Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stone Brewing Company - Stone Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine

Every other year, Stone likes to mix things up with their "Odd Year Series" beers. I missed out on the ones they put out in '09, but I'm planning on trying as many as they release this year. The first one out was their Old Guardian Barleywine brewed with Belgian yeast. I thought that this would be an interesting take on the barleywine style, so I picked one up to try. Rumor has it that they're going to release a version of their Russian Imperial Stout brewed with Belgian yeast as well. That one is going to be a must-try.

Old Guardian BELGO pours a deep orangish-amber color with only a tiny patch of caramel for a head. The smell wasn't really what I was expecting at all. I picked up a lot of smokiness right away along with a sort of "peat" smell and some raisin.

There's a touch of the Belgian yeast in the taste, but the sweet, syrupy flavor of the malts kind of overpower it. There's more than just malts, but they're sort of the main feature of this one. I picked up some overripe orange and caramel along with some citrus hops, but the hops seemed stale to me. They didn't have that fresh hop "pop." At 12%, this is a beast and you know you're drinking a big beer with every sip. The beer slithers down your throat and leaves a slight burn on the way down. It's not exactly a hard beer to drink, but it's definitely a sipper. Overall, I don't know if I'd go for this one again. It's a big, boozy bastard and the flavors are a little too overpowering for the Belgian yeast that should be the star of the show.

Final Grade: C+

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