Session #12: Blithering Idiot

This edition of The Session is sponsored by Jon at The Brew Site.

The Session - Beer Blogging Friday

Whether you spell it “barley wine” (conventional) or “barleywine” (my preference), this is definitely the season for it. It’s a style with a wide range of interpretations and possibilities, so I want to leave this Session open for the same: whether it’s a tasting review, or a food pairing, or an experience, or a (homebrew) recipe—it’s wide open, and I can’t wait to see what people come up with.

One of the first barleywines I ever tasted was Weyerbacher‘s Blithering Idiot. I bought it because of the name (it was a put-down I used quite often). This was probably ten years ago.

I didn’t like it.

Not its fault, of course. I just really didn’t have the palate for “heavier” beers like that.

label for Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot Barley-Wine Style AleSo, while at my favorite retailer looking for a beer for this episode of The Session, I knew as soon as I spotted it that I would need to try it again with my more mature tastebuds.

Here’s what the brewer has to say about it:

At Weyerbacher, we prefer to brew things true to European style guidelines. Consequently our barley wine is on the malty side, yet not overly sweet. Notes of date or perhaps fig on the palate follow a pleasurably malty aroma to your taste buds. The finish is warm and fruity, and begs for the next sip.

A beer that begs? Well, that sounds interesting. They also suggest enjoying it “in front of the fire, or accompanying a literary classic.” Well, I don’t have a fireplace, but I’m in a comfortable chair and my oldest child is on the sofa readying one of the Harry Potter books, so I’ll call that close enough.

At 11.1% ABV, this is certainly something to enjoy slowly. It’s not as dark as I expected. It’s a nice deep golden color with red highlights. The head, off-white, isn’t very big and doesn’t stay around long. I get a bit of alcohol in the aroma, and some grassiness from the hops. As it warms it gets a bit more aromatic.

Its body is pretty robust. Not syrupy, as I was expecting. Not as much fruit as I expected from their description, but it does finish warmly. And you know what? It’s good. Good enough that I’m kicking myself that I have avoided barleywines for all these years.

See also: Ron’s Session entry: Talon Barley Wine from Mendocino