Stone brewing co ‘Old Guardian’ 2013 Classic Release Barley wine


image“Barley wines are traditionally hefty brews, but ours is downright excessive. The huge maltiness of this beer is only tamed by an equally prodigious addition of hops, creating a rich, slightly sweet, caramel-hued ale infused with assertive bitterness and bright hop notes, all culminating in a pleasing dryness. While it will evolve into an even more glorious brew with age, this beer’s delicious onslaught of flavors will seriously challenge your ability to wait any longer to drink it.”

What we thought was going to be this years barley wine has actually turned out to be the 2013 classic release. Score!! No need to age this beauty, the work has already been done. Served from the bottle in to a beer tulip. The appearance offers a muddy, light mahogany with a soft honey hue. A short off-white head develops over the top but it slowly reduces to a fine film which still manages to release a fair amount of lace. The first thing we notice and are quite amazed by is the balance between crisp hops and slightly rich toffee/caramel malts on the nose. Even after all the years of being bottled it still provides a punchy hop presence. As she comes up to room temperature the heavier residual sugars, malt sweetness, toffee and alcohol begin to reveal themselves but there’s always that gorgeous hop freshness there to lift it. Excellent balance. Very classy aroma. In the mouth it’s extremely dry with an aggressive hop bitterness (our guess would be around the high seventies). As expected, a stinging alcohol burn (11.6% ABV) is certainly felt on the tongue. Mild-medium Co2 with medium body. Very pronounced alcohol burn upfront. Plenty of chewy toffee and sticky, sugary sweetness injects itself to counter it though. The hops really come alive through the mid, providing that strident bitterness that endures through to the back palate. The finish is dry and bitter but a subtle sweetness that does pull the surging hops back into line. Oomph! This is a mean mother! It’s one that should only be taken on by an adventurous beer drinker. As budding barleywine fans, this is nothing like your normal barleywine. This one is hop-charged, bitter and potently strong. Proceed with caution.