Sunday, December 13, 2009

Boulder Beer Obovoid review

Boulder Beer Obovoid Oak-aged Oatmeal StoutSeasonal beers can be hard to find at times. I've been looking for a bottle of Boulder Beer Company's Boulder Beer Obovoid Stout for a while now and finally found one. Obovoid is an oak-aged oatmeal stout and is one of Boulder Beer's seasonal offerings that is only around between October and December. It seems that this dark stout doesn't stick around on the shelves much so when I spotted one I had to pick it up.

Despite the fact that BeerAdvocate classifies Boulder Beer's Obovoid Stout as an 8% Russian Imperial Stout, it's not. In fact, this year's batch of Obovoid (2009) only weighed in at 6.8% ABV and 40 IBU. Still, even at 6.8%, this beer was a bit more powerful than your average ale. So I proceeded with respect.

Boulder Beer put in a wide mix of grains into this aged stout including: Pale malt, 80L caramel, roasted barley, black malt, chocolate malt and rolled oats. Hop inclusions are UK Progress, US Cascade and UK Fuggle hops. This beer is oak-aged, not in barrels, but over oak chips - just enough to give it a bit of wood character.

Update: Since the time of this review, Boulder Beer has changed this beer to be a DRAFT ONLY beer that's released in November each year. Although if you look hard enough, you might be able to find some of this still in 22oz bottles on store shelves. Just be aware that this beer in a bottle is not as fresh.

Appearance: Obovoid poured a very dark brown (not black) with hardly any ruby edges. The pour yielded a decent 2-finger tall light brown head that dissolved within a minute. Swirling the beer left a decent lacing. The beer seemed to be appropriately carbonated.

Aroma: The dominant aromas I got from Boulder's Obovoid was a rich roast with a hint of chocolate, licorice, vanilla, dark fruit and a slight alcohol whiff. I couldn't make out the oak per se, but I figured the vanilla component accounted for the wood in this stout. It almost smelled like a Russian Imperial Stout. Later I could pick up on some citrus aroma from the Cascade hops. All in all, Obovoid was very aromatic.

Mouthfeel: One things I've noticed about beer made with oats is that it tends to make my mouth salivate excessively once it hits the back of my tongue. Obovoid is medium bodied, lighter than I expected from a dark stout, but that's not a bad thing. It was slightly drying and it tingled my tongue during the initial sampling. As expected, this stout had a slight tongue coating effect. Carbonation was present and appropriate for the style.

Taste: Obovoid Stout filled my mouth with the taste of unsweetened chocolate, dark roasted malt and a mild bitterness that stuck to my mid palate. Later on in the sampling this stout became much creamier and smoother. It was still medium bodied with a noticeable watering effect.

Obovoid Stout became a bit sweeter as I went along. The oak imparted a pleasant vanilla overtone and slight earthy flavor that wasn't overdone. I got a very slow warming affect from this beer, short of the quick warming that imperial stouts normally give.

I liked this beer for what it was. Obovoid was a bit different than most stouts in that it wasn't thick and chewy. I believe Boulder Beer didn't want Obovoid to be too heavy. It was a lighter and refreshing stout. The bitterness was subdued a bit and that sat well with me that night. Sometimes a regular stout can be a bit "chalky", but not this one.

Overall: I wasn't sure about this stout at first, but I have a personal rule not to judge a beer until I had sampled at least a half a glass of it. After I got past the mouth watering effect of the rolled oats, this beer satisfied my dark beer craving. For a regular stout, this was a decent brew. Obovoid wasn't spectacular, but was surprisingly good. I would definitely buy this beer again for times when I want a dark brew, but something not quite as thick.

Have you had this beer? What did you think of it? Please add your comments below.

Related articles:
- Boulder Beer Mojo IPA review.
- Boulder Beer Planet Porter review.
- Boulder Beer Cold Hop review.
- Boulder Beer offers Flashback 30th Anniversary Ale.

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