Beer Blogging - Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine
This is the limited early 2007 release of Stone's Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale. According to the back, the ingredients are "a whole buncha barley, tons o' hops, water & yeast".
This looks like a classic barley wine in the glass: deep amber in color with a fluffy tan/white head that doesn't stay around very long. The aroma is almost pure sweetness, with maybe a little bit of hops. No alcohol to speak of, even though the label promises an impressively precise 11.26%. Smells tasty.
And it is. Wow, the aroma didn't even hint at what this beer had in store. Of course, my sense of smell is kind of limited, so that could be the problem here, but I think the beer just tastes different (better) than it smells. It's complicated, and I'm not sure I can describe all of what's going on here, but I will try. The initial flavor is mostly sweet, a malty taste in a beer that has no malt. The flavor isn't purely malty, though; it's hard to describe the flavor of barley + yeast if you've never had a barley wine. It's kind of a sharp, almost bitter sweetness, if that makes any sense. That sweetness is followed up by, in order, floral hops, alcohol and malty flavors. I would never have known this beer had more than 11% ABV if I hadn't read the label...that is, until I'd had half the bottle. Overall it's a delicious, if demanding, beer experience.
Rating: 7/10. Recommended for barley wine fans only - if you don't like beers with really strong flavors, you won't enjoy this beer. That pretty much goes for all the Stone beers, actually.