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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 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 metter98
3.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is slightly hazy amber yellow in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high dense beige colored head that died down a bit but consistently left a short head covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of coconut are present in the nose along with notes of oak and hints of vanilla.
T: The taste mostly follows the smell but isn't quite as strong and also has some notes of toffee and hints of alcohol towards the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has hints of crispness along with a moderate amount of carbonation and some dryness. The alcohol makes its presence known by contributing a moderate amount of warming, particularly in the finish.
O: While this beer is quite drinkable considering its strength—because most of the alcohol is masked from the taste—the coconut aromas and flavors are unique and makes this an interesting beer to sip and savor. It reminded me like a lighter version of a barleywine.

Note: Bottled on April 19, 2013

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.98/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

as far as I know the first deviation from the ipa anniversary beer line, but its a welcomed change. as much as I liked the 18th, I like this one too. it pours a honey color with maybe three inches of white head and good retention. its go a birchy nose indeed, much like the syrup in the life and limb or in that Alaskan pilot series bock I think it was, this has that same earthy sweet aroma, but the malt base is light enough to let it shine. really nice. the flavor is on the sweet side, which would be a detractor, except for that the sweetness is not malt sweetness or residual sugar in the conventional sense. its entirely different sweet, fro the birch, and its really nice in a lighter ale. the alcohol is there in the finish, but its not too intense. also the birch chips its aged on seem to only make a minimal contribution to flavor, giving some mellowness to the whole operation, but not potent like oak can be. the body is a little heavier than id like to it be, although not so much that a bomber of this isnt drinkable in one dose, because it surely is. the carbonation is very lively, which helps a lot, and allows the sweetness not to linger too long on the finish. this probably lacks complexity compared to the wood aged ipas that have been the hallmark of great divides anniversary series, but I appreciate the new direction. this is something very new, and easily worth the 8 or so dollars I paid for it.

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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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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 russpowell
3.64/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled May 14th 2013

Pours amber with a thumb of pearl colored head. Stays effervescent, traces of lacing & head retention

S: Faint woody notes &pears, toffee, booze, some pineapple

T: Dry woody notes, some toffee, some pear brandy up front. Some faint herbal notes, apricot & pears, & orange peel as this warms, some passion fruit as well, & toffee. Finishes with orange, a bit of booze warmth, muted shortbread flavor & a bit of canned peaches

MF: Chewy, dry & near zero carbonation, decent balance for the style, warming

Not one of Great Divide's better anniversary offerings, but worth a try . Started feeling the ABV quite a bit

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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 chinchill
3.78/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bomber bottled on 14 May 2013. Poured slightly hazy copper with a decent head, but there is very little lacing.

Aroma: sweet with hints of soft, ripe fruits and wood chips. The high ABV is rather apparent here although hidden in both the flavor and feel.

Flavor: Not what I expected: more soft than harsh, less woody and with more subtle effects of the birch syrup. Lightly sweet into the mildly bitter-sweet aftertaste. Well-balanced and easy drinking, especially for >10% ABV. More depth and complexity than expected. Best in the finish and aftertaste.

Feel: smooth, full body with partially hidden alcohol, but ultimately warming.

O: a refined, satisfying, unique and interesting American Strong Ale that is worth seeking out.

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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 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 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 LiquidAmber
3.89/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Great Divide tulip. Pours a medium burnished gold amber with a two finger light khaki head with good retention and lots of lacing. Aroma of sweet malt, oak (birch?), light fruit, birch beer. Flavor starts with caramel malt, woody vanilla, toffee, birch syrup then develops a woody, earthy bitterness, finishing with a lingering bitterness that seems more herbal than hoppy. Medium bodied with light creaminess. An interesting strong ale tastes like an oaked hybrid of scottish ale and a sweet Belgian quad. Overall different and flavorful, but the finish is somewhat stark and a little astringent. The alchohol is well covered, but this is definitely warming. I completely missed this beers very brief availability at home and found this bottle 400 miles away. Although it is almost a year old, it seems to have held up well. This beer grew on me as a drank it, perhaps as my tongue got bitterness fatigue, which made the finish more pleasant. I like the vanilla flavors associated with oak barrelling and know know that similar flavors are associated with birch chips. Glad I found this.

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Photo of Tone
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear, golden/copper color. 1/3 inch head of a white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, hops, citrus hops, hint of pale malt, slight alcohol, and slight grass. Fits the style of an American Strong Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, citrus hops, caramel malt, pale malt, and alcohol. Overall, decent appearance, good aroma, feel, and blend. Body is not strong enough, in my opinion.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip.

Appearance: medium orange hue with a light haze and light effervescence. Head poured a finger of frothy ivory foam with moderate retention and leaving a nice lace after dissipating.

Smell: richly malty with a fair dose of lemony hops and a bit of an alcoholic bite. Not too bad, although not especially complex.

Taste: strong, sweet malt with plenty of buttery diacetyl -- not exactly my favorite flavor compound. Hops remain citrusy and relatively strong. Bitterness is high, but not quite enough to balance the huge sweetness. Decent, but it could lose that diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: big body with a moderate carbonation and a decent creaminess. Not bad.

Overall: pretty drinkable for a strong ale. It could use a little more bitterness and a little less butterness, but other than that not too bad.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.09/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The color is golden while the compact small head is off-white. Nice lacings.

S: Lots of syrupy-sweet caramell malt. The birch chips are very obivious (smells just like my home-made-birch-schnaps). Hoppy and very fruity. Vanilla and coconut.

T: Very sweet, malty and toffee. Birch, coconut and vanilla dominates. Dark dried fruits and even some nice fresh ones.

M: Body is actually thick and sticky, while carbonation is very mild. Aftertaste is both bitter and sweet, but not very long. Alcoholic and warming.

O: This is my first birch-beer, but I'm no stranger to birch in alcoholic beverages... Very nice and interesting. If all beers with birch is like this - they should replace oak to birch in beers from now on!
This beer would probably evolve if properly cellared.

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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 Immortale25
4.25/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had on-tap at The Local Miami. Served in a Florida Beer Co. tapered glass.

A- Pours a clean medium amber color with a 1/4 inch off-white head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of surface foam. Slippery, non-resilient lacing leaves clots behind on the glass.

S- Very sweet, almost candyish type of aroma with some vanilla notes.

T- Initial sweetness soon turns a bit woody then right back to sweet in the aftertaste. Smooth but with a bit of alcohol fume trailing behind it. The sweetness is semi-fruity but in a red cherry/caramel/burnt sugar context. Ok, I got it: rum. Tastes like a very sweet rum. Still, the alcohol is concealed quite well even as it warms.

M- Moderate booze bite with a slightly syrupy feel. Medium carbonation and a body that's just a tad light.

O- Totally unique, very tasty and quite surprising.

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Photo of Bung
4.17/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. Darker golden pour, nearly no head. Just a minimal run of white. Fairly viscous looking though.

Aroma, herbal and woody. Definete pancakes and syrup like sweetness.

Taste, faint citrus zest, quickly turns to a woody sweet. Malty caramel, some toasted malt notes. Some bitters and booze battle the sweet in the finish. The toffee stays with you though.

Quite coating, a good level of carbonation helps to keep the stickiness in check just a bit. A little warming, might be a better cooler weather beer. Would be interesting to see what some age does with this. It's perfectly fine now however.

Probably the closest thing I've tasted to some of Founders non-stout barrel aged beers. Rougher around the edges but very nice.

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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 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 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 Pencible
3.99/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a clear gold with a little off white head.
S: It smelled like wild honey and sweet caramel, with some biscuit and a little copper.
T: It tasted like sweet honey and sugary caramel, with some woody biscuit and a little copper. It had a sweet and clean aftertaste.
M: It was thick with moderate carbonation. Great big body.
D: This was a nice brew. I don't know birch that well, but this definitely had a unique and sugary scent and taste. The body was excellent, and the finish was smooth with well hidden alcohol, so it was easy to drink. Doesn't need age, but it might not hurt either. Very enjoyable beer, even if not terribly exciting.

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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 Gmann
3.74/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pour a clear honey color with a short tight white head that settles into a sparse cap but left a sheet of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is sweet. Candied honey comes to mind. There is a slight apricot fruitiness. The birch wood comes through towards the finish.

The taste is quite sweet as well and I have to assume it is from the birch syrup. The birch provides some vanilla and mimics bourbon to an extent. There is a woody flavor but is not as dry as oak. There is honey sweetness as well. It's sweet but not cloying. Perhaps a hint of pepper and grassy hop.

The feel is feel is moderate with prickly carbonation. I borders on being slick but the wood and hops keep it in check.

An interesting beer. Quite sweet and woody.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Taphouse in Seattle. Deep golden to copper pour with small creamy head. Vanilla and big oak aroma on top of citrus and toffee malts. Flavor is toffee and citrus with definite wood presence that dries it out on the finish. Heavy and slick, not really the type of beer I was looking for. Decent brew, but tough to handle more than one glass. Had this without food so it hit me pretty hard to start out my night. The booze is definitely there.

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