1. Great Divide Turns 18 (Insert Barely Legal Joke Here)

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    Great Divide Brewing Co. celebrated their 18th Anniversary on Saturday with a block party featuring beer (obviously), food trucks, live music, and an awesome vibe.  1500 people were in attendance to this sold out birthday party, but they did such a great job spacing things out it didn’t feel like more than 500 at times.

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    As soon as I made it through the gates I was greeted by Kell Benson (Great Divide employee) who gave me a few tips on what beers to snag before they kicked.  Kell said to go for the Gose first since it was a.) amazing and b.) they only had 5 gallons.

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    Despite his advice I went straight for the Berliner Weiss.  Ever since trying the Berliner Weiss from Crabtree Brewing Co. several months ago I’ve had a love affair with this style.  While Great Divide’s take on the classic German sour wheat beer was not as tart as most, it offered nice bright, clean floral flavors.

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    After another hint from Kell that I should probably grab a pint of the Leipzig Gose I did just that.  I was very happy with that decision.  The Gose is another traditional German sour wheat beer (with salt added) that appears to be making a bit of a comeback as of late in the American brewing scene, for good reason.  Just the right amount of tartness and not overly salty, the beer offered up subtle flavors of lemon and spice.

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    With the tap room open, party goers were able to sample all of Great Divide’s staples as well as a few seasonal beers, including the newest addition to the bottling line - Wolfgang Doppelbock.

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    Wolfgang had 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.  Hanna Laney, Great Divide’s self-proclaimed word nerd, told me ”On bottling days, you can hear our staff walking around saying, ‘Ooh, Voolfgang!’.”  She was also kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

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    So what’s new at Great Divide?

    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, 5 300-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 Laney

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    Any expansion plans in the works/new beers being developed?

    Well, conservative estimates have us being able to continue to production at a steady clip of growth in this building for only about 3-5 more years. So, to that end, 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. As far as new beers, with the pilot system, we have the luxury of being able to develop and test beers almost constantly. While we don’t currently have any beers being tested with the intention of adding them to our portfolio, both Nomad and Wolfgang were developed on that system. Additionally, we’ve been able to give Tap Room patrons the chance to try cool, tasty one-offs, which has been fun for everyone. - Hanna Laney

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    One of said “tasty on-offs” at the Anniversary Party was Clayton Bigsby, a Tripel Karmeliet brewed with caramel, coriander, and cardamom (CCC).  The beer got it’s name from a Chappelle’s Show character - a blind member of the KKK who didn’t know he was black.

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    Clayton seemed to be a big hit at the party.  Big, bold Belgian flavors dominated the palate but blended well with the coriander.

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    For those believers out there, there was an entire tent dedicated to Yeti variations.  These included the standard Yetis (Chocolate, Espresso, Oak, Belgian) and a few silly ones (Heaven Hill Belgian-Style Yeti and Makers Mark Yeti to name a few).

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    I fell in love with the Heaven Hill Belgian-Style Yeti.  She boasted very bold flavors of bourbon, vanilla, and oak without completely masking the spice of the Belgian yeast.  I’m pretty sure bourbon and Yeti are two things that just belong together.

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    Having had quite a few beers already, Stacey and I grabbed a few slices from the Basic Kneads truck and grabbed a seat on the curb to enjoy some tunes from local Denver band, The Knew.

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    As we headed back inside for another beer we witnessed a pretty impressive feat from the Great Divide bartenders.  A perfect example of the vibe they set at each of their parties, these guys were dancing all over the bar without missing a pour.  Why do Great Divide employees have so much fun?

    Even as the company grows, our staff is a pretty tight-knit crew. Any day after work is done, you’ll see all kinds of Great Divide employees sticking around to hang out and drink a beer together. I think this speaks both to the nature of the industry and the unique closeness of our staff. I think it really says something about a company when people spend the day working hard and then choose to hang out together and unwind. We’re like a big, crazy family. - Hanna Laney

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    Great Divide parties are easily one of the most fun things to do in Denver, so make sure to make it out to the next one.  In addition to their Anniversary Party, they throw quarterly bashes to celebrate beer releases.  Cheers to another year of making stellar beer guys!

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    1. beertographer posted this
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