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This is a press release from Great Divide about their party this Saturday. I helped one of the people there (Hilary) brew a batch for the party, so you should all go and drink it. Ask for A Night With Pamela Anderson…

Brewery Celebrates Milestone With Limited-Release Beer, Party

Denver, CO—Great Divide Brewing Company, one of America’s most acclaimed microbreweries, will celebrate fifteen years in business on June 6, marking the occasion with a limited-release oak-aged double IPA and a party at the brewery featuring live music, food and a number of special beers.
In 1994, Colorado’s craft beer scene scarcely existed, but Brian Dunn recognized Denver’s potential to be a great beer city. Combining his business background with his passion for beer, which was developed through his international travels and his experience as a homebrewer, he decided to start a brewery. He set up shop in an abandoned dairy-processing plant at the edge of downtown Denver and began brewing the beers that, over the past fifteen years, have carried Great Divide Brewing Company to its status as one of America’s most decorated microbreweries and helped transform Denver into an international destination for beer lovers.
“It’s been a fantastic ride,” says Dunn. “We started out with two beers, doing everything by hand, and we’ve just grown and grown and grown. Just in the past year, we’ve added a state-of-the-art new bottling line, quadrupled our (admittedly small) barrel-aging program, opened a patio for the Tap Room, and released seven new seasonal beers, with more to come. We’re all having a ton of fun doing it, and looking back at how far we’ve come in fifteen years, I can’t even imagine what the next fifteen will bring.”
To celebrate this milestone, Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale. Based on the brewery’s most award-winning beer, Denver Pale Ale, this copper-hued treat is a celebration of everything Great Divide does best. Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla.
“We really think this beer sums up everything we’ve come to be known for over the past fifteen years,” says Dunn. “Like all of our beers, it will be assertive and flavorful but also balanced and drinkable, and it’s a combination of classic elements with more innovative touches.”
15th Anniversary, which is at 10.0% alcohol by volume and 90 International Bittering Units, will be available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft through August 1.
Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale at its 15th anniversary party, which will be held at the brewery on June 6 from 2-7 p.m. In addition to their first taste of the new beer, partygoers will get to enjoy delicious food, live music by Denver bands Dressy Bessy, the Swayback, and Young Coyotes, and plenty of other Great Divide beers, including some well-aged versions of old favorites and a number of small batches brewed just for this event. All of this merriment will be included in the ticket price of $20, and Great Divide will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
“This party should be an equally great time for our devoted fans and anybody who just wants to spend a beautiful Denver afternoon with good music, good food and great beer,” says Dunn. “Come help us celebrate fifteen years and say cheers to many, many more.”
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15th Anniversary Double IPA

15th Anniversary Double IPA

Denver, CO—Great Divide Brewing Company, one of America’s most acclaimed microbreweries, will celebrate fifteen years in business on June 6, marking the occasion with a limited-release oak-aged double IPA and a party at the brewery featuring live music, food and a number of special beers.

In 1994, Colorado’s craft beer scene scarcely existed, but Brian Dunn recognized Denver’s potential to be a great beer city. Combining his business background with his passion for beer, which was developed through his international travels and his experience as a homebrewer, he decided to start a brewery. He set up shop in an abandoned dairy-processing plant at the edge of downtown Denver and began brewing the beers that, over the past fifteen years, have carried Great Divide Brewing Company to its status as one of America’s most decorated microbreweries and helped transform Denver into an international destination for beer lovers.

“It’s been a fantastic ride,” says Dunn. “We started out with two beers, doing everything by hand, and we’ve just grown and grown and grown. Just in the past year, we’ve added a state-of-the-art new bottling line, quadrupled our (admittedly small) barrel-aging program, opened a patio for the Tap Room, and released seven new seasonal beers, with more to come. We’re all having a ton of fun doing it, and looking back at how far we’ve come in fifteen years, I can’t even imagine what the next fifteen will bring.”

To celebrate this milestone, Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale. Based on the brewery’s most award-winning beer, Denver Pale Ale, this copper-hued treat is a celebration of everything Great Divide does best. Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla.

“We really think this beer sums up everything we’ve come to be known for over the past fifteen years,” says Dunn. “Like all of our beers, it will be assertive and flavorful but also balanced and drinkable, and it’s a combination of classic elements with more innovative touches.”

15th Anniversary, which is at 10.0% alcohol by volume and 90 International Bittering Units, will be available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft through August 1.

Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale at its 15th anniversary party, which will be held at the brewery on June 6 from 2-7 p.m. In addition to their first taste of the new beer, partygoers will get to enjoy delicious food, live music by Denver bands Dressy Bessy, the Swayback, and Young Coyotes, and plenty of other Great Divide beers, including some well-aged versions of old favorites and a number of small batches brewed just for this event. All of this merriment will be included in the ticket price of $20, and Great Divide will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

“This party should be an equally great time for our devoted fans and anybody who just wants to spend a beautiful Denver afternoon with good music, good food and great beer,” says Dunn. “Come help us celebrate fifteen years and say cheers to many, many more.”

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The IPA (India Pale Ale) is  one of  the most popular styles around today, and has been for a while. In our homebrew operation, it’s becoming one of the tastiest and most fun to make. We’re entering it into competitions (Cliché, yes, but it’s so tasty!). Our current recipe might even get converted for the brewery. Why all the hype? I believe it’s in the hops and the history. Let’s look at the history of the IPA, what makes it so different, and some great versions you can buy today.

East Indies Trading Company - Is that a keg in the water?

East Indies Trading Company - Is that a keg in the water?

History

A lot has been written on this topic, so I’ll just give a brief summary and a few good links.

Think about what you do when you buy a few bottles of beer, or even a keg. You drive to your favorite liquor store or brewery, open the refrigerated case in which the ale or lager you wish to consume rests, purchase the beer, drive it home in your temperature controlled automobile, and put it in another refrigerated container. (I realize this experience may differ for some readers, but this is generally the modus operandi for the beer consumer and connoisseur.)

Now think how the British transported the beer for their colonizing soldiers, from London to New Delhi or Mumbai. Even if the beer were refrigerated before hand – which I’m pretty sure they couldn’t do in the 18th and 19th century – the four month trip overseas, through and into tropical climates, tends to warm the temperature of the delicious liquid inside those wooden casks.

Anyone had a warm beer lately? How about a microwaved one? What about a beer left outside to fend for itself for a few months. Not as tasty as that one you just drove home from Main Street Liquors, is it.

Hops

Hops

The story goes that the October beer of George Hodgson’s Bow Brewery, and later, Burton Brewers’s India Pale Ale, were some of the first to brew differently to overcome the adverse affects of a long overseas journey. They did this by using more hops, and using them at different times, as well as increasing the alcohol content.

Hops are very, very resistant to the kinds of bacteria you don’t want in your beer. They also pack a punch in the form of flavor and aroma, masking a lot of unpleasantness that might be resting in the beer. By adding more hops throughout the boil, and adding hops after the boil, these innovative brewers increased the flavor and resilience of their beer.

Also, increased alcohol by volume makes a very unpleasant living environment for some brew-ruining bacteria; the brewers achieved this by increasing the amount of sugar the yeast could nibble on.

So the ale made it to India. Mind you, a lot of other styles made it as well. But this one was extra resilient. A porter survives quite well. The IPA was just designed for it. Anyway, the IPA arrives in India, and the British soldiers tap the keg and taste the results. Lo and behold, it not only survived the trip, but it’s also delicious!

BeerAdvocate states that

Historians believe that an IPA was then watered down for the troops, while officers and the elite would savor the beer at full strength.

A more detailed history can be found in a nice article written by Thom Tomlison, as well as on Wikipedia. But that’s the basic story.

Styles

The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) has a full category for IPAs (Category 14), with three subcategories: 14A English IPA, 14B American IPA, and 14C Imperial IPA.

The English IPA is a little lighter in color, body, and alcohol content than the other varieties. The BJCP sums it up:

A hoppy, moderately strong pale ale that features characteristics consistent with the use of English malt, hops and yeast.

The American version steps up the color and alcohol by a little bit. Not a lot. Just a few points here and there. I think the casual beer drinking would be hard pressed to taste the difference between the American and English varieties.

The Imperial IPA. The name deserves its own sentence. This version of the India Pale Ale is a little darker and whole lot stronger than the other two categories. The ABV ranges for the English, American, and Imperial IPAs are, respectively, 5 – 7.5%, 5.5 – 7.5%, and 7.5 – 10%. That’s right. The lower end of the Imperial IPA is the upper end of the other versions. It’s a beast of a beer. Defined:

An intensely hoppy, very strong pale ale without the big maltiness and/or deeper malt flavors of an American barleywine. Strongly hopped, but clean, lacking harshness, and a tribute to historical IPAs. Drinkability is an important characteristic; this should not be a heavy, sipping beer. It should also not have much residual sweetness or a heavy character grain profile.

If you couldn’t tell by my tone, I enjoy this style. 14c. It’s good stuff.

Sales

I wanted to write about the volume sold of IPA compared to other styles, and the increase in sales over recent years. However, I was unable to find specific information and numbers on the sales of craft beer styles.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA - One of my favorites

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA - One of my favorites

Examples

Just a few beers you might have heard of that I personally believe do the style very, very well. I have a few favorite breweries, which will show themselves by my listings, so feel free to add your favorites in the comments. I’ll try them as soon as I can.

  • English IPA
    • Long Trail Traditional IPA – Long Trail Brewing Company – Bridgewater Corners, Vermont
    • Apparently I need to try more English IPAs
  • American IPA
    • Harpoon IPA – Harpoon Brewery – Boston, Massachusetts
    • Inversion IPA – Deschutes Brewery – Bend, Oregon
    • Snake Dog IPA – Flying Dog Brewery – Fredrick, Maryland (formerly Denver)
    • Snake River IPA – Snake River Brewing Company – Jackson, Wyoming
    • Stone IPA – Stone Brewing Company – Escondido, California
    • Titan IPA – Great Divide Brewing Company – Denver, Colorado
  • Imperial IPA / Double IPA
    • 90 Minute IPA – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Milton, Delaware
    • 120 Minute IPA – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Milton, Delaware
    • Pliny The Younger – Russian River Brewing Company – Santa Rosa, California

And soon to be added to the list, our IPA. You’ll love it. I swear.

Any questions? Tell me your favorite styles and I’ll write about them too.

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