Thirsty Dog – Wulver Review

WulverAll You Need to Know

Brewery: Thirsty Dog Brewing
Style: Wee Heavy
ABV: 12%
Cost: $12 (12oz)
Glassware: Thistle (Yup, thistle)
Temp: 43°F (Yup!)
Availability: Limited
Purchased@: Iron Abbey

Quick Take: Wulver strikes me as a classic version of the Wee Heavy style that has been expertly aged in bourbon barrels. What it does is take on a difficult style and nail a fantastic beer. It actually makes a bolder statement by brewing this in a conventional way and barrel aging it into a straightforward success that demands your attention rather than getting overly playful and trying to distract with gimmicks.


Brew Facts: Wulver has won a bronze medal at the NY Beer Comp, but Thirsty Dog has won multiple awards for Old Leghumper (good beer), Hopus Maximus, and Siberian Night, a Russian Imperial Stout that also has a bourbon barrel-aged version.

Appearance: A creamy head dissipated just about as quickly as it formed. The color is a murky, dark caramel/amber that is more brown than red. A swirl coats the glass in the typical high ABV oil slick. There is a tiny presence of tiny bubbles, but barely noticeable.

Aroma: Hits you upfront with the popcorny butter that is typical to bourbon barrel-aging. The wood lessens the sugary sweetness, but the caramel malt backbone typical to a Wee Heavy still makes itself known. The aroma doesn’t really surprise, but it lets you know exactly what you are getting into.

Taste/Mouth Feel: Heavy and slick mouth feel, yet still pretty drinkable. The soft carbonation and mouth feel is not far off from a Barley Wine. As was described by a friend after the initial sip, it’s a bit of a maltgasm. Warming this may cause the booze to come through like a hot air balloon with a leak, so the bottle recommended serving temp of 43 degrees is probably spot on. The toffee sugar borders on cloying, but the buttery booze prevents it from becoming overwhelming. The sweet train keeps on rolling through the vanilla, dates, and pleasant brown sugar warmth on the finish. It’s borderline hot, but stays delectably drinkable as a sipping beer.

Final Thoughts: Wulver strikes me as a classic version of the Wee Heavy style that has been expertly aged in bourbon barrels. The bourbon integrates really well and doesn’t weigh it down. On the flip side, it doesn’t do anything surprising or wildly different and is a bit pricey. I wish this was just a little deeper, a little more complex, a little richer, but beer isn’t about wishes. What it does do is a traditional take on a difficult style and nails a fantastic beer. It actually makes a bolder statement by brewing this in a conventional way and barrel aging it into a straightforward success that demands your attention rather than getting overly playful and trying to distract with gimmicks.

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