Beer Review: Guinness Open Gate Brewery’s Barrel Aged Stock Ale

Name: Barrel Aged Stock Ale
Brewing Company: Guinness Open Gate Brewery
Location: Halethorpe, MD
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 10%

A rich, boozy ale that brings together many flavor components in delicious way.

From the untappd page for the beer:

Fulsome, high gravity stout aged in bourbon barrels for several months. Then brewed a take on a barleywine style, with plenty of hops, and barrel aged it for a few weeks to mellow it out. This is a blend of these two separate beers.

Guinness is one of the largest breweries in the world, but their new(ish) Open Gate Brewery in Maryland is cranking out more than just the stouts you’d expect from the company that produces the world’s best selling stout. From what I’ve gathered, they are slowly releasing beers into distribution, last year it was a stout aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels and this year/this beer is similar in that it was aged in Bulleit Bourbon barrels.

Since the ginormous beverage conglomerate Diageo owns both Guinness and Bulleit, why not put that corporate synergy to use? That synergy produced their latest barrel aged project: an Old Ale, itself a style that isn’t too common here in the States. The style is often characterized by high alcohol, sweet molasses like flavor elements, and improvement with age – especially aging in barrels. This particular “Stock Ale” is a blend of stout and barleywine. I’ve had only a few beers that would be considered Old Ales and enjoy it so as soon as I saw this beer existed and was available near me, I had to get at least a bottle of it.

The label has the iconic harp from Guinness, with the distinctive orange banner seen on bottles of Bulleit Bourbon – corporate synergy! Opening the bottle and pouring the beer into the glass, a very pleasing smell hit my nose. Once in the glass, the beer is mahogany/reddish brown with a light khaki, light malted milk head. The aroma of the bourbon is very strong, along with an underlying sweetness. Again, this is not something I’d expect from Guinness having consumed hundreds of pints and bottles of their stout over the years.

The taste of the beer leads with bourbon, but then the elements of the stout and barleywine come into play. There’s minimal roast from the stout, a slight kiss of hops you’d expect from an American barleywine, too. What I was hoping to get in the full flavor profile soon arrived – a bite at the end. Maybe the most widely known Old Ales being Founder’s Curmudgeon and North Coast’s Old Stock, which are a big beers and they aren’t even barrel-aged. There’s a strong and pleasant earthiness to the style (at least from what I remember in Curmudgeon) that is toned down in Guinness’s Stock Ale compared to those other two beers. I got a little bit of the barrel notes on the finish, too.

I took my time with this beer given its relatively high ABV , I wanted to experience the flavors awaken as the beer warmed to room temperature and I’m glad I took that approach. The bourbon continued to be ever-present, but the other flavors became more prominent. More of the malt that characterizes the stout portion of the beer, but the hops were still dialed down a bit. Not a bad thing.

I’m glad one of my local bottle shops was selling single bottles of this beer, the price point was a little high for me to go for a full four pack of an untested beer. That said, I could definitely see myself having another bottle of this beer maybe after a year of letting it age even more than the component beers that comprise the stock ale aged. This beer proves Corporate Synergy isn’t always such a bad thing.

Highly recommended, link to 4.25 bottle-cap Untappd check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Stock Up on Stock Ale

Just as Guiness blends years of Irish brewing with American creativity at is Open Gate Brewery, this limited time Guinness Stock Ale Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels blends a Guinness Barleywine with an Imperial Stout for a luxuriant beer.