AleSmith Wee Heavy - Barrel Aged - AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Wee Heavy - Barrel AgedAleSmith Wee Heavy - Barrel Aged

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115 Reviews
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Reviews: 115
Hads: 386
Avg: 4.3
pDev: 7.91%
Wants: 310
Gots: 129 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: scottoale on 04-08-2006

This was barrel aged and limited to 234 hand numbered bottles from the 2004 batch of Wee Heavy and released in 2005.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 115 | Hads: 386
Photo of alcstradamus
4.02/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

Pours a deep brown color with a half finger of head. At first it looked fairly still, but eventually those bubbles rose up and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The smell is a heavy dose of sweet malts, dark fruit, and barrel complexities. The two most dominating scents seemed to be raisin and toffee. There is some dark bread, vanilla, traces of oak, caramel, and noticeable alcohol. Deeply complex and inviting, this one was a beauty to shove my nostrils into.

The taste is pretty sweet, maybe even more than expected. But it is not cloying in any way. Lots of toffee was picked up from the barrels and not really much alcohol burn. Notes of Coca Cola Classic, vanilla, and prune juice help round out a unique flavor profile that is hard to decipher.

The mouthfeel is the weakest part of this beer. I expect a wee heavy to be full bodied and rich. This is medium bodied and lacks sufficient carbonation giving it a somewhat watery nature. I would never even guess it was a wee heavy if I didn't already know, it comes off as more of a barrel aged English barleywine. I'm sure the time spent in the barrels contributed to the thinning of it.

Drinkability is solid for a beer of this ABV. This could be a world class beer if there was either more body or a better level of carbonation. But as it is, that glaring weakness has a negative effect on the taste and overall enjoyment. Nonetheless, this is still a fine beer and one I'm glad I had the privilege to consume.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage. Shared by corby112 at ipa247's recent sour tasting. Thanks Craig.

A: Pours a very dark, maroon brown body. Nearly opaque in the glass. It develops a short-lived white head, with a thin collar and scattered film on the top.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, toffee chocolate, oak.

T: It's bourbon-dominant, and you get that right up front, but it is not overwhelmingly bourbon-y. It's quite easy to find the base beer underneath, manifesting as caramel, toffee, chocolate. I pick up hints of smoke that I didn't get in the nose. The finish is nicely tannic with a light spice character, and some vanilla. The astringency of the oak makes me feel the beer is slightly dry.

M: Tannic, slightly dry finish. It's very warm, but not hot.

D: Surprisingly drinkable! It was a little sweet for me, but I'd have no trouble drinking more of it and enjoying it.

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Photo of corby112
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BigFish for sending this to me in one of my first trades.

This review is for the 2006 vintage, bottle 150/254.

Pours a very dark chestnut brown color that's completely opaque with dark ruby/mahogany edges when held to a light source and a thin half finger light beige head that quickly fades into a thin lasting ring.

Amazing complex aroma with lots of smokey roasted chocolate malt, caramel, toffee, roasted coffee bean, licorice, earthy oak, vanilla and a very prominent bourbon presence.

Slightly hot medium body with a nice, silky viscous malt presence with lots of chocolate, roasted coffee bean, burnt toast, caramel and licorice. Very roasty with subtle hops and a huge bourbon presence that is slightly hot and somewhat dominates the flavor. It isn't too overpowering however, allowing the other notes to shine. Slight tannis and a heavy oak and vanilla presence. Absolutely delicious! Highly recommended.

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Photo of Lothore
4.07/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage 164/234

A- Pours a deep ruddy brown hue with a very small fizzy head.

S- LOTS of deep bourbon notes with dark fruit sneaking its way through.

T- The most bourbon i've ever tasted in a beer all the way through, earthy tones, undertones of dark fruit.

M- Thick with low carbonation.

D- A huge, bourbony beer that has held up well these years.

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Photo of bamadog
3.92/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review is from notes taken on 10/13/2009. Thanks to Pwoods for his generosity in sharing something like this. I've never seen this one and may never see it again, so it's pretty special. Pour is from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a very deep brown, bordering on black; body seems nearly opaque and shows the occasional bubble or two popping on the surface; no head to speak of; oily and spotty residue clings thickly to the sides; some sediment lingering on the bottom of the glass.

Smell: Deep, toasty and carmalized maltiness; definite presence of alcoholic vapor; slight woodiness and a bit of a sweet vannilla presence as well.

Taste: Strong presence of stringent alcohol and a hefty dose of wood; malts are much more subdued in the mouth.

Mouthfeel: The body seems a little thinner to me than Alesmith's standard Wee Heavy; still oily and slick and provides plenty of stick throughout the mouth.

Drinkability: ABV is burny and kind of high - definitely a sipper; the maltiness doesn't seem especially well blended with the woodiness and the alcohol, but still pretty solid. I think I actually prefer the regular Wee Heavy from them.

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Photo of kels
4.37/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was really excited to get to try this when pwoods opened it up at a recent tasting. The regular Alesmith Wee Heavy is one of my all-time favorites, and this one proved to be just as excellent. Not one you see everyday...

Pours into the snifter a honey-highlighted shade of medium brown. There are light glimmers of red throughout that catch the light despite the haziness of the liquid. Lots of viscosity is apparent in the look of the beer, as the alcohol separates out a little in suspension in the syrupy brew.

The first word that comes to mind when smelling the beer is "perfumey." It has an almost delicate aroma that makes me think of perfume. There are sweet, dark fruits in the scent, along with the earthy presence of the oak and the bourbon. Slightly sweet from the malts and a little bit of roast, possibly a combination of the barrels and the malts.

From the first sip to the last this beer is exceptionally caramelly, rich and not-too-sweet. The barrel-aging complements the earthy quality of the style. It adds an additional dimension that breaks up the heaviness. It is strangely tart and bright in the taste, which is probably due in part to the moderate amount of carbonation in the beer. The carbonation also keeps the stickiness from weighing down the beer, and it finishes nearly clean. This beer almost reminds me more of a wine in the way it drinks. A very highly alcoholic wine.

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Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage. Bottle 98/254. Consumed on 9/27/2009 and then again on 10/10/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer is dark reddish brown with a frothy one finger off white head.

The nose is prominent caramel malt with subtle sugary notes. Bourbon is noticeable but it's dominant or really even very strong. Some oxidation is present, and it becomes increasingly apparent with warming. A touch of smoke is evident, as well as strong alcohol and subtle dark fruit notes.

The taste is caramel with toffee and a moderate sherry-like oxidation. The malt is rich with a low level of lingering hop bitterness. The beer tastes stronger than the listed 9.5%. I detect raisins, dates, and plums. Booze is strong in the sweet finish. The beer is high medium bodied with an upper level of low carbonation and a thick, smooth mouthfeel.

The first bottle I had was stored in a cupboard so the oxidation was quite pronounced, but the second bottle I drank on 10/10 was my own and had been stored at 55 degrees since the release. Oxidation was still a bit too strong to be complimentary. This beer is past its prime. Drink it now if you have it.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
4.52/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage poured before the BA Blackout release party. Thanks to one of the Cincy guys (Was it Rich?) for cracking this one. From the notes:

A: Pours a deep caramel color on the border of opaque and translucent. Little head on the pour which quickly died to a few splotches and a thin ring around the glass.

S: Big whiff of bourbon hits your nose with a sweet vanilla oakiness blended with the rich peaty toffee malt aroma.

T: Much like the nose, not as big as I thought it would be. Bourbon is very pleasant with the toffee and peat laden maltiness. Rich sweetness but not too much, nicely balanced.

M: Medium body with adequate carbonation. Could have been a bit thicker for my tastes but still very nice slick mouthfeel overall.

D: Damn good. I love the non BA version, and I now love this one too. I would have no problem taking care of a bottle by myself.

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Photo of pwoods
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wetherel for this great bottle.

750ml capped green bottle poured into a little snifter.

A: Pours a deep murky brown completely opaque. Moderate head on the pour without much retention. Some spotty lacing.

S: Deep woody and earthy aromas. Bourbon is there but not huge, adding some heat and alcohol depth.

T/M: Lots of rich, deep malts. Very earthy, fiberous wood. Bourbon is very tasty with light heat. No smoke or peat which is good here. Carbonation is pretty low and I think it could use a bit more.

D: Definitely a slow sipper, tasty though.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow wow wow. Thank you so much, Greg, this along with the 06 silk screen BA Speedway was a definite treat this past weekend. This was the 06 release

Gorgeous clear ruby red with red highlights. A thin beige head is present but doesn't stick around too long. The nose is just flat out fabulous. An exceptional combination of oxidation, tobacco, caramel, bourbon, vanilla, oak, charred wood, rum and raisins and sherry. This really is a beer of exceptional depth. The palate doesn't quite live up, though. Opening up with a ton of caramel, cherry there is some toffee, vanilla and bourbon mid palate, and it sticks around until a long and exquisite finish with tobacco, caramel and sherry. Medium in body with mild carbonation, this is extremely smooth and drinkable. Unfortunately, it's going to be a while - if ever - that I get to try this again.

**Edit 16 Sept 2011**

The other night, I split a bottle of the 09 vintage that I received from peteinsd with some friends. Very briefly, this was excellent. Fruity with raisins, port, honey bourbon and vanilla, the balance between the base beer and the barrels is exceptionally done here. Fantastic. 4.5/4.5/4.5/5/4.5

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Photo of MasterSki
3.92/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Big thanks to HopHead84 for this treat - '06 vintage. Served in a goblet.

A - Poured with a faint dime-sized wisp of foam that dissipated pretty quickly. Semi-sold ring around the fringes with nice legs.Transparent dark mahogany color that glows when held to the light.

S - Intense caramel, dark fruits, vanilla and butterscotch, light sherry-like oxidation that works well within the flavor profile. The smell is very boozy, and I suspect the barrel-aging added a few percent above the regular 9.5%.

T - The taste is much smoother, and while it's much more drinkable than I suspected from the smell it smooths out some of the richness and complexity in the aroma. Lots of toffee, tannic finish. I think this might be past its prime.

M - Medium sticky body, low carbonation, mouth-coating film. It's style appropriate, but nothing special.

D - One glass was enough - glad I got to try it, and I'd be interested in trying a new batch, but this seems to be on the decline.

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Photo of tpd975
4.89/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Huge Huge Huge thanks to fishingnet for this one. 06 Version Bottle 163/254

A: Pours a murky amber hue with a small offwhite head. Very little retention and no real lace.

S: Wonderful barrelific aromas. Tons of fresh oak, vanilla, and wafty booze. Subtle smoky aromas hide beneath with brown sugar coated dark fruits.

T: Alesmith knows how to barrel age beers. As we all know the base beer for this one is world class to start with. The great part is the base beer is still there. Wonderful sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, and toffee can all be picked out. The barrel does push it to another level though. The way the oak, vanilla, and booze seem to meld into the base beer is perfect.

M: Full in body, rich, smooth, wonderful.

D: I could sip this one all night long.

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Photo of gford217
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Derek for this 750mL bottle, 2005 vintage #181/222.

Pours a deep, clear copper with a very fleeting, bubbly tan head that dissipated immediately and left no lacing.

The aroma is very good with more bourbon than I was expecting. However, even with the big bourbon presence, there are plenty of signs of the underlying beer with caramel, toffee and lots of dark fruits.

The taste has a huge bourbon sting up front and in the finish. In between there is the sweetness of caramel, toffee, raisins and some brown sugar. The bourbon starts to meld much more smoothly with the flavor as this warms and adds plenty of oak and vanilla from the wood as well.

The mouthfeel is very slick with minimal carbonation. The barrel presence is very evident, both with the boozy burn and the dryness of the finish.

This is a very boozy Scotch ale that will be tasty for those folks who really like a bourbon-heavy taste. Another world class brew from Alesmith.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From seaoflament in a trade. Thanks!

2005 bottle, #217/222, poured in a big wine glass at 57 F/ 14 C.

The coloring is fully revealed by a complete lack of head. Deep reddish coffee brown fades to a golden brown topaz around the edges, quite attractive, crowned by a very thin ring of tiny bubbles, and basically no lacing. Almost no perceivable carbonation, but the bottle did release a gentle hiss when opened.

Aroma of caramel and bourbon barrel - almost just like a particularly caramelly bourbon with a tobacco aspect, minus most of the alcohol. The malt and the bourbon barrel are fused seamlessly and deliciously, with notes of light roast coffee, raisins, vanilla, and something immediately and surprisingly evocative of yellow curry.

The flavor shouts "I am barleywine!", driven by sweet, sticky, dark caramel. The bourbon barrel certainly makes its presence known, but it is balanced and very well integrated, more restrained in the flavor than it is in the aroma. Coffee, tobacco, raisins, mixed spices, and a bit of chocolate, all steeped in dark bourbony caramel. Good long finish, with the malt eventually giving way to dry, very mildly bitter, spicy wood in the very end.

The apparent lack of carbonation is compensated for by a full, thick, silky maltiness. This is no thirst-quenching quaffer of course, but is a pleasure to drink nonetheless. The deeper I drink of this, the more entangled I become in a web of pleasure it spins about my soul, so that I desire to drink deeply of it endlessly and endlessly.

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Photo of Viggo
4.37/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml BA version, big thanks to PHawk for hooking me up at a DLD trade, side by side with the regular version, part of return of the DrJay epic weekend tasting.

Pours like the non BA version, lightly hazed dark reddish brown, big thick tan head forms, drops a nice amount of lacing, good retention, forms a solid ring. Smell is great, bourbon, toffee, vanilla and oak, iron, lots of fruit, lots of fig and raisin, brown sugar, bread, real nice and integrated. Taste is figs and bourbon up front, toffee, oak, butterscotch/toffee, alcohol, melons, vanilla, great maltiness, some sour oak character in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, really smooth, slightly dry finish, some oaky tannins going on. Very well integrated, Alesmith certainly know how to barrel age to perfect, great beer. Thanks Parker!

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Photo of badbeer
4.2/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Bottle:

Very dark amber color with an off-white head. Head quickly disappeared and left very little retention. Smell is boozy, caramel, toffee, and butterscotch. Taste has caramel, butterscotch, bourbon, smoke, dark fruits, and vanilla. Carbonation was light, body was medium. A very nice barrel aged beer. I'd love to drink this more regularly, but obviously it isn't possible. Thanks to doubleo for the bottle!

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Photo of DrJay
4.33/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 Biergotter Tasting - Day 3. Big thanks to Viggo for cracking this one. 2006, bottle 56/254.
Dark brown, lightly hazed, with coppery and purple highlights. A fine collar of beige bubbles formed after the pour and produced a fair bit of spotty lacing. Good head retention. Aromas were of caramel and plums, toffee, bourbon and booze, vanilla, wood, and tobacco leaf. Low bitterness with a rich flavour. Sweet plums, chocolate covered raisins, sweet cherries and malt, a bit of woody oak, milder alcohol than expected, and a little tartness in the finish. Leaning towards full bodied with low carbonation, very fine bubbles, alcohol warmth, and a dry finish. This stuff was really good, a nice combination of fruit and barrel notes. Well balanced and tasty.

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Photo of flexabull
4.37/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Bottle 128/254 courtesy of metallitone1, thanks again!

The reason for opening this one? The Steelers winning the AFC North sounds like a good enough reason to me!

Pours a very dark brown color with a subtle off white head.

Aromas are very nutty, a bit sweet, brown sugar like, with a definite bourbon and oak note.

Taste is at first very earthy. Some oak, wood, and toasted nuts on the fore front. Beer then settles into some sweet malt flavors, it's creamy, with some dark sugars, a touch of chocolate, and just the slightest touch of bourbon. Finish is a little boozy, with a touch of alcohol warmth. Overall, this is quite full flavored, but not at all overly heavy.

Mouthfeel is good. But the more I drink, the more I think that this is a bit weak for the style. It just needs a little more thickness and lasting power. Not bad, but a little flawed.

Drinkability is surprisingly very good. What a nice beer! It's not nearly the big heavy beast I thought it would be. I actually was kind of hoping for a brash and heavy bourbon laced brew. And this wasn't it. This was malty sweet, light oaky booze goodness. This is an excellent beer that I am glad I got to taste.

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Photo of grub
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Biergotter Tasting, Day 3: Barleywines and Others. Viggo contributed this one. thanks eric!

750ml bottle topped with gold foil. 2006 vintage, #56/254.

pours deep brown with a few garnet highlights when held to the light. a small dense tan head forms, dropping fairly fast and leaving lots of spotty lace.

aroma is great. bourbon, vanilla, and oak. toasted multi-grain bread. biscuit. cracker. burnt caramel. toffee. light alcohol. earthy. bit of dark fruit.

taste is great. dark fruit. bourbon. vanilla. oak. bit of dark chocolate. caramel and toffee. biscuit. wheat bread. low bitterness level. mellower than the fresh one, but with a bit more fruit and the added barrel character.

mouthfeel is great. medium-low carbonation level. just over medium body. silky smooth.

drinkability is great. excellent balance of the base beer, excellent balance between the base beer and the barrel character. great stuff.

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Photo of jpiper
4.62/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 42/254 - shared with my wife. Boy does she love these non-hoppy Alesmiths.

Builds just the smallest tan head upon pouring with lace remaining through the session. A muted grayish caramel brown color to the beer.

The nose is malty. Caramel malt, oak, and lots of it. One of the more delicious smelling beers I can remember pouring.

The taste can't be as good, and it isn't quite. But it is delicious. There's some good balancing bitterness to this malty brew, but perhaps a little too much. Someone said peat - I can taste and smell that too. Honey? Definitely oak, toasted malts. Let it site between sips and the bitterness lingers longer than I'd hope. Alcohol very well hidden. The flavors are well mingled.

Minor carbonation barely tickles the tongue and the oak makes it incredibly smooth. Not chewey, but not thin. Just smooth, smooth, smooth.

Drinkability? I could sip on this all night long. Almost wish my wife weren't downing half of this.

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Photo of hopdog
4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. 2005, bottle # 79/222.

Poured a deep brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of vanilla, oak, earthy, bourbon, chocolate, some peat, and caramel. Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, woody, earthy, toffee, nutty, and chocolate. Thanks for bringing this Jason!

Notes from 12/17/07

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Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 2006 vintage, bottle 63 of 254, drank side by side with the '06 barrel-aged Old Numbskull. Dark ruddy brown in color, opaque except for some slight transparency around the edges. A thin tan head forms from a vigorous pour, settling quickly to a ring. This is slightly more carbonated than the barrel-aged Old Numbskull, but it's by no means bubbly.

Smell: Rich and malty with a big oak barrel presence. Nutty, toasty, semi-sweet. Hints of vanilla and figs. This has a cleaner aroma than the barrel-aged Old Numbskull.

Taste & mouthfeel: Chewy toasted malt, tobacco and earth, chocolate and vanilla, huge oak flavor but not overtly bourbony. Malty, but drier than I was expecting. This is a mellow beer to begin with, but barrel aging has smoothed it out even more. No heat whatsoever despite the high ABV, and the low carbonation makes for a silky mouthfeel. Excellent stuff, not quite as outstanding as BA Speedway, but clearly better than BA Old Numbskull.

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Photo of paytoplay
4.97/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005, I can see this getting better in 3-5 years, thats how good this brew is. Had never had a regular Wee Heavy from Alesmith for some reason. Intense brew, dark rich and had a finish like no other. Alc and acidity keep this very focused but still it's big. Barrel aged nose of burbon is tied into chocolate and dark coffee type aroma. Haunting. Powerful mid palate.

Thanks to Tom at O'Brien's SD and his Alesmith tasting for this. Maybe the best beer I've ever had.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage released in 08, bottle 253/254. The first thing I thought when I smelled the open bottle was bourbon. The beer pours a nice brown color and I am pretty sure it looks like the regular wee heavy but I've only had that once. The aromas from the glass seem to be mostly vanilla and bourbon. The taste is pretty good, licorice, vanilla, nutty,fruits different than I remember the regular version but a hint of smoke and peat which I couldn't detect in the regular version. The alcohol is definitely present in this beer. This is a good beer but really only a twist to a beer that was already good to start with. I would definitely purchase this again if I ever had a chance. Damn you Alesmith!!!

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.59/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mcallister for sharing this gem. 750 ml, 2005 vintage, bottle 176/222. A murky mahogany color, with very little head. Not a huge shock for this beast.

Wonderful aroma going on here. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, a hint of smoke, and a good amount of caramel malt. Some alcohol is noticable as well, but not overly burning. I took about 5 minutes to do nothing but smell this beauty.

Good amount of sweetness up front. Bursting with malt and booze up front. Heavey amount of caramel, with minimal fruit. Great bourbon, woody oak and vanilla notes. Long lingering warming finish.

Good body, low carbonation. Lots of complex flavors and aromas working here. Very enjoyable.

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AleSmith Wee Heavy - Barrel Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.