Posted August 10, 2013 by Kevin in Eats & Drinks

Great Divide Rumble: Oak-aged IPA with Northwestern hops

Great Divide Rumble
Great Divide Rumble

No bourbon here.  Just oak, thank you very much!  I’m familiar with Great Divide Brewing Co., but have only tried it on tap at specialty bars and beer tastings until recently.  I decided to pick up this interesting brew out of Denver at the local carryout.  Like many of their beers, Great Divide used oak to age this beer.  Hard to say if it was a barrel, oak shavings or some bigger pieces of wood; the commercial description simply states, “aged on French and American oak.”  All I know is that this beer, like most of the others from this brewery, avoids the Bourbon trend.  For this particular brew, it’s a very good thing.

The main takeaway from Great Divide Rumble is how sweet it is for the IPA style.  It almost approaches a Double IPA or even a barley wine in presentation, but with less alcohol.  The sweetness comes mostly from the oak aging process and has distinct vanilla tones, with some dark sugar backing it up.  As the beer warms this sweetness comes forward but remains as a subtle support to the beer without overpowering the hops profile.

This beer has a definite IPA nose to it, with Northwest hops adding some pine and citrus to the aroma.  Combined with the sweetness from the aging process this is one of the more entertaining beers I’ve had in my fridge in some time.  Head retention good, the beer pour clear and it comes in at 7.1% alcohol . . . all the hallmark IPA requirements are checked here.

This may be one of the first IPAs that I would not recommend pairing with food.  This subtle and interesting brew is different than other IPAs I’ve had in that regard.  For best results, put down the chicken wing and enjoy this one on its own.  Oh, and make sure it hits at least 40 degrees F before you serve it; you will be rewarded.  Cheers! 


Kevin has been drinking and brewing beer for more than 20 years, and enjoys re-capping the interesting craft and microbrews that find their way into his glass. Feel free to contact him at [email protected] to talk favorites, but hold back on the technical questions – he sees himself as more of a beer nerd than a beer expert.