Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hercules Double IPA

It’s been a while, but I’m healthy now and not preoccupied by work or travel plans for a while. This brewery seemed to improve about 30 fold a few years ago, and I’m interested to see what’s been happening. That and I do love those Double IPAs.

Brewery – Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver, CO
Style – Imperial IPA
ABV – 9.1%
IBUs – 85
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

The story of Great Divide Brewing begins with a fella by the name of Brian Dunn. Like me, Brian had a trouble finding a job after he graduated from collage. Unlike me, he graduated with a master’s degree in environmental policy. In 1993 he decided to make is own job and turn is love of homebrewing into Denver’s first microbrewery (there were already 4 brewpubs).

Once the money and business plans were sorted out, he set up his brewery in a vacant building that housed a dairy in the 1930s, located just four blocks from Coors Field ( where the Rockies play ball). On May 30, 1994, Brian and his wife Tara brewed their first commercial beer, Arapahoe Amber. Today there are 10 full-time employees including the Head brewer Chris Dunne.

I wasn’t able to find a specific time, but it seems that it was somewhere around 2002 that Great Divide rebranded their company. Not only did they completely redesign all of the packaging and marketing materials, but this is when (in my opinion) their beers got a lot better. According to Brian this is when they “decided to get back to our roots”. Not a bad idea considering they won their first GABF medal just three months after brewing that first batch of Arapahoe Amber.

Glass – Glass Mug

Aroma – The hops impart a mix of both earthy and slightly citricy aromas. As the beer gets warmer the citricy part become stronger. There is a maltyness that reminds me of honey and there is also some alcohol aroma.

Appearance – For me, this beer poured with a small, white fluffy crown that dissipated rapidly. There were however some large and sticky laces. The color is a hazy orange.

Flavor – Starts off sweet on the front of my tongue. As it moves back the flavor gets more bready and bitter. A strong orange flavor also starts to come out. By the time the beer reaches the back of my throat it is predominantly bitter with alcohol warming. The aftertaste is similar to the flavor you get after you eat part of the rind from an orange and has a lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel – There is a full mouth feel to this beer with a creamy texture and virtually no carbonation.

Final Thoughts – This is a very good double IPA. However, I think I drank it to soon. The beer was tilted to the bitter side of the flavor spectrum (as you would expect from an IPA), but it was just a little on the harsh or “green” side. This may actually be intentional. The more “jagged” characteristics of a hop profile will tend to diminish over time. So, If you are a brewer who plans on storing your beer for longer periods of time, you would over hop the beer a bit. Giving the already velvety mouth feel and sweetness from the malt, I bet that this beer would go from good to outstanding after a year or two of cellaring.


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