Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.
Great Divide Brewing Company
Claymore Scotch Ale
Features a very smoky flavor. It's a little bitter with coffee notes, leaning toward the taste of a porter, but not quite getting there (thankfully, as I don't prefer porters). While it's described as a "Wee Heavy" on the bottle, it does not feel exceptionally weighty. Also, it is somewhat layered, with the power of the beer coming more on the finish than on the front end. A very interesting offering.
Denver Pale AleWith its distinctive hops, beautiful golden color, and immense floral kick, this beer is crisp yet complicated. Interesting because the label touts the beer as an English-style IPA, yet I don't really think it gets there. This is OK to me though, because I often believe English-style IPAs can be a bit strong. So I will downgrade it a bit for not hitting its mark, and yet it didn't really affect my enjoyment of the beer.
Rumble Oak Aged IPA
I don't really think I am getting much of the benefits of this oaking process (whatever that entails), but this is still a terrific beer with substantial hop flavor. There is a powerful trace of grapefruit. Makes for a wonderfully tart taste and scent.
Amply supplied hops. They linger on the tongue for a little bit after a sip, but not in a bad way. In a way that suggests, "Wow, there are a lot of hops in this beer." It has a great scent, a delicious flavor, and a tremendous golden appearance. Just a complete beer. Might be slightly less complex and layered as the Rumble, but it somehow translates to the more ideal form of the IPA genre.
Great Divide's labels are simple and clean, and I am a fan of each and every one really. They feature the name of the beer in easy-to-read block lettering, the genre type in quickly identifiable cursive, and on the side they feature an area that supplies a description of the beer along with medals it has won (if applicable) and suggested food pairings. It's all very interactive and fun. The Titan IPA is the first casualty. I like the Denver Pale Ale's color combo, but it is perhaps a little too derivative of the Denver Nuggets' uniforms and therefore I will eliminate it on the grounds of not being creative enough. So the battle is between the Claymore Scotch Ale and the Rumble Oaked IPA. The Claymore boasts a pleasing tartan background of green and black, while the Rumble features a grayish blue base and the silhouette of a bull standing at attention in the foreground. In the end, the Claymore is very cool, but when in doubt go with a bad-ass looking bull. Rumble takes it.
The WinnerLet me first say that this was an exceptional variety case. Not one of these beers falls below a B+ rating in my book. These were advertised as "brewmaster's selections," and that is exactly what they delivered: beers of distinction. The question of course is, which one was the best? While the Rumble and the Denver Pale Ale both brought a lot to the table, I'm going to give it to the Titan IPA. This is because I am a major fan of IPAs and this one stands up there with the big boys (the Stones, the Lagunitas, the Dogfish Heads) in delivering a combination of powerful hops and adventurous flavor.
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