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Hibernation Ale - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Hibernation AleHibernation Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,218 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,218
Reviews: 1,064
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.17%
Wants: 96
Gots: 119 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.70% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-26-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,218 | Reviews: 1,064 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jrallen34
2.05/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I drank this from a 12oz bottle into my Rochefort chalice.

The beer pours a totally flat clear medium amber with a barely a poof of a head and no lacing.

The aroma is very light and right off the start it smells really weird to me, like old gym socks soaked in urine or just bo. there is a little amount of spice.

The taste is better, stale and has smoke. It tastes like an ale, but not a good one.

jrallen34, Jan 07, 2010
Photo of Cylinsier
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From a 12 oz.

Pours a maple syrup brown that glows red to light. Light tan lacing of a head.

Smells first of rich brown sugar or molasses, followed by cinammon spices, and finishing with wet hop floral bitterness.

The taste is rich and malty and a bit spiced, with mild hoppiness that isn't actually bitter. There's a smokiness to it.

The feel is moderate in body, with light but sharp carbonation.

Smells great but I feel a little let down by the taste. Its not bad, its just not what I was expecting I guess. Seems like a decent beer.

Cylinsier, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of argock
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. Freshness date Nov 19 2009 on front label. Purchased as 6-pack at Market Street Wine Shop (Charlottesville, VA) for $10.49.

A: Reddish brandy look with thin rim of beige head that leaves an array of spotty lace.

S: A tad medicinal and alcoholic but still plentiful with dark fruitiness, caramel malts, chocolate, and earthy, herbal, leafy hops

T: The flavor is musty and herbal, right on style with strong dark fruit such as prune and raisin with caramel and chocolate notes. The alcohol is a bit raw and tingly. Hops deliver swiftly in the finish with an herbal, leafy bite.

M: A tad of astringency in the finish hurts an otherwise super-smooth, medium-full bodied feel. Aftertaste is musty, leathery, and herbal hoppy.

D: A nice brew that will be interesting to revisit with a little time under its belt. Reloading every months aounds about right for the rest of the 6-pack.

argock, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of alejandro
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

One of my favorite styles of beer. I tried to be fair but, the beer may have bested me. Smelling of, light molasses, sweet biscuit and roasted malts how could one resist a taste. Rather than inhaling the beer I sip. A sweetness envelops the senses followed by a very mild bitter finish. This is definitely not a refreshing beer; this is a sipping by the fireplace beer. This beer provides what one would hope for in its style, sweetness (molasses & caramel, dark red fruit), sticky in the mouth (not cloying), roasted malts, nearly smoky. As for the beer's beauty, the least of its worries, the hew would be better described by poets describing sunsets and clouds.

alejandro, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of philbe311
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A murky medium brown color with ruby highlights... Thin lush creamy inviting medium tan head... Modest retention gives to a thin veil of lace with a minor frothing around the edge of the glass...

S - Caramel... Toffee... Dark fruits... Cough syrup... Candied sugars... Perhaps a hint of cinnamon...

T - Heavy medicinal presence... Minor hints of dark fruits... A distinct alcohol presence... Muted brown sugars... Some caramel and toffee... A vague spiciness...

M - A stellar initial lush creaminess quickly fades... On the fuller side of medium bodied... Sticky... A minor alcoholic warmth permeates... Sturdy... Slightly chewy...

D - A solid fixture in the world of winter seasonals... Interesting and enjoyable, but not overly memorable... I wouldn't turn down a chance to drink again in the future, but I'm not sure that I would necessarily seek out either...

philbe311, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of notlob
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 12.09.09. Consumed 12.30.09 in a goblet.

Aroma: Rich caramel, sweet alcohols, a little bit like raisons, roast and slight dark chocolate and coffee.

Appearance: Dark ruby-red to brown. Half a finger of off-white head that dissipates moderately fast.

Flavor: Rich, moderately roasty, with warm alcohol sweetness - not fusel, and some coffee-toffee notes. Not very sweet.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thin, but gives a nice coat of rich flavors that lingers to a dry finish.

Overall Impression: Very well balanced big beer. I think I could drink a couple of these before succumbing to gravity. I would very much like to get some more and let them age for a few months.

notlob, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of BigMike
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on date of 10/28/09

Pre 2008 the abv was 8.1%. 2009 was bumped up to 8.7%abv.

Poured into a tulip glass. Deep rich ruby red with some burnt orange highlights throughout. Head was about a pinky in thickness and very thin. Little to zero lacing on the glass.

Smell is mostly nutty. Like roasted Brazil nuts. Lots of chocolate from the chocolate malts used. Candied fruit and molasses are also present.

Taste is really good. Lots of nuttiness and chocolate notes. Lots of roasted flavors, caramel toffee and coffee.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy. Full bodied but really smooth. A touch of alcohol warmth on the finish.

I like this beer. I give it a high drinkability score because of the smoothness of the finish and the great taste. Even with the 8.7%abv. i could drink about 3 of these before i needed to switch it up.

BigMike, Dec 29, 2009
Photo of Lunch
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD (10/10/09) into a a goblet at the appropriate temperature.

A: Pours a golden rusty brown with just a slight layer of off-white foam that disappeared rather quickly leaving a bit of patchy lace.

S: Brown sugar and toasted malt dominate the aroma followed by toffee and caramel and a hint of earthy hops. There seems to be a scent of chocolate mildly engulfing the entire aroma, but in a very subtle way.

T: The palate is filled with a variety of roasted flavors including chocolate, toffee, caramel, and coffee. Much different than what the appearance would lead one to believe. There is also an earthy hoppy spiciness coming through as well. Alcohol is certainly present on the palate.

M: Full-bodied with a slight syrupy and chewy feel. Light carbonation and a slight alcohol burn.

D: The drinakbility is not bad, but it suffers from a sense of alcohol in every sip.

Overall this is another well-crafted ale from Great Divide that seemingly embodies many important elements of the style. Recommended.

Lunch, Dec 29, 2009
Photo of jwinship83
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle that was bottled on spet 17, 2009. drank from my new belgium globe glass.

A- this one pours out a dark ruby red colored body with a large foamy beige colored head. the head lasts a while and leaves behind a solid wall of lacing.

S- the first thing i notice are sweet dark fruits. cherries mostly. there are also plums, orange, and figs. very sweet smelling. there are some caramel and toffee malts in here as well as a bit of booze.

T- the taste is much more dark and roasted than i was able to smell. chocolate and hints of coffee as well. not nearly as fruity as i was expecting.

M- medium to full bodied. a nice low level of carbonation. leaves a slight warming sensation from the alcohol, and im left with a dry mouth.

D- what i smelled and what i tasted seemed to be completely different beers. an interesting winter seasonal that i would love to try the barrel aged version of. ill be checking back on this one throughout 2010 to see how it progresses.

jwinship83, Dec 29, 2009
Photo of fropones
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice dark amber reddish brown with very minimal head

S - Nice bready malts and a hint of hoppy citrus aromas. Some figs here as well.

T - More malty goodness. A faint hint of hop bitterness here. Some dark fruits like figs and plums. Some warming alcohol in the finish.

M - Big bodied, chewy, medium carbonation, nice creaminess.

D - Drinks well for 8.7%. Alcohol noticeable, but not in a bad way. Not my favorite kind of old ale (I prefer more like old engine oil), but good none the less.

fropones, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of dstc
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep brown, ruby color with a decent tan head. Head falls to just about nothing. Very thin lace.

Roasted malt aroma with obvious malts coming through.

Nice robust toasty malt taste. Has a bit of a burnt taste to it with a mild lingering bitter aftertaste.

Medium to full in the mouth. Mild bite.

Pretty good. Can see enjoying these again.

dstc, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of wnh
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 2009 vintage.

Pours a brilliant mahogany, ruby red when held up to the light, with a frothy cream head.

Surprisingly roasty on the nose; not a great deal of roast, mind you, but more than expected in an old ale. As I get used to the roast I begin to pick up, underneath, a strong toasted malt backbone. Layers of candied nuts and fruity--almost vinous--esters round out the nose.

Roasty again on the palate, hinting at weakly brewed coffee. Nutty flavors come through mid-palate, though not candied as in the nose. Fades into a soft, earthy hoppiness. Long, lingering dry finish.

Medium in body and quite firm, almost biting. Not as smooth as I might want in an old ale, but tasty and quite unique. Thinner than expected, increasing drinkability but slightly lowering the overall experience. Alcohol is well-hidden at 8.7% abv.

wnh, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of RJLarse
3.55/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Swamp. Served in a pint glass.

Appearance is a nut brown color and clear, with a little chill haze. There is a frothy off white head.

Smellis very faint. Bit of a fruity citrus aroma perhaps.

Taste is a caramel malt up front with a citrus taste on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. There is a bit of a warming feel from the alcohol heat.

Drinkble for the season and the style. Not real sessionable because of the ABV. The beer was served too cold, and became more flavorful as it warmed.

RJLarse, Dec 25, 2009
Photo of sprucetip
3.48/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From notes

Very clear, active, almost mahogany with reddish highlights. Decent head hangs around for a bit, then fades and leaves some spotty lacing.

SMELL chocolaty, nutty, malty sweetness, and perfumy hop undertones coming in later. Some heat.

TASTE is chocolaty and malty sweet like the nose, but not as smooth with a mild but sharp bitterness, and is more boozy. The various influences are interesting, but they don't blend and balance all that well.

FEEL strong-ish warming and bitterness detract form the rich, viscous texture.

OVERALL Interesting and about like I remembered it. Worth a try now and again, but there are many better winter beers. Very attractive and nice smelling.

sprucetip, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage (sampled side by side with a 2009 bottle)

Poured into a carolous glass.

Pours a small light tan head. Leaves some splattered lace. Color is a caramel murky brown.

Aroma: Very malty with earthy hops. Caramel, toffee, and very sugary sweet.

Taste: Very malty. Caramel and toffee. Dry earthy hops. Brown sugar. A lot better tasting than the '09

Mouthfeel: warm and refreshingly smooth. Medium to full bodied with a lower to medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and full of sweet malts.

Overall, the 06 is a ton better than the 09. I will be aging the rest of my other bottles for at least 3 years. It is a decent old ale with a few years on it.

mothman, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of xanok
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

A-Pours a deep, clear ruby red with minimal white head. Fairly small lacing as well.

S-Quite malty and yeasty. Lots of caramel and dark fruits as well. It's not quite your standard winter ale smell.

T-A lot like the taste. Very malty, heavy taste in dark fruit. Hint of cinnamon.

M-Medium-full bodied with medium carb. Nothing special here.

D-There's definitely a taste of the high abv. Probably couldn't handle more than 1 or 2 in a session.

xanok, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a Mickey's pint glass.

A: Poured a reddish, copper amber color with a great fluffy head of off white foam which left some nice ringlets of sticky lace.

S: Smells nice and floral, with a bit of alcoholic sweetness added to the baked sweet bread aroma.

T: Flavor is big and complex indeed. A bit of that herbal hop bitterness is clear right up front, with gushy sweet pine and citrus flavors which meld into the fruity ale characteristics of the brew - red and blackberries, plum and some added spices. The sweet roasted malt character is interesting as well, as it helps balance a little of that erratic alcohol flavor bandying about.

M: Mouthfeel is full bodied, allowing this to be a sipper, but is nicely quaffable also.

D: You could probably sip a couple of these, because at nearly 9% ABV, you'd be in trouble in a session. It paired really nicely with fruit glazed pot roast, ginger cookies and most other holiday pickins I threw at it. A nice change-up for a winter seasonal and a unique offering from Great Divide.

Gambrinus1184, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of Metalmonk
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice glossy rusty sienna color, thinnish light-tan head that chills to a solid skim with bigger, soapy bubbles forming a crown.

Boozy, woody, syrupy smell, a little caramelized sugar in there, but despite all that it remains somewhat timid, considering.

Brown sugar, caramel, melted butter and a woodsy/spicy sherry-ish flavor combine on the tongue. Earthy with a burnt element overall and oak-like tang to the finish. Some overripe, slightly soured dark fruits (fig, plum, grape) muscle in. Hops are here in pine-like form, but kept in the background, and the alcohol is warming but not overdone.

Wonderful rounded, juicy, slick feel, leaning toward a heavy body but not detracting from its drinkability. I mean, 8.7% be damned, I can see working slowly through two or even three of these 12 oz. guys over a long winter's evening. Don't think I will, because I'm not so blown away that I would do that, but it is a solid, enjoyable, distinctive, utterly drinkable old ale.

Metalmonk, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of towersfall
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep ruby in color with a walloping off-white head with light carbonation. The brew leaves little to no lacing throughout the session.

Smell: Spices and caramel malts soaked in booze. Smells DELICIOUS.

Taste: Bitter with hops being the dominant trait in this beer. The caramel malts come out towards the end with the booze kicking in halfway through the first gulp. The combination of spices and malts leaves quite the interesting aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: It's extremely thick and oily but delicious all the same.

Drinkability: Not something I would drink in excess, but this will be a brew that I will be purchasing every winter.

towersfall, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of cbutova
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark crimson, a clear red when put up to a back light. Head is the only place where the appearance lacks a bit. It is about one finger and retains at half a finger decently. It appears a bit fizzy and leaves medium lacing down the glass. Smells of chocolate malt, dark fruits like cherries, some earthy hops and spices like nutmeg. The overall strength is a bit lacking to me but it is a good smell. Alcohol stings the nose just a little bit. Tastes of chocolate malt, earthy hops, some citrus, spices like nutmeg, dark fruits and some bready flavor. A nice flavor reminds me of the grains left over after a homebrew session. I like the flavor balance but the alcohol is a bit high in the taste and takes away from this being a great beer. Mouthfeel is great here, nice medium body and carbonation, the warming is pretty high but not ridiculous. A nice coat of earthy hops and cocoa is left on the tongue. Drinkability is not bad, it ages well, tastes good, price is decent at $12 a 6 pack, the only thing here is the alcohol taking away from this one after a while.

cbutova, Dec 20, 2009
Photo of DerekP
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A few weeks ago I saw a review on YouTube of a beer called Hibernation Ale, a Christmas brew from the Great Divide Brewing Company (Denver, CO). I was so intrigued that I decided to call The Beer Store (Locust Ave, Washington, PA) and see if they had it. I was told to call back in ten minutes, and upon speaking with the manager I learned that they didn't have it, but his beer rep could track it down.

After failing to receive a call back from the manager to say "Hey, it's in," I decided to call again after a few days (I was told that the beer would be in by Wednesday, two days from the day I agreed to the special order). The manager informed me that it would be in the following day. At that point, I decided on waiting until the following week to pick it up because I had already spent enough on beer the current week (Hibernation Ale was going to cost me around 41 dollars).

So, just this past Monday, I drove to The Beer Store in Washington, PA to pick up my special-order case of Hibernation Ale. "Sorry, we still don't have it." I was then told to expect a call the same day for more details, and that hopefully he would get it in on Wednesday (kind of like a repeat of the previous week).

I answered my phone on Wednesday, when a number I didn't recognize showed up for the second time in two days. It was the manager from The Beer Store: "Hey, man, I couldn't get the beer you wanted, but I tracked down a place that has it. They won't sell it to me, but you can pick it up yourself."

To my surprise, the distributor that had one case left of Hibernation Ale was just 6-7 minutes away and called Route 19 Beer & Cigar (McMurray, PA). Speaking with whom I would guess was the manager, I learned that he received the brew on accident, and to top it off, it was a vintage case, originally intended to be sold back in December of 2007! Mind you, this beer has a high ABV rate (8.1%), so "hibernating" for 2 years actually improves the beer. It doesn't render the beer undrinkable like a typical light beer. I left the store happy, even paying a little less than 41 bucks (Props to Route 19 Beer & Cigar for having this rare find, and props to The Beer Store in Washington, PA, for following through and respecting the culture of folks that appreciate beer, even though the task didn't directly improve their bottom line).

I shared the brew with a friend that night. We both were instantly impressed. The following is a summary of my thoughts on Hibernation Ale, which was poured into a 20 oz mug:

Hibernation Ale is dark, dark beer. At 8.1% ABV, you have to watch out! Honestly, I drank 5 of these over the course of 6 hours, and I felt like crap the next morning. But, that's my fault, not the beer's. Respect beer, and respect yourself. I'd say 2-3 of these in one night and you'll be happy you stopped the following day.

A lot of dark coffee flavors show themselves in this brew, from the smell to the taste. Dark chocolate is very pronounced as well. I'd say that there is more of a dryness to this brew than a extremely showy bitterness. If you've read my previous post on Christmas brews, DO NOT practice my sure-shot method of tasting for alcohol. You'll regret it. But, a regular search for flavors and alcohol in this beer should suffice, albeit the alcohol taste isn't too overwhelming.

This beer almost smells of a sour, fancy coffee. There is a very odd malt character that hits my sense of smell, but I like it. From what I've read, this beer tends to be characterized as an English Strong Ale, or an Old Ale. It's won several awards, and from my own judgment, I'd say this beer deserves that kind of attention. If you find it, try it, but bare in mind it is only available from November to the middle of December, every year. Good luck, and cheers!

This review was originally posted @ http://thelightonbeer.blogspot.com

DerekP, Dec 19, 2009
Photo of Brewnami
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the second Great Divide beer I've tried; first being Hercules Double IPA. To be honest, I love IPAs, but I like this beer a good deal more... especially since I paid $13 for this in a 6 pack and I paid $16 for a 4 pack of Hercules... Not bad for an 8.7% ABV brew. Anyways, I poured this into a pint glass and noticed a cola like color with a deep red tint when held up to the light. The pour left a nice tan head that left an even lace around the glass. Malts, chocolate, caramel, and hops are evident in the aroma. The hop aroma is heavier than the hop taste, which was a surprise. Caramel malts with a hint of chocolate and hops are the most prominent flavors... although there seems to be a great deal of hops in this beer, it doesn't have the dry, bitter after taste of an IPA. This is a pretty thick beer filled with a lot of flavor. Not a good session beer, but a great desert beer(s). I think this is an incredible beer and I will absolutely buy it again very soon. I recommend buying this if you get the chance... I mean it blows me away that someone rated this a D+... maybe it was the first time they ever drank a beer or maybe they are huge fans of keystone light.

Brewnami, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of DoctorDog
3.35/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. "Bottled on: OCT 15 2009"
**ABV listed on bottle as 8.7% (as opposed to 8.1% currently listed here)

A- Dark reddish brown, yet clear. Pours with ~1 finger of tan head, which fades quickly, leaving thin, incomplete cap.

S- Slightly vinous, with a bit of earthy hops. Caramel malty/fruity sweetness.

T- Roasted, nutty maltiness mixes with vinous flavors....and a bit too much wet cardboard for my liking. Hop bitterness is moderate.

M- Moderate carbonation and a medium-full feel.

D- OK. Well....it's drinkable, but nothing beyond OK.

Future outlook: Given it's high marks, pretty big disappointment. Just too much of that "wet cardboard" character in the flavor profile for me to really dig this.

DoctorDog, Dec 16, 2009
Photo of blackearth
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from Blue Max Liquors in Burnsville, MN. Pours a very dark amber body with a rocky, light tan head. Aromas of caramel and chocolate make this beer very inviting. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied. Flavors of roasted caramel malt and nutty brown sugar lead to a burnt sugar finish that is slightly warming. Great drinkability.

blackearth, Dec 15, 2009
Photo of BB1313
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle says 8.7 abv. I really enjoy this one. Pours a dark brown w/ amazing head and lacing. A malty beer but the hops shine though. Very nutty! Slight chocolate notes. Nice and creamy, I do love the feel of this beer. This is definitely a drinkable beer that I will look forward to in future winters. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a solid beer.

BB1313, Dec 15, 2009
Hibernation Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 2,218 ratings.