Last fall I reviewed the Weyerbacher Brewing Company's Old Heathen Imperial Stout and the Imperial Pumpkin Ale and when I was last down south I picked up this mix of five more of their brews. Weyerbacher has a new web site which is worth checking out. In their history section they explain some of the choices they have made:
Launched in August of 1995, Weyerbacher's original concept was to make some mainstream microbrews, like a Pale Ale and ESB. Boy did we take a wrong turn! In 1997 we brewed our first big beer, Raspberry Imperial Stout, which happened to be one of Dan's favorite homebrew recipes. The trend was started. The following year we brewed Blithering Idiot Barleywine and began brewing Belgian beers as well, like our Merry Monks' Ale. Merry Monks' wasn't named that back then, it was called Belgian Style Trippel . We weren't the most creative with names back then either, but we learned!For that decision to innovate, Weyerbacher is one of the reasons, along other breweries like Victory and Stoudt's, why I think Pennsylvania is one of the best served states or provinces as far as microbrewing goes. I bet Lew would agree.
- Autumnfest Ale: A tan head over orange amber ale. This is quite an attractive ale - smooth and rich but at 6.1% a bit much for a session beer. There are notes of toffee and nut as well as stone fruit, maybe even a bit of peach. The hops are a bit rough with sort of a lemon peel tang. Oddly, 10% of BAers do not like this beer. The accusation seems to be it is not heavy enough which is a matter of taste rather than brewing skill. The brewery calls it their take on an Octoberfest Vienna style in an ale rather than lager. Soft water makes it fairly more-ish.
- Winter Ale: A mocha rim over mahogany ale with a deep malty nose. Dry cocoa, dark pumpernickle and date predominate the malt profile in this 6.5% soft water ale which is a little lighter than you might expect. Hops are twig-cirtusy leaving a very clean sip with a light dry finish. The yeast is biscuity. Again some 9% of the B.A. say nay. More of a nut brown than a winter warmer in the style of a Burton.
- Blithering Idiot Barleywine: red-brown ale with off-white foam and rim. This is definitely a heavier beer but not the largest barleywine I have had - it would be nice to do a side by wide with Middle Ages's Druid Fluid. There is plenty of malt fruit with a nice graininess sawing through notes of cherry and apricot with orange juice showing up as the beer opens. The hops are green and menthol merging nicely with the woody boozy heat. Really attractive, soft water juicy and moreish even for a 11.1% heavyweight. I suspect the 7% of BAers who reject this beer would reject any barleywine.
- Merry Monks' Triple: Deep golden. Few beers really are the colour of gold but this one is with a thin rim of white when in the glass. There is that banana and bubble gum aroma which sounds weird unless you have had a decent exposure to Belgians or perhaps hefeweizens from near Munich. In the mouth it is rich and round with a bit of grain edge along with a small touch of hop astringency, semi-sub-lemon-ish, creating something of a slight whisky-ness, the yeast adding cream and spice but gently. The malt is french bread with a tiny bit of peach. You really have no immediate sense of the degree that this is beer is strong but it is - 9.3%. Again, I don't recognize the low end of the BAer's disatisfaction which perculates at 11%.
- Quad: the best for last. Red amber ale with white foam and rim. Powerful cherry almond malt pounds on the first sip. The aroma is heady booze, bubblegum, dry cherry with notes of cranberry and orange. The body of a low-hopped beer this big is hard to describe - rich and sugary without most of the sweetness...a dry icing solution enriched by subtle biscuit yeast. Empire biscuit? Not as malt as the quadruple Kasteel, more like Three Philosophers from Ommegang which I had thought I had reviewed but I guess I have not. Very string at 12.2% which is more than twice the number of BAers who inexplicably would turn this down.