Opened in 1994 by Brian Dunn, Great Divide Brewing has provided amazing beers for over 20 years. Originating in Denver, Colorado, Brian was, at the beginning, the only full-time employee; brewing, selling and distributing as a one man operation. As the popularity of the beers took off, Great Divide expanded and became a major player in the craft beer community. Popular offerings include, amongst others, some big beers like Hercules DIPA, Old Ruffian Barleywine and many variations on the original Yeti Imperial Stout.
Today, I have the honor of tasting the 2011 Oak Aged Yeti, which has been aged on French and American oak chips and has been waiting for over four years to be consumed by a lucky drinker; and today, that lucky drinker is me.
I pop off the top and receive no response, no fizz, no noise, just dead silence.
I pour a portion of the 22-ounce bomber into my Spiegelau stout glass and wait for the reaction. It is slow to start, but as I pour, a semi-dark tan head develops and rises to the occasion with a finger and a half of beautifully carbonated bubbles.
Aromas flow through the air and I catch nuances of huge chocolate and coffee, with a pleasing background of vanilla, roasted malt and aged oak.
I take the first sip of this beast, and am overwhelmed with flavors of chocolate, heavily roasted coffee, light caramel, oak, hop bitterness and a touch of butterscotch and diacetyl.
The coffee, chocolate, malt and vanilla balance quite well and the alcohol is very hidden, even remaining unnoticed as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is warm and silky and the carbonation is extremely light, which I am guessing is from the over four years in the bottle. The finish is pleasant, with just a touch of bitterness from the hops, but not enough to detract from the amazing aged flavors of the Yeti.