It’s been a while since I’ve knocked back an IPA. I don’t know why, but it probably has to do with the abundance of winter choices out there that have been tempting my palate and drawing it away from strongly hopped beer.

This one I picked up while in upstate New York. I first tried Great Divide while out in Boulder, CO for the Beer Bloggers Conference, and I was happy to find it on this side of the Mississippi. I was pleasantly surprised to read that this brew had won several international medals: Silver in the Australian International Beer Awards (2008), Silver at Eurpoean Beer Star (2007) and a few earlier ones.

It pours out a really nice copper color with a slight haze and a very strong head in the glass. The head doesn’t go away either, just stays there creamy and inviting on the top of the beer. A whiff reveals some pine and citrus notes, and I’m actually happy that it isn’t one of those nosehair-singing strong IPAs where the hops basically knock you back when you first smell it. These hops are inviting, yet still assertive.

The taste is really mellow with a very strong hop note that is gently balanced by malt. I’d have to disagree with the label of “aggressive” on this, but instead I’d say that this is smooth and very drinkable. I am enjoying it’s middle road – it’s not a west-coast hop bomb, but it isn’t a tempered English IPA either. It’s very nicely flavored and has a very clean hop presence in the taste. I am left with a little bit of bitterness in the back of my mouth near my salivary glands – but not in a detrimental way. I really enjoyed this one, and like many brews, wish I could get my hands on it more often. But as far as IPAs go, this is a winner, without having to be extreme. And that’s how I like them.