Insanity - Oak Barrel-Aged | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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Insanity - Oak Barrel-AgedInsanity - Oak Barrel-Aged
2,510 Ratings
Insanity - Oak Barrel-AgedInsanity - Oak Barrel-Aged

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,510 |  Reviews: 955
Photo of RonfromJersey
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown body, which turns blood red when held to the light. Topped by two fingers plus of eggnogy colored firm tight foam. LAways nice to see a hefty brew hold its head.

If you didn't know it was barrell aged, one whiff would convince you. Huge notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon better than I ever drank. Just sniff this one for awile before diving in.

Taste begins with a big splash of malt, followed by a big brush of hops, and then the guests arrive at the party. Vanilla, oak, a bit of bouron, and a warming glow of alcohol arises from your belly - smooth, not a nasty burn in the back of your throat.

Mouthfeel is just what you would want, solid and substantial, about three quarters of the way to an imperial stout. Drinkability is fine, just don't rush yourself. This is an enjoyable sipper.

Like brother Heresy, Weyerbacher takes a good beer (Blithering Idiot) and makes it better. As I watch the foot of snow outside, all still seems right. Give this a try, though beware of price gouging. Dare I say, Insanely good?

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep clear brown with about one finger of head that disappears quickly but leaves a nice lace. First smell that hits you is that of bourbon, but it gradually gives way to an underlying maltiness doubled with an offsetting spicy nose. Very unique aroma that gets you excited for your first sip. Flavor itself is very interesting; it's bourbon-heavy with a good sweet-spicy balance before finishing extremely malty and vanilla with a wonderful malt aftertaste. The alcohol is extremely well-hidden for its potency, and the medium-bodied mouthfeel makes it much more drinkable than a lot of others in its weight class. I can't imagine wanting more than one at once, but I can see really enjoying this one on a snowy night.

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clear brown color with a nice tightly wound light tan head. Nice lacing leading to a few tan clumps left floating in the middle of the glass. Hints of wood, a hint hops, vanilla and a slight presence of fruit in the aroma. A very small hint of alcohol comes across the nose.
The taste is complex; fruit up front, sweet malt and then more flavors move in. Hints of the oak maybe giving this a bit of a bourbon tone? Vanilla, malt and tones of dark fruit join in. A sweet smooth mouthfeel joins in to enjoy the ride across the pallet. The alcohol punch is covered up nice but is present enough to remind you that it is there in the background. As this warned the flavors and aroma seemed to come out more and made this brew more enjoyable.
If this is Insanity…commit me for life!

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.12/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear medium brown, no head. Light rummy and bourbony aroma presenting vanilla, and sadly no fruits at all, resulting in a simple sweet slightly woody and earthy array of flavors at which the integration is not all that. While I can name a few flavors, it’s not too complex and very candyish. Straight bourbon flavor also makes for a disappointing palate compared to the aroma. Astringent finish. Almost roasty finish feels a bit harsh. Alcohol is strong still. Creamy medium body is very liqurous, but this fits here. It feels like a run as fast as possible to follow a trend to me. Do they also run to catch the new season’s fashion clothe color? Or perhaps it was just released a little too early. Still, as it is: boring.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled at From The Vine beer tasting Jan 14th, 2005: Clear, dark amber color with a very thin light tan head. Lacing is nonexistent. Woody aroma, with a strong bourbon/whiskey presence. Rich body, and the alcohol is not hidden in this one at all. Oak and toffee flavors are masked by the bourbon flavor at first, and the sting doesn’t go away for awhile. The finish is dry and bitter. Pretty good beer but kind of hard to drink.

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Photo of altctrlsdelete
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Capital Ale House downtown. Doesn't look to be moving too quickly.

Much more subtle bourbon flavoring than the Heresy, which I thought was great. I had been putting off trying the Insanity due to this -- I assumed the level of bourbon-infusion would be close to the same, and didn't think it would complement the barleywine as well as it did the stout. However, Weyerbacher hit it spot on with this concoction. The bourbon is there, but it's in the background. The immensity and impact of the Blithering Idiot is in your face, backed up with just enough bourbon to make it perfect.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a barleywine.

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Photo of carln26
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with some ruby high lights. It poured very clear with a medium cream colored head that did leave a nice sheet of lace down the glass. The aroma has some hop fruit ( grapefruit primarily)with some vanilla from the oak aging. I must say, this beer does well conditioned with the oak, The taste has more vanilla, even pecans up front. The hops show midway through the flavor with some hop flower and mild pine flavors. Malt shows late in the drink with a mild caramel sweetness. The oak aging lends a great silky mouth feel to the beer. Very drinkable. Weyerbecher needs to continue this oak aged series.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have not tried Blithering Idiot yet, but this label and the fact that it will be featured at the Extreme Beer Fest, just sucked me in.
Poured a very dark copper/bronze w/ a thin (less than 1/2 a finger), tan head. Slight cascading lace that disappeared in seconds.
Smell was not as intense as I was expecting...hints of vanilla and bourbon.
The taste, again was not overpowering...fairly dry w/ a hint of oak and cherries. You do taste the alcohol, but it is perfectly carbonated, which makes this brew drinkable. Not a session beer, but nonetheless, very smooth and gets better w/ each sip.
I look forward to trying this beer again at the Extreme Fest.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer looks like an antique cabinet. Dark reddish tints show through against the dark brown color. The colors blend together like wood grain. A thin creamy head sticks around for a while. Probably one of the strongest smelling beers I've come across. The closer you get your nose to the beer the more it smells like a straight up glass of whisky, straight from the rivers of Kentucky. Other sweeter scents are detectable too, such as dark cherries, vanilla, and sweet ripe mellow malts with a bit of a hop bitterness hiding somewhere in there. An amazingly aromatic brew. The taste is just as good. Sweet overly-ripe fruits (pears, berries, nectarines, whatever) hit the palate first, followed by a cherry vanilla sweetness. All the while you can definately feel a combination of a hop kick and an alcohol burn on the tongue. The %11 alcohol is noticable in the way that it warms the throat and stomach, but not overly present in the taste. This is an intrigueingly (real word?) complex beer. I like it. Very smooth and syrupy juicy mouthfeel, as is typical of the barley wine style. Drinkabilty is really surprisingly good considering the style and ABV of this beer. A real winner by Weyerbacher. This beer both exemplifies its style and also challenges it and defines it differently and originally, which I think is one of the highest achievements of brewing. I'll drink to that for sure.

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Photo of HappyHourHero
3.48/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thick, creamy, dark tan head holds strong. Deep, hazy, mahogany colored beer with a ruby hue. Fairly strong aroma; a bit of whiskey up front with some woody vanilla that almost comes together smelling like coconut. There's whiskey all over the flavor as well, but there's also some nice dark malty fruit and some more caramel/vanilla. Finish is slightly alcoholic, and ultimately pretty clean. Warms the stomach up real nice. Body is on the thick side as expected and helps to coat your tongue in flavor. Whiskey tones are strong, but not as detracting as in the Heresy. While not one of my favorites, this is a solid beer with plenty going on to keep me interested.

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Photo of edchicma
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful amber with a creamy head and great lacing. Smell is oak, malt, bourbon with a hint of get the feeling this is going to pack a wallop. Taste starts with a malt presence and a distinct alcohol pop. A smooth maltiness hits on the mid-palate with the hint of vanilla...ends in alcohol and hop kick,,,pretty smooth for the abv. Why does this remind me of fine whiskey....must be the oak. Mouthfeel is extremely smooth for the abv...very surprising. Easy enough to drink, but honestly, I could feel the power early on...just one a night is fine....enjoy....keep those oak casks going Weyerbacher...a good complement to Heresy, which I understand will be brewed year round.

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Photo of stingo
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dense clowdy brownish red, with a small thin head. A rich, thick nose with a hint of black licorice, black cherry and dark chocolate. A dense malty richness with a hint of port wine stuck at the sides makes this a real treat for the palate - the mouthfeel is not as heavy as one might expect which makes the hard to find 11% abv that much more dangerous. Definitely a great winter beer, and one that I hope to have more of in the future.

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Photo of cooperrip
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Insanity poured a deep blood red into my snifter with about an inch of frothy tan head that settled into impressive lacing around my glass.First whiff is a pretty decent amount of whisky with a smokey vanilla background.Taste-again bourbon up front but it has a suprisingly sweet, fruity finish.I served this a little too cold so after fifteen minutes of anxious anticipation I dove back in.Wow! Mouthfeel is very full with an amazing amount of warmth.Creamy malt sweetness that reminds me of that first cadbury egg of the season.This bitch is dangerous.I wish I bought more than one, Insane!

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Photo of clvand0
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours and amber/red color with very little head and doesn't leave any lacing on the glass. The aroma is sweet with fruit tones and a bit of vanilla and oak. The flavor has some dark fruit and alcohol with vanilla and some hints of wood. The drinkability is ok, slightly suffering from the alcohol. The body is good, right where it should be.

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Photo of Todd
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hmm … a Barleywine aged in bourbon wood.

Slightly hazy brown with bright orange and ruby hues, crowned with a tan cream head that settles into a thin ringed lace.

Surprisingly subtle in the aroma, not as big as I expected. Raw hop leaf and wood aromas, some alcohol spice, and a soft fruity / malty sweetness. Light fruity esters and fusels hit the eyes, watering them slightly, and reminding you that this is not a beer to be underestimated.

Full and even in the body. Flavors are deeply complex, with plenty of bourbon nuances. Raw leaf, chocolate powder, aggressive spicy alcohol, burnt caramel, sugary sweet backbone, deep vanilla, oaky wood, dark juicy ripe fruits, slight vinous port-like character beneath, some chalkiness on the palate, and a touch of date sugar.

Recommendation: allow to warm to room temperature and enjoy in a wide-bowled snifter. This will allow all of the malt and wood complexities to really pull through, as well as enhance the alcohol presence.

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Photo of merlin48
4.56/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle purchased at Jungle Jim's, just north of Cincinnati. Initial pour into a tulip glass, is a chill hazed, garnet orange body with a one finger beige head that hangs around for several minutes. Second pour produced an immense, foamy, head that required several patient minutes before retasting. Body was clear on the 2nd pour, and crystal clear orange mahogany. Lacing is immense and sticky, clinging in island chain lace patterns all around the glass. Appearance is exceptional on both pours.
Aroma, to my surprise, was subdued, yet classy. Toffee, vanilla, woody oak, orange pulp, Bing cherries, and a hint of Makers Mark bourbon. Lovely, but understated.
Mouthfeel was truly sublime. Full bodied, creamy, and smooth, with just a nick of bourbon warmth. I give mouthfeel a 5 only when it's so nice that I catch myself swirling it around in my mouth for several seconds before swallowing. This one qualifies.
Taste is complex to the nth degree, justifying the "Insanity" name. No hop monster, this one. Very unique flavor profile compared to other barleywines I've sampled. This one is smooth and creamy, satiny, in fact, without any rough edges. Vanilla and oak tones are prominent, with a kiss of premium Kentucky bourbon warmth. Cherries, raisins, and toasted caramel apple notes add to the intrigue. Alcohol harshness is totally missing other than the bourbon warmth. Damn! This one leaves me at a loss of descriptive words. It is so complex, that Insanity is all I can come up with. Incredible, sums up the experience of sipping this one for over an hour. Very drinkable, but in a very slow manner. Take your time with this one. It is foolish, nay, insane, to try more than one of these a month. Weyerbacher has produced a classic with this one.

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Photo of MediocreatBest
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a dark burnt sienna color, with hues of ruby. a darker color then the texas longhorns uniform shade of orange, not the best description i know, but that is the ebst way to describe the color. off white/tanish head that sticks around makeing me grow impatient cause i want to get a sip, but the head is so large i know it will be one of those circumstances when you get a nose full of foam, so you must wait. smells of over ripened fruit, malty sweetness, and a slight burn of alcohol. when the sip first hits your tounge it is dark cherries, but as you swallow it fades to a sweeter currant flavor. plum and malty sweetness also exist along with the pungent taste of alcohol. when it is cold the hops hit you kind of ahrsh as you would expect from an american style barley wine, but as it warms this fdes to a nice smoothness. the only tihng ditracting from the smoothness is the obvious alcohol taste. some sips this alcohol taste is a deterent, but on most it compliments the style and the beer. somewhat heavy and light on carbonation. swirling it in the glass doesnt even seem to stir a thin coat of foam. very good, much smoother then some other american versions of this style. i wonder how aging will treat this beer, already smooth, and not overly hoppy, i would hope more vanillia flavors might perk from the barrel aging as well as the fruit notes coming out more whole heartedly.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This 22 oz. bomber was shipped as part of the BIF X-Mas package by shippos. I saved it for the grand finale of the experience. When I poured the beer into a goblet, it had a deep red color, and a clear body. A fizzy one inch thick head formed while pouring, but soon dissipated to a quarter of its original size. The aroma was relatively mild, and reminded me of toffee, pears, powdered cocoa, and vanilla. The taste was divinely mellow with oak aged vinous dry notes shining through each sip. The malt presented itself as raisin, cherry, raspberry, and subtle hints of dark chocolate. The mouthfeel was medium thick and a bit prickly. The alcohol was very boozy and hot, detracting from being able to down this one quickly. For those of you that can get this, I’d recommend some ageing in the bottle for additional improvements.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Review #20 on this beer. This one pours a very nice ruby color with a small half finger head that falls to coat the beer. The nose is very sweet, some nice sweet cherry with a very oaky vanilla touch that balances things out a lot. The flavor is really nice. A bit of dark fruit, but a bit of vanilla and bourbon flavors, but not as much as the Heresy. The feel is very thick and full. Drinkability is nice on this as well. I think the oak flavors work very well with the base barleywine. Good show...good show.

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Photo of Boto
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. Bottle: This beer pours a dar, caramel color. Kind of like a thick coke with no bubbles. There was a limited amount of carbonation. There was a very small head that died off rather quickly. The nose was very nice. There are notes of bourban, oak and floral to go along with a rich malt sweetness. The taste is very rich: almost sherry-like. A well balanced caramel malt sweetness, with some hints of the bourbon. There are also notes of some chocolate in the taste also. Malty, smooth, and the alcohol is well hidden. This is really nice!

Thanks to my son for sharing this one with me!

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Photo of Wildman
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This latest edition of their specialty line poured a very dark clear copper amber color and formed a foamy off white head that coated the glass with lace as it subsided. An aroma heavy of elements of malt, caramel, and red wine. The flavor consisted of malt, caramel, wood and red wine. The body was medium with the finish being slightly astrigent with vinous characteristics. The overall combination of characteristics of this beer really made it stand out. Drinkabilty of barley wines/old ales like this is always tough to measure.

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Photo of maltydog
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of my favorites in 2004. I have always enjoyed Weyerbacher's "Big Beer" sampler case. They have elevated the Blithering Idiot barleywine to new heights by cask aging it in bourbon barrels. The appearance is dark amber with garnet hightlights. Head is opaque and shows nice traces of lace as the beer is enjoyed. The nose exhibits traces of vanilla with strong hints of bourbon. The flavor develops as the ale warms. Starts out with luscious vanilla and woody notes with stronger hints of bourbon the longer you enjoy it. This is a serious beer that is seriously delicious. I highly recommend it!!

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Photo of soulfly967
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a great dark reddish amber with an off white head that fell to a film after a few minutes and left some lacing, but not much. The smell was of oak, burbon, and a beautiful fruity sweetness, the alcohol is masked nicely. The taste started off fruity and caramel sweetness , then moved into a vanilla and whiskey flavor, and finished with a smooth touch of alcohol and oak. Acutally, there was a touch of oak across the entire taste experience. The mouthfeel was smooth as slik, perfectly carbonated and had excellent body. WOW! This is one bad ass beer! I will be looking for this again REALLY soon!

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Photo of meathookjones
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This review was from a 22oz bottle. This poured out a deep reddish brown with about an inch of tan foam on top. The head sticks around for an unusually long time and leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is of ripe dark fruits with a malty sweetness. Notes of vanilla, woodiness and alcohol are also in the mix. Quite a full and complex aroma that might take me a few bottles to figure out. Taste starts off with sweet fruits and a touch of caramel. There are some notes of vanilla and bourbon characteristics as well. Quite a mix of flavors going on here and every thing seems to balance each other out quite nicely. There is also some toasty malt in there as well and it ends with a light alcohol burn. Simply awesome. Mouthfeel is full, thick and creamy with a slight warmth to it. Excellent drinkability here, I could drink this all night or as long as I could stay awake. I am very impressed by this offering and plan to pick more of this up to keep around for the cold months ahead.

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Photo of DunkelFester
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle. No bottled on or freshness date, but this is almost a non-issue for a beer this big, particularly one so new.

Appearance: Deep garnet w/ warm ruby highlights when backlit. Tiny bubbles rising slowly; hinting at a slightly viscous brew. I poured this a bit on the hard side into a large snifter, yielding more than an inch of dense mousse-like head. Excellent retention. From the top, it looked like pancake batter (you know, the way the smaller bubbles merge and give rise to larger ones that linger at the surface?). Superb. It didn't budge until I took my first sip. After that, the head settled to a creamy 1/4". Nice lacing on the way down.

Aroma: Huge vanilla and bourbon. Oak all over the place. I don't know how some reviewers missed this. I don't mean to imply that it's overpowering, but it's certainly right there in front of you. The alcohol is there too, but it's more something you 'feel' on a deep inhale than something you can 'smell' outright. Extremely pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, ever-so-slightly viscous. Slides down beautifully. Surprising for a beer with >11% abv. Carbonation is moderate, but seems just right.

Taste: Whiskey, vanilla and slightly sweet malt. Sweetness is greatly reduced over last year's Blithering Idiot. The oak barrell aging seems to have worked wonders in converting BI to Insanity: imparting big whiskey & oak characteristics while mellowing the alcohol bite and sweetness just enough.

Notes: Put simply, this is a huge brew. A truly great beer, to say the least. Warming effects are instantaneous, and the flavor is complex yet instantly satisfying. I was a big fan of Blithering Idiot, but Insanity takes it to another level altogether. My distributor gave me this bottle for free (gotta love a good relationship with one's local beer store!!). I can't wait to pick up some more. I just know that there's more flavors to explore in this one.

Fireside philosophers take note: Grab this one if/while you can! Winter just got a whole lot warmer.


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Insanity - Oak Barrel-Aged from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 2,510 ratings