Wee Heavy - Barrel-Aged
AleSmith Brewing Company

Wee Heavy - Barrel-AgedWee Heavy - Barrel-Aged
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Style:
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #3
ABV:
9.5%
Score:
95
Ranked #892
Avg:
4.32 | pDev: 7.64%
Reviews:
125
Ratings:
447
From:
AleSmith Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  319
Gots
  136
SCORE
95
World-Class
Wee Heavy - Barrel-AgedWee Heavy - Barrel-Aged
Notes:
Reviews: 125 | Ratings: 447 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ryan1788a5
ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle poured into a snifter. 2017 vintage.

A: Deep mahogany brown color. Thin beige head settles out rather quickly and leaves no lacing. Not unusual for barrel aged beers.

S: Sweet corny bourbon up front, though there is no alcohol kick. Soft oak. Loads of malt depth. Brown bread and crust, fig, raisin, caramel, candied nuts. Touch of black cocoa. Subtle undertones of sherry and paper are beginning to develop, but aren't yet too noticeable.

T: As in the nose, the bourbon is up front on the attack, but not hot whatsoever. Corny-sweet, with an oaky vanilla backing (which is augmented as the beer warms) and kiss of barrel char. From there, deeply complex malt flavors blossom. Rich caramel, toffee, and treacle syrup. Cola. Faint smoke. Brown bread and toasty bread crust. Fig and golden raisin. Somewhat of a tootsie roll/fudgey note. Evidence of oxidation is super subtle, but there is a bit of sherry. Faint whisper of alcohol. Drying crusty finish with some lingering chocolate covered raisin and a bit of oak tannin.

M: Very heavy, thick, and rich. Full-bodied with a sense of pressing weight. Rife with residual sugars, but it stops barely short of being syrupy. Carbonation is moderate, and pricks a little at the tip of the tongue. Wonderful coating, silky, and pressing malt texture.

O: I live for beer like this. The malt complexity is so deep, layered, and nuanced, and the barrel flavor profile fits like a glove. Everyone loves to chuck an imperial stout into a bourbon barrel -and that's great- but I've always thought that scotch ales were sneakily the best beer to bourbon barrel age. Case in point right here. This beer is an all-time great as far as I'm concerned.

Jan 08, 2021
Photo of draheim
draheim from Washington

4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750mL (vintage 2013 based on my notes) into a tulip. Pours a deep dark mahogany brown w/ a 1/2-finger head that settles to a narrow beige collar. Looks dense and chewy in my glass.

Aroma is rich and complex. Bourbon, vanilla, rum-soaked pipe tobacco, toffee, dates and figs. Pretty much what one would expect from a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale/wee heavy, old ale, or English barleywine (all of which are pretty close together in my mind). Surprising how many notes are readily apparent while this is still fridge-cold, and I look forward to observing some changes as it warms.

Taste is likewise complex, rich, and exceedingly well balanced. Very malt forward but not syrupy or cloying. Molasses, brown sugar, caramel, sweet stone fruits, and a nice chest-warming booziness on the finish.

Mouthfeel is chewy and and the heavy side of medium. Lingers on the palate.

Overall a really outstanding scotch ale/wee heavy. Better than I'd expected for some reason.

Sep 07, 2020
Photo of darktronica
darktronica from Indiana

4.49/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My reference point for a bourbon barrel-aged wee heavy or scotch ale is Central Waters' annual release, which I've had a couple cases of over the past few years. This is better in every way but the price. Rich, decadent, bursting with barrel oak and whisky booze, but without overwhelming the malt, vanilla, and floral hop character of the base beer. Fabulous, likely my new favorite for the style, but not one I can find readily or indulge in regularly.

Mar 24, 2019
Photo of BeanBump
BeanBump from California

4.55/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This right here is awesome in a bottle, folks. Perfectly malty, and roasty with caramel notes and the beautiful barrel flavor that adds another layer of richness. This one is a sipper; its rich and boozy and will cot your stomach in warmth while simultaneously putting a smile on your face. Everything a BA Scotch Ale should be

Oct 04, 2017
Photo of Jeffo
Jeffo from Netherlands

3.98/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Doops broke these out on a rainy Tuesday evening. Thanks to The Man for forgetting these at his house and never asking about them again about a year ago.

From a 750 into a snifter
Vintage: 2009
FG: 1.022
Note: Drunk the ’09 and ’05 back to back.

APPEARANCE: Pours out flat. Some bubbly stuff, but basically flat. Hazy maroon red with no carbonation evident. Ends flat with no ring or lacing. Oddly enough the ’05 had a small hint of carbonation in there somewhere.

SMELL: Still piles of bourbon on this one. Oak, caramel, toffee, vanilla and butterscotch round off a very barrel heavy, sweet malt nose. The ’05 was identical.

TASTE: Oak, bourbon, red fruits and caramel sweetness up front. More sweet candy and booze at the swallow with a bold and lingering finish of caramel and toffee sweetness, bourbon, oak, vanilla and alcohol. No oxidization here, and the ’05, luckily followed suit.

PALATE: Fuller body, silky and slick, with no carbonation. Goes down slick with a bit of a scratch at the swallow and finishes mouth-coating.

OVERALL: Good stuff all around. Both of these have held up nicely, and while I’d prefer to see at least some carbonation in there, the lack thereof isn’t really an issue. Lots of sweet malt character and a bold, enjoyable barrel component to go along with it. Really glad to have tried these oldies. Thanks again, gents!

May 05, 2017
Photo of unclekeith
unclekeith from Alaska

4.54/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

750 into a Teku

L: A deep mahogany with a billowing tan head, quick to settle to a collar
S: Bourbon, caramel, vanilla, oak
T: Bourbon, sweetness, low bitterness, cocoa, dark fruits
M: Thick, creamy, and velvety
O: Fantastic, still hot, alcohol is front and center,

Nov 05, 2016
Photo of brentk56
brentk56 from North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 bottling

Appearance: Pours with a frothy khaki head that thickens as it settles atop the coffee colored liquid; stringy lacing patterns abound

Smell: Bourbon tones co-mingle with vanilla, toffee and caramel

Taste: Bourbon and toffee, with caramel and vanilla building, somewhat, through the middle; the finish lacks complexity and is dominated by the Bourbon, however

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; would have expected a bigger, creamier mouthfeel

Overall: A nice beer but I was expecting something with greater complexity

Thanks, mabermud, for the opportunity

Feb 27, 2016
Photo of JoeySchlitz
JoeySchlitz from Colorado

4.66/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Quite delicious. Smells like creme brûlée and bourbon. Taste is a great blend of bourbon, caramel, toffee and butterscotch. There is a good alcohol bite but it's not as strong as other similar beers as its only 10%. Very drinkable and good mouthfeel / carbonation. Overall a fantastic brew - wish I had a few to age.

Feb 13, 2016
Photo of Davepoolesque
Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Butterscotch, fig jam, brown sugar, Crème brûlée, vanilla, cherries, oak and bourbon. Has a rich earthiness. Smells heavy, but drinks light. Good English Barleywine flavors. Medium mouthfeel and carb. Short finish. Damn fine beer.

Sep 14, 2015
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek from New York

4.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Barry last night, thanks dude.

This one pours a slightly murky dark brown, with a few fizzy bubbles that could kind of be considered a head, and no lacing.

Smells like rich, deep bourbon, with some boozy aromas, caramel, vanilla, and oak. Smells like it's gonna be good.

This is pretty boozy, but in a fairly solid way. It's hot, but in a warming way, with tons of caramel, oak, vanilla, and some toffee, and a fairly significant, in your face bourbon character.

This is medium bodied, but still pretty full in the mouthfeel, with a fairly creamy mouthfeel, as a lot of Alesmith's barrel program is. There's a lower level of carbonation, and a kick of booze on the end of each sip.

I think this could continue to age well with time, but now, this '14 vintage (I believe) is drinking really well, and is a super decadent treat.

Aug 14, 2015
Photo of mabermud
mabermud from Washington

4.22/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2009 Bottle

Watered down brown and pink body.
Sweet smell. Vanilla, oak, caramel...
Primarily caramel, bourbon, and vanilla taste.
Short finish. Dry. Very smooth.

Overall - Classy. I think this was past it's prime.

Jul 05, 2015
Photo of Kevinpitts
Kevinpitts from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rating 2014 edition with 2 years of age on it. One of the best scotch ales I've ever had. Barrel aging adds some character while smoothing things out. Great tasting scotch ale. Similar to Wulver from my memory. A must try for scotch ale fans, otherwise still a good beer.

Jun 30, 2015
Photo of GarrettB
GarrettB from Colorado

4.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

September 12th, 2013 - The Wee Heavy occupies a wee space in my heart. AleSmith sometimes feels like the last tattered bastion for dark brews in San Diego. When I heard they brewed a batch in bourbon barrels, I knew I need to try a sip, or ideally more than just a sip. It's like seeking medicine after weeks and months of IPAs, hoping to slake my thirst for the deep, dark stuff. The bourbon aged version of the Wee Heavy is about on par with the original in appearance. It looks like a cloudy soda, with big, frog-eye bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass near the top. But the aroma makes it clear that this is not the same beer as before. Immediately I recognize (compelled to recognize) that this is punchy brew, strong and heavily laced with bourbon notes. It's tough, redolent, but not too sharp or raw. There's refinement in there, like the $30 plus bottles one buys to impress a father figure. Also in there are notes of old houses, old furniture, wood, and malt. There's beer in there, but it's staring back at me with a heavy, leather and antique mask. The body is sudsy and medium in weight - not too sharp, not too loud. It takes awhile for the booze to settle in, and once it does, those bourbon notes dominate. But then subtler tastes of Scotch and peat mingle with the bourbon, creating a new and intoxicating harmony. When the dark malty notes pike on, this beer turns into a warm, smoothing and relaxing brew, delivering heady and aged alcoholic notes all the way to a low grumbling and murmuring aftertaste. It's a decidedly different beer than the raw Wee Heavy, but well worth the expense. All that's left is finding a cabin in the forest to pair this with.

Jun 17, 2015
Photo of HalfFull
HalfFull from California

4.33/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage poured into a large wine glass. Pour is a bit cloudy but offers a nice tan cap of foam which reduces to and maintains a light surface carbonation.

Notable barrel and some boozy notes on the aroma. Some vanilla and oak along with a hint of cocoa with a bit of foam after a spin. Pretty well balanced and with no ethanol heat to be found.

Taste follows seamlessly from the nosse with some caramel and bourbony oak on the finish. Finish is long and offers complex fruit and oak nuance. Firmly carbonated for a barrel aged brew, almost spritzy and with a full bodied/rich feel which keeps it away from the vinous side of things.

About three years in the cellar has served this bottle well. Balanced and mellow. And with this year's going on sale tomorrow, it's decision time.

10.0% 2012 Bottle

Jun 08, 2015
Photo of FLima
FLima from Brazil

4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Brown almost black color with a thick thin head.
Nice predominant aroma of burnt coconut, dark fruits, vanilla and oak.
Likewise sweet flavor with notes of chocolate, dark fruits, lots of roasted coconut, bourbon, caramels, vanilla, licorice and oak. Smooth and long finish.
Full body with mild carbonation. Alcohol of 10% is harmonic with the beer.
Very good beer with intense flavors and great complexity. Still easy to drink. Curious now to compare this to the regular version.

Mar 06, 2015
Photo of arizcards
arizcards from North Carolina

4.52/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 750ml bottle in mid-March from Papago Brewing for $39.99. Bottled

Beer poured a dark brown with a nice off white head that dissipated quickly.

Nose is vanilla and light bourbon, caramel and dark fruit.

Taste is caramel and toffee with vanilla, oak, light bourbon, and dark fruits. Sweet but not cloying. Alcohol is warming which is nice on a cool 50 degree day in the desert.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall this is a delicious well made brew. It was fun to try once but the price tag is way too steep to try again.

Jan 02, 2015
Photo of superspak
superspak from Ohio

4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with swingracex. 750 ml bottle into snifter; 2013 vintage, bottled on 2/11/2014. Pours hazy nearly opaque dark brown color with a small foamy khaki head with poor retention, that reduces to a small ring of lace that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining a thin cap. Aromas of big caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, raisin, prune, fig, date, licorice, light chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, light butterscotch/coconut/leather, and toast/oaky earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. A fair amount of noticeable alcohol, but subsides as it reaches room temperatures. Taste of big caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, raisin, plum, fig, date, licorice, light chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, light butterscotch/coconut/leather, and toast/oaky earthiness. Light amount of tannic oak bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, raisin, plum, licorice, light chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, light butterscotch/coconut/leather and oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great malt/barrel balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth and moderately creamy/slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome barrel aged scotch ale style. All around great complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Dec 03, 2014
Photo of Beersnake1
Beersnake1 from California

4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

2014 vintage poured into an Alesmith barrel-aged reserve glass.

A: Pours a dark brown with a 1-2 cm head

S: Strong caramel, bourbon

T: Absolutely amazing. Sweet, caramel, strong bourbon, vanilla, dark fruit

M: Amazing. Exactly what I expect from a barrel-aged beer from Alesmith. Full bodied.

Overall: This is best barrel-aged scotch-style ale I have had. Unbelievable flavor.

Aug 23, 2014
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timc100 from Illinois

4.64/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 2015 vintage

Tons of bourbon, sticky caramel, marzipan, vanilla, toffee, and 'single malt' maltiness. Wonderfully vibrant and not too sweet. Tons of bourbon on this and it does not overpower the base beer. Just a huge, rich scotch ale with phenomenal barrel presence.


Fresh 2013 vintage

Pours very dark mahogany with some ruby on the edges, pretty muddy. Nice beige barrel head - creamy tight bubbles coat the glass on the pout, bigger bubbles as it sits.

Fantastic barrel aroma as with all Alesmith BA beers - big bourbon, wet oak, oaky vanilla, some toffee. The barrel does not dominate the base beer - brown sugar, toffee, caramel, some sweet smoke, and dark fruits.

Full bodied and flavored - big drier finish.

Another great product of the Alesmith barrel program. - 4.53

Aug 14, 2014
Photo of BillRoth
BillRoth from Maryland

4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed stored bottle Jan 2021.
This is an update on earlier review of 2012 BA Wee Heavy. Original review was @ 1 year from bottling and found beer very good but not really remarkable... yes; Wee Heavy; yes; barrel aged.
Now that 8-9 years have gone by I hoped to find pleasant changes but was actually amazed at how well this beer had aged.
So many beers can thin and/or have flavors diminish. This brew maintained original body and in fact became very much smoother ( as one would hope... but so often disappointed).
While head shows/ dissipates quickly the color is a beautifully full complex deep wood stained leather brown, with excellent highlights of amber and burnt orange to sun light. Nose is full and rich of malts and dried fruit, but rounded with caramel. Flavor mirrors. Most striking change from first bottle @ 8 years ago is that the Wee Heavy flavors have softened and blended beautifully with the wood. Rich dark sugars, touches of fig, char and softly bitter vanilla. Taste is much better rounded, complex and softened.
Body is velvety not sticky/syrupy. Delighted to not see any oxidation.
Overall the barrel aging and subsequent resting seems to have taken the very good but not really stand out Wee Heavy and transformed it into a richly complex delightful sipper. Warrants my better cigars.
Great craftsmanship Alesmith!

Jun 22, 2014
Photo of Dogoatus
Dogoatus from Illinois

4.66/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

05/03/2014 - 750ml bottle (2014) into snifter

A - Opaque, solid almost black pour with 1/2" dark tan head with good retention.

S - Most noticeably is the bourbon to start, almost overwhelming. Followed by hints of toffee, caramel, oak/woody, and slight vanilla.

T - Initial heavy bourbon without overpowering heat. Again you find the toffee, caramel, oak/woody with a very small amount of vanilla. The finish is oak/woody with warmth from the alcohol. All facets of flavors come almost perfectly.

M - Little carbonation, pretty heavy and lingered on the palette for a considerable amount of time.

O - Overall this beer is a killer drink. I can't imagine how good this batch will be aged.

May 05, 2014
Photo of Stevedore
Stevedore from Oregon

3.84/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle. Poured into a brandy snifter 5/2/2014.

A- Lighter caramel brown body, half finger off-white head, some retention, no lacing.

S- Bourbon. Serious bourbon nose. A bit of distinct toffee malt sweetness, but this is otherwise straight up bourbon. It's interesting but still running a bit hot.

F- More bourbon. I really don't get a lot of sweetness that I can definitively say is from the malt. It's a fairly one-dimensional beer that is heavy on the bourbon sweetness and barrel notes. Certainly not terrible at all, it's in fact quite flavourful.

M- Medium body, lower in carbonation, slick and still a very hot finish.

O- A hard one for me to drink only because I don't enjoy it as much when the bourbon overwhelms everything in the base beer. I can definitely see how some people can really enjoy this, but it's really not for me.

May 03, 2014
Photo of weeare138
weeare138 from Pennsylvania

4.57/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to egajdzis for this...
'09 bottle
Appears a murky russet brown with a small, off white head that quickly fades away.
Smell is of caramel, vanilla, bourbon, notes of fruit, and hints of cacao beans.
Taste is of the aromas with a sweet vanilla, creme brûlée blast. Bits of bourbon come through but are restrained.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, with a mild heat lingering.

Jan 31, 2014
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
Jugs_McGhee from Colorado

3.47/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

10% ABV confirmed. 1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass (black glass?) 2012 vintage bottle with fancy gold label and black foil-ed over unbranded pry-off pressure cap acquired at Alesmith and served into an Odell stem-tulip in Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are very high given the brewery and style - "Scotch-style ale aged in bourbon barrels."

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a 1.5 finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. Fairly even consistency. Little albeit even lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is above average - about 3-4 minutes.

Body colour is a solid opaque dark black. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

It's about what I'd expect for a bourbon barrel wee heavy. It's not unique or special, but I'm optimistic given the brewery.

Sm: Nice bourbon notes - mainly vanilla, with some oak as well. It's not the rich toasty oak I love, but it's passable. Dark malts. Toffee. Caramel.

I'm surprised at its simplicity given the brewery. There just isn't much complexity in the aroma. I'm optimistic the taste will be better.

No hop character or alcohol is detectable.

A pretty standard wee heavy aroma of mild to moderate strength.

T: Dark malts, toffee, caramel, and bourbon notes - vanilla and some oak, but no toasty character. I don't find any roasted barley notes. It's a bit too boozy, even aged.

Decent complexity. Not real subtle, intricate, or nuanced. Depth of flavour is disappointingly average. Average duration and intensity of flavour.

It's balanced, I guess. Certainly not a gestalt build.

A great wee heavy - especially a bourbon barrel aged wee heavy - offers so much more than this. There just isn't enough going on, nor is there enough subtlety.

Mf: Too heavy on the palate. Too thick and full-bodied. It's got too much weight. The presence on the palate is a bit overbearing. Smooth and wet. Could be creamier, and certainly softer. It's imposing, but suits the flavour profile decently well. The texture certainly doesn't feel custom-tailored to the taste.

Not oily, astringent, gushed, hot, boozy, or harsh.

Dr: Something of a sipper. I'm glad I have a friend to help me finish the bottle, as quality as it is. The 10% does hit you. I wouldn't buy this again at its high price point, but it's nice enough. I'd much sooner stick with Backwoods Bastard, or even plain ole Old Chub for my wee heavy fix. This is an unreasonably priced beer from Alesmith that is worth trying once, but won't impress the discerning drinker. The heaviness is its biggest flaws.

I was ready to love this, but it just didn't meet my expectations. I'm glad I only bought one bottle.

B/B-

Jan 01, 2014
Photo of BeerFMAndy
BeerFMAndy from Wisconsin

4.56/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle poured into a snifter.
10% ABV, "serve in a goblet at 50-55°"

A - The only difference between the dark purple-hued mahogany appearance of this beer and the non-barrel-aged one is the fleeting head. The bourbon clearly evaporates the foam quickly but dots of lace remain on the glass just the same.

S - Rich vanilla bean slit open engulfs sweet caramel and toffee notes which are all shrouded by smooth, warming bourbon and soaking wet oak staves. Give this beer a swirl and plenty of warming alcohol greets the nostrils with dark fruit essence in the background.

T - While I find AleSmith's Wee Heavy to be lacking in any forward flavor, the barrel-aged version's bourbon seems to pull the malt complexity from the depths, really introducing a nice blend of caramel and toffee sweetness that was just to distant before. Vanilla tannins and oak compliment the barrel with a kiss of alcohol warmth on the finish.

M - AleSmith's barrel-aging adds nice warming alcohol to Wee Heavy's medium body for a smooth drinking experience that finishes with sweet vanilla and a touch of thinning bourbon to even the playing field.

O - Not always does barrel-aging a beer make it better but it certainly does in the case of AleSmith's Wee Heavy. Good but uninteresting and frankly quite plain, the normal version of this beer features the same alcohol percentage hidden behind distant maltiness while the barrel-aged version features forward alcohol (at the same percentage) that manages to bring out it's underlying maltiness. Caramel, toffee, and dark fruit are more apparent in the face of bourbon barrel-induced vanilla, oak, and, well, bourbon, and all conglomerate for a party in the mouth that's quite extraordinary but not quite worth the $40 price tag. AleSmith's barrel-aged Wee Heavy is a fantastic beer but if I saw it on the shelves again at the same price I wouldn't think twice about passing on it.

Dec 30, 2013
Wee Heavy - Barrel-Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 447 ratings