AleSmith – Wee Heavy Review

AleSmith Wee Heavy - modAll You Need to Know

Brewery: AleSmith Brewing
Style: Wee Heavy
ABV: 10%
Cost: $11.97
Glassware: Thistle, Goblet
Size: 750 ml
Temp: 50-55°F
Availability: Year-Round
Purchased@: Bring on the Beer

Quick Take: This is an incredibly smooth beer that avoids sweet, boozy heat for a blended experience that can actually satisfy you on a summer day. If you are looking for deep complexity or a holy crap moment, it doesn’t happen. In a way, it’s what this beer avoids that makes it such a confident and expertly brewed beer. You may end up looking at a Wee Heavy a bit differently after seeing what an expert brewer can do with it, just don’t expect the quintessential example of the style.


Brew Facts: AleSmith had been tearing up the RateBeer charts and ended up being named the #1 brewer in California and in the world. Their Wee Heavy has won a number of medals throughout the years, including ones in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013.

Appearance: Dark chestnut and murky caramel in color. Held up to the light and made to talk, it has a tinge of red and clear edges. Looking through it at the fire pit, the red has a purpley quality, but I imagine few people will hold it to a flame. Decent carbonation floats to the surface and bumps along the sides of the glass. It has a look that is typical of a scotch ale or traditional Barleywine.

Aroma: On inhale, the image of a county fair caramel apple comes to mind. Big time appley caramel here that is very indulgent. There is a bit of brown sugar and distinct candied sugar. I detect some raisin and dark fruit that mixes with the sugary aspect. The nose is similar to a traditional Barleywine with an even heavier malt emphasis.

Taste/Mouth Feel: Low carbonation, bordering on thin, but enough body via a yeasty backbone to keep it satisfying. Like many of AleSmith’s beers, it comes in at 10% but is still crazy smooth. “Light body, rich taste” seems like a mantra of the brewer based on the numerous beers I’ve had and this is no exception. Upfront, it features a dry, yeasty body with a candied apple sweetness and malty undertone. The sweetness is light and damn near fluffy, not bogging the beer down with thick toffee sugars. There are raisiny fruit esters and an earthiness that mixes on the finish. It maintains a few tradition base elements of a Wee Heavy but changes it enough to make this distinctly an AleSmith beer.

Final Thoughts: I can see this Wee Heavy potentially dividing beer geeks out there. Those that want a beer to remain true to its style and judge it based on how well it perfects the traditional hallmarks, in this case boozy sweet and deep caramel/roast, might be disappointed. This is a subtle beer that isn’t about bold flavors or playing to tradition. AleSmith, like many of the styles it brews, made it their own. This is an incredibly smooth beer that avoids sweet, boozy heat for a blended experience that can actually satisfy you on a summer day. If you are looking for deep complexity or a holy crap moment, it doesn’t happen. In a way, it’s what this beer avoids that makes it such a confident and expertly brewed beer. You may end up looking at a Wee Heavy a bit differently after seeing what an expert brewer can do with it, just don’t expect the quintessential example of the style.

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