Monday, February 28, 2011

460. Great Divide Grand Cru

We’re hitting up Great Divide like Tonya Harding did Nancy Kerrigan. That’s right, I said it. In the long non-stop roller coaster ride that it is our relationship with Great Divide, I can only say this: I want more. We’ll add this to a list that includes Yeti ’08-’10, Smoked Baltic Porter, 16th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA, Hercules DIPA, Wild Raspberry Ale, Hibernation, Samurai Rice, Hoss, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Fresh Hop, Double Wit, 15th Anniversary DIPA, and Denver Pale Ale. That’s 14, folks.

Grand Cru pours a clear reddish amber color—it has garnet highlights and a soft tan head that slowly reduces to a ring. The nose is toasted malt candy sweetness mixed with dark fruit esters, including cherry, fig, and a touch of raisin, and some general perfume-y juiciness. Flavors open with gentle toasted malt flavors and candy sweetness; these give way quickly to darker fruit flavors like raisin, cherry, and fig along with a touch of restrained spiciness. There is a slight taste of alcohol that balances the flavors in the middle, creating a sweet rum raisin effect that carries into the finish. Creamy and caramel malt sweetness closes out the beer, although it is rather clean—there are slight lingering astringent flavors and an alcohol warmth that emerges after the flavors have left the palate. The body is medium to heavy; Grand Cru is lightly chewy, but it hides the 11% ABV well—I expected a much younger and sharper alcohol character, when I got a smoother and rounder alcohol that helped balance the malt profile. The carbonation is a bit low; it is present in the mouthfeel, but in pretty minimal levels. This is a good but not exciting beer. While there are no obvious flaws, there is nothing to get that excited about either. I appreciate the overall balance in the beer, but nothing makes it stand out—it’s like Switzerland: neutral with sound mechanics. Potentially some age could draw out the character in this beer, but with this one I am not at all certain. Harrumph.

From the bottle: “Grand Cru is our very special Belgian-style dark ale. Imported malts give it a round malty richness, and the fruity complexity and slightly spicy character come from brewing with a proprietary Belgian yeast strain. Don’t let the name fool you: while it may be a special occasion beer, the medium-bodied, elegant incarnation is anything but snobbish.”

ABV: 11%
Bottled on: January 12, 2011


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