Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oskar Blues - Sun King Brewery Chaka Belgian Style Ale review

Oskar Blues / Sun King ChakaTwo regionally different breweries, one collaboration effort, two different cans, same named beer. Oskar Blues of Colorado and Sun King Brewery of Indiana recently got together to collaborate on a Belgian-style ale and the product of that effort was named: Chaka - Belgian-style Ale. Due to a stroke of luck, I managed to get a hold of sample cans of the same beer from each of the two breweries to do a side-by-side comparison of the same beer.

Would the same recipe and similar cans result in a beer that tasted just the same yet being from opposite sides of the country? I wanted to find out. I opened up a 16oz can of both Oskar Blues Chaka and Sun King Chaka. Both beers were stored under identical conditions. Both cans arrived boxed with cold packs and freshness was all but guaranteed. Both beers had the very same ABV rating, 8% ABV. Both were in resealable 16oz cans, each brewery had never used this type of can before now.

Would distance, travel and different sources of water make for a different drinking experience with the same beer? Let's find out.

Appearance: I opened each can and did a side-by-side pour (see video below). Each brew appeared to be the same color, a dark rusty orangish-red. In each beer I got roughly the same amount of head, just slightly above 1-finger tall. One slight difference I noticed was that the Oskar Blues head managed to stay a bit more creamier looking and stayed built up a while longer than the Sun King version of Chaka. Both beers had decent clarity. No sediment, fairly see-through and had a decent amount of carbonation. Not much lacing stuck to each glass when swirled as it slid off fairly quickly. I may be imagining it, but the head on the Sun King beer looked just slightly darker than the Oskar Blues head, but perhaps that was due to the Sun King's head being slightly thinner.

Oskar Blues - Sun King Chaka side-by-sideAroma: Here is where I noticed another difference in the beers. The Oskar Blues beer had a bigger banana and fruit-like nose than the Sun King beer. It seemed that the Oskar Blues beer had a bit more sweet malt aroma than the Sun King. The Sun King seemed had a bit more spice to the nose. Could this be the result of a slightly different yeast strain or perhaps a minor deviation in the hops used? The Sun King brew seemed more "earthy", while the Oskar Blues beer was a bit more fruity. Both were pleasant smelling and inviting.

Taste: I took turned sipping the Oskar Blues for a while, then clearing my palate, and then sipping the Sun King brew for a time. I went back and forth and yes, I could tell some differences between the two. As in the aroma, the Oskar Blues Chaka had a slightly more fruity taste to it and also felt a bit more creamier in my mouth. The Sun King Chaka seemed a bit more toned down, less fruity, not quite as creamy. Yet both reminded me of the same recipe for sure. The Oskar Blues had a bit more "tang" in it, for the lack of a better word. No, the Oskar Blues Chaka wasn't soured, but it did seem to have a bit more flavor and zest. Both beers were nice semi-slow sipping beers. The 8% ABV was definitely noticeable (as they usually are). Both gave me a nice warming effect almost immediately.

Overall: If I had done this as a blind taste test, I probably would have preferred the Oskar Blues over the Sun King by a slight margin. Granted, it's the same recipe, but the water source, how the yeast worked in the brew and perhaps some slight differences in hop additions made for similar but different experiences. Granted, not too many people will have the opportunity to compare these two same-named beers side-by-side, so I consider myself lucky.

Both beers were fine examples of a Belgian-style ale. Both pack a lot of flavor and kick. I was pleased with both samples.

Disclosure: Each brewery sent me 1 or more samples of this beer for me to try and evaluate. I was not paid to endorse this beer, nor to write a favorable review. Yes, it was free beer to me, but I try not to let that influence my review.

Video showing the pour of both Oskar Blues and Sun King Brewery's Chaka Belgian-style Ale:

If you can't view the video via RSS or email please visit the blog or view it on the Fermentedly Challenged YouTube channel.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues re-invents their 16oz can with Chaka.
- Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's IPA review.
- Sun King Batch 555 Isis Double IPA review.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog.
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