Hibernation Ale | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Hibernation AleHibernation Ale
2,976 Ratings
Hibernation AleHibernation Ale

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
HIBERNATION ALE has been our celebrated winter tradition since 1995. This robust, dry-hopped ale has a malty richness balanced with a complex hop profile and hearty, warming character.

1997 Great American Beer Festival, Gold Medal, Strong Ale/ English-Style Old Ale
1998 World Beer Cup, Silver Medal, Strong Ale/English-Style Old Ale
2003 Great American Beer Festival, Silver Medal, Old Ale
2006 Great American Beer Festival, Silver Medal, Aged Beer

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,976 |  Reviews: 1,191
Reviews by kkipple:
Photo of kkipple
4.41/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My Sam Adams glass was smelly and I am lazy. Into my St. Bernie goblet it goes!

Hibernation is a transparent red clay brown with a skimpy white head that is scared to death of commitment.

Let it warm, but if you do, you'll be rewarded with a bouquet of malt and roast notes that are simply fascinating. Chocolate, earth, brown sugar and nuts, a hint of tobacco and dark fruit, alcohol and a fine subdued hop bitterness are all blended extremely well here. Nothing is overemphasized, but the sweetness shines through, giving you fair warning to brace yourself.

The flavor doesn't quite live up to the hype spread by the nose, but it's very good. Big boozy malt envelopes the palate and teases you with complex bitter roast coffee and sugar notes. Chocolate and walnuts... yum. There's a simple hop presence that's strong, but certainly plays second fiddle to the grainy sweetness. The complexity on display here is all the more impressive for being so drinkable, at 8% this is just shy of being, I daresay, sessionable....

Mouthfeel is fine, a little highly carbonated and leaves a tasty boozy, mocha malt dryness behind. The aftertaste is quite pleasant.

Hibernation is not only one of the better American Old Ales I've had, it may be the single most drinkable. It's delicious and a feather in the cap for Great Divide. Stock up when you see it to get you through the year!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of aggiearcher13
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on Oct. 3rd, 2011, consumed and reviewed on Jan. 17, 2016. Yes, I've been hanging onto this for 4 years and change, it has spent every day since I picked it up quietly sitting in my cellar (ok, a chest freezer with a temp controller). I tend to Ron Popeil this beer: Set it and forget it. In the cellar that is. It's so much better with a year+ age on it, and that's a tip I got straight from the tap room several years ago.

L: Deep reddish-brown, some coagulated bits settle to the bottom. A thin head forms and hangs around, lacing clinging to the glass.
S: Toffee, malty, cocoa, raisiny and faintly boozy.
T: Maybe 4 years is a bit too long for this guy. Not oxidized, but astringent and bitter. Malt has faded from what it was a year ago, a little disappointing. Toffee and that's about it.
F: A little thin, not something I've experience before from this beer, I'd attribute it to the age.
O: I'm confident it's been stored well since I picked it up winter 2011/2012, but I think I hung onto it for too long. Only me to blame for that, but I learned something. 1-3yr old versions of this I'd rank 4.5+ in every department. Overall, I still finished it and I did enjoy it, just not as much as younger mature versions of it. I will have to pick a more recent batch from the cellar to review soon.

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Photo of ARoman
4.16/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 2.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Transferred from previous notes - 1/4/2014 & 11/6/2014
12 oz bottle poured into brandy snifter. It starts out with the sweet smell of vanilla and chocolate, with a touch of butterscotch, with perhaps a note of earthiness to it. As the head recedes, the aroma morphs into something more similar to ripe, tart dark red cherries with some woody notes (maybe some raisin in there too?). A deep, dark cranberry coloring to the beer stands out (although it’s probably more mahogany, but the fluorescent lighting is playing tricks on me) with a tan head that sits atop the beer as a moderate to thin film with some sparse lacing. A moderate sweet-tartness is most noticeable, in moderate amounts, with some light toasty, woody notes. After a little time, some hop bitterness pokes through along with a touch of sour cherry. An average amount of carbonation keeps the beer relatively medium to light bodied, although it definitely has a slightly syrupy quality to it. There’s a mild aftertaste consisting mainly of toasted malt with some dark chocolate and floral notes. By mid-glass, this taste changes into a smooth caramel with some light spice - the floral notes are still present. There’s a pleasant warming quality to this beer at the finish.

One year later, this same batch take on more roasted notes of coffee, raisin, and cacao with some port wine alcohol, a hint of ginerbread, and grapes late. The color of the beer is now an oily dark caramel brown color with noticeable sediment floating within. The head thins out a bit with just a thin soapy ring and a wispy surface. The body gains some weight to it as the slick and slightly sticky beer is more full bodied with toasted notes and flavors of cacao. There's an earthiness as well as a touch of a metallic and burnt characters and a hint of gingerbread. It finishes with a port wine warmth and a clean resin licorice spiciness. The aftertaste is astringent and slightly metallic with note of spice, dark chocolate, dark cherries, and nuts.

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Whole Foods – purchased a growler full to sample extensively.

Pours a deep amber/brown with off white head. Smells pleasantly of toasted malts, bread, some notes of leather/wet earth. Tastes far less sweet than I expected – pleasant well balanced sweet malts, caramel at front with smooth transition to hoppy notes, some nutty, piney notes and hints of dark, dried fruits (prune/fig) and rather clean finish. Medium bodied, well balanced with a clean finish.
Overall, rather good. A style I’m not accustomed – has qualities of porter, stout with strong hoppy notes. A pleasant and easily quaffable ale – though my preference in the winter months leans towards the thicker bodied and maltier stouts and porters.

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Photo of stompilator
4.49/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. glass (2014) into a snifter.

A - Pours a deep, ruby brown. Thin, off-white head.

S - A ton of caramel, vanilla, a bit of booze, subtle stone fruit esters, and classic old ale oxidation and mustiness.

T - Very heavy caramel from the get-go. Intense but smooth flavors that follow the nose, without the alcoholic warmth. Gives a barrel impression without a barrel. Not as musty as the nose, but has a warming, estery sweetness. Esters sneak up throughout the palate, and has a dry, vinous finish.

M - Medium body keeps it out of barleywine territory. Light carbonation, with a slightly dry, sticky texture.

O - A fantastic example of an old ale as a style distinct from barleywine. Not the richest or heaviest old ale I've had, but wonderfully complex.

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Photo of TDotScott
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled October 10, 2013. Poured into a wine glass

L- Dark garnet with an off-white head that dissipates quickly.

S- Roast, with raisins and nuts.

T- A little heavy on the roast for my liking, but the sweet malt and dried fruit is still there, on the finish in particular.

F- smooth, fullish body with a prickle of carbonation.

O- Good, but better at 12 months.

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Photo of Whiteturtle
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First Great Divide beer for me!

Pours a muddy/nutty brown. About a 1 1/2 finger head, dissipates rather quickly. Interesting that a cluster of foam forms in the center and some larger bubbles sneak over to the edge of the glass. hmmm...

Nose: The first thing I smell is dark rum, which I was not expecting. I also get hazelnuts, cinnamon, honey, roasted marshmallows, and milk chocolate. It smells amazing.

Tongue: Toasty/Roasty grain-rye bread hits first. Chestnuts, cocoa, cream, and molasses come next. Its reminds me of a creme Brule, minus the lactose. I think the hops are what is hibernating in this ale, I'm only picking up the slightest hint that they came for the ride. I am getting a bit of a kick on the back end, like a light cracked black pepper?

Body/Mouthfeel: Thinner than expected for the style. Its sugary and creamy. A lot of stout qualities to this beer. Its balanced and masks the 8.7% fairly well.

Overall: I really liked it. I can't wait to finish this review, light my pipe, and finish hibernating this beast. I love that there is a winter seasonal out there that isn't jam packed with spices. I like them in moderation, but they get overwhelming. This is a malt forward ale, and tastes like a stout. Its perfect for the winter and does it without anise and allspice up the a&%. If you're lucky enough to find this snag it up before it really hibernates.


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Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich crimson color with a creamy off white head that stays put thru out the duration of drinking it,deep caramel aromas along with some milk chocolate quite sweet.Absolutely sublime creamy mouthfeel just glides down smooth,flavors of caramel and brown suger hit ya up front but there is a decent dryness midway keeping it from getting to sweet.I wouldnt say earthy maybey more herbal in the finish,its quite heavy a one or two and done for me.This is a doozy a great winter beer,it would real warm ya up,not that I need that down here in NC.

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Photo of aszatk01
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Turbo
3.52/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of t2grogan
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of TCHopCraver
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes composed on 12/3/10.

I'm f****n cold. It's time to hibernate.

Hibernation Ale pours mahogany-brown into a very large snifter. A dark tan, half-finger head looks lovely and leaves a full-covering film of retention. The lacing is nice - fine and sticky.

A musty, malt-heavy smell headlines the bouquet. There is a bit of an earthy, citrus hop profile that complements the maltbill. Aromas of brown sugar, caramel, freshly disturbed earth, orange rind, plum, and fig result from the beer's ingredients.

Right from the start of the sip, grassy, citrusy hops make their presence known on my bitter receptors, while that musty, caramel and brown sugar malt profile hits my sweet spots. After smelling the beer, I am a bit surprised at how hoppy it is. Contrary to my general love of hops, I actually think I would like a little less of the hop profile and a little more of the malt profile on my palate. I would guess that I would enjoy the flavor more after a few months of aging (bottled on 10/13/10).

A stinging bite from the hops, with a decent medium, rounded out feel in the middle of the sip when the sweet malts kick it up a notch constitutes the mouthfeel. The carbonation is on the low side, but is suitable for this beer.

This Is not really a memorable beer in my mind, but it is a well-crafted and pretty tasty one. I would like to try this beer again with a little more age on it.

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Photo of CavemanRamblin
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.26/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

NOTE- This is two reviews, one with fresh beer and one with 2-year-old bottle. Score is for fresh bottle.
2006- Fresh...This a reddish plum colored barleywine with a minimal tan head. It leaves no lacing in my globe glass. The nose is a delicious mix of yeast, alcohol, and Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies.

The taste starts deceptively smooth for a barelywine. The base is a rich, thick, caramel. As it sits in my mouth I taste citrusy hops, light brown sugar, clove, nut, cherry ester. The end is where the catch comes. The alcohol comes out of hiding and attacks viciously with strong vapors wafting into the nose. This, combined with that slight estery cherry I mentioned, land this brew in my "tastes like medecine" file. I like barleywine, but a few of them have this medicinal quality I just can't get past, and this is one.

The mouthfeel is very interesting with a surge of carbonation that doesn't seem to be released until the beer has rested in the mouth a moment or two.

Though this is a well-built barleywine, its just not my style, and anyone who can take more than one has my respect.

NOTE- 2006 vintage, tasted March '08
A- 3 fingers of espresso cream head die to a thin layer and leave an arched lace. Impressive show of carbonation for an aged beer. Beer is clear, and a deep, dark, lovely rosewood color.
S- raisins, brown sugar, pepper, plum, luscious fruit bouquet,rich malt aroma, faint earthy hop, amazing nose here, except I get not even a whiff of alcohol.
T- Beer is overall, suprisingly lite on the palate. Does not have the overwhelming malt of many high gravity beers, nor the alcohol burn. What I get here is a firm, fully attenuated crystal malt base with some depth but very little residual sweetness. It is simple, you can tell it had a terse grainbill. Some very soft fruit esters,maybe a cherry note, and a peppery Belgian-esque quality from the yeast/ alcohol. Earthy hop flavor comes out a little in the finish and the beer shows a perfectly balanced bitterness.
M- While the alcohol escapes being hot at any point, it makes itself very known in the finish through an odd numbing sensation, and soft but abundant vapors. Nice soft, low carbonation helps fill out the light mouthfeel. This is one of the lightest high gravity beers I've ever had.

This is an elegant and balanced beer, but it bores me a little. It lacks big, bold, flavors but is a little too rough around the edges to pull off "refined", which I'm afraid relegates it to the realm of the mediocre, despite the obvious skill of its brewer.

Interesting to note that I recall this beer as being a drainpour when fresh. After consulting my previous review, which sadly, is about to be deleted, I can say this beer mellowed and changed significantly in aging. It has obviously benefitted a great deal from a few years in the bottle. I would like to taste a 4 or 5 year old bottle, to see if things finally come together.

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Photo of npala86
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of hopsleeroy
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark amber with alot of reddish overtones. Smelled of mild vanilla and a touch of rum soaked fruit. Nice taste. Good diacetyl coming through mixed with milk vanilla and good malt flavor. Hops come through bitter on the end to balance out the sweet. Flavor coats the tongue and lingers then disappears with the hoppy bitterness coming though at the end. I enjoyed this beer. The alcohol comes through a little strong but I'm holding some back in the cellar/closet to age for a while. Should mellow nicely.

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Photo of GameOfBeers
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Shakerman
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of explosivebeer
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has a beautiful deep red color with a thin residual head. The aroma is full of toffee, grains, and malt. The body is full and tastes of malty goodness, with only mild bitterness underneath. It finishes with a malty, grainy aftertaste. This graininess isn't quite a barnyard wet blanket flavor, but a subtle form of that. The alcohol is slightly noticeable and contributes to the experience. Overall it's a very tasty, interesting beer.

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Photo of blackearth
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of skybluewater
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep rust color, with a fair amount of lace. Smells a bit musty with a bit of malty sweetness as well. Taste is fairly a malt explosion, with a little chocolate and maybe some fruit (cherries?). Alcohol is well-hidden, with only the barest hint of burn. Mouthfeel's a touch thin, but no big deal.

I haven't been too impressed with Great Divide's other 12-oz offerings, but this one is top notch, right up there with Titan, Hercules, and Yeti. Well done, GD!

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Photo of blitz134
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear mohagony body. Half inch white head on top which didn't stay around for too long. Aroma is caramel sweet with some chocolaty hints. A bit of dark fruit and floral hints with a touch of alcohol aroma, not much though. Taste is a unique blend of flavors. Comes across initially like an IPA with a sweet floral flavored hops and a touch of bitterness. Finishes with bits of chocolate. Alcohol is well hidden in the flavor. Mouthfeel is fairly full and coats well. Drinkability is very good. This is a super balanced brew that goes down easy. A nice dose of hops and some malts to round it out. Very nice.

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Photo of bulldogg915
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of markmo
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%

Photo of JasonA
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Carmel pour with a beautiful, thick foamy head at least 2 fingers.

Wow. Earthy, ABV, carmel, med malt. Wow, smells like a Barley type wine, like the other old Ale's ive had. Im very excited.

Medium malt, little citrus, subtle hops. Something else sweet, not sure exactly but quite yummy.

Smooth, creamy, extremely well balanced. Carbonation is very well done.

Im in heaven. Im glad I finally found this. I will be trying to get it every year to see how it ages over time.

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Hibernation Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 2,976 ratings