It’s that time of year when craft beer enthusiasts clamor for one of Stone Brewing’s highly anticipated annual releases. Since debuting in 1998, Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine has attracted fans who are passionate about the robust ale. Devotees and hopheads are in for a treat when they experience 2016 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Dry-Hopped with Pekko Hops. Beginning this week, this year’s über-hopped-up iteration will start arriving in 22-ounce bottles and on draft to restaurants, bars and retailers in select markets where Stone beer is sold.
Brewmaster Mitch Steele and the brewing team wanted to showcase the attributes of Pekko hops, so copious amounts—keeping up with our love of hops, of course—were used to dry-hop this year’s edition of the recipe. Originally created by Stone President and co-founder Steve Wagner 18 years ago, the recipe changes only slightly from year to year, always featuring a brawny malt backbone that makes it suitable for aging.
“In the last year, we’ve been running the relatively new Pekko hop varietal through our hop evaluation program and we loved the intense stone fruit and tropical fruit attributes it provided to our classic barley wine style ale,” said Steele. “Over the years, our fans have learned they can look forward to Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine often highlighting different varietals. Think of it as variations on a theme.”
The beer pours a deep amber color and carries strong citrus and tropical fruit aromas. Because of the hefty malt bill, its flavor is rich and malty, displaying hints of vanilla, caramel and brown sugar upfront. Nugget, Cascade, Chinook and Delta hops were added during the brewing process to balance out the prevalent barley character and contribute pineapple and peach notes in the finish.
To fully appreciate the generous addition of Pekko hops, 2016 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine should be enjoyed fresh, as soon as fans please. Thanks to its strong malt backbone and elevated alcohol content, with time and proper cellaring temperatures (55°F or lower), the intense hop character will mellow out, allowing the beer to become smoother and more matured.
Limited 22-ounce bottles and draft, beginning February 8
Hop Varieties: Cascade, Chinook, Delta, Nugget and Pekko
National Distribution: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA and Puerto Rico