Sunday, March 4, 2012

Old Guardian 2012 (Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA)

Stone Old Guardian 2012 
Bias alert--Old Guardian is one of my favorite all time beers.  In the past, I've had to buy it online from Beer on the Wall, import it from California friends or buy it in Indiana during our annual Purdue road trip.  When I found out that Old Guardian was coming in later in the day when I was buying beer for the One Voice fundraiser beer basket, I was very excited.  The next day I called to reserve a case of twelve to last me through the year, and maybe age a few.

The last case of Old Guardian I bought was when I asked my sister to pick me up some bottles when she still lived in LA.   Stopping at the local liquor store, she was able to buy a case and did so.  I took eleven bottles home in my travel backpack on the plane.  This was the 2003 vintage that was the old recipe, and I have two bottles left that I will review as a comparison to 2010 and 2012 versions later.

Today's bottle has a creamy pale brown head on top of a orange tinted brown ale.  My wife says the color is a liquefied root beer candy.  Nose is mellow when cold, and experience has taught me to sip this one slow--and not just for the 11% alcohol kick.  The beer opens up nicely and is a favorite Sunday afternoon beer that I can lazily drink through a fall football game or a movie.  Alcohol is apparent in the nose as is the 85 IBUs.   Strong hop on top of fig, dark fruit and caramel maltiness.  Pleasant and perfectly balance.  Hops bite hard on the tongue to counter balance the syrupy malt backbone of this beer along with a resin and oiliness reminiscent of Belgian quadruple.

Stone's description explains the change in character for 2012.  Chinook, Calypso and Cascade hops were substituted for the recent usual East Kent Goldings.  I like the change, but it is clearly different--like seeing an old friend after years a part. If you are a follower of the hop god at all, I would try a bottle of this beer.  

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