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Hibernation Ale | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Hibernation AleHibernation Ale
2,906 Ratings
Hibernation AleHibernation Ale

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-26-2001

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 2,906 |  Reviews: 1,174
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: A 12 fluid ounce bottle, the label is nicked on the right hand side indicating that this is a 2002 bottling.

Appearance: The pour allows the head to form slowly at first, that is, until the clear chestnut colored beer reaches half way in my goblet shaped Glass, when it then explodes into life, its yellowy-beige color giving it a very distinctive appearance. A solid mass settles to about ¾” deep and leaves a mix of Belgium and ringed lacing. High levels of inherent carbonation are evident as the beer is swirled.

Nose: A balanced nose of sweet caramel malts and some dark toffee soaked in alcohol.

Taste: Starts smooth, and it has strength that never dominates but reminds you politely not to ignore it from the off. Dark toffees, sweet malts and dark fruits in the middle suddenly make way for a decisive bitterness in the back end, which almost has a spearmint chocolate tingle right at the death. Strong but very well made, and incredibly well-balanced.

Mouthfeel: Pretty big, solid and chewy at times. A meal in its own right. Warming and Wholesome.

Drinkability: The balance of this Ale makes it an easy drink, even given its strength. Obviously fabricated from high quality ingredients, and this certainly shows.

Overall: A very nice offering indeed that reminded me so very much of some English Strong Old Ales that I often drank during the Winter months whilst back in Limey-land.

Cheers BigHuge, you’re a Gentleman BA.

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Photo of Loki
4.73/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle with year produced indication. My sample was from 2002.

Poured a slightly cloudy, dark, caramel brown from the bottle. The pour produced a mountainous head, with a rounded center peak that was filled with bubbles and holes. Very unique in that the center was a near perfect circle that dipped into almost a moat that sloped back up near the edges, but not as high as the center. Head retention was amazing and the head lasted longer than the beer did. Incredible lacing, ribbons, peaks, and spots throughout the inside of the glass that just hung completely oblivious to gravity.

The aromas were of malt that had been slowly roasted to perfection, sweet caramel, and subtle chocolate or maybe toffee scent that seemed to just hover in the back. There was also a promise of some bitter, or maybe dry hops.

The taste was, well perfect for an English style ale as the bottle touts. Like the nose, the taste started with slowly roasted malt, sweet caramel, and subtle chocolates that lead into a slightly bitter slightly dry hop finish. The finish almost leaves the feeling that this was a cask-conditioned ale. I think if this was put into a blind tasting I might say it was cask-conditioned, or bottle conditioned at the very least.

This could be the finished English ale I've had this side of the pond. truly amazing, my only regret is that I have no more. Oh well, I've been looking for an excuse to go to Colorado anyway!

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Photo of jeffboo
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have to finish my winter beers before I put in the air conditioner. I do like this one, a pretty, deep reddish brown brew with a tan/orange head. The aroma is a complex malt ( brown sugar,molassas) and earthy, citrus hop. The body is a very drinkable medium to full with a very nice finish of roasted/nutty malt. The flavors are very complex too. This one has chocolate and tobacco with baking spices (esp. cinnamon,nutmeg and ginger) with a little earthy hop flavor elbowing it's way in. This is a nice winter warmer (or evening sipper in spring) that has a balanced sweet and spicy flavor that hides the alcohol well. And it went really well with Swiss chocolate.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber/brown with a very thick light tan head. Aroma is toasty and malty. Somewhat rich body, it started out strong with roasted malt and sticky sweet caramel and gradually phased into a more bitter hops and grapefuit presence. Good warmer to start but becomes almost too bitter by the end. Still the best from Great Divide I have tried so far.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.52/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with ruby highlights. It forms an off-white head with excellent lacing. The aroma is sweet malt, fruity, date-like, and bready. Excellent aromas. The flavors are fig and dates, with a nice breadiness. It is a medium-full bodied beer, with a semi-sweet finish and a slight bitterness that lingers. I found this to be an excellent beer.

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

2002 vintage.

Appearance: Very pretty clear and deep amber on the pour. Due to the aggressive pour, I was rewarded with a billowy, rocky tan-colored head that distinctly rings the glass quite nicely.

Smell: Given the appearance of the hops on the label, it came as no surprise that there was a citrus-floral aroma detected, mellowed somewhat by a following malty sweetness, mixed in with an "earthy" aroma.

Taste: Complex. That is probably the best descriptor for this beer. A whole lotta something going on in my glass. Tastes of caramel sweetness, the alcohol, hoppy bitterness, toasted nuts, even a bit of sweet chocolate trace a path across the taste buds for a second. Finishes with a nice hoppy bitterness/toasty malt/earthen flavor. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Another very "chewy" beer. Mouthfeel is very creamy smooth, though not as much so as other barleywines I've had.

Drinkability: Still a bit harsh. I would like to try this in a year or two to see if it might be a little more civilzed. All in all, though, a very complex and enjoyable beer.

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

A nebulous mahogany color on the pour, the head planetary in size, frothy in texture, the color a light tan, as it evanesces, the lace formed is a thick and sticky sheet that seals off the glass. A hint of fusel alcohol, a bit of bubble gum, sweet malt, caramel, fresh and inviting, a real pleasure to sniff this one, start is sweet malt, the top middling in feel. Finish is perky in its acidity, the hops straight forward in their spicy bite, dry and a real treat. A bit of alcohol warming as it hits the tummy, a fine beer at any rate.

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Photo of bditty187
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazy, dark-brownish hue, a fingers worth of creamy-brunette head that caps the beer nicely; admirable retention and equally excellent lacing. Appeasing nose… citrus & floral hops at the front… then an earthy-organic and toasty malt aroma quickly follows and begins to dominate. Lightly bitter and equally light on the sweetness, very organic (strongly influenced by the hops), malty but not cumbersome. Loads of caramel notes as well. The finish is dry… slightly husky, woody. Low carbonation aids to a pleasing mouthfeel, albeit a smidge too thin. The abv is well hidden, dangerously drinkable! Well worth a drink… I’ll have another.

Year Produced: 2002

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Photo of chilidog
4.41/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew was a find for me that I sought out from another BA in Colorado, who Highly recommended it. Im glad I took his trade offer for I sure would of missed a true beer gem. Great Divide's limited edition brew was not available in Ohio, at 8% abv, until now. I think the brewer sums it up best as a robust ale. It pours a deep mahogany with a nice off-white head and lots of sticky lace. The aroma of hop over alcohol with hints of roasted malts and nut. This is a stick to your ribs brew that the taste and mouthfeel reflect. Its a full bodied, smooth, yet robust, well balanced blend of toasted malts, hints of nutty chocolate topped off with assertive hops to warm the chest. A great winter warmer that can be enjoyed now or later. If you like to cellar or collect for later, this is a gotta-a-have!!

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Photo of yen157
2.92/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Huge cream colored head which almost had a pinkish hue. The whipped looking foam raised itself almost 2/4 inch above my shaker glass before settling into the beer leaving a rocky top capping the deep red beer with millions of tiny particles in suspension. Nose of the beer consisted of a sweet and sour malt with some subtle hints of hops and toasted grains. Slick, sour malt flavor with some charcoal hiding in the background. I’m not sure if this beer was bad, but it sure was sour. It did get sweeter as my mouth became acclimated to the acidity. I’ll have to come back to this one.

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Photo of Morris729
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2002
Pours a brownish chestnut color with a creamy off-white colored head that fades into a bubbly lace. Nose is sweet malts and buttery caramel blended with some spicy hops. Fairly full-bodied with a creamy and chewy texture. Taste is toasted sweet malts at first quickly followed by notes of rich buttery toffee, caramelized fruit, and dark chocolate. Raw hop leaf flavors come through in the end to balance out the sweetness very nicely. A thoroughly enjoyable belly warmer for a cold day.

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Photo of BeerAngel
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I tried this beer at the BA-Texas gathering at the Flying Saucer on January 25th, but I was in no shape to review it at the time. I found this at the Mr. G’s store.

Bottled 2002: Pours a clear but dark brown/amber color with a nice 2-finger light tan head. The smell of sweet buttery muffins and a light malt aroma are quite nice. But sometimes this much of a buttery smell means too much of a diacetyl taste. Let’s hope not! The taste is a strong alcohol taste along with a cough medicine flavor, butterscotch, and also light hops. Perhaps aging would help. It’s definitely not at all bad and it has a medium-bodied creamy mouthfeel and a definite warming effect, it’s just a bit raw “as is” and that is going to affect my drikability score. I’d like to age a bottle of this for about a year and then try this again. It has a lot of potential! Cheers!

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Photo of marc77
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2002. Clear ruby hue, topped by a well retained light beige head that leaves spotty foam. The aroma is dominated by a deep melange of floral and lightly citrusy hops with a mild undertone of earth. Perhaps a combination of Goldings and Willamette. Caramel malt morphs into a berryish red licorice fruity sweetness towards the end. Trace butterscotch. Concomitantly estery, caramelly and redolently hoppy aromawise. Flavorwise, a combination of fruity and medium lovibond caramel malt sweetness is perceived upfront, then yields to mellow impressions of dry roasted nuts. Mild diacetyl complements the malt profile, lending a subtle brittle like impression. Pleasant raspberry like esters couples with residual sweetness, yielding a lately emerging candied fruit impression. Hop bitterness is mild, and attempts balance, but malt sweetness prevails. Lightly bodied, perhaps deceptively so, and consequently quaffable. Finishes simply sweet at first, with lingering hints of buttery malt. Hibernation ale is a very enjoyable brew. Complex and flavorful, but a notch shy in body. One of the most drinkable strong ales I've had thus far. Big thanks to Jaybeerman for the bottle.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 edition. Pours reddish brown with a tan head. Aroma made up of roasted malt, fruit, and hops. Taste is quite complex. Big, sweet malt flavor that seems caramel in nature. A fruity flavor I can't quite place. Hops are quite evident. They balance the beer nicely and provide some bite on the finish. Some alcohol as well. As it warmed, the malts seemed to take over more and the last third of the glass was much smoother and easier drinking than the first 2/3. Good mouthfeel. Good drinkability that improved as the beer warmed. Overall, a very good beer with a lot going on.
Right now I'd have to say I prefer Great Lakes Christmas Ale to this one, but I'm definitely looking forward to a second sampling of this one in the very near future.

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Photo of TXHops
4.57/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Malts: Northwest 2-Row, Brown, Dark Caramel, Chocolate
Hops: Centennial, Cascade
(Great Divide declined my offer to provide more technical information. If I get really motivated, I'll put some Hibernation into my hydrometer and work up all the technical info...)

MAN!! This is one of the greatest winter beers there is. Hibernation pours a clear, mahogany color (if the yeast is left to settle in the bottle) with a lace-prone tan head that can't quite hold itself up forever in my Nonick pint glass... The aroma is intense and awesome--like fresh cracked grains, even though this stuff was brewed last July and it's now January. It smells "dry"--not the beer or wine term "dry" just dry; like dry rocks or dry dirt or dry air. However, not in any bad way--it's an appealing dryness... If the beer is roused, I can also pick up on the American hops, though I personally wouldn't have been able to tell they were American through the earthiness of the specialty grains. Honestly, I might have said Fuggles, though they seem a bit minty...

The taste is exquisite--overwhelmingly malty, but at the same time, perfectly balanced to avoid cloyingness or a one-dimensional flavor profile. All the flavors come together at exactly the same second in my mouth--sweet, chocolaty malt (kinda like cocoa powder), bitter, drying hops and flavor enhancing, warming, sweetening alcohol meet precisely at the same time on my tongue to create an infinitely complex beer that I just can't get enough of. After all that, there’s also a sense of vague, distant fruitiness (dates possibly?) that lends another aspect to the multi-faceted complexity I’m already dealing with.

An incredible beer—way more balanced than so many winter offerings. This one doesn’t have the overwhelming hoppiness of a young SN Celebration, or the chewy, off-balanced maltiness of Pyramid Snow Cap. In this everything comes together perfectly. It’s one of those rare cases where a beer is actually great.

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Photo of aaronh
2/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

This beer pours a deep copper color with amber highlights and a decent tan head which seemed rather loose and rocky. The aroma was strong on malts and fruit, bringing pears to mind. The taste is very sour, with a bitter lemon aftertaste. Almost like rotten lemons. The extreme sourness of this beer hid almost any other flavor. A bit of hop bitterness and maybe a touch of caramel poked through the sharp edge of this beer, but nothing else. The mouthfeel felt like lemon juice as well, thin and astringent. With the putrid taste, drinkability was virtually nil. The only thing I can see this beer should be used for is bringing something out of hibernation. It could probably wake the dead, or kill some of the living! A souring disappointment.

Note: After reading some of the other reviews, it is possible I had a bad bottle. Unfortunately, one was all I had, and I'm not sure of the age. It expired in March '03. I plan to revisit this beer at a later date.

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Photo of budgood1
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

hazy dark ruby colored, with a thick and sticky tan head which leaves ample amounts of lace. wonderful aroma of piney hops, caramel and chocolate malts. a bit rough in the mouthfeel at first, but finishes surprisingly smooth. tastes of spicy alcohol, chocolate, caramel, and a distinct spice and hop aftertaste. full bodied. loads of malts and hops fill your senses with joy. this is the best winter brew by far i've sampled this season. this is a beer worth stockpiling. highly recommended and worthy of special distinction among the other highly touted brews. a winter classic.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark purple/garnet in color, fluffy, creamy head. Nose is spicy, warm, sweet, buttery, notes of cramel, cinnamon, toast, nutmeg, nuts. An excellent aroma bouquet. Smooth mouthfeel, great texture, full body. One of the most sweet, smooth, and comforting dark ales of any style I've ever come across. An excellent beverage, rich in texture, full with malt, little bitterness but a woefully short finish, for all it's flavor. This one goes in my Hall of Fame of winter ales!

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Photo of comat0se
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow... what a great surprise, a 2001 Hibernation Ale, a year later! Last year around this time, I bought this beer. I was holding on to some just to keep some around the house. Then, it came time for me to leave Colorado and head east so that I could spend the next 7 months walking the Appalachian Trail. 10 months later I'm back in Colorado, dead broke, examining my beer stash.

I had made some mistakes. One was leaving GD's St. Brigid's Porter here. I drank it and while the roasty flavors did its best to mask the souring taste of an old beer, it didn't quite cut it. Tonight, I pulled out what I thought was another St. Brigid's Porter, to drink it and be done with it. Thinking it was soured, I decided to just drink it straight from the bottle. As I opened it, I noticed that a strong chocolate aroma was pouring out of the bottle. I thought to myself, hmmm... it sure smells good for old, soured beer. Then I took my first sip. Woah... wait a minute, this is actually quite good, and it ain't a porter either. I turn the bottle around and wow, it's the Hibernation Ale. YES, a mistake in my favor!

This is a great beer fresh out of the store, but I really think it improves with even a year's time. It pours a nice deep copper color, with an ample, creamy, light tan head. The head retention is excellent... I had at least a quarter inch of head the entire time, which didn't just leave behind a lace. No, it leaves behind sheets of foam on the side of the glass. I would say the carbonation is medium to low, which is fine, because the mouthfeel is also quite impressive, being very thick, velvety and creamy. I think that a higher carbonation would detract from that. Flavor was sweet, and malty, with chocolate and toast, and some faint fruits. There may be a slight sourness as well, so I'm not sure how much longer I'd keep this beer around the house. The hops had really changed character from my memory of a fresh Hibernation. One year later, the hops plays a much smaller role, but is still present to help offset a cloying finish. Man, this was a great beer, but, my review may be somewhat biased since it came as such a great surprise not to be drinking nasty soured beer. Tomorrow, I'm going to go find some more and have a vertical tasting of this years next to the other '01 Hibernation .

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Photo of johnrobe
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

'02 bottle. A full-bodied, chewy and warming brew, this one doesn't disappoint as a true winter seasonal! It should please both hop-heads and malt lovers alike, as both components are in abundance here. This beer pours a murky (chill haze) deep amber with a light tan head that leaves copious amounts of lace. The smell is heavily of caramel malt that gives way to piney, citric hops. The taste is both bold and wonderfully balanced. Caramel, bittersweet chocolate and citrus, with a bit of herbal bitterness and touch of alcohol in the finish. This one has the alcohol strength and hop level to age well, and so shall the remainder of my supply...if I can keep my hands off of it.

1 yr. later: I'm disappointed in how this brew aged...seems to have lost something rather than mellowing nicely. Drink this one fresh.

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Photo of ADR
4.21/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear brown with a ruby sheen under the light. Nice 1/2 inch yellow-tan head with lots of bubble sizes. Beautiful appearance. Slight spice aroma with some sense of a burnished leather. Mouthfeel is medium with a little "burn" at the swallow. Flavor is peppery with unsweetened clove and nutmeg mixing with low carbonation to give impact. Piling on that is an impressive hopping, giving a flavorful bittering that struck me well. A challenging beer, if you like clove gum and a little alcohol warming, here's a beer for you. I'm going to cellar a bottle to see if it mellows.

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Photo of beerluvr
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2000. Pours with a very sparse finely carbonated tan head over tawny, hazy reddish-amber liquid. Nose is well-aged maltiness with generous amounts of of dark fruitiness present as well. Taste is of dark fruits, sugary malt, coffee, roasted grains and a slight nuttiness too. The tremendous finish is where the hops are tasted...just enough to balance and dry out the heaviness/sweetness from the malts. Another beer that hides it's power very well. The 2 years of aging have mellowed this ale into something very nice, a great "sipping by the fireside" type of beer.

Thanks jaybeerman!

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Photo of proc
4.67/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent. Pours out to a dark brown with a tan head. Initial smell is that of plums. Taste is malty and rich with enough alcohol present to let you know its there, but blended in well. A fine winter-style offering that was enjoyed on an August night. A very, very good beer.

Thanks to jaybeerman for hooking me up with this gem.

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Photo of Murph
4.62/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled in 1996. Pours a lighter brown color with a very thin tan head. Toffee, raisins, chocolate, and some light caramel malt dominate the nose. Caramel malts spring onto your tongue followed by so very nice, but subtle, hops, very mellow. Great toffee, chocolate, faint coffee, and raisins. Incredibly smooth and creamy and very drinkable. What an awesome beer. The years have been very good to this one. I would have preferred a bit more carbonation and head, but other than that there really isn't much room for improvement.
Thanks to Jaybeerman for the sample.

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Photo of Pegasus
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a mahogany brown with a modest slow-developing tan head, lots of sticky lace rings the glass walls.

Aroma: Mild hop aroma with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, sweet alcohol, and wood.

Taste: Opens with rich malty flavors that flow into bitter chocolate, caramel and finish with a burst of hops and coffee. A very strong beer with lots of character. Simply excellent.

Mouth feel: Smooth, rich, soft, and very pleasant, with slight carbonation.

Presentation: Packaged in a twelve-ounce brown glass long neck bottle with a twist -off crown, served in a standard pint tap glass. The label notes that this sample was produced in 2001, with no month information.

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Hibernation Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 2,906 ratings
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