Stone Old Guardian Oaked Smoked
Tasting: May 15, 2013
Style: Barley Wine
Stone Old Guardian Oaked Smoked : Consumer confusion is never good for business and even some beer geeks are at a loss for an explanation on the name barley wine – is it a wine? is it a beer? or is it a hybrid? Hopefully, I can clear up the mystery enough to convince you to try one of my favorite beer styles.
The term “barley wine” originated with the ancient Greeks. Most people understand the barley part, as most beer is made with barley. The wine part – well, that just meant that the alcoholic strength of the beer would rival that of a wine – in the range of 10% to 13% alcohol by volume (ABV). Today, the lines are a little blurred as beers labeled as being imperial or quad would rival the ABV of barley wine.
Although the ancient Greeks spoke of barley wine, the style is mostly attributed to England and the late nineteenth century. English-style barley wine focuses on the barley and yields a viscous brew ripe with dark fruit (raisins, dates, figs, prunes) and caramel flavors.
The barley wines we see out of California add in amped up hops to balance out the sweetness. In my opinion, no brewer “Californicates” English-style beer better than Stone Brewing of Escondido. This one fits the barley wine bill at 11.4%. Old Guardian pours a tawny brown color with no head whatsoever. I skipped over giving this one a whiff which was probably a big mistake as the first sip absolutely clubbed by taste buds. This one presents a big boozy wave of ether over smoked meat, fresh cut wood and a big bitter finish. A few swirls of my glass and it mellows a bit. I wish it had a bit more sweetness. This one could definitely stand a little age. I have to say, interesting, but I’m not a fan – 80 points.
If you are interested in giving barley wine a try – I can recommend Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot. It’s still available in most stores.
Read my opinion of Stone’s Old Guardian 2012 HERE