As a Stone fan, you undoubtedly know and love two of our long-standing special releases: Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and Stone Imperial Russian Stout. We love them too. We think they’re great beers and both receive sterling marks from BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, the two most prominent craft beer rating websites. But we’ve been making Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine since 1998 and Stone Imperial Russian Stout since 2000, and if you subtract those numbers from 2010, you arrive at a long time to be making the same beers.
So being the dynamic young go-getters that we are, we felt like mixing things up a bit. Starting in 2011, we’re kicking-off a program we’ve dubbed “Odd Beers for Odd Years.” Translation: in odd numbered years (2011, 2013, 2015, etc…) we’ll be releasing new variations on Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and Stone Imperial Russian Stout in place of the classic version. A radical redirection for two reliably wonderful beers, we know, but we think you’ll be pleased with the results. Hell, we are. The first Odd Beer for Odd Years release will be rocking your collective world in the form of Stone Old Guardian Belgo Barley Wine, which hits shelves in February.
While brewing up 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, Stone Brewing Head Brewer Mitch Steele redirected 30 barrels of the batch into a fermenter containing the Belgian yeast we love from Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. After 8 weeks of comingling, bubbling, and resting, the results were ready for sampling. And sample we did. The English/American/Belgian chimera was so delicious, we quickly decided to make it the “Odd Beer” version of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine for 2011.
So entranced were we with the effects of Belgian yeast on our barley wine, that we chose to go in a similar-ish direction for 2011 Stone Belgo Imperial Russian Stout. It will be an approximately 50/50 blend of classic Stone Imperial Russian Stout and the Belgo-ized version, with a hint of star anise added during the brewing process. You can expect to see this blendo-rific version Stone Imperial Russian Stout on shelves in April of 2011.