Weyerbacher Brewing Company - Tiny
- ABV: 11.8%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 45–55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Snifter, Small Nonic or Pinot Glass
This Belgian-style imperial stout is one of our very favorite Weyerbacher beers: an immense, carefully executed beer that satisfies as both a Belgian-style standout (emphasizing its Abbey yeast strain) and a generous display of everything that we’re looking for from a big imperial stout. For fans of Weyerbacher’s highly regarded Double Simcoe IPA and Imperial Pumpkin Ale (the brewery makes an exceptional one), Tiny offers another massively dense home run.
Tiny pours an especially dark, inky-black core with chocolate-brown edges, and there’s just a touch of added viscosity here, though nothing that screams, I’m almost 12% ABV. Tiny has a considerable amount of light-brown foam given that ABV, which forms a lasting perimeter of small bubbles. This offers up plenty of rich, perfectly rendered stout notes in the aroma as soon it’s poured—baker’s chocolate, cocoa, lots of roasted maltiness—as well as a significant core of chewy caramelized sugars and rich fruit. The Belgian-style yeast strain comes through with vibrant peppery notes, seemingly with hints of vanilla and ripe fruit. This opens up fast.
Tiny will definitely benefit from a bit of time to warm up in one’s glass, but it gets off to just a great start almost immediately. Reasonable levels of carbonation add a bit of lift to robust chocolates and caramel at the core of things, accompanied by significant structure from roast and peppery yeast character. There’s a brilliant non-hop bitterness here from all the specialty malts and that spicy yeast character, which (much like this month’s other featured selection from De La Senne) offers a highly welcome secondary structure that goes above and beyond what one would expect from an imperial stout. That Belgian yeast strain Weyerbacher uses leaves this feeling especially light and nimble for its 11.8% ABV, and, for us, this proved to be one of those perfect examples of a beer that packs a ton of flavor—but also disappears like that.
The potent ABV on this suggests that it should stand up quite well to some additional cellar time, though keep an eye on bottles to make sure that the caramelization isn’t growing to be too much, given the gradual effects of oxidation. The current levels of bitterness are exactly where we’d like them, personally, and we’d encourage Rare Beer Club members to check this out fresh. For pairings: the brewery recommends braised beef or potent cheeses that are able to stand up alongside this hefty Belgian-style stout. (Rogue River Smokey Blue, for example.)
Weyerbacher Brewing Company is one of many outstanding breweries from a state that has long been home to some of the nation’s finest brewers—both pre- and post-Prohibition. Most of the great Pennsylvania brewers tend to keep their products fairly close to home and are perfectly happy serving just their local or regional market. As a result, you may not have had the benefit of enjoying many beers from PA, but brewers throughout the state produce some of the country’s finest.
For a few years after their founding in 1995, Weyerbacher flew a bit under the regional radar, opting at first to brew only traditional, true-to-style beers. Founder and homebrewer Dan Weirback (Weyerbacher—pronounced “why-er-bock-er”—is the original spelling of the Weirback family name used by the first immigrants from Germany about 200 years ago) and his wife Sue intentionally started out sticking to mainstream microbrews. Who could blame them; things were different in the mid-90s. But in 1997 they scaled up one of Dan’s favorite homebrew recipes, Raspberry Imperial Stout, and the locals really responded to their first taste of locally brewed extreme beer. The following year they brewed Blithering Idiot Barleywine, a massive 11%+ beer, and began brewing Belgian-style beers as well, like their Merry Monks’ Ale (originally called “Belgian Style Tripel”). The experience of brewing these beers, and positive reception by better beer drinkers, led Dan & Co. to set a new path, which he sums up as: “Let’s make full-flavored high-quality brews for a discerning customer.”
They haven’t looked back.
That move ultimately allowed them to relocate from a 4,500-square-foot livery stable in downtown Easton, Pennsylvania, where they also ran a small brewpub, to a 20,000-square-foot, brewery-only site at the end of 2001. While there, their creative endeavors have been unending. Weyerbacher beers were among early big beers to be barrel aged, and they’ve taken many of their existing beers, put them on wood and retitled those versions (rightfully so, as there’s a huge transformation). Their Merry Monks’ Ale on wood becomes Prophecy. Their massive 11.8% ABV Quad turns into Blasphemy. Blithering Idiot Barleywine aged in oak bourbon casks transforms into Insanity, while their Old Heathen Imperial Stout aged in oak barrels that were used for making Kentucky bourbon grows to be Heresy. Wood aging has become increasingly common these days, but the approach Weyerbacher used showcases the early intrigue and systematic rigor employed in their happy experimentation process back in the early 2000s—not to mention the risk: barrels can be expensive, bulky, take up tons of space, need time, and often yield unpredictable results. In Weyerbacher’s case, the results are worth it—their barrel-aged beers continue to be some of their most highly demanded.
But barrel-aged options aren’t the only tricks Weyerbacher has to its credit. Even before they began growing their own hops at the Weyerbacher Hop Farm, Dan and fellow brewer Chris Wilson embraced the power of the little green flowers, producing Hops Infusion, a session-style IPA brewed with seven hop varieties. Then came their interpretation of an imperial or double IPA: Double Simcoe IPA. This is a beer that we think really shows Weyerbacher’s brewing prowess—a massive IPA that is absolutely huge on flavor, but eminently smooth and balanced. The special 750ml, unfiltered and bottle-conditioned version we brought to our members years ago was one of the only times Weyerbacher appeared in The Rare Beer Club, so we’re excited to revisit them—with a very different offering this time around.
Tiny is a Belgian-style imperial stout for a brewery well-versed in big, generous beers. It’s a hefty release with limited distribution—and we’re taking a sizeable allotment for Rare Beer Club members. This is a beautifully fine-tuned stout, and it’s perfectly sized for sharing.
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