Great Divide Brewing Co – 18th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

Some of you may have noticed a little drop off in my posting in the past week.  There is certainly a reason for that, and I can’t help but say I don’t see things changing any time soon.  The Elysian review was my only post from last week.  It’s not that I ran out of ideas, but I just felt like I had invested far too much in this blog.  Attempting to post every single day does sometimes stretch the quality of the blogs that I was posting, and I felt like I had sacrificed quality for quantity.  Therefore, last week I kind of took a step back and decided to really take a look at the material I was posting.  I felt like I wasn’t posting things that I actually liked, I was just trying to get out something every single day.  I’m going to now limit myself to 2-3 posts a week.  I’ll focus on beer and music reviews, and I’ll definitely still do my homebrew posts as well.  Those are quickly becoming my favorite.

Anyway, I’m still drinking craft brew often, so I better review some of those every once in a while.  Friday I cracked open this bottle from Great Divide. I had seen this one offered online, and I almost jumped at the opportunity to buy it, but I ultimately waited.  Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed because my local hunting ground eventually got it in.  I honestly haven’t ventured into the beers from Great Divide too much, but in picking this one up, I’m actually not all that sure why I haven’t.  Looking at their line-up online, I’m extremely enticed by quite a few of their offerings.  I guess when you’re already purchasing lots of stuff, you don’t really always get everything.  Anyway, I think there are some fairly clear explanations of why I got this bottle.  It’s a big beer, it’s a special release, and it looks really delicious.

The description on the side of the bottle told me it was something I would certainly be looking forward to.  They describe it as having sweet malts, floral American and English hops, and French and American oak.  When I read that something is wood aged from a big company like this, I assume they aged the beer in barrels.  They seem to have taken a different route with this one.  They used oak chips for the aging process.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that, and I think it helped wood age the beer with out adding in a bourbon or whiskey component as well.  Ultimately I guess I just associate the use of oak chips with homebrewing.  Either way, I was really excited to see how it turned out.

This one poured out a dark reddish-brown color.  There is some moderate tan head that develops on top, but it only results in some fair lacing with a very small amount of sticky residue.  I thought the residue might be more plentiful with 10% abv.  There is some very nice clarity on it, and you can see some light carbonation on the surface of the beer as well.

The smell immediately reveals a nice blend of both sweet malts and hefty hops.  The malts come across as being quite sweet and having a slight sticky aroma to it as well.  The hops are more pine than floral, and they have a lot of tang to them as well.  Mixing with the hops and malts is the smell of grapefruit and tropical fruit.  The oaky wood aroma is there as well; however it isn’t coming across as bold as I’ve had in a few other wood aged beers.  Finally, you can certainly smell a big hit of booze in there as well.

The sweet malts dominate the start of the taste.  They have a very sticky quality to them which combine very nicely with the big hit of hops that come in.  The hops quickly go from pine to tang, which I personally really enjoy in a good imperial IPA.  The pine does manage to come back towards the end of the tang.  The hop flavors are complimented by some big grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors.  The back half of the flavor profile introduces the nice mellow oak wood flavor and a little surprising smokey flavor as well.  The beer ends with some very big residual booze that had me wondering if I should have saved it to share with someone else.

The mouth here has lots of syrup and some very light carbonation.  The carbonation helps to introduce the beer.  This is certainly helpful in balancing the ample malts that start the brew.  The beer becomes quite syrupy to match up with the very tangy hops.  The oak is surprisingly dominant here.  Overall the mouth is great although I would have liked a little more carbonation.

I’ve had quite a few different imperial ipas, but I don’t think I’ve had all that many that have been aged in oak.  I really like how dominant the smoke and oak are in here; however, now I’m wondering if I should try and find another bottle to age a little bit.  I have a feeling this one would age quite well.  If you happen to find a bottle, put in your cellar for a while.

Teacher Grade: B

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