Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Great Divide Brewing Co. - Hibernation Ale

For the Ninth Beer of Christmas, we head to Denver for a taste of the Great Divide.

Great Divide (the brewerly, not the continental division of watersheds) brews a number of beers.  The one that always stands out in my mind is the large brown & beige bottle of Yeti that has even made its way into my local grocery stores. However, The Great Divide (the area that separates the watersheds) itself does have a great number of beers and breweries. But that's a subject for a different post.

Their seasonal offering, Hibernation Ale, creates a beautiful mahogany glass of beer with a thick head of light beige foam that leaves a trail of heavy lacing on the glass.

Toasted biscuit and mildly rough alcohol esters dominate the scent. There's a bit of hops, dark fruit (dates, figs, etc), and sweet malt, too. With the 8.7% ABV, I believed the alcohol would come through much stronger. It's there, but surprisingly mild. As I pulled the glass away after each drink, there was an additional surprise of a toast scent but without the biscuit.

My first thought when drinking this was "thick." It has a full body and a big, bold taste. The sweet malt in the aroma comes through double in the taste. But it's offset by a a combination of the alcohol and a strong dark chocolate flavor. I particularly enjoyed the complexity of the drink. Sweet in the beginning of the drink, changing to bittersweet mid-drink, and warming with alcohol in the aftertaste.

Despite the thick, full body and the thick head of foam, the carbonation was low through most of the drink.

Big & bold. Complex & warm (even at the 45°F I had it chilled to ... side note, the recommended serving temperature is in the mid 50s).

Aaron described the taste as malty with a hint of dark chocolate. Brandon went with malty and nutty. Both agreed that this is a very good beer (see their ratings on a scale of 1 to 12 below). Wyatt said that the only reason he didn't give it a 12 is because he couldn't drink lots of it at once.

Aaron: 11
Brandon: 11
Wyatt: 11
Tracy: 10

Brewer: Great Divide Brewing Company
Location: Denver, CO
Style: English Olde Ale
Alcohol Content: 8.7% ABV
Interesting Note: A 17 year veteran of Great Divide's line up, this fantastic beer has deservedly won a gold medal and three silver medals.  In addition, it comes in a whiskey barrel aged format that runs 12.4% alcohol.  I haven't seen one of these locally, but if I find one I will definitely grab it (and a couple of spares).

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