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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beer pick of the week: Great Divide 15th Anniversary Ale

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Great Divide Brewing Company

Denver, CO

10.0% ABV

Great Divide celebrates its 15th year in business with a potent Double India Pale Ale aged on French and American oak to "round off the edges." Indeed, it's a very drinkable DIPA, with tons of malt complexity and vanilla essence to balance the aggressive hop bill.

Unlike typical over-the-top hop bombs, the initial nose carries significant fruity esters, along with brandy-like alcohol and vanilla. Floral hops, pineapple, and fresh wet pine needles round out the subtle (for a DIPA), inviting aroma. Toffee sweetness hits first in the taste, followed by a solid, resinous smack of hops. The malts, oak and citric bite of hops combine to create a whiskey sour-like quality, right down to the smoky, boozy warmth and cherry sweetness. Oaky dryness and vanilla hold onto the middle, with a pine and grapefruit rind hop bitterness rising in the finish. An alcohol burn lingers in the sinuses on the long fade.

Considering the strong elements contributed by the wood aging, the mouthfeel is somewhat raw and grainy and could be a bit softer and creamier. No doubt some further aging will help with that, as well as mellowing the burn. Medium-full and sticky, this is definitely a sipper, but balanced and enjoyable. I had no problem finishing a 22-oz bomber, leaving me warm and happy.

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