Oskar Blues: Gordon Beer, G’Knight Imperial Red Review

I picked up a 4 pack of Gordon Beer after tasting it during SF Beer Week at the Jug Shop Canned Craft Beers event. It left such an impression during the event that I had to take some more home to do a full review with pictures. Update (6/23/2011): Oskar Blues has renamed Gordon Beer to G’Knight Imperial Ale. At the time of writing this review, the beer was still called Gordon Ale.

Oskar Blues describes the style of Gordon Beer as “somewhere between an Imperial Red and a Double IPA” and it certainly fits that bill with a wonderful and intense hoppiness, 85 IBUs of bitterness, and a sweetness that creates a great balance and flavor.

Besides a great taste the other benefit of Gordon Beer is that it comes in a can. I’ve mentioned the benefits of cans for craft beer in previous articles but I’ll mention it again. Cans are both better for the beer and better for the environment. Cans hide the beer from the harmful affects of light and sunlight as well as keeping the beer more airtight. Environmentally speaking, cans are easier to recycle than bottles and are lighter so you can ship more cans per truck and save on fossil fuel usage. Finally, the plastic ring holders for Oskar Blues cans are photodegradable meaning that they break down quickly in sunlight.

This beer was formerly only available as a seasonal beer but is now available year round. The Oskar Blues website says the following about the origin of the name of the beer:

We brew Gordon in tribute to the late Gordon Knight. In addition to opening some of Colorado’s first microbreweries, Knight was a Vietnam vet, grade-A citizen, and huge promoter of craft beer. He lost his life in 2002 while fighting a wild fire outside of Lyons, Colorado.

Where I Found It. I picked up a four pack from The Jug Shop in San Francisco, CA. I was also graciously provided with some samples from an Oskar Blues representative. Thank you and cheers!

Serving Type. Served from a can into a glass.

Appearance. Gordon Beer has a standard off-white tan head that is pleasantly foamy and frothy. The head lasts an average amount of time and leaves a nice froth on the glass. The color of this beer is a wonderful red-orange or caramel amber and is very clear. It looks very inviting.

Smell. The hop bouquet leaps out of the can immediately after opening. I’ve never opened a bottle of beer and had the same experience. Gordon Beer has a wonderful hops smell that can be described as citrus, orange juice, pine resin, and floral like fresh cut flowers. I say fresh cut flowers because it has a nice green plant freshness to it. The aroma is like sweet barley malt and caramel. The combination of these attributes produces a smell that informs you that this will be a great tasting beer.

Taste. The taste of Gordon Beer lives up to the smell. The citrus and floral smells are delicious and clean on the tongue. It has a great malty and caramel flavor and is pleasantly more malty than I expected. The malt sweetness is accompanied by a slight nuttiness and roasty flavor, which probably comes from the chocolate malt. At 85 IBUs there is no doubt that this beer has loads of hop bitterness but it is not a harsh bitter flavor. The bitterness is smooth, which is due to a good balance of malt sweetness and probably hops low in cohumulone. For instance, I felt that Gordon Beer is smoother than Green Flash IPA and probably has as much, if not more, IBUs.

Mouthfeel. Although this beer is malty sweet and has 8.7% alcohol by volume it is seems about as dry as a beer with two-thirds the amount of alcohol. I would characterize this beer as medium to full bodied with a smooth and nearly creamy texture from the carbonation. The smooth bitterness lingers on the tongue and builds up over time.

Drinkability. Many super hoppy beers are great for about one beer. With Gordon Beer, however, I can, and have had, two while still wanting another. The bitterness level is high but the combination of flavors and hops make this beer smooth and easy to drink any time. Just take it easy drinking these beers, the high alcohol content can catch up with you quickly.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.5
  • Smell (20%): 4.5
  • Taste (40%): 5.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 5.0
  • Overall: 4.7

Caption on the Can

Each can of Oskar Blues Gordon Beer includes the following short caption on the back of the can:

If you knew Gordon Knight, this beer needs no explanation. If you didn’t, we’re sorry.

On the lip of the can the following text appears:


[can’o bliss. satisfy ya.]


  • Style: Imperial IPA
  • Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
  • Alcohol by volume: 8.7%
  • Hops: 3 types of hops then dry hopped with Amarillo hops
  • Malt: six types of malt including chocolate malt
  • Beer Advocate rating: 4.12 (as of April 19, 2009)


  • June 23, 2011: Oskar Blues renamed Gordon Beer or Gordon Ale renamed to G’Knight.
  • June 23, 2011: Updated the photos to use the larger versions.

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About David Jensen

David is a craft beer and photography enthusiast.
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3 Responses to Oskar Blues: Gordon Beer, G’Knight Imperial Red Review

  1. Brian says:

    I totally agree with your glowing review of Gordon. It’s a terrific beer that has intense malt and hop character, yet still achieves wonderful balance and does not destroy your palate. It has an exceptionally unique and complex flavor.

  2. Pingback: 15 Craft Beers to Try Before You Die | The Menuism Blog

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