Tweaked every year to fine-tune the flavor of this mammoth mother of a beer, the changes this year were a bit more substantial. Mitch and the Brewing Team experimented with a new type of crystal malt made from a variety of British barley called Maris Otter. They were so pleased with the pilot batches made with Maris Otter crystal malt, that they decided to use it in the release version, giving the beer a slightly maltier, nuttier flavor (once again, no reason to fear: with 90 IBUs, it’s still menacingly hoppy.) To go along with the new malt, Mitch decided to dry hop it with East Kent Golding hops, another traditional British brewing ingredient that wowed the Brewing Team in the trial stages. I can attest that it does in fact smell like unicorn tears, as scandalous internet rumors have suggested.
So while these changes may push 2010 Stone Old Guardian in a somewhat more continental Anglophilic direction, it’s still every bit the brash, lusty American Barleywine of years past. In fact, we like to think the spirit of adventure exhibited by this year’s version is part of what makes it so frickin’ sweet.