Let's Get Started
Located in an old dairy processing plant in downtown Denver's LoDo district, Great Divide Brewing company has been turning out award-winning brews since 1994.
The Milling Room
The brewing process begins in the milling room, where four different malted grains are prepared to be made into beer.
Do the Mash
The milled grains are kept in a large hopper above the brewery. When it's time to brew, the grains enter the mashing stage, where they are combined with water and heated to release their sugars. Lautering, the next step in the process, separates the remaining grain particles from the wort —a sweet, brown liquid that is the base of the beer.
The wort is transferred to the kettle where it is boiled and hops are added to provide bitterness and aroma. The wort is then put through the whirlpool process to separate the remnants of the hops and grains, leaving only the liquid behind.
Yeast is added to the wort in order to convert the sugars into alcohol. Each of these fermentation tanks holds up to 50 barrels of beer and must be kept at a consistent temperature. In total, Great Divide's tanks hold up to 2,500 barrels of beer at one time.
Barrels for Aging
A few of Great Divide's beers get special treatment in oak whiskey barrels obtained from Stranahan's, a Denver-based whiskey company. Three brews—Yeti Imperial Stout, Hibernation Ale, and Old Ruffian—are aged up to 15 months in these casks.
Once fermentation is completed, the beer is ready to be bottled. The bottling line runs five days a week and can fill up to 120 twelve-ounce bottles a minute at full speed. This relatively new setup has allowed Great Divide to expand production over the last few years, and in 2011, they expect another 50% growth in sales.
An employee fills kegs for distribution to bars and restaurants across the country. Great Divide's beers can be found in over 28 states as well as in a few countries around the world.
The labeling machine is cleaned and recalibrated between beers. Until recently, some of Great Divide's beers were hand labeled.
Under-filled bottles can't be sold; they're sent home with the employees for “field testing.”