I was at my local beer store here in town late last week and I spotted something that I haven’t seen in these parts at all. It was a new (to me) beer from Oskar Blues out of Longmont, Colorado. It was a retake of one of their beers which I’ve had many times over the lang haul. The beer was Old Chub Nitro and it came in 16oz. cans.
Many questions popped up in my head. Did Oskar change the recipe; how is the beer nitrogenated; are they in cahoots with Left Hand Brewing on this nitro thing; widget or no widget; will Left Hand hand sue them for using the Nitro name; does Guinness have a hand in this at all?
Some research shed a bit of light on the subject. An article from a Denver Post blog reveals that Left Hand has given the go-ahead for Oskar Blues to make the nitro beer. There is a quandary here, however. Left Hand is in the process of trying to trademark the name “nitro” for beer. If they’re granted the trademark, either royalties will be paid for the name usage, Oskar may change the name of this beer, or it will wind up in a court battle between these two friendly breweries.
The process for injecting nitrogen into a beer has usually been with a charged widget inside the container in some form or another, although Left Hand’s process uses no widget and is a big secret. Research has shown that Oskar uses a widget at the bottom of the can. Left Hand’s nitrogenating process doesn’t seem to have been compromised. At some point during the review below, I’ll cut open the can and see what’s inside.
Oskar Blues has been a pioneer in canning beer ever since they started business on a big scale in 2004. They’ve been canning all their beers ever since. Wikipedia article on the brewery.
Enough of all this backstory stuff and let’s get down to the good stuff. It’s what I expect to be for the most part, the same Old Chub but with a smoother and perhaps creamier delivery. I’ll try inverting the opened can into the glass like Left Hand has advised.
The popping of the can reminded me of stomach and intestine noises that are usually a predecessor to a semi-liquid bowel movement. The beer was poured inverted and came out of the can gurgling and looking like an unfiltered homebrew. There was a nice cascade of sorts but it wasn’t majestic like a Guinness or a maybe even a Left Hand nitro beer. The beige head settled out to about a quarter inch, all thick and creamy. The liquid in the glass was a dense black and didn’t look like a homebrew at all. The aroma was slight, hinting of sweet malts.
The first sip was delightfully creamy, carrying a big mouthfeel and a feeling of silky smoothness. That Old Chub sweet malt was there just as I remember it, only this Nitro beer is so much easier to drink.
There was no bite, no bitterness, and quite a bit of malty sweetness in each sip. It’s surprising at what a nitro gizmo at the bottom of the can do. The same aroma from the old Old Chub is in this new nitro brew as well. Certainly not surprising. The smoothness and creaminess of each sip are what differentiates this beer from the original Chub.
Just then, I got the urge to cut the top off the can and have a look inside. From what I’ve read, the nitrogen comes from a widget at the bottom of the can. It wasn’t a ball or a pill-shaped plastic capsule, but rather a little white “top hat” affixed to the bottom of the can. I find it amazing how breweries can do this.
Scotch ales are also called Wee Heavy and are similar to Scottish ales only having a higher ABV. Brew Your Own Magazine has an article on the Wee Heavy style here. Wikipedia has a paragraph on the shilling designation of Scottish ales here.
Getting back to the beer at hand… I have found on occasion that deep into a sixer of regular Old Chub, I found the sweetness to be a bit overwhelming and turned me off to the beer from time to time. Although this nitro Chub recipe is identical, the creamy smoothness has rekindled my admiration for Oskar Blues and this brand. I should also try some of the new nitro Left Hand beers as well. (No widget.)
If for nothing else but curiosity, grab a four-pack of Old Chub Nitro on your next visit to the bottle shop. It’s exactly like the regular Chub but with all of its sides and corners sanded nice and smooth.
Style: Scotch Ale
Taste: Sweet, dark and malty, no roastiness going on.
Smoothness: The nitrogen raises the ease of drinking up a couple of notches.
Drinkability: They go down easy. The sweetness or the ABV may getcha later on.
Bang for the buck: Not bad for the experience. A buck more than regular Old Chub for 8 ounces less beer.
Amount paid: $10.99 per four-pack of 16-ounce cans.
Get it again? Probably in a couple of months when the urge arises.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Looks like chocolate milk. I can smell it from here. (sniff) Almost watermelony. (sip) It’s way smooth for such a dark beer. A bit of dry bitter at first and then it’s gone. (sip) For a dark beer it’s one of the better ones that I’ve tasted. (Every so often she hits the bullseye.)
RateBeer has no rating on Old Chub Nitro. Just the original Chub.
Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale [1:55]
Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale Pouring [1:02] – (I have obviously done it wrong. The Left Hand method does not work with this beer.)