Williamsburg Grand Illumination Ale

Serve in Snifter


on tap


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RATINGS: 25   MEAN: 3.03/5.0   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.01/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 282   ABV: 9.4%
NOTE: If you are rating a version from 2007 or later you should rate the Williamsburg Alewerks Brewmaster’s Reserve Grand Illumination Ale.

This barley-wine style beer is brewed once a year in honor of the traditional welcome of the Christmas season in Williamsburg, VA.

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argo0 (14127) - Washington DC, USA - JUL 2, 2005
(12oz bottle, 2004) Lightly hazed copper body topped by smallish beige head. Aroma is sweet, caramel, chocolate, orange, cranberry. Taste is sweet, chocolate, caramel, fig, light grapefruit. Smooth, watery medium body, surprising in its capacity to hold and hide the alcohol as well as it does (I would never guess the ABV within 2 percent). Definitely on the malty side of the style.

hopscotch (11113) - Vero Beach, Florida, USA - JAN 31, 2005
Bottle... lightly hazy, orange ale with a mid-sized, off-white head. Great retention with terrific, thick, lacework. Apricot and caramel nose. Fruity, malty flavor to match. Too thin. Medium-bodied and watery with fizzy carbonation. Short, tangy, dry finish. Good stuff, but a barley wine?

MartinT (9880) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAR 20, 2006
Any first impressions?
-A veil of head covers the faded cardinal red.
-Cranberry juiciness and subdued maple sweetness make for a timid lure.
-Delicate fruitiness evokes mangoes, cranberries, and pomegranate, but all overall there isn’t enough malt sweetness or hop flavor to hook me.
-Carbonation is active for a barley wine, attempting to hide the lack of maltiness.

What if you dig deeper?
-Barely any hops in the aroma, which is surprising.
-Black pepper lurks behind the shy fruitiness.
-Some resinous hop bitterness follows diluted grapefruit.
-Lack of personality and of plain old tastiness will make this one disappear from memory real fast.

Bottle; 2004 vintage.

BBB63 (6557) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - DEC 26, 2003
2002 batch: Hazy deep brown hue with reddish highlights. Aroma of maple syrup, caramel, whiskey notes, oak wood, floral hops, and musty yeast esters. Funky twangy taste with a spicy undertone. Minor grapefruit presence tries to "clean" the palate from the sticky sweet finish but fails to keep this beer from becoming coy. Vinous qualties with the whiskey and alcoholic notes. The mouthfeel is thinner than expected and not very pleasurable. This beer just seemed to be slightly off, the taste never developed a sense of harmony. Disappointing effort.

nuplastikk (6289) - Madison, Wisconsin, USA - JAN 20, 2013
2004 bottle cracked open in 2013. Way oxidiized, sherry port aroma. Somewhat watery, seems like the body has fallen out from under it. Raisin, prune, brown sugar. Past its prime, very deteriorated, but still drinkable.

TheBeerGod (6224) - Newport News, Virginia, USA - AUG 19, 2003
Christmas 2002 vintage. This one has 8-9 months of aging on it. However, it could stand some more time in the cellar. Pours a deep, brownish red with a small light brown head. The nose is not pleasant. Smells similar to cleaning fluid mixed with malt. Disappointing. The taste is much better. Malt sweetness, dark chocolate, licorice and some earthiness. The 12.5% was NOWHERE to be found. I tasted no alcohol, as a matter of fact. Finished smooth and didn't have a fabric feeling in the mouth that legion242 mentioned. Decent beer that hopefully aging longer will help.

Rastacouere (6177) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAR 23, 2006
Nicely lasting off-white head covers the hazy caramel pour. Slightly buttered (Ringwood?) nose is lightly yeasty, rather bready and mostly floral. The aromatics are generally low, leaving a globally sweet feel. Maltiness appears mostly faint in mouth, the grapefruity/orangey hops thus appearing pretty sharp. Growing astringency gets chalky after a few sips. Light-medium bodied, fine soft carbonation. I had never heard of the brewery and can’t say this one convinced me to particularly seek the rest of their lineup.

tiggmtl (4545) - East York, Ontario, CANADA - JUN 7, 2006
Orange, grapefruit, and black pepper in a light, yeasty aroma that never comes together. Hazy, orange-copper coloured body is topped by a low off white head that recedes to a light cover with plenty of lacing. Strong grapefruit character and some mild butterscotch in the fairly simple and sweet flavour. Moderate soft bubbled carbonation to the lightly astringent medium body. Bottle (trade, Aug-05) sampled with MartinT, Olivier_MTL, Rastacouere and Siroy. Thanks, Kinz!

Kinz (3786) - Glen Allen, Virginia, USA - SEP 25, 2003
Christmas 2002 bottling. Hurricane Isabel has struck! I think it looked hazy, with a deep brown/ruby red color, with a nice head, but I could be totally wrong, as I could barely see with the freakin' candle. Aroma strongly of orange marmalade, fading into malts. Explosion of flavor, with mixed fruits, malty sweetness, and a persistent bitternesss. It was best when cold, and when warm, but had a biting bitterness in the in-between temperature stage. I believe this one will improve with age. Ratings are so wildly divergent on this beer so far that I wonder about the consistency of the batches.

Terminus (3683) - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - MAR 27, 2005
bottle-2004-thanks to kinz for the rating i guess. pours a deep copper hue with a nice off white head that was almost verging on beige. aroma of apples, oxidization and just off. hard to describe. This beer has flavors of cardboard, some berries-a mess.

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