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The Beer Circle » American Wild Ale, Cellar, Weyerbacher Brewing Co. » Cellar: Weyerbacher Riserva

Cellar: Weyerbacher Riserva

This week I sat down for three straights days of three vintages of Weyerbacher Brewing Company’s American Wild Ale: Riserva. Weyerbacher thought highly of the most recent batch, saying before the release:

Riserva is an 11.7% abv amber ale, fermented with wild yeast and red raspberries. In choosing the barrels to blend specifically for this year’s batch, we were able to achieve an absolutely beautiful taste profile that’s the epitome of the sour beer experience. We feel that this is the best Riserva ever.

Over the course of this year, I was able to track down the 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages at various stores in various states. I feel like it took a lot of luck to run into them all when I wasn’t really searching, so hopefully a bottle of 2008 will find its way to me eventually! How has this beer held up over three years? How did batch variation affect this yearly release? Should you buy a bottle? Find out that and more below.

2011 Vintage
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Riserva pours out of the bottle a very pretty clear red color with about a finger of white head. The bubbles racing from the bottom of the bottle hold a thin ring of head at the top that doesn't lace all that well. Luckily I was able to avoid pouring the crazy amount of yeast that had collected at the bottom of the bottle. I really recommend with this that you have multiple glasses ready when you pour this out, you do not want to drink that sludge at the bottom.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The nostrils are graced with a big hit of sweet raspberries and really tart, sour oakiness. I was actually pretty shocked to see how high the ABV was, and it is extremely apparent here. You can tell right off the bat this is going to be a really big beer as all of the aromas are big and bold. It smells delicious, but I am docking it a little because it hints towards disjointed instead of balanced. We'll see what happens as I start to drink it.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I believe that having an American Wild Ale that is this tart, yet paired with so much booze is a first for me. It starts off very tartly acidic, and evolves into sweet raspberry puree, before being taken over by hints of oak and a boozy finish. The tastes develop very well on my tongue and leave me wanting more after every sip. A big beer in every sense of the term, it's a good thing the raspberry is so sweet. Otherwise the beer would be so tart and boozy I don't know how drinkable it would be.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Medium to heavy body for an American Wild Ale with a nice amount of carbonation. I'm going back and forth on how drinkable this is. The tartness, sweetness, and booziness does get to you after a while, but it's just really tasty. I'll split the difference with a 4, but I could go either way.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
I paid between $10 and $15 dollars for a few weeks back in Virginia.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
This is a great beer. I real treat if you're willing to splurge a bit. I really like what they're doing here, and am excited to see how it ages.

Beer Stats
Style: American Wild Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 11.40%
BA Score: 87
RB Score: 95
2010 Vintage
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The pour is much different from the 2011. As the sticker on the bottle says the carbonation is much lower than normal for this vintage, and it shows here. Absolutely no head, but still a nice ruby red pour that seems to be a bit more hazy than 2011. Less sediment poured out into my peripheral glass (saved for the bottom goo), than before.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
This aroma is much better balanced than the 2011 was. The alcohol has taken a big step back, with the sour and tart characteristics taking over. The sweet raspberry puree hides in the background, but is stronger than the booze notes. Oak and sour dominated, I much prefer this vintage's aroma.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The variation in tastes between the 2010 and 2011 is absurd, it's like they're different beers! Basically this vintage of the beer has become much more balanced. The oak has stepped up its game, with the alcohol mellowing extremely nicely. The raspberry puree lends a very nice amount of sweetness to the tartness (which I don't think is too aggressive. I was expecting an enamel ripper from what the sticker said). Instead of developing on the tongue, this taste is more consistant, which is good and bad. The palate is just bombarded by oak, sour, and raspberries...and I just happen to love it. By the time I reached the bottom of the second glass, however, the sour had taken over. My God it defined enamel ripper. I have greatly enjoyed tasting this beer change as it warmed and as I reached a different part of the bottle. The aftertaste, however can border on unpleasant at times. It's a bit musty and almost seems to come from 'extra' fruit.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The body on this vintage is more thin and much less carbonated than the fresh vintage. I can't say, however, that it hurts the drinkability. I really found the thin, undercarbonated body matched the other characteristics of the beer really well.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The 2010 vintage I found at Ye Olde Spirit Shop in Frederick Maryland in March 2011, surprisingly. I paid $24 which was probably too much, but I had traded away about 4 bottles of it and never tried it myself...so I splurged.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
It is actually really difficult to compare these two brews. I can't say either way as to whether or not age improved it, because it just completely changed. My recommendation would be to buy a bottle of this year's and see what happens. Or, if you're lucky, pick up that bottle of 2010 still sitting on the shelves and compare it yourself. If you do, let me know if you have the same experience.

Beer Stats
Style: American Wild Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 11.40%
BA Score: 87
RB Score: 95
2009 Vintage
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Very clear ruby red pour with an initial head of about two fingers and white in color. The head is nothing more than a few bubbles, and recedes into the beer quickly. I will say that a ton of bubbles are racing up through this beer, which I was not expecting. As before, just a ton of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. You have to make sure you dump the last inch or so of liquid...unless you like to drink that stuff.
Aromawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
This is more a return to the 2011 vintage than the 2010 vintage in terms of aroma. A really nice amount of raspberries really take the forefront, with oak, some booze, and some tartness playing along. I certainly wouldn't refer to it as boozy, but it certainly has mellowed over the last 3 years or so. It's wonderful blend of sweet fruit and sour tartness.
Tastewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Yet again, a new take on the taste for this beer. I can't really say I expected three years of vintages to have such different flavor profiles. Again, the 2009 vintage harkens back to the 2011. The beer certainly doesn't seem as disjointed as the fresh vintage was, but I can't say the flavors are better overall. They seem to be the same, just not as strong. The taste starts right off the bat with sweet raspberry and is taken over quickly by a nice tart character. There's an underlying oakiness, but nothing assertive. I'm shocked that there's hardly any booze in the taste at all. The second glass yet again presents new tastes to the fold. A bit less raspberry, a bit more oak, and some booze. I'm convinced that if you poured every ounce of this beer into a separate glass, they'd all taste different. It's amazing. A definite shift from the other vintages. I can't tell whether or not I like it more or less. It's more balanced and mellowed, but less impressive.
Mouthfeel/Drinkabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Lighter body than the others with a medium level of carbonation (much more than 2010). It's really drinkable. The lack of booze really makes this quite an easy drinking beer. Really dry finish, the sour character completely coats the mouth.
Valuewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The 2009 vintage was found at Capone's outside Philadelphia for $26. That price point is from higher PA prices (over Virginia and Maryland) and represents 2 years of proper aging, so I was happy to pick it up. Either way, this was an expensive vertical. I'd say pick this bottle up fresh and thank me later.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Well let's sum it up. I believe the 2009 might have scored the highest, but they all had their high points. They were such different beers, this had to be one of the most eye opening cellar tastings I've done. I absolutely recommend you buy this, drink it fresh, and age it. You really can't go wrong with Riserva. Big kudos to Weyerbacher for this one.

Beer Stats
Style: American Wild Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 11.40%
BA Score: 87
RB Score: 95

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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