Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California) released the 2014 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine upon the world earlier this week, and this marks the first time that Alabama craft beer lovers get to enjoy fresh bottles and kegs of this offering.
This year's batch of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine was officially released on February 24 as the latest offering from the brewery's series of Stone Special Releases. To make this beer, Stone Brewing basically took the classic English beer style and amped it up with the West Coast flair of heavy hop additions and a slightly raised alcohol level to shape it into what we have come to expect from American Barleywines. For a more detailed idea of what is in the bottle, here is the press release description of the beer:
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine is a brawny beer marrying the attributes of a classic American barley wine, particularly a rich malt backbone, with an assertive New World hop profile. The beer pours a burnt amber color with strong citrus and tropical fruit aromas. Its flavor is rich and malty, displaying hints of molasses and brown sugar up front, with apricot and pine notes in the finish.
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine is an established offering that is brewed annually, but the brewers do have a little fun with the beer by making small adjustments to each year's recipe. Here is how Brewmaster Mitch Steele describes the tweaks of the 2014 installment:
We make small adjustments to the recipe every year, just a little bit, as it provides an opportunity to try some different hops or malts. This year, the changes were minor; we used Nugget instead of Magnum for the bittering hop, and we replaced the CTZ hops in the whirlpool with Cascade to give the beer a pinier, more citrusy note. It's a well-rounded, complex beer that is ready to drink now, or can be aged at cellar temperature for many years.
As mentioned by the brewmaster, Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine can be enjoyed either fresh or aged thanks to its hefty 11.6% ABV. If you decide to give aging a try, you can expect the assertive hop presence to fade, the sweetness to mellow, and an increased depth of flavor to develop over time.
This beer is available in 22 oz. bottles and on draft. You can expect to find 2014 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine at craft beer-friendly bars, restaurants and retailers wherever you normally find Stone Brewing Co. offerings in Alabama. It should be turning up at your favorite spot any day now if it has not already. Happy hunting out there, and I leave you with the recommendation to share this beer with a friend or loved one. This is a big ol' beer in a big ol' bottle after all, and it's just the nice thing to do. Prost!