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Insanity - Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

900 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 900
Hads: 2,276
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 17.87%
Wants: 220
Gots: 511 | FT: 31
Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-21-2004

Bourbon barrel-aged "Blithering Idiot"
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 900 | Hads: 2,276
Reviews by Patrick999:
Photo of Patrick999
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light amber, not too much head.

Light raisins and some booze in the nose...not really too much beyond that.

Damn, what the hell? Where was all this hiding in the aroma? A little char, a LOT of toasted coconut. I love beers that have this vanilla-coconut taste, and this one has it in spades. Wow. And the 11.1% here isn't anywhere near as tough as I thought it could be.

The "big beer" manifests itself in the feel...low carbonation, thick feel.

Drinkability is much higher than I thought it would be. You feel it, but it doesn't show in the taste at all, always a plus for a barleywine. I don't know, I wasn't expecting to be as impressed by this as I am.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted in a Teku glass from a 12 oz bottle on July 28, 2015. Look is dark amber with a thin head and moderate lacing. Smell is dried fruits and rich caramel malts. Taste is sweet malts with complex oak, bourbon and bitter hop notes. Feel is thick and heavy.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

BOTTLE: Brown glass. Branded pry-off pressure cap. Decent label art.

Acquired: in a trade with the gracious SlothB77. Thanks, man!

Reviewed live at low altitude in Austin, TX. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Vintage: 2015. Bottled: 01/06/15. Best before: 01/06/20.
ABV: 11.1%
Style: Whiskey barrel aged barleywine (per their website).
Serving temp: Cold. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption.
Serving vessel: Pilsner glass.
Expectations: Extremely high. I loved Weyerbacher's Riserva and Insanity has a great reputation.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 4 fingers wide. Khaki colour. Creamy, frothy, full, and sumptuous, with ideal thickness. Could be darker and richer. Quite soft-looking.

Retention: Superb for the ABV - easily 8 minutes. Leaves a coating of light lacing on the sides of the glass as it recedes.

BODY: Translucent deep amber. Appears well-carbonated. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's a good looking barleywine. Suggests a toasty, malty brew with higher carbonation.

AROMA: Sweetness seems perfect. Rich Scottish malts, amber malts, caramel, some indistinct fruit, English toffee, and English brown malt. Definitely has a more English character to it - at least from the yeast. The barrel aging is more subtle and faint than anticipated, but it seems to fit the base beer, bringing into the fold notes of marshmallow, white oak and concomitant barrel sugars, a bit of authentic vanilla, and backgrounded bourbon (but strangely, not whiskey, as the vanilla is quite present but there's no spiciness).

Aromatic intensity: average.

This pleasant aroma suggests a soft, coating brew with ideal sweetness and complementary subtle barrel character. I can't wait to try it, and it never seems boozy at all.

TEXTURE: The mouthfeel is the first thing I notice; marvelously soft and creamy, it accentuates the marshmallow notes beautifully. Carbonation is perfect, it's medium-bodied to the point that drinkability is heightened, and it has the right amount of heft, thickness, and weight on the palate without ever being overbearing, sticky, or syrupy. Wow. My only criticism is that its silkiness and wetness are overdone, gutting the beer of any real flavour duration.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

TASTE: Though its flavour duration is tragically brief, this is a hell of a barleywine, with soft notes of marshmallow, faint vanilla, and light bourbon accentuating the base beer, coaxing out notes of caramel, English toffee, English brown malts, amber malts, and a kiss of fruit with some gorgeous Scottish malt sweetness in there too. Sweet but never cloying, this is a shockingly sippable barleywine whose 11.1% ABV isn't noticeable at all.

My critiques are nitpicks, and I'm forced only to look at how this beer could be better, because it has no egregious flaws. It's a bit shallow in terms of depth of flavour; the oak in particular is far too reticent and the cream mutes the flavour profile. While the balance is excellent as-is, if they could maintain that masterful balance with the intricacy and layered flavours of better barleywines, this would truly be world-class. It's a cohesive build, but lacks the complexity needed to really impress, and isn't gestalt. It errs on the side of subtlety, but I'd like for it to open up a bit; there's room for more flavour expression.

Flavour intensity: Average.
Flavour amplitude: Superb.

No yeast character, booze, or off-notes come through.

OVERALL: One of the most drinkable barleywines I've ever had that I actually like, Insanity is a brew that deserves its high reputation and hides its ABV dangerously well. Those similarly fatigued by examples of the style which are cloying and/or hide their lack of flavour underneath a bourbon barrel facade will find this refreshingly splendid, but as good as it is, there's ample room for improvement. That said, this is one of few barleywines I could see myself buying on a regular basis - if only I had ready access to it. There's a clear marriage of texture to taste, and the mouthfeel is marvelous. No one can call herself a true barleywine enthusiast without trying this at least once, and this will forever be my response to those who hold up Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot as the best widely available barleywine in the U.S.. Highly recommended.

Huge thanks to SlothB77 for the chance to try this!

B (3.48)

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Insanisty lives up to its name as utterly cavity-inducing sweetness and spicy alcohols weave together in an orgy that ignores anything mild or timid.

The beer's hazy ruby body projects the color of plum syrup but also releases a creamy foam structure that constructs a dense blanket of froth, retaining throughout the session and lacing with clumping pockets as the beer falls.

Its aromas build a malty-rich scent of maple, vanilla, caramel, almond, toffee and light molasses. As the alcohol weaves in, a sense of fruit and booze rise with port, sherry and cognac.

Its taste is a marvelous melange of malt complexities: its toffee-laden, maple dipped, caramelly taste is modestly cola-like and is candied with molasses-like "horehound" flavor. Somewhat of root beer and butterscotch, the ale simply lands on the sweeter side of the fence as the spicy booze balances. Slight sherry-like vinous fruit flavors add a glimmer of acidity while the brandy and port-like spices garner complexity and strength.

Its full texture is oily because of its sheer sweetness and light carbonation that allows the ale to lay blanketed on the tongue. Its wrap of spicy booze and slight creaminess lulls the palate to sleep with numbing capabilities and comfortable drunkedness.

As the last sips slide down the gullet, I'm left with the impressions that the beer is conflicted- if the sweetness and lack of hop bitterness is going to be there, then the ale has to be less spicy and offers a lesser attempt to dry. If its going to be more "Americanized", then its got to be much more hoppy to taste, texture and smell and has got to be more semi-dry.

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Photo of BrewMakeMeFeel
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Reddish-brown, around 15 SRM. Pours with a small tan to off-white head. Maybe a trace of haze.

Smell: Pleasant oak aroma is instantly noticeable but not overpowering. Some fruity, estery notes are bit more subtle.

Taste: Bourbony oak flavor is smooth and complex, extremely well balanced with caramel sweetness. Finishing with a hint of lingering bitterness and a clean, alcohol burn. Very distinct flavor profile.

Feel: Silky, with very little carbonation. Full-bodied and pleasant. Like the taste, reminiscent of bourbon.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other."

--Mark Twain

Minimally murky cranberry-infused orange beneath half a snifter of caramel mousse colored foam. I love the spongecake-like texture of the head and the amazing amount of lace (given the ABV) that is being laid down. This is how an American barleywine should look.

On the pour, the room was filled with the scent of bourbon. Now that I'm concentrating on the nose for real, aided by the sloping sides of the snifter, that aspect is a more balanced, more incorporated portion of the whole. Caramel and boozy maraschino cherries lead the assault, although boozy makes it sound like the alcohol is harsh or raw. It isn't.

My best guess is that this bottle is two years old. Looks like I picked the perfect time to crack the crown because it's still a beast, but it's a manageable beast. That's exactly how I like my barleywines. In addition to a little age, I think the fact that the alcohol portion of the flavor profile tastes like bourbon helps immensely.

Insanity favors the caramel-toffee family of flavors and is a better beer for it. Whereas I like my DIPAs and American IPAs to be pale malt-dominant (to keep the hops in the center of the spotlight), I like my barleywines to feature flavor from the barley side of things. There's plenty of hop bitterness to go around and it keeps things from becoming too sweet and sticky.

In case you hadn't heard, this beer is Blithering Idiot aged in oak barrels that had previously held bourbon. If it's done right, I haven't yet met big beer that didn't benefit from such aging. Since bourbon (along with single malt Scotch) is my favorite liquor, I might be a little biased. The classic flavors of burnt sugar and vanilla are front and center, giving this big ale the nudge that is needs to enter the realm of greatness.

How in the world can a beer that weighs in at 11.1% be so damn drinkable? Again, softening due to the passage of time has a lot to do with it. Another reason is a mouthfeel that is softly carbonated and isn't a big, gooey mess. I occasionally like big, gooey messes, but I also like barleywine mouthfeels that are built for speed. Like this one.

I need to acquire another bottle of Blithering Idiot because I don't remember it as being nearly this good. It's hard to imagine that bourbon barrel aging is completely responsible for the outstanding ale that sits before me, but I guess it's possible. Insanity just shot to the top of my 'must have' list when I travel to Ohio next month. Insane is right. Insanely delicious.

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Photo of oberon
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poures a deep,rich amber color with a slightly off white head,aromas are very woody with some vanilla and high octaine alcohol kick ur nostriles hard and lets you know this is big and bad ass.Thick and chewey mouthfeel makes this beer a sipper one to savor,very warming alcoholic beer, oak flavors are very prevelant with some butteriness as well,almost like a vanilla flavored spiced rum.Iam glad I got a chance to try this,its a sipper or one to share with friends like I did tonight,very rich and flavorful.

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Photo of don1481
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into Mr. Pint Glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark caramel with a brisk amount of carbonation and a thumb-width khaki colored head that lingers for a few moments.

Smell: A little bit of bourbon, but more bready and fruity - get quite a bit of figs and raisins here. Some vanilla notes, caramel and toffee too. As it breathes, it gets more complex.

Taste: Bourbon, but much deeper than just the heat. Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, and raisins abound in the taste. It's a pretty complex dance that's going on in this one.

Mouthfeel: Much more warming than some of the other barleywines I've had lately. The alcohol burn, especially during the first few sips, lingers a bit longer. It gets cleaner as I drink more, but the lingering first few sips really came as a bit of a surprise compared to other barleywines of late. Medium-bodied for sure.

Overall: I'll be aging this to see how it progresses. Lots of potential, but it's a notch below CW's amongst the recent ones I've had.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This ABW poured a light brown orange in color, which was strange for the style. The head was modest but lasted well.

Smell – The nice malty bourbony backbone dominated the smell, which was pleasing but lacked the complexity that I’ve come to expect from the style.

Taste – The thick, malty flavor here is mixed with booze and some light red wine.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied Barley Wine had a nice mouthfeel but the booze was a bit too “stingy” for my tastes.

Drinkability – I enjoyed this Weyerbacher offering but thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of Jaurora80
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SanFranJake
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of sicilian
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Another brew I've been highly anticipating....pours from the menacing bottle a dark brown with just a hint of red and a nice thick pillowy khaki head on top. A nice syrupy pour that yields some nice lacing as well. We're off to a good start! Rich caramels and toffee bathed in oaky bourbon on the nose. I get more oak than bourbon in the nose. Hints of vanilla and nice fruit tones waft up into my nose as well. Quite nice.

First sip....wow....a delectably rich mix of deep nutty caramel malt melding into a lovely bourbon oak flavor. A nice shot of vanilla comes through with a sweet fruitiness. Quite sweet overall, but not cloying. The oak and bourbon flavors work perfectly here and take the Blithering Idiot to a whole new level. Simply an awesome oak aged barleywine.

Mouthfeel is full and thick...slightly syrupy, this brew coats the palate and makes its presence known. Perfect for the style...just the way I like it. This is definelty a sipping brew....take some time out...sit and savor this brew for maximum enjoyment. Cheers to Weyerbacher for brewing this beauty and cheers to blitheringidiot for allowing me the opportunity to sample it!

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Photo of blitz134
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A nice garnet red semi-transparent body. A thin ring of white bubbles around the edge of the glass was all that formed, but is typical for a barleywine, so no deductions there. Nice color though.

A malty sweet aroma with hints of candy coming through. Also, a fruity background makes its appearance in the form of maraschino cherries and cherry starburst candy. Some citrusy hops might be adding to this as well. Aroma is a bit weak when cold but presents itself more as it warms.

There is definitely a unique flavor with this which I’ve never had with a barleywine. Flavor is very sweet, but not in an artificial way. Initially the malt shows through and finishes very spicy and peppery which almost burns the throat. Finishes a touch bitter at the end. Flavor is hard to pick up on, but seems to have some tart cherry and other ripe fruits in the mix. Some of the oak peeks its way through as well. Insanity is a good name for this as the flavor profile is quite eclectic and hard to pick up on. I’ll give credit to Weyerbacher for coming up with this.

Mouthfeel is nice and thick as expected. The nice flavor on this makes it go down easy. A little too easy considering the alcohol content which is nearly completely hidden.

A well made barleywine which doesn’t try to dominate any particular flavor and unique as well with its more fruity flavor profile. Its nice to have a barleywine which doesn't have to be aged to be enjoyed.

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Photo of Outchillen
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this in a 12oz bottle at our home session tasting
Carmel colored with thin white head, faded fast, aroma was strong bourbon and molasses, very little hop aroma, the taste was like sweet bourbon, reminded me of malty jack dainels or jim beam, only one thought the alochol was a little overwhelming, nice body, not syrupy, malty, with hints of vanilla from the barrel ageing

For a beer this strong, above 11%, it was worth trying, Its a beer I could only have one of, and it would be as a winter warmer, a must try though from a great brewery

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Photo of JasonA
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Light carmel, almost amber. Fairly clear, though not transparent. Little head into islands as expected with ample lacing.

Almost carmel. Wow. There is a lot here that Im not used to smelling. Not sure I could place all of it. Sweet, though floral. Extremely appealing. Wow, I could smell this all day. If the taste is anything close to the smell, this is gonna be one heck of a brew. I can smell the ABV and its quite enticing.

Malty smooth. Wow, lots and lots of creamy carmely malt. Not heavy at all. Its sweet, yummy really, but more smooth than typical malt. The only tiny detractor is some of the ABV creeps up into the taste and can overwhelm. Overall, this is amazing. True to style with little to no hops. I need to find this receipe.

Awesome balance for a BW. I would love to know how they made this so smooth. Malty aftertaste is great.

A++++ would buy from again. This is everything I want in an English BW.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 22oz bottle served in a pint glass. This was an amber colored beer with a fairly thick head that left some nice lacing. I wasn't too impressed with the aroma, reminded me of oatmeal with brown sugar. Fortunately it tasted much better than its aroma. Vanilla, vinous, great hops presence, mellow. Noticeably warming alcohol later in the taste. Wonderful beer that packs a bit of a punch.

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Photo of thetommo
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of BlitzShadow
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This barleywine was poured from a 22 oz. bottle at cellar temperature into a red wine glass.

Appearance: This beer is deep amber in color with a 1/2" beige head.

Smell: I can actually smell the bourbon! This is cool! There is a slight hint of vanilla with a malty overtone.

Taste: This beer is so complex in taste. The alcohol is dominant in the initial sip! (maybe b/c I was looking for it, though) The bourbon and vanilla up the ante, too. There is a nice fruity, malty taste to finish. The bitterness is there, but balanced within.

Mouthfeel: This is an incredibly smooth beer with a thick-bodied, creamy, smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This is one awesome barley wine!! The taste and mouth-smell are huge and complex. I would have this whenever possible!

Notes- This is definitely a beer that will drive you MAD! This is potent stuff that demands respect and very delicious.

Edit - This was one of my first reveiws ever (over four years ago) and Weyerebacher was the brewery that introduced me to barrel-aging. Hence, you can understand my excitement.

Minor score adjustments to recalibrate since I'm now much more familiar with this style.

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Photo of warnerry
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No bottle date; purchased August 2011

A - Pours a clear garnet/brown with one finger of off-white head. Head doesn't last long and leaves very little lacing. Some suspended material.

S - Somewhat subtle sweet bourbon with vanilla being more prominent than any oak notes. Toffee, some sugar and some alcohol.

T - Sweet but not distractingly so. Nice bourbon presence, with both vanilla and oak being quite prominent. Toffee and caramel malts, and a bit boozy. Also a bit of raisin and fig. Faint citrus.

M - Medium mouthfeel is a bit sticky, with some numbing alcohol on the finish.

O - Nice bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. Not as complex as some, and a bit too much noticeable alcohol, but a very nice beer for the price, and 12 oz bottles are certainly appreciated.

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Photo of Afroman
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of Todd
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hmm … a Barleywine aged in bourbon wood.

Slightly hazy brown with bright orange and ruby hues, crowned with a tan cream head that settles into a thin ringed lace.

Surprisingly subtle in the aroma, not as big as I expected. Raw hop leaf and wood aromas, some alcohol spice, and a soft fruity / malty sweetness. Light fruity esters and fusels hit the eyes, watering them slightly, and reminding you that this is not a beer to be underestimated.

Full and even in the body. Flavors are deeply complex, with plenty of bourbon nuances. Raw leaf, chocolate powder, aggressive spicy alcohol, burnt caramel, sugary sweet backbone, deep vanilla, oaky wood, dark juicy ripe fruits, slight vinous port-like character beneath, some chalkiness on the palate, and a touch of date sugar.

Recommendation: allow to warm to room temperature and enjoy in a wide-bowled snifter. This will allow all of the malt and wood complexities to really pull through, as well as enhance the alcohol presence.

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Photo of marvin213
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

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Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 900 ratings.