anything. Kinda fruity. A little dry, not too bitter. It’s almost like a fruit juice type of thing. Bitter fruit juice. Kinda citrusy like orange and something a little milder maybe. (Well, at least your eyes are working.)