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Beer for Skiers: Oskar Blues BA20 Vol. 2, 3, and 4

Patience is a very valuable thing to have right now, especially for skiing and barrel-aged beer.

Dealing deftly with unexpected roadblocks was the name of the game in 2020 for skiers:

  • Early ski area closures due to global pandemic? Just have to start mountain biking locally a bit sooner than usual.
  • Can’t ski the backcountry in December because avy conditions are super sketchy? No worries, run around the block a few times and try to get a ski area reservation.
  • Can’t get a weekend ski area reservation until March? All good, I guess I’ll just play hooky on Fridays to “test some gear.” (I hope the new Editor-in-Chief at SKI will understand.)

I like to think I’m a patient person and that staying even-keeled while waiting for things out of my control—like getting the COVID vaccine or, equally important at this point, a stable backcountry snowpack in Colorado—helps make day-to-day life more manageable. And if “good things come to those who wait” is still a thing, there is a line of beers from Oskar Blues that give this adage a prophetic feel (as well as some delicious stouts to drink) while we continue to wait for stability in 2021.

I wrote about Oskar Blues’ first limited-edition 2020 Barrel-Aged release (BA20 Vol. 1: All Monde) when the ski areas closed down in March. Over the last few months of 2020, the brewery tapped and canned three other BA20 volumes, and they are easily some of the most robust, full-bodied beers of the year. Check out some notes below, and pick up a four-pack for your next parking lot après-ski.

BA20 Vol. 2: Amburilla

Oskar Blues BA20 Vol. 2 Amburilla
A proper pour of the Oskar Blues BA20 Vol. 2: AmburillaPhoto courtesy of Oskar Blues

Pro-tip: When a brewery describes a beer as a “complex beast” that has “surprise notes of spicy ginger,” hold on to your beer helmet because this imperial stout is going to be a kick in the mouth. BA20 Vol. 2: Amburilla is exactly that, it has so much ginger flavor I thought it might actually be barrel-aged ginger beer. A can of this will clear your sinuses and the boozy ABV—a heavy 12.5 percent—will make you shed a layer halfway through. Make sure you’re not driving after an Amburilla.

  • Beer Type: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
  • Flavor Notes: Ginger (like, a lot), bourbon, vanilla, cocoa
  • Pairs Well With: Cold days, stuffy noses, fans of ginger
  • ABV: 12.5% IBUs: N/A
  • More info: Oskar Blues Website; Untappd Profile

BA20 Vol. 3: Angel’s Vera

Oskar Blues BA20 Vol. 3 Angels Vera
A smooth four-pack for your next parking lot après.Photo courtesy of Oskar Blues

Unlike Vol. 1 and 2, the Angel’s Vera was aged for 20 months in rum barrels instead of bourbon barrels. This tropical, boozy twist lends a different alcoholic flavor to the Imperial Stout, and the brewers at Oskar Blues used their fancy Spinbot 5000 to infuse roasted pistachios, cacao nibs, coconut, and vanilla beans into the third volume. The rum punches through the nutty flavors the hardest, but even so, this is the smoothest volume of the BA20 series.

  • Beer Type: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
  • Flavor Notes: Rum, Roasted Pistachios, Coconut
  • Pairs Well With: Luau parties at the ski area but it’s snowing and cold, après after a powder day so deep it feels like a religious experience
  • ABV: 10.3% IBUs: N/A
  • More info: Oskar Blues Website; Untappd Profile

BA20 Vol. 4: Zuccotto

Oskar Blues BA20 Vol. 4 Zuccotto
Dessert, anyone?Photo courtesy of Oskar Blues

If the BA20 series was a four-course meal, the fourth volume is definitely dessert. Aged for over a year in brandy barrels with raspberries, white and dark chocolate, and vanilla beans, the Zuccotto is a lot like a beer version of the Italian dessert it’s named after (which, surprisingly, hasn’t been on The Great British Bake Off). If there’s one word to describe this beer, it has to be the one the bartender used when she served me: Decadent. It’s also my favorite from the entire lineup.

  • Beer Type: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
  • Flavor Notes: Raspberry, brandy, dark chocolate, vanilla
  • Pairs Well With: Dessert, baked goods, hut trips, and après-ski in 2021
  • ABV: 12.3% IBUs: N/A
  • More info: Oskar Blues Website; Untappd Profile

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