Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mile High Brews: Great Divide

LoDo in downtown Denver used to be one of the least desirable places to go in Colorado. Then with the opening of Coors Field in 1995 the area was cleaned up and became a trendy area for bars and shopping areas. But it was a year before that, when the microbrewery scene in Denver was still scarce, that an experimental brewery opened up just a couple of blocks away from where Coors Field would be. A brewery that has both traditional ales and beers that are very experimental in flavor combinations. A brewery inspired by the owner’s worldly travels, and of course a commitment to quality. A brewery that has won 17 medals at the annual Great American Beer Festival, 5 World Beer Cup awards, and has twice been ranked in the top 10 of microbreweries in the world. So when in downtown Denver a brewery that is a must visit and a must try is Great Divide on Arapahoe Street, where great minds drink alike.
Upon walking up to this brewery you would never imagine that a place so small could produce so many flavorful beers. There is a nice patio outside with scenery of the old buildings and warehouses, and the inside is a small, but recently expanded bar with views into the production area. There is no glitz or glamour to the environment of this bar; it is a very basic setup that allows the beers to speak for themselves. Great Divide offers nine beers year round ranging from ales to IPAs, and they also offer thirteen seasonal ales some of which are unique brews and others are year round beers with special flavors ranging from espresso to chocolate. At the tap room there is an opportunity to try any of the year round offerings plus up to seven different seasonal beers at anytime. They have sixteen taps altogether and keep them all going. The question that now has to be answered is with so much variety offered how do you know which one to try?
One of the first beers that anybody should try here is the DPA (Denver Pale Ale). If you are a fan of English style ales or of traditional IPA beers then this is the perfect fit, as it is essentially a hybrid of both of those styles into one bottle. This beer is a classic pale ale which comes with both a hoppy aroma and taste which usually leads to a very bitter ale. English style ales are known to very malty, so when the two styles are combined the end product is a beer that is both bitter, malty, but has a smooth finish. A beer totally unique to the city of Denver is a definite must try for fans of any style of ale.
Now whether people will admit it or not fruity beers can be not only enjoyable and refreshing, but flat out delicious. The Wild Raspberry Ale is all three of those and one of the best beers at this brewery. So the question is with all the fruit beers on the market what separates this one from the rest? For starters the fruit used is real so there is no worry about an artificial taste or sweetness, it is all natural. The second is the use of both red and black raspberries which adds to the depth of flavor and an extra dimension to this beer. A great ale to drink year round whenever a truly refreshing beer is what you are craving.
 Whenever the term Belgian Style Ale is thrown around the same thought comes to mind time after time. An unfiltered wheat beer loaded with citrus flavor and served with an orange wedge on the side of the pint glass. All those thoughts went out the door the first time I tried Hades. No citrus flavor, just a different type of yeast used to brew this ale which gives it a great spice note. It is a very simple beer that still has a very complex and deep flavor. The crispness of the ale followed by the subtle spices makes this a very surprising but very high quality beer that will not disappoint.
While Great Divide may only offer nine beers on a year round basis they do make thirteen different seasonal beers. None of these are better than the Hibernation winter ale, an old style English ale packed full of malty flavor. If you prefer stouts than not only is the Yeti widely available but throughout the year they add espresso and chocolate to this beer to give it a different spin and it never lets down. Not to mention using the same Belgian yeast in an IPA to give a dimension of spice to all the hops.
It’s hard to imagine that such a small brewery can produce not only so many beers but maintain such a high quality. Whether your taste is for a fruity beer, malty beer, rice ale, or an IPA Great Divide offers it all. While six packs are available throughout the state there is nothing better than going to see this brewery and having a fresh pint. Next time you are in downtown Denver this place should be a top priority to visit. While they do not serve food there is always a food truck outside to serve you as well, an added bonus.

No comments:

Post a Comment