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19th Anniversary Ale - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
19th Anniversary Ale19th Anniversary Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

68 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 68
Hads: 382
Avg: 3.61
pDev: 31.3%
Wants: 10
Gots: 20 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 04-29-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

19th Anniversary Ale isn’t just a wood-aged ale. It’s a compass – a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Brewed with pure birch syrup and aged on birch wood, this beer embraces reverential tradition and revolutionary innovation.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 68 | Hads: 382
Photo of ArrogantB
1.72/5  rDev -52.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

22oz bottle $8 (or was it $9)? Golden orange color, good head, looks ok. Aroma is musty and stale and really not good at all. The flavor was just downright awful, that birch syrup and birch wood were the main flavors competing with a really nasty alcohol flavor. I took about two drinks and drain poured this. Easily the worst Great Divide beer I've ever had by a long shot, they usually make solid stuff for the most part. Atrocious beer.

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Photo of utfiero
2/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Color - clear golden wheat.

Aroma- sweet but sharp like a mild radish with honey.

Taste- Overwhelming and unbalanced. Starts sweet and strong, alcohol esters are strong (reminding us of accidentally tasting cheap cologne), finishing with a sharp woody and annoying aftertaste. Could this bottle have been spoiled in shipping in the Texas summer heat? Possible, but we'll never know.

By the way, I'm not biased against Great Divide at all. I've even filled my growler at the brewery in Denver. But this brew just didn't measure up.

Poured from 650 ml bomber into a Liefmans Goudenband glass (my preferred all purpose beer tasting glass). Tasted on 7/20/2013.

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Photo of ThickNStout
2.28/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

22oz bottle from Hop City (Atlanta, GA). 8.99. Bottled 5/14/13. Served in a Cigar City snifter.

Pours golden hued amber with a quarter finger of pale head that quickly retreats to a halo. Very few tiny pin points of "lace".

Muted aromas of sap, earth, flower petals and a kind of generic beer smell. Not too excited to move on after smelling this.

Oh. Hmm. Birch seems to be a much harsher wood than oak. Astringent bark, sweet sap (I assume that's the birch syrup?), subdued citrus peel, almost harsh pine, hot booze and black pepper. Not sure what's goin on here or what it's even tryin for.

Semi oily medium body with moderately high carbonation. Lingering "off" bittersweet wood and faint hop aftertaste.

An experiment gone wrong? If this is Great Divide's compass, as it says on the label, I'm not sure that I'm all that interested in where they're going. I didn't/couldn't/wouldn't finish the bomber. Quite a disappointment from a brewery I typically enjoy. I'd advise taking a pass on this one.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
2.3/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2

Bomber, poured a light copper with white head. Foam was soapy and slick, along with the lacing. Filmy.

Aroma is birch and booze. Some sweetness. While these aren't all that bad, they don't do well

The first sip surprised me. Very light body as it enters and leaves. The birch and sweetness take over, some vanilla, which is promptly murdered by the booze. Probably a good thing else that vanilla combined with the residual sugars would have been too much. But this beer has nothing else going for it. Birch, booze, sweet. Thin with a bit of a saving dryness on the end.

Drain pour half the bottle. What were they thinking?

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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.37/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

Pours a thick viscous copper body with light beige head forming thin even after a vigorous pour, there's not much head wanting to erupt here. Fine speckled lacing not the worst looking beer ever. Bottled on 5/14/13, warming birch syrup it's almost like a woody honey or other concentrated sugar, minimal hops going on in the nose. Flavor warming alcohol big unfermented sugary body it's so rough it's unreal this needs another fermentation why release this keep this forever it will ferment forever if it was bottled conditioned sickeningly sweet beer, big alcohol wave hints of vanilla and charred oak with minimal aging this is young folks too fresh if you have a bottle don't drink it. If you have a bottle and your a diabetic get your local EMT ready to pick you up and take you to the ER. Overall it needs time, I won't be as mean as some reviews but this is the most sickeningly sweet beer I've ever tasted Birch syrupy should be barred from microbreweries.

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Photo of maximum12
2.4/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Picked up a bottle of this beer because I always enjoy Great Divide's anniversary beers, & reading 'birch syrup' on the label sealed the deal in sticky. Bottle dated April 2013, split with my wife on a sleepy Saturday evening.

Poured into our virgin Cantillon glasses, anything would look amazing...but this one is an unclear orange, slightly hooded on the clarity scale, low carbonation. Nose is a wicked combination of sloppy sweetness (the syrup?), oranges with a sugar coating, added sweetener, & vanilla. All in all my blood sugar jumped just inhaling the fumes.

Great Divide's 19th Anniversary Ale is just as much a sugary tangle as the nose suggests. Wood sap comes across sickly sweet, with another hard lump of sugar from the malts. Oak lends a pleasant dryness, but contributes something akin to vanilla. Orange zest & half a still of alcohol rush to fill any open spots in the middle, before the sweet tide washes away everything else. Suffers from a lack of carbonation; heavy. Eleven ounces might be twice as much as I can handle.

The more I sip the less I'm enjoying this. First miss in this series, & it wasn't close. A bad beer that I'm not remotely interested in finishing.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.75/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottled May 14th 2013. 10.20% ABV confirmed. 650ml brown glass bottle with uninteresting label art and foiled-over standard pry-off pressure cap acquired at Sunset Beer Co. for $7.99 and served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are average; I like a lot of Great Divide's work but this seems a bit suspect.

Served cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonatio issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a dirty 1.5 finger head of beige/light khaki colour. Slightly creamy. Okay thickness. Average (~2 minute) retention; okay for the high ABV but not impressive. No bubble show. No lacing as the head recedes.

Body colour is a surprisingly light pale copper-orange. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible.

Not your typical appearance for an alleged strong ale. Looks decent, but it's not all that appealing to be honest. I remain optimistic.

Sm: Getting some birch syrup and wood - but probably only because I'm looking for it. I doubt I could identify those notes without prompting. It is distinctly syrupy though - I might've guessed maple if the label hadn't told me it was birch. Residual sugars are present. Some toffee. Muted buried citrusy hop character. Sticky and nectary. It seems strange for an alleged strong ale. The toffee and rich syrup remind me of a barleywine. Tangerine. No yeast or alcohol comes through on the aroma. Honey. Birch is certainly dominant. An aroma of moderate strength.

T: Birch syrup. Residual sugars. Caramel. Sweet citrusy hops. Hop profile is surprisingly overt. Tangerine. Syrupy; too sweet. No yeast character or alcohol comes through. Tropical fruits. Candied. I'd almost call it cloying. Not a great flavour profile by any means. Boozy. Imbalanced. Lacks complexity and subtlety. It's okay, but I'm not really liking it. Too sweet. Flavour profile is lacking; I really wish it was more balanced. Not very tasty. Lacking for the style.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Slight acidity. Overcarbonated. Doesn't suit the flavour profile all that well. Presence on the palate is poor. Too thick. Not soft. Unrefreshing.

Dr: I guess it's somewhat drinkable. There's just not much of interest here. I wouldn't get it again. A disappointment from Great Divide. Lackluster. I'll finish this bottle with some difficulty; I really wish I had help though. Doesn't hide its ABV all that well. Overpriced for the lack of quality. Quite underwhelming. Meh. A pretty mundane choice for an anniversary Ale. I expected far better.

High C-

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Photo of laituegonflable
2.84/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Pours a copper colour, clear, lacklustre head of large off-white bubbles. Lacing is unspectacular, but has spirit. Good for you, lacing.

Smells fruity but somewhat empty. Notes of mango and banana, touch of metal and not much else. Maybe a late touch of spice, but it's like artificial additives to provide aroma are doing most of the work here.

More oomph on the palate. Malty, with brown sugar, molasses and treacle. Touch of booze towards the back but certainly one-dimensional. Sweet, with a whisper of bitterness and maybe some very overripe fruit - kiwi and peach mostly. Doesn't excite; doesn't inspire.

Thick feel really. Fairly smooth, but definitely big and almost gluggy. Not a lot of texture; needs something to cut through.

Drinks heavy and sweet. Definitely needs a different angle - something to freshen, cut through or just elevate this thick, syrupy flavour. Note I was served this blind; I was even more disappointed to discover it's an anniversary ale.

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Photo of denver10
2.98/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours a light translucent golden yellow with a slight white head. Aroma offers the barrel, some nice sweet birch syrup, and a touch of some hoppiness. Some alcohol is present. Flavor offers the woodl, some sweetness from the birch syrup, and a piney bitter finish. Again some alcohol is present. A medium bodied to fuller still mouthfeel. Overall, the use of birch syrup and wood was definitely quite interesting and I am glad to have tried it, but this was more of an interesting beer than a good one.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.15/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-dark dusky orange with just a thin white head. Not much action to it.

S-very bold scent of citrusy honeycomb and syrups. Smells quite boozey

T-comes in with a flavor of honey combs, like the cereal, and a heavy syrup flavor. Disappointingly I get no birch. Some citrus to it. Matching after-taste.

M-sticky and heavy. Low carbonation.

O-well there's an absence of birch, which is basically the only reason I decided to drop $14 on this bomber. So yea it was a big let down. Other than that, it was a mildly okay strong ale. Somewhat drinkable. Will not buy again.

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Photo of Misanthropy_Sipping
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Was really interested and kind of excited over this. Great Divide does some really great beers. Unfortunately I wasn't sure how to feel about it after I finished. Here's the history:

Pours a very clean gold amber. Almost a light honey appearance. Nice mellow orange hue. Doesn't really have much of a head at all. Quickly dissipating bubblies that leave the beer quite placid.

Smells very noticeably of birch juice/syrup and booze. There is a slight woodiness in it and is just slightly sweet to the nose. For the smell of birch I would really recommend someone find some birch juice. Drink it... smell it. It has a very specific light and unusual taste and smell. For me it falls into the category of a backward scent and taste. It's hard to explain, it's like an emptiness. Once you have something of birch origin you lily won't forget though.

To continue there are also some fruity esters happening but very mildly.

The taste is sweet, and ends pretty cloying for me. The taste is definitely dominated by birch, booze, and pineapple. It's slightly bitter at the end with the herbal hops that are almost quashed by the booze. How anyone could not pick out booze on this floors me. There is a vanilla tone buried inside which is pretty nice and helps the beer out quite a bit.

The mouthfeel is just plain sticky. It's dense but goes down surprisingly well for how sticky/thick it is. I'm guessing the birch syrup and high malt s definitely to blame for these two things. Between the cloying sweetness and these two things though, it is kind of hard to get around with.

Overall, this is okay. It's interesting... it's not bad. It's not a hoppy beer much at all. Mainly sweet and unusual. I appreciate the oddness of it. But it doesn't really blow my mind. To put it simply I am glad to try it, but this won't be one I will be going back to buy. If you don't like sweet and boozy and sticky, just don't do it.

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Photo of stumac
3.34/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Going off partial drunk memory here. Keep in mind, I'm from Texas and I'm in Denver, so due to the high elevation here, I'm getting hammered off two beers!!! Had this at the brewery. Pours up yellow with a decent white head. Aroma is great! Apricot and peaches, slight malt and slight hops. Taste is suuuuper thick, syrupy, well balanced but so thick!!! Too thick in fact. Nice flavor. Pale malts, a little sweet. Good beer but too thick. Ahhh!!!

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Photo of Chaney
3.34/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Picked up a bomber for $8.99.

Served in a DC Brau tulip.

A: Poured a rusted orange color with only a slight pathetic head that wouldn't pick a fight with me.

S: Smelled like a carnival: Sugary taffy, cotton candy, and caramel corn all rolled into one.

T: I definitely good the wood part... bark and all. Bitter, bitter, bitter, and not in a pleasant way. I didn't find the birch syrup to be that interesting in the slightest.

M: Harsh. Lots of booze and sandpaper-esque notes that boggle the mind and palate. The carbonation was fine though.

O: Heck, this one's pretty cheap. Buy another bottle, bury it in your cellar, and don't even think about it for 10 years.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.37/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

22 ounce (650 ml) bottle in a pilsner glass. Bottled on date of April 22nd, 2013.
A - deep golden full of small fizzy bubble with a two finger head that recedes to a tight lacing and 1/2 finger lingering head.
S - smells woody with a sharp alcoholic bite that make its vaguely whiskey like in an overpowering way.
T - alcohol zap is immediate and strong. Woody resinous sweet taste underlies the heavy booze bite. Hops are blown away by the booze.
M - moderate body with ample carbonation that intesifies the alcoholic feel.
O - closer to a weak whiskey than a strong beer. Some may like it but it was not what I was looking for from Great Divide.
Is there a wood aged malt liquor category?
Great Divide has been one of my favorites when I can get it but this one is not the usual.

Maybe significant aging would even this out but I doubt it as it looks too filtered.

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Photo of offthelevel_bytheplumb
3.39/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a snifter. Pours a clear golden with a short lived white head and light visible carbonation. A lot going on with the aroma on this beer. Syrup and wood up front, but there is toffee, banana, sourdough bread, some earthiness, and light alcohol are all detected. Taste is very sweet with some light bitterness throughout. A touch of heat is detected on the finish. Mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy, and there is a moderate length finish of wood and toffee.

Overall: I think this was done well for what it is, and I think it is very complex. What I'm not sure about is how much I actually like it.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.39/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle poured into a pair of large snifters. 12 AIP 0912 is the bottle code.

Looks nice -- first half is clear, golden with a small head. Second half is a bit cloudy. Smell is surprisingly lagery. Yeasty with a bit of a tang. Something unidentifiable but kinda fruity.

Taste is overly sweet, a little nutty, syrupy, Something funky, maybe banana. Surprisingly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is light, smooth. Overall, it's not bad, but it's not great.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.41/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type -22oz bottle

Appearance - Golden amber/ yellow with a 1/4 foamy head, nice lacing.

Smell - Woody/birchy aroma, some hops, nothing to strong or strong.

Taste - Sweet malts, birch and oak. Hops are piney and sweet, added sugars, some Plenty of booze in each sip. Slight herbal, spice note in the finish. Nothing much more to add.

Mouthfeel - Birch, malts, sugars and booze nails the tongue. Palate gets more sugars, booze and added sugars, along with spices. Aftertaste is sweet, birchy and alcohol influenced.

Overall - Well, its not bad but not very balanced. The booze is too strong and its a little to sweet, which takes away from the oaked flavors, hops and malts. More spices, hops and malts, less booze and sugars would help this out. Worth a drink since it is a anniversary beer and it is enjoyable enough.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, NY.

This felt a little bit weird. The wood aging here kind of lent an earthy astringency that didn't work with the base beer, which gives off some coconut and caramel and a little bit of hoppy bitterness. A bunch of flavors that kind of don't really work together for me.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.46/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Amazingly clear yellow brew with tints of orange. Three-finger head flows fluffy white. Lacing is strong too.

Rather flat and iced tea-esque. Bready, missing a lot of depth... grassy.

A funky sweet-bitterness lingers in an odd way... Dry, milky, creamy, woody, intriguing.... Bitter, nicely carbonated, kinda strong harsh bite.

This brew is ment to mellow and age for sometime. I'll snag a few for the cellar. Kinda recommended, if you're into over the top, harsh brews. A bit of a mess, but I could see this brew doing great things with a bit of time (2-3 years) ...

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.49/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a St Bernardus glass. Bottled on 19 April 2013.

A: No head. Murky, sickly yellow-brown. Muddy.

S: Blackstrap molasses. Crazy floral yeast.

T: Weird beer. It's oddly bitter, like unsweetened molasses. I suppose this is the birch syrup. This never really goes away. I'm not sure I like it. Wood. Earthy. Lingering bitterness.

M: Thinnish and sorta astringent.

O: I don't know how I feel about this.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a tulip glass)
Bottles April 19 2013
A- This beer pours a slightly hazy aged orange body with a thin ring of white head and a slow carbonation of microbubbles.

S- The slightly sweet birch syrup note fades to a soft fusel head with a fresh wood furniture smell in the finish.

T- The gentle pine pungency hops lead to a birch syrup note with a touch of sweetness and a light woody note in the finish. There is a pine hop note that grows in the finish.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel is a bit thick with a bit of alcohol heat that grows and is enhanced by the tight fizz finish.

O- The big alcohol and soft pungent hop covers the delicate birch character and it takes on more of a furniture character.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Brew-Ligion in Murrieta, CA.

Pours a clear yellow with a foamy bone head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is quite wood forward in the aroma and flavor.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam.

Pours an extremely clear deep golden colour, bright and fairly thickly bodied. Head forms a pocked mesh of white bubbles that only really stay around through perturbation. Lacing is minimal. Carbonation forms in fine streams when tilted. Looks pretty heavy and very decent.

Nose is rather muted. There's perhaps a slight woody tone to it, but there's also a pretty pronounced sugar-fermentation character that gives a little cider or vodka. Perhaps a touch of smoke lacing to the booze too. The malt gives a rather flat cardboard note, a bit like grain husk. I'm not going to lie, I'm deeply unimpressed.

Taste is certainly a lot better. Here, while the booze character is still present, there's also a pleasant buoyant peach note that comes through, and a lightness towards the back that allows some of the woody notes to have a bit of range. Finish has fragrant fruit and some sharp boozy sugar characters. Smooth feel throughout: despite the suggestion of thinness on the nose, this is quite thick and gelatinous.

Overall, though, it's a rather disappointing beer from Great Divide, who have to be one of my favourite American breweries. That's not to say it's bad, just that it's genuinely below the standard I expect from them.

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Photo of steph1974
3.52/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A honey gold, small head dissipates

S weird, hard to identify. Alcohol, honeysuckle, pepsin, unidentifiable fruit, barrel, whiskey as it warms

T. Oddly fluffy but high alcohol. Sweetish, but not cloying, somewhat like a triple-quad-hybrid. Vanilla, cream soda, floral nectar, bitter green tea.

M. Fluffy, smooth, creamy, awesome. Followed by lingering alcohol warmth

O. Very interesting, still not sure if I really like it. Appreciate it's step outside the lines. My opinion aside, very solid.

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Photo of mactrail
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Amber color in the tall Saxo tulip with a brief cap of foam. Just a few bubbles, but a sharp prickle on the tongue. Interesting woodsy smell.

Very sweet and malty. I can't say that the birch adds a whole lot, but the overall effect is a fat-bodied brew with a tangy mouthfeel. Some stray aromatics, but it's like a double bock beer. There might be a faint herbal taste. I don't taste the alcohol, but it's definitely lurking behind the syrup.

A beer that's hard to figure, but it's worth a try if you like an oddity. Quite sippable, though some creamy carbonation would have made this more rewarding. From the 22 oz bottle for $8.50 at Baron's Market in San Diego.

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19th Anniversary Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 68 ratings.