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Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels) | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels)Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels)
BA SCORE
4.15/5
Exceptional
2,504 Ratings
Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels)Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States
weyerbacher.com

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bourbon barrel-aged "Blithering Idiot"

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-21-2004

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,505
Reviews:
953
Ratings:
2,504
pDev:
11.08%
Bros Score:
4.03
 
 
Wants:
233
Gots:
602
Trade:
28
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,504 |  Reviews: 953
Reviews by NODAK:
Photo of NODAK
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Extremely sweet smell, characterized by loads of toffee, alcohol, fruits (cherries?) and a boatload of molasses. Some bread as well. And oh yeah, alcohol. Bourbon specifically.

Taste is also like a dessert. The main force in the taste for me is a heavy, sweet brown sugar, with loads of molasses as well as some bread. There's a fruity quality as well that really comes out as it warms up, maybe cherries? The bourbon shows on the finish, though not all as much as I may have though...and a note of oak on the finish as well.

Deceptively smooth for its ABV. As you'd expect, this beer is big and sweet....but it's dang drinkable.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of FBarber
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep ruby colored brown with a thin tan head that dissipates leaving no head and no lacing.

Smell has aromas of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, fig, and bourbon with undertones of caramel malts and a hint of vanilla.

Taste has notes of prune and fig with brown sugar and toffee. Not as much caramel in the taste as there was in the nose. However, the bourbon was more prominent with a noticeable oak character. As the bourbon stands out in the finish it does have a bit of a "hot" finish that slowly mellows into this absolutely wonderful mellow aftertaste of vanilla and barley wine soaked oak. The upfront flavors are good, but the finish is what makes it. I seriously paused in between each sip just to savor the flavors.

Feel has decent carbonation for a barrel aged beer. Provides a slight tingle initially on the tongue. Very smooth - almost like soft caramel on the mouth. Bit of sweetness provides some coating on the mouth, but the alcohol finishes dry.

Overall this is a world class barrel aged barleywine up there with the best. I've already started plotting how I can get some more next year.

 1,118 characters

Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

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Photo of jjamadorphd
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted in a Teku glass from a 12 oz bottle on July 28, 2015. Look is dark amber with a thin head and moderate lacing. Smell is dried fruits and rich caramel malts. Taste is sweet malts with complex oak, bourbon and bitter hop notes. Feel is thick and heavy.

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Photo of BNLTandem
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sooooooo......Maybe it's the euphoria of the Friday of Spring Break week....but this is great beer IMHO.

Look - is it cloudy...not really but I can't see through it. It looks more like translucent honey or maple syrup than an unfiltered wheat. poured in to a "Homer Simpson"glass (ask Kate at Aperitivo). Almost completely devoid of any head or lacing...but it's definitely not flat. Seems true to the style. Imperial malty oak aged XXXXX never seems to retain a head. Get over it IPA Guys.

Smell - A bit sweet, a bit bready, TONS of malt, fruity....banana, fig, prunes... no yeasty notes from belgian or german yeast, but some similar fruitiness. VANILLA from the wood.

Taste - All of the above. Residual, toasty sugars. Oak, Vanillla, an unexpected almost tropical fruitiness.

Feel - Thick. Not as thick with residual sugars as the look would indicate. But it clings on the pallet forever. No burn from the carbonation. Ok, I'm not drinking this on 90 degree weekends....but I AM drinking it, lets be clear!

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Photo of woodychandler
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
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).

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of jancona
3.25/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

On tap - a very uninspiring looking beer - no foam and no lacing. Cloudy reddish brown beer. Nose is pure booze - as it warmed - I mean 20 minutes later - I got some faint vanilla notes trying to poke through. Taste is pure booze - like someone poured a shot in my beer. If you like this style - go for it. I prefer a little subtlety in my barrel aged brews.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

BOTTLE: Brown glass. Branded pry-off pressure cap. Decent label art.

Acquired: in a trade with the gracious SlothB77. Thanks, man!

Reviewed live at low altitude in Austin, TX. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Vintage: 2015. Bottled: 01/06/15. Best before: 01/06/20.
ABV: 11.1%
Style: Whiskey barrel aged barleywine (per their website).
Serving temp: Cold. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption.
Serving vessel: Pilsner glass.
Expectations: Extremely high. I loved Weyerbacher's Riserva and Insanity has a great reputation.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 4 fingers wide. Khaki colour. Creamy, frothy, full, and sumptuous, with ideal thickness. Could be darker and richer. Quite soft-looking.

Retention: Superb for the ABV - easily 8 minutes. Leaves a coating of light lacing on the sides of the glass as it recedes.

BODY: Translucent deep amber. Appears well-carbonated. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's a good looking barleywine. Suggests a toasty, malty brew with higher carbonation.

AROMA: Sweetness seems perfect. Rich Scottish malts, amber malts, caramel, some indistinct fruit, English toffee, and English brown malt. Definitely has a more English character to it - at least from the yeast. The barrel aging is more subtle and faint than anticipated, but it seems to fit the base beer, bringing into the fold notes of marshmallow, white oak and concomitant barrel sugars, a bit of authentic vanilla, and backgrounded bourbon (but strangely, not whiskey, as the vanilla is quite present but there's no spiciness).

Aromatic intensity: average.

This pleasant aroma suggests a soft, coating brew with ideal sweetness and complementary subtle barrel character. I can't wait to try it, and it never seems boozy at all.

TEXTURE: The mouthfeel is the first thing I notice; marvelously soft and creamy, it accentuates the marshmallow notes beautifully. Carbonation is perfect, it's medium-bodied to the point that drinkability is heightened, and it has the right amount of heft, thickness, and weight on the palate without ever being overbearing, sticky, or syrupy. Wow. My only criticism is that its silkiness and wetness are overdone, gutting the beer of any real flavour duration.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

TASTE: Though its flavour duration is tragically brief, this is a hell of a barleywine, with soft notes of marshmallow, faint vanilla, and light bourbon accentuating the base beer, coaxing out notes of caramel, English toffee, English brown malts, amber malts, and a kiss of fruit with some gorgeous Scottish malt sweetness in there too. Sweet but never cloying, this is a shockingly sippable barleywine whose 11.1% ABV isn't noticeable at all.

My critiques are nitpicks, and I'm forced only to look at how this beer could be better, because it has no egregious flaws. It's a bit shallow in terms of depth of flavour; the oak in particular is far too reticent and the cream mutes the flavour profile. While the balance is excellent as-is, if they could maintain that masterful balance with the intricacy and layered flavours of better barleywines, this would truly be world-class. It's a cohesive build, but lacks the complexity needed to really impress, and isn't gestalt. It errs on the side of subtlety, but I'd like for it to open up a bit; there's room for more flavour expression.

Flavour intensity: Average.
Flavour amplitude: Superb.

No yeast character, booze, or off-notes come through.

OVERALL: One of the most drinkable barleywines I've ever had that I actually like, Insanity is a brew that deserves its high reputation and hides its ABV dangerously well. Those similarly fatigued by examples of the style which are cloying and/or hide their lack of flavour underneath a bourbon barrel facade will find this refreshingly splendid, but as good as it is, there's ample room for improvement. That said, this is one of few barleywines I could see myself buying on a regular basis - if only I had ready access to it. There's a clear marriage of texture to taste, and the mouthfeel is marvelous. No one can call herself a true barleywine enthusiast without trying this at least once, and this will forever be my response to those who hold up Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot as the best widely available barleywine in the U.S.. Highly recommended.

Huge thanks to SlothB77 for the chance to try this!

B (3.48)

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Insanisty lives up to its name as utterly cavity-inducing sweetness and spicy alcohols weave together in an orgy that ignores anything mild or timid.

The beer's hazy ruby body projects the color of plum syrup but also releases a creamy foam structure that constructs a dense blanket of froth, retaining throughout the session and lacing with clumping pockets as the beer falls.

Its aromas build a malty-rich scent of maple, vanilla, caramel, almond, toffee and light molasses. As the alcohol weaves in, a sense of fruit and booze rise with port, sherry and cognac.

Its taste is a marvelous melange of malt complexities: its toffee-laden, maple dipped, caramelly taste is modestly cola-like and is candied with molasses-like "horehound" flavor. Somewhat of root beer and butterscotch, the ale simply lands on the sweeter side of the fence as the spicy booze balances. Slight sherry-like vinous fruit flavors add a glimmer of acidity while the brandy and port-like spices garner complexity and strength.

Its full texture is oily because of its sheer sweetness and light carbonation that allows the ale to lay blanketed on the tongue. Its wrap of spicy booze and slight creaminess lulls the palate to sleep with numbing capabilities and comfortable drunkedness.

As the last sips slide down the gullet, I'm left with the impressions that the beer is conflicted- if the sweetness and lack of hop bitterness is going to be there, then the ale has to be less spicy and offers a lesser attempt to dry. If its going to be more "Americanized", then its got to be much more hoppy to taste, texture and smell and has got to be more semi-dry.

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Photo of BrewMakeMeFeel
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Reddish-brown, around 15 SRM. Pours with a small tan to off-white head. Maybe a trace of haze.

Smell: Pleasant oak aroma is instantly noticeable but not overpowering. Some fruity, estery notes are bit more subtle.

Taste: Bourbony oak flavor is smooth and complex, extremely well balanced with caramel sweetness. Finishing with a hint of lingering bitterness and a clean, alcohol burn. Very distinct flavor profile.

Feel: Silky, with very little carbonation. Full-bodied and pleasant. Like the taste, reminiscent of bourbon.

 535 characters

Photo of FFFjunkie
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$4.99 12oz bottle poured into an over-sized Sam Adams Perfect Pint. Heard plenty of great things about this beer so decided to give it a buy... almost bought two singles. Bottled 11/9/15 and poured 2/24/16 ... pretty fresh, I'd say.

This pours a super murky copper brown color. Looks really creamy going into the glass. The head is simply a modest ring around the glass leaving virtually no lacing. The aroma on Insanity is... big. The amount of alcohol I'm picking up is, well... insane. Almost equal parts alcohol and dark fruits, with a nice backing of oak from the barrel aging. Lots of whiskey in this beer, to be sure.

The taste follows the nose extremely well, for the most part. Dark fruits are in in this beer something fierce, with a hot booziness and slick feel. The oak aging is a nice addition to put a woody character up against the malt. One sip of this, and I'd stay out of the driver's seat for quite awhile... this stuff is potent. The alcohol dries right up off the tongue after each sip. The body on this is pretty creamy and big, but still, somehow not quite where I'd like it to be -- it just comes off a little too flat for me.

Something's missing with Insanity, and I'm not sure what it is entirely. The feel is certainly a bit off (the silkiness and lacking carbonation make it a bit syrupy), but I think the flavor just isn't all there. Near the end of the sip and into the finish there's a delicious, rich, almost maple syrup malty flavor that I really enjoy, but the majority of this beer's flavor is simply of alcohol before all else, and I'm not a fan of buying a beer and having to wait a handful of years before drinking it -- if a beer isn't delicious right after being bottled, then it shouldn't be bothered. I digress.

Insanity is a solid beer. For the price, you absolutely can't go wrong with picking some of this stuff up, especially if you're the kind of person who ages beer. The thing is, I've just had better barrel aged English barleywines that were roughly just as fresh and didn't impart such an intense "bourbon (in this case, whiskey) before all else" flavor.

 2,110 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other."

--Mark Twain

Minimally murky cranberry-infused orange beneath half a snifter of caramel mousse colored foam. I love the spongecake-like texture of the head and the amazing amount of lace (given the ABV) that is being laid down. This is how an American barleywine should look.

On the pour, the room was filled with the scent of bourbon. Now that I'm concentrating on the nose for real, aided by the sloping sides of the snifter, that aspect is a more balanced, more incorporated portion of the whole. Caramel and boozy maraschino cherries lead the assault, although boozy makes it sound like the alcohol is harsh or raw. It isn't.

My best guess is that this bottle is two years old. Looks like I picked the perfect time to crack the crown because it's still a beast, but it's a manageable beast. That's exactly how I like my barleywines. In addition to a little age, I think the fact that the alcohol portion of the flavor profile tastes like bourbon helps immensely.

Insanity favors the caramel-toffee family of flavors and is a better beer for it. Whereas I like my DIPAs and American IPAs to be pale malt-dominant (to keep the hops in the center of the spotlight), I like my barleywines to feature flavor from the barley side of things. There's plenty of hop bitterness to go around and it keeps things from becoming too sweet and sticky.

In case you hadn't heard, this beer is Blithering Idiot aged in oak barrels that had previously held bourbon. If it's done right, I haven't yet met big beer that didn't benefit from such aging. Since bourbon (along with single malt Scotch) is my favorite liquor, I might be a little biased. The classic flavors of burnt sugar and vanilla are front and center, giving this big ale the nudge that is needs to enter the realm of greatness.

How in the world can a beer that weighs in at 11.1% be so damn drinkable? Again, softening due to the passage of time has a lot to do with it. Another reason is a mouthfeel that is softly carbonated and isn't a big, gooey mess. I occasionally like big, gooey messes, but I also like barleywine mouthfeels that are built for speed. Like this one.

I need to acquire another bottle of Blithering Idiot because I don't remember it as being nearly this good. It's hard to imagine that bourbon barrel aging is completely responsible for the outstanding ale that sits before me, but I guess it's possible. Insanity just shot to the top of my 'must have' list when I travel to Ohio next month. Insane is right. Insanely delicious.

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Photo of oberon
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poures a deep,rich amber color with a slightly off white head,aromas are very woody with some vanilla and high octaine alcohol kick ur nostriles hard and lets you know this is big and bad ass.Thick and chewey mouthfeel makes this beer a sipper one to savor,very warming alcoholic beer, oak flavors are very prevelant with some butteriness as well,almost like a vanilla flavored spiced rum.Iam glad I got a chance to try this,its a sipper or one to share with friends like I did tonight,very rich and flavorful.

 510 characters

Photo of don1481
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into Mr. Pint Glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark caramel with a brisk amount of carbonation and a thumb-width khaki colored head that lingers for a few moments.

Smell: A little bit of bourbon, but more bready and fruity - get quite a bit of figs and raisins here. Some vanilla notes, caramel and toffee too. As it breathes, it gets more complex.

Taste: Bourbon, but much deeper than just the heat. Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, and raisins abound in the taste. It's a pretty complex dance that's going on in this one.

Mouthfeel: Much more warming than some of the other barleywines I've had lately. The alcohol burn, especially during the first few sips, lingers a bit longer. It gets cleaner as I drink more, but the lingering first few sips really came as a bit of a surprise compared to other barleywines of late. Medium-bodied for sure.

Overall: I'll be aging this to see how it progresses. Lots of potential, but it's a notch below CW's amongst the recent ones I've had.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This ABW poured a light brown orange in color, which was strange for the style. The head was modest but lasted well.

Smell – The nice malty bourbony backbone dominated the smell, which was pleasing but lacked the complexity that I’ve come to expect from the style.

Taste – The thick, malty flavor here is mixed with booze and some light red wine.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied Barley Wine had a nice mouthfeel but the booze was a bit too “stingy” for my tastes.

Drinkability – I enjoyed this Weyerbacher offering but thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Jaurora80
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of t2grogan
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Marklaker
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of tbryan5
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Classic deep red brown barleywine hue.
S- Great bourbon notes. Oak, coconut, and solid malt backbone.
T- The barrel and hefty maltiness work great together. Similar to the nose.
M- Light carbonation and slick coating mouthfeel.
D- Pretty stout at 11%. Great sipper.

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Photo of SanFranJake
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of sicilian
4.61/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels) from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 2,504 ratings
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