One of the many great things about beer is the flavor variance not only between styles but within styles as well. Obviously a stout and a pilsner will bring very different flavors—at least they should—but two IPAs may offer totally separate profiles, too. That’s what Great Divide Brewing Company does with its Denver Pale Ale. While the industry at large trends tropical and hazy, Great Divide sticks with its signature dank and sticky flagship pale ale, leaning into a flavor profile that perfectly captures its Denver roots.
This particular can of Denver Pale Ale features the third unique design in Great Divide’s Artist Series. Artist Rachel Jablonski “[framed] a Denver scene—a guy drinking beer in a hammock and looking out at the Denver skyline—it was like with every can, you have a little window into Denver.” The beer itself is unfiltered, and it shows on the pour with a slightly cloudy body. Its dull, golden color is capped with a fluffy, soft white head. What turns out to be a very average appearance belies the aroma and flavor punch to come.
Denver Pale Ale provides tons of dank, hoppy aroma. It is resinous and herbaceous, clogging the air over the glass. The fruitiness that is so en vogue in today’s hoppy beer plays only a background role in Denver Pale Ale. What fruit is there veers more toward classic grapefruit and orange rind than anything tropical.
Denver Pale Ale is so much about the dank flavors. It's sticky and sweet without a ton of bitterness, staying true to style.”
Those sticky, dank and sweet hops define Denver Pale Ale’s flavor as well. Hits of biting herb and resin offer even more flavor and light bitterness. That background fruitiness in the aroma sticks around with tastes of berry, grapefruit, and orange, but Denver Pale Ale is so much about the dank flavors. It's sticky and sweet without a ton of bitterness, staying true to style. It’s a pleasing drink that unfortunately finishes a little flat.
I love the classic flavor that zigs (dank, resinous) while the whole industry zags (hazy, tropical). Denver Pale Ale is distinctly a Colorado beer, which is exactly what it should be as a flagship for one of the state’s biggest brewers. Maybe Great Divide could leave the flavor intact with a slightly cleaner finish to really push this one to another level, but as it stands it is a really solid, old-school, and truly “Denver” pale ale.