What is a classic? Pyscho is a classic. The Old Man and The Sea is a classic. However, they are static. They are forever unchanging. Our interpretations of them may shift as our cultural and social lenses shift, but they are essentially what they are.
Hamlet is also a classic, but it is different. Hamlet as it is performed on stage changes from night to night. It is also different when it is interpreted by different directors and actors. That is more what classic beers are like. They morph and shift from year to year and from brewer to brewer. That is what makes yearly seasonal offerings so interesting. They are the same, yet they are always different.
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout is one of those classic winter seasonals. It pours dark brown almost black forming a nice light brown head. It has a nice clarity and carbonation, but it is opaque with the occasional ruby highlights.
On the initial nose, you get a lot of coffee and bitter chocolate. As it warms you also get plums and other dark fruit. There isn’t much if any hop aroma. You also get an alcohol aroma, if you can call it that.
The flavor is a good reflection of the aroma. This isn’t a beer trying to trick you or play games with your expectations. You get the dark chocolate and coffee flavors. The plums and other dark fruit come through on the back end as well as a nice flavor of alcohol. It isn’t overwhelming but it is there to remind you this is a 10.5% beer. The bitterness you taste is a combination of the hops and bitterness from the dark malts that contribute the coffee flavors.
The mouthfeel is the one place this beer surprises. The smoothness provided by the oatmeal included in the malt bill makes it easy to drink and gives It an almost medium mouth weight. The alcohol warms you as it goes down making this a great cold weather beer. It finishes with that warmth and the dark chocolate/coffee taste lingering long enough to make you feel good and want another sip.
This is one of those dangerous dark winter beers. The high ABV is hidden by the expert deployment of dark malts and brewing skill.