The Full Bar - all my pages

Friday, October 24, 2008

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

Do you remember drinking craft beer in the mid-90s? When Old Horizontal was the absolute shit*, and people still thought Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale were pretty good beers†, and you made a Christmas beer by going in the brewery, grabbing the Beer-Making-Volume Control and cranking that bad boy up to 11?‡

I took a step back in time Tuesday afternoon at the Memphis Taproom. I was on my way back from Yards (a visit that's going to get blogged soon) and thought, hell, I've got time for one...and it was such a beautiful October afternoon, and they had the door open, and I saw Great Divide Hibernation on the taplist. It's been years since I had a Hibernation. I went to Great Divide's GABF party back in 1995 and 1996 and had a blast, drinking years of Hibernation with Brian and Tara Dunn. When it made it East, I was happy to sup up more.

But times changed, and beers came and went, and I think the last time I had one was about 2000. This pint of 2008 Hibernation came dark and solid, and totally old-school winter ale. It's big -- just a little bit boozy, which is good, it keeps you honest and aware -- it's unashamedly hoppy, it's malty but doesn't overdo the esters, and it just tasted so good that if I hadn't told myself I'd keep it to one, I'd have put it away all too quickly. This was the way brewers used to make big beers: dynamic balance, tension, nothing overwhelming, like a game of Blockhead 6 feet high and 4 feet wide.

Be damned if it's going to be 8 years before I have another!

*And it still pretty much is.

†And they still are.

‡And you can obviously still make a damned good beer that way.


David said...

I was at Great Divide a few weeks ago for the first of this year's run. Only bottles at the time. Very yummy indeed.

Anonymous said...


I for one still think Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams are good brews, BA crowd be damned. Especially right now, as I am drinking a SN Celebration Ale that was bottled less than a month ago.

Anonymous said...

Great Divide is one of those near-magical breweries that just can't seem to make a bad beer. (Smuttynose is another.) Everything they do is just so spot-on. I never turn down a Great Divide beer, under any circumstances.

Haven't had this year's Hibernation yet, but it looks like I'm a-headin' to the Memphis very very soon.

Dan said...

Damn Lew - get up on that pulpit and preach the word of the Hibernation! I can't wait to get my hands on this years edition as I love it so much. I can recall the first time I had it about 3 years ago and I was blown away as well. Quite a beer for this season. Cheers!

Lew Bryson said...

Believe me: I'm solidly with you, brother.

Dr Joel said...

Love this beer. I was excited to see it in the on deck circle at Memphis a couple weeks ago. Great Divide was one of those eye opening breweries for me. The first beer of theirs i ever had, Hercules, was also my first DIPA. Between their amazing line of big beers and great backbone beers like their pale and porter, they'll always have a special place in my heart.

I even took Hibernation Ale to Valley Forge for a photo shoot.

Thanks for the heads up on the tapping!

Anonymous said...

hmm... I still think Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams make pretty good beer nothing wrong with either of those

Lew Bryson said...

Let me make clear: I am not one of the deluded fools who think Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada are not worthy of respect. But there are a growing number of them, so I took a swipe at them. Cuz they piss me off.

Anonymous said...

That is why I found that comment a bit puzzling. I know you have always spoke highly of both of those breweries. Question (serious here) you said "But there are a growing number them" did you mean deluded fools or beers not worthy of respect or both?

Lew Bryson said...

A growing number of deluded fools. I also made some additions to the original post that I hope will clear things up. Sorry for the lack of clarity!

Anonymous said...

Oh...I knew your original intent, I just really wanted to say "BA crowd be damned".

Brad said...

Great Divide... a beer I tend to callously forget about for most of the year, then with late fall/winter's arrival I'm reminded of how wonderful it is.