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Insanity | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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934 Reviews

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

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

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Reviews: 934 | Ratings: 2,426
Photo of Ozzylizard
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received from @Josholson in NBS BIF #4
Bottle produced 11/26/15, BB 11/26/20, at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried Weyerbacher tulip
Aroma of malt
Head small (Maximum < one cm, aggressive pour), tan, creamy, diminishing to a two mm ring and thin layer
Lacing - none
Body – dark amber, cloudy
Flavor – starts sweet but not cloying, malty, some alcohol; no hops, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation

Excellent and relatively cheap.

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

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Photo of hopsputin
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: a slightly murky brown color with just a hint of ruby red. head pours thin and dissipates right away

s: toffee, leather, oak, sweet berries, molasses, brown sugar, alcohol, caramel malts, plums, figs, and raisins. this is a bold aroma, with lots going on right away and a definite alcohol in the aroma

t: toffee, molasses, and fig in a big way up front. very sweet on the tip of the tongue. behind that is a nice oak presence as well as some of that leather and sweet berries, and dark rich plum. there is definitely a large alcohol presence in the flavor as well - its burning the lips. the alcohol is effectively canceling out the initial sweetness. there is a bit of a spice in here as well - like nutmeg or raw cinnamon also that makes itself known in the background. there is also a hint of bitter orange rind as well towards the very end. definite sipper.

m: heavy, sticky mouthfeel, not much carbonation at all. just what it should be

o: this is a definite sipper that drinks almost like a liquor. big rich sweet flavors abound in here, and you can feel the beer from the syrup to the tinge it leaves on your lips. might be best to sit on this for a while to let the alcohol die down just a touch, but this is a fantastic nighttime sipper

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Photo of Myotus
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (2013 vintage) into a snifter. Consumed on 31Jul16.
SMELL: Strong aromas of oak, figs, plums, and brown sugar intertwine with mild cinnamon, caramel and vanilla aromas to create along with subtle aromas of tree nuts, coconut, alcohol, earthy hops, and orange peel to create a balanced and multifarious smell profile.
4.5 out of 5
TASTE: Like the aromas, balance in the taste profile is instantly established as strong flavors of oak, figs, and plums caress the palate. Strong flavors of brown sugar and caramel immediately give way to significantly amplify the sweetness. Balance is quickly restored as mild flavors of vanilla, tree nuts, alcohol, and spicy cinnamon accompany the prior flavors. Further complexity develops as subtle coconut and earthy hop flavors enter while flavors of alcohol grow slightly stronger. Subtle orange peel flavors bring an additional touch of bittersweetness as all previous flavors maintain.
4.25 out of 5
NOTE: The taste profile had such a staggering sophistication as one would expect and hope for in the style. The barrel aging gave this a wonderful oak flavor that blended very well with the other flavors. I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) that the perception of alcohol was as high as it was given that this bottle had been aged for three years. I was hoping that the heat would have died down by now. At the end of the day, this was a spectacular Barleywine. I recommend aging this unless you love the perception of alcohol in your brews.

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Photo of mschrei
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter. Couple months old. Red brown with no foam or lacing. Boozy and barrel aged smell, follows through the taste. Very strong, not much other than barrel ale taste. Feel like I'm drinking straight liquor. Good, but thinking it would be much more subtle and enjoyable after a few years.

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Photo of Tone
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, brown color. 1/5 inch head of an off-white color. Slight retention and slight lacing. Smells of alcohol, slight liquor, dark citrus, yeast, sweet malt, hint of wood, and a hint of hops. Fits the style of an English Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, slight liquor, sweet malt, yeast, dark citrus, slight earthy malt, hops, and a hint of wood. Overall, weak appearance, great aroma, body, blend, and feel.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours - Deep purple wine looking color little head that quickly faded some lacing.

Smell - Right away sweet caramel an brown sugar, the oak is also coming through nice malty slightly fruit smell.

Taste - The oak comes out in the first sip, also banana flavor and sweet brown sugar, not getting any alcohol well hidden. It almost tastes like it has aged a year or so but it has not.

Fell - high side of medium, well carbonated slightly dry.

Overall - This is an amazing beer, great flavors and smell. The alcohol is very well hidden.

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Photo of FBarber
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of Rogerlb
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Amber opaque, cloudy with really no head. It looks nice enough. You can make out slight carbonation bubbles. Aroma is slight, mostly of raisins, and sweet booze.

The taste is a boozey spoiled grapefruit and fig. There's malt in there but not too forward, no bitterness to speak of either. At 11.1 % the booze is right up front, not very hidden, to style (and Weyerbacher likes booze-forward). The wood of the barrel is pretty far in the bg and I had to look for it. Not sure the sweet is a grapey quality or just the alcohol. Finishes sticky and syrupy. Now I'm barely getting the molasses they're talking about.

For a barrel-aged I'm not sure this demonstrates the nuances I expected. When it warms the astringent quality of the booze mellows, or I'm just getting used to it. A very good if not world-class English barleywine in my opinion.

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Photo of angelmonster
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review is of 2 and a half old bottle dated Jan/2014

Pours a copper hazy color, head is very thin and egg shell white. For a barleywine, the lacing and head retention were surprising.

Smells of dried fruits, figs, prunes, and dates. Toasted and caramel malts are also present, as well as alcohol, diacetyls like a chardonnay. Hops arent really there, sweetness dominates this beer.

Main flavors in this beer are butterscotch, caramel, dried apricot and plum. Alcohol is definitely there, sadly not getting a ton of oak. Biscuity malts are the base of this beer, almost like an Imperial fat tire. Cant really pick out hops as in the aroma.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, carbonation is good, small head added a substantial froth to coat the mouth.

Overall, this beer was on my want list for a long time so maybe the expectations were too high. Thought it was a solid barleywine but nothing phenomenal. Didnt get much from the oak barrels, alcohol was a bit messy, almost medicinal. Dont think this beer is too far off from Blithering Idiot.

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Photo of BiaSongThan
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage bottled November enjoyed 5/12/16 Brownish red appearance slightly cloudy with little head. Aroma of dark fruits, bread, desserts, oak, bourbon. Taste is the same with some caramel, toffee, vanilla. Medium body soft carbonation and a bit sticky/ syrupy on the lips. This is a really nice Ba English barleywine. Sure, bourbon county is more complex, abacus probably is too, but this is much easier to find and very enjoyable.

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Photo of jancona
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%
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 jahbless
3.34/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tart with a hint of molasses. Some heat in the finish, can definitely tell it's high Abv. Slightly dry finish, pretty sub-par barleywine; Just OK, wouldn't rush to buy again.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark auburn color with a slight white head a pretty good lacing. Dark fruit with some fig and plum with some sweet vanilla. Mellow taste, sweet caramel and toffee and fig. Medium light body and carbonation. Pretty damn good.

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Photo of BNLTandem
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Tonyjenlasc
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - Dark amber/brown/red color. Looks nice in the glass.
Smell - Tons of oak/barrel on the nose. Caramel/toffee and dark fruits come thru as well.
Taste - Follows the nose beautifully. Oak, caramel/toffee, cherries, figs, sweet malts, wood, molasses
Feel - Sticky/syrupy

Overall - A fantastic English barleywine!

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Photo of rorykanderson
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Outstanding BBA barleywine. If you read the reviews of fellow BAs you can sum up this beer as follows - rough around the edges. Are Straight Jacket and Sucaba smoother and lighter on the alcohol heat? Absolutely. Are they more refined? Probably. Are they better? That's a matter of taste. Insanity is anything but subtle - it's a garnet, crushed velvet purple and brown pour with a thin head. Aroma is dark fruit, bourbon, toffee, wood, moist earth and vanilla. Taste is rich, sweet fruit with a big alcohol body followed by that exquisite bourbon-vanilla. The heat is there - there's no escaping it so just sip and enjoy. The vanilla and bourbon that just lingers after each sip...damn. It's awesome. Go nuts - buy a four pack: enjoy two now and stash the other two away for a year.

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Photo of Masonz223
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look: dark brown ruby red color not much of a head.
Smell: brown sugar plums raisin Carmel lots of sugary sweetness some alchool that really clears the sinuses.
Taste: upfront you get that instant sweetness. Dark fruits raisin plums candied sugar. Finishes with some vanilla slight black cherry and a fruity tanginess. sweetness lingers in the after taste along with alchool warmith in the chest.
Feel: it is a full bodied beer. That holds the beer together great.
Overall: this is a very complex beer and it's what you should expect from this style. Lots of malt complexity makes this beer very sweet but the slight alchool taste balances it out perfect. Sip on this and enjoy.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottling date of 12/17/15

Appearance - Pours kind of a rusty, auburn red with a khaki, finger width head. Sub-par retention leaves behind a mostly barren surface and a thin ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell - Sweet and slightly tart, like bourbon-soaked cherries. Underlying molasses and caramel. Faint vanilla and oak. Mild astringency.

Taste - Follows the nose. Starts with cherry tartness and lesser dark notes of sugar-coated raisin and molasses. Mild oak and vanilla hit briefly mid-taste. A bit of heat hits in the finish, leaving the aftertaste ringing with a touch of astringency and a lingering sugary sweetness.

Mouthfeel - Full in body with low carbonation. The texture is sticky and slightly syrupy. Slightly dry finish.

Overall - Blithering Idiot is a pretty sub-par barleywine, and adding it bourbon barrels didn't do much to improve it. While it still has major flaws, it is slightly more enjoyable than its non-BA counterpart. I've got another in the fridge that I'll have no problem aging in hopes the Belgian Triple-like sweetness subsides with age and a more mellow, well developed brew emerges.

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
3.76/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into stout glass, which may not have been a good idea. We shall see.

L: Two-finger head with poor retention, no lacing, thin ring. Beer is a dark burgundy.

S: Sweet malt typical of barleywine, definite strong oak barrel. Also alcohol. It's there.

T: Sweetness, dark fruits, oakiness, with some alcohol on finish.

F: Not a great job of masking alcohol. Low carbonation, medium body.

O: Decent barleywine, but too much barrel and alcohol and not enough subtlety.

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of gustavmahler-09
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black, virtually no head. Smell spicy, very present. Taste is strong, boozy, spicy, with a long finish. Feels creamy, but with an edge. Overall a good barley wine without the cloying taste of some.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.16/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle to snifter. Aroma Is musty, sweet, honey, vegetables. Cloudy brown-orange. Strong. High alcohol. Belgian Wang. Brandy-like taste.
Bottle to Snifter. Bottle dated 11/16/15, though I just bought it, so who knows what the aging conditions were.
Similar to above notes, though I don't really get the wang.
LOOK: Deep Mahogany color, clear. Small head fades quickly.
AROMA: Apple, wine,
TASTE: honey, apple, whiskey that is not apparent in the nose shows up late and knocks everything else away.
FEEL: pretty flat, medium body.

Pretty Good, Ratings increased slightly, (3.01 to 3.16). I think I like the regular Blithering Idiot better.

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Photo of Prager62
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A bottle I recently picked up dated 11/09/15 and I'm guessing a batch number 596467B3. Pouring in my Weyerbacher tulip to have a taste!

Look- Pours a reddish brown semi transparent color leaving a small finger of light tan foam that settles to form a ring around the glass. Looks like whiskey when held up to the light.

Smell- Huge barrel aroma of whiskey, dark cherry, caramel, vanilla and wood.

Taste- Caramel malt, figs, raisins, dark cherry and vanilla. The label states 'ale aged in oak barrels', but I'm sure picking up a lot of booze in the finish along with the oak. I get a slight bit of corn at the end.

Feel- Slick with some carbonation and a good dose of heat in the finish.

Overall- I remember reading a lot about this beer when I joined the site years ago. Newer 'toys' seemed to have pushed this one aside. I never had the opportunity to try as distribution was out of reach until SW Michigan started getting a wider range of Weyerbacher products recently. A winner in my opinion! A nice mix of complex dark fruit flavors and barrel. With a best by date 5 years out from the bottling date, I'm glad I bought another to cellar. I'll definitely be looking for a couple more in my travels.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter
2012 vintage

A- pours a deep amber-brown color with a small creamy off-white head that reduces quickly, but leaves some alcohol legs behind

S- aroma is dominated with black cherry, with undertones of caramel, raisin, bourbon, toasted oak, coconut & a hint of booze

T- opens up with a big dose of sweet caramel/toffee, quickly followed by dark cherry and raisin, the bourbon shows up mid-palate with notes of vanilla and spicy oak. The finish brings some herbal notes, along with more bourbon and booze

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel that has just enough bite to continue through to the finish

O- has held up quite well, more caramel and dark cherry come out, compared to fresh. It is surprisingly still quite boozy.

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Photo of bushbeer75
4.16/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz brown bottle - bottled on 1/19/15 - best before 1/19/19

Weyerbacher Insanity Ale body is reddish brown in color. A very small off-white head that shrank fast to a collar of bubbles with no lacing produced. The aroma of sweet malt; dark caramel, vanilla,, and oak dominated. Taste begins sweet, with flavors of caramel and brown sugar followed by light vanilla, oaky notes and a warming bourbon like finish. Mouth feel is high-medium to full bodied and syrupy on the palate with moderate carbonation and alcohol warmth noted.

Insanity makes a nice nighttime sipper.

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Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 2,426 ratings.
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