574deadzone (1321) - North Central, Indiana, USA - APR 7, 2013
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Pours a clear crimson with a fairly thick toffee-khaki head that settles to a ring and a film, leaving some dripping lace. Having had the original previously, the first thing I pick up on the nose is the smoke. It’s almost a jalapeno/serrano pepper kind of thing. It underlies plenty of sweet malt and bounces off some pine and citrus hops, including tropical and resinous notes. Very sweet flavor with plenty of bitterness mid palate toward the finish. Full, thick, syrupy, sticky, softer carb, with a long, warm, smoky finish. Very big brew, lots of competing elements, but they find a way to mesh. This would be great on a warm, sultry summer night. It’s pretty damn good right now, too.
jmohno (1400) - Iowa, USA - APR 7, 2013
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 15/20
Aroma is oaky,kind of minty,slight bready yeast.Some fruity
Taste is smooth,rich,strong oak with a milder smoke drowned out by intense piney bittering.Probably some woody dry astringency in finish.Harsh finish.Grassy.Good but probably preferr this to be aged a good year or more. Has harsh flavors that need rounding out,seems it could have potential for complexity hopefully with age.
BMMillsy (1788) - Florida, USA - APR 7, 2013
3.3 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Pours deep red from the bottle with a tannish yellow hued head. Wet dog, malts, some oak & smoke on the nose (imagine that). Overall not a lot of aroma. Dry flavor with a hop bitterness. Definite smoke to this. Not much of the sweetness I enjoy from the style. Hints of booze in between the dryness of the oak/smoke. Medium slick mouthfeel with mesium carbonation. I was hoping for sweetness, but it is not bad for what it is.
obguthr (5094) - Staunton, Virginia, USA - APR 7, 2013
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 1/5 OVERALL 13/20
Smoke aroma with hints of candied apricots, not strong. Clear copper medium yellow head. Overripe orange flavor. Resinous and hot. Smoke not prevalent on the palate.
TheEpeeist (3672) - Media, Pennsylvania, USA - APR 7, 2013
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
22 oz bottle. Clear amber with a spongy white head. Nose is caramel, melon, orange and faint smoke. Smooth medium body, light syrup and resin with a buzz. Taste is typical Old G with caramel, grass and grapefruit peel. The smoke is barely noticeable but the oak does soften the normally overpowering hops. Finishes a touch medicinal with cherry.
ThisWangsChung (826) - Leonardtown, Maryland, USA - APR 7, 2013
2.7 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 8/20
22 oz bottle poured into a cute little snifter.
A: Pours a beautiful looking rusty copper color. The head is a two finger light yellow shade. I’m really impressed by the head’s retention considering how big it is.
S: This is one that needs to open up. At first, the smell is almost too minute in most aspects. Soon afterwards, waves of light smoke, caramel malts, dark fruit sweetness, and resiny hops hit the nose. As likable as the aromatic qualities are, they’re still too weak for me.
T: There is a decent amount of stuff going on in this. For a brief second, the initial flavor consists of caramel, brown sugar, and fruity sweetness...then the one-two punch of hops and smoke take over, with an earthy/boozy aftertaste. Hoppiness in this one is moderately restrained - only problem is, it really clashes with the phenolic, smoky qualities to create an undesirable harshness. On the plus side, there’s some decent depth and reasonably concealed alcohol. Beyond the lack of balance, dare I say it comes across as mundane?
M: Relatively full bodied like I expected. A fairly dry and tannic barleywine, as well, with carbonation that stays out of the way. I find no real problems with the mouthfeel.
O: For the record, I enjoyed last year’s Old Guardian quite a bit - and I imagine this one would have been similarly enjoyable without the smoked influence. As I sip it, my enjoyment of this beer seems to be wavering up and down, from "no sir I don’t like it" to "hey it’s pretty okay" to "welp, I’m gonna cork this up and use the remainder in a pot of pulled chicken/pork", before fully settling at "meh, total cooking adjunct material." All in all, not really a poor beer, just a poor idea.
flatmatt (1347) - Northville, Michigan, USA - APR 6, 2013
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
22 oz bottle. Pours clear red amber with an orangey off-white head. Citrusy caramel aroma for a moment, then smokiness ramps up and dominates the aroma for a while. Flavor has the citrusy, caramel, bready barley wine flavors expected with a strong dose of smoky oakiness, and while the two sides of the beer are distinct they also pair rather well. I think hoppy beers can often seem a bit discordant when wood-aged, but this one does it right. If I may add, this pairs well with chips and salsa.
EithCubes (5371) - New Jersey, USA - APR 6, 2013
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 11/20
Bomber from the 2013 ’odd year’ release. Nose is very sweet with malt and wood that reminds of various hickory- and applewood-smoked lunchmeats. Deep ruby body crossing the gap of amber over into deep brown at points, with a clingy yellow-tinged cream head. Thick, fat malty full body, really quite obese, and this kind of rich, meaty smoke is much more like the beechwood variety one finds in Bamberg (certainly not getting a lot of the vanilla and bourbon associations I usually get from oak). Slurried alcohol, some resin, oily, gently warming but needs some volume to really get going. Spicy in the rye sense with dank but ultimately muted hops (some distinct pine there, too). Sweetness overcomes the bitterness, which doesn’t growl all that much, and this seems like one to sip slowly (quaffing maybe only for those with no gag reflex). Not as raw as the original, perhaps, but the peach/grape/berry notes I remember so well are covered over somewhat, or blended together and made less recognizable; despite the added character and depth, this is one iteration I’d say hasn’t improved on its forebear.
Miked1687 (608) - Buffalo, New York, USA - APR 6, 2013
3.3 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 11/20
2013 bottle into a snifter. Pours a reddish amber pour with an off-white small head. Smells heavy on the oak. Sweet malt going on too. Taste is very smokey, pine hops back it up, bitter after taste. It is sort of all over the place. Probably might be better with some age.
andyhwcinc (1729) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - APR 6, 2013
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Purchased at Evolution Wine & Spirits in Chicago, IL, enjoyed at a friends house prior to grilling. Appearance is a moderately clear dark ruby brown with a moderate white head that laces to the glass. Aroma is nice, light oak with a bit of caramel malt. Taste also good, I can't remember the last time I've had this brew, but it's similar to what Stone did with Oaked Arrogant Bastard. I'd like to say maybe a less abrasive Old Guardian? Either way, good stuff.