Signs of hope under crushing influence
A Review of Big Eddy Wee Heavy by Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.
Posted on 7/1/2013 by Chops
Today's craft beer market is growing at a relentless pace. Gone are the days when only a handful of craft breweries were chipping away market share at a slow but steady pace. You can compare the current beer market with a modern day gold rush where brewing companies are grabbing whatever stake they can however they can. This environment attracts plenty of eager entrepreneurs, which in turn attracts bloated sharks. It creates a murky gray area where the line between craft and macro can blur a bit.

Take the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company for instance, an American brewing staple founded in Chippewa Falls in 1867. Today the brewery is owned by MillerCoors, which would usually be a death notice to quality. However, the brewery has managed to retain much of the core model that made it popular in the first place. They give us beers like the Big Eddy Wee Heavy, a tasty and rewarding Strong Scotch Ale. I came across this nectar at a Leinenkugel Tap Takeover at one of my favorite local pubs.

In the glass, this beer has a dark brown coloration with a rich ruby hue. It comes with a frothy light tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. On the nose, I found a sweet malty mishmash of dark fruits, caramel, brown sugar, a slight nip of alcohol, and a touch of smokiness. It's a very inviting brew with a syrupy sweet introduction. So far so good, nothing left to do but dive in for that first sip.

The flavor profile almost perfectly mirrors the aroma, which was a delightful surprise. Dark fruit notes reign supreme and consist of plums, raisins and cherries. Rounding out the mix are sweet notes of caramel and brown sugar. The hop profile is understandably muted, allowing the smokey malt and alcohol burn to make their secondary presences known. The body is not quite on the thick side and resides more in the heavy medium area. The mouthfeel is decently smooth, can be described as moderately silky, and drinks relatively easy for the style. The beer finishes a tad sticky and exits with a sweet malty aftertaste.

Overall, Jacob Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Wee Heavy is a delightful brew with rewarding flavors. It's not overly complex and provides a carefree experience for most beer fans. I would only caution novices due to the respectable and well hidden 9.5% ABV. Truth be told, I wasn't expecting to like this beer as much as I did. Because let's be honest here, this is the brewery that overloads beer shelves with that Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, widely disdained as a cash grab akin to Mike's Hard Lemonade. However, I found a little hope in their Big Eddy series of beers. It shows us that even beneath the crushing influence of Big Beer, breweries can retain a sliver of their original essence.
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Big Eddy Wee Heavy by Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.
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