Soaking up the suds with James Crane
Oh, Weyerbacher, I love you. I love you so much. I know I drink other beers from time to time … or a lot. They’re delicious, and I’ve said as much, but it always has been you that I come back to.
Sure, you’ve always been a bit heavy-handed, but I happen to like heavy-handed. I like how you’re not afraid to be in charge and do what you want with my taste buds. I have no complaints.
Weyerbacher is well known for its big beers. They’re heavy and alcoholic but generally balanced in their own right. The alcohol usually makes no attempt to hide itself, but the Easton-based brewery plays off that alcoholic burn, adding complementary flavors that are just as strong. This is very true of Weyerbacher’s Merry Monks and Blithering Idiot, two beers I’ve been drinking for years now. Their allure has diminished in my eyes.
Weyerbacher actually has made beers longer than I’ve been allowed to drink legally. In fact, the brand recently turned 21 and celebrated by making its 21st Anniversary ale.
It might be the brewery’s birthday, but I’m the one who seems to be getting the presents. This beer promises to be everything I love. First, it is a stout with cocoa and vanilla, which alone would be enough to garner my attention. Then it added some very special words: bourbon barrel-aged.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a barrel-aged beer I didn’t like, especially bourbon barrel-aged. I feel like I could just find a good barrel and chew on it and I’d be happy. That smoky, charred, alcoholic flavor is like nothing else. It makes me reevaluate the benefits of having splinters in my tongue.
This one poured darker than coffee with a finger’s worth of mocha-colored head. Leaving some light lacing all the way down the glass, it was beautiful and thick, promising a great mouth feel. The brew smelled of roasted malt, vanilla and alcohol. Once it warmed up a bit, notes of caramel and bourbon became apparent, which played well with the alcoholic burn.
The taste was everything Weyerbacher said it would be and nothing more. 21st Anniversary delivers exactly what it promises, with roasted malt stout up front. After the swallow, the flavors linger on the tongue and evolve. The bourbon and caramel slide up and give it a nice, alcoholic, sweet taste. The vanilla is a huge part of that. Then it’s all smoke and bitter roast, with roasted notes that linger a long while and slowly dissipate into the taste of a smokey cigar.
This beer is big, boozy and satisfying. If I needed an example to remind me of why I’m in love with Weyerbacher, this would do it. As I finished the bottle, the hazy warmth of it all set in, making me feel vaguely happy, satisfied and comforted. If a beer cuddle was a thing, this would be it. It slides down the throat like liquid happiness, with the stout’s smoothness and creaminess
taking away any alcoholic burn. This makes it easier to drink than it should be, but the
richness keeps it from going down too quick. With a beer like this, it’s not really necessary to drink too many.
Weyerbacher, I’m all yours. I might still drink other brews, but you’re the one for me. Call me sometime.