Beer: Chocolate Cherry Yeti
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Company (Denver, CO)
Style: Stout- Imperial/Double
9.5% ABV / N/A IBU
I had the great pleasure of visiting the Great Divide Brewing Company during the summer of 2019. It was an hour before a Rockies home game and the atmosphere was electric. Every inch of the taproom was packed and I finally found a spot near the door, where I had back-to-back short pours of the brewery’s all-time great Yeti imperial stout on nitro and a seasonal chai spice version. I got rocked and stumbled out into to the night to chow down on some Rocky Mountain oysters. No one knows what life will be like after a pandemic, but I hope it returns to something, or anything, like that.
Great Divide’s Titan IPA certainly lives up to its name, but if you want to sample the best of what the Denver brewery has to offer, the OG formulation of the Yeti imperial stout is where it’s at. It is bold and somewhat naked in its presentation—a beautifully balanced stout that is exceptionally drinkable (and perhaps dangerously so) for the typically high ABV style. There’s a little bit of bitterness and some strong roast-y tobacco notes. It’s a base that has let itself to endless variants, including s’mores, pumpkin, the aforementioned chai tea spice, Mexican chocolate and endless barrel-aged variants.
There is some debate online about how essential Chocolate Cherry Yeti is. Beer Advocate rates it as outstanding, possibly in deference to the crucial nature of the Yeti base. But Chocolate Cherry Yeti is the least exciting Yeti in the Yeti menagerie. On the plus side, you don’t need a nitro or hard pour to create a thick, creamy head. But Great Divide’s addition of cherry and cacao adds little. The cherry starts to come through a little as the beer warms to room temperature, but this is not the beer equivalent of a black forest cake. Those additions end up sort of getting subsumed into the Yeti base—still as easy-drinking as its namesake, but a missed opportunity to provide greater contrast to the malt base.