Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Release: Great Divide Rolls Out a Pair

So, I guess my "daily" updates on new beers lasted for all of about two days. But while I didn't post one Friday, I have a fairly good excuse: I was immersed in tasting the next two subjects of this blog. As for yesterday, well, let's just say I took some to recover . . . no, I mean think about the two beers I'd enjoyed.

Great Divide released two beers Friday night that are united in their rich, dark coloring but decidedly different in most other ways.

The Espresso Oak Aged Yeti is owner Brian Dunn's greatest creation since the Belgian IPA that he broke out for the Great American Beer Festival two years ago. Much like its brothers in Great Divide's imperial stout family, this one packs a significant alcoholic wallop and decidedly thick body that makes it an appropriate wintertime beer. But the infused espresso here strangely seems to lighten the load, pulling your taste buds' attention away from the strong characteristics of the barrel aging and toward an aromatic, almost chewy sensation that takes over your mouth. Because of the smoothness of the blending, you may realize only later how surprisingly strong this is. But unlike other coffee beers or imperial stouts, you will have no trouble putting several pints of something this easy down in a night.

The Claymore Scotch Ale, meanwhile, is arguably the brewery's most subdued offering since the introduction of the Samurai Rice Ale a few years ago. Though blessed with the sunset-amber hue of its style and a medium-sized body, the immediate impression it affords you is one of easiness. But this isn't the shocking ease of the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti; instead, it's the surprising, slightly disappointing ease of a beer that is satisfactory but not as complex as most of what you'll find on the tap handles in this brewery. There was significant debate among the Fearless Tasting Crew about Claymore's merits. Some felt it hit the right note of maltiness and subdued hops without any overbearing qualities. Others, however, noted the absence of some Scotch Ale qualities such as chocolate notes and a late-breaking malt bitterness. This is not a bad beer, for sure. But it also won't add enormously to Great Divide's legend - whereas the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti should.

Both beers will be available through May. Claymore can be found in six packs, and the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti in bombers.


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