Tasting: March 3, 2012
With each year’s release, Stone tweaks the Old Guardian’s recipe. This year they’ve made what I would call a major move — replacing the medium-build English style hops (Kent Goldings) for the muscular hops of the American northwest. Surprisingly, this is the first Stone beer to utilize Cascade hops. A big alpha hop known for its grapefruit and pine attributes. Frankly, I thought Stone would make this part of their protest of anything “Cascadian” since their grenade volleys over some brewer’s use of the style-type called “Cascadian Black Ale” instead of Black IPA. But that’s a different story.
Moving quickly to this beer. Considering the hop varieties they’ve used an 85 IBU isn’t much of a surprise. The ABV comes in at 11% and it about right for the style. It pours a beautiful ruby red. I’ve let it sit about 15 minutes and the aroma gives me that grapefruit and some raisin. First sip is toffee and ample fresh hop flavor of grapefruit, mango, some yeasty esters. Has a medium-bodied mouthfeel. A little boozy and massively sticky. Definitely opens up as it warms up. This is nice way to end the day – but I’ve had a few barleywines of late that I would put ahead of this one…86 points