Old Guardian 11.6% ABV
Barley Wine Ale
Stone Brewing Co.
I was looking forward to this brew as each previous Barley Wine Ale has been a wonderful excursion into the realm of peace, joy and contemplative ecstasy of bliss in this world. This bitter brew brings me low to the dirt and the gravel, not raising my spirits but making me dwell on the less than beautiful aspects of life and specifically palate enjoyment.
A trope I fall back upon too many times follows; at least the very high alcohol content begins to produce a nice buzz. But it is not a mellow wondrous buzz that allows for gratitude at this marvelous gift we call life, it focuses me more on the challenges of life, the hardship and the toil that comes with the gift. I suppose that has its place, its important place, along side the good, the great and the reasons we all cling to existence. At what price, at what bitter cost does this buzz come at though? I find myself not relishing and drawing out the drinking process, but quickly consuming the contents of the glass with too much haste. I do this so as to allow the extremely over-hopped brew to punish my palate for as small a time as possible. The ensuing result produces a buzz that borders on drunkenness. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the intoxicating effect of brews, but I much prefer to enjoy the flavors, nuances, aromas, and notes of a beer; and then be glad of the cherry on top of the sundae that is a nice buzz. This beer promotes in me a sense of palate disgust that is merely slightly assuaged by the inebriation that is washing over me. I suppose at least this barley wine makes me appreciate the good ones even more, seeing how easily one can go wrong.
I only recommend this beer to those who say “the hoppier the better.” If you venture into the realm of barley wines, don’t let this be your first. If you insist on it being you maiden voyage realize that it does not epitomize what a barley wine should be.