After missing last week’s Monster Beer due to the curse of a head cold I wanted to find something a bit special to get back on course, so I dug to the very back of my cupboard and came out with a deliciously huge bottle from the Great Divide Brewing Company of Colorado.
As far as I can tell, Denver accounts for roughly 85% of all the craft beer that’s exported from the US. Happily, all those amazingly productive Denverians seem to know a thing or two about making beer, so I’m not complaining.
Anyway, this is the huge (and hugely named) Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, at 9.5% ABV. There’s a big coffee aroma as soon as you open the bottle and start pouring this thick, black sludge into the glass, leaving a rich, creamy dark tan head lingers nicely on top.
The nose is impressively complex; roasted coffee, syrupy molasses, an almost meaty, marmite undercurrent, a hint of vanilla and even some fruity hops are somehow managing to fight their way through.
The first mouthful is spectacular; thick, rich and creamy with a burnt malt bitterness that contrasts wonderfully with the sweet stickiness. But there’s more, too much to take in with one taste – an espresso hit you can actually taste as well as smell, a gentle but warming alcohol burn, a big oak hit hiding behind all the other big flavours and a long lasting bitter finish that stops the sweetness from overwhelming you and has you reaching for another sip. And then another.
It’s every inch a big beer, in every sense; big flavours and thick enough to chew – every inch a proper Imperial Stout. Clearly I’m going to have to hunt down some more examples from Great Divide to see if the rest of their range is as impressive.
Thank goodness the bottle is big too!