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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)
2,504 Ratings
Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels)Insanity (Ale Aged in Oak Barrels)

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: 2,504 |  Reviews: 953
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 vanilla...whoa...you 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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Photo of 99bottles
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Into a tulip glass, this beer exhibits an immense and deep ruby color, near mahogany. A clumpy head of off white rises to an inch and quickly falls to a sporadic cover on the surface.

Smell: Sweet malt and lots of it. This smells like corn syrup. I wish I could elaborate on the smell, but there isn't much to it. I'm surprised at the lack of oak, considering the barrel aging and all. You might twist my arm to say I detect some alcohol and some ripe fruit scents like that of figs. But in all honesty, I mostly detect corn sugar and tons of it, much like Heavyweight's Old Salty.

Taste: Huh. I'll dissect this. First of all: Great job on the the oak barrel aging. This is exquiste. But to affront such accolade, I must say that the beer being aged (Blithering Idiot) is so weak that the oak is the most dominant flavor in there. Actually, screw it. This has an awesome flavor. It tastes like an old barrel. It tastes like whiskey and water, but with that great malted body of a beer. This continues to impress as slight subtle flavors rise from under the oak. Light cherry, some faint liquer taste, vanilla and maple syrup. They've paired a great style of aging with a beer that wasn't overwhelming in complexity. Thus, the effects don't mix into a mess, they settle in line and present themselves neatly. This is an ass-kicking oak ale. They call it a Barleywine? It's unlike many others I've had. Oak Ale? A New category? Now that is a better classification. This is very good. Tough luck for most because I know this is limited in its availability. The best beer I've ever had from Weyerbacher, hands down.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: Decent. The strong oak character makes it difficult to drink unihibited, but the allure of the flavor itself makes it difficult to resist. I'm a huge fan of whatever they did to transform a simple Blithering Idiot into this demented robot genius from hell. It's that good.

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Photo of Starchild
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I poured Insanity vigorously into a large Rapscallion snifter. The head slowly settled into a quarter inch of foam with lacing. The beer was a deep ruby color. No one scent dominates the nose, but malt, oak, and some hops cover any scent of alcohol.

The first sip reveals a very complex beer and I let it sit on my tongue. First, there’s vanilla, malt, and hops. Then, it’s chewy, oaken, with some alcohol providing a little kick. The alcohol/oak/spice create a bourbon flavor comparable to Wild Turkey, but with the ripe sweetness.

I enjoyed Insanity with Crater Lakes Blue cheese from the Rogue Creamery on water table crackers. This cheese/beer pairing was fucking amazing. Try it and send me a beermail about how good it was.

Weyerbacher defines Insanity as extremely foolishness (an extreme oak aged Blithering Idiot, who is also foolish), but they don’t achieve their goal because anyone buying this product is rewarded. Honestly, it’s worth the life of a blithering idiot.

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Photo of Suds
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one was poured from 22 ounce bottle with a laughingly insane idiot, silhouetted in red. The color is a deep, dark ruby, with a respectable off-white head (especially considering the ABV). It’s aroma is complex and satisfying: thick malt, wood, alcohol, caramel, raisins, and spice. The smell isn’t quite as intense as some barleywines, but it’s certainly multi-dimensional. The taste is simply extraordinary. “Fullness of flavor” is an understatement…you’re almost consumed by the taste. Malt, alcohol, whiskey and wood, touch of yeast, dab of hops, over-ripe fruit, molasses, and on and on. Superb flavor with an alcohol bite. Thick, full, heavy body. Unbelievably drinkable…creamy, warming. I need another one of these!

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Photo of Gavage
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber bottle was a nice portion for this belly warming brew. Pours a amber bronze color with a 2" creamy head. Thick lacing develops. The aroma is very pleasant oak, malt and alcohol. The flavor is of thick maltiness, oak, plum, raisins, bourbon, and alcohol. A little bitterness adds to the "insanity" of the flavor.

The mouthfeel starts smooth and ends with a light crisp finish. The alcohol and oak laden malt rides the tongue well after the finish. One bottle was just enough to enjoy over a long period, so drinkability score is just below good.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stormy caramely orange & brown hues with a thin sand collar from a "promo bottle."

Whiskey bottle & wood overtakes the nose. Some rum cake malts stick out.

First swigs: Like rum & cherries. Warm apertif. A treat. Sherry or vanilla ice cream warmed up to the point where recognizeable Blithering Idiot shows up. Some rye bread yeastiness meets chocolate chip cookie dough.

Feel: Plenty of carbonation. Warm awl-kee-hawl burn down the gullet.

If the weather is like today's, cold & dreary, this is excellent. Feel is smooth and bubbly. Tacky sugars.

Last swigs: Would never have guessed that this is Blithering Idiot. It's a sipper. Put on a fire and go to town. No dissapointments! Every sip is discovery! Thanks to BA Shapudding for the sample.

Beer is good. Happy Wood barrel aged Barley aged beering.

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Photo of yen157
4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark ruby red body topped by a sticky, fairly creamy, beige head. The house yeast character really leaps out on first sniff. These characteristics, which worked so darn well in the Autumnfest, includes dry leaves and peanuts shells. Also, in the nose, there are notes of coconut, bourbon, alcohol (no, really?!). Wood and hop bitterness provide good balance to the sweeter points of this barleywine and the huge vanilla contributions of the bourbon barrels. Carbonation is nearly perfect, though I have let this glass sit for a few minutes to warm up to the perfect temperature and decarb. If anything it may be a little bit coarse, though this cask beer lover may be a bit inclined to think that way. Overall, the mouth feel is terrific; this beer is rich and flavor dense without the cloying viscosity of some other big beers.

Overall this is a great beer. As much as I love Heresy, this makes it look like a Flying Fish beer. Magnificent stuff! I can’t wait to see what else is up the sleeve of this seemingly revitalized brewery.

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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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