Great Divide Rumble IPA

October 18, 2012

I spent a few years out in Denver in the early nineties. I learned to love mexican food, did some mountain biking, honed my appreciation of good beer, and dug through the racks of the used record stores in between going to class.* I cannot say for certain whether I had any Great Divide Beers while I was living there. I sort of recall the name from that time, but the mind plays tricks on you, and memories, especially those centered around and/or fueled by the consumption of alcohol, are unreliable.

You can’t hit what you can’t see

I have certainly had Great Divide Beers in the intervening years, and while I would not put them in the upper echelon of American brewers, they are certainly good enough to take a flyer on when I see something I have not tried before, like the Rumble India Pale Ale. Aged in oak barrels (like all IPAs should be!), and that aging shows in the subtle vanilla aroma and flavor behind the heavy dose of piney hops and caramel malts, this beer clocks in at 7.1 % ABV. Did I mention there was some sediment floating around in my beer? There was, and I love when my beer has flotsam and jetsam** in it, 7/10.

*No, I never went skiing.

**As the sediment is neither cargo dumped overboard nor wreckage from a ship, it is technically neither flotsam nor jetsam, but those terms sound better than detritus so I am going to roll with them.


Deviancy Defined Down: Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA

September 18, 2012

Meh on this one, a rare misstep from the usually excellent Oskar Blues. Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA pours a deep amber with a resinous and vegetal aroma. There are lots of hops, lots of sweet malts, and lots of alcohol, but there is no balance whatsoever. It just whomps you in the mouth, and there is something weird in the flavor that I have never experienced in a beer before, like a fermented vidalia onion, plus a soapy astringency which I have had before, sad to say. I finished it, but only just, 5/10.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan would not have liked this beer


Summer’s Here and The Time is Right for Drinking in The Streets: Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Victory Prima Pils

August 21, 2012

What a drag it is getting old…

Mama’s Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues is a crisp pilsner, slightly fruity smelling, mildly herbal and grassy tasting, with a pale yellow color and a quickly dissipating foamy white head. It pours crystal clear, and has a mild lemon zest flavor, with an aftertaste of mildly toasted grains. This is not a hop bomb, but no pilsners can make that claim. I popped this open after a run in the Florida sun and enjoyed this refreshing beer immensely, 7.5/10.

Prima Pils from the always excellent Victory Brewing is a bit different from the usual pilsner. Remember when I said that no pilsners can claim to be hop bombs? The Prima Pils almost makes a liar of me, as it is more aggressively hopped than is the norm for a pilsner. Beer purists probably object to this, because it fails to adhere to the standards set forth by the Great Beer Council of 1512, but I am ok with it. The flavor starts off mild and herbal before the grapefruit zest and black pepper hops kick in on the back end. I am not saying this a hop bomb beer, but it is certainly a hop bomb pilsner, making the Prima Pils a pilsner for IPA lovers. The 5.3% ABV is low enough to make this a good session beer. This is not the standard to compare other pilsners to, as it quite different, but it is delicious, 7.5/10.

Keely Smith’s Favorite Beer


Great Divide Eighteenth Anniversary Oak Aged Double India Pale Ale

May 30, 2012

It is remarkable the extent to which craft beers have become mainstreamed. Even just a few years ago, I would have looked at a barrel aged beer as akin to Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster: I had heard of them, and would have been open to their actual existence, but I would have demanded strict proof before being convinced. Now, they are so normal, that if a bar does not have at least one barrel aged beer on the menu, I scoff at their puny selection, and when my brother in law showed me this bottle, I shrugged and said “looks good, let’s give it a try”.

I should not be so blasé about these beers. The Great Divide Eighteenth Anniversary Oak Aged Double India Pale Ale might be a mouthful to say, but it also has a mouthful of flavor. Lots of caramel malts, with woody vanilla flavors from the oak, and tons of floral and orange peel hops, all of which are needed to stand up to the 10% ABV. This is a remarkably smooth beer considering how much is going on the flavor profile. It is a sipping beer, and a fine one at that, 7.5/10.


The Fifth Day of Christmas: New Belgium Snow Day Winter Ale

December 18, 2011

Pouring an opaque brown with a frothy head that lasts to the final sip, New Belgium’s Snow Day Winter Ale opens with a blast of earthy pine needle hops. Those resinous hops are overwhelmed by the roasted coffee and cocoa malts as you take your first sip. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, mixed with roasted wheat, almost like pumpernickel bread.  If you look beyond the ubiquitous Fat Tire (which is ‘meh’ at best), New Belgium makes some nice beers, and this is one of them,  nice, tasty, and just enough alcohol (6.5% ABV) to warm you on a cold winter night, 7/10.

The First Day of Christmas

The Second Day of Christmas

The Third Day of Christmas

The Fourth Day of Christmas


Cryptozoology: The Yeti and The Swamp Ape

December 10, 2011

There are great beasts wandering the wilderness, not all of whom have been photographed, catalogued, vivisected, dissected, DNA mapped and whatever else it is that scientists do with animals.  There is so much we do not know.  Oh, sure, the aliens who visit regularly have probably gleaned all sorts of information from the anal probes performed on these undiscovered creatures (Do you really believe that the aliens only perform anal probes on Harvard Professors? I think not) but the aliens rarely, if ever, share the results of their experiments with us.  We have much to learn.

As a rugged outdoorsman*, extreme adventurer**, and acolyte of Teddy Roosevelt***, I have spent months at a time in the wild unmapped corners of the globe, and have had close encounters with a variety of cryptozoological phenomenon.  There was the time I was fly fishing on Lake Champlain and hooked Champ but was unable to land the beast.  Growing up in New Jersey, the Jersey Devil was a regular visitor to our backyard, stopping to swim in our pool, before taking off for the flight to the Pine Barrens. I have had several recent encounters with the Chupacabra while out walking my dogs, and the less said about my experience with the Mothman, the better.

It is in the field of Sasquatch studies that I have been most successful. On a recent trip to the Himalayas, I encountered the Yeti.  More importantly, I encountered two distinct kinds of Yeti. Read the rest of this entry »


The Twelve Beers of Christmas

December 24, 2010

The First Beer of Christmas: Full Sail Wassail, Hood River, Oregon – I had this on tap at the Ginger Man.  Dark velvety brown with ruby highlights and a fluffy white head.  This was mildly sweet, with a caramel taste and some dried fruit and spiciness as well.  Very good, 7/10.

The Second Beer of Christmas: Anchor 2010 Christmas Ale – The Grand Daddy of American Christmas Ales, with an ever evolving recipe.  I had this on tap at the Ginger Man, and this year’s version has a spicy ginger aftertaste, which I liked, but everyone else who tried it with me hated.  Not as good as years past, but still a fine Christmas Beer, 7/10. Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: