Thursday, December 20, 2012

TNBR: Stone Old Guardian Barleywine Ale

"Armageddon is almost upon us!"
"I got news for ya, it's already here!"

It's Thursday night! Yes, yes indeed. And once again, I welcome you, the Brew-Tang Clan, to another fine edition of Thursday Night Impact Thursday Night Beer Review, in which I commit myself to writing some more BS about a fantastic beer from a fantastic brewer, lest I want to be committed.

Seriously, that last part's in my contract signed in demon-blood ink.

Hey, speaking of demons, the end of the world is about! Yippie skippie! It doesn't matter if it's a Michael Bay movie or a WWE PPV, if Armageddon's happening, it's likely terrible enough to cause side-splitting laughter and Team America references.

You know what else demons remind me of (and for once, it's not Doom). Gargoyles! IDEA!

Stone Old Guardian Barleywine Ale

I'll admit, for a long while I planned on reviewing La Fin du Monde, a most excellent tripel brewed by those crazy Canadians, Unibroue... but then, I kind of saw this bottle of Anniversary XVI and... well, I'll review that later, but needless to say, I sort of forgot my surroundings, stripped naked in BevMo, and proceeded to run down the aisles shouting "Whoa nanny!" at the top of my lungs.

I'm weird like that.

I'm going to use the picture as an excuse to change the subject.

So instead, I went with another recent purchase of mine, Old Guardian Barleywine Ale by those arrogant folks over at Stone Brewing Co.. Naturally, like all other beers I've reviewed thus far, this beer is very complex and very intense and other various, italicized descriptors.

In case you're wondering, this is an American Barleywine, as opposed to the English style, which is usually not as aggressive, but also typically wonderful. For the record, I'm a barleywine fan, and if history is anything to go off of, I'm probably going to give this a B+ like 75% of my other reviews up to this point.

What do you say we find out?

Body’s an attractive copper color with some nice clarity… off-white head that doesn’t fizz to life too much, but it might’ve been a cold pour, which would negate any opinion on that front… indeed, there’s great retention and lacing and a nice, think regiment of bubbles marching upward to make sure everything stays looking good. Brian likey!

Brian want wingy!

The bottle is the ol' Stone standby: The Mr. Gargoyle. It's presented in Stone's usual, self-assured smugness (which is always quite a laugher when you read their descriptors). The gargoyle can get a little redundant after a while, but when you have a trademark that works, you stick to it. Good stuff.

Powerful scent of caramel, stronger than almost any brew I’ve tried before that blends with a booziness that really weaves together. Typically, this is where I make a Son-In-Law reference and display Pauly Shore doing his weaving thing, but I couldn't find the right image/clip, which I interpreted as some sort of divine signal that sometimes, dead is bettah

Anyways, there's a thin trace of hoppiness shows up underneath, but unless you really dive in there, it’s easy to miss. Good scent, albeit a smidgen one-dimensional.

 Lots of flavor packed in on the first sip, it really caught me offguard. Very sweet and sprucy on the pallet, it starts off strong and doesn’t let up. Nutty malts start this off before fading into a bit of a bitter hoppiness. Notes of vanilla and oak underneath with a bite of alcohol and hoppiness on the finish. Medium body and very smooth the whole way through, this is just a whole bundle of flavors in one brew making for a satisfying drink. This is the definition of a “sipping” beer. Chugging = not possible, lest you want to not taste anything for 3 hours... oh, and you want to get alcohol poisoning from the 11% ABV you crazy, crazy bastards.

As it warmed, the hops became a bit more pronounced, but never really caught up with the heavy-hitting sweetness... Truth be told, this is actually excatly how I prefer my barleywines, so I'm completely, honestly not complaining.

So here it is: the best beer I've reviewed on this blog thus far. I'm not one bit surprised by that, seeing as it's a barleywine by one of the more dependable breweries in the country. They may have their Arrogant Bastard personas, but the people at Stone do have a legit talent for brewing beer. That's pretty undeniably, and this is a testament to their ability. It's what you'd expect from the Gargoyle. 

It's also reasonable to expect the same of that '90s cartoon classic, Gargoyles!

Excellent stuff, and very recommended to any veteran of the craft-consuming variety.


So what have we learned from all of this? Well, I love the '90s and there's a Gargoyles fansite, for starters. Also, Stone and barleywines are both good stuff. And not "The Good Stuff" that you hear all of those Kenny Chesney fans talking about either (which I'm entirely grateful for, by the way), but like... actual good, tasty deliciousness. Who's going to complain about that?

Hope you enjoyed reading. Thank you, and in the words of  the immortal GZA: 

Konichiwa, bithces!

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