Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti (2011) Sour Beer?

Tasting: August 17,2012
Style: Stout (Russian Imperial – barrel aged)
Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti

Great Divide 2011 Yeti Barrel Aged

My home brewing hobby ended on a sour note – literally. As a newlywed twenty years ago, I tried to migrate my hobby into my wife’s kitchen. You probably see where this is going, don’t you? The lingering sweet malt smell permeated the drapes and every piece of upholstered furniture. My orders were to take my hobby outdoors or to the basement. At least I had a choice. I claimed the moldy unfinished basement as my domain and bought a camping stove. Again, you probably can see where this is going. Yes, that batch was as foul as the basement in which it was brewed. Beer is prone to airborne molds and bacteria that give the beer an off flavor and I had plenty of it. It’s funny there is a strong sour beer cult growing in the craft beer world and maybe my sour beer was just ahead of its time. But really, if it tastes like vinegar and moldy basement, it just isn’t good.

I’m heading into this tasting in a bit of a panic. It seems that a number of people in the beer community are reporting that certain bottles of Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti are infected. There isn’t any logic to which number bottles are infected. I have bottle # 2868 and reports within 20 bottles on either side are both good and bad. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about dumping a bad bottle of wine or beer down the drain but this bottle was VERY expensive for a beer. I won’t disclose the price for fear of being banished permanently to the basement. The brewery hasn’t totally acknowledged a problem but they’ve offered restitution for some on the message boards that called to complain. I was saving this for a better occasion maybe to toast with some friends but figure I’d better find out if it’s foul or fair before I lose any recourse or poison any friends.

I love bourbon/whiskey barrel aging. It lends a wonderful vanilla and oak flavor to a beer. This is simply Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout aged for at least nine months in the whiskey barrels of the legendary Stranahan Colorado Distillery. I loved Yeti and gave it 89 points, so I have high expectations in my head and a prayer in my heart. And here we go. It smells okay, a bit boozy. The first sip, I get some strong oak, vanilla and pronounced cocoa powder. I also get a little black cherry and some strong booziness (10.7% ABV) – probably more to do with the bourbon barrel. Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti is solidly a 95 and thankfully I won’t break out in a rash.

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