Tag Archive | great divide brewing company

Beer Review 0574: Great Divide Orabelle Belgian-Style Tripel

793b1d7e8af911e3aa9012acd609e962_8

Great Divide Brewing Co. is the vision of Brian Dunn, who during the late 1980’s, spent five years outside of the United States building farms in developing countries. Dunn had a passion for beer, and upon returning home to Colorado, started home brewing and graduated from college.

Dunn thought that he could start a brewery in Denver, and with help from family, friends, and a loan from the city, Great Divide started producing beers in 1994. At first, Dunn was the only employee — but his beers were outstanding, winning medals at beer festivals and catching attention by word of mouth.

Things got big, and today Great Divide has 47 employees, and has won eighteen Great American Beer Festival medals. Now brewing 10 year-round beers and 12 seasonals, Great Divide proudly says they have “something for everyone.”

Up today is Great Divide’s winter seasonal, which is a Belgian-Style Tripel they call Orabelle. This beer is brewed with two yeast strains, orange peel, and coriander. It also has a variety of malts, including barley, wheat, oats, and rye. Available in six-packs, the brew comes in at 8.3% ABV (alcohol by volume).

7fd9dc928af911e3a67212773ddcd17e_8

The pour made for a small, almost sparse frothy head. It quickly disappeared to just a rippled cover on top of the beer, which was yellow in color, verging on golden. The body was exceptionally cloudy, which made the brew opaque, although there were no particles or sediment… until you get to the end of the bottle, when it looks like there’s actual orange peels floating in your beer. But it’s not, it’s all yeast; it does help with head retention a smidgen. Lacing is fair, leaving patchy thin suds on the glass.

The nose reminded me more of a wheat ale rather than a Tripel. That’s not a bad thing as the aromas here are still nice; we’ve got orange represented heavily, with orange peel, orange slice, and spicy orange all in the house. There’s a decent dose of coriander, but more minor players of banana and bready notes. I also noticed a fair amount of candy-like sweetness, which amps up the oranges in a good way. As it warms, some burnt clove begins to appear.

86a8d28a8af911e3b581129d66bb6fb9_8

On the palate, Orabelle unleashes a huge blast of orange, covering the whole fruit, practically…orange peel, orange juice, sugar-coated orange slices, and spicy orange. If you like orange, you’ll dig this. It begins to open up some with hits of coriander and grainy malt, along with some clove. It’s sweet and crisp, and finishes out riding more of the orange with interludes of banana, bubblegum, and a light bitterness that dries out the tongue just a tad. Alcohol is completely hidden. Orabelle is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel.

Like I mentioned in my description of the aroma, this brew reminds me more of an imperial wheat ale rather than a Tripel. While it has the Tripel flavor characteristics, it doesn’t seem as complex, and this style does seem to incorporate a touch of alcohol in taste. You could get in trouble with this beer, especially if you like oranges, and even more if you love orange juice. This beer just seems to be missing some ‘wow’ factor.

Great Divide Orabelle Belgian-Style Tripel, 86 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 12 oz. bottle.

0574-greatdivideorabelle

Advertisements

Beer Review 0559: Great Divide Lasso IPA

658658ec7b2d11e388c612b8b9818b0a_8

Great Divide Brewing Co. is the vision of Brian Dunn, who during the late 1980’s, spent five years outside of the United States building farms in developing countries. Dunn had a passion for beer, and upon returning home to Colorado, started home brewing and graduated from college.

Dunn thought that he could start a brewery in Denver, and with help from family, friends, and a loan from the city, Great Divide started producing beers in 1994. At first, Dunn was the only employee — but his beers were outstanding, winning medals at beer festivals and catching attention by word of mouth.

Things got big, and today Great Divide has 47 employees, and has won eighteen Great American Beer Festival medals. Now brewing 10 year-round beers and 12 seasonals, Great Divide proudly says they have “something for everyone.”

Celebrating 20 years in 2014, Great Divide is adding the beer up for review today — Lasso IPA — to its year-round portfolio. Inspired by the recent trend of lower ABV (alcohol by volume) so-called “session” style India Pale Ale, Lasso becomes Great Divide’s lowest beer in alcohol, measuring just 5%. Whether you want to consider 5% sessionable or not is an argument for another time, and perhaps another website altogether.

Brewed with Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade hops, the beer ranks 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and promises “it’ll go down mighty fine.”

6d429cf87b2d11e3a8af0e0b4f6d16dc_8

Lasso pours a beautiful bright white head, large and soapy atop a perfectly golden beer. The head lasts; the body of the beer is exceptionally clear and contains no particles or sediment. Lacing is excellent, leaving behind thick layers of foam as I sipped.

On the nose, what we have is fairly typical of lower ABV IPA — lots of grapefruit, a fair bit of orange and lemon peel, and significant grassiness. Grassy hops seem to be the dividing factor on these types of beer; here, it’s not overwhelming. The malts are nearly non-existent, only offering up some faint notes of grain. I’d call this one earthy, dominant in grapefruit, with a grassy undertone.

75c874387b2d11e39c23126c29766154_8

The taste opens with a bit of a surprise. Bold notes of fleshy grapefruit and juicy orange delight, immediately making me smile and wondering how they got all that flavor in this relatively small package. Really nice right from the get go — middle of the mouth turns more toward the grassy end, and the grainy flavors start to come out as well. But the delicious hoppy flavors never die, as showcased on the finish with moderately bitter grapefruit, pine, and lemon. For 50 IBUs, this is much more bitter than I expected. I’d classify this beer medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy, and drying mouthfeel that hedges just a bit toward medicinal but isn’t off-putting.

Nicely done, Great Divide! Looks like year twenty will be a great one — but some thoughts: there’s a ton of flavor here for a 5% beer, and I love that. However, I wonder exactly who the target audience is — you’re certainly not going to hook a novice drinker with this beer, it’s too bitter! And for someone like myself, I probably won’t go back to this because there is a price issue here. I understand these type of “session” beers take more effort to brew because you are packing lots of flavor without having much alcohol to work with, but I’m not dropping eleven bucks for a sixer of this. Call me cheap if you want, but it’s the truth. That said, this is a very good beer and an impressive feat of brewing. I could easily drink many of these, and I recommend all to try it.

Great Divide Lasso IPA, 89 points. Price: $10.99 US for a six-pack.

0559-greatdividelassoipa

Beer Review 0549: Great Divide Hibernation Old Ale

1e515e0a614611e38b7612f41c94e347_8

Great Divide Brewing Co. is the vision of Brian Dunn, who during the late 1980’s, spent five years outside of the United States building farms in developing countries. Dunn had a passion for beer, and upon returning home to Colorado, started home brewing and graduated from college.

Dunn thought that he could start a brewery in Denver, and with help from family, friends, and a loan from the city, Great Divide started producing beers in 1994. At first, Dunn was the only employee — but his beers were outstanding, winning medals at beer festivals and catching attention by word of mouth.

Things got big, and today Great Divide has 47 employees, and has won eighteen Great American Beer Festival medals. Now brewing 9 year-round beers and 12 seasonals, Great Divide proudly says they have “something for everyone.”

The October-December seasonal from Great Divide is their Hibernation Ale, an English-style Old Ale that has been in production since 1995. While you might think this to be a malt bomb, it’s actually dry-hopped, a bit unusual for this style. But Great Divide still promise plenty of malt, and something must be going right considering this brew won a silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. Hibernation Ale comes in at 8.7% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Before I get to the pour, it should be noted that the bottling date on the label was stamped 9/19/2014. How cool is it to have next year’s batch already? Must have been a problem with the dating machine that day…

26722f2e614611e385e50a1b276f21fd_8

Flowing out of the bottle, Hibernation Ale produced a small, soapy head that quickly diminished. The color of the beer was a lovely shade of red when held to light; out of light, its murky brown. The beer is clear, obviously filtered, and there were no particles or sediment to observe. Lacing was good, leaving behind wispy thin sheets of light tan foam.

On the aroma, heavy malts and steady hops provide for a deep and pungent scent supported primarily by sweetened coffee, hazelnut, and dark chocolate. The hops are also significant, contributing a big note of pine and some lemon peel, but are generally overshadowed by the malts. It’s like there is a battle being fought here and the winner is your nose, because this brew smells very nice. There’s lots of roast here and it reminded me of a Black IPA much more than an Old Ale. The hazelnut threw me for a loop, as I didn’t really expect it — it’s like the coffee aroma is sweetened with hazelnut. Nice.

2e594006614611e391d70a709678223e_8

And the taste supports the Black IPA theory — loads of pine collide with milk chocolate, producing a moderate bitterness that grows more stiff as the flavors begin to unwind. A brisk note of coffee is introduced, and when combined with dry grapefruit, really amps up the acidic and bitterness aspect. It begins to smooth over with a bit of sweet hazelnut, but more black coffee is poured on for the finish, which is solidly bitter; however, as it continues to play out, a wall of dark chocolate overtakes the coffee, turning the finish bittersweet. But the hop players never exit out of the game, riding fresh pine and citrus until the end, making this a confusing drink for the style. Hibernation is full-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

If we’re grading by style, the mark isn’t met, but luckily, we aren’t — and never do. At this moment, Hibernation drinks like a Black IPA, but some age could and will probably drastically change that. And yes, this is full-flavored, perhaps a bit too much. But I think it’s good enough to return to in a few months after the cellar has done some work. Oh, and the alcohol is completely hidden — not exactly a high drinkability, but that helps.

Time to go into hibernation, Hibernation…

Great Divide Hibernation Old Ale, 88 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 12 oz. bottle.

0549-greatdividehibernationale

Beer Review 0511: Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale

93a6fc463e9611e395ed22000a1fc78a_8

Great Divide Brewing Co. is the vision of Brian Dunn, who during the late 1980’s, spent five years outside of the United States building farms in developing countries. Dunn had a passion for beer, and upon returning home to Colorado, started home brewing and graduated from college.

Dunn thought that he could start a brewery in Denver, and with help from family, friends, and a loan from the city, Great Divide started producing beers in 1994. At first, Dunn was the only employee — but his beers were outstanding, winning medals at beer festivals and catching attention by word of mouth.

Things got big, and today Great Divide has 47 employees, and has won eighteen Great American Beer Festival medals. Now brewing 9 year-round beers and 12 seasonals, Great Divide proudly says they have “something for everyone.”

Coming from the seasonal category is Great Divide’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale, a beer brewed with wet, whole cone hops freshly harvested from the Pacific Northwest. “Wet-hopped” beers require much more work than other hoppy beers as the brewing process requires many more hops — using whole cones over pelletized hops means the brewer has to use five times as much material than normal, which drives up the cost of the beer. Along with the increase in raw materials comes the time spent processing the hops; fresh hop brews are notoriously laborious, with increases in time to brew and time to track down freshly harvested materials. When hops are picked, they have to be used in beer within mere hours in order to achieve peak flavor. Great Divide Fresh Hop comes in at 6.1% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 55 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

9c6e94603e9611e3807c22000a9e06c7_8

The pour issued an average size, off-white soapy head that lasted. Color of the beer was deep golden, with a translucent body that was brilliantly clear of particles and sediment. Lacing was very nice, leaving behind ample suds on the side of the glass.

In the aroma department, those fresh hops shine, but it’s not as pungent as you might expect. There’s bold hops for sure, mostly resinous pine with lighter notes of citrus, grapefruit, and orange peel. The color indicates this should have a decent malt backing, but there is little here, perhaps some grain and straw. The hops are nice, I just wish the volume was turned up a few notches. As the brew warms, a dominant note of grass takes over, but it’s crisp and clear, not stale.

a70256463e9611e3813a22000a1fb833_8

Best way to describe what this beer tastes like: sweet hop juice. It’s grassy and grainy up front and generally mild, but this really opens up into a fine display of orange peel, grapefruit, pine, and peaches. I wouldn’t exactly call this a hop bomb, but the freshness is on display and it’s a fine showcase compared to the typical massively bitter IPA you might think of when considering a beer brewed with five times the amount of hops than it otherwise would contain. And while the bitterness is toned down, there is some here; a light amount on the finish, which is actually really clean. But as you get further into the bottle, the bitterness starts to build, leaving the palate to soak in crisp pine and resin flavors. Fresh Hop is light-bodied, with a medium, foamy texture.

This beer is very nice in terms of drinkability and freshness. I had this bomber down quick, and I was looking for more after it was gone. Great Divide has my respect on this one; it’s a well-crafted beer obviously with all the right ingredients. Yummy!

Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale, 93 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

0511-greatdividefreshhop

Beer Review 0463: Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Stout

23d635fcffcc11e29f3d22000aaa21f1_7

Great Divide have introduced a new member to the Yeti Imperial Stout clan for 2013 — Oatmeal Yeti, brewed with rolled oats and a small amount of raisins. Oatmeal Yeti replaces Belgian-Style Yeti (88 points), retired in 2012.

Great Divide brews out of Denver, Colorado, and has been producing beer since 1994. They have enjoyed success by winning gold metals at various beer festivals across the United States. The Yeti beers are some of their highest rated, and I’ve been lucky enough to try them all:

Yeti Imperial Stout, 91 points
Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, 94 points
Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, 94 points
Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, 96 points
Belgian-Style Yeti Imperial Stout, 88 points (retired)

As you can see, nearly all the Yeti brews have high marks. While the regular Yeti is year-round, all the variants are seasonal offerings — Oatmeal Yeti makes an appearance each July. Coming in at 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), Great Divide uses the words ROUNDED and LEGENDARY to describe Oatmeal Yeti. And if this version is like all the others, the drinker will find Yeti to be an imposing yet gentle giant.

322494e6ffcc11e2ab5f22000ae911b1_7

Allowing Oatmeal Yeti to escape from the bottle issues up a small, dark tan head that is composed of soapy and large bubbles. It fades quickly, which is expected for a high alcohol beer. In true Imperial Stout style, this one is pitch black, with only a tiny amount of a light brown cola edge when the glass is held to light. It’s opaque, so I can’t really tell you about the body, but it doesn’t appear to have any significant particles or sediment. Lacing is good, leaving thin weepy sheets in the wake of each sip.

On the nose, this one doesn’t punch you in the face; instead, you get a very nuanced but still heavily malted beer. Sweet dark chocolate and coffee provide a base layer for a big presence of dark fruit — like some Imperial Stouts, this one has a grape-jammy like aroma, along with more classic dark fruits like prune and raisin. It’s a sweet beer that has just a touch of fruity hops. Not bold yet still expressive, it’s quite nice and the aroma only seems to get deeper as it warms.

3fd53654ffcc11e283f522000a1f9016_7

Tasting, and the big flavors come knocking instantly — lots of dark fruit and dark chocolate, with a dash of black coffee. Raisin and grape flavors come to the front, along with highly roasted malts that actually give a pretty stiff wave of bitterness before settling down into more of a bittersweet vibe with a finish of burnt toast. The coffee and dark chocolate flavors linger through the long finish, concluding with a mild but detectable alcohol note. Oatmeal Yeti is full-bodied, with a very thick and creamy mouthfeel, but not cloying.

I found the new Yeti quite similar to the regular, year-round volume, just with an enhanced mouthfeel and an amping up of dark fruits. The other thing that stood out was that Oatmeal Yeti seemed to be a bit hot in the alcohol department; I seem to remember the other Yeti to be a little more delicate in this area, but I don’t think it detracts from the beer — it lets you know Yeti is a force to be reckoned with. Nice stuff. Consider me a Yeti hunter.

Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Stout, 92 points. Price: $9.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

0463-greatdivideoatmealyeti

%d bloggers like this: