Ale is not a style many breweries are doing as they were traditionally
made (i.e. actually aging beer for a significant period of time). Most
breweries just brew a barleywine ad call it an old ale, but in the case
of Great Divide Hibernation Ale, it appears to be a traditional brew
(according to BJCP guidelines, that is). It’s a good beer to drink to
appreciate that dedication to classic brewing techniques, and it’s also a
good beer to drink because it’s a good beer.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 8/27/14 and cost $2.99 ($0.25 per ounce).
Appearance: Dark reddish/brown hue with sediment particles in
suspension. Pours to a two-finger, off-white, foamy head which laces and
Smell: Sweet confectionary aromas, especially chocolate and toffee, but
with a strong dark malt base. Some dark fruit notes as well.
Taste: It’s no surprise that the malts are the stars of the show here.
Rich sweetness right away in the form of dark fruit notes, similar to
that of a barleywine. A general mélange of cherry, fig and raisin as
well as distinct syrupy flavors of toffee and chocolate-covered burnt
toast. What’s curious is there’s actually quite a strong hop presence in
the form of flavor and bitterness. I get light citrus flavors, but a
fairly strong dry bitterness. There’s also some tanginess most likely
due to oxidation (though this is normal). The alcohol imparts a warming
sensation and accentuates the confectionery flavors but creating a
slight vanilla character. Overall, it’s a tasty brew and a great example
of how this style can be done today.
Drinkability: With a soft mouthfeel and smooth texture, Great Divide
Hibernation Ale is quite pleasing to drink. Plenty of body and raw
weight at 8.7% ABV, though there’s no abrasive heat from the alcohol. A
slight lingering dryness on the tongue. It works well as a sipper.