Last week, I reviewed Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, which I scored 91 points. It was an outstanding beer with complex flavors like dark chocolate, caramel, and coffee. Continuing in my series of Yeti reviews, up for sample today is the same beer, only oak aged.
The company says that oak aging the Yeti makes it a bit more rounded and tame, and perhaps adds some vanilla character. This oak aged variety is only available October-January, so it is a seasonal offering.
Great Divide brews out of Denver, Colorado, and has been producing beer since 1994. They have enjoyed success by winning gold metals in various beer festivals across the United States. Like the regular version of Yeti, this oak aged batch is 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), but the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) aren’t mentioned. (The regular Yeti is 75 IBU.) The bottle proudly states “MASSIVE and COMPLEX.”
Can the Yeti be tamed?
Release from bottle produced a large, almost huge dark khaki head, creamy and lasting in nature. This is thick, dark black, opaque beer, a beauty of a stout. And from the moment of the pour and the dissipation of the head, the lacing left behind was thick and excellent. The Yeti knows how to bring it, visually.
The aromatics featured a strong coffee and chocolate note up front, backed by a nice but fierce pine hop. There were hints of smoke and toasted scents throughout, but the overall impression to the nose was one of sweetness. There’s a lot of caramel here, and this one is definitely more candy bar-like compared to the regular Yeti. I didn’t detect any of those suggested vanilla hints in the aroma.
Oak Aged Yeti greets the palate with some really sweet flavors up front, caramel and chocolate. There’s also a definite splash of vanilla, which I found to be decidedly more than “subtle” like Great Divide suggested. The sweetness continues through the middle of the taste and into the swallow, where the experience is a dark chocolate that slowly, slowly, slowly turns into a fairly bitter bomb, thanks to the hops. Then there’s black coffee bitterness, and the oak aging comes out in the long, drawn out finish that turns up the volume on the vanilla, again. I didn’t get any strong flavors of oak, per se; however, you can definitely tell something special has went on with this beer.
The mouthfeel was thick and creamy, and sticky after the taste. I didn’t detect any alcohol, but the aforementioned 9.5% is in there, for sure — after my first glass, I could feel my body temperature rising. Drink this one at home or in good company, because it is big.
Overall, I found the Oak Aged Yeti to be more complex and much more bitter than the regular Yeti. I did find the Oak Aged version to be more to my liking, especially with the added vanilla note and the mega story it told on the tongue.
This is a hell of a beer.
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, 94 points. Price: $9.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.