Oskar Blues Chaka
Oskar Blues: Chaka (USA: Belgian Strong Ale: 7.9% ABV)

Visual: Reddened amber. Moderate yellowed tight bubbled head that leaves lace curtains around the glass.

Nose: Very much bananas. Very yeastie. Wholemeal bread undertones. Malt loaf. Vinous cherry notes as it warms.

Body: Banana. Yeastie. Funky feel. Cheesy puffs. Raisins. Light gingerbread. Jelly comes out if held on tongue. Lime touch. Gooseberry jam. Cherries as it warms, and vinous notes.

Finish: Coriander. Light bitterness. Gooseberry jam. Bready.

Conclusion: Belgian style ales from America. Why are they obsessed with making them so smooth? Or at least so it seems this end of the pond. Oddly enough, considering often I prefer the rougher style, in the case of this beer I really am not complaining.

Possibly because this beer is so distinctive, very much its own thing, and more using the Belgian style as a base point rather than a template. This thing calls itself Chaka, which I initially read as chakra – a mistake which led me to think that Ying/Yang more applied here. To my mind anyway. Cooled down this beer is full of the Belgian blond banana, yeast, light ginger and coriander styles. Smooth as a banana milkshake, but definitely using Belgian blond as a base. Warmed up it started gaining raisins, cherries and vinous notes in a very dark Belgian ale style. How the hell did they do that? Two very separate styles separated here by only a few degrees change in temperature.

In both expressions there is the full yeastie feel and fun, a slight breadiness and kind of gooseberry jam charm that links the two, seemingly inexplicable different, interpretations of what is, in the end, exactly the same god damn beer.

Overall it is a very impressive beer. Indebted to the Belgian style, but not shacked, milkshake like but still distinctly a beer. Vinous touched but not heavy. This is very much a beer that stands out on its own and a very good beer at that. Recommended.

Background: Well, what do you do when you are waiting in a bar for them to release a new beer at 18:00 hours? Well, in my case, open a William Gibson novel (Spook Country to be precise) and order a half of one of their beers from a recent Oska Blues tap takeover. Unsure of which to go for I asked for advice, and this was the beer that resulted. Many thanks. Rate beer lists this as 8%. I know in bars the tax rate on beer changes at certain points based on abv, and there is a 0.2 accuracy leeway for listing strength in bars. I have a strange feeling one of the tax jump points is 8% for some reason…