Beer Review: Stone Old Guardian

Stone Brewing has long been one of my favourite purveyors of finely crafted liquid gold.  Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard and Double Bastard are all placed upon high pedestals in my pantheon of barley perfection.  So when I saw the rare and hard to come by Stone Old Guardian in the cooler of the local LQ, I nearly made a wet spot in my pants, grabbed one and hurried to the checkout.  However, due to an unintentional nap when I got home, I didn’t get to tear into it tonight.

At 11.3% abv, Old Guardian is technically classified as a barleywine.  Barleywines tend to be a completely different drinking experience from traditional beers with a flavour profile closer to a liqueur or brandy.  If you take a mouthful of a fine barleywine and expect a beery experience, you definitely come away confused.  The pour resulted in a thick, creamy head over a cloudy, honey coloured body.  Through the glass it was nearly opaque with plenty of natural sediment present and percolating due to the rising carbonation.    I inhaled deeply over the mouth of the glass and my nose was greeted by a sweet aroma with definite hints of caramel.  As the first sip crossed the threshold of my lips, the sweet-sensing taste buds at the front of my tongue were immediately activated with a sugary tickle that was intense without being cloying.  The hops in the beer were very present, but without being overly dry or intensely acidic.  The mouthfeel was thick, rich and almost had hints of butterscotch.  As I swallowed,  I could feel a defined and pleasant alcohol burn sliding down my throat and warming my stomach.  Unlike other high-alcohol brews, there was no sharp, astringent alcohol taste;  just intense warmth and buttery smoothness.  Each successive sip renewed the expanding burn in my stomach, again like brandy or even scotch.  The lacing left behind was well-defined and long lived, making it easy to track the progress of each sip down the sides of the glass.  Eventually, as I got about halfway done with the first glass, the warm burn began to rise back up from my stomach, and I could feel my cheeks flush.  Despite all of the sweetness and intense flavour, my mouth never felt overwhelmed or sticky and I definitely felt refreshed and ready for more.  It’s a good thing (at least on a weekend night) that I only had one bottle, because after 24 ounces of this heavenly goodness, I was definitely feeling a hard, happy buzz.  This beer would be the perfect companion on a cold night with good company and many stories to share.  It makes me want to curl up with a couple bottles, a pretty lady and an open fire.  I can’t possibly rate this masterpiece high enough, and definitely plan to stock up and store some away for the future.

~ by schlippo on November 4, 2010.

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