“This is a beer I could sip on for hours,” George tells me. Outside of this, I don’t really know who George is. He’s holding the small, four or five ounce syrupy pour of the Barrel Aged Yeti Stout, poured directly from the Stranahan’s barrel it had been aged in. He’s right, like most aged stouts they taste better after they’ve opened up and matched the room temperature a little more.
Of course, room temperature today is in the mid 80s. And had he been sipping it for hours out of the plastic cup — which had previously contained the Trippel and the Gose — he probably would have hated it. Solution? Maybe Great Divide needs a log-cabin tap room (maybe up on the Great Divide?) where folks can stop in after skiing on a cold winter’s eve and cozy up with this Yeti.
It’s a successful birthday festival when David Pennington, one of Denver off the Wagon’s editors, scribbles on his pad his Yeti observations, dreaming of snow on a warm June afternoon.
Beer business is booming. Various news outlets jump at the opportunity to profess the flourishing state of craft beer business. From Time Magazine to Inc., journalists love proclaiming that the craft beer industry is THE industry in which to start. But many of the great craft beer pioneers know it wasn’t always the case. Indeed, there was a time when you couldn’t get a patron to buy a craft pale ale, let alone a stout fermented with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. The breweries that have lasted more than ten years have paved the way for the niche micro- and nano-breweries to deliver the Beer Word to aficionados across the world. And Great Divide Brewing Company is one of those craft beer pioneers.
On Saturday, Great Divide turned 19 and celebrated with pride. In addition to their classics and mainstays, Great Divide threw it down for their birthday — hard. They delved into their geeky recipe box and brought out some beer gems. A Yeti Tent — yep, you read that correctly — boasting their flagship Oak-Aged Yeti, Straight From the Barrel Yeti, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti and this year’s Oatmeal Yeti. The Barrel Aged Cuvee was a marvel, a syrah barrel age Belgian ale with dark fruit and black pepper. The Peach Grand Cru transported me to Palisade, Colorado, and screamed summer even at a high ABV. This year’s 19th Anniversary ale was a strong ale brewed with birch syrup and aged on birch wood is tasty now and is guaranteed to be delicious in the Indian Summer. The Gose and the Brett Saison were my top favorites, reminding us all the silly, geeky beer things that Great Divide can do.
With each tank they install, the serving area in the Anniversary Party gets a bit smaller. “A brewery in the middle of the city isn’t unheard of. A brewery of Great Divide’s size in the middle of a city as moderately populated as Denver? It’s a marvel,” shares Pennington. Other mutterings of the festival were present: Hot as balls, jostling lines, beer-soaked sandal toes, sunburned early summer skin, delicious lighter thirst-quenching brews and more dangerous higher ABV darker beers, running into friends, good moods, good times, who doesn’t love beer in the sun on a summer afternoon?
With their big “20” coming up next year, one wonders where Great Divide is going as they continue to kill it year after year. I know I’m booking my calendar for the big day. You should, too. They may even have a Yeti/Gose hybrid, because why not?
A big thanks to David Pennington, Vanya Akraboff, and Alex Kreilein for their beer musings.