Stone Old Guardian Barleywine: 11.3% abv
Stone is a well known micro brewery from California. Before we go any further, this is a good time for you to know that this beer is not for the faint of heart. It will kick you in the face if you aren't ready for it. Here's an example for you. The IBUs for this beer is 85, which is higher than most of your average beers. FYI, IBUs are International Bitterness Units, and they're a real thing. And we confirmed that when we tried the beer for the first time. Don't think this changes anything for us, because we can handle any acronyms this beer throws at us. So let's see what we experienced when we tried this barleywine.
The nose gives a wonderful blend of flavors, including sweet fruit flavors of apple, lemon, pear, and a counteracting bittersweet grapefruit character. The nose continues with sweet notes of caramel, molasses and brown sugar, honey, sweet malt, chocolate and toffee. The nose is wonderful, and everything about it eludes to a complexity following in the taste and finish. If this was foreshadowing, then we were excited. And sure enough, it was.
The taste is insanely complex, showing an odd creamy character with hints of vanilla, with extreme balance of bitter and sweetness going at the same time. Bitter notes include pine, hops, and grapefruit, with sweet notes of malt, caramel, wheat, pear, apple, and a maple brown sugar flavor hitting as well. Unfortunately, the finish is slightly disappointing, as the bitterness overpowers any details tasting notes, but pine, grapefruit, and a long lasting flavor are noticeable. This is a sipping beer. If you want to pull a prank on somebody, try having them chug this beast. It is a complex, wonderful beer, and you should definitely try it. The lack of complexity in the finish really is the only reservation in this beer. Give it a try.