Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beereview: Great Divide - Belgica

Great Divide has been one of my favorite breweries for years. Their Imperial Stout, "Yeti" is only topped by their Oak Aged variety. I had an occasion to visit Denver, CO last year but unfortunately didn't find (1) The Great Divide Brewery, (2) Any Great Divide beer on tap, or (3) a reason to visit Denver ever again. I believe this is the exact quote:
Denver, CO
Great Divide, which is one of my favorite breweries, was not available at Rock Bottom Tavern which is literally around the block from it. I ordered one of their (Rock Bottom's) “award winning” brews and gave it an award of my own. “Best Way to Make Me Never Want to Come Back.” It was a tough call, I really wanted to give the award to Thrifty, who charged me $900 for five days rental but at least the car didn’t smell like urine.
I'm probably just reacting to one bad experience here; from what I've heard Colorado is one of the best states for craft beer. I'll have to try Boulder next time. Given my lack of proximity (New Jersey isn't as close as it might be,) I was excited to see some new Great Divide in my local beer shop.

Besides the all-star Yeti, Oak Aged Yeti, Hercules Double IPA, and Old Ruffian (all of which are excellent,) they had an interesting new recruit: Belgica - Belgian Style India Pale Ale. I'm a huge fan of their IPAs but the Belgian part intrigued me. Let's review what we know about both styles:

IPABelgian Blonde or Golden Ale
Very HoppySweet and Malty
Usually not Bottle ConditionedOften Bottle Conditioned
Crisp and LightRich and Full Bodied
High ABVHigh ABV
Served ColdServed Room Temperature

Ok, so I totally made all that up off the top of my head. In my mind these two styles don't seem like a good match. It seems a little bit like mixing white wine with Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper: just too much craziness going on. I'm nothing if not willing to try a weird beer though.

Great Divide - Belgica

This beer smells and tastes a little like beef jerky. It has a little bit of a citrus smell (probably from the hops,) but also smells similar to Sam Adams Coastal Wheat. I guess that means it smells hoppy, smokey, and meaty? I had a beer once that tasted exactly like ham, so I know this is possible.

The first thing you notice when you pour this beer is that it has absolutely no head retention or lacing. It looks more like a soda than a big foamy beer. The taste is initially bitter and not too sweet. It's hoppy and smokey and has a little bit of a grapefruit taste. The aftertaste doesn't linger whatsoever.

Despite what you may be thinking from this description, it's actually pretty good. I don't think I'd ever buy it again though, since it's priced in the super premium category but lacks most of the expected qualities.


I sometimes try to check my reviews against ones on beeradvocate and beerpal to see if I'm way off the mark. Beer4Baltimore shared this little snip that had me laughing out loud:

"look - off yellow
smell - citrus and old grass
feel - a little pasty with light carbonation
taste - dirty lemons well past thier prime"

Dirty lemons? Harsh. But yeah, 3.2 out of 5 from beerpal and about a B- on beeradvocate sound about right.

Have you tried this beer? Had something similar? Share your comments below!

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  1. That's right on; I was also intrigued by the blending of such diffrent styles of beer. However, as Michael Kors would say, "I'm underwhelmed." On the flip side I did recently have a West Coast Style IPA, De Struise Ignis et Flamma, which was bomb!

  2. Are those available in bottles?

    It's always tough to write negative reviews about the breweries you love, thanks for backing me up.