Great Divide “Barrel-Aged Hibernation Ale”
This limited-release Old Ale was aged in old whiskey barrels, using the original Hibernation as a base recipe. I picked up this 2011 vintage bottle direct from the cooler on location at the Great Divide brewery. Aromas are like brown sugar, spicy grains, black currant, cherries, plums, bourbon, and vanilla.
The palate begins with flavors of caramel and brown sugar up front, with bittersweet chocolate resting below. Macerated cherry, coconut, and sherry wine immediately stand out, remaining a strong focal point throughout. The whiskey barrel adds flavors of old wood, leather, and plenty of warm vanilla. The finish tastes like flat Dr. Pepper with whiskey and a squeeze of lemon. Mouthfeel is dry, semi-stale, muted, warming, slick, and somewhat similar to wine. The ingredients come across very rich and full, but can do little to hold back the alcohol, which ends up playing a large role on the palate for better or for worse. Malt flavors are similar to that of a barleywine or strong ale.
This is a malt-forward brew, but I’m surprised just how much hop oils remain after spending nine months in the barrel, especially considering the original Hibernation isn’t that bitter to begin with. I have really enjoyed the complexities the whiskey barrel adds, and appreciate how it keeps from stealing the show. If you’re familiar with the original, the barrel further accentuates the fruity nature that was present, while replacing hops for whiskey and wood. Yeast is also of greater significance here, which is necessary to keep up fermentation and reach the high alcohol. If you consider yourself a connoisseur, you’ll appreciate it. I am a little disappointed this is the best Great Divide can do with a barrel-aged old ale…it sounds so promising! I enjoyed this, but I suppose I don’t really recommend it.