Insanity | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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932 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

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Reviews: 932 | Ratings: 2,423
Photo of unclederby
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

An attractive beer: burnt orange in color, a vigorous pour results in a 3/4 inch head. Some lacing on the glass.

The bouquet is of sweet malts, yeast, figs, spiciness, bourbon and alchohol.

Wow! The first cold drink and all i can think is bourbon! Just like a Wild Turkey on the rocks it's a blast of oak, spiciness and serious alchohol... the potency of this thing really caught me off guard.

But as i let it warm in the glass the alchohol recedes just a bit and the finer characteristics of this brew make themselves known. The sweet malt is present for sure, as is cinnamon, oak, vanilla, plums and figs. Hops maintain a fine presence too, as does the alchohol.

Mouthfeel is what one would expect from a barleywine. A bit syrupy, but not over the top. Pleasant creamy texture with a bit of viscosity and fine carbonation.

I'm drinking this thing pretty fast... maybe i should slow down given the abv. Overall, it's very tasty and comes the closest to a bourbon experience as any beer i've tried to date. The flavors as well as the alchohol warming in the throat and gut is similar to that of bourbon, and is pleasantly familiar... well done!

I'm nearly half done with this bomber and i think i could go another round, though i'd possibly be floored before i finished as i'm starting to feel it now. Nice heady buzz.

Recommended, but if you don't like bourbon - approach with caution.

edit: i have to say - the complexities of this brew keep making themselves known - as i am almost finished now and the estery qualities are much more apparant now then at first.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Easily one of the smoothest, most balanced and best drinking barleywine I have ever had the pleasure to drink. Had this againg in a basement for 7 months.

Poured a very rich and glowing orange-red in color. Incredibly thick and spongey head sitting comfortably on top. Subsided down to a not-so-thin layer of head that left some nice layered lace around the glass. Lots of little black dots in the beer too--yeast, perhaps?

Decomposing piney hops and malts came through in the aroma. Oddly, while that description sounds kind of negative, it is very comforting. Makes me think of a few days after Christmas when you take down the tree.

Flavor is very smooth and balanced. Lots of sweet malts. The hop presence is not so bitter and tingly as I expected but provides more of a balance. Kind of dark fruits. Subtle caramel. Makes me think of bourbon. The oak provides a nice subtle backbone to the smoothness. But I really liked all the vanilla flavors I as getting from this beer.

Full and rich body. A bit cloying. Hardly any alcohol burn comes through. The malts are nicely layered and really hold up well for a barleywine.

Oh God! I could not put this beer down. Good thing my bed is only 15 yards away becaus even though I cannot taste the alcohol I sure can feel it. Keeping my eyes open for another bottle of this beer.

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

This is a hazy dark amber beer with very little head. The slight head has very fine bubbles that lace the glass well. The smell is very good, it is a prune or raisin smell with some vanilla and oak. I don't smell any hops. It is a bit sweet, but the oak is very obvious. The mouthfeel is great. It is very smooth and silky. It is very easy to drink even considering the 11.10% alcohol.

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Photo of Hop2it
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Good head, frothy off-white. Very cloudy brown body and active carbonation lining the side of the glass. Malty-toasted sweet smell. Pleasant touch of vanilla.

Very alive with flavor! Wow. Like a smoothy. The alcohol is certianly present in every corner of my happy mouth. After a few sips the initial rush mellows out and dark fruit step up. Finally on an exhale I sense the gentle quaff of bourbon. I cannot explain the joy in knowing that a completely new taste appears several seconds after the sip is over.

***Aging note: I first reviewed Insanity 7 months ago and my impression was left thinking it was two beers hidden in one. The flavors were all over the place: fruits one minute, roasted malts the next; no alcohol at first, then it was overpowering.

- I taste all of that now, but in one solid package!! It's like watching a power-hitter start batting for average to become a Triple Crown winner.

Did I mention how great this looks?! The 22oz bomber makes two pours possible, and the second is even darker and creamier than the first.

I cannot wait to review the other bottle aging in my fridge in a few months.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very hazy brown with a thick tan head. very complex nose with vanilla, whiskey, oak, caramel, raisin, other dark fruitiness, cocoa, and alcohol. sweeter floral fruity smells develop as it warms. smells more like an aged whiskey or cogniac. the taste does justice to the aroma with much of the complexity translating well. strong vanilla sweet caramel presence with the bourbon/oak character coming through as well. a cocoa flavor shows up at the back of the mouth with some juicy fruit flavors: raisin, plum, fig, and maybe a little ripe pear and dark berry. full bodied with delicate carbonation that lends well to the total package, and honestly, this barleywine delivers a total package. excellent aroma and flavor. a very impressive offering from weyerbacher. i wish i had another bottle because this will most certainly age well.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A cloudy dark amber ,bordering on brown, beer. has a small dark beige head. There is some vanilla and a hint of fruit on the aroma. Then theres the alcohol. There is a touch of vanilla on the tip of your tongue then some fruit sweetness in the middle. The finish is mostly alcohol with a hint of tabacco at the back of the throat.

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Photo of BeerBeing
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz brown glass longneck US-generic bottle, red on black label

Appearance: reddish coper color, tan colored small head, minor but sticky lacing

Smell: alcohol, malt, vanilla and some oak

Taste: full body, very smooth mouthfeel, very malty, vanilla, caramel, alcohol, some hops in background, you can feel oak taste in it

Notes: I like it much better thn base brew (Blithering Idiot)

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Photo of granger10
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Alluring crimson red color with a dark tan head. Just a very nice beer to look at. Aroma's of bourbon, oak, ripened fruit, caramel, alcohol, and a bit of hops. Not real strong but enticing none the less. Taste leaves the hops behind and goes with the malt, bourbon interplay. Begins caramelly, juices up with a lip smacking fruit flavor then goes more bourbony and woody. Vanilla and oak in the background. A nice chewy, bready base adds to the mouthfeel. Finishes with an alcohol kick and maybe some yeasty phenolics. Warming on the way down. Medium bodied which fits well with the flavors of this beer. Much better than prophecy.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This ABW poured a light brown orange in color, which was strange for the style. The head was modest but lasted well.

Smell – The nice malty bourbony backbone dominated the smell, which was pleasing but lacked the complexity that I’ve come to expect from the style.

Taste – The thick, malty flavor here is mixed with booze and some light red wine.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied Barley Wine had a nice mouthfeel but the booze was a bit too “stingy” for my tastes.

Drinkability – I enjoyed this Weyerbacher offering but thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse.

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Photo of egajdzis
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a copper color with a sticky off white head and nice lacing on the glass. Vanilla, bourbon oak, sweet caramel aroma. Tastes melded alcohol, bourbon, bitter grapefruit, while still being sweet and sticky. I enjoyed this and thought it was much better than the original as well as Weyerbacher's other bourbon experiment (Heresy or Prophecy).

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.09/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer poured a crystal clear deep amber with a frothy tan head which rose tall at a very slow rate and refused to release it's stranglehold on the glass as it coated it during the slow retreat of it's presence.

The aroma was fruity and malty with a cherry presence while the head was still intact. Once the head caused the glass to plead for mercy and retreated, the aroma became almost a port wine aromatic like in beef burgundy (first thing that came to mind).

The flavor was interesting, but not overly complex. The flavors were diacetyl with oak and cherries. The flavor contained again a winelike character comprised of malt, oak and fruits. Alcohol also resonated in the flavor. No appreciable hop presence except for some bittering that was earthy and unappealing and the malt character contained a bit of caramel but nothing overly interesting.

The finish was dry with caramel and fruits with butter into the aftertaste. The body was full, but not viscous and seemed less due to carbonation level. I'd skip this beer. Missing complexity and not at all what I expected.

22 ounce bottle.

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Photo of battlekow
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first barleywine. I really liked Weyerbacher's Heresy stout, so we'll see how this goes. Ratings certainly won't be to style, sorry.

Pours a cloudy, dark gold, with a substantial, soapy off-white head. Good lacing. Oak-aged like Heresy, it shares Heresy's scents of bourbon/rum and vanilla. This scent is less sweet than Heresy, though, and more darkly fruity, like olives/raisins/dates. Tastes pretty strongly of those dark, sour fruits, combined with a vanilla, rummy alcohol taste. The bitter, hoppy finish surprised me--I didn't think there would be a hop presence.. It tastes like alcohol, but doesn't burn like it, so I would say the 11.1% ABV is hidden pretty well. Mouthfeel is very creamy. I'd like to sample some more barley wines so I get a feel for the style, but relative to all beers, this is an interesting one. Whatever Weyerbacher does in their oak-aging process really gives their beers a nice vanilla flavor.

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

Pours a dark copper colour with a slight head. The higher alcohol is very obvious and powerfull in the aroma and with the first taste. A slight brandy-like taste with a rich full mouthfeel. This is definitely a big beer best left to late in the evening before you retire.

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Photo of JackStraw22
2.6/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

22oz. bomber, no date.

Appearance: cloudy, dark amber/orange. ok head, not much retention.

Smell: Sweet, cherry aromas. Lots of malt. Alcohol is definately present.

Taste: Holy crap that's intense! I don't really dig it, but it's intense. Huge vanilla aftertaste. I like vanilla, but this seems a bit too much, it's all I can focus on at the end. Alcohol is quite powerful and harsh. Nothing seems blended here, it feels like five different loud guitars all playing different songs. Sugary sweet as well.

I just couldn't enjoy this, and for $8, it might not be worth a try.

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Photo of AlexJ
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer hits straight 5's across the board.

Softly poured into my Delirium goblet, this precious brew reveals itself to be deep cinnamon brown with a lovely garnet cast. A dense light brown head of tiny bubbles retains well and leaves a few patches of lace.

The nose rises to greet me with it's tale of bourbon soaked fruit, caramel complexity, creamy vanilla and oak, soft fragrent hops, subtle spice, molasses drizzled fruitcake, and candied citrus peel. Heady and intense, mouth watering. I'm in.

Hits every point on flavor. Luscious creamy caramel malts, bourbon soaked fruit, lightly scorched vanilla creme brule, brown sugar cookies, lightly floral hops, cinnamon dusted custard, and so much more. Perfectly balanced. The subtlety of the hops allows the bourbon and malt character to take center stage. No trace of the 11.1% ABV, except for the warming in my belly and the smile on my face. Perfect.

Body is just shy of being quite large. Soft, pinpoint carbonation lends to a utterly smooth and creamy texture. Fantastically drinkable. It's one of those rare beers that makes me say Mmmmm, with every sip. Oh, and i have a whole case of this. I've been blessed by the beer gods today.

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

When I first started on BA, I listed American BWs as my favorite style. That was based largely on this and its antecedent, Blithering Idiot (listed as an English here).

Cloudy ruby brown, with tan edges and a small head. Gorgeous brew even with character in the visuals. The oak smell just makes me think of bourbon. I love bourbon. Fruits, wood, and a liquor smell dominates. Taste is warm alcohol, fruit, and bubbly malts. Mouthfeel is full, not creamy, oils and a slight hop resinous flavor. This, for such a large beer, is incredibly drinkable. This is a beer that is easy to love. Find it. Fall for it.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Opaque dark copper mud with a yellow cascade during the pour. A slow to grow, semi-excited helmet of ivory foam decides to stop at about a half inch tall. Compacts itself down to a thin haze and wide collaring. Great lacing; huge clouds billow across the glass eventually breaking into thin strings

Plummy rummy raisin aroma with a soft whisky malt sweetness. Even softer elements of hard alcohol are evident with a wavering oakyness.

Taste is heavy and broad with substantial alcoholic heat lurking low behind the flavors of pleniful plum, raisin, and dates. Bold, rich malt base tends to have some caramel aspects blended into its overall dark fruityness. Bits of vanilla, oak, and favorable whisky/scotch tones decorate the rest of its character. Not much hops to this one. A very slender and slight floral tint slips into some of the finish where the whisky fades off. Ends very smooth and dark with a dropping off into a lighter, welcoming sensibility. Lingers for eternity on the memory and on the palate with warmth, alcoholic spice, and whisps of chocolate dustings.

Feel is big and warming within a mediumish body. Seeming light, but really, not at all, once it grabs hold with its warmth and soothing darkness. Lots of evidential whisky/scotch-like meaty malting and alcoholic noting pepper the entire stay. Malty rich and very smooth.

Insanity is about right for the name, as its crazy warmth and smoothness drenches your buds with malty darkness and soothing smoothness. A very slow drinker though, the harder alcoholic tendencies and warmth really makes for a mellowing experience. One to warm up with for sure!

Insane thanks to warriorsoul for the samples!

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

Pours a dark amber brown tints thru out small brownish head falls to foam scum no real lace here but thats fine for this brew.

Aroma is light alcohol notes everywhere on lots of vanilla infused fruity malt. Smells wonderful not very American Barley Wine like more like a fine liqueur really.

Taste is loads of fruity malt soaked in wood barrels, which imparts lots of vanilla and toasted wood flavors that mingle with a very noticable alcohol presence. Think this sounds like an ordinary barley wine, hell no. But it sure is quite tastey a very enjoyable sipper that would be wonderful on a cold winter night infront of a fire. Lots of alcohol in this one tastes like 11% not trying to hid it but I think it blend perfectly with the fruity malt and vanilla flavors some light hops try to sneak in at the finish but are drowned out.

Mouthfeel is good nice full, loads of malt sweet but not cloying.

Drinkability is good will be buying more of this if its still in stock when I am up at the VC again. Don't know if I would have more then two in one evening though. If you like big in your face beers then you need to try this one.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours copper with a slowly fading tan head. Carbonation evident in soem Belgian like bubbles racing for the surface.
Aroma of oaky and charcoal wood, faint hint of vanill and peat and caramel and medium-colored fruit tones.
Flavor is very complex with layers of rich caramel, peat whiskey notes and some vanilla and charcoal all interwoven into a delicious concoction. As the beer warms some dates and figs emerge into the profile.
Mouthfeel is chewy sweet with some bready undertones and just a hint of spicy hops or yeast on the finish. As the liquid warms a subtle but powerful grain alcohol just hits the tip of the taste buds.
Drinkability is really high for a moderately powerful brew. Seek this one out.

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Photo of Billolick
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle. Pours mahogony, clear, allmost white head, leaving a tiny bubble film. Leaves fine, well developed lacing. Nose is of rum, oak, vanilla. This one is simply a "wow" beer. Balanced, flavorful, complex, smooth, warming,nicely rounded and sipable etc etc. Big flavors of brandy, wood, vanilla, rum soaked pears, yum yum, simply terrific stuff. Perfect to put away for 2 or 3 years. One of the most finely crafted Barley wines out there, IMHO.

I agree with Venom "Exquisite".

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

Poures a deep,rich amber color with a slightly off white head,aromas are very woody with some vanilla and high octaine alcohol kick ur nostriles hard and lets you know this is big and bad ass.Thick and chewey mouthfeel makes this beer a sipper one to savor,very warming alcoholic beer, oak flavors are very prevelant with some butteriness as well,almost like a vanilla flavored spiced rum.Iam glad I got a chance to try this,its a sipper or one to share with friends like I did tonight,very rich and flavorful.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Insanisty lives up to its name as utterly cavity-inducing sweetness and spicy alcohols weave together in an orgy that ignores anything mild or timid.

The beer's hazy ruby body projects the color of plum syrup but also releases a creamy foam structure that constructs a dense blanket of froth, retaining throughout the session and lacing with clumping pockets as the beer falls.

Its aromas build a malty-rich scent of maple, vanilla, caramel, almond, toffee and light molasses. As the alcohol weaves in, a sense of fruit and booze rise with port, sherry and cognac.

Its taste is a marvelous melange of malt complexities: its toffee-laden, maple dipped, caramelly taste is modestly cola-like and is candied with molasses-like "horehound" flavor. Somewhat of root beer and butterscotch, the ale simply lands on the sweeter side of the fence as the spicy booze balances. Slight sherry-like vinous fruit flavors add a glimmer of acidity while the brandy and port-like spices garner complexity and strength.

Its full texture is oily because of its sheer sweetness and light carbonation that allows the ale to lay blanketed on the tongue. Its wrap of spicy booze and slight creaminess lulls the palate to sleep with numbing capabilities and comfortable drunkedness.

As the last sips slide down the gullet, I'm left with the impressions that the beer is conflicted- if the sweetness and lack of hop bitterness is going to be there, then the ale has to be less spicy and offers a lesser attempt to dry. If its going to be more "Americanized", then its got to be much more hoppy to taste, texture and smell and has got to be more semi-dry.

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Photo of board45
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber

This pours a dark, rich bronze w/ whipcream like head. This brew definatly smells different than i was expecting. Smells very strong of nutmeg. Almost like a Christmas Eggnog, and some hints of citrus. You cant taste any of that nutmeg though. The taste of apples, bananas, and spice is strong. Alcohol starts to warm you up right from the begining and doesnt release till the finish. The alcohol is a little much for me though, I like a barleywine that hides its strength. Comes across as a little unbalanced. Nice beer but i wont be purchacing this one again.

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

Tastes oak-aged (now that I know what oak aged beer tastes like). Not nearly as hopped up as other American Barley wines. Lots of fermented fruit tastes and smells... some might even say rotten fruit tastes and smells. I didn't mind them so much but they were not outright appealing to me. Pours a beautiful ruby red without a whole hell of a lot of head.
Lots of bourbon and sherry flavors going on. For what this brew is, it's reasonabley drinkable but I had a hard time finishing a glass of this (split a bomber with a friend). The alcohol came across a little strongly, but it was still pretty smooth for something over 11% strong.
Not for everyone.
This is unique tasting.
This isn't my favorite thing but it's clearly well made.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a light burgundy color ale with a small dark head with pretty good retention. Aroma of sweet liquor filtered subtly through the malt and sweet hops of this beer. Taste is quite sweet but at least the bourbon aging and come well together at the end do not overpower it. Probably one of the best bourbon aging beers I had. Thanks to Beerslayer for that one.

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Insanity from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 2,423 ratings.
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