Great Divide Brewing Co set up shop in Denver in 1994, with owner Brian Dunn quickly earning accolades for his focus on strong, boldly flavored brews. He told the New York Times in 2006, “as people who can and do drink beer all day long, it’s obviously more interesting for us to drink big beers that are long on flavor and complexity.” Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout is probably the best example of this ethos, with it’s gigantic, dense, roasty malt backbone being matched by it’s absurdly large hop character, boasting both 9.5% ABV as well as 75 IBUs. Yeti is a perennial Great American Beer Festival medal winner, and has been placed in the Beer Advocate “Top 100 Beers On Planet Earth”, which is the planet I prefer to get all my beers from.
We visited the Great Divide Ballpark Brewery & Tap Room for a look and taste of their craft. Their location at 22nd & Arapahoe in downtown Denver is just blocks from the Colorado Rockies’ bland-beer-named ballpark, and is in a highly walkable / bike friendly part of town. Entering their relatively small tasting room on a Friday afternoon, we could sense the local enthusiasm and pride in the air. There is a large collection of their GABF medals adorning the far wall, and a smattering of Yeti themed artwork and decor.
Great Divide beers have been available in San Diego for years now, thanks to distribution via Stone Distributing Co. We’ve long been familiar with their beers, and getting them straight out of the tanks is something we were really excited about. We got to sample the “Hop Disciples” taster flight, which included their Denver Pale Ale, Titan IPA, and Hercules Double IPA.
As an added bonus, 100% of their proceeds from sample flights are donated to local nonprofits, which adds up to about $75,000 per year! Our “donation” was refreshing in the rare 60-plus-degree February sun, and all 3 of the hoppy pale ales were super fresh and lovely.
We couldn’t pass up on a taster of their Port of Meow, a spectacularly deep Barleywine aged in Tawny Port Barrels for 2 years. This 13% ABV ferocious feline has a deceptively sweet finish, which lingers on your tongue longing for the next sip.
In 2014, Great Divide broke ground on a brand new, much larger brewing facility just a mile away in the up-and-coming RiNo (River North) district of Denver. Phase one has been completed, which houses their packaging line and their Barrel Bar tasting room, and phase two will see the construction of a new expanded brewhouse. In their current operation, they have to brew 5 batches on their 60 barrel brew kettle to fill just one of their 300 barrel fermenters. Their new brewing system specs haven’t been finalized yet, but they will definitely be more efficient, and will be pumping out a much higher quantity of delicious beer for the craft masses.
Great Divide – Ballpark: Brewery & Tap Room
2201 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80205