Tag Archives: Great Divide

Great Divide Orabelle

Great Divide Rumble IPAHoppy Boston tripel month continues with a trip out West. I don’t get many chances to take beer-cations, especially with my family obligations, but my wife and I try to squeeze in an occasional brewery visit when we are traveling. One of our favorite examples was a trip to Denver a couple of years ago, we went for a wedding but made it a long weekend so we could spend some time in the city. We were staying right in downtown Denver, so we were within walking distance of a series of breweries. One of our favorites from the trip was Great Divide Brewing, we had an entertaining tour and tasted a number of their offerings. I focus most of my drinking and writing on New England beers now, but every time I drink a Great Divide beer I think of that trip. Great Divide’s late winter/early spring seasonal is Orabelle, a Belgian style tripel. Orabelle is brewed with barley, wheat, oats and rye and fermented with two different yeast strains after addition of orange peel and coriander. The spice additions are interesting, they are more traditional for a Belgian witbier than a tripel. Great Divide Orabelle is available from January through March on draft and in 12 oz. bottles and cans.

Great Divide OrabelleGreat Divide Orabelle pours a hazy light orange with a minimal white head. The scent is mostly Belgian yeast, fruity and spicy. The yeast leads the flavor too, notes of apricot, clove and pear. The adjuncts add some complexity, you get hints of orange and coriander that complement the yeasty esters. There is also a full malt profile, notes of biscuit, toasted whole grain bread, honey and a dash of rye. There are minimal hops, just enough to keep the malts in check. Orabelle is medium bodied and smooth, you get just a touch of late booziness which isn’t shocking at 8.3% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering yeast and spice flavors. Orabelle is a tasty version of a Belgian tripel, the added spices and diverse malt bill add complexity but everything works in harmony. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Great Divide Reviews:

Hoppy Boston goes to Denver, Great Divide Rumble IPA


Hoppy Boston goes to Denver

My lovely wife and I spent this past weekend in Denver for a friend’s wedding (not to see a certain football game, which is a good thing considering the outcome). Denver has an amazing craft beer scene. We stayed right in downtown Denver where there are multiple breweries within walking distance. My lovely wife and I decided to spend Friday afternoon exploring the city and checking out a few of the breweries. Here is a quick re-cap of what we tried, fortunately all of the breweries had tasting flights so I was able to sample a bunch of brews without overdoing it!

Stop #1: Wynkoop Brewing Company
Wynkoop is one of the oldest brewpubs in Denver. The two story brewpub features an extensive menu and a large selection of handmade craft beers. You can have a pint at the bar or grab some cans to go. We had a great lunch (try the pork-belly BLT made with thick cut bacon and beer-bread) and sampled a number of beers from the menu. Some of our favorites include:

Silverback Pale Ale: A hop-forward American pale ale, with a great aroma featuring citrus and pine. Nicely balanced flavor with some hoppy bitterness and malty backbone while still being lighter bodied and easy to drink.

Mile HIPA: Great take on the “West Coast” IPA style. Tons of hop character in the smell and flavor, like a burst of lemon, orange and grapefruit in your mouth. Pleasantly bitter but still easy to drink.

London Calling IPA: An English style IPA served on cask. Not overly bitter or hoppy compared to the American takes on the IPA style, but very drinkable and a solid example of a proper English IPA.

Stop #2: Breckenridge Brewing Company

Breckenridge Brewing Company has a brewpub in Downtown Denver, right across the street from Coors Field. They serve a full lineup of their own beers along with a number of other local favorites. The space is beautiful, lots of exposed brick and recovered hardwood, and tons of space to hang out with a group and have some beers before a game. We focused on Breckenridge beers for our tasting.

Nitro Vanilla Porter: Smooth and very easy to drink, nice subtle sweetness. The vanilla is present but not overdone. I could have put back multiple pints of this.

Lucky U IPA: Straight-forward hop-bomb American IPA. Your nose picks up on scents that are full of pine and citrus, followed by similar hop flavors and great bitterness.

Thunder Stout: A very dark ale, also served on nitro. A drier stout with a pronounced coffee flavor followed by some roasted and vanilla notes.

Stop #3: Great Divide Brewery

Our final stop was at Great Divide, one of the most well-known Denver breweries. Their tasting room was on the small side, and on the tour we found out that they are working on building a new brewery that can accommodate their expanding business. The tour was very informative and the giant, temperature controlled outdoor fermenters were impressive. Afterwards we tried a few pints of some of Great Divide’s newer brews.

Lasso IPA:  Lasso is a session IPA, weighing in at 5% ABV. While it is lower in alcohol than some of Great Divides other offerings, it is not short on flavor. Great American hop flavors and solid bitterness. Pretty much a perfect afternoon beer, full on flavor while still being lower in alcohol.

Colette Saison: Colette is a Belgian style saison, and at 7.3% ABV it is on the heavy side for that style. Despite the high alcohol it is very easy to drink, with great Belgian yeast notes of green apple, bubblegum and pepper in the aroma and flavor.

All three breweries were an easy walk, a great advantage to visitors in downtown Denver. So, even though many New England football fans might be a little bitter at a certain Denver football team, the city is a must-visit for any craft beer fan.

Great Divide Rumble IPA

Great Divide has been brewing tasty beer in Denver, Co since 1994, and now distributes their products across the country. One of the features of many of Great Divide’s beers is barrel aging, where the beer is moved to wooden barrels after initial fermentation and before bottling/kegging. This technique has been used for years for wine and spirits, most of the distinct flavors of whiskey come from the barrels the spirit is aged in. While wooden barrels were used for the storage and transportation of beer since the beginning of brewing, this fell out of style with the use of metal kegs that were easier to clean and cheaper. Craft brewing has re-established the use of wooden barrels to age beer, even using barrels that previously aged wine or spirits to impart subtle hints of these flavors into the finished beer.

Great Divide’s Rumble is an IPA aged in oak. Oak has a distinct flavor that wine fans should know, American chardonnay’s are often aged in oak and get some of their distinct flavors from the wood. I understand the advantages to aging imperial stouts, barleywines and other high alcohol beers, the fermentations of these beers can create some harsh flavors and the aging process can mellow these flavors and leave a better final product, and aging in wood can add nuanced character to the beer. Aging an IPA seemed counter-intuitive to me, one of the best parts of IPA’s is the distinct hoppy smell, but the volatile chemicals that give this aroma dissipate over time, which is why IPA’s are best when they are very fresh. That being said, I am always up for trying something new, so I thought I would give Rumble a shot.

Great Divide Rumble IPAGreat Divide Rumble pours a clear amber with a light, white head. The smell is lightly hoppy, some earthy and grassy notes along with the distinct smell of oak. The taste is solidly bitter with a full malt backbone, caramel with hints of butter and vanilla. The oak is also very present in the taste, you taste the wood and a little bourbon character. This beer is more a sipper, which is probably just as well at 7.1% ABV. Personally I would rather have a fresh IPA that smelled like floral and citrus, but if you like the strong wood flavors infused into a balanced beer then Rumble is worth a try. Hoppy Boston score: 3.25/5.