I’m all packed. I’ve forgotten work. I’m fully prepared to lose money. Vegas, here I come. While I am gone you’ll see a series of guest reviews from all over the country. Tonight we’ll kick it off with very special post from a weekly regular (Silvio). Oh, and what’s with the picture you ask?
I was in Denver last weekend, a city that can only be described as a beer mecca. The abundance of craft beers and independent breweries is staggering, and a herculean task to review…but I tried my hardest for the LIBA crew. While in the Denver area, I visited four breweries, and I’m going to review them all over several posts.
First up on my travels was the Great Divide brewery. I’ve reviewed their beers before and was a big fan, so this was a natural first stop. The bar side of the brewery was small with room for about 30 people and a limited number of taps, but they only serve their own beer. The brewery itself adjoins the bar, and bay windows give patrons a look inside.
This is a very low key establishment – they let me walk in to snap off a few pictures and loved talking about their brews. They don’t serve food, but you’re allowed to bring your own, and while I was there a vegetarian and Vietnamese food cart stopped by.
I started my tasting with probably the coolest aspect of Great Divide, a free three beer mini sampler. They offer this to any first-time visitor, so make sure to ask for one if you visit. I was served their Smoked Baltic Porter, Samurai Rice Ale, and special release 16th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale. The Smoked Baltic is their August-September seasonal and definitely lived up to its name, marrying the thickness of a porter with a really smoky malt flavor and 6.2% ABV. The beer had lots of body, and while I thought it tasted awesome, I don’t think I could have more than one.
The rest of the sampler was just as interesting. I tried the rice ale on the strong urging of my friends, who think it’s one of Great Divide’s best. The Samurai is brewed with rice, which gives it a light and somewhat sweet flavor. It’s unfiltered and a little cloudy, but crisp and clean tasting with a 5.1% ABV. This wasn’t my favorite, but definitely makes a great summer beer. Josh has previously reviewed it, and felt the same.
Last but definitely not least was the 16th Anniversary IPA, only brewed in June and July. This is an incredible beer, based off their staple Denver Pale Ale, but aged with French and American oak chips. It was malty and hoppy at the same time, but didn’t dull either flavor. The hops are very fragrant, and combine with the oak to give it a distinct forest-like smell. The aftertaste reminded me of good bourbon, ironic because the 10% ABV is pretty close to whiskey (for beer at least)!
Once my sampler was done, I tried a full pint of the Hades Belgian Ale. This brew is very close to a hefeweizen with lots of malts and spices. It’s definitely a lot darker than your standard hefe, though, and has a hoppy aroma. The taste is complex, starting out malty sweet with some floral and honey notes, but turns into a slightly sour aftertaste. While it’s really sweet, it’s clean and not heavy like some hefes.
I’m happy to say Great Divide lived up to my expectations. Great beer, a really chilled out atmosphere, and friendly staff. Best of all, the total cost of my group’s visit was $16 for six beers and the free sampler. What a deal!