Great Divide Brewing Company Hibernation Ale

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IMG_4399On my recent trip down to Seattle I picked up a bunch of winter and Christmas beers from some of the very excellent U.S. microbrews available south of the border. Here we have a very interesting hybrid style ale from Great Divide of Denver, Colorado, a great brewing city and state.

This is an awesome winter ale. I would describe its flavours like a hybrid between an imperial stout and a barley wine, but dialed back a notch. In other words, the alcohol is lower (8.7%), the texture less viscous – but, the flavours are all still really intense and warming. I loved the notes of caramel, smoke, cigar, bitter chocolate and spices. I also love how Great Divide takes pairing beer and food so seriously that they print suggestions on the side of their bottle, such as: romano, aged hard Dutch cow’s milk cheese (gouda), grilled beef tenderloin, and apple crisp with ginger ice cream. Yum? Yum.

You can get this in six packs down in the U.S. for a very reasonable price and it kicks the ass out of any of the B.C. brewed winter beers that are actually bottled up here. And, that’s the sad thing about living in B.C. for a beer lover. But you cannot blame the brewers entirely. When I was at the recent Dix winter Caskival (an awesome event) I tasted several excellent B.C. brewed winter beers, and one absolutely outstanding one (The Christmas Cake Ale from Taylor’s Crossing). This was bittersweet, though, because none of the really good beers are bottled.

I’m trying to figure out the reasons for this right now and maybe some CAMRA members or brewers could leave a comment if they read this. But, from what I can tell there are two main factors. 1. The expense of bottling, particularly when the brewers work at Mark Anthony Brew Pubs with no bottling facilities; and 2. the perception that B.C. lacks beer culture and beer understanding and so would not buy these beers. Sure, B.C. is still miles behind the great U.S. beer states like California and Washington where it is not frowned upon to be a beer snob and a food snob all in one (oh and wine snobs are allowed to join in the beer snob fun too). BUT, given the recent evidence of a growing CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) movement in the province and the efforts of great beer stores like Brewery Creek, Firefly and Viti, there is certainly a market for better B.C. brewed beer (made with care and dedication), and there is no reason why B.C. could not eventually take on Quebec for the title to best Canadian Beer Province. Why do the French have to have all the fun? Let alone those pesky Americans! A request to B.C. brewers: please, please, start bottling your special one-off beers. Doing so will completely change the face of the B.C. beer scene.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$2 / bottle in Seattle (i.e. $12/6 pack) – try and get that price in B.C. for a great beer (thanks insane 117% BCLDB markup)

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