Not surprisingly I enjoy Stone's some times over the top beers. They push the limits of being off balance, but occasionally I want that explosion of hops, or booze. One of my favorite beers that they make is their barleywine Old Guardian. Very boozy when young, it ages incredibly well. Starting this year, Stone is doing something a little different. Along with their Russian Imperial Stout they will be releasing version brewed with Belgian yeasts, a little twist on an old standby, that I was excited to see at my local Spec's. Its all the same ingredients before with the exception of the yeast used, which as we've seen with Saint Arnold's moveable yeast series can change a beer significantly.
The beer: This one weighs in at a very robust 12% and pours an orangish amber with a thick off white head. The nose is full of fruity esters, white grapes, peaches, a bit of boozy notes. A full mouthfeel, fruit yeasty notes up front, followed by some malty, caramel, toffee notes, some alcohol burn on the back of the throat, then ending and lingering with resinous citrus-y hops. As expected, this one needs some time. Its boozy. Big flavors which is what I expect from Stone: yeasty fruity esters, booze, hops. A bit on the sweet side, but as it lingers and warms, notes of white pepper show up lending some spiceyness to the beer. Its a sipper to be sure, and I can't wait to see how this one changes over time. A good beer and one recommended to pick up if you enjoy big beers.