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Insanity - Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

896 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 896
Hads: 2,258
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 10.12%
Wants: 210
Gots: 494 | FT: 26
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Insanity Alström Bros
Reviews: 896 | Hads: 2,258
Photo of Donco
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Given some of the reviews, I am pleasantly surprised. This is an above-average-not-quite top of the line English Barleywine. Very well balanced with a pleasing dark fruit and bourbon/oak flavor. Smooth and very drinkable. Recommended as one doesn't see too many of this variety in 12 oz. bottles. (296 characters)

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, deep mahogany color, speckled with red and orange highlights, and a quarter of a finger of white-colored head that almost immediately dissolve away into nothing.

Aroma: Very aromatic with strong aromas of toasted malt, imparting notes of freshly toasted English muffins, followed by some notes of candied sugar, toffee, maple syrup, dried stone fruit such as raisins, figs, prunes, vanilla, and a touch of bourbon and oak.

Taste: Absolutely delicious! Strong notes of toasted malt up front, immediately followed by flavors of dried stone fruit, candied sugar, and a lot of maple syrup-like sweetness, some vanilla an caramel, toffee, and slightly bitter notes of bourbon and hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium to slightly chewy and very, very smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 11.1%, there is a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Wow, what an excellent barleywine! Weyerbacher’s Blithering Idiot Barleywine is fantastic, but this is even better! The bourbon barrel-aging has really elevated the great Blithering Idiot into an absolutely excellent beer. I can’t wait to see what it is like with some age on it over the next few years. (1,291 characters)

Photo of uvachief
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter glass. This is strong ABV English Barley Wine but you would never know it by the taste. Hidden ridiculously well. You definitely taste the oak bourbon as well as malt, dark fruit like dates or prunes even and vanilla. Lighter and thinner that you would expect. Very smooth and mellow. Aftertaste is very subtle but mainly malt and dark fruit with a hint of bourbon. Just a hint though. Really smooth. (450 characters)

Photo of predikit
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark burnt orange, with insubstantial head that maintained a surface presence for a long time.

Smells like ripened fruit, fig, dates, banana peel.

Taste is not to my liking. The alcohol bursts forth unrestrained with a bit of a menthol, strong oak flavors. Toffee and cream, vanilla. This is very complex but just does not agree with me. I've never been one to consider a drain pour, but this is awfully close. Though I tried a subsequent bottle after letting it warm up. It lost a lot of the flavor spread but it made drinking it a lot more bearable.

Medium body, low carbonation. Finishes with alcohol and vanilla/oak combo.

Overall I wouldn't go near this again. (677 characters)

Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%

Pours a deep reddish orange with a thin head that trails the glass. The smell has a bit of alcohol in it with some sweet fruits such as plum coming through on the nose. The taste was quite nice with vanilla and alcohol burn in the beginning before mellowing out. Not bad but a bit too abrasive for me. (301 characters)

Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.71/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Bold reddish copper color, cast with a haze so thick it makes the beer almost opaque. A short head of off-white, fading quickly, but with extensive lacing.

S - Strong notes of alcohol and wood, underpinned with a subtle note of corruption. It is subtle, though, and mostly the nose is consistent with a barrel.

T - Following the nose, the primary hit is of bourbon and wood, char and oak. Like the nose, there are off notes, in this case metallic in nature, but these are again subtle. A bit of a sour note on the close.

M - Moderate to low carbonation and high alcohol. The burn keeps the sweeter elements from becoming too cloying.

O - The elements here seem to be interesting enough, but small flaws keep this from being something I wholly endorse. I think there are a lot of good qualities, the oak and bourbon notes are full and delicious, but the end result is not harmonious. (896 characters)

Photo of JdoubleA
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

As an English Barleywine this doesn't score as high as it should. I'd tick my review up a bit as an old ale. The body just isn't there and really lacks if you are drinking it beside other great barleywines. (208 characters)

Photo of Roguer
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful shade of reddish-brown, but with an incredible amount of suspended particulate. Nice tan head, good retention for the style. Brew seems light, but I can't see through it at all.

Big bourbon notes, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and coconut; a great balance of strong malts and barrel aging. Not overpowering on the aroma.

Very interesting flavor: fruity and sweet up front, boozy and bourbon-y on the back-end. Caramel and toffee are present in abundance, but there's a surprising amount of grape and cherry in there. Vanilla and a medicinal cherry kick round it out, while the bourbon brings it all home. Slightly sweet bubblegum yeast flavor.

Slightly hot beer (expected at 11%). Other than that, oily and silky.

This is a very solid BBA barleywine. It's not up there with the best in class (Abacus, BCBBW), but it's definitely a tasty beer. (856 characters)

Photo of threeviews
4.86/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle (bottled on: 12/11/2013, besty by: 12/11/2018) into a Rastal Teku 2.0 stemmed glass

A- Depending on how the light strikes the sediment floating about (and your visual perspective), Insanity pours a deep ruby red and/or copper color and sports a sturdy, 1-finger's worth of an off-white (verging on khaki) head. Considering the ABV, head retention is quite strong and even after subsiding, a significant film coasts the surface (non-nucleated glass). Considering the fact that the beer is both barrel-aged and bottle conditioned, the appearance is quite attractive. (4.25)

S- Although quite pungent, its complexity makes it difficult to categorize. In short, the aroma is mostly Bourbon barrel and whiskey-soaked fruits. Vanilla, oak, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, ripened berries, raisins, plums, dates, overripe melon and honey. (5.0)

T- Just as complex and massive as the nose suggests...even more so! Add to the aforementioned medley of aromas the slight presence of milk chocolate in the flavor. Drink this one on the warmer side to elicit all of the flavors. (4.75)

M- Full bodied and creamy. The bottle conditioning is not only responsible for giving this beer an amazing mouthfeel, the aromas maintain on the surface throughout consumption. (5.0)

O- Simply put...this is one of the best barrel-aged beers I have ever sampled. Not being an especially huge fan of English-style barleywines, the bourbon barrel-aging adds a character that elevates an already proven beer to mythical heights. The appearance, complexities in both aroma and flavor as well as its silky mouthfeel culminate to make Insanity one intensely enjoyable drinking experiences. After reading, it should come as no surprise that my overall impression of Insanity is nearly perfect. Weyerbacher continues to impress and cannot wait until they release the next batch! (5.0) (1,863 characters)

Photo of RickS95
4.51/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance alone lets you know this beer means business. It's about the color of the little Brach's caramel cubes. A medium brown with some copper notes around the edges. You can see the richness because it's murky. The head is frothy and dirty yellow. It retains well, never fully dying. A thin lace follows each sip.

Smell is a bit lacking. For such a strong beer, you'd think everything would be aggressive, but the scent is not. A bit of caramel malt if you really get your nose in there, and somewhat floral, but little else. Not bad smells, just not enough of what's there.

Oh wow. It's good. The English barleywines are far more sophisticated than ours. Caramel and toffee lead the way. Some dark fruits at mid-sip. Really, only the oak from the barrels in the finish. The alcohol is very well masked and there's little in the way of hop presence.

Hard to believe an 11.1% ABV beer can be so smooth. Very rich with some sweet and floral notes. The dark fruits really hit the spot. Full-bodied and more like a kitten than a tiger. So easy to drink. Slight heat in the finish.

Overall, I'd not guessed this to be any kind of barleywine. It goes down easily, but watch out for that ABV. Really an exceptional beer. (1,226 characters)

Photo of Lordhelmit
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75


A - Really not much to speak of here. Medium-dark brown color, a bit hazy. Pours with a decent enough tan head which is not very persistent.

S - Straight whiskey. Smells like a mix of bourbon/whiskey. That is truly about all I could smell, maybe a hint of the oak. Mostly whiskey. ...I love whiskey.

T - Hard to beat. Tastes like a sort of caramel candy, with hints of pomegranate/raisin-ish, and a hint of oak. Pretty noticeable fruity taste, but not overpowering. Kind of like apple cider.

M - Definitely full bodied. Nice and thick. Also hard to beat.

O - A great brew. At 11% abv too, this is one I will deifnitely be buying again. Very nice. (658 characters)

Photo of keithmurray
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - murky brown liquid with light tan head, lots of sediment

Smell - toffee, coconut, oak

Taste - caramel, toffee, oak, coconut

Mouthfeel - full bodied, low carbonation, a bit of harshness and astringency upfront from the barrel and the booze, warming effect on the way down

Overall - was hoping that this would change my mind about barleywines, but to no avail. Just not a style that I can get into

Price Point - $3.99/12 oz single (446 characters)

Photo of gillagorilla
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Burley Oak snifter

A: Hazy dark copper brown with a minimal head even when swirled. No lacing.

S: Caramel and roasted sweet malts with toffee. A fair bit of oak is blended with the previous smells along with an underlying bourbon. Definitely some dates as well. Turns to mostly bourbon as it warms.

T: Quite a bit of bourbon. Too much in fact for me. It remind me a lot of BCBBW in fact, but with less body and ABV. That one had some extra flavor with the bourbon, but this is mostly bourbon. Pretty sweet from some decadent malts. Kind of a one note for me.

M: Smooth with a bourbon-esque body.

O: Too much bourbon for me. I could really go for a Hell on Wood in fact. Good if you like bourbon. If you can't get some BCBBW, grab some of this. (778 characters)

Photo of Hopswagger
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P: Murky mud brown body like sludge run off with a minimal taupe head that fades quick. Snail trail lacing.

S: Overripe pineapple nearly rotten, sulfur farts, sour milk, subtle banana phenol, agave nectar, prunes, corn syrup, hints of berries and bourbon soaked wood.

T/M: Melted toffee, thick butterscotch that sticks to the roof of your mouth, buttery almonds, cardboard, bitter apple peels, banana, brown sugar, loads of killed barley and a slight chalkiness on the end. Mouthfeel is sticky and thick like a dentists nightmare and the carbonation is at a dull roar that keeps the thickness going.

O: Caution this may cause a diabetic comma. I imagine this is pretty close to drinking pancake syrup from the bottle. Sweet, thick, sticky malt at every angle of this brew. Nice bitterness at the end to round it all off. I love the oaked presence that brings in the bourbon presence. I'm anxious to try two vintages side by side. Cheers! (942 characters)

Photo of PorterLambic
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a cloudy, coppery brown color. Some light still gets thru at the bottom of the glass making it kind of luminescent looking. Tan head develops then disappears quickly to nothing. Of course, no lace here.
Smell is rich, malty, oak, raisins, with lighter notes of grape and floral. Balance is quite good.
Taste is equally rich, like Warren Buffett rich. Notes of malt, oak, smoke, raisin & dates, bourbon, with a faint floral presence. Balance is phenomenal.
Full bodied, light-ish, but tart, effervescence. Warming from the start, a serious sipping beer. I imagine this is the closest I'll get to an after-dinner whiskey. A truly amazing brew. Get one, or seven, and share with friends on a cold winter night and you will be very happy. (740 characters)

Photo of martyl1000
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was good, but . . . (see final paragraph for a disclaimer). From a bottle that was a little too cold, into a tulip glass. Certainly a classic looking pour. It was a lovely copper haze, with a soft slow head and surprisingly little lacing, even though one could see how sticky it was on the glass.

The aroma was somewhat of a disappointment. Even 15 minutes later when the 5 ounces in my glass had warmed 10°, the aroma was pretty complex, a little fruity, heavy sweet sugar and sulfur and cream.

In the mouth, Insanity does live up to its name, in at least its overall uncertainty -- it didn't seem to know if it wanted to be a landlord's refined butter or movie megaplex "butter flavor".

this review might unfairly be comparing to Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, which I'm drinking side-by-side with the Weyerbacher. The CW body was bigger and its flavor was more pride-worthy (dare I say 'majestic'?)
I'm having this again a year later. I'm having to downgrade my score from last year (4.45). A year ago, I had this brew side-by-side with Central Waters Brewers' Reserve BB Barley Wine. The Insanity is not even in the same ballpark as the CW. The Insanity has a metallic flavor that really kills the joy of a barrel-aged barley wine.

It's good, certainly. But not good enough to put in the cellar. (1,346 characters)

Photo of hopflyer
3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 1/22/13.

Last one of a 4 pack night last year. I thought the first three consumed fresh were way too boozy for my liking. Aged the last one. Here goes.

Pours brownish orange, hazy. Slow decant pour to leave dregs in bottle left no head.

Aroma is bourbon whisky through and through. Maybe bubble gum like as well.

First taste is still almost like a shot of whisky to me. The year has subdued the booze some but it still the prevalent taste here. Some caramel like malts in the background and a little bit of sugary sweetness appears once past the initial booze bomb. Bourbon becomes tame as my palate gets used to it. Getting almost like a caramel candy apple like taste. Not much in the way of hops and little to no bitterness.

Low carb and moderate body. Fits the bill with this.

Once past the initial bourbon assault on the first few sips, the backbone of this one really opens up. The booziness backs if but lingers enough to balance the sweetness. Definitely liking this now more than my initial tastes last year. Not sure if it's the age of the beer or my palate changing. Will re-visit this one fresh again to find out. (1,139 characters)

Photo of JayQue
3.84/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Good one. I let this beer age for a year or so, don't know if it made any difference for the review. Pours a hazy ice-tea brown color. It takes a hard pour, but you can get a medium size light tan head with average retention. Thin bands of lace are visible on the glass.

Smell is quite good. This is a malty beer with plenty of aroma from the oak. Some toffee here as well.

Taste is very good. The oak is the most prominent flavor backing up a somewhat sweet malty beer. Toffee is evident as well with a light alcohol warming finish.

Mouthfeel is rich, mostly creamy and smooth with a little alcohol bite.

This is a one-and done-beer but the one goes down very easily. A potent but very approachable beer. (709 characters)

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into fluted snifter; deep ruby, clear, with a fluffy yellow-cream head that descends relatively quickly leaving a nice slick ring of foam.
Smells of dark fermented fruit, sweet caramel and toffee malt, raisin bread, bourbon.
Tastes of sweet, bready toffee malt with bourbon, dark fruit, and slight spice.
Mouthfeel is surprising; it starts out slick and sticky, but then transitions into a fluffy quad-like feel. Awesome twist!
Overall, very glad I picked this one up. My girlfriend kept insisting I had had it before, but I didn't think I had and I was correct. Good thing...it's awesome! An english barleywine that drinks like a quad. (646 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a dark auburn tinted brown body with a strong boozy/bourbon like aroma mixed with sugary sweet maltiness (caramel, toffee) and a little bit of woodiness and I think a hint of dark fruit (I am leaning towards figs). Beer is full-bodied and thick, not really sticky so it goes down smooth like velvet, there's some bourbon and woodiness in here so it's smooth and boozy. I get taste notes of vanilla, figs, possibly plum, toffee, caramel and the finish is a little hot but it's more complimentary than distracting. All in all a very enjoyable barleywine. (559 characters)

Photo of _solskei
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super ale, cannot say anything bad about this one. It's great at room temperature or a little cooler. It does get better as it sits in the glass. The reddish tint and lighter aroma is quite devious, it packs a punch! The bourbon is near perfect for the price at $14.99 x 4 12oz. (278 characters)

Photo of PeterParker
3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep brownish ruby. No head and very little lacing.

Smells of candied fruits, figs, bourbon, and some booze.

Tastes sweet, not overly sweet though. Follows the smell: bourbon, fruity, sweetness, wuth a bit of alcohol burn.

Thin with very minimal carbonation.

Middle of the road barleywine. Still pretty good but doesn't really stand out. (349 characters)

Photo of gr0g
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Relatively fresh bottle, dated 12/17/2013. Pours reddish-brown (or mahogany, if you like), clear, with a short head of fine bubbles. Some spotty lacing. Aroma is packed with sugary malt character Bourbon-barrel character. Lots of vanilla and oak, with toffee and candy apple to lesser extent. A noticeable fusel alcohol note is the only knock against it.

Barrel aging adds great complexity to the flavor, with Bourbon, vanilla, and woodiness complementing but not overpowering. Plenty of malt sugars come through, but the sweetness is held in check and doesn't become cloying. Soft carbonation complements the flavor nicely, and the texture has appropriate heft and stickiness. "Drinkability" is good for a Barleywine this potent.

A damn good offering from Weyerbacher and certainly worth seeking out. At $15-16 for a 4-pack, the price per fluid ounce is quite good for a quality barrel-aged ale. While it's no Sucaba or BCBBW, it's a rather fine substitute. (960 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased from Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a murky, muddy dark brown. One inch head, with not much lacing.

Smells include brown sugar, toffee, caramel and bourbon.

Similar tastes- with a strong bourbon kick up front, some oak, vanilla, and the aforementioned flavors from the aroma- rich malt flavors of brown sugar, toffee, and caramel. Finishes pretty boozy and strong. Alcohol is definitely felt, so some age will probably help this one.

Medium bodied, a little too thin for a barrel-aged barleywine, but still fine anyway. Low carbonation, creamy, sticky, sweet mouthfeel.

A great BA barleywine- a thicker body and less alcohol presence would put it in the elite ranks. (711 characters)

Photo of don1481
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (998 characters)

Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 896 ratings.