Friday, July 26, 2013

Weyerbacher Insanity

Type: Barrel-aged barleywine
Origin: Easton, PA
Price: ?
ABV: 11.1%
NSP: ?

Andy grabbed me this one on his and Dr. President Brendan's east coast trip a while back, as a return-the-favor recon beer.  Ever since I started paying attention to my baseball gear back in high school, I assumed that Easton, PA was the headquarters of the Easton sporting goods company.  Couldn't have been more wrong.  The founder's name is Easton, and the sporting goods company is based in porn country (Van Nuys, CA).  I still always liked their gear, though.  Easton, not Van Nuys, I mean.  But that's neither here nor there as far as the beer's concerned, of course.

Anyway, barleywine.  I'll say it right up front- I'm not on the barleywine train.  I've never had one I even remotely enjoyed- I just find them to be beyond overboard on sweetness and malt, with little other flavor that makes them worth drinking.  Sure, their ABVs are through the roof, but I'd at least like to enjoy the experience of drinking as I'm getting drunk.  It's not supposed to be a grind, this whole beer-drinking thing.  I guess the other guys more or less agree, because of the previous 800+ reviews we've done so far, only four are barleywines.

Apparently this is the barrel-aged version of Weyerbacher's Blithering Idiot, which I haven't had either (good name, though).  The beer looks like murky, flat, diluted Diet Coke or strong iced tea. It smells like an amped-up amber ale, but with a good number of complexities- booze, vanilla, and oak.  Above all, the main component is what I'd expected- loads of sweet malt.

Flavor-wise, it's really boozy, and that more or less dominates the flavor.  It's incredibly sweet...put sweet and boozy together, and it makes me feel like I might end up with diabeetus or gout if I finish the whole bottle (and that's just a 12 oz).  There's no hop character to speak of, nor really anything you'd ordinarily associate with "beer"- even the malt character is pummeled by the sweetness overload.  There's some barrel flavor managing to exert itself, at least.  But it's a struggle to finish the entire thing.

So while the barrel does manage to add something (particularly in the nose, which is decently interesting), I can't help but question the point.  It feels like a "hey, we can do this, so let's do it" kind of situation.  But it seems like a good barrel would be better combined with a beer that's not just over-the-top sweet and one-note- because then the barrel flavors wouldn't just feel like an afterthought.  I dunno, maybe I just don't understand barleywines, and if that's the case there's no way I'll understand a barrel-aged version.  Can anyone recommend one that might change my mind?

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