***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or comments***
Enjoyed on 6/23/2010
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Beer: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped and Foiled
Vintage: Bottled on 3/15/2010
Style: Imperial Stout
Barrel: Oak Chips
Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees
Notes From the Bottle: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout is a new addition to the Yeti clan. A generous infusion of Denver’s own Pablo’s espresso adds yet another layer of complexity to this beer, combining with the vanilla oak character, intense roasty maltiness and bold hop profile to create a whole new breed of mythical creature. It’s official, you can now have Yeti with breakfast.
Food Pairings: Breakfast burrito, eggs Benedict, hash browns, cheesecake, creme brulee.
Cheese Pairings: Gouda, brie, swiss
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 100 (4.08)
The combination of coffee and beer has an unclear history. When it was and who it was that first combined the two alludes me. Though the amalgam of two of the worlds most loved brewed beverages seems like a painfully obvious invention, it is by no means a traditional fusion for brewmasters. In fact, one just may consider coffee imperial stouts to be yet another page in the ever-expanding history book of the world’s extreme beer movement.
The “obvious” tag comes with the natural flavor components of the two core ingredients of this style, and how they compliment each other. The thick, treacly black nature of stouts comes from roasted and chocolate malts that impart a bevy of flavors upon the brew, most pertinently: coffee accents. Coffee on the other hand, coats the mouth in a blanket of oils and astringent bitterness. In many cases, deep stouts leave the bitterness of the hops far too hidden in the depths to play a substantial role, but the addition of coffee breathes life back into the bitterness component of the beer.
The “coffee flavor” will always stand above the rest in such a brew. The best brewers will find a way to bring complexity to the stage. It is the mouthfeel, the sweetness, the chocolate, the roasty elements that support the coffee that will separate your run of the mill coffee infused brews from the all-time greats. The original Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti is one of the most masterfully created imperial stouts I have ever had, so we already know that the backbone is strong with this one. Let’s see how perky the espresso version makes the palate.
She pours the color of fresh black top with a timid head that quickly settles to the familiar “wisp and ring” that I describe so often. While that froth lasts, it’s a sight to behold. So rich and luxurious. Reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate or a dark roast espresso or mocha’s foam. A mild clinging to the walls of the glass exists, but mostly in sporadic clumps, like arms of lather reaching for freedom from the vessel’s confines.
The scent is deep and complex. As the brew warms, the coffee becomes more and more overpowering, but prior to the bean’s reigning supreme, there is a very earthy undertone. May the hops actually be discernible? These smells of freshly tilled earth and hop farm, entwined with coffee, lend the impression of what may be the scent of raw coffee beans. Perhaps I’ve been transported to the fields of a Colombian Coffee farm. I can see the workers gathering and harvesting without rest. Just imagine the bean’s long journey to Denver and their careful roasting. Do you think they ever thought that they would end up in a beer?
A lot of chocolate sweetness is able to cut through it all, which is a relief. I feel almost as though I can smell the oily nature of the fluid that the beans secreted. The boozy scent is mostly hidden until she warms quite drastically and a medicinal quality emerges. The melding of this medicine, dirt or earth, coffee… seems to fuse into a perfume of fermented dark grape or cherry skins. Very intriguing. My mouth waters.
The mouthfeel is very creamy and epitomizes body. This is yet another quality of imperial stouts that separates the men from the boys. No skimping on grain bills here.
At this point the booze is very recognizable, but the intense bitter of the coffee competes with considerable mettle, and my mouth is ecstatic to play host. The oils of the coffee are as coating as I’d assumed they would be, and thus the flavors linger with no premonition of dissipation. In fact, the flavors seem to improve with the added heat of my mouth. I need more!
Ultimately, if forced to choose, I’d prefer the uninfringed original version, with its natural complexities, but this is very nearly the best coffee beer I’ve ever had. My excitement was palpable when I first read that Great Divide would be treating their Yeti with various additions. The chocolate version is well worth a taste as well. If you like an imperial stout as much as Timperial, these are not to be missed.
If you like Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, you should try…
Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.