Review: Great Divide Rumble Oak Aged IPA

Review of Great Divide Rumble Oak Aged IPA from Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver, CO.

Beer Type: India Pale Ale (IPA)  ABV: 7.1%  Tried from bottle.

Their Description: “Rumble IPA is an American IPA with subtle nuance. Brewed with heavy-handed additions of Pacific Northwest hops, this beer is gently aged on French and American oak resulting in a wonderful balance of bitterness, caramel sweetness, vanilla, and undertones of pine and citrus. Very inspiring.”

The Reality: This beer starts with a hoppy scent with definite wood notes. You get a mildly sweet oaky caramel flavor up front, more than I expected from the aroma, which eventually transitions to piney hop flavors and a slightly bitter finish. The aftertaste brings back some oak tannin tones that hang on your tongue for a bit. Fairly well-balanced and not overly bitter. I didn’t get any of the citrus notes that they reference, and as for this beer being “very inspiring”, how would I determine that? It didn’t make me want to write that novel I’ve been putting off or anything…

Final Verdict: When you drink this beer you know it’s an IPA, but a lot of the experience isn’t very IPA-like. I decided it’s more balanced than not, mostly because of the mix of slightly sweet woody flavors and bitter hop notes, but someone who is an IPA “Hop Head” may not enjoy this beer for that reason. I enjoyed this beer, but generally I believe oak aging, whisky barrel aging, bourbon barrel aging, etc. always makes things better, kind of like bacon. I realize that the flavor profile added by this type of aging isn’t for everyone, and certainly is a contrast with traditional IPA flavors. The nice thing is that it does give this beer a pleasant smoothness that hides the 7.1% ABV perfectly. This can be a bit dangerous also, as you may consume too many too fast, and start sloppily taking off your clothes while standing on a table when your favorite song comes on at a party. This is a condition known as the “Rumble Strip”.