Great Divide is a craft brewery out of Denver, Colorado, well-known in beer geek circles for brewing huge, intense barleywines, stouts, and double IPAs, though its portfolio now includes a great many styles. Today, I’m doing a not-so-live review (this one’s been stuck in my drafts for weeks!) of “Espresso Oak Aged Yeti,” a 9.5% ABV imperial stout aged on oak chips with added espresso from a Denver coffee company, Pablo’s.
This beer is of a style that is actually a subset of imperial stout, called “breakfast stout.” These are big stouts brewed with coffee. I don’t know who drinks this kind of thing at breakfast; if I did so, I’d have to clear my calendar for the day. But anyway, yes, this is a huge stout, and from what I can tell just by what I’m smelling after I popped the cap, there’s a ton of coffee in here. Adding to the intrigue, this beer is also a year old, having been bottled on April 19, 2010. Coffee, oak chips, year-old…..let’s see what we’ve got here.
Poured into a snifter, this is a very dark beer, as it should be, with a modest brownish foam that looks like a good espresso crema. Aromatics are just what one would expect – coffee and chocolate. There isn’t much getting in the way of the coffee and chocolate nose, which I prefer in this style – just let me smell the coffee. No need for a lot of char or hops to get in the way.
Enough sniffing, let’s drink. This is a tasty beer, no doubt. Just like the nose, it isn’t all that complex, just plenty of great espresso flavor with bitter chocolate undertones and a pinch of the vanilla one might expect from the oak chips. Dry and long finish, with some very bitter residual hop on the aftertaste that goes on for a mile. It has the silky-smooth feel of something I’d drink at dessert, or rather, as dessert. This is a big beer for sure, but aged for one year, the alcohol isn’t very assertive in the flavor, though it will be felt, especially if one tackles this bomber solo.
Pairings? OK, I suppose one could pair this with French toast and bacon, for a highly decadent breakfast. I’d be more likely to hold it up with a good tiramisu, and taste how the coffee flavors in the dessert hook up with the coffee/chocolate flavors in the beer. Alternatively, you might try vanilla ice cream, panna cotta…the sky’s the limit. Anything coffee/chocolate/vanilla will be a star.
I consider this an “A” beer, and best of all – it’s available in most of South Florida’s better-beer outlets. Get one. And share it with me, please.