Welcome back to the Daily Beard, everyone. If you’re like me, you’ve got an uber case of the Tuesday Doldrums – a malady almost as horrible as the Monday Blues. But fear not everyone, I’ve got just the thing to lift our spirits. It’s Weyerbacher’s Blithering Idiot Barley Wine – a beer full of potency and flavor, with enough kick to make us forget how young the week is. And so, without further delay, take a seat and relax. It’s beer time.
Pouring this beer reveals a rich aroma full of warmth. Huge caramel and rich bread malts arrive first, wrapping around the nose like a malty blanket. Completely absent are even the faintest traces of hops, resting on the bready power of the malts to carry this beer to the promised land. Next up, gradually strengthening hints of burnt caramel mingles with brown sugar to create a layer of sweetness that hugs the malts and fills the nose. On the tail end of these sugar notes, a presence of butterscotch and toffee add a mellow richness that compliments the sweet vibes like a long lost twin. Throughout each breath, there’s a constant touch of alcohol strength – a slightly boozy raw quality that makes you aware of the 11.1% ABV even before you start drinking. Near the end of each breath, and after you let the beer sit for a few moments, a mild touch of fruit appears, consisting mainly of figs and raisins, but with a touch of apple here and there. The fruits aren’t huge – existing only as a vaporous trace aroma – but it’s enough to create more complexity in a way that makes the overall aroma quite lovely. Visually, it pours a fairly clear nut brown, deep and full-bodied throughout underneath a fluffy, slow-fading head of light khaki.
On the tongue, the malts show up first once more – arriving with caramel and bread that fills the mouth. The alcohol presence is much more evident in taste than it was in smell, with a tingling burn starting on the tongue and trickling down the throat. The same raw quality of the alcohol is here once more, brought about by the potency of the alcohol burning through the masking qualities of the other flavors. Despite this power, the alcohol quality is the Bert to this beer’s Ernie. Once you make your way past the alcohol, you’ll stumble into the middle of a flavor explosions – layers of burnt sugars, toffee, and mild figs and raisins constantly swirl and mix across your tongue, dominating the mouth with a slight sweetness that feeds into the bready smoothness. Speaking of smoothness, this beer goes down like silk that’s been set ablaze. The ABV burn shows up at the back of the throat, but the flavors ensure it remains wonderfully drinkable. As the beer warms up a bit, nutty hints of almonds arrive, followed by the faintest touch of candied cherries. It creates a flavor profile that’s similar to cognac at times – not nearly as strong, but with the same predominant flavors.
Weyerbacher’s Blithering Idiot showcases the best quality of a barley wine – intensity. Huge malt flavors and alcohol potency form a stage upon which brown sugar sweetness, dark fruits and hints of nutty smoothness are layered to pure tastiness. Checking out other reviews of this beer, I discovered that my appreciation of Blithering Idiot was in the minority. I’m not sure why. Big flavors, pleasing aromas, and the feel-good quality of a barley wine were in high supply from start to finish. Will it be everyone’s favorite – no, of course not – but you should definitely give it a try before reading into it too much.
I recommend this beer over the course of an evening. Take your time and savor the growing and shifting layers of flavor, while enjoying the tingle that’ll show up as you drink. Weyerbacher’s Blithering Idiot earns a solid A-.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9/10 A-