Blithering Idiot | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

904 Reviews
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Blithering IdiotBlithering Idiot

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-20-2001

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Reviews: 904 | Ratings: 2,165
Photo of thepenguin
4.34/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours a golden-amber, with tinges of burnt orange and slightly more carbonation than you usually find with the style. Mostly clear, with only a very mild opacity.

S: Rich and delicious. Lots of caramel and toffee, with plenty of sweet mealy fruits, namely dates and bananas. Some sweet bread, vanilla, a bit of black tea and oxidized, musty sherry/Madeira notes. This beer also shows unmistakable British ale yeast influence in my mind.

T: Lots of dried fruits and fruit preserves. The maltiness has been a bit tempered by the age, revealing more oxidized notes than the aroma and this a decidedly dry barleywine, adding to the perception of a dry sherry. Alcohol practically nonexistent. After the malt dies down there are some very intriguing nutty, mildly herbaceous and surprisingly minty notes in the finish.

F: Just above medium bodied with a silky feel and moderate though slightly higher than average carbonation for the style. The lack of heat on this one is truly astounding – I swear I’ve had beers in the 7-8% range that pack more of a punch than this.

Thoughts: English barleywines…such good candidates for the cellar. Granted the extended aging of this beer likely altered its character, where are all the shitty reviews of this beer coming from? Nuanced and subtle and even among aged barleywines I found this to a bit different with its relatively dry drinkability and dry sherry likeness.

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Photo of bushbeer75
3.96/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle - bottled on 2/20/15 - best before 2/20/20

Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot Barleywine Ale poured into my snifter a dark copper color producing a one finger tan head that was reduced in no time to a foamy collar with a light film of foam on top. The nose was dominated by dark fruit and caramel with just a hint of hops in the background. The taste is malty with the flavors of dark fruit [raisins and figs] , caramel and alcohol making its presence known. After taste is a little sweet with light hops at the finish. Mouth feel is to the smooth side with a fuller body.

This Ale is easy to drink...not to filling for the style.

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Photo of mirp1
4.44/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Some of the ratings below must be from pretentious beer snob pretenders. Here's the point, it is a Barley Wine. Barley Wine, along with English Old Ale, some of the better Scotch Ales, Imperial Stouts, are supposed to taste alcoholic in nature. That is the point of doing it. Brewers want to blend in as much balanced malt and complexity, while achieving a high abv. To accomplish that, along with a sound recipe, you need great fermentation, with the latter being huge. Getting beer to ferment down to 11-12 % abv is not an easy thing to do, unless you cheat of course. There is no cheating at Weyerbacher, this beer is a malt bomb, and is supposed to be. So, relax out there. If a non-warming, thin bodied beer is what you prefer, you have no case in rating Barley Wine. Some beers and brewers are negatively effected by unduly harsh reviews, so please, do not be over intoxicated by your anonymity. No, I do not work or have any formal connection with Weyerbacher. I merely subscribe to common sense.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
3.43/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark auburn plum color with a slight head that has a skim. Sweet plum scent with a lot of booze. Taste sooo boozy with some plum. Medium light body with medium light carbonation. Not that good of a barley wine.

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Photo of TheBrosy
2.47/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Copper-brown, opaque. Pours with a really nice head that dissipates to nearly nothing.

Smell: Woah boy there is alcohol here. Nice fruit-ester smell for an English barleywine.

Taste: You taste alcohol and not terribly much else. Some brown suger is evident. Very very sweet, lacks nuance. Probably should have aged this longer.

Mouthful: Nice rich creamy body. Low carbonation.

Overall: Not a terribly impressive barleywine. Alcohol flavoring is overpowering and whatever else Weyerbacher was trying to do was lost in that.

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Photo of Nevbo
2.79/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Smells and tastes like cherry cough syrup with a touch of licorice. It's a bit sweet up front but bitter on the back end. The mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy. Did not like this one too much.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearnce is Translucent Copper Color. Aroma is Strong Hops. Strong Strong Strong. Alcohol is very apparent; but there is a definite smoothness. Blithering Idiot.
Bottle to snifter. (Date=12/09/15).
LOOK: same, copper, translucent.
AROMA: Not sure where I smelled hops in 2012, but this is all malty with brandy, and red grape. Sweet smelling.
TASTE: grape, oak, spiced rum, touches of tobacco, leather and butternut squash. Quite tasty, although maybe a touch too sweet. Alcohol burn is there.
FEEL: thin to medium body. Below average carbonation, but there is a fizzy bite.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: pours a deep ruby to garnet color. a finger or just more of a tan head forms, has moderate retention and leaves behind a very small lacing. almost opaque due to the darkness of the color but some strong brightness to it.

Smell: big estery and boozy nose. esters include apples to lightly stewed plums. more dark fruits and some strong sweet malts, mainly caramel.

Taste: opens up with some woody to light vanilla tones, this is quickly taken up by dark fruits. ranges from plums to some slight raisin. apple juice comes somewhere in the middle. strong caramel and toasted grains. ends with a strong bite of astringent booze.

Mouthfeel: heavy but not quite to the chewy viscous level. strong warming alcohol character. most of the balance falls to malts but actually ends fairly on the dry side of the style. alcohol leaves some astringency behind and there is some lingering yeasty flavors.

Overall: I can see why this beer doesn't get rave reviews when young, its harsh and intense and unbalanced. but I really enjoy what is going on here. love the yeasty flavors and the malt depth, all without being overpowering. booziness boarderline but if you know what you're in the mood for and are ready, its nice. Kudos to weyerbacher, cause this will be a fun one to watch evolve.

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Photo of creepinjeeper
4.3/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
Sadly, I am not sure how old this bottle is. I think it is two, maybe three, years old. Whatever the bottling date (I cannot locate one), time has certainly been kind to this barleywine.
Little head thins out fast. The scent of cherries, plums and a bit of vanilla hits the nose. It looks thick and full bodied; almost as if it should have oozed out of the bottle instead of poured. Next to no carbonation. The taste is one of grown up Hawaiian Punch, made with stone fruits - cherries, plums - slightly faded
It starts off sticky sweet, but gives no hint of 11% ABV is given in its dry finish. This is a barleywine worth seeking out.

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Photo of jmasher85
3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Drinking it at only 6 months old, I realize I should have listened to the reviews on this one - a bit too hot and sweet to drink fresh. The "best by" date gives me 5 years from bottling and no doubt, this brew needs it to unleash its full potential.

That said, I don't regret breaking it out now. With almost no head and low carbonation, this sticky beer smells up the room as soon as it's poured. Sweet and malty, scents of cherry cough syrup and raspberries are the dominant elements. And it's a booze bomb too - like I said, this is a much more potent 11% than even a seasoned drinker like myself would have liked. Still though, while not yet a world-class barleywine, it's got potential with some aging and it's worth picking up for any barleywine fan.

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Photo of KillerJigger
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I would say this was a drier style. Less sweet on the back end as well. Can be a let down compared to the over the top versions but is very drinkable.

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Photo of T-34-85
4.04/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged for a year in my basement before consumption.

A slightly hazy light/medium brown color with a thin ring of lacing around the glass.

Smell of sweetness, caramel notes, and complex malts.

The taste has an assertive body of rich caramel malt with a solid level of sweetness, a relatively rounded feel and a noticeable, but not intrusive, alcohol kick.

The aging seems to have mellowed out the beer, and taken the edge off to eliminate the harshness

This is a solid sturdy barleywine, and a good sipper for a cold winter afternoon.

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Photo of OldManMetal
4.44/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is like a singed cat- it's better than it looks. The fast-vanishing thin tannish head and sparse flecks of lacing that immediately slide back into the collar form a poor contrast to a nice-enough-looking body: hazy, ruby-brown and effervescent. The aroma makes you forget about all that; it is modestly assertive, a self-assured attention-getter that leads with cinnamon-pear-booze, then settles into an inviting, deeply sweet melange of cherry, vinous green grapes, caramel and floral tea, encompassed by alcohol overtones and undertones. The flavor is deep and sweet as well: brown sugar, plum, dark cherry and hints of toffee and cassis chase each other through an ocean of caramel-bread malt and booze, held in check somewhat by a modest herbal bitterness. The finish is caramel-cherry and quite boozy; the linger is boozy too, and lasts a few minutes. The mouthfeel is biggish for the medium-large body and quite warming from the alcohol (it's quite warming going down, too); the texture is viscous and creamy with just a hint of perceived carbonation, perfect for such a big beer. (12 oz bottle, no code date)

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Photo of Jon_Hendricks
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a dark burgundy red color.

Overall: The aroma consists of cherry, currant, and alcohol. You can tell this beer is meant to wreck you. The taste has a strong surge of malty sweetness, with a trace of toffee on the back end. Not for the faint of heart. This beer will kill you if you aren’t careful. Super powerful, super rich.

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Photo of MyakkaRiver
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 11/2014, opened 1/2016. Cellared at 54 degrees. Extremely smooth. Thin whispy head that dissipates quickly. Almost ruby red hue. Sweet upfront with nice toffee notes near the finish. A little thin on the mouthfeel but certainly an enjoyable beer. Looking forward to another one in about a year.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
3.93/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep plum color with decent tan head that quickly goes away until there is nothing no lacing either.

Smell dark fruit and plum notes you can slightly smell the alcohol

Taste is very smooth dried fruit cherry and fig flavors this has been aging about 9 months and the alcohol is very well masked for 11%

Feel some burn from the alcohol kind of heavy and syrup like feel

Overall I really enjoyed this and will probably have another.

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Photo of MaxBrews
3.81/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As soon as the bottle is opened the smell of alcohol fills the nostrils. Blithering idiot pours a brilliant dark brown color with ruby notes; just shy of being translucent The beer produces a nice head that retains quite well slowly dissipating into a soapy lacing. A beautiful head for a beer of it’s strength.

There is a lot of alcohol on the nose combined with fruity esters, that give the beer a slightly medicinal smell. It’s not off putting, however, this beer combines aromas of dark fruits, cherry plums, fig, dates and dark berries, caramel and vanilla.

This beer has strong flavors of vanilla, caramel, cherry, fig and dates. As an 11% abv beer there is always an alcoholic warming sensation in the mouth. I find this beer to be complex in its dark fruit characteristics. My palate cannot detect much of a hop quality of this beer. It’s a big, boozy, sweet beer that has it’s complexities in the arena of dark fruits.

The body of this beer is vicious, bit syrupy but not overbearing.

Overall Blithering Idiot is a great representation of the English Barley Wine Style. It plays more into fruity and malty characteristics rather than providing overwhelming high alpha oil hop flavors of american barley wines. Is this beer as complex as Bigfoot, Old Horizontal, Foghorn, Old Ruffian or others in this camp? No, however it is simple and relaxing. It lacks some of the sexiness and otherworldly complexities that many other American breweries offer, but it’s still an excellent nightcap. Many reviewers complained about the alcohol being overwhelming in this beer; there is a strong presence of alcohol in Blithering Idiot, but I did not find it overbearing but I would imagine aging this beer would mellow it out a bit and perhaps bring out some some of its malt complexities. My only critique on this beer is because there is very little hop flavor in this beer I would have liked to taste more nuance malt flavors such as toasted biscuit, perhaps a bit of roast balanced with the sweet flavors of dates and fig. Overall I found this to be a solid representation of the English Barley Wine Style. It could have been more complex, however it is not a beer I would turn down.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
3.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into snifter glass. Consumed with sharp cheeses, pretzels, and lightly salted peanuts.

L - dark ruby red color when the light is passing through. Bits of yeast floating around. Very little foam dome with a ring around the edges. Very little lacing.

S - Dried fruit, plums, apricots, oranges, and a hint of alcohol. Quite lovely ;-]

T - Raisins, maple syrup, dried fruit, licorice. Strong boozy dried fruit finish

F - Syrupy thick texture, slight carbonation on the tip of the tongue. It looks heavy and feels heavy

O - I am a bit confused on barleywines. For some reason, I always base my opinion by comparing barleywines to Bigfoot, which is a bad habit. I have had other BWs and they are like this. I feel like they should be making a Belgian Strong Dark Ale like Chimay Blue rather than an English Barleywine since they specialize in Belgian beers. Nice slow-sipper for cold nights in Pennsylvania. Cheers!

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Photo of polloenfuego
3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep rubyish brown with minimal head, some lacing but it doesn't last. The smell is sweet malts with some winey alcohol. Taste brings the malts again with some hops and a tiny bit of alcohol on the back end. The feel is medium and the carbonation is moderate. Not a bad barleywine but I prefer the BA version (Insanity) much more.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.02/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look : Toffee caramel colored body; 90% opaque; head is fleeting but 2 fingers initially. Mild lace left.

Aroma : Lots of fermentation and alcohol. You can tell this beer is meant to wreck you. Notes of cherry, currant, fig, and plum swirl around in the snifter.

Taste : your face??? A fig/cherry punch to the palate comes first, followed by furious destructive carbonation, a wall of alcohol burn, and finally a dry, figgy finish.

Feel : Medium bodied, dry leathery feel throughout, alcohol burn very apparent. I could be sipping Vodka for all I know.

Overall : Not for the faint of heart. This beer will kill you if you aren’t careful. Super powerful, super rich, very fig-cherry-like. I’d have it again, but damn this is going to leave me sprawled on the floor.

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Photo of jopezu
4.5/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a very cloudy caramel amber with only a stirring of bubbles for a head. nose; massive caramel, oak, fig and toffee. this beer has a very alcoholic nose! taste; boozy caramel, dark fruit esters (fig/plum/cherry), oak, brown sugar, and yes, i pick up some earthy/leafy hop bitters here. low carbonation and approaching a heavy mouthfeel. not sure why this is rated so lowly, but i enjoyed it. the 11.1% is a little untamed, but that wears off after a bit while the fruit and wood characters start to appear. i can certainly understand a low score if barleywines aren't your style; hell, i know i give some criminally low lambic/sour scores myself on lack of style appreciation alone. for me, this is a big sipper with a nice profile worth exploring. :)

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Undated bottle into pint glass. Pours a clear deep amber-red with a modest off-white head. Initial impression is overwhelmingly sweet - almost syrupy, with a lot of dark fruit. Alcohol is fairly well hidden, but at 11.1% you can only do so much. Heavy, syrupy mouthfeel. Overall, it's kind of like eating a handful of raisins that have been soaked in alcohol. I think this is one that might improve with age.

Update 06/10/16: In September 2014 I cellared a bottle dated 09/23/14 and 09/23/19 (presumably the "bottled on" and "best by" dates). The "changelog":

Hazy now, with almost no head. Sweetness is quite muted. Dark fruit not as dominant. Alcohol is still there, but not as noticeable as when fresh. Still kind of syrupy. It lost a lot of its punch in the last year and a half, but compensated by an increase in complexity. I'm still not inclined to make this one a regular in my fridge, but it's better with some age on it.

Note: BA score now reflects the aged version.

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Photo of Caveworm
4.24/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Blithering Idiot - Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Poured from the bottle into an oversized wine glass, this beer's head is two fingers thick and off white, with web-like lacing and a clear, dark mahogany body.

I smell dark figs and plums, along with dare I say green apple. Earthy, grassy grains also. I can't detect much hops going on unless they are delicately floral.

Tastes like much of the elements described above, along with a nice helping of boozy warmth. The fruits here make JUST enough of their mark before becoming too overpowering. This would be a great digestif.

The mouthfeel here is smooth and crisp. Not much lingering on the tongue for a higher ABV brew.

Overall, I'll give Blithering Idiot - Weyerbacher Brewing Co.a 4.25 My 1st English barleywine, I feel this was a great introduction to the style.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.84/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

9/7...pours brownish cherry red with light foam that dissolves quickly. Cherry cough syrup nose, medicinal. Dark fruits, plums. Puckering steep dark fruit flavor, boozy. Raisins and figs, jammy. Second wave punch. A sipper for sure. All in all pretty balanced for a barleywine. Not my favorite style, but this one worked for me.

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Photo of bgold86
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very strong alcohol nose (like a booze soaked cherry), extremely fruity and sweet finish, was not expecting that. Little to no carbonation, strong boozy finish.

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Blithering Idiot from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
3.68 out of 5 based on 2,165 ratings.
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