3.6AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
There’s a certain anxiousness I get from drinking big beers. I don’t mean your average 7 or 8% ABV India Pale Ale, but your double-digit imperial stout. I don’t know where it comes from, but they say the best way to overcome a fear is to face it head-on, which is what I did with Weyerbacher Thirteen. This is one of the heftiest beers I’ve ever encountered, which gave me a lot of pre-suppositions. I was pleasantly surprised with just how intimidating this beer isn’t, but I’m not in a rush to drink it again.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
Weyerbacher Thirteen is by far one of the darkest beers I’ve ever seen, literally. Stouts tend to look black on the surface but upon closer inspection they’re usually dark brown or ruby red. However, this brew is indeed jet black with the slightest hint of mahogany around the edges. Even the head is a shade of dark brown. I just wish it stuck around longer so I could study it. What little it does form fizzles out quickly like a glass of flat Pepsi or Coke.
The aroma contains three distinct smells: a sour grape/red wine-like scent; a dark chocolate scent; and of course alcohol. But unlike other imperial beers, these all add up to form one contiguous aroma instead of a playing merry-go-round of the nose.
One of the reasons I’m not a fan of imperial beers is the fact many tend to have the same basic flavors present in their palates. What separates Weyerbacher Thirteen from others I’ve tried is just how much genuine taste is not only noticeable, but easy to appreciate.
Upon the initial sip I get a taste of dark, sour grapes that you might find in a red wine. It finishes with a surprisingly strong flavor of dark chocolate, followed by a lingering roasty aftertaste. The more I drink the more the chocolate and roasted malts become prominent and the grape flavor is obscured.
The alcohol here is very well masked, especially considering the potency is quite strong at 13.6% ABV. But unlike other imperial or extra-strong beers where the booze jumps out at you, it combines with the palate as a whole here giving it a slightly dry, somewhat sour flavor reminiscent of red win. In fact, the taste is quite interesting since it’s kind of like drinking red wine while eating a chocolate bar.
As the beer warms the flavors weaken as entropy sets in for an overall dry, warm taste. It’s not off-putting, but it’s not entirely enjoyable either.
I was expecting Weyerbacher Thirteen to be a sipper from start to finish, so I was almost shocked by how easy the beer was to drink. Since alcohol doesn’t overshadow the flavors and meshes well with the palate, this isn’t the kind of beer with a boozy, jagged, bitter finish. In fact, it’s almost quaffable when it’s cold (although there is a noticeable warming sensation throughout the life of the drink). As it warms it becomes more challenging, but at no point is it undrinkable.
And for a beer with the strength of 13.6% ABV it doesn’t overwhelm the drinker (then again, I purposely drank mine on a full stomach). It’s probably meant to be an after-dinner treat in and of itself and in that respect it works (I felt buzzed and content, but never bloated or intoxicated).
While I can honestly say I liked Weyerbacher Thirteen it’s still not the kind of beer that would knock my socks off. I can appreciate its complexity and its drinkability for something so heavy. At $3.65 per bottle it’s worth trying one, but because of its potency I think a one-time drinking is all you need.