We thought we’d welcome 2013 with a post about a new excellent beer from Ska Brewing. The Hibernal Vinifera Stout is part of Ska’s Seasonal Stout series where the brewery releases one new Stout per season. I must admit I was hesitant (only a little) regarding this series of beers…I mean, why not do a new IPA every season or something that (in my opinion) has a higher annual drinkability? Well, I’m completely sold now.

I had heard from a number of people that I needed to pick up the Hibernal Vinifera Stout when I got back into town. Another friend told me they took a six pack of this beer to a Broncos game and drank five of them before realizing it. I was with family for two weeks in California and when I got back I made it my mission to pick this beer up before I did anything else. So, I did, it was the first beer I bought in 2013. The can says that the beer is oak aged and that it’s brewed with Malbec Grapes, as it is a tribute to the “Heavenly Grape Vine” goddess of Sumeria.

The beer pours a beautiful black with a lovely beige head. The aroma is of dark chocolate and a light roast. As far as flavor goes, this beer is at once complex but also superbly drinkable and smooth. There are clear notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, and vanilla all delicately balanced. There’s a slight tanginess at the end that could be the grapes (if I really wanted it to be) or perhaps more likely some light astringency from roasted malt.

Ska knocked this one out of the park. This is a wonderful beer, an easy-drinker that would satisfy both beer geeks and people who just want something good to drink. At 8% it will certainly sneak up on you. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve had a beer that I was so wrong about in terms of guessing the ABV, I seriously thought this was 5.5% based on it’s drinkability. This will be a go-to for me until it’s no longer available.

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