3.2AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Wheat beers like hefeweizens and witbiers tend to be some of my more favorite types of beers given their great taste, drinkability and the fact they’re quite refreshing. However, I tend to associate those beers with the warmer seasons and with a light body. Then along comes a beer like Weyerbacher Fourteen which defies all presuppositions of what a wheat beer can and should be.
This is an overtly big brew in many ways. The brewery dubs it a “wheat wine” which is similar to a barley wine, but with emphasis on the wheat malts. It’s got a lot of character, which is good, but its potency steals the spotlight from the taste. It’s enjoyable, but it probably could’ve been even better if it wasn’t arbitrarily weighty.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
Just by appearance alone, Weyerbacher Fourteen might be a familiar beer to fans of hefeweizens and India Pale Ales. It’s a very hazy shade of dark orange and rusty copper. It doesn’t produce much of a head – just a white, soapy-like coating at the top of the beer.
The aroma is very strong with a dry, rubbing alcohol-like scent. Upon closer inspection I can detect traces of spices, which is sweet and inviting – but fairly weak nevertheless.
I like and appreciate beers with complex palates, but when alcohol is a major component to a beer’s taste it’s difficult to appreciate. Weyerbacher Fourteen starts out very reminiscent of an authentic German-style wheat beer with a rich palate of spiciness and sweetness. I get a tasty combination of what tastes like coriander, orange peel, banana and clove, but it’s all overshadowed by a dry alcoholic presence.
These spices, while fairly mild, do add up to form a pretty tasty palate. It’s just too bad the alcohol keeps getting in the way. What’s funny is the order in which the flavors come to me: alcohol, spice, sweetness, and then MORE alcohol.
So while it’s easy to characterize Weyerbacher Fourteen as a boozy beer, it should be noted that it does indeed taste good. Aside from the spices there’s something of a fruitiness to this palate (figs and plum) which is satisfying and actually quite refreshing (as refreshing as a beer this big can be, that is).
For a big with such an obviously-huge body, Weyerbacher Fourteen isn’t quite as challenging to drink as one might assume. While alcohol does play a significant role in the palate, the beer is still quite smooth. The mouthfeel is thick, heavy and almost chewy, but the spice doesn’t tear up my tongue.
There is a noticeable warming effect on the finish, but since this beer is 11.8% ABV that’s to be expected. I didn’t care much for the dry aftertaste, though. It’s rather sharp and reminds me of the taste of a thermometer left sitting in a jar of rubbing alcohol.
Not surprisingly the beer left me with a noticeable buzz, but it’s nothing I couldn’t handle (I would recommend drinking this on a full stomach, though).
Sometimes I think it’s almost unfair to judge a beer as big as this too early, since it’s meant to be aged. I’d be interested to see how the sharp edge of the booze might dull after a year or two.
At $3 per bottle, Weyerbacher Fourteen is a fairly low risk for those looking to drink an imperial beer which is vastly different from other “big beers,” or those interested in what an imperial wheat wine is really like.