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 (1258) - 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 (5238) - 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 (1657) - 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.
KAggie97 (3529) - Ugly, Hot, and Humid Spring, Texas, USA - APR 5, 2013
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Pours a rich mahogany with a nose of plastic smoke and lightly soured oak chips. Flavor is oaky plumb with a hint of whiskey chips. Not bad on the tongue. One bottle is enough; tastes too mainstream. Not enough pizazz.
mmmkay (51) - - APR 5, 2013
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
It's alright. Comes out thick with lots of alcohol. You can definitely taste the oak barrel. Not a strong smoke flavor but its there in the background. Should've just got the regular Old Guardian.
---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone
cstuartj (1019) - Washington, USA - APR 5, 2013
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 11/20
Bomber. Pours a deep ruby brown, nice thin head. Barely wine nose, with just a hint of smoke. But on the attack the smoke really jumps out. Good balance, not overly smoked. Good sipping beer.
DrSilverworm (8540) - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA - APR 5, 2013
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
22oz bottle, 2013 vintage. Nice satisfyingly smokey aroma. Clear dark red color. Thin off-white head. Good lace. Hoppy, as fresh Old Guardian usually is. Dark fruity hops, earthiness. Some toasty, sweet malt, but more hoppy. Good, big smoke malts... Never had a barley wine this smokey. Not exactly drinkable with the somewhat boozy bite, but it’s very interesting. Sweet, some big lingering bitterness in the finish. Big body. Kind of creamy texture, but more dry. Lighter, smooth carbonation. Nice, long warm smokey bitter earthy aftertaste. Kind of harsh beyond sipping portions... But it’s making a very enjoyable sipper. Alicia tried some, she commented that she wouldn’t have recognized this as a barleywine had I not told her.
polomagnifico (1202) - Saginaw, Michigan, USA - APR 4, 2013
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Bottle. Aroma has notes of smoke, dark dried fruits, earth, leather, caramel and red wine. Dark amber hue with a large cascading off-white head that really wanted to stick around and left fantastic lace. Flavor is very sweet and heavy bitter. Palate is very full bodied and oily with soft carbonation and a long bitter finish. Overall an interesting twist on a good barely wine but this would need at least a year in the cellar before I’d really know if the smoke is a positive. Old Guardian is just too hot when fresh.