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Insanity | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

931 Reviews

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States | website

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 931 | Ratings: 2,415
Photo of ppoitras
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle received in the No BS BIF Beta from HimerMan.

Poured in a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1/4" beige head over the totally cloudy reddish orange brew. Head is quickly down to a layer of tiny swirly bubbles, with tiny bubbles of lace spread around the perimeter of the glass. Aroma starts with oak-induced vanilla malt sweetness, which gives way to alcohol warmth and an almost evaporation in the back of the mouth. Mouthfeel is amazingly smooth, almost as if it doesn't need physical swallowing, it will just disappear on its own. But the warmth down the throat reminds you it really was there. Drinkability is WAY too nice and easy for the abv punch it packs. Reminds me I should get this more often.

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Photo of pittvkyle7
3.84/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

deep amber, little head, not much lacing

geat smell, big apple smell, oak, alcohol.

The taste is like carmel apples. The oak flavor is delicious. fizzy. alcohol tast was high.

highly carbonated, it was good but maybe too fizzy. stuck to my mouth, the feel was thicker than you might imagin it to be.

darn drinkable, but alot of alcohol...

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep brown, copper with an off white head and very little lacing.

S - Strong vanilla and oak with sweet molasses and hints of alcohol.

T - Sweet malt and molasses and brown sugar with vanilla and oak.

M - Medium to thick and very smooth. Alcohol is present but still smooth.

D - A tasty barley wine that gets better with the oak aging. Very good and smooth.

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Photo of BigJTrucker
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up this bottle via trade with JasonM, Pittsburgh, PA

Pours a deep reddish orange color that i would compare to an unfiltered apple cider. Slight tan head settles fairly quickly. Pronounced fruity aroma of apricots or apples. As it warms the aroma of alcohol becomes more apparent. Tastes slightly of raisins. Mouthfeel is very smooth and soft on the palate. Very drinkable as far as High ABV ales are concerned.

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Photo of jsbrendle
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split a 12 oz bottle of this last night, poured into a goblet glass... appearance is a dark amber with some fine carbonation that faded quickly. Smell is of sweet malt mixed with vanilla-oak "bourbon" notes & perhaps just a bit of fruit. Taste likewise shows plenty of vanilla-oak barrel-aging accents on top of the barleywine's deep sugary caramel & balanced hop core. Slight alcohol burn in the finish, but not as much as might be expected for that 11%. An appropriate beer to split at the end of the night, or hand around to on-lookers for that "wow" first reaction, but dangerous in quantity.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So, I had a 12oz vesion of this last night. Weird how different this was versus the 22oz bottle I had back in may. This one had a pronounced oak / vanilla aroma and taste backing up the solid barleywine.

I have one more from a trade and I'm looking forward to enjoying this again down the road. I think for future acquisitions I'll stick to the 12oz varieties only.

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Photo of blackie
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: Weyerbacher print cap. Pours a small light khaki head that recedes to a thin ring and some bubbles clinging to the side. The beer is a nice ruby-brown in color.

smell: Smells really damn good. Close to a 5 for sure. Sweet caramelized sugars interlaced with grain husk and vanilla oak. Dark hop aroma stands aside for the malts, and a perfect amount of ethanol. Maybe even some milk chocolate hiding in there.

mouthfeel: low, smooth carbonation and a nice full body

taste: Very flavorful and smooth with a great, nowhere near overdone vanilla oak background. Great caramel and toffee malt backbone, full of sugary grain and fruit flavors. Good, well used level of dark green hop flavor. An initially moderate bitterness after the swallow grows pretty formidable in the finish, accompanied by a surprising roasted flavor. Ethanol pretty well hidden considering the size, but definately there.

drinkability: A 4.5 because the beer is reeeally good. A great beer for a cool spring night on the porch with a couple thunderstorms passing in the distance.

One of a few bottles recieved for my bombing, this one from SkinnyElvis. Also had a 2003, maybe 2005 (plain cap) from BeerBeing that was great...this one is worth a shot on the cellar.

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Photo of kernalklink
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow- poured the big bottle into a snifter and watched the show- probably the prettiest beer ive ever seen. Glowing soft ruby color, with extremely tiny carbonated bubbles- seems to be alive. Fresh aromas of herbal hops; sweet, mildly medicinal malts and just the slightest hint of alcohols. Very smooth body, flows over the tongue with a mild super-sweet malt flavor. Intense vanilla bean flavor mixes with the hops and acohol to create a slight but pleasant burn. Earthiness in the finish, puckering sweetness like dry grape skins. Flavors deepen as the brew warms up- dried dark fruits, and you can really make out the barrel aged influence- i'd put this one up against a wine-snob's favorite any day.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to JohnnyM2002

Pours a slightly cloudly dark golden color, nice carbonation, not much of a head, slightly fizzy, minimally sticky lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, vanilla, oak, and caramel. The taste is sweet, very oaky, with a nice touch of vanilla and caramel. There is also a nice warming effect going down. Medium body, a very nice well rounded brew. Very drinkable, glad to have a chance to try this one out, highly recommended.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter glass.

This wonderful barleywine poured a dark amber hue with a very generous head that seemed to die down soon after pour. Lace appears to ber a light khaki color that sticks quite well to the glass throughout. Smell is very oaky/vanilla with a strong alcohol and malty background. Taste is quite malty with a good enough amount of hops to balance this beer quite well. Pretty strong caramel taste with an upfront alcohol bite. This barleywine is quite smooth and definitely creeps up on you. Drinkability is there for an 11.1% abv, but still tough for anyone not familiar with strong beers. Good work with this oaked brew Weyerbacher, I look forward to tasting this one after a good aging.

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Photo of alexskovan
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a deep glowing ruby/amber with a sturdy head. Aroma is like a white wine if you close your eyes, with bready and fruity undertones. Taste is . . . a big hit of alcohol up front, than VERY sweet, with sour fruity esters and creamy malt, then the ethanol hits you again on the finish. Compelling and complex, but overall too sweet and not well balanced.

Frankly I think they over did it on this one. When "beer" starts to have this much ethanol in it, I start to ask myself "Am I just drinking this to get drunk -- and if so, why not drink vodka?"

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Photo of geexploitation
3.51/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark ruby color with a molasses colored center and bright edges. Nice, fluffy white head that lasts far longer than it should considering the ABV. Big barrel aromas on the nose (vanilla, some spice) backed by English barleywine fruits and raw alcohol fumes. On the palate, a bit rough first off, and overly sweet with malts and alcohol at first. After a while, the palate fatigues a bit and the sweet-shock dissipates, allowing for the experiencing of some smoothness, teeth-coating sweetness, and significant alcohol burn at the very end. There are some fruits from the front to mid-palate, but really this is a big bomb o' sweetness from front to back. Overall, I would say this beer is too sweet and imbalanced. Some of the flavors are pleasant enough, but it leaves the palate reduced to a quivering mass, instead of engaged and energized.

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Photo of Contra
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love to rereview beers that I'm familiar with to see how my opinion varies over time, plus it gives me a chance to try a different batch. Let's begin, shall we?

1 Pt. 6 .oz served in a goblet. Served cold, but allowed to ultimately warm up.

Appearance: Cherry-rosewood, no head, thicker at the top, light reflects at the bottom.

Smell: Only scent present is bourbon, but it's quite sweet.

Taste: This is Insanity's strong suit. A caramel malt flavor, with vanilla and, yup, you guess it, bourbon. Despite an intimidating 11.10% abv, the alcohol is relatively minimal.

Mouthfeel: It has what you want in a barely wine - thick, but not syrupy.

Drinkability: Let's face it, when you think barley wine, you don't drinkability. So comparatively, it's better than the average barely wine.

Overall, great stuff. Warming, sweet,. and complex. A very unique and innovative barely wine.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Was this aged in bourbon barrels?
Aroma is most definitely bourbon and oak...sweet with the vanilla undertones you get from an oak barrel and a bit of Kentucky bourbon on the back.
Taste is vanilla, again very bourbon, dark sharp fruits, heavy alcohol.
There is a wonderful gentle warming (duh...surprise?) as it goes down.
Somehow this manages not to get sticky or cloying...it dries in the mouth, then warms in the belly.
Honestly this reminds me of a good...great...mellow sipping bourbon.

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Photo of BeefyMee
3.16/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Cracked open a bomber that I had been aging for a couple years, and I have to say I'm not quite sure what to make of this beer. It certainly is an interesting brew, but the extreme scotch flavor is more than a little distracting. It smells of scotch and tastes of scotch more than it does beer. This isn't such a bad thing, just a little overboard. It did end up being far more drinkable than I imagined it would be at first sip.

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Photo of scottoale
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to Skye for this little gem of a Barleywine. A 22oz. bomber with a cool dark label and no b.s. or freshness date...really no need for either. It pours into my snifter a murky brown-copper, with a 1/4" light beige floamy cap. Mild carbonation and a small amount of lace, looks good for the style.

The smell is bourbon, sweet bourbon with thick malt and vanilla, rounded with an oak smoothness. The warmer it gets, the better it smells...sweet, fruity and spicy!

The taste is as it smells, with loads of toffee, caramel, vanilla and mellow oak that is fully driven by bourbon throughout. Definitely a strong ale that is not for the faint hearted, though the high ABV is not overbearing, it's there.

Smooth and velvety in the mouth, all too drinkable for the style...my kind of beer!

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Many thanks to Aprilluvsbeer for sharing this with me.
The strength present in this pint glass got my attention right away. The colour was a bronze / burnt orange with a sand coloured head that faded away slowly leaving sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. Nice. The smell is bourbon, wood, sweet malts, and earthy hops. It (the smell) was the first thing I noticed about this beer. Only seconds after a I removed the cap, the smell was already in the air enough to *get my attention*. Taste was pretty assertive. You really have to be expecting this to enjoy it. I wasn't at first, and had to step back and re-evaluate my "beer frame of mind" before I could continue. Almost like expecting a DIPA and when you take a big mouthfull in, it turns out to be a Baltic Porter. If you can imagine the shock you would feel under those circumstances, that's about how I was with this one. Expecting one thing, and getting something entirely different. The taste, while good, is loaded with alcohol, and like a rich piece of cake, I got enough of this pretty quickly. There are also plenty of sweet malts here, as well as the "cooked fruit" note many people get from Belgian Tripels. Mouthfeel was great. Nice and thick; certainly full-bodied. I love a brew that just feels heavy in your mouth, and this one is definitely heavy. At 11,1% abv, this is certainly a sipper. I'll probably be working on this single 12oz'er for 45 minutes. Thanks again, April, for this fantastic brew!

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Photo of brentk56
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy chestnut color with a decent head that drops to a foamy surface covering with some splashes of lace

Smell: Whoa Nellie, is this a bourbon or a beer; loads of vanilla and oak; lots of fusel alcohol

Taste: Immediately hits the palate with an oaky vanilla bourbon aspect that starts to warm the mouth; significant dried fruit (dates) in there as well; after the swallow, the tannins dry out the mouth and leave a bitterness on the sides of the tongue; long, hot finish, with some hints of chocolate and cherry

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and syrupy with moderate carbonation; extreme warmth

Drinkability: A must for a Bourbon lover

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Photo of phisig137
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber with no freshness date pours into my Samichlaus tulip a deep amber, copper color, with a one finger head. Very little retention leave traces of lace, and a thin blanket over top the glass.

Aroma is massively woody, vanilla-ey, oak-ey, and alcoholic. All I really smell is the barrel this was aged in.

Flavor is malty sweet, with some raw grain flavors, backed by caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, and of course, alcohol. Vanilla makes itself very well known here as well, along with raw woody flavors. I can almost feel the splinters in my toungue.... no, wait, that's the alcohol burn. Relatively dry finish, considering the sweetness up front, ends with an alcoholic burn. Mouthfeel is smooth and hot. Drinkability is low... this is a sipper.

I love Weyerbacher, but I feel that they fall into the same trap as a lot of other brewers, and over extract the oak while aging. This is a decent beer, but needs a lot of time to mellow out. Usually I'm all for oak aging, experimentation, etc, but this is a bit much. Any beer that begins to taste like a mixed drink made with Vanilla Stoli, has spent too much time with the wood. I prefer regular blithering idiot over this, just as I think Old Heathen is way better than Heresy. I applaud Weyerbacher for doing what they do, but this one just needs a bit of help. Some time in the cellar will help, but when fresh, the vanilla and alcohol are just too much in my opinion. I'll have to pick up a six pack of bombers for the cellar, because this does have great potential after a few more years.

Either way, Weyerbacher is one of my favorite breweries, so keep doing what you do so well!

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Photo of Hibernator
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Weyerbacher Insanity
22 oz brown bottle
Served in an Allagash tulip glass

* Superbowl Sunday - XLI *

Pours a murky brown with a mountainous head. Fluffy trails of sticky lace decorate the glassware. Magnificent trails of puffy lace provide a roadmap.

Whiffs of bittersweet bourbon flair, wooden oak, sweet sugars and coconut.

Juicy malt backbone that yields to a heavy brown sugar punch. A distinctive flavor of oak, vanilla, sugar and shredded coconut. There is no mistaking the oak barrel taste, but what I really like is how mellow and complex the flavors are. Major malt presence with a caramel and toffee pleasure.

A high octane, super smooth barleywine with a depth of complexity. Awesome.


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Photo of Budlum
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pouring this beer produces one half inch of foamy, tan head that does not stay long. The body is a cloudy orange, amber and red color that seems to glow.

This beer is a pleasure to smell. A rich, malty rush of brown sugar sweetness presents strong toffee aromas. A touch of alcohol tingles the nose before blending in to a light smokiness. A hint of raisins add additional closing sweetness.

A rich spice flavor starts the beer and gains strength in a hurry. A huge malt rush soon follows with a rich, candied yam flavor. Strong, yet balanced, smoke flavors add delicious complexity holding the sugary flavors in check. Seemingly forever after taking a sip, a light alcohol burn hits the tongue followed by a rich caramel taste that closes in from unsuspected. Unlike many barrel aged brews, this one does a wonderful job of imparting all the right flavors.

The mouthfeel is lightly spiced, barely carbonated but a bit on the syrupy side. Fortunately, it is not out of bounds for the style. The overall finish is quite dry.

Drinkability is very good. This is delightful to sip and dangerously drinkable at the same time.

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Photo of jhicks12
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Nice rudy brown with a thin white head.

Smell: Picked up a lot of different smells, Sweet malt and oak aroma, also some fruity and citrus notes as well.

Taste: Vey explosive taste with oak and warming alcohol coming out. again a sweet malt followed up by a oily citrus finish.

Mouthfeel: Nice full mouth feel with again the oak playing a huge role in this beer.

Drinkability: Very solid barley wine, Nice with the oak age. brings a nice flavor to their Blithering idiot aging in the Oak. Nice sipping warming Beer. Keep up the good work Weyerbacher

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Photo of theformula
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

That's a pretty ale...Rich copper, Irish Red-like body and a fluffy tan head of about 2 fingers. About 865,024 microscopic bubbles, not too much retention though (as to be expected).

Much more sedated and subtle then I imagined. A smoky malt presence right off, and a little spice and vanilla w/ some wood/oak. Dark, ripe fruits as well.

Wow. Damn velvety, thick and smooth. Just enough carbonation to balance it out.

The smell/schent is very deceiving. There's so much goin on here and the complexity is very high. Let's see, super rich malts and an ester-full prune, dark ripe fruit flavor dominates with a great kick of oak and spice. It has an alcahol burn like a peppery bourbon in the back of the throat. A vinuous, fresh hop layer rounds the heavy gravity brew out nicely. Luscious vanilla and port? notes from the aging. A little yeast/buttery layer as well.

Near awesome. A heavy, barley-wine type o thing that's a great experimental treat. Very warming as I felt it kick hard at the end of the bottle. Full bodied, spicy and rich, w/ a pleasing woody, semi-bitter aftertaste that is long. Job well done. I'd like more noticeable oak presence IMO.

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Photo of TheBungyo
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you Nlmartin for providing this.

Imagine marmalade on fire and that's the hue of this beer's body. Thick creamy head sits atop this like snow upon a mountain. The oak is huge, with tones of vanilla that leap from the glass kangaroo style. I can also smell sweet malt, some peach, oranges, and tangerine.

Taste is caramel fighting for dominance with vanilla ... the vanilla is agressive but docile enough to give the drinker a taste of what you expect out of a good barleywine. Lots of sticky juicy orange, and tangerine playing as backup singers to the two mainstays, caramel and vanilla. Very nice.

MMmmmm this is nice and thick, a little syrupy. I definitely would buy this if it were around my area. Kudos to Weyerbacher for using barrel again correctly. Too often the barrel dominates and overshadows the beer. Here it plays it's part as co-star pretty damn perfectly. I drank this while playing Bully for PS2 and can't imagine a more perfect sunday afternoon.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a yummy-looking burnt orange/amber color, slightly hazy, with a thin head. Bubbles slowwwwly work their way from bottom to top.

Aroma is good, but without depth. I think of one particular thing when smelling it: stewed apples cooking in bourbon. Alcohol is quite strong in the nose. There's a sharpness that hints at spices, but it's basically that first impression my senses go back to.

Flavor brings more of that heavy-ass stewed-apples-in-bourbon thing. Shades of caramel, vanilla, oak, anise and cinnamon come through. Flavors become more pronounced and well-meshed as the beer warms (especially the oak), which seems to be key, as I got a lot more from the flavors near the end of the bottle (which took over an hour to finish).

Buttery-smooth in the mouth, slight sourness in the finish. The more I sip on it, the more the mouthfeel impresses. Feel the velvet, baby.

Despite the high-alcohol and the fact it's not that well-hidden, this is an very good slow-sipper. Not the best barleywine ever, but potent, complex and tasty enough to satisfy fans of the style.

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Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 931 ratings.
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