Great Divide, 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

Grade: A+
Great Divide Brewing Co.

Deep golden broze, amber, the color of bourbon (from the oak itself?). A rocky light tan head that laces the glass beautifully. Hops and vanilla in the aroma, a slight citrus hint from the hops, but more on the spicy side. There isn't a bourbon-like nose here, more malt agressiveness typical of a double IPA. Mouthfeel is medium bordering on the heavier side, with a lower level of carbonation. The flavor is...well I'll break it down in a second but I just want to say right now, it's delicious.

The oak blends so perfectly with the malt and the mouthfeel, with just enough of a hop flavor that I can't easily distinguish between the three. The oak is subdued, playing a subtle and extreamly balanced role. The smoke and the vanilla from the oak work in perfect tandem with the heavier malt profile, which in many double IPAs can be too thick and overwhelming. I feel like the oak rounds out the malt, however with the hops, I'm not getting smacked with the floral, citrusy, piney character I'm used to in an IPA. The thing is, I'm not sure I want to. The beer as it is presented, to my mind, is perfect.

While the idea of oaking double IPAs is a fairly new one, Great Divide seems to have made leaps and bounds. The technique of aging the beer on oak chips instead of in barrels allows the brewer to dial in exactly the level of oaking they want. While not as romantic as having a cellar full of barrels aging away under your brewery, the oak chip technique allows a level of precision that precious few other breweries have acheived. The end result is a beer that I can drink more than one pint of, which is unusual of double IPAs, and even more unusual of anything that has oak in it.

Overall this beer is possibly one of the best I have ever had. I do not say this lightly, I have had several beers in my life that make me sit back and say "holy crap!" This is one that made my eyes light up. Honestly, I got about three and a half goosebumps before I even poured the beer, which I guess was a good sign. If you see this beer on the shelf or on tap, get it.