dsc00799I’ve been playing alot of Scrabble lately with my betrothed. She beats me every time, which irks me to no end, since I was an English major and make my living, in part, as a writer. I’m seeing that this game is not so much about how large your vocabulary is*, but how well you’re able to create and connect multiple words with one play. She drops down a single “s” and creates three separate words, tallying 35 or 40 points in one death-dealing shot. The one thing that’s helped me a bit in playing the game is enjoying a beer or two to help open up my creative juices. Epoch…Ibid…Avowed…Yang…Que. Just a few decent-scoring words I used last game while enjoying Stone Old Guardian Barleywine. The first beer from my recent trade with The Vice Blogger. Now this is a beer I can get behind. This could in fact be one of the best beers I’ve ever had in my life. Yes, even possibly better than Surly Darkness, for anyone keeping tally.

You may recall my last experience with a barleywine, Rogue’s Old Crustacean. Pure, cloying swill. I gave it a B minus because it was the first of its kind I’d had, and wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t want my personal reaction to override what I generously thought was most likely a decent example of the style. I’m seriously considering revising my rating.

Old Guardian. Poured into a snifter with a beautiful deep amber coloring. Pretty complex nose…some combination of sweet caramel, ginger bread cookies and cloves. Also alcohol, as this is 11.26% ABV (kind of an odd calculation). The taste is night and day compared to Old Crustacean. A subtle yet fully developed sweetness combined with a decent hop bite. And very boozy. I fucking love it. Did I mention I took the entire bomber down in less than an hour? It’s that drinkable.

I know I pretty much wet myself giving Surly Darkness the best possible rating I’d ever doled out. But I gotta say, this one is right there, and maybe even a little more. Totally different beer altogether, but truly magnificent.

Rating: A+

* Wow, didn’t mean that to come off as a subtle insult.