Barleywines are big beers, and in my household they are commonplace. There is nothing like settling down after a nice dinner with friends and enjoying one of these big beers over conversation. I feel that is what they are made for. Let’s take a look at Stone’s offering, and see how it stands up to some of the other brands. Enter the Old Guardian…
After warming the beer up for a bit, just during the course of dinner, it pours like a good barleywine should; a nice ruby coloration and sticky, foamy head that dissipates on it’s own time frame. The beer has a pleasant, faintly sweet aroma, which is also there in the taste. But that is not all. The beer has a great, familiar Stone hop flavor, mixed with some malt sweetness, and candy sugar flavors. Not over the top sweet like some barleywines, and also not over the top hoppy, this beer is a delight. The beer finishes up with a nice warm alcohol feel, that reminds you that this beer is big, 11% ABV big. Drink a few of these and you will feel like you have been banging your head against a tree, maybe like this guy:
Again, barleywines are one of my favorite styles, and this beer ranks up with the best. I would put it, flavor-wise, in between Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Great Divide’s Old Ruffian. Definitely in the top tier of barleywines. This is a great beer that should be enjoyed slowly, or that 11% ABV will remind you that you are not a woodpecker, with their special adaptations to keep them from getting headaches. Regardless, well done Stone, always a pleasure!