Once upon a time, Great Divide made an Imperial stout, strong, roasty, tasty. They named it Yeti (Bigfoot was taken for a big beer, after all). This monstrous beer was well-received; and when the time came, Great Divide decided to extend the brand name, first adding chocolate nibs and calling it Chocolate Yeti; then, adding oak chips to dry it out, maybe add a little vanilla, and called it, yes, Oak Aged Yeti.
And then it came time to do this. Why not add both to the same bottle? Thus was born today’s beer.
Imperial stout is, as the name suggests, a “bigger” version of normal ol’ stout: more alcohol, more body, richer flavors, all that good stuff. Great Divide adds the cocoa nibs, oak chips, and “spice” in fermentation to add dominating flavors to an already-assertive beer. In the hands of a poor brewer, this would scream trainwreck, and there are a lot of trainwrecks littering the landscape.
Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, fortunately, is not one of them.
Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti pours inky black. Seriously dark black, opaque, everything associated with black. None more black. It throws a big, thick, densely-packed brown head that lingers for a very, very long time, though it doesn’t really stick to the glass. No matter, it’s pretty in the glass.
This Yeti boasts a big roasty aroma, not so much coffee as just straightforward kilned malt, maybe a touch grainy, coupled with bitter chocolate, masking most of the alcohol. It’s quite inviting, and so of course I have to take a sip. Hello, tastebuds: such a big bitter-cocoa flavor, like the unsweetened stuff used in baking, bound to a strong roasted barley taste, with a surprising burn from the hops — yes, a massive dose of bittering hops — on my palate. It’s thick, rich, and full-bodied, a little oily and slick, too, adding to the perception that this is no slouch of a beer. The only real distraction from this massive malted milkshake of a beer is in the finish, where the alcohol finally asserts itself, but from which the warming sensation might be welcomed on one of those characteristically, erm, cold summer nights we’ve had this year.It completely dries out, courtesy of the oaking, in part; I really don’t get the impression the oak chips added anything to the flavor profile here. Overall? A really good beer, and I’m glad to have it available in town.
While this beer was a gift, I’ve also spied it at Whole Foods Bowery, and New Beer Distributors around the corner from there on Chrystie, near Rivington. It retails… under $10 for a 22-ounce bomber, and honestly, that’s a fair price, especially in New York. It’s definitely a sipping beer, or a sharing beer, as drinking the whole bottle is the equivalent of around four bottles of normal, average beer.
It’s kind of hard to say what would be a good substitute for the Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, as it’s an unusual style, especially since “oak aged” in this case doesn’t mean “in bourbon barrels” where the flavor of the beer gets lost in the booze. You certainly can take advantage of other Imperial stouts, such as North Coast Old Rasputin, Smuttynose Imperial Stout, and Weyerbacher Old Heathen, to name a few available seasonally in New York City. I highly recommend a shot at this beer, though, and I think if you like rich, roasty beer, you’d be pleased with this one. Enjoy!
My Yeti was bottled May 3, 2010. 9.5% Imperial stout for the summertime? Hell yeah!