Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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Barleywine - English
Ranked #35
Ranked #2,173
4.18 | pDev: 11%
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States
Notes: Insanity, 13.3% ABV, is made by aging our Blithering Idiot Barleywine Ale in whiskey barrels. The barrel aging imparts an additional level of complexity to an already intense malt profile by adding a combination of vanilla, oak and whiskey notes.
Reviews: 961 | Ratings: 2,543 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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Steve_Studnuts from Pennsylvania

4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aggressive pour yields more head (with more staying power) than anticipated. A pretty solid ring of lace forms as it slowly recedes. Body is a murky doo doo water brown. The label says that this was aged in "oak barrels", but it's pretty clear from the smell wafting into my nostrils that those barrels once contained whisky. And so, too, does this beer. Lots of it. Not picking up the usual "barrel char" notes that these bourbon barrel aged beers often lend; this is just neat, straight-up whisky. The base beer offers up some caramel notes and bitter hops and I'm getting rather excited that this is a proper barleywine and not just a triple IPA. *sips* Oh, it is! Malty sweet caramel up front with drying whisky to balance things on the back end. Very, very nice. Soft, "Sugar Daddy" caramel lingers on the palette. Pretty well full-bodied with proper "chew". Mild bittering. I really like this one. It's a little cold (left it in the fridge overnight), but I'm going to sip slowly and let it warm to see if it opens up any hidden complexities. Something tells me it will.

Jul 18, 2021
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CaptainHate from Ohio

4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a 12 ounce bottle of undetermined date (WTF Weyerbacher?) into a Lost Abbey long stemmed tulip. Thick off white head over a clear brownish ruby color. Smell was muted at cellar temperature but eventually warmed up and reflected malty dark fruit notes and brown sugar. Taste reflected the smell but more immediate and intense. Mouthfeel was deceivingly light for an ale of this heft.

For some reason (again WTF Weyerbacher with no data on the bottle) I was expecting this to be an American style barleywine, not having access to BA at the bottle shop (or being too lazy to look it up), so only bought a single. It's still not nearly as complex as JW Lee's Harvest Ale or Thomas Hardy, but perhaps aging can help that. Maybe not but this is too good not to experiment with.

May 10, 2021
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AyatollahGold from Indiana

4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottles 11/16/15.

From a 12 oz. bottle into a snulip, this beer pours out a very deep caramel in color and has some murk to it. A few floaties. It forms a pinky width of tan colored crown that settles into a ring attached to the glass and a small island.

Nose of dark fruit; big raisins, dates and plums mixing with a caramel sweetness.

The taste avoids such a strong presence of the dark fruit and leans on the sweetness side of things; caramel, dark sweet bread.

It coats the mouth with that sticky sweetness. Would never guess over 13%. No burn whatsoever, but a nice lingering warmth in the chest. Mild carbonation that I would guess has mellowed over the years, but I love where it’s at.


Aug 05, 2019
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Lucular from Maryland

4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

5 oz pour on tap. Pours a light rusty red with an off-white head. Fairly sweet with low-to-moderate bitterness with flavors of toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and caramel.

Jul 05, 2019
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lastmango from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruby brown with a one finger tan head that dissipated to a thin film. Light lacing is present. Nose is bourbon, malt and dark dried fruit. Taste is brown sugar, malt, caramel, bourbon. A bit of cinnamon with the malt finish adds some bitterness. The moderate body and low carbonation is smooth and silky . . . caressing the tongue and leaving your taste buds in a drunken pleasant stupor. Weyerbacher rocks this one!

Feb 20, 2019
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ONUMello from Ohio

4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle dated 12/5/14-12/5/19 poured into a snifter
A: Mahogany brown with a thin head
S: Brandied cherry, raisin, toffee, bourbon
T: All of the above with an emphasis on the cherry, adds more a bit of stone fruit and more burnt sugar notes
M: Full-bodied, sweet but not too much - balanced overall
O: Not getting too much from the oak influence but this is drinking nicely at three years old; it takes the Blithering Idiot up a notch. Pleasant flavors and nicely balanced

Feb 06, 2018
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mothmanscott from Georgia

4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale brown with a gooey looking suspension; the light thrown from it is reminiscent of broken safety glass. The pour produces almost 2 fingers of short-lived, foamy, tan head that recedes to a tiny collar ring leaving only a hint of surface cap & no lace. Aroma is malty, dark bread & brown sugar, oaky vanilla, caramel apple, dates, raisin, with hints of bourbon, earth, floral & a faint tounch of acetone. Taste is a caramelized malty sweetness, burnt brown sugar, oaky vanilla, boozy bourbon whiskey, toasted & buttered pumpernickel, dried apples, raisin with earth & floral late in the sip. The butter & apple are more noticeable in the finish. While noticable in both, alcohol is more intense in the mouth than in the nose. Aftertaste is astringent, woody, roast, burnt brown sugar, bitter with alchol spice. Mouthfeel is full bodied with low carbonation, a dry-sweet tug of war, syrupy yet creamy with a chalky aftertaste. The syrupy character intensifies as you approach the bottom of the glass. Easily one of the most expressive barrel-aged barley wines in terms of oaky vanilla. Nice.

Jan 22, 2018
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Eddieeight from Ohio

5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Looks cloudy watery brown
Smells of bourbon and dark fruits
Taste is a delicious thirst quenching wash of sweetness. Did someone drop some bourbon in my beer? Because that's how it tastes. Vanilla notes linger a bit.
Mouthfeel of it just washes the entire palate with smoothness and not too much carbonation.
Overall this is extraordinarily delicious. Add in that it's 11% and my heart has fallen for it. I also like its cousin Cinnsanity.

Nov 05, 2017
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mkh012 from Colorado

3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Huge notes of toffee, caramel, wood, and rum raisin. Starts smooth but finishes slightly hot and intense. A big, fairly boozy beer, with rum-soaked cherry flavors.

Nov 03, 2017
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TH28 from Florida

3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. 11/28/16 bottle date. Appearance: Dark brown with some amber hue, hazy, with literally no head. Pours still. Aroma: Caramel and bread crust maltiness. A touch of dark cherry, oak, and vanilla. Fairly restrained Taste: Rich caramel maltiness and strong woody oak dominates. Toast and dark fruit emerge on the back end, with a cinnamon and vanilla on the swallow. Bitterness builds to a moderate high Mouthfeel: Heavy bodied, almost syrup like, with low carbonation Finish: Slighty spiced rich malt sweetness lingers. Touch of dark fruit Overall: The appearance is flat and aroma subdued, but a really pleasant and complex flavor that balances caramel, bead crust, dark cherries, cinnamon, and a touch of vanilla. Drinks well and doesn’t show any harsh alcohol for a beer of this strength. Great for a cool winter night

Oct 21, 2017
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rust reddisb color,light carbonation but a thick,heavy,almost sour feel. Aroma was bourbon , dried fruit, and alcohol. Taste was identical,definitely a sipper and the high abv makes you take it slow. A very good barlywine,I would have it again.

Oct 11, 2017
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Claude-Irishman from New Jersey

4.57/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured 10 month old bottle in to a Belgian beer glass. Looks a deep apricot almost reddish hue.Very little head. Smells like fresh baked bread, molasses,raisins, banana,ethyl is very noticeable at 10 months still.Feels silky, sweet,vinous,tart.Overall this is a good example of any type of Barley wine,albeit Belgian or American. Nicely done. About 3 years in the cellar and this would be perfect.

Sep 27, 2017
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FFFjunkie from Illinois

3.99/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look is a murky,rusty dark drown/copper. Poured with a finger of dirty khaki head that diminishes very quickly.

Aroma is big oak, some toffee and vanilla.

Taste is classic English barley wine with a big barrel presence. Sweet caramel, toffee, raisins and even some plum. Big barrel presence, a touch of vanilla and some warming alcohol round this beauty out.

Feel is smooth and a pretty easy sipper. Sits not too heavy or light on the palette.

Overall a nicely done English barley wine. Enough barrel to cut through some of the sweetness. I prefer American barleywines generally more but I'd certainly have this one again.

Aug 07, 2017
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Lone_Freighter from Vermont

3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This was poured into a chalice and a snifter. The head was slightly larger but a half finger in the snifter. In the both glasses, the appearance had a nice looking dark brown color with a nice moderate lacing coating the sides of both glasses. The smell had a nice conglomeration of plums, dates, and vanilla substances that seemed to be combined nicely into a blend of roasty oaky/slightly bourbon-like aromas. The taste was subtly sweet through the dark fruits and yet it still brought forth the nice alcohol warmth from the bourbon. On the palate, this one sat about a medium and tried to show a heavier aspect that honestly, didn’t quite just cut it just yet. This one was more of a sipper for the most part and had a pretty good carbonation underneath it all. Overall, in my opinion, this was a good barleywine worthy of having again.

Jun 24, 2017
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Shade1951 from Pennsylvania

4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A total pleasure to drink. From the smoky dark amber color to the sweet bourbonish aroma to the rich dark fruit taste - this one hits all the high notes of a barleywine. While I like hops, some brewers make their barleywines way too hoppy. To me, that changes the profile of the beer to something other than barleywine.

This one is lightly hopped, for sure. And with each sip - and of course, this is a sipper, the nose takes in that wonderful bourbon fragrance. The smell of this ale alone is a treat.

Weyerbacher knocked this one out of the park!

May 13, 2017
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woemad from Washington

4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle received as part of NBS BIF # 5 from MacMalt. According to the neck stamp, this was bottled on December 5, 2016, and is best before December 5, 2021!

Poured into a Selkirk Abbey glass, this was a dark, chill-hazed russet color, with an inch or so of foam colored somewhere between beige and khaki. Said head dropped quite quickly, not a surprise given this beer's potency.

The aroma was initially sweet maltiness, but became much more complex when allowed to warm a little.
Once that has occurred there are dark fruits, such as raisins, cherries and plums, and some vanilla-ish oakiness.

The taste follows with a lot of sweet dark fruitiness and a little barrel, in that order. There are also notes of caramel and a brooding booziness that hovers in the background for the most part, but gives off a little heat in the finish. Sweeter than I'm used to in a barleywine, but not overbearingly so. At the same time, the dark fruits that lead the taste punch is like a Belgian Quad.

The body is at the thick end of medium, with a creamy and coating mouthfeel.

Complex and decadent, and a bit hot. I'm enjoying it now but I'm glad it's only in a 12oz bottle. I would love to try this with some age on it and some of the booziness a bit more mellow. This might be the most complex barleywine I've ever had. Great stuff! Thanks, MacMalt!

May 08, 2017
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Buck89 from Tennessee

3.86/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A 2016 bottle poured into a Teku glass. Very hazy, muddy copper color with a thin tan head. I smelled primarily Bourbon and vanilla on the nose. A bit of toffee and floral notes. The taste was well-balanced with the whiskey and the malty notes. Slightly sweet and floral. Full bodied and with a gentle warming on the finish.

Apr 11, 2017
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seedyone from New York

4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

From bottle dated 12/06/18 at home. May have started out too cold as the aroma was way shy of the strong taste. No head to speak of & even less aroma. Best aspect was the rich. deluxe texture. I'll always pick up the Blithering Idiot when I see it, but doubt I'll pass it by for this. The spiciness is there & the aging is most noticeable in the texture, but....

Apr 08, 2017
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jjamadorphd from Florida

4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Can Weyerbacher do no wrong?

I think I have enjoyed just about everything I have tried to date from this brewer - including this 'insane' offering. Though it pours a very quickly dissipating head with no lacing, it pours almost looking like a nitro and with this hazy caramel color that was mesmerizing. The smell was a sweet mixture of bourbon and ale, and the mouthfeel was full-bodied, creamy, and only lightly carbonated (just the way I like it.) The taste was a decent blend of cinnamon, ale, and of course the bourbon, making for another impressive choice I made out of the Weyerbacher stable.

Apr 02, 2017
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jvgoor3786 from Arkansas

4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle dated 11/14/16 and provided by jzeilinger.

The beer pours a deep, almost orangish brown with a one-finger head on a vigorous pour Tha last about five seconds leaving almost no ring or lacing.

The smell is deep dark fruits, raisin, plum, and some oak.

The taste follows with tons of raisin and a little barrel. There is also a lot of sweet toffee flavor that compliments the dark fruits well.

The mouthfeel is effervescent and medium bodied.

Overall this is very nice, complex, balanced, and a great barleywine.

Mar 20, 2017
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.84/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice ruddy brown color with a half finger of light tan head that's quick to dissipate into a lasting crown.

Strong toffee, raisins, pine and vanilla bourbon in the nose, with a faint medicinal, cherry note in the background.

Raisin and pine compete up front in the taste. There's some mild barrel, vanilla and cherry mid-palate. Then a bitter aftertaste, slight alcohol burn and some lingering oakiness.

Medium bodied with very prickly mouthfeel.

This bottle's still pretty fresh (11/14/16). I reckon a year or two will make it a whole lot smoother.

Mar 05, 2017
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It is ironic that I am following up an aged American Barleywine (Cassiopeia) with a young (bottled 11/28/16) English Barleywine. Maybe I am a f**ked up as everyone makes me out to be!

From the bottle: "Ale Aged in Oak Barrels"; [Bottled:] 11/28/16 [Best By:] 11/28/21".

I could almost weep for drinking this so early, but I know where I scored it & I am hopeful of finding another bottle to cellar. Despite its only having had three months in the bottle, I still went with a gentle pour. Once a sufficient amount had been decanted, I employed an in-glass swirl to raise a brief finger of foamy, light-tan head with very limited retention. Hey, there's no need to be shy! I know that you're young, but it's okay. Color was Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with deep amber highlights & NE-quality clarity. I would bet that this is going to darken as it matures. Nose was very sweet and malty with notes of leather and coconut, the latter being very indicative of oak aging. Mouthfeel was light, but kind of hot and prickly on the tongue without a lot of appreciable carbonation. Warming, it began to acquire a higher viscosity, becoming very thick. The taste was quite sweet, like a caramel-coated coconut cluster with a light leatheriness that I am sure will develop over time, left to its own devices. This was unquestionably an English Barleywine since at its young age, it had no hop presence whatsoever. I really think that this is going to smooth out into a brandy-like sipper, given time to do so. Finish left me with a tear in my eye and a stickiness on my lips. I thought of all of the women that have come and gone: Ann, The Hoosiette, Linda Lou, The Old Lady, all with a kiss to remember them by, but with a lingering sadness on their departure from my life. Licking my lips, I could taste the beer's personality - coconut with a touch of leather, like wearing chaps to go sunbathing in Hawai'i. Oh my. If this is Insanity, then sign me up! I leave you with one of my favorite quotes: "There is a pleasure, sure, in being mad, that none but madmen know!" - John Donne, "The Spanish Friar" - II, i(1681).

Feb 20, 2017
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Sabtos from Ohio

3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy garnet with a dark brown core and a soft, fizzy tan blanket that settles to a ring.

Smell is butterscotch, caramel, raisin, toffee, new leather and red grape all behind a little wall of alchol burn.

Taste is raisin, toasted biscuit, and light molasses. I then get red grape and even raspberry. It's not too heavy, with an almost tart brightness, making it relatively light for a barleywine. As I get more into it, flavors of Barq's develop, as well as bright oak and basement must.

Medium body, nicely carbonated, with a little heat, a little stickiness, finishing semi-dry.

Jan 16, 2017
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SABERG from Massachusetts

4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 vintage poured from 12 oz bottle into the modified tulip glass.
A - Dark oak colored, carbonation struggles through the body, skyward, a ring of evidence displays its efforts.
S - Toffee, light brown sugar, shade tobacco curing, old oak plank from your basement. patience.
T - Just like the nose. complexity added with temperature, dark fruit, yellow raisin, kiss of cinnamon.
F - Slick, full palate coating, sweet finish
O - A big delightful offering, a bit sweet, the body could use some heft, that said I will be seeking out again

Jan 01, 2017
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GarthDanielson from Virginia

4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a muddled, opaque, caramel coloring, with a filmy, wispy, white surface coating of head. Aromas of rich caramel and toffee forward, followed by a blending of fruit characteristics, including apple, date, fig, raisin, and plum. Solid bready note in the nose, also. Sugary highlights. Flavors are richly sweet forward, deep and layered, with a tangy caramel blend first, followed by roasted toffee, subtle char wood and earth notes, sweet apple, rich fig and date, tart plum and cherry, and sugary highlights throughout. You really could find an infinite layer upon layer of flavors in this. Full bodied and downright chewy, with a booze soaked fruitcake aftertaste. The finish is slick, smooth, and still big, letting your palate know it's done some work. Solid boozy and richly sweet linger. This is a damn fine beer.

Nov 21, 2016
Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 2543 ratings