Great Divide Brewing – (Whiskey) Barrel-Aged Yeti Review

IMG_2202All You Need to Know

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing
Style: BA Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.5%
My Cost: $29 (!)
Glassware: Snifter
Temp: 60°F
Availability: Seasonal (Sept)
Purchased@: Friendly Greek

Quick Take: Easily the best beer I’ve had to date from Great Divide and I regularly enjoy their offerings. On just about every level, this beer does huge, chocolate stouts right. It is also one of the few beers I simultaneously consider overpriced and worth it. BA Yeti is on the sweeter side with no dark fruit or savory layers to give it added depth, but it is as close to a perfect BA Imperial Chocolate Stout that I’ve ever come across.


Brew Facts: Over the years, Yeti, Oak-Aged Yeti, and Chocolate Yeti have won a total of 11 beer show/competition awards, ranging from gold to bronze. Recently, Great Divide opened the Barrel Bar, a second taproom, located in Denver, CO, that specializes in the brewery’s barreled beers, stout and sour, along with limited release beers. I also recommend checking out the hop inspired vintage western shirt you can buy in their online store.

Appearance: BA Yeti pours a standard, dark chestnut motor oil with a deep, mahogany brown head of foam. Appealing, but nothing sets it apart from the many stouts that came before it, reminding me of a vigorously poured Ten Fidy. Held to the light, its dark heart reveals edges of cola brown. While trying BA Yeti, I happened to be at a bar that had Oak-Aged Yeti on draft and I decided to use it for a comparison. Visually, the most telling difference between the two is the pale white head of OA Yeti that barely musters half a finger.

Aroma: Top popped and the aroma of fudge blasts its way out like a prison escapee. Huge notes of chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and molasses greet repeated sniffs. There is some astringent alcohol and whiskey spice on the back end, but this is one of the most massively chocolate dominate beers I’ve yet come across. This includes Southern Tier’s Choklat, Rogue’s Double Chocolate, Young’s Double Chocolate, and Caldera Mogli. I’ve been mislead by spectacular aromas before, but my chocolate stout loving tongue has high hopes that this beer will follow through on the promise made to my olfactory system. On the OA Yeti side, a MUCH different aroma with the scent of tannic, smokey peat, leather and soy sauce commonly found in many Russian Imperials.

Taste/Mouth Feel: A sip and I’m rewarded with a silky, near velvety mouth feel that is just fantastic. The initial hints of chewy syrup give way to a pleasant creaminess as it warms. It’s weighty, but not sticky thick. In turn, the full mouth feel works in harmony with the heavy dose of dark and milk chocolate, french vanilla, fluffy marshmallow, and dark, roasty malts. It blends together into a deliciously cocoa-leaning mocha flavor with the lightest hint of coffee. There is mild chalk and heat on the finish that pleasantly mixes with some rye whiskey spice and brown sugar to cap it all off. A great finish that isn’t too dry or, surprisingly, too sweet. This beer rides a refined line that most chocolate stouts only dream about (when they aren’t dreaming about the sunlight they should never see). BA Yeti far exceeds its humble beginnings, coming across as an entirely new beer that has little to do with the thinner-bodied OA Yeti that emphasizes the leather, tobacco and savory elements on top of mild baker’s chocolate.

Final Thoughts: Easily the best beer I’ve had to date from Great Divide and I regularly enjoy their offerings. On just about every level, this beer does huge, chocolate stouts right. But there is that price…$29. It’s the albatross around BA Yeti’s bottleneck and is a rather huge leap from the other well done Yeti variants (Espresso is a personal fav) that are less than half the price. While the cost is steep, I have trouble finding flaws in this beer. It is on the sweeter side with no dark fruit or savory layers to give it added depth, but it is as close to a perfect BA Imperial Chocolate Stout that I’ve ever come across. So much so that I prefer this over other less or equally pricey BA stouts, like BA Rasputin, BA Narwhal, and KBS, and even went back and bought a second bottle the very same day.

Although I’m heaping on praise, this isn’t a beer for everyone. Those wanting a big hit of barrel (char, booze or wood) or stronger influence of whiskey are going to be disappointed. Both are background players and as such, this imperial stout doesn’t have quite the complexity of its BA brethren. But, even with these caveats, it’s one of the few beers I simultaneously consider overpriced and worth it. Much like a crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster, I don’t care that I’m not being challenged in the same way as a beer like Parabola and can enjoy BA Yeti for the bold, tasty achievement it is.

Recommendation: Cost is a concern, but worth the plunge.

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