Brewer: Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Style: English Barleywine
Description: Insanity pours a murky copper brown color with a foamy light tan head that disappears rather quickly, a standard characteristic of beers with a high ABV such as this one. The aroma is breathtaking and unbelievably rich. Strong notes of coconut and vanilla hit up front from the oak barrels, with backing notes of sweet caramel, toffee, raisins, and bourbon. The taste is just as complex as the aroma, with notes from the bourbon barrels hitting up front, bringing some coconut, vanilla, and bourbon all swirling together and melding with richly sweet malts, raisins, dates, and just a hint of brown sugar, which is followed by a tiny amount of alcohol heat. The full body and moderate carbonation are perfect for the style and gives the beer a very smooth-drinking experience. This is a beer that is meant to be sipped. Allow this one to warm up a bit and you will get even stronger aromas and flavors coming through. Take your time and enjoy the complexities within this beer. It may drive you insane, but it’s a good kind of crazy!
Food pairing: Insanity is a fantastic beer to pair with desserts, especially those that you could enjoy while sitting around a campfire on these refreshing spring/summer evenings. Try pairing Insanity with a warm and delicious s’more, as the graham crackers will highlight the malt bill while the chocolate and marshmallow will add a layer of creaminess and extra body to this delectably smooth beer. If you are looking for something even easier, be sure to pack your cooler with some creamy ice cream, preferably vanilla bean. This rich and creamy dessert coats the palate and removes the alcohol heat from this beer and replaces it with a deliciously sweet finish that lingers long on the palate.
The final word: Insanity is certainly not a beer for the timid; it is packed full of flavor and complexity and is certainly a sipping beer that demands respect and examination. The barleywine style in general is not loved by everyone, but those who enjoy it absolutely love it and are extremely fond of the experimentation that goes hand-in-hand with the style. For those who are familiar with and enjoy Weyerbacher’s Blithering Idiot, Insanity is a beer for you to try, as it is Blithering Idiot aged in oak bourbon casks, making the deeply rich and complex beer even more complex and enjoyable. While this is not a beer that everyone will love, if you are a fan of barleywines or higher ABV beers, then do yourself a favor and try Insanity – the richness of the beer alone may just win you over.
Rating: W W W W V
Where can I get it? Currently available in 12-ounce bottles at: Backyard Ale House, Scranton; Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer, Wilkes-Barre; J & H Beer, Plains Township; Exit 190 Beer Deli, Dickson City; and Goldstein’s Deli, Kingston.
Remember, enjoy responsibly! Cheers!
-Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour on 102.3 FM Saturdays at 10 a.m.