Mile High Club

Brewery and Country of Origin: Great Divide Brewing Company of 2201 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO, 80205, USA

Date Reviewed: 2-19-13

Boston has baked beans. Philadelphia has cheeseseaks. Buffalo has chicken wings. Chicago has pizza. New York has pizza. Omaha has steaks. And San Francisco has packaged herbed rice dinner side dishes... uh, treats. But lonely Denver? Well, they have nothing, or should we say, had nothing. Because one of the more prolific craft breweries of the region, Great Divide has brewed this, the Denver Pale Ale. An American regional version of the world famous Pale Ale is named after the Mile High City. It's actually been around with us for a while, and over that time, it has received numerous accolades both domestically and internationally. In 1997, the DPA won the Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for Classic English style Pale Ales. The year after, it won the same medal at the World Beer Cup. In the two years that followed, it received Gold Medals from the same events. It again won bronze at the 2002 and 2006 Great American Beer festivals for the same category. But what makes this a real bold, special beer is that of all of the beers that Great Divide produces, this perennial offering was chosen to represent the grand, proud, and truly American city of Denver. And no matter what the city, that's a big responsibility for a single beer to handle. A responsibility which could easily prove fatal from a branding standpoint. We've seen it before. Budweiser is America's beer. Well, maybe to those who've never had anything else. Genny Light brings home the pride of the Genesee River... all too well. Even Boston Lager is hardly the best that Boston has to offer. And don't get us started on Milwaukee's Best. At this point you may be thinking, well, these are all mass produced brews from macrobreweries. Yes, that is true, but from a branding standpoint, the rule perhaps applies even more. When you choose to represent something as important as your hometown, your heritage with a beer, you better make damn sure it's a good one.
Date Sampled: 1-25-13 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: American Pale Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 5.40%
Serving Type: 12 oz Bottle, 16 oz Tumbler Glass
Rating: 2.81


The Denver Pale pours smoothly with a low amount of carbonation action. This gives the beer a thin foam head with a low density, and a weaker retention. The appearance is hazy with a good amount of disturbed sediment, making this beer look cloudy with a bright amber glow when held up to the light. There is no lacing on the glass.


The aroma is fairly strong with a mostly hoppy character. There is a good presence of caramel malt in a secondary tone, and some slightly earthy presence as well. Some other notes include a bit of floral aspects from the hops, as well as a subtle hint of fruitiness. There is no alcohol in the aroma.


This is a medium light bodied beer with a lighter viscosity, and a moderate amount of weight. The beer is mostly dull with a moderate amount of carbonation, a wet, dull finish, and a lingering close. This beer is easy to drink, but offers little or no refreshment.


As expected with a pale ale, this beer's flavor is represented by a strong hoppy overtone. Bitter from beginning to close, this beer delivers on the promise of the style, while mixing in a bit of caramel malty sweetness and some earthy tones as well. There is a strong, bitter, and lingering aftertaste as well, but the presence of some sweeter malt dulls the effect of the close.

Our Take

So does the DPA do it's hometown justice? In a way, no. Unfortunately, nothing present here was special enough for us to recommend this beer to a friend, or wish we had more of it. But it's not all doom and gloom here. For one, as a style setter, this does fit the purpose of a more malty, somewhat sweeter pale ale, and for us, that's credit right there. This is apparent in both the aroma and the taste, which are both at least somewhat balanced between the floral, sometimes sharp hops, and the sweet, mellow malty character. Sadly, these flavors were hampered by a few things, including a dull, lethargic feel overall; a rather unpleasant mixture of pale malt and citrusy hops in an aftertaste which lingers a bit too long; and a somewhat nasty appearance. And considering that Denver is one of the leading markets for American Craft Beer, we were rather disappointed that of all of the beers produced out (or up) there, this was the one that is supposedly all about Denver. Of course, we're not taking the name too seriously, and we know that there are tons of better brews out there, including some from Great Divide. But for now, our only experience with the "Queen City Of The West" is a friend of ours who lives in nearby Breckenridge, and a slightly disappointing Denver Pale Ale.