This special edition version of Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine — part of its “classic” release collection — dry-hops this already intense barleywine with Pekko hops, a new variety out of Washington. (Warrior, Cascade, and Chinook are also represented.)
The results are punchy, juicy, almost chewy — intense raisin and Port-like notes kick things off and don’t let go for what seems like days. Molasses, toffee, dark chocolate, and an enveloping bitterness all push the palate around without regard for balance or elegance. The finish is almost sickly sweet at times, that Port note dominating the bitter elements.
Stone calls this a “beast of a beer,” and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a boozy blowout — a special occasion beer that merits a look on an unseasonably cool evening.
B+ / $8 per 22 oz. bottle / stonebrewing.com