It rained quite hard on Friday. I was with my daughter-in-law and grandson on a road trip with numerous stops in Plainfield and Joliet. The highlight of the day was an Italian beef sandwich at Portillo’s. Brought me right back to my childhood on the northwest side of Chicago. The last stop was Cardinal Liquors before heading home.
Inside, nothing new behind the counter. A quick scan down the craft shelves. Something caught my eye. A bomber with a red label from Great Divide Brewing out of Denver. I remembered tasting their Yeti stout. I gambled on two bombers of their 20th Anniversary Belgian Style Ale for a reasonable price. I was in and out in about 4 minutes.
Great Divide makes some good beers, garnering many top ratings on the beer sites. How could I go wrong? I love great beer from great breweries and Divides. I really like Belgian style ales. I may have scored a bullseye in this beer.
I wondered how it would be perceived by the readership that I couldn’t get a newly released beer.Then I thought back about the Brew Reviews I’ve written in the beginning where I didn’t know jack shit about what I was talking about. Now it think I know shit, but Jack still eludes me.
I figure that as long as I’m drinking beer and pounding on the keyboard, I’m happy writing about it and it’s there if you want to read it. Too bad we couldn’t all be somewhere where we could all share it at the same time.
The 20th Anniversary beer label is a bit elusive in claiming that it was a Belgian style ale. But this one was fermented with Viogniere grape juice. I have no idea what the hell Viogniere grape juice tastes like. I may be in store for a letdown.
Viogniere grapes are grown in regions of Chile specifically for making wine. Why the seemingly French name in a South American country is an area I don’t wish to explore.
How about we dispel with the falderal and dive into a cold glass of Chilean grape Belgian beer.
The beer poured a hazy yellow and brought up about a half-inch of white foam. Since the liquid was not clear to see through, I couldn’t check for carbonation. The head was fading fast. The aroma was slight yet sweet enough to pick up the fragrances of a Belgian tripel.
The first sip started out with a nice mouthfeel and then the rest went to hell. I was expecting a nice golden sparkly, spicy fruity taste and what I got was much less than that. It barely passed the “minimum requirements” of my book.
It seemed as if the entire body of flavors were there in smaller proportions that those of other typical tripels and saisons. Something was sadly lacking. I was reminded of Leinie’s Summer Shandy. Yeah, it’s almost like that.
I didn’t get any spice zip or crispness at the swallow and the lack of a malt backbone left me disappointed. I don’t know if this was rushed to market or there was an out of place decimal point in the recipe. I know I wanted more than what was here. The ladies would probably like this beer.
I’m not going to bad mouth the brewery or the brewmaster over my disappointment. Maybe something went wrong or just maybe they brewed this beer based on tap room opinions of the clientele. The beer is a bit sweet, a bit spicy and and an easy drinker. It goes down way too easy. It just leaves me wanting more.
The beer straddles the line between styles, tasting a bit like a tripel and a bit like a saison. There can be no comparing the taste of this beer with any other, because, in my opinion, the others are all more flavorful and delightful on the palate. It’d probably be great at a summer patio party.
I wouldn’t bring a bottle of this beer to a homebrew club meeting to pass around. I’d get furrowed brows and disappointing stares. I’m not sorry I bought this beer, it’s just that the money spent could have been toward a more pleasurable choice of malts, hops and yeast. The purist in me has come out.
Hmm. I should do a taste comparison of similar styles: a saison, a tripel and a biere de garde.
The SixPackTech summary for Great Divide 20th Anniversary Belgian Style Ale.
Style: This is up in the air. RB calls it a Belgian Strong. BA calls it a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. I see it as close, but no cigar.
Taste: Missing! Something is missing!
Smoothness: Smooth with no surprises.
Drinkability: Drink it straight from the bomber.
Bang for the buck: Not enough flavor bang.
Amount paid: $8.99 per 22-ounce bottle.
Get it again? No.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Looks like lemonade. (sniff) Smells different. (sip) Oh it is kinda lemony. (sip) It’s rather pleasant. (sip) It’s almost kinda sweet. (I knew she’d like it.)
Review – this guy leaves a lot out. Perhaps he’s trying to say something without saying anything. [4:37]
5 minute our of the Great Divide Brewing Co. [5:00]