Weyerbacher Insanity – 11.1% ABV
The Weyerbacher Brewing Company is a nice little brewery in Easton, PA. Formed in 1993 by an avid homebrewer (like I am aiming to become) with a thing for all the new craft brews hitting the market. They have several interesting varieties that are sure to excite your palate – their Merry Monks is an excellent take on a Tripel (more on that soon…) and this little number is no different. Insanity is Weyerbacher’s interpretation of an English barley wine. They also have Blithering Idiot, which is pretty much self-explanatory (referring to your state of being after you finish a bomber of it), but let’s focus on this one right now. I know you’re all familiar with this particular style, as I’ve been posting a number of reviews on barley wines as of late. This one however really stood out among all the others. First of all, it is an oak barrel-aged barley wine. This is something that I’ve been really enjoying when it comes to the beers that come out of this barrel-aging process. The flavor is so much more dynamic, much more texture and body to it. Case in point here.
The label itself is dark and brooding, giving you a sense of caution or concern. It hosts a black background with red being the only lit area surrounding a black silhouette, like a man trapped in a hellish insane asylum. So it looks pretty intimidating right from the get-go. But this only intensifies when the brew is poured. Its appearance is one you would expect of a darker ale than a barley wine. Most of the barley wines I’ve come across have had much more of a reddish hue than this one did. That’s not to say it isn’t present, but it’s not the dominant color here. It’s much more brown than red. But whatever, it looks pretty nice. Let’s see how it smells.
The aroma is predominantly defined by oak, whiskey, toffee/brown sugar, dark fruit, dark roasted malts and vanilla. Mmm yummy. There isn’t much of a hop note that would fall in line with the style, but this has much more going for it than your typical barley wine. This is something I’m definitely eager to taste. When I do let it hit my palate, I get a feeling like I just got smacked across the face by a 2×4 and the wood manufacturer’s name is Absolute Goodness.
Right off the bat you get the dark fruit presence, quickly followed by the richness of the toffee and caramel, and then the oak and vanilla goodness enter stage left. The flavor crescendos with a strong alcohol punch in the mouth towards the end. Just a note to all you rookies and would-be aficionados – don’t deprive yourself by drinking this cold, right out of the fridge. Let it sit out and warm up. Rule of thumb – the darker your beer is, the warmer you should drink it. Ice cold is good for mass market crap and light beer. You’re dealing with some serious stuff here. Have some respect for yourself and the beer, don’t take it lightly. Let the flavors come out and speak to you. Don’t mask them by chilling it too much. It’s better that way. Trust me, you’ll be thanking me later.
This was quite an interesting journey. I really enjoyed the textures I got from this beer, as each sip invited me back for more. And each kept getting better than the one before it. My final answer? Get this beer. It is absolutely phenomenal in my eyes. And yes, it blew my mind. You’d be crazy not to try it. The name on the label is totally appropriate. This beer is INSANELY good.