25 Beers of Christmas: Day Eight – Great Divide Hibernation Ale

This past summer when I did The Thirsty Thirty it was easy peasy – I just took a quick photo with my iPhone & Instagram, wrote up a nice short post et voila! This time around I’m trying to put more effort into taking photographs (I’ve always been uncomfortable & awkward with and in front of cameras), trying to put effort into observing creatively and accurately expressing into words what you taste & smell. Needless to say that takes more time, and a very broad library of adjectives.

I look back at some of the beers I’ve tried and it breaks my heart when I can’t recall in more detail what they were like. I want to try everything as many times as possible, because I think that is really how you develop a full understanding & a solid sensory memory of them. But sometimes that is impossible to do. For example, when I went home during one of my university breaks to visit my family in Paris, I had some of the Westvleteren they brought back from their visit to the monastery, and all I can remember is that they were good. Just good! How frustrating! I just cringe when I think about that. Granted, that was about two years ago, and they were some of the very first beers I tried, but I wish I had taken just a moment to myself to mentally note what exactly it was I liked, what smells they reminded me of, if I would recommend that one of my friends spend their money on it at a bar. Yes yes yes, I know you can’t get Westvleteren anywhere outside of the monastery (legally), but you catch my drift.

My goal is always to learn, improve, and remember. Not to technically review a beer, or speak with authority, but to be able to remember & appreciate what makes me happy, for example “Oh yeah! The Ruination IPA felt like getting kicked in the teeth with a bag full of hops. It was fantastic” Isn’t that part of we write? To remember? To learn about ourselves, to learn about what we love?

Life would be so boring if we already knew everything.

I digress.

All in all…It’s been an extremely stressful day and I needed something comforting: cue fleece leggings, a sweater, Netflix (“Ride the Divide” is the pick for tonight), and Great Divide Hibernation Ale. It has been such a long time since I’ve had such a heartening beer, and let me tell you my friend, it is reassuring.

This smells extremely malty & like roasted chestnuts, but poured with little to no head (I’ll have to check out some reviews of this to see if it is atypical), and with an auburn tint. It doesn’t feel as creamy as a milk stout, but it’s close with a little dose of carbonation. I want to say I taste molasses, but I can’t stand the smell of pure molasses, so that is really hard for me to come to terms with. The molasses flavor is more like the sweetness it gives to gingerbread cookies – very rich, smooth, and like the darkest brown sugar you could find. I love that this is robust, while being understated – it doesn’t have to exclaim that it’s here in all its winter wonderland glory. If you spend enough time with it you’ll know it all on your own.

Recommend to a friend? Yes. Especially for darker beer lovers. Marie you need to have this!

How much snow are you willing to scrape off your car for this? I haven’t had enough Strong/Old ales to compare it to any others…actually I’m not sure that I ever have had any. Hey. I’m only early twenties here, I have a long way to go. But right now this is sitting at (4) Twenty minutes what!

Safe for lightweights? Nahhh 8.7% ABV

Plus one? For the taste, absolutely. With that ABV…we’ll see. It’s just so yummy!

P.S. I think you can see half of a thumbprint in this picture if you look really hard.

  1. Barleywhiner said:

    One of my favorite winter beers. There are so many winter beers that are basically bigger versions of an amber, I start to find them a little tiresome. The maltiness of the Hibernation is something to behold. Another good Old Ale to try is Bell’s Third Coast.

    • thebakeandbrew said:

      You know I haven’t tried Third Coast ale yet. I’ll have to pick that up next time I’m out! Thank you!

  2. Andrew Clark said:

    You should get an endorsement deal from some of these brewers. Your write-ups often make me want to try.

    • thebakeandbrew said:

      Having one of my posts make someone want to try that beer is one of the best things I could think of.

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