Wulver
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

WulverWulver
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #2
ABV:
12%
Score:
97
Ranked #411
Avg:
4.38 | pDev: 8.22%
Reviews:
238
Ratings:
1,666
From:
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
 
Ohio, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  287
Gots
  406
SCORE
97
World-Class
WulverWulver
Notes: We made this beer specifically for bourbon barrels. The result is our most acclaimed bourbon barrel beer. Bourbon barrel aging and specialty malts create flavors of vanilla and caramel that blend in perfect balance.
Reviews: 238 | Ratings: 1,666 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Lucoli:
Photo of Lucoli
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.26/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

If rum is too sweet... If scotch is too smoky... If bourbon is too caramelized... If beer is too soft... Then this ale is for you! It hits all the right chords and does so on the back of a surprisingly drinkable finish.

Wulver pours with a medium-dark brown beer. Hazy as it is, the ale allows for ruby, garnet and rust low-lights to penetrate; giving the ale a soft and dim glow. As its initial creamy sand-stained head forms, it swirls into something more akin to coffee creme. Its light trailing lace is kept under wrap by the beer's enormous complexity.

Its aromas and all things of boozy sweetness. Unmistakable bourbon parlays into a rummy, scotch-like scent as its spice and wood character tickle the nose. The peated ale underneath is lightly smoky, densely scented with molasses and burnt toffee, and offering hints of walnut and chocolate. As the beer warms, a light vinous woody scent of sherry pulls forth.

The taste is highly malty as its molasses and toffee seems to fold in a honey character that gives the ale a praline-type sweetness. Nutty with everything from buttery cashews to robust walnuts and pecans and almonds to boot- the earthen taste is greeted with vanilla, caramel and light coffee. A mild chocolate underpinning pulls from the toasted grains and dives right into those booze-soaked tastes of bourbon, scotch, rum, and again... light sherry wine.

Its body is full, rich and round. As the malty sweetness of the beer wraps around the tongue and saturates the taste buds fully, a more dessert-like "sipping" session seems to override the need for drinkability. But the sweetness breaks apart just enough to let the dry toasted malt textures and spicy alcohols dry the beer considerably and seems to lighten the beer in a more friendly manner.

Wulver is a near-perfect wood aged beer. Where the scotch industry has used bourbon barrels for centuries, its no surprise to find all that wood-aged character playing out on a base beer that supports the wood seamlessly.

 1,998 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.49/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heard great things about this for years...

BOTTLE: Gold foil covers the black & white branded pry-off crown cap. Brown glass. 12 fl oz. Boasts a classy black label design replete with gold font. Cost was $7.19.

Served cold into an oversized snifter and allowed to warm over the course of consumption.

HEAD: None. Just a pale khaki/off-white colour floater that fizzes away inside 10 seconds. No lacing.

A poor show in general, but forgivable at this ABV. When the glass is tilted, a boozy brandy-like clear film is left on the sides of the glass...one might say the beer has "legs."

BODY: Deep dark opaque auburn-black. There's an abundance of plainly visible yeast.

Appears aptly carbonated. It's not great looking, but the legs it leaves when the glass is tilted, and the floating lees have me curious to try it.

AROMA: Brings the style's signature thick malty core to the forefront, with notes of heavy black and dark malts, black strap molasses, and rich dark caramelized sugars. The bourbon character isn't as vivid or expressive as I hoped, and the barrel notes don't seamlessly melt into the base like you'd find in any great bourbon barrel beer. But the bourbon barrel is definitely noticeable, with notes of marshmallow, vanilla, and barrel sugars. I find no rich white oak, toasted coconut, etc., but the bourbon character is nice for what it is.

To style, this aroma suggests a sweet heavy thick beer without ever betraying its high ABV.

Getting back to the base beer, I pick up on notes of praline, toffee, faint pecan, and hints of raisin as well as some kind of vague dark fruit - maybe prune?

Aromatic intensity is moderate. No off-notes, overt hop notes, or yeast is detectable. Those hoping for a traditional wee heavy aroma may be a bit let down; the toffee isn't prominent, and British malts aren't in the fore - but the bourbon is exciting, and the beer isn't overcaramelized judging by the aromatics. Still, some chocolate malts, roast, or more interesting bourbon notes might elevate this.

TASTE & TEXTURE: The bourbon takes on a different dimension in the taste than it did in the aroma, bringing a mellow genuine vanilla character to the flavour profile that introduces itself in the early second act and stays through the finish, lingering even into the aftertaste. Unfortunately, there's still no oak or wood to tie the whole build together, but it's a cohesive beer nonetheless, with toffee, molasses, treacle, and praline combining to form a sticky syrupy core that sort of glues all the other constituent notes together...raisin, prune, caramel, marshmallow.

It's a gooey chewy beer, and uses that attribute as one of its key strengths, embracing the wee heavy mouthfeel in full. And 'heavy' it is, bringing plenty of body, weight, and heft to the palate without ever feeling too filling. One of its key strengths is accomplishing that full-bodied weighty presence on the palate without ever coming off cloyingly sweet; this is not a saccharine beer. Maybe the bourbon helps smooth out the edges in terms of malty sweetness. Hoppiness is rightly minimal in presence, letting the malts do the talking. It's aptly carbonated for the style, with a texture that walks the tightrope between smooth/coarse and wet/dry, approximating dried raisin and tar all at once without ever dragging on the palate, feeling rough or scratchy, or exhausting the drinker.

And the booze? What booze? Yes, there's some pleasant warmth in the stomach, but this drinks like it's about 9% ABV at the max.

Like the aroma suggested, ultimately the bourbon presence is disappointing and inexpressive - at least compared to that found in style paragons like Founders' Backwoods Bastard. Those hoping for rich white oak, toastiness, or coconut will be let down. But the barrel sugars play with the base beer's sweetness, and the bourbon barrel never overwhelms or eclipses the base - it just sits comfortably alongside it. Unfortunately, the bourbon doesn't melt seamlessly into the base, and the two don't play off each other to the extent that would be ideal.

Depth of flavour is above average. Flavour duration is moderate, as is flavour intensity. It's nicely balanced, but could use some dialing in. I find it well-executed for the style, with plenty of likable characteristics. But it's not a gestalt build, and there's no harmony of texture and taste.

OVERALL: While it has plenty to offer the discerning drinker in terms of complexity, Wulver never surpasses either the best traditional examples of the style or the best American examples of the style (e.g. Founders' Backwoods Bastard), instead hesitating between the two approaches to a wee heavy. More commitment to the bourbon or more commitment to the traditional British malts and toffee is needed, but Wulver tries to have its cake and eat it too, to its detriment. Worth trying, albeit at its high price point, but not a world-class entry in the category. Makes me excited to try more Thirsty Dog beers!

High B- (3.49)

 5,000 characters

Photo of woemad
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle received through the incredible generosity of WesMantooth. I presume it is a fairly recent release as there's no date that I can find, but I'm not too worried about a barrel aged 12% abv beer being too old. It's why I saved it for last from the three mighty boxes I received from Corey for NBS BIF #6.

Poured into a snifter, this didn't look like much to get excited about. Dull opaque dark brown color, a more russett color and visibly cloudy when held up to light. Kinda reminds me of unfiltered non-alcoholic apple cider. Decent, beige head for such a strong beer, but after a rough pour. Modestly short lived lace.

Whoa! Incredible nose to this! Vanilla, from the bourbon barrel aging was to be expected, and a little vanilla goes a long way with me in beer, whether or not actual vanilla has been added. Not to worry, though, because like all good barrel aged beers, that is balanced with other elements. Brown sugar, caramel, an almost-licorice thing I tend to get from Wee Heavies that I've never been able to figure out, it's all here and smell delicious together.

Flavor, wonderfully, goes hand in hand with aroma. This is rich and delicious. I may be drinking this in the middle of the day, but it would make a superb dessert or nightcap beer. Starts off like a great typical example of the style, then midway through the bourbon barrel flavors really kick in with an astonishing amount of depth of flavor without being overly boozy, somehow. Waiting for an alcohol burn is a wait made in vain! The flavor in general is more complex than even the nose. I get elements of dark fruit, pipe tobacco (not being pompous, I actually have smoked pipes extensively at one time, so I know the flavor), toffee, even cola.

Yes, this is a big-bodied beer, with a creamy, velvety mouthfeel.

Holy shit! I saved this for last because I expected it to be great, but WOW! I honestly can't remember the last time I gave a 4.75 to anything on BA (probably when I was still finding my way and was easily impressed), but I had to for the flavor of this. I'm actually concerned I will go through the type of depression normally reserved for returned astronauts when this is gone. I may have to move to Akron to be close to this beer. Thank you so much, Corey, both for this and all you dropped on my porch!

 2,315 characters

Photo of muchos
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L. Murky dark burgundy-brown, small dense off-white head reduces to a film in a minute. Leaves a sticky lacing.
S. Sweet caramel, nutty, sweet vanilla (cream soda), cola, slightly woody.
T. Caramel, a bit of wood and smoke, dates, plums, figs, sugary vanilla, warming alcohol toward the finish with caramel and a Hershey bar with almonds.
F. Despite previous reviews of a thin body, I am definitely getting a fuller side of medium bodied beer, very smooth and somewhat dry yet sweet on the finish.
O. Satisfies my sweet tooth, pleasantly warming, an excellent sipper. Bourbon barrel does not dominate but compliments the full flavors the base wee heavy ale. Cheers!!

 671 characters

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.81/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #79 (Aug 2013):

A malt bomb to say the least. Very sweet to start, and the bourbon seems to make it even more sweet—not to the point of being cloying, though the bottle would be better shared. The Wee Heavy seems to be lost a bit or perhaps just clouded over by the bourbon barrel character. A good sip regardless.

STYLE: Wee Heavy
ABV: 12.0%
AVAILABILITY: Limited

LOOK: Dark tawny brew, thin lacing

SMELL: Boozy, caramel, woody, brown sugar, cake batter, rose water, earthy

TASTE: Thick maltiness, smooth, creamy, sweet, alcohol, warming, woody, brown sugar, mildly peppery, mineral, wood tannin, bourbon, faint vanilla, sweet finish

 669 characters

Photo of ovaltine
4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A milk chocolate brown beer fills my glass after an aggressive pour that yields a minimal tan head. The aromas hit my schnoz before I can lift the glass - HUGE vanilla notes, then booze from the barrel, and rich toffee notes. I am now ready to eat my own arm.

The taste has the barrel, of course, but the vanilla and toffee flavors bring this back before it can approach “booze bomb” territory. There’s also a creamy feel that adds to the entire drinking experience. Magnificent.

This is better than Central Waters BA Scotch Ale, IMHO, and also better than Backwoods Bastard, again IMHO.

Yes, I typed that.

 619 characters

Photo of tectactoe
3.89/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Big thanks to Kevin for this gem. It's got a dark and seductive, caramel colored body with some decent edge clarity; the middle is too dark-hued to be translucent. Over the course of a few minutes, the creamy, beige head settles down to a sifting skin that quietly sifts across the top of the brew. No lacing, but the beer has some nice legs that show up when tilting the glass.

Whoof... The aroma is straight up whiskey, at least right away. I'm talking Jack & Coke, hold the Coke and double down kind of whiskey; drop by drop, through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal. A sturdy, yet underlying malt body can be found beneath the heavy liquor and oak; faintly sweet with hints of caramel, toffee, and a touch of dark fruit.

I'm pretty stoked to find out that the booze isn't nearly as hefty on the palate as it is on the nose, or this would have been one tough mamma jamma to trudge through. Some "dark" sweetness jumps out first and lays the groundwork; burnt brown sugars, caramel, and mild date-like fruits topped with a light cocoa powder covering.

Now imagine all of that being fed to you on a dry, oak slab. Barrel notes are heavy; strong wood and heavy oak with a faint reminder of vanilla. Bourbon/whiskey is of course present, but again, not so overpowering like the aroma made me think it would be. It does get boozier with warmth, but never reaches unapproachable levels, though the nose remains boozily-stringent. Heavy bodied with a lightly sticky mouth feel and reasonable carbonation.

Very nice barrel aged Scotch Ale that drinks pretty nicely. The bourbon pounds its chest and flexes hard in the aroma, yet still shows you that it has a softer side when you finally decided to take a sip. It's like when you find out that the 240 pound, weight lifting, muscle head jock cries whenever he watches the Notebook. Get your Kleenex ready, bro. Thanks again, Kevin.

 1,880 characters

Photo of bubseymour
4.91/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What a perfect Wee Heavy. This beer is almost unfair to rate amongst the others because this is a man amongst per-pubescent boys. Big and pow with caramel, slight smoke, bourbon...it's got it all going on. And 12% and smooth. Amazing beer.

 242 characters

Photo of KAP1356
4.25/5  rDev -3%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of kbrown
3.75/5  rDev -14.4%

Photo of Hallertau
4.25/5  rDev -3%

Photo of frlrv1020
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of PVMT
4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Adamostella
4.25/5  rDev -3%

Photo of Lantern
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of lupercmda
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of douginromeo
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of TaborTime
4.25/5  rDev -3%

Photo of Hootie159
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark caramel color that looks reddish black until held in the light. Thin white head. Nice combo of bourbon and malt on the nose. Bourbon is balanced wonderfully on the taste. Getting a buttery caramel, toffee, and vanilla that keeps getting better as it warms. Wonderfully smooth. Mild carbonation and just oh so silky. Love this beer.

 336 characters

Photo of wtkphoto
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of DonFrap
3.75/5  rDev -14.4%

Photo of Brewski
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of AncientBomber
2.4/5  rDev -45.2%

Wulver from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 1666 ratings