Stone Brewing Old Guardian early 2007 release
84 / 100
I don't often partake in Barleywines, except around winter when SN Bigfoot is an annual staple. Aside from a few other various offerings that pretty much makes up my barleywine intake. Every year I buy a few and they always linger. They're big, intense offerings that often scare me when I look into my refrigerator. So in that regard, I find them quite easy to age - not drinking it = best way to age, of course.
Old Guardian is one I try every year. So far, it's been until today nearly August for me to sample Stone's 07 offering, and to be honest, I'm not sure what drove me to try it today, but I'm certainly glad I did.
As expected this is a big beer. Chewy malt characteristics up and down with tons of hop bitterness. Not as floral as my favorite, Bigfoot, but some say that has too much hop character for a barleywine. I like lots of hops so perhaps that is what makes me so comfortable with that. This is far more balanced, which is not to say there are subtleties - everything is there and there in spades.
Wonderful caramel and bready flavors fill out the hops and chewy malts. The body is rich and full with a smooth finish. Quite tasty. Why have I waited so long to try this?
Thankfully, I have another one to age for a few years to see how it mellows out.