12 Days of Christmas Beer: Great Divide Hibernation Ale

Editor's Note: To help you get in the spirit, we'll be featuring a Christmas beer or a Winter Warmer every day for 12 days. Got a favorite seasonal brew? Let us know in the comments.


[Photograph: Robyn Lee]



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Am I the only one who isn't all that interested in spiced beers? All too often, Christmas beers have a dried-spice flavor that just makes me want to cough. I want my beer to taste like roasted malt, not like peppery, cinnamony tea, so I turn to old ales and winter warmers like this English-Style Old Ale from Great Divide in Colorado—it's pretty much exactly what I want in a winter beer. It's full, malty, and rich without being oversweet; it's warming without tasting harsh; and it's the perfect partner for winter stews and roasts.

Hibernation Ale has skeins of molasses, a whisper of smoke, and a graininess that reminded us a bit of pumpernickel bread. It's smooth and earthy with just enough hoppy edge. It wants aged gouda or smoked meat, but it would also be great with Chinese food that has sesame oil and ginger in it. "This is the kind of beer you want to drink in an outdoor hot tub in winter," said Kenji when I cracked this one open at SEHQ. Sounds just about right.

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