Insanity | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

938 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: 938 | Ratings: 2,445
Photo of jjayjaye
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Introduced to this at the brewery. This small serving from a 22oz'er into a small Cantillon chalice . Not going to do it justice, but what the hell.

Pours a clear mahogany color with a loose full finger light tan head that fades fairly quickly. Some lacing observed.

The smell is full-on bourbon oak aged treatment. My son got that as banana, but it's really about the alcohol.

Full bodied, the mouth is immediately conditioned to the bourbon character. This is not the Blithering Idiot that i know and love! This is entirely a different beverage.

The flavor doesn't fall far from the smell. Very rich, some cherries and vanilla. A real sipper.

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Photo of ccrida
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a shaker pint, Insanity is a dark amber with a nice sized creamy, egg-shell colored head that leaves really sticky lace.

The aroma is nice an very rich, sweet malt and a little boozy .

The taste is incredibly complex, as it should be, being a barrel aged barleywine. Lots of vanilla, caramel and maple syrup like malty sweetness, some dark fruit. This is very reminiscent fine bourbon, woody, sweet, strong yet smooth. I'm thinking along the lines of Rip Van Winkle, that smooth!

The mouthfeel is very velvety but equally thick. As it warms, which you should definitely let it do, it gains viscosity and gets a little syrupy, but the flavors really open up.

Drinkability is good, as this is a hugely complex beer that takes time to fully appreciate. I only had 1/2 of the bomber, so I'm not sure how thick and strong it might have gotten by the second glass, but I doubt it would have been a problem for me! I REALLY enjoyed this, the quintessential cellaring beer - I wish I could get this locally so I can stock a vertical!

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

For the longest time I have seen this one on the shelf at my local beer store. For some reason, I have never given it a try. From the reviews, I knew what to expect, especially because I have had Blithering Idiot numerous times. So I bought it and gave it a whirl last night. Wow.

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a snifter. No freshness date- intimidating label- black and red....INSANITY written in big red letters...this one poured a brandy color- some redness and some dark browns. Not much head on this one for some reason- the head that was prevalent appeared to be tan and bubbly.

Took one smell after swirling it around. Vanilla and alcohol all the way around- VERY prevalent- smell gave me an idea of the experience I was about to have after my first sip.

Like I previously, stated, lots of alcohol as to be expected with a barleywine that focuses less on the "hoppy aspect" of the brew. Taste was wonderful, something to be sipped slowly and enjoyed- some raisin, nut, vanilla- and of course the "oak" flavor.

Insanity warms your whole mouth and at times will burn your throat if not sipped appropriately. First taste got my mouth ready for the next few- had 2 glasses of this and that was it. Difficult to finish the 22oz bomber- wish I could- this stuff is THAT good.

Weyerbacher is quickly becoming one of my top brewing companies....

Good call. Always innovative.

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Photo of John_M
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at Max's dudring their American Craft beer festival event.

Insanity pours a rich dark brown color with impressive head, good head retention, and good lacing. The beer smells impressive. I get a rich smell of sweet malt and grain, which is mouthwatering. On the palate this beer is very rich and sweet indeed. There are flavors of cherry, apple, melon, honey, vanilla and butter, and the beer is big and luscious. This is everything a malt heavy style barleywine should be (it's nothing like Bigfoot or some of the other hop driven BW''s one encounters in the NW). The beer finishes with a long, lingering finish. Really excellent. The abv. is up there on this baby, and you definitely notice it. This beer is a real sipper, and I doubt I could drink more then one small serving at a sitting. Still, for what it, the beer is quite excellent.

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Photo of treehugger02010
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I purchased this brew from Michael's Deli in King of Prussia, Pa, and poured into a pint glass.
Appearance: A deep amber colored body bordering on brown. Not much head but it was a tan color with decent retention and no lacing.
Smell: Very malty and boozy aroma, a bit of a turn off at first (very strong boozy smell) but as the brew warmed the aroma muted to a more handelable smell.
Taste: Similar to the smell, difficult to handle at first, but once it began warming much better. Very very boozy.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth.
Drinkability: Becuase the begining of the beer was a bit to hard this beer has good drinkability, but let it warm up first and its much more palatable.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 22oz bomber. No freshness dating, but I'm not toooo worried about that with an 11%+ abv bier.... ;-)

Insanity was poured into a Rapscallion chalice, and the color was a lusciously inviting, clear garnet, with a fine, though thin, tan head, most of which was found at glasses edge. A few small groups of bubbles lazily meander topside within the liquid. Lacing is decent, too. Aroma has a distinct whiskey lean to it; quite robust. Along with the booze is some caramel and a little bit of wood. Body is a solid medium, and it is velvety over the palate; scarily smooth...

Flavor? Start with some caramel, some malty sweetness, a touch of vanilla, and some notes suggesting a bit of deep, rich (perhaps even burnt) brown sugar. Oaky, whiskey notes abound, though they in no way are off-putting. Quite a nice complement to the malt already on display here. Hopping is present, though not overly pronounced. It lends a bit of a floral lean to things, but the malt and wood linger long and hard. One other flavor that comes through is... is... is that coconut? Huh?!? Hmmm... Another aspect to make note of is the abv. The alcohol present gives the stomach a definite warming. Pretty good, overall, though take your time.

Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.15
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4


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Photo of BuckSpin
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In celebration of my 250th BA review I offer the following:

Presentation: v.2005 22oz bottle, cellared in my possession for 2 years, in an oversized crystal snifter

Poured with some gurgle and smooth. Intense fruited nose, warm grapefruit, raisin, exotic fruits like papaya & mango. Very lush, rich, spicy with faint cinnamon, very deep roasted malts, oaked woodiness, just a delight to smell. The promise of high ABV to come lurks beneath the fruit quality like a summer sangria blooming, full of rich stone fruits and warm orange slices, even portraying some faint milk chocolate aspects.

Easily 3 fingers of very tight golden ivory foam that, over time, settled to a pencil's worth of the same that thinly blanketed the surface and laced in spots. A large quantity of suspended sediment hovers within a deep, slightly brassy, intense cherry amber caramel tone, luscious looking. This is some lovely eye & nose candy. I know why Weyerbacher named it what they did. Initially the oak aging comes thru clean, even after 2 years. The unmistakable wooded quality from those barrels rolls in like a fog (more about fog when I describe the ABV!) overtop the deep, stone fruited malts - dark cherry, black currant, fig. Plumped raisins add a richness and help, along with a steady hop presence to balance it and keep it grounded. This is definitely a sipper and an end of the evening brew.

One unusual aspect was the initial taste, mouthfeel, and concussion grenade of alcohol that exploded on my palate, blowing up my sinus cavities, my eyes wince slightly and giving a nice, shivery BBRRR jolt to the nervous system...yowza. This was like getting caught off guard and catching a left hook to the face that left the most ironic delicious sensation. This is what it must feel like to be cold cocked by a cordial bottler.

Back to the beer. It is just decadent, Its really hitting its stride now with some warmth as the fruits are not so sweet but more the essence of the various flavors. Oak is still noticeable yet more subdued & wet, malts grow more like burnt caramel, hops are softer, more like pine sap. The alcohol, as a result of everything else toning down, is even more pronounced, an dull fire roaring nonstop, teeth tingling, an icy hot sensation covering the roof of my mouth....wild.

The palatefeel is ironically light & sweet, although I'm sure the high ABVs tilled that field of buds for planting long ago. Its rather smooth, slightly more malted, hops take on a more sharpened quality that provides nice balance to the almost shockingly smooth & easy mouthfeel at this junction. I guess that must have been a calm before the storm because it finishes rather sharp & oily, rising in heat with a ginger-esque quality, eventually leaving my tastebuds face down in the parking lot whupped, coated in a sticky, slightly chewy aftertaste that echoes of those alcoholic cordial chocolates you see at Xmas in the foil wrapper. That perfect combo of smooth, coated, sweet heat....whew.

That was intense, and dare I say "Insane". Definitely a roller coast of a beer, this may have been the longest it has taken me to finish a 22oz bottle of any beer. Now I know how Ed Norton felt in "Fight Club"...this beer kicked my tasting @$$. Maybe a uber dry, super agedm very sharp cheddar or a very young, gooey, stinky bleu might go along with it, but this one doesn't need anyone to play with. Incredibly intense, not as intense as Bigfoot, but much more enjoyable and complex. This is a once in a blue moon beer to really savor & enjoy. An outstanding Barleywine, highly recommended...yowza.

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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 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 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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Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 2,445 ratings.
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