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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2008 - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2008Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2008

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

324 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 324
Reviews: 260
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.29%
Wants: 7
Gots: 26 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.26% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HimerMan on 01-27-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 324 | Reviews: 260 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ColForbinBC
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a nonic

Pours a beautiful slightly cloudy amber with a thick two finger head that stuck around for a long time. Skinny rings of lace were left behind near the top, but nothing from the middle-down.

Smell is of dark fruit, caramel, sweet toasted malt, candied grapefruit and booze. Pretty much right where you want it to be. Balanced and enjoyable.

This is a slick, well-balanced barleywine. A near perfect balance of sweet malt and a bitter grapefruit hop bite. A good layer of dark, ripe fruit and raisins. But lacks that big punch I want from my elite barleywines.

Slick and uber smoothe. Medium bodied with a bitter hop/boozey aftertaste that lingers and lingers.

This is a sipper at 11+%, but getting through this 22 was a breeze.

One of Stone's finest.

ColForbinBC, May 08, 2008
Photo of maximum12
3.3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

An almost two-year old bottle of Old Guardian sent my way by an East Coast BA. I do wonder why this beer merits its own designation every year? Oh well.

Pours Mississippi muddy, about as turbid a beer as I've seen, even with a gentle pour excluding the bottom muck. Rusty & flat. Wicked booze in the nose, not much else.

Old Guardian is nothing if not old. Pungent, solventesque taste is rather over-the-top, tempered by a square of caramel & deep, hard-dirt fruit in the background. Touch of yeast, bit of day-old bread. Very flat & slick in the mouth, lack of carbonation is either from age of high ABV. Either I'm getting old or not eating enough, because this one's warming me up in a hurry after an evening out on the ice.

Pretty decent beer, but it feels like I'm missing out on something reading the other reviews, & I believe I will not be buying any more barleywines any time soon - I believe I've lost my taste for them. If this happens to IPAs there might need to be a medical intervention of some sort.

maximum12, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of FosterJM
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

40th review on BA
Bottle to Stone Pint

App- Hazy amber with a thin 1/2 inch head that was a bit beige and was quickly gone.

Smell-The 1st first smell takes me to oranges caramel and butterscotch candies.

Taste- So it's almost 3 years old and its drinking very well. It has a very mild malt sweetness as well as a a hoppy bitterness and just a touch of a light taste of alcohol.

Mouth- Carbonation is very clean and it's very clean. The flavors stay on the back of the mouth for a long time.

Drink- It's very good and drinking well for being 2 years old.

FosterJM, Nov 07, 2010
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.4/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 12/20/08. Bottle, ~Jan 2008. Pours a murky brown with a very small white head. Aroma of raisins, lots of raisins, and sweet caramel malt. Flavor is also quite malty with some brown sugar and iced tea. Tastes pretty much as I would expect from an aged barleywine. A decent beer, although to be honest this is not my favorite style of beer. Interesting though.
6/4/7/4/14 (3.5/5)

LilBeerDoctor, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of Pencible
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured a hazy bright copper color with fluffy tan head. It smelled like freshly harvested wheat and refined sugar, with some citrus hops. It tasted mostly like orange hops, but also had some floral hops, light caramel malt, wheat, and some waxy flavor. It was watery with almost no carbonation and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this was a complex sipping beer, but wasn't as bold or delicious as I was hoping. A very good brew, but could have been better.

Pencible, Mar 31, 2008
Photo of Brent
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just happened upon a bottle of this "store cellared" vintage and snapped it up. The time resting in the bottle has done well for this beer - mellowing what I recall as a rather rough fresh vintage. Broad caramel malt with hopping that has smoothed out quite a bit over time - the beer is now drifting a bit in the direction of an English barleywine. Big alcohol content has folded nicely in.

Brent, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of twelveinches
4/5  rDev -2%

twelveinches, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had a bottle of this fresh in February 2008 but I had to re-review it 2 years later because it benefited so well from cellaring.

22oz bomber, served in a snifter.

L - hazy, burnt orange color with a off-white head that thinned to a ring leaving spotty lacing.

S - sweet malts and the citrus hop aroma is still there, I'm impressed.

T - the malty sweetness, hoppy bitterness and light taste of alcohol are so very well balanced, delicious.

F - medium bodied with a smooth feel and gentle warming.

D - easy to sip fresh or a couple of years down the road when properly cellared.

JoeyBeerBelly, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of Bierman9
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a 22oz bomber of OG '08 yesterday at Harringtons in Chelmsford ($5.95, though going up to $7.95 per their management). The bottle has the typical stream of consciousness blather on the back. I confess to not bothering to read it this time... nbd...

Poured into a chalice, it has a medium russet color, with some shiny copper highlights on the edges. The bier has a touch of haze within, and really needs a hard pour to get any head going. What there is consists of light beige bubbles, most of which cling to the perimeter of the glass, with a little bit of lace clinging to the sides. Scattered colonies of carbo here and there release slow moving streams of bubbles surfacewards. The nose is restrained, emitting a bit toffee and caramel-like aromas, and a hint of vanilla. Body is a medium-plus, and the bier is fairly smooth and creamy on the tongue.

Some semi-sweet malt notes hit the palate, with more toffee and caramel and, once more, suggestions of vanilla. Underlying all this is a rindy, piney layer of hops, which becomes quite evident at the finish. They coat the tongue and mouth and linger nicely. The ABV is quite well-hidden, scarily so. This bier reminds me in a way of the Smutty Wheat Wine, without the accompanying Smutty heat. Overall, a solid bier, though not in the class of past versions.

Prosit!!

3.95
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

1077

Bierman9, Aug 10, 2008
Photo of jaxon53
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

jaxon53, Jul 07, 2013
Photo of deapokid
4/5  rDev -2%

deapokid, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber pours a hazed copper orange body with a small, but lasting, ecru head. Generous lacing adorns the glass. Aroma is surprisingly restrained from what I recall from the earlier vintages. Bready caramel malts and citrusy and spicy hops seem weak by comparison. Mouthfeel is creamy, with a solid medium body and subdued carbonation. Taste is well balanced between the huge bready maltiness and solid bitter hopping. Caramel and citrusy apricot add a pleasant sweetness to offset the bitter grapefruit rind and spicy hops. Alcohol is well hidden. A solid American barleywine, reliable as always.

merlin48, Apr 07, 2008
Photo of prototypic
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours a cloudy golden brown color (slightly orange tint to it) with a thick two finger, off-white head. Excellent retention and lacing.

Smell: Initially, dark fruit and citrus aromas provide a very sweet smell. Hops are certainly piney and very notable. Caramel and toffee malts creep in and permeate the nose from there on out.

Taste: Caramel malt flavors arrive first and provide a sweet, malty flavor. Citrus and dark fruit flavors blend well and add more sweetness. Hops kick in a bitter factor and balance it out pretty well. Slight yeasty taste on the tail.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium to thick. Definitely a sipping beer. Very well carbonated. It's strong, but relatively drinkable for a beer of its stature. Definitely wouldn't drink more than one bomber in a sitting though. Overall, it's very, very good. It actually does seem a little better than least year's release, if memory serves correct.

prototypic, Feb 05, 2008
Photo of Bung
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Thick, near opaque orange pour. Some cream colored bubbles at first, then pretty much nothing. Malt, caramel covered apple and citrus aroma. Some booze and light pine. The taste has a lot going on. Caramel/toffee and malt bases. Some red fruits, yellow raisin, citrus and tea/tobacco. Mouthfeel is solid, but carbonated enough to keep it from being syrupy. A little piney hops middle through the finish give this a nice bitter clean finish. More than this would be too much for me, I think the age did good here by me. Drinkable enough for a large warming beer. Still refreshing enough to drink on a summer night.
I don't know if there is a better way of describing this than saying it's a perfect mix between and English and American(west coast) barleywine. I was really expecting a hop bomb barleywine, boy was I pleased to find different. The year and half probably also helped, but I'm guessing this one was pretty balanced from the beginning.

Bung, Jul 30, 2009
Photo of argock
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz brown bottle into an oversized wine glass. No freshness date but etched front label reads "Limited Early Sping 2008 Release." Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $6.49.

A: Pink grapfruit hue with 1/2 finger off white head with avergae retention for style and no lacing.

S: A multitude of caramel and pale malt are coupled with floral, spicy, and spicy hops. Alcohol is perceptible but not strongly present.

T: A delicious hoppy American barleywine with superb citrus and spicy, earthy hops flavor matched with big time maltload. Not really remarkable but enjoyable all the same. The alcohol is there but pretty well hidden for < 11% ABV.

M: Smooth, low carbonation barleywine which is easy to drink.

D: A very nice but not a standout barleywine. If you are a hoppy barleywine lover, then this is a good pick for you, but probably a year too late at this point.

argock, Jun 07, 2009
Photo of flexabull
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I am so glad that the local liquor store is carrying the Stone Special Releases. And a $4.50 a bottle? The price is right too, especially for such a wonderful bottle of beer.

Beer pours a dark clear amber color, with a very nice white head on top.

Aromas are potent, but very pleasant to sniff. Fruits stewed in booze, bright, sweet, and tea like, with a citrus hop note as well.

First sip, this definitely tastes different than the 07 fresh. Lots of boozy flavors, not overpowering though. Oak like, with stewed dark fruit flavors, and a crisp caramel malt flavor. Finish is earthy, with sharp pine and citrus like hop bitterness. I really like this now, but I'll be interested to taste this again in a year or so.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick, full, with a nice warmth feel to it.

Drinkability is good. But this is a monster of a beer. Seems a bit more refined than last years, but no less tasty. Well worth a try, I think I will pick up a couple more bottles before this is all gone...

flexabull, Feb 02, 2008
Photo of Metalmonk
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ultra-creamy head is big enough for the style, nearly an inch thick. Color is a fiery copper-red, like sunset with bubbles.

Aroma is a wonderful balance of pungent citrus-rind hops, gooey malt sweetness, vanilla extract, and nostril-flaring sherry-like fumes. I know it's 11.26%, but if the alcohol were less prominent in the nose, and the malt and--what the heck--the hops more so, it would be a perfect 5.

Flavor is intense. Alcohol and hops provide some extremity of flavor, challenging the taste buds to "take that" and "take that!" again. Not rough, just a whole lot of each. Luckily there's a truckload of malt thrown into the recipe, making for big, round, cherry-like sweetness and a buttery glide thanks to a hugely creamy texture, like melted warm ice-cream...but just enough carbonation to keep things from getting sluggish. More flavor: vanilla ice-cream with chunks of maraschino cherry, leafy green apple-spiced pipe tobacco, grassy astringency in the finish. It's a battle to the finish between bitter, hot, sweet and creamy. Everybody wins.

As consistently mindblowing as Stone usually is, I had always been somewhat let down with Old Guardian in previous years. This one perfects the balance it had previously been lacking. It's still just a bit on the crazy-alcohol side, with a heat to match, making it anything but an occasional visit to this snifter, but it tastes so damn good that I welcome the next meeting (it's my third 2008 this year, and I have one more--whoo hoo!). California takes over as the U.S. barleywine capital, if you consider Old Guardian, as well as Green Flash and Sierra Nevada's takes on the style.

Metalmonk, Aug 14, 2008
Photo of GbVDave
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into two tulip glasses. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

Limited Early '08 Release.

A: Pours a hazy reddish-gold color. Light tan/light orange head that recedes to a thick and sticky ring.

S: Big sticky aromas of caramel, grapefruit, alcohol, apple, pear, and tropical fruit.

T: See above. Pretty boozy and hoppy. Thankfully that is slightly mellowed by the sweet caramel and spicy apple/pear. Also noticed a biscuity flavor not unlike something like a caramel apple cobbler.

M: Rather hot and raggedy, fresh out of the fridge. Smooths considerably as it warms.

D: Considering the heft of the abv and obvious alcohol presence this turned out to be one easy drinking barleywine.

GbVDave, May 10, 2008
Photo of jenray
3/5  rDev -26.5%

jenray, Dec 12, 2011
Photo of bobsy
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage picked up in Buffalo, and sat stoppered in my fridge for the past two days as I was in no state to finish it at Saturday's barleywine tasting. I've not used stoppers often, and I'm surprised that this beer doesn't seem to have degraded at all. I will be using them for bigger bottles more often from here on out.

Pours a slightly clouded cider with a brief bubbly cream coloured head, which eventually settles down to a wispy film, and leaves a few spots of lace on the glass. The slight lack of clarity is a little surprising, but I do note some sediment at the bottom of the glass, so it may well be fine yeast particulate in suspension. The aroma is surprisingly subdued for a big barleywine, and while its pleasant, it doesn't leap out of the glass like most Stone products. An earthy caramel base supports some light zesty hops, but there's not much else to be smelled, which is a touch disappointing.

The flavour turns things up a notch, and makes the letdown of the aroma seem like a distant memory. Strong caramel lasts from the moment the liquid hits the taste buds to long after the warming sensation in the throat has subsided. Its grounded (pardon the pun) by a distinct earthiness, and the occasional hint of toasted nuts. Zesty, resiny hops provide a good level of bitterness, and they've not really started to fade too much. Some alcohol is present in the finish, though considering the weight its fairly well. The mouthfeel is great, and considering this bottle has been wine stoppered for almost two days, the carbonation is still at the perfect level. The body is rich and full, without becoming too sticky and cloying, largely thanks to a good stream of CO2 which lightly prickles the taste buds.

This barleywine doesn't wow me, but it's a good enough example of the style. Its just you expect so much more from Stone, and this one doesn't deliver on the usual fronts. I'd say it would be better fresh, when the hops are more aggressive, but I've heard the alcohol is too in your face at that point. With more age they'll drop out all together, and I don't think there's enough interest in the malt base to make this anything more than average at that point. With that in mind, she's probably in her sweet spot right now. I won't be buying another bottle though - Stone have too much great stuff to linger on the ones that are only good.

bobsy, Dec 01, 2009
Photo of buckyp
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

buckyp, Dec 31, 2011
Photo of Overlord
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In a recent forum thread someone mentioned that Stone wasn't mixing up the Old Guardian recipes from year to year. Really? I've had an 08, 07, 06, and an 04 in the last few months, and I could swear they were more different than mere age could account for

Pours a burnished orange with a gorgeous cascading pour and an inch or two of white head that vanishes pretty quickly. Smells of malt and pine. Nice combination.

Taste is unusually grapefruity and pine-y for a Barleywine. If you gave this to me blindfolded my first guess would be this would be a fairly raw DIPA. I found the grapefruit hops delicious and quite balancing for the sweet malty base. Is that tropical fruit in here? I swear that hasn't been in the previous editions.

I'm enjoying this beer much more than the other vintages. Whether because it's fresh, or because it's a different recipe, I'm not sure. I might have to do a vertical tasting at some point.

Overlord, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of dsa7783
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1 Pint, 6 fl oz bottle copped for $6.99 from Gary's in Madison...
An aggressive pour yields a dark-brown, ruby-red, mahogany colored-hue with a moderate-sized frothy head that soon receded, leaving a copious amount of lacing...
Sweet smell, bursting with caramel, malts, honey, and candied sugars...
Taste strongly complemented the aroma, with a strong suggestion of sweet, roasted malts, rich caramel, sweet sugars, yeast, vanilla, and a spicy hint of alcohol...
Very rich, thick, sweet, creamy taste bursting with flavor and style...
Extremely thick, full-flavored, big-bodied mouthfeel...
Drinkability took a hit due to the rich conglomeration of flavors and the very hefty ABV which was certainly noticeable both in the nose and mouth...
Good, aggressive stuff from Stone... Recommended...
A real sipper...

dsa7783, Mar 04, 2008
Photo of atsprings
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Flying Saucer as part of a 4 year vertical, '07-'10. Served a crisp orange with a quickly diminishing head. Aroma is a mild blend of caramel malts and subtle citrus hops. The taste is a bit of sweet caramel malts and mild alcohol with a trace of citrus hops. The bee is somewhat on the heavy side, but the alcohol is quite smooth. This one was certainly enjoyable, but clearly shows that it still needs a few more years to really smooth out.

atsprings, Aug 29, 2010
Photo of Arbitrator
2.3/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2008 vintage purchased for $8.

A: Pours a hazy burnt orange body with a finger of short-lived off-white head. It vanishes so fast that I barely even knew it was there; only a ring of big agitation bubbles remain after 30 seconds.

S: My first whiff reminds me of those mini oranges that I love so much. Then caramel and butterscotch.

T: I'm surprised that the hop flavor is still there, though it is obviously faded. Orange, tangerines, and stone fruit more than grapefruit. It is very caramelly with a toffee and honey sweetness rounding it out. After a while it becomes cloying and tough to choke down.

M: Full-bodied in flavor, but very low carbonation, almost English Barleywine-like. For whatever reason, I still notice the alcohol, which has a light solventy / medicinal character to it in the finish. It's not strong, but it's noticeable and unpleasant.

D: This beer doesn't age well, in my opinion. It simply doesn't have the malt complexity to emerge as the hops fade away. It was an interesting experiment, but I won't be seeking vintage Old Guardian in the future. Fresh only for this beer.

Arbitrator, Apr 03, 2010
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2008 from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 324 ratings.