Sunday, December 01, 2013. I awoke at the bitter crack of 11 am, aware that a day of toil and hardship lay ahead of me. The early morning had left a thin layer of slick snow that increased the possible perils of the day. Today was tree felling day. While deep within me I enjoy laboring at the chainsaw and ax, the spiteful New Hampshire weather, along with a tendency toward weekend sluggishness, made my morning groans ever louder with grim dread. In spite of the thick moisture hanging heavy in the overcast sky, the day proved warm enough to tolerate, and pleasant enough with sweaty work. The afternoon’s work found me on the chainsaw orchestrating the destruction of five superfluous trees and, at least for now, the muscles of my lower back. All in all, it was satisfying working ‘til my hands trembled with the ghost vibrations of the saw and the day’s targets lay heaped at my feet. My work done I soaked my stiff back, and drank some hot dark coffee. Later, I prepared dinner—two heaping burgers of moose meat seared in the cast iron on the stove to avoid the cold rain soaking the grill. This little vignette may seem unnecessary and perhaps a tad self-indulgent. It probably is, but this is the course of events which, when led to the fridge for my evening’s imbibing, steered me towards Great Divide’s Espresso Oak Aged Yeti.
The Yetis, legendary beasts of the Colorado Brewery, are imperial stouts of the highest order. The Espresso Oak Aged Yeti is the alpha beast, as far as I’m concerned. This monster is a hairy 9.5% ABV, which, as its name has implied, has feasted on a diet of oak chips and “Pablo’s” espresso. The result is dark as an Arctic Winter, with a thin and heavy head with hues of rich mahogany. The nose is expectedly dominated by dark and earthy coffee with overtones of soft vanilla, foreboding of the cacophony of flavors to come. The Yeti’s flavors are dark as his exterior, with the bitterness of the espresso tangling with a strong stab of hops and the suggestion of cocoa nibs from the dark roasted malts. Each sip leaves a lingering, though not embittering espresso, and brings a bit more warmth to your stomach—more ease to my sore back. On a day such as mine, nothing could be more fitting than to sip this beer by the warmth of the woodstove. Chainsaws, moose burgers and Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, I can only see this as “La Vie en Flannel.”