Great Divide Brewing Co Wild Raspberry Ale

In honor of Ty’s leaving for Colorado in a few short days, I decided to try one of the many (many!) award-winning beers brewed at Great Divide Brewing Co in Denver, Colorado.  Ty, you will have a great time in Colorado with all the fantastic local beers there, also because there are lots of mountains and snow.  I know you like snow.  Plus, I can come visit you better?  Anyway, the Great Divide brew that I tried tonight was their Wild Raspberry Ale.

Can I just say…HOLY RASPBERRY?!

Right off the bat, the scent of raspberries is almost sickeningly overpowering, smelling surprisingly like they used real raspberries (like they say they do).  There are also faint undertones of blackberry and malt, lacking any bitterness.  I’m not saying it doesn’t smell good, because it kinda does, I’m just saying it almost didn’t smell like beer, and I was really thrown off my game.  There isn’t much more to report on the smelling front, it’s not a complex beer.  Nice, easy, simple, raspberry-y.

The color is beautiful.  Really.  A deep brownish-red with a light haze when held up to the sun.  It might be considered a “girly drink” to some “macho men” out there just because  of it’s bright color, but that shouldn’t scare anyone off before they at least taste it.  The head on this was also just as lovely, ushered on by a nice amount of carbonation, it was actually a very light pink and just over an inch thick when I first poured it.  It lasted for quite a while, too, leaving a less than desirable lace, but they can’t all be winners.

I wasn’t too impressed with my initial taste from the first glass, but just like the Oak Creek Hefeweizen, when I tried my second bottle a few hours later, it definitely made more of an impact on me.  I was all ready to write about how fruit beers weren’t my thing and question why that was – considering I love fruity drinks under most other circumstances – but my second taste really turned that around.  Right now, as I’m finishing off the bottle, it almost resembles a bubbly, fermented malt-fruit soda poured into a glass previously used for beer.  Right?  Right.

The Wild Raspberry Ale has a thinner feel to it, further reinforcing my soda reference.  At the end of the drink, it manages to leave a slightly dry feeling in my mouth and a slight sour taste on my tongue, but nothing terribly unpleasant (like something with too much hops).  The raspberry continues to drift throughout my mouth after swallowing, and the carbonation bubbles lightly in my stomach.  It is a spectacular fruit beer, for sure, as can be proven by its three awards: “Regional Champion” at the U.S. Beer Tasting Championship in summer 2003 and summer 2004, and “Best of the Rockies” at the U.S. Beer Tasting Championship in 2007.  Considering the brewery was founded in 1994, has over 9 year-round beers and 14 seasonal beers, each with their own awards, I’d say it’s a brewery to keep up with.

Without a doubt, this is a mid-summer beer, best paired with more fruity foods – pies, tarts, breakfast foods (only for champions).  However, if you’re looking for a surprising mouthful, drink it with some spicy mexican food as suggested on the bottle.  It’s not bad with chips and salsa, complimenting the sweet tomatoes and countering any peppers/spiciness, but I’m not sure it could handle a burrito.  I’ll test it out someday, when I find the perfect burrito for the perfect fruit beer.

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