Well, you’ll all be glad to hear that the author who: a) drinks more exciting beer and b) writes for a living, is back. And there was much rejoicing!
Our choices this week were decidedly more successful than usual – we liked both of our chosen brews. This is in part because the one I chose was one of my all-time favorites, Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine. Now Max and I will be traveling to Stone Brewery in Escondido in about two weeks, so we’ll have more news on the brewery later – for now, we’ll just stick to the barley wine.
Max felt it was worth trying because it has an ABV of 11.1%…I have sampled this brew before, and like it for the taste. With a scent reminiscent of cider and a distinct reddish hue, Old Guardian offers a complex continuum of flavors. It opens tangy-sweet with an almost berry flavor that blends into a sweet, buttery (or if you’re Max, caramel-y) tone and dies down quickly. We also located a note of what Max termed “a spice that’s not cinnamon” – after careful testing, we determined it was cardamom. Overall, I enjoyed it and felt it was a solid drink for any time one was craving a beer – Max grew tired of it, and felt the flavors became boring quickly. If you should choose to try Old Guardian, I recommend pairing it with German food or another mild European food that allows the many complex tastes to assert themselves.
Max’s choice was an IPA (I know, we’re all shocked). This brew was, in fact, an Imperial IPA – Rampage, out of Black Diamond Brewing in Concord, CA. Contrary to expectations, this bottle wasn’t hoppy at all. It had a sour flavor, calling to mind a strong chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. Beyond the sort of green apple notes, there really wasn’t much to distinguish it. It was easy to drink and very enjoyable, and despite the 9% ABV, it was easy to finish. It was average for a beer – for an Imperial IPA, it was not a stand-out. And that’s why we don’t let the men choose, ladies – Max’s process was as follows: “I hadn’t heard of it, and it had an elephant on the bottle.”
Old Guardian: 6.8 (Max), 8.7 (Emily)
We’re going out next week, so we’ll have some draught picks for you! Until then, keep drinking – and invite us over.
PS – trying to enjoy a drink with a big fluffy dog around is often difficult.