Sunday, May 20, 2007

Great Divide Brewing Hibernation Ale - From One of Denver, Colorado Microbreweries Finest!

I've really, really been wanting to try Great Divide Brewing Company's "Hibernation Ale" for many a year now. Problem was, there was just no way of locating even a lonely 12 ounce bottle of it anywhere near Western Pennsylvania (having had to survive the long trip from its native Denver, Colorado). Many thanks, however, go out to Stella's Beer Barn where I finally found my way to not just one, but a virtually unlimited supply (as long as it holds out I guess) of Hibernation Ale.

I've heard some good things about this microbrew from some of my friends in the know. Hibernation Ale didn't really disappoint me either.

I had picked up a few bottles in advance, thinking this would be a pretty good beer.
Cracking open the first chilled bottle of this "winter warmer" , I anxiously poured into a 12 ounce unchilled beer mug. Head was prominently evident and dominated. A two finger head shot up and would not be denied as it stayed present a good five minutes and beyond (but I couldn't be denied either and I wasn't going to just sit there for an hour watching how long the head held up). I needed to drink this beer!

Color, dark, dark ruby red almost a murky merge to brown. Effervesence was prevalent and all about, bubbles going crazy everywhere here.

Aroma presented a high sweet acidic cherry and molasses scent with the high level of malts standing in reverie. A bit of alcoholic burn was prominent and sensed in the scent as well.

Sip number one brought a sweet, and yet sour undertoned, flavor to my palate. While I'd smelled a molasses type aroma initially, the tasting didn't prove me entirely wrong. This craft beer is sweet (for the most part), sticky and strong. While I poured this beer somewhere around 45 degrees temperature, the alcohol burn was imminently present. And that alcoholic burn of the 8.1 percent acohol by volume rating only got stronger as the beer warmed. This was a sipper. I would not want to be rapidly quaffing these at a Christmas party, Superbowl Tailgate party or in the backyard after a hot day lawn mowing. Sit by the fireplace on a cold winters eve to enjoy this one responsibly and to it fullest.

One thing that I would have liked in Great Divide Hibernation Ale is a more formidable balance between the malt and the hops. While the bottle label boasts a complex balance between the two factors, I just didn't quite get any respectable props from the hops. A past maturity issue? I don't think so. I may be wrong (and I often am) but only a few short months past this beers prime intended presentation period should not throw off kilter a hoppy presence as much as I've been able to detect in this micro brew.

In my humble opinion, I like Great Divide Hibernation Ale. I really do. I want to like it more however. It just didn't "complete me" I guess. It certainly was rich in body, I'd go so far as to call it thick in mouthful. But the complexity promised just wasn't altogether there. The warming effect of the relatively high alcohol by volume makes it a sipper. So any imperfections become drawn out over an hour or so. It's definitely worth a try for enthusiasts though. Give it a shot and I will again too (if I find it again) come the winter months of '07-'08 when the next generation of Hibernation Ale will be in it's prime. Like I said, I've heard great things and I want to really like this beer. I want to want it come hibernation time next winter.

Read more reviews of microbrews at Microbrew Review or My Squidoo Lens.

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Anonymous Paul Fenlon said...

I frickin love hibernation. Fantastic brew through and through. Great Divide does a whole mess of good beers. Everyone reading this should be advised that you won't be disappointed by any Great Divide brew (in my opinion). Go nuts!

10:48 PM  
Blogger David James said...

I agree Paul, Great Divide is a great brewery and there are still a few of their beers I've yet had the chance to try. Hope to at some point though. Only bad one was a "spoiled" ESB once but I'm way out on East Coast so occasional spoilage on any West Coast brew is possible. Oak Aged Yeti is my next target if I get the chance around here.

10:38 PM  

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