Heresy | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

very good
1,009 Reviews

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
We take our Old Heathen and age it in oak bourbon barrels. The result is our silky smooth Heresy, 8% ABV. The aroma is filled with vanilla, cocoa and roasted coffee. Notes of oak, whiskey, roasted barley and vanilla dance across your taste buds.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-21-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,009 | Ratings: 2,256
Photo of OldManMetal
3.13/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Heresy is an effervescent, nigh-impenetrably black beer with sullen orange footlights and a large, brief-lived, slightly pebbly brown head that leaves scant spots of lacing. The nose is a lying harbinger of great things to come: a medium-big aroma that leads with ephemeral whiskey notes that are quickly overtaken by a tasty blend of butterscotch, light-complected caramel, and hints of toffee and toast, all topped by moderate alcohol overtones. The palate leads with a whiskey character that is as assertive as it is fleeting on the nose. The absence of the full, sweet midrange and low-end flavors characteristic of bourbon make me wonder what type of barrels were used for aging; the flatness/evenness of the flavor profile from top to bottom is much more suggestive of Canadian whisky. This flavor is not too strong, nor overbearing, but it somehow manages to completely overshadow the dark malt character of the base beer, leaving it no more differentiated nor strongly expressed than would be the case in an average Schwarzbier. In fact, that is a perfect description of how this beer tastes: an anonymous Schwarzbier mixed with the dregs of a Cutty Sark on the rocks. The finish is a modest hit of whiskey and dark malt, and is somewhat warming; the linger is a watery whiskey flavor that lasts for a few minutes. Mouthfeel is watery as well, and is thin for the full body; the texture is slightly creamy and very slightly peppery from the underexpressed carbonation. Unfortunately, this beer is incapable of acting like an imperial stout, and has allowed the barrel treatment to get the upper hand, completely losing its soul in the process. (12 oz bottle, 116 days after pkg)

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Photo of scotorum
3.76/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75


We get this brewer's products but this is the first time I've seen this one in my state, although I'd seen it occasionally in the state next door and regretted not buying some. Surprised to find it since it's supposed to be retired.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English nonick.

a: Opaque black with slight ruby hints at the bottom, tan inch thick head receded slowly to even surface foam and a little patchy/spotty lacing.

s: Whiskey and slight dark roasty malt.

t: Follows the nose with moderate hop bite. Black coffee notes in the finish and aftertaste fade later.

m; Light to medium, ok body with slight watery notes and some carbonation tingle.

o; Love their Insanity BBA barleywine but this is rather weak and thin feeling for an imperial stout. The booze flavor carries it.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours dark mahogany with mocha colored head that lasts for a bit. not much lacing.

Aroma - Whiskey and chocolate are up front. Roasted malts and hints of vanilla, nutty finish.

Taste - Whiskey and chocolate forward much like the aroma. The flavor of the whiskey is there but not the strong alcohol that usually accompanies, vanilla and roasted malts as well.

Feel - Very smooth and velvet like well carbonated sight burn from the alcohol.

Overall - Very sold WBA stout good flavors and depth.

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Photo of BFCarr
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/21/16. Poured into tulip glass on 1/11/17. Pours black with 1/2" tan head that fades quickly. Aroma has light roasted notes and light whiskey notes. Not an overpowering amount of whiskey, which is refreshing. Taste is mostly whiskey, but not excessive, the imperial stout side is background player, but the overall effect is tasty. Feel is somewhat silky but not great for an imperial stout. Overall, a nice take on a whiskey barrel aged brew.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance is dark tarry black, with a brown-beige head of 1 finger.

Aroma of sweet bourbon barrel, whiskey, some cocoa and dark coffee ground.

Flavors of mocha, dark coffee, sweet bourbon, very slight medicinal alcohol, and then hot chocolate/cake on the finish.

The feel is very carbonated, yet still smooth. Hot booziness up the middle that continues the burn to the finish.

Overall, this was much better than I thought it would be. I was expecting a whiskey bomb and what I got was some real nice chocolate notes, coffee, and a polite whiskey character. I'll be buying more of this soon.

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Photo of citizencane
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Smells booozy with roasted malt and whiskey. Little head or lacing. Taste is similar to nose. Feel has plenty of heat but is fairly thick with some chewiness. Not bad but not great.

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Photo of ThrewRedButter
4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L - Pitch black in all aspects. Less than a finger of light brown head

S - Smooth oak and bourbon, dark fruits, and some dark fudge chocolate.

T - Bourbon/whiskey up front with the dark chocolate right after. Cherries, plums, and raisins, a lot of oak and a burnt coffee ground taste

F - A little thin, but not too bad. Feels lighter than an 8% BA stout.

O - Not bad, but not amazing. A perfectly standards BA RIS.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

$ 61/case ($ 0.21/oz) at Franklin Beer Co, Franklin, PA
Bottled 1/20/15, BB 9/20/15, at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter, allowed to warm to 50 degrees
Aroma of roasted malt and whiskey
Head small (< one cm, aggressive pour), light brown, creamy with rocks, diminishing to three mm ring and partial layer
Lacing fair – complete narrow rings of tiny bubbles
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor – somewhat of a bourbony flavor but not quite as sweet, the roasted malt is subdued; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4, Aroma 4, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4, Overall 4.25

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Photo of q33jeff
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at blend.Aroma is whiskey and lots of coffee, chocolate. Taste is coffee and whiskey. Dark black color. Medium head.Tasty.
Bottle to snifter.
In bottles again. Glad to try again and maybe age 1 or 2 although abv is a little low for that.

No change in rating, but I'll add a few notes. I detect a rye character. Not sure if that is from the malt, or from the whiskey barrel. The whiskey taste seems to be something other than bourbon, maybe rye, or I think a taste a charcoal like Jack Daniels taste. Also, there are some grassy, earthy notes. Great to try this again, much different than SMS.


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Photo of Chico1985
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Woah man. This is not only exactly one year old, but also four months past the best by date, both I was unaware of until this moment. Maybe some things are just meant to be. Thanks Mom for giving me this expired beer for Christmas.

A - 12oz pour to a trusty Fantome tulip reveals a black beer believe it or not, with just about a finger of brown head. Quickly falls to a cap, which eventually turns to a thin ring. Some decent lace-dot formations left behind.

S - Definitely a big whiskey and oak barrel presence, milk chocolate, coffee tones, brown sugar. Maybe a touch heavy with the alcohol and a bit faint but nice.

T - Still a big raw whiskey presence, lots of booze-soaked oak, but it's a nice unhinged liquor kind of feel that also blends better with the stout, more flavor prominence in general here. More like a chocolate dark fruit cordial, with notes of caramel and vanilla floating in there.

M - Oily and viscous feel that's just a touch on the thin side, decent carbonation that is on the lower side of the spectrum. On the boozy side for 8% as well.

O - The taste pulls through when it comes down to it, a bit flimsy-feeling overall but for an 8% stout with very unabashed whiskey barrel I feel like that's kind of expected. Not the most standout in the style certainly but nice.

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Photo of stingray
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Notes: 12 oz bottle served at cellar temperature in a chalice. Two dates on the bottle, "02/11/15" and "10/11/15", I assume are bottled-on and drink-by dates. Consumed on Nov. 18, 2015. This was my last bottle of a 4-pack and was left sitting in my basement; I gave one away and drank two early on. I was just getting over a cold and wanted a beer. I wasn't impressed before so I figured I wouldn't waste a beer I really liked while my nose was still a bit stuffy.

L: Not quite pitch black, very dark brown with a brown head. Plenty of foam, depending on how you pour it. Very slight residual lacing.

S: Definitely got the whiskey immediately after the pour but it toned down as I drank. Also a burnt smell. I still had some congestion in my sinuses so the smell was inhibited so I'd prefer to abstain from ranking the smell.

T: Whiskey is mellow, rising to the front occasionally which is a dramatic departure from the other bottles. A molasses sweetness, I even got banana here and there. Burnt taste to match the smell, somewhat like coffee grounds. Reminded me a lot of Postum, if you've ever had it.

F: Much thicker than the other (younger) bottles, but not oily at all. Biggest negative of the beer was that it left a bit of a burning sensation, not due to carbonation. I remember this with the other bottles as well.

O: Is this the same beer I had before? 6+ months in the basement has served it well. When I drank this before, the whiskey didn't blend well at all and was quite harsh. Now it's much smoother and very pleasant. Thicker mouthfeel and more of a burnt flavor. I bought Old Heathen at the same time and strongly preferred the OH before. Now I'm not so sure. At 8% and with an "expiration" date I didn't expect it to improve with age but I much prefer it now than when fresh. I may have to experiment with that.

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Photo of SFNC
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look; Pretty standard for an Imperial Stout, dark brown to black with a brown sugar head. The head splts quickly and there is light lacing in it's absence.
Smell; Scorched caramel, bourbon, vanilla and some plum
Taste; Sweet, burnt sugar, oak, lots of bourbon, vanilla and a cola like aftertaste.
Feel; Creamy!
Overall; Not an earth shaker by any means, but very enjoyable. One of the better bargain BA RIS.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smells like bourbon, oak, roasty dark malts, less intense than bigger whiskey aged imperial stouts. Taste is bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, dark malts, coffee, roast, chocolate. Mouthfeel is medium, alc covered, aftertaste is bourbon, oak, caramel. Overall this beer is damn decent. I'd buy it again. I'd compare it to FW Velvet Merkin, I think people may be too quick to knock this one because it's an 8% BA stout, but it does exactly what its supposed to do.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.67/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Jet black in color with no penetration to light. There's a fingernail of beige resting on the vast majority of the top. Aroma is dark roasted barley, black licorice, and wood smoke. I taste dark roasted barley, sweet lactose, plum, and alcohol. The mouth is thick, chewy, and viscous.

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Photo of madelfonatree
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 2/11/15 enjoyed 9/1/15 in a MadTree tulip/snifter.

Look - Small head was quick to develop and quick to dissipate. Tan medium bubbles head. Thick black body with brown edges. No sediment. No lacing.

Smell - Sweet bourbon. Vanilla. Coffee. Chocolate. Light berry.

Taste - Subdued bourbon. Chocolate. Coffee. Vanilla. Berry.

Feel - Looks much heavier than it is but still heavy. Carbonation more apparent than look. Bitter bite on tongue.

Overall - Lets call this Bourbon Barrel Aged Light. Average. I see myself hovering around 4 with ratings so take that in to account.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours inky opaque black under a 1” light tan foam cap with a very fine bead and produces intricate lace. S: Bourbon aroma T: Bourbon, vanilla, coffee, and chocolate with some drying astringency in the finish. F: Medium full body, medium low carbonation O: A very rich, bourbon Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of alarmclock314
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 2/11/15. Pours opaque black with a medium-sized brown head. Smells of whiskey, dark fruit, and some roasted malt. Tastes mostly of whiskey and dark fruit, but has some roasted malt and coffee flavors. Medium carbonation and somewhat thin body for the style. Grab this if you like whiskey and lighter stouts; pass if you expect your RIS's to be thick.

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Photo of EMV
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

L: Pours an inky black. Minimal brownish head.

S: Roasted malts and chocolate. Slight vanilla on the nose.

T/F: Roasted malts up front giving way to chocolates and coffee. Very mild whiskey, and not nearly as boozy as I'd expect for a whiskey aged beer. Mild oak and vanilla. The taste gets bigger as it warms, and slightly dry at the finish.

O: Solid but not one of my favorite whiskey aged beers. It's missing a bit of the booziness that I look for, and overall I think their 'insanity' is a stronger brew. Still... it's tasty and great for a change of pace. I'll be aging half a case to see if that brings out anything new.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015. Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is jet black, with a thin, low profile, brown head that quickly dissipates. The aromas are rich dark chocolate, black strap molasses, old world fruit sweetness, vanilla, bourbon spice and heat, and subtle char notes. Flavors are rich and sweet forward, heavy on the old world fruit, with an undertone of bittersweet chocolate. Plum, date, raisins, and fig all blend nicely, and are balanced by the bitterness of chocolate, subtle char and smoke, and coffee highlights. Subtle vanilla cream notes accent a bit, and there is a building warmth from the boozy notes that heat up the otherwise rich stone fruit aftertaste. The body is big and robust, slightly oily, and smooth, with a slick, slow, layered, lingering finish. Heavy beer, with an interesting taste profile for the style.

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Photo of Czarkazm
3.07/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours cola colored and collects in the glass looking fairly black with mahogany highlights along the edges. Thick khaki colored head with loads of bubbles streaming up. Smell seems a bit off for an imperial stout. I get very mild roast, a touch of dark fruits, faint coffee acidity, and it all gets clouded out by a tart lacto funk. This bottle is from feb., 2014, the last of my 4 pack and they all had this quality. Recalled this same phenomenon in half of my 4 pack from 2013. Will not be buying a 4 pack this year. Thin mouthfeel and overly carbonated. Taste is dominated by sour notes. Tart apples, vinegar, black currant, a nuttiness maybe, sour cherry. It's not undrinkable if you convince yourself its supposed to taste like this. I had Cantillon's Gueuze Lambic Bio recently and this one reminds me of that blended with a porter, but this could not have been the brewer's intention.

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Photo of justinp444
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review Date: July 13 2015. Pours black with a half inch chocolate head. Smell largely of whiskey and chocolate with smaller licorice notes. Taste is sweet bourbon and some oak with vanilla. Not a lot of chocolate or any other notes, a good deal of alcohol (though it pulls through more from the lack of complexity). Weak mouth feel and medium body.

Review Date: March 24 2016. Pours much better with a big 3 inch thick head. The same smell. Taste is chocolate, lots of coffee, some vanilla, and still a large amount of barrel but more reserved. Mouth feel is full and creamy; body is full. This beer was much, much better with age.

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Photo of Octavarium77
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I liked this one a lot more than some of the other reviewers here, but I am a sucker for imperial stouts, particularly barrel aged ones. Very good brew, especially considering the price.

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Photo of Mikus
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Disclaimer: The wife (who loves stouts, but not necessarily BA stouts) loved this brew and literally fought me for my half of the bottle. Luckily, I am bigger than her. Opaque nightmare of darkness with a thin ring of tan bubbles. Nose had all of the expected bourbon and oak notes, however, the roasted malt character was not lost amid the hints of vanilla, oak, and whiskey warmth. Perfect balance and blend of stout and barrel translates over to the palate as well. Alcohol warmth is present, however it is not hot or overpowering. Hint thin on the mouthfeel (maybe in relation to the flavors), but keep in mind that is an 8% stout, and not some kind of monster. This came together really well, and if you have tried Old Heathen (which we had a few weeks ago), it doesn't get eaten up by the barrel. Great balance in an affordable bottle.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours dark cola brown with a cocoa powder colored near finger width head. Good retention before settling to a fine layer of velvety suds across the surface. Lacing is streaky and spotty with nice stick.

Smell - Sweet notes of chocolate, molasses, toffee and light vanilla meet with a dark, boozy rum raisin undertone.

Taste - More toffee on the flavor with lesser chocolate upfront. Mild oak creeps in mid-taste, followed by a touch of coffee roast. The finish is dark, with raisin and boozy heat making their mark in the back end.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body with low carbonation. Drying, boozy finish.

Overall - A really good, approachable BA Russian Imperial. A bit boozy considering the 8% ABV, but nothing too hot to handle. Recommended for anyone new to BA beers. Veterans may find a bit of charm in it, too.

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Photo of kemoarps
3.57/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep clear almost-obsidian, just with some warmer touches. Good sized velvety brown head that lasts quite some time

Nose starts kind of thin with sweet figs and char. Not much more.

Sweet dark fruits dominate and then an alcohol wallop that tickles the throat long after it's been swallowed. Sweet dark fruits and alcohol. I get no barrel outside of the alcohol itself. Maybe a faint hint of oak part way through but not much.
Not bad per se if it were just a basic overly boozy stout (but still not GREAT [I'm not as big on the fruitier stouts like Anchor, preferring more roasty/char/etc. But thats just me]), but looking for a BA it leaves much to be desired.

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Heresy from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
3.94 out of 5 based on 2,256 ratings.
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