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Insanity - Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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2,073 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,073
Reviews: 871
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.81%
Wants: 194
Gots: 428 | FT: 20
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

A bourbon barrel-aged English-style Barleywine.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,073 | Reviews: 871 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of starrdogg
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a cloudy reddish brown with a light head, nice-looking beer

S: Smells sweet and malty, like what I'd expect out of a Belgian strong dark ale, not really getting any bourbon

T: Definitely some bourbon in the taste, but I'm not a huge fan of the base beer, it's too grassy and doesn't really mesh with the bourbon/oak/vanilla flavors; definitely has some lingering bitterness at the end. There's also some fruitiness to it that seems a little off and jives more with the smell. It's also got a bit of an alcohol burn in the finish

M: Not bad, but it's a little thinner than I would like for a beer as big as this.

O: This is good, but not great BBBW. The bourbon-y notes of this beer are definitely the highlight, but the base beer seems akin to a Belgian dark ale and it doesn't meld particularly well with the other flavors. It feels like it's missing something that I can't quite put my finger on, but it definitely is not in the top tier of BBBWs.

Photo of prg1976
3.4/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark copper color, not much head, not much carbonation.

Smell is oaky, alcohol. Pretty straightforward.

Taste is smooth oaky, sweet alcohol.

A little heavy on the alcohol, but it is 11+%.

Overall, it's pretty good. I don't think I could have more than one at a time, it's pretty heavy and pretty hot. I might put a few in the cellar.

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Insanity passes muster in the looks dept. It is a lustrous shade of mahogany and is capped with a loose cappuccino-hued froth.

S - The nose is quite mild, for an EBW, and especially for an EBW aged in whisky barrels. As it airs out, some general maltiness is out there, and a bit of a hint of hazelnut liqueur.

T - The flavor is quite delectable, immediately yielding notes of chocolate and hazelnut; as it airs out booze and oak get in the mix in a very complementary way. The flavors are all very good, but if I am to nitpick, there is not quite enough intensity.

M - The feel is too thin. Were it bulked up, these flavors would be more plump and juicy than they are.

O - Weyerbacher just seems to get better and better. Another big-time winner from one of the most underrated breweries out there.

Photo of 7ways
3.4/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage.

Satisfying hiss, nice carbonation. This beer is red. I was not expecting that, but it looks good. It's got legs but no lace.

Smells musty, damp, and sweet. Kind of like cherry coke, but no bourbon here. Just a candy-like malt and fruit sweetness.

Oh, ok, there's the whiskey. It lurks over the rest of the flavors, I'm kind of surprised it's this intense after 2 years. I wouldn't call this complex, but there are enough good flavors that work well to make it interesting: bourbon, vanilla, woodsmoke, and that juicy malt candy again. I've had this fresh, and can say that the heat has definitely died down a lot. There is no bitterness or hop flavor to speak, although that was not the case when it was fresh either.

The mouthfeel is not equipped to handle the intensity this beer brings.

This was a nice little aging experiment, but this beer still remains low on my list of go to barleywines.

Photo of Lolli1315
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- A reddish brown color that is slightly hazy with ruby highlights. A small tan head forms that disappears completely with time as lacing is nowhere to be seen.

S- Lots of wood, vanilla, and bourbon punch you in the face immediately dominating the smell. Bits of caramel and dark fruit begin to emerge before alcohol rounds out the smell.

T- Just as in the smell, you can really tell that this beer was aged in bourbon barrels. Wood, vanilla, and bourbon are dominating, a little too much in my opinion, as the flavors of the barley wine are somewhat lost beneath them. The dark fruits with a little bit of apple emerge towards the middle with touches of caramel lining as well. The alcohol begins to pick up and becomes slightly solventy towards the end of the beer as it warms with every drink.

M- Full bodied and a little syrupy. Low amounts of carbonation as well.

D- This beer is a sipper for sure and it was a little struggle making it through a full pint. If you like bourbon, and I do, get this for sure. Unfortunately, I think that much of the complexity of the beer gets lost the booziness of this one. Might as well drink a glass of bourbon instead.

Photo of nobjon
4.88/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i got a growler of this lovely dark nectar at the brewery which i toured tghis weekend... good dark syrup,, i call it blithering idiot heavy/ i actually like blithering idiot better, not so heavy, and even better and cheaper is old horizontal from victory.. as for the tour,, if you dont live in easton pa SKIP this brew tour?%%><@ terrible tour, good beer! i liken the tour to going into a cold garage and looking at 6 steel tanks and a conveyor with a makeshift bar where they give you teaspoon testers. but the beer is cheaper, 12-3 saturdays

Photo of Daniellobo
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice and rich sipper. Stimulating balance with nice bourbon/oak notes.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle. Black and red label with an old cartoon style image of a person projecting its shadow on a threshold. Typography is still horrible but other than that this is a somewhat rescuable looking bottle. Short description as "Ale aged in oak barrels". Barely legible bottling and best by dates (122110?, 122115). Shows 11.1% Alc. by Vol. Poured into a snifter.

A - Lightly hazy pale to medium amber pour, short frothy head, fair retention, moderate surface memory and minimal lacing.

S - Bourbon, oak and vanilla notes over the malt heftiness. Not too hefty but rather pleasing.

T - Vanilla, oaked bourbon notes taking center stage, dried fruits and toffee malt notes in the background.

M - Medium leaning on a fuller side, with a smooth and dry finish. Little but adequate carbonation.

O - Truly nice sipper. Great range.

Notes: One of the better offerings from Weyerbacher, if one is into barrel aged brews this is quite a treat.


Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Beautiful garnet with nice off-white head and some lacing tendrils.

Smell: Very fruity and sweet with a touch of oak. Layers of toffee, butterscotch, plum, dark fruit, vanilla and alcohol.

Taste: Very sweet with plum, figs, toffee and butterscotch. The vanilla and woodsy character adds an extra layer that helps set this apart from Blithering Idiot. Still a touch too sweet.

Feel: Low carbonation, thick chewy body that is quite warming.

Overall: A very nice English Barleywine and I really appreciate what the oak aging brings to the table. Better than the base Blithering Idiot, but not quite top notch due to the sweetness.

Photo of Axic10
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark amber with a finger of khaki smooth head.

Smell: Sweet nose full of aromas of caramel, molasses, raisin, figs, hints of vanilla, bourbon and oak notes as well with a noticeable alcohol burn to the nose.

Taste: Molasses, caramel, raisin and dates, vanilla and some oak from the barrel, absolutely no trace of alcohol. Very well balanced, with the barrel aspect not taking away from the base beer.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, but very smooth and creamy.

Overall: I love barleywines and this is a pretty darn good barleywine. I'm never really wowed by a mouthfeel, but I am impressed with this. I'm glad I have some more and I'd love to see what some age does to this.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked this beer up at Green's liquor tonight. I have tried quite a few beers from this brewery and have been happy with them. Let's give their oak aged Barley Wine a shot:

Appearance: Pours a very clear red color with a small head of off white bubbles that dissipated within about 20 seconds. There is a little bit of foam that is sticking on the edge of the beer.

Aroma: There is some dark caramel in the aroma along with some American hops and a somewhat reserved amount of Vanilla and other wood aged notes. The spicy alcohol is absolutely prominent in every aspect of the aroma and is adding clean pepper in particular. There is a little bit of Brandy coming out as the beer sits for a bit.

Taste: The flavor is also very malty with alcohol being one of the major players in the flavor. There is lots of dark caramel adding sweetness, and the alcohol is adding spicy complexity to the flavor. There is warming that sets in very early in the sip and stays with you late into the finish. There are lots of vanilla notes in this beer and they are getting more prominent as the beer warms. The body of the beer is medium to full with alcohol being the predominant force to balance. The hops are here in the initial parts of the flavor, but they give way to the malts in the finish. The finish is mostly malty and is balanced by the alcohol and some very mild hops.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer overall. I appreciate the blend and the oak aged notes add a lot of complexity. Overall, this is a really good beer and I would like to drink it again. That said, I have had others in this style that absolutely blew me away, but this beer is no slouch. In short, I have enjoyed this beer and would recommend that you give it a shot if you like barrel aged barley wines (who doesn't?).

Photo of Outchillen
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
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

Photo of Naugros
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this on tap, but a while back so I'm pouring a 12 ounce bottle into my Weyerbacher tulip glass.

Looks like brunt caramel sauce with a thin marshmallow head. The head doesn't last long but leave behind a film upheld by a foamy ring which leaves behind rings of slowly sliding lace.

The bourbon from the barrel-aging is immediately recognizable in the first sniff. Molasses sweetness from the malts and a hints orange and vanilla...more of the latter though as the hops are very faint as is usual in this style.

As in the nose, the bourbon dominates on the tongue and the alcohol gives the palate a tickle of heat. The molasses from the malts becomes more of a caramel in flavor with vanilla and oak as an afterthought. This is not overly sweet and is very nicely balanced with the exception of the bourbon being on the stronger side.

Not as thick and cloying as most barleywines which I really appreciate. There is no syrupy coating on your lips and tongue. The alcohol is evident but it doesn't drink like a beer in excess of 11%. I would have guessed this to be a 9% ale. One of these will help you sleep and that is what I intend to do next.

Photo of bucklemyshoe
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle at 48 degrees into a snifter.

A: It pours a hazy dark red color with a two-finger head of dirty-white frothiness that hangs around awhile.

S: Sweet figs, dates, and cherries early are overtaken by vanilla-heavy bourbon and oaky char.

T: It's the same story here; the flavors of sweet dark fruits, cherry, and caramel being covered by vanilla and bourbon.

M: The body is thick with average carbonation and a little heat.

D: Like many barrel-aged beers, the flavors are covered up by bourbon. While I love the taste of bourbon, it would certainly be better if the original flavors of Blithering Idiot were more in play.

Photo of parris
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brownish orange in color, very cloudy and a good amount of carbonation that produces no head.

The smell is my favorite part of this beer. Lots of malt and caramel, honey and maybe a bit of dark booze on the nose.

Big taste, very malty not very sweet, slightly oaky, tastes a bit like rum. No after taste and don't really get any hops.

Thin mouthfeel, noticeable tannins. The bubbles balance the mouthfeel very well.

I'd order this one again if it were part of a flight of 2-4ozers, well made for sure, just a little big for my tastes in a 12 oz serving (on a Monday).

Photo of Jimmys
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: beautiful hazy red. initial pour bears a fluffy head with red hues. clusters of tiny carbonation bubbles keeps a steady head around the sides of the glass.

S: pecan pie. im not even stretching, it smells exactly like pecan pie. tremendous sweetness, cant find any hop aspects, but who needs them with this buet.

T: the oak is so smooth it tastes like marshmallows. honey, almonds, back to that same pecan pie that i got in the nose. pineapple. a touch of alcohol, but i have to search for it. surprising considering the 11.1% ABV name tag (i have one in the cellar to see if it sheds that off).

M: a gentle, soft roll of carbonation. perfect, just let the flavor do the talking.

D: i think some may say this is a bit too sweet. however, i have to disagree. the sweetness is rounded by the oak and frankly it's just a super drinkable english barleywine. being in the mid-atlantic region for a while now i have seen beers from weyerbacher on the shelves for a while. glad i finally got past the shity labels cause the stuff inside the bottle is goood.

Photo of boralyl
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Produces a half inch of off-white head when poured into a tulip glass. It has pretty good retention for a barrel aged beer with such a high abv. It leaves little lacing on the glass, but produces a thick ring as it settles. The beer is clear and has a dark brownish-red hue.

S - It has a pretty complex nose. Immediately there is a strong malt presence along with hints of vanilla, oak and bourbon.

M - Medium in body with moderate carbonation. It has a slightly syrupy feel to it.

T - A little bit of vanilla and oak up front followed by dark fruit, plum specifically. A splash of bourbon comes next. It has some residual sweetness in the finish along with some alcohol burn.

A very well crafted beer. It's very strong but isn't overwhelmed by the barrel flavor. Well worth seeking out.

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear mahogany in color and has a thin ring of off white bubbles lining the edge of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of bourbon and vanilla in the nose.
T: The taste is rather complex and has flavors of bourbon, fruits, malty sweetness, oak and vanilla.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is dangerously drinkable because the alcohol is well masked from the taste.

Photo of dchester
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a watered-down caramel color with a little haze. Smell is very unique... caramel, candied fruit, and sweet bourbon. Taste has the caramel-aged goodness along with a slight pungent tingle of alcohol and bitterness. This beer is very complex and decadent, a "must-have" of PA brews.

Photo of jera1350
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A deep crimson body with a fluffy tan head that moves towards a ring around the outside of the snifter. Some lace slides slowly down the glass.

Sweet, fruity and hoppy with just a wee hint of bourbon barrel.

Big time flavor with lots of layers of complexity. Cavity causing sweetness up front and then moving towards the bitter hops and finishing up with the vanilla and bourbon flavors of the barrel aging. A hot alcohol kick towards the end, but it is not overwhelmingly so. Tons of flavor here from malty to hoppy and bourbon.

Full bodied with some soft and lightly creamy carbonation. The finish is tongue suckingly dry from the barrel aging and hops.

This might be the best barleywine I've ever had. If not, it is near the top. Right now it is a bit hot, but still enjoyably drinkable. Sipper? Yes, but still goes down nicely. Give this a little age and you will have perfection. I will be seeking some more of this out. Very well done Weyerbacher.

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter. Reviewed at cellar temps.

Pours a murky light brown, hinting at amber, with some funky solids floating around in there. Acted like it might form a head when pouring, but some sparse lacing (or what might be theoretically called that) is about all that amounted to.

Nose is very nice - rich, bready caramel notes pour forth, melding with an oaky barrel presence with just a bit of bourbon. Lighter than expected alcohol, though it's certainly there, and a wee bit of maple.

Taste is very nice. Bready caramel is there, loads of brown sugar, with a light underlying fruitiness hinting at apples, a bit of candied orange. Oak is certainly there as well, creating a light drying presence, with a nice bit of spicy alcohol tingle towards the finish. Exhale shows through with some caramel apples, adn a bit of spice bread doused in even more delicious caramel.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, perfectly balanced carbonation provides a light tingle underneath. Light alcohol bite in the back of the throat. Perfect, honestly - the best aspect of the beer.

Phenomenally drinkable as well - 11.1% abv shouldn't go down this easy. Oak does a fantastic job of balancing the richness.

Photo of pdoran10
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour out a deep caramel amber color into a snifter. Three fingers of off white head that leave a hint of lacing.

Smell is caramel and vanilla with a slight alcohol presence.

Taste is plum and caramel malt. Slight to moderate booze presence. Nice smooth vanilla and roast from the barrrel aging. Smooth, but a bit hot.

Mouthfeel is thick with moderate carbonation. No complaints here.

A bit hot and heavy, but really nice flavors still make this beer a still a winner... tiger blood, Adonis DNA.

Photo of jayhawk73
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark crimson color w/ a caramel head that quickly goes away. The smell is bourbon... and it smells great. Taste of this beer is fairly amazing- never really had anything like this before. Bourbon, cherries, caramel, malt. The taste is like a roller coaster- it takes you on an awesome ride. There's a definite bourbon/alcohol aftertaste to this one as well. But it's not overpowering- and pretty smooth. This one's a sipper at 11.1% ABV, but it goes down pretty easy. One bottle of this will be enough for me tonight. A really nice beer- and one I will pick up again. The taste is really where this beer shines. Cheers...

Photo of woosterbill
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Prime 16 into an Old Engine Oil tulip.

A: Clear deep persimmon body with a half-inch head of fine tan bubbles that recede into a persistent ring. Very nice looking barleywine, especially for an on-tap pour.

S: Vanilla, caramel, candied raisins, bourbon, oak, and some warm alcohol. Just lovely.

T: Follows the nose precisely: bourbon, vanilla, caramel, dark fruits, and a massively boozy finish. A little harsh, but delicious.

M: Fairly lively full body; the ample carbonation goes a long way toward cutting through the sweetness, but prevents the flavor from being quite as mouth-coatingly intense as it could be. Overall, pretty good.

D: As tasty as this is, the heat really takes its toll.

Notes: Great beer, plain and simple. I could have dealt with a bit less booze and (potentially paradoxically, I know) a bit more bourbon. The barrels are clearly there, but their contribution isn't as pronounced as it is in some other BBBWs. Still, this is a great treat, and at happy-hour pricing it's an absolute steal.


Photo of tone77
2.81/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty, cloudy amberish color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mostly of alcohol, some fruits are apparent. Taste is strong of alcohol, some malts and fruits, strong tasting. Feels light in the mouth and drinkability is not good. Overall this beer was a bit overpowering for my tastes, alcohol was not well hidden.

Photo of Pahn
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Prime 16 in New Haven. Served in a tulip.

Appearance: Bartender leaves a fluffy one inch head that sticks up above the glass and dissipates slowly. Pours a hazy red orange and leaves big splotches of lacing. Nice.

Smell: Some sweet malt, bourbon, and a small cola-like note. Faint dark fruit and a hint of molasses. As it warms, the same small smoky/roasted note that subtly elevates the flavor comes out in the nose and does the same thing there.

Taste: Lots of bourbon with a sweet caramel malt and bready backbone. A straightforward, simple--maybe even simplistic--but well done barleywine with a strong bourbon influence. Some smoke and chocolate/roasted malt seems to show up in the finish and works great with the noticeable (but not distracting) heat to temper the sweetness of the beer and enrich the flavor.

This is one of those beers you "get" pretty much right away. It may be a big, aged barleywine, but it's not mysterious or complex: it's oaky vanilla, bourbon, sweet and straightforward malt, sufficient bitterness, a little smoke, a little heat. The thing is, everything that is happening in the flavor is contributing something good to the overall experience.

Mouthfeel: Thinner side of medium bodied, very carbonated. I'm leaning toward 3.5 since I would prefer it to be a bit heavier, creamier, and less noticeably carbonated, but unlike many beers of this ABV and style, it avoids any really harmful pitfalls (stickiness, excessive dryness, excessive heat). It's not a memorable mouthfeel, but it's also without any overt flaws.

Drinkability: This beer delivers. I enjoyed spending a good 45 minutes on this 12~oz glass, and won't hesitate to order Insanity again (or pick up a 4pk). Extra points for the well hidden alcohol, and extra praise for generously distributing such a well done bourbon barrel aged barleywine so widely and at a fair price.

It's not really that aptly named, but Insanity is a solid, no frills, well done barrel aged barleywine. I usually want a little more depth, a little more creamy feel from a barrel aged barleywine or stout, but I also usually pay twice the price as Insanity and I usually get a more flawed beer.

(If you're thinking, "Hey, Insanity is $14~/4pk, what do you mean fair price??" this is a quality barrel aged beer for around $.30/ounce, vs say Uinta's Cockeyed Cooper, which sells for around $.60/ounce. CC is better, in my opinion, but we're talking *double* the price.)

Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 2,073 ratings.