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Grand Illumination Ale | Williamsburg Brewing Company

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Grand Illumination AleGrand Illumination Ale
8 Ratings
Grand Illumination AleGrand Illumination Ale

Brewed by:
Williamsburg Brewing Company
Virginia, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DrewS on 01-13-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8 |  Reviews: 8
Reviews by DrewS:
Photo of DrewS
4/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An interesting brew, but a bit different from the norm. Pours out a dark, dark brown with a reddish tint. Very little head to speak of, what appears does stick for a bit but then dissipates. The nose shows a sweet malt backbone with some fruity esters and noticeable alcohol. On the tongue this beer is sweet, fruity and somewhat vinous, although the alcohol stays fairly well hidden. There is a flavor here that I'm guessing helps impart a phenolic characteristic, not totally displeasing but a tad strange. Hops are very understated and almost not present. The body is not as heavy as I thought it would be, but the lack of carbonation helps create a more syrupy mouthfeel. I gave it 4s across the board for a good effort. Most knowledgeable people wouldn't be very impressed with this one, but may drink it just to check out what Williamsburg has to offer. I Doubt it will be available in very many places outside of VA, so if any non-VA BAs see it they should pick it up as it's one of this brewery's better and rarer offerings.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I purchased a bottle of this at a local beer store and decided to share it with my fellow BA's during the 4/5 weekend.

Appearance: Poured a very dark cloudy amber color. Absolute "zilch" in the head department.

Smell: Very apparent apricot and raisin aromas. Mixed nicely with the alcohol vapors (no smoking within 50 feet of this one).

Taste: Like a "hairy buffalo" party, lots of etoh-soaked fruit flavors are evident. It just somehow didn't really satisfy my barleywine craving. As AKSP states in his review, it might have been due to the fact that we had quite the tasting session that day and my taste buds had given up. I might have to snag another bottle, keep it for a few years, and see what happens.

Mouthfeel: Big syrupy blanket of beer slathers all over your mouth. Definitely a "coating" effect.

Drinkability: Rather tough to polish this one off. Perhaps too many beers earlier or something. It wasn't anything that knocked my socks off.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.64/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle from 2002, carefully cellared and then cooled in the fridge to just below cellar temperatures before opening. Carefully poured from the long-standing bottle it delivers an exceptionally clear, crimson-accented, deep mahogany body with crimson and orange highlights beneath a solid head of densely creamy yellowish tan foam. The head retention is excellent and it maintains a creamy 1/2" throughout the entire snifter as well as leaving creamy rings and walls of lace across the sides of the glass. The nose is drenched in winey, deeply caramelized malt that's accented by swirling, citrus and floral hops. The body is full and creamy across the palate with a gentle caress on the tongue from its very fine and moderate, bottle-conditioned carbonation. The flavor is as the nose suggests with it's vinous yeasty fruit and alcohol dripping juicy dark fruits (plum, black cherry, prune, raisin, dates, fig) across an almost scortched-caramel malt. It's initial, light acidity gives way to softer caramel notes at mid-palate just as its floral and citrusy hop flavors come into play; and its solid bitterness becomes apparent just before the swallow, leading to a long-lingering, dry and winey finish. Overall, this is a decent sipping beer for the cool weather, although its hot fermentation seems to have left it a little too vinous. The alcohol itself never really intrudes, however, and another year's aging may soften it a bit more as the hops round out. I'm thinking Christmas 2005 for this one!

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Photo of beerluvr
3.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 version.

Pours with a healthy and long lived beige head settling over hazy dark ruby liquid. The nose is first noticeably malty, then a layer of hoppiness is sensed along with alcohol. The taste is strangely devoid of a big malt base, so a quite astringent and hoppy note is apparent quickly. Slight undercurrent of diacetyl noted too. Finishes up neither assertive nor bland...just some notes of nuttiness and chocolate to close things out.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
2.2/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer poured hazy deep amber brown with an off-white to almost tan head that fell back quickly but was persistent enough to lace the glass.

The aroma was chocolate with a vinous, sherry aroma. The malt aroma were well aged and well blended. Alcohol was certainly present and tingled the nasal passages. Molasses aromas were also present.

The flavor was blah, awful. The main flavor was molasses with more vinous malt. The flavor contained a prominent cardboard flavor that indicates oxidation issues.

The finish was long lasting cardboard and molasses. The body was medium full, but not well done for a barleywine. I would not recommend this beer, and next time I will not age a Williamsburg offering.

750 ml brown capped bottle. Christmas 2002 on label. Purchased at Corks and Kegs for $9 a year or more ago. I have never purchased a good higher ABV beer from Williamsburg. All have been badly oxidized.

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Photo of pentathlete
3.53/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ruddy brown with minimal head that dissipates to a flat table. Nose is malty and somewhat bready. Taste is balanced between malty sweetness and a mild hoppiness, with the ashiness winning in the finish. Mouthfeel is thin to medium. Drinkability is lacking for this style. There is simply a lack of complexity or memorable flavor. The 2004 version is only 9.4% ABV.

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Photo of rajendra82
3.23/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz. bottle of this Christmas 2004 release was unwrapped out of the package from pentathlete. The barleywine poured out in a bit lighter shade of copper, than I anticipated. The body was capped by an inch thick foamy off white head. The beer was a bit timid in the aroma department, with mostly a sweet smell of figs coming through even with deep inhalation. Unlike a lot of the other American barleywines, there wasn’t a significant hop presence on the nose, nor on the tongue. The beer was balanced between sweetness of the malts and the earthy to herbal hop bitterness, but the beer suffered from being way too thin. The lack of body made the flavors simply stand next to each other, instead of forming an army division mounting an assault. All in all this is on the bland end of the barleywine taste spectrum if you ask me. There was also a lot of oxidized taste and some sour aftertaste. Neither was unpleasant, but without the abundance of flavors on the positive side of the scale, these shaved a few points off of the rating.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.92/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: deep brown, nearly vioplet color, with a terrific, 1/2" moch-colored, creamy head.
Aroma: intense: ripe, powerful, sweet, even syrupy, with a character redolent with burnished wood and dark fruits (cherries, grape, figs), rich, delicious, intoxicating.
Taste: warm mouthfeel, lush and velvety, even comforting. Quite full-bodied, with delicious fruity flavors recurring in every sip and swallow.
Alcohol creeps in and asserts itself now and then, I was quite surprised by the ABV, a significant 12.2%! A very fine barleywine, that soothes, and never bores.
Thanks to DrewS. for this marvelous bottle!

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Grand Illumination Ale from Williamsburg Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.43 out of 5 with 8 ratings
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