Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager
Great Divide Brewing is one of the best breweries in America, easily landing in just about anybody’s top 10. Denver is essentially becoming, if it isn’t already, the beer world’s Napa Valley, and Great Divide is a major reason for that. They brew a large variety of styles and you wouldn’t want to turn down any of them. They aren’t just consistent; they are consistently great over their whole range of offerings. This being the time of year for Oktoberfest, I thought I’d give their Hoss a try. They call it a rye lager, which technically is exactly what it is, but what it really is, is a very good marzen-style Oktoberfest beer. One of the best you’ll find this side of Germany.
It pours a deep amber, leaning toward red. The head is average, maybe an inch at most, and quickly fades to some decent lacing. It looks like it might just be a simple red ale type beer that will be unexciting and unexceptional, but the aroma starts to tell the tale. Malty, but not sweet, it’s a great combination of toasted malt, cherries and rye bread. This is not going to be some boring beer you’ll knock back and immediately forget.
The taste holds no surprises, and is exactly as good as the aroma promised. Pumpernickel bread immediately springs to mind, with just a hint of those cherries balancing it out. And balanced is exactly the word for this beer. Those malty notes are front and center, but there is a crisp bite of hops to give it some dry crunch just underneath. The medium body lends just enough heft without making it a chore to drink. It finishes just as balanced as it started, and has you immediately wanting more.
For the fall weather, it would be tough to imagine a more appropriate beer. Very easy to drink, and it’ll go well with all the sausages and mustard. It should be a mandatory beer at every Oktoberfest in the country. But, I think it would go just as well with barbecue or some spicy tacos. The 6.2% alcohol is even autumn-appropriate -- enough to warm you up without getting you sloshed after having a couple.
Just about every Great Divide beer stands out, but it’s especially surprising when even a beer like Hoss manages to do so. It’s a style that can be pretty standard, and maybe even boring, unless it’s done extremely well. Hoss is an excellent example of an Oktoberfest beer. I’d forget about all those silly pumpkin beers and other over-spiced nonsense that flood the beer shelves this time of year, and grab some Hoss. I’ve never had a better American version of a marzen-style lager.