[Photographs: Sean Buchan]
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Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado celebrated their 18th birthday on Saturday by throwing a block party outside (and inside) the brewery. With tents and tap stations set up at several strategic locations, party goers were able to sample staples and one-offs from Denver's largest brewery. Food trucks and live music rounded out the event, along with a cameo from the elusive Yeti him(her?)self.
What have they been up to at Great Divide this year? That question was answered by Hanna Laney, Great Divide's self-proclaimed word nerd:
In the year since our last Anniversary Party, we have added a Tap Room expansion, a second bottling line shift, a new mill and grain silo, five 300-barrel tanks, a brewer-in-training and over 10 new employees. I think it's safe to say it's been a year of explosive growth and we couldn't be more excited about it."
Hanna told me they expect to continue growing their production at the Denver brewery for 3 to 5 more years before they run out of space. "Our president has been researching what do to when that time comes—whether to get another facility or expand this one. Don't worry—we aren't headed to North Carolina," she quipped.
Great Divide fans can also expect to see a number of new beers on tap in the tap room due to the addition of the pilot system, whose recent graduates to the bottling line include Nomad (Czech Pilsner) and Wolfgang (Doppelbock). The presence of the pilot system was felt at the anniversary party as well, where there were a number of new beers being poured. Here are a few of our favorites:
Berliner Weiss While not as tart as a traditional Berliner Weiss, subtle flavors of lemon and wheat with a clean finish made this beer a favorite. The nose offered a little funk, signifying there may have been a little Brettanomyces added along the way.
Clayton Bigsby A Tripel modeled after Tripel Karmeliet, Clayton features barley, wheat, and oats in the mash along with the additions of caramel, cardamom, and coriander in the boil. Big, bold Belgian flavors predominate and blend well with the coriander.
Leipzig Gose Only 5 gallons of this beer was poured at the party. Slightly less salty than your traditional Gose, Great Divide's Leipzig was a summer day delight with flavors of lemon, spice, and a moderate tartness.
Wolfgang This Doppelbock offered a huge malty backbone, almost like biting into a delicious loaf of bread (in liquid form.) Sweet on the front end with notes of caramel, toffee, and dark fruit.
Heaven Hill Belgian-Style Yeti This Bourbon-barrel aged Yeti variation boasted very bold flavors of bourbon, vanilla, and oak without completely masking the spice of the Belgian yeast. We believe.
Want more Great Divide? Here's our behind the scenes tour from last year.
About the Author: Sean Buchan covers the Denver craft beer scene for Denver off the Wagon in addition to doing freelance photography for Colorado breweries. You can view his beer photography here, follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @Beertographer.