One of Colorado’s longest-running craft beer traditions returned last month. Great Divide Brewing released its award-winning Hibernation Ale—Colorado’s original strong ale—on October 1st.
A true precedent setter in the state’s craft beer history, Hibernation’s rich flavors and winter-warming heft created a stir upon the beer’s debut in 1995. Thirteen years later, Hibernation Ale is now one of the most sought-after winter beers in Colorado.
“We have a lot of history with Hibernation,” says Great Divide founder Brian Dunn, “and it’s a fall tradition for our fans to buy a case of it when it comes out each year. It also personifies our brewery in many ways—it’s edgy but balanced, assertive but elegant. It set the standard for our brewery, especially for the bigger beers we make.”
The beer has also landed a slew of honors for Great Divide, including three Great American Beer Festival honors and a World Beer Cup medal (see below for details). The 2005 vintage of Hibernation Ale was awarded a silver medal in the Aged Beer category at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
“This is one of our best beers for aging,” Dunn says. “As good as the beer is fresh, its malty richness and layered hop flavors go through some wonderful changes over a year’s time. The hops pull back, the malts become more rounded, and the beer develops a nice caramel character you don’t find in the fresh version.”
Hibernation is brewed each summer, dry-hopped, then aged for two months before its release. It’s only available for about 8 weeks each year, from mid-October to mid-December, in limited quantities of draft and 12 ounce bottles, in most Great Divide markets.