Aug 8, 2013

Stone Old Guardian Oak Smoked

As part of Stone Brewing’s “Odd Beers for Odd Years” program, they’ve had the opportunity to play with some of their mainstay releases, adding in extra ingredients, flavors or what have you. Some have been pretty darn good. Other’s not so much. This bottle of their Old Guardian Oak Smoked lies decidedly in the “good” realm.

Taking an already pretty darn tasty barley wine and giving it the addition of German oak-smoked malt, the brewery has not only complimented the flavors that were present to begin with, but perhaps have crafted a beer that I think may be better than the original. Old Guardian Oak Smoked has a solid malt base with Stone’s typical hop forward character, but the inclusion of the smoked malt really brings an added dynamic to the beer. It’s not overly smokey by any means, but carries just the right amount to make for an excellent drinking experience.


The beer pours a deep garnet in color with a rocky, beige head that dropped smoothly leaving behind decent lacing as the beer slowly disappeared from the glass.


Caramel malt, alcohol, leafy hops, distant wood and a soft campfire smokiness. Smells great.


Ok. First off, Old Guardian Oak Smoked is not a rauchbier. It’s not suffocatingly smokey as beers of that style can sometimes present themselves. The woody presence and smoked character are certainly within the flavor profile, but come in quite smoothly. There is a light meaty quality to the beer as the sweet malt and moderate hop bitterness also come out to play. The hop character was already pretty earthy and leafy, but with the addition of the smoke the beer takes on an even earthier character, if that makes any sense. It’s also still a very big beer, weighing in at 11.4% ABV which makes its presence known in a very warming finish.


I’ve grown to like Stone’s barley wine through the years (and I’ve had several different vintages), but the addition of the smoked malt for this odd year release may just be my favorite treatment for the beer. Old Guardian Oak Smoked has great balance between malt, hop and smoke to make for a uniquely flavored and enjoyable experience. I’m hoping I can find another bottle or two to pack away for a few years to see how that smokey character develops.

Rating: 4/5

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