Thursday, September 9, 2010

Great Divide Brewery

I know all of our loyal readers have been breathlessly waiting for our latest post, so I'm hoping not to disappoint. Today's post is (hopefully) an act in two parts, as the Jonesydog staff begins celebrating the awesomeness that is Denver Beer Week. To kick it off properly, your humble authors hit the tasting room at the sorely under-appreciated Great Divide Brewery tap room. The following is my account of the evening; with luck, the co-contributor will pitch in his thoughts as well.

So here is the thing about Denver, and Colorado as a whole, from a beer drinker's perspective: its an embarrassment of riches. Most of us here trip over breweries on our way out the door in the morning. Trying to stay on top of beer in Colorado is ultimately a losing battle, because its everywhere, all the time (but if you're gonna lose a fight...). Because of this, some great, great stuff gets lost in the cracks, and I'd argue Great Divide is foremost among them. With the ubiquity and out right fun of New Belgium, the awesome beer and beer culture of guys like Oscar Blues, sometimes is easy to forget the guys who sit down and get the job done well. Hence, our review of Great Divide.

We hit the Divide late in the evening, with only a few hours to lounge around and do some tasting. The tasting room is small, but focused: eight taps, one bar, and a handful of chairs for those that venture in. The bartender was awesome, informed, wasn't stingy with the pours, and didn't mind giving us the once over of the brewery or cracking open bottles when kegs weren't tapped. Have your jam-packed New Belgium tasting room - I'll take this any day. Wisely, outside some pizza vendors were hawking their wares, and having had a chance to talk to them briefly after they shut down, I think its well worth my time to be tracking them down in the future.

But I digress: we were there to taste beers, and we tasted some great beer. I'm going to throw in my own little disclaimer here: I hit the Divide after a pretty hefty day of work and some high-intensity miles on my road bike. It didn't take much for me to get a little sideways later in the tasting. As such, I'll probably skip over a few, and focus on ones that really hit home:

1) Yeti Imperial Stout. We got this later in the night our of a bottle, as the keg was kicked. I've seen Yeti around for awhile, and having ridden and raced on Yeti cycles for over a decade, I've always had a soft spot for this one. That said, I've never actually drank one (the beer, that is). The Divide website describes Yeti as an assault on the senses, and my friends, they do not lie. Like Oscar Blues Ten Fidy, Yeti s an imperial stout that takes to sipping, not drinking. Dark in color, rick in flavor, with a good tan head, this beer asks you to spend some time with it. If thinking of decompressing after a long fall or winter night, the Yeti is your man.

2) Claymore. Claymore and I have been dancing around each other for a while now. I first noticed this beer earlier in the year, a strong scotch ale. Since then, other than a brief tasting at the kickoff for Denver Harvest Week, I've been missing out on this one. To my great loss: Claymore is a great scotch ale, deep red in color, with a strong caramel flavor with a hint of smoke and a pretty mellow hop profile. This, my friends, is how its done.

These were the two standouts of the evening, but when I say standouts, I mean A+ students in a straight A lot. I'm hoping other contributors can fill in the details on some of the other beers, notably those great Belgian offerings Great Divide has. Of the tasting rooms I've hit, this one ranks high, and of the brewing crews I've seen, Divide is among the best. Now, if only they'd crank up their output...

But seriously, stop overlooking these guys. Next time you're stocking up for the weekend and are about to grab one of your Colorado standby beers, think twice and grab a Divide. Great stuff.

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