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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

259 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 259
Hads: 328
Avg: 4.07
pDev: 10.07%
Wants: 6
Gots: 27 | 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:
Beer added by: HimerMan on 01-27-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 259 | Hads: 328
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Rosy apricot infused with molten copper. The large lid is both creamy and bubbly, with a color that is some combination of pastel gold and skinless almond. Thick sheets of finely stippled lace cling to the sides of the glass, resulting in eye candy status.

The malts don't contribute much to the aroma and the hops aren't exactly filling the room. The beer smells a bit earthy, with a faint hint of ethanol. Would dry hopping have helped? In spite of a few 4.0s over the years, I've never been that impressed with Old Guardian's nose.

Thankfully, the flavor gives a better accounting of itself. It's hard to know when to drink these brews. They tend to be hot when fresh and the hops fade too much when they're cellared too long. It looks like this 'Early 2008 Release' is in a feel good zone right now, a few months shy of its second birthday.

The prodigous malt backbone provides a 'sugar cookies drizzled with melted caramel' vibe, along with a toasted-earthy-nuttiness that suggests the use of Munich malt (or something in that spectrum). The hops deliver a generous amount of pithy bitterness, with a citrus zest flavor that isn't distinct enough to hazard any specific guesses. It isn't obviously Cascade... or Simcoe... or Amarillo... etc.

If the suggestion box is open, I like to see Stone knock the ABV back a few percentage points. For some reason, this particular beer has never had its alcohol masked very well, no matter how long it's aged. Tongue numbing is not conducive to appreciating a flavor profile that is on the edge of being personality challenged.

The mouthfeel is all kinds of excellent. It's full and crushed velvet plush without being heavy or syrupy in the least. The finish is slightly sticky, but then how could it not be, given all that malt? Ideal carbonation helps immensely and is most likely the key to the whole shootin' match.

As always, I want to like Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale more than I do. The brewery isn't about to change things up in a major way at this point, so I'll just have to resign myself to buying one (and only one) bomber each year.

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Photo of Bung
4.32/5  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.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.55/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours an intense, cloudy, and quite hazy golden color. At least two fingers of head when I pour hard and a great amount of lacing. I honestly was afraid to drink this at first because it was so incredibly hazy in the glass after pouring it.

Smell - Pine, just a touch of alcohol, and a very pleasant sweetness. It is by no means "sweet" smelling as in sickly like cough syrup but a great balance of hoppiness and sweetness. Honestly, I can smell a bit of honey in this and the aroma is just delightful.

Taste - The taste is just delightful. I bought this at a local place that had the 09 and 08 versions and they recommended I get the 08. How right they were. The hops are present but have toned down quite a bit (from what I can tell) and there is a faint tinge of alcohol but honestly, for being over 11% abv I do not taste it much. The warmer it becomes the more complex the taste becomes.

Mouthfeel - One word - creamy. Quite thick, carbonated, and overall just extremely enjoyable.

Drinkability - More so than I wish it to be. For being such a high abv, the drinkability of this is unbelievable. I am most pleasantly surprised by this brew - it is impressing me more than I can express. All I know is that I need to go and pick up the remaining 08's that my local shop has because this is quickly becoming one of my favorite offerings by Stone. Amazing job on this year. I need to buy a 09 now to see how they compare.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle bought online from BeerofEurope.co.uk...

Poured a deep coppery russet colour. Creamy head with some coppery tinges poured quite thick and rocky then faded to nice light ring around the edge of the glass. Barely any carbonation... some light frothy lacing...

Aroma - Lots of spicy piney hops, peppery, herbal notes, caramel / toffee sweetness, some burnt sugar notes, spicy fruits (raisins, oranges, some light figs, grapefruit), strong resinous notes, some saltiness, toasted bread, biscuity malts, woody, some faint leathery traces, grassy, quite a lot of alcoholic esters when the glass is given a light swirl...

Taste - Very strong peppery / spicy / piney hops to the fore followed by lots of toffee and caramel malt sweetness, earthy notes, spicy fruits (bitter oranges (strong marmalade hints), tart apples, some figs, raisins), dark muscovado sugar traces, burnt sugar, yeasty traces, herbal, some anise, toasted bread, alcohol is noticeable..

M&D - Quite sharp initially then mellows to quite a syrupy smoothness. Medium bodied... At 11% certainly not the most drinkable beer and one bomber is more than enough...

Overall - An excellent and very American barleywine and another top notch brew from Stone... recommended...

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Photo of kevinglin
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very good beer. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into two wide-mouth goblets to split the bottle with my great buddy Nat who is about to move away. Copper-orange color with no head to speak of. Somewhat hazy with some legs as it sticks to the sides of the glass.

Aroma of raisins and dark fruit for me - definitely a lot of malt but I'm not getting much in the hops department. Taste backs up the aroma - HUGE on the malt presence. A big beer for sure - dark fruits again but now the hop flavor begins to come through, which of course reminds me that I am, after all, drinking a Stone brew. Sweet malty presence is offset with an earthy/woodsy hop bitterness and flavor. As it warms, the spiciness of the hops begins to shine a bit more and the alcohol warmth really begins to show. Hop bitterness lingers well into the aftertaste.

Body is somewhat slick, yet chewy, but somehow there is a lively carbonation on the tongue.

Overall, definitely recommend. A big beer for sure, and as I've tried a lot of the Stone IPA/DIPA and have enjoyed their hop monsters, this was a bit of a change of pace to enjoy their Malt Monster. Complex, flavorful and certainly enjoyable as a late-night sipper reminiscing with old friends.

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Photo of bilyboy65
3.45/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I don't know about this beer. For a barley wine it's not really like a wine at all. I suppose I should be greatful for that since I don't like wine generally. Pours a light brown with a minuscule head. Leaves nothing on the glass. The nose and taste are quite the same in that its of brown sugar and diactyl. There really isn't the sweet wine taste of most barley wines i'm used too. Maybe it's just the way it should be. Drinkability isn't bad though. Could enjoy a few bombers of this.

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Photo of x63x77
4.85/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Beautiful red and orange tones, clean white head, spectacular lacing.

Smell: Floral, fruity, bitter. This beer has a strong hops nose that I found refreshing. Also, there is a strong alcohol sent initially, but this largely vanished as I drank.

Taste: Powerful, full flavor. Extremely beautiful and satisfying floral notes makes this beer surprisingly fresh. Strong alcohol taste comes on very smooth cleansing the palate and drying the mouth like a nice vodka. A truly unique experience.

Mouth Feel: Warm, crisp, a bit tart.

Drinkability: Quite complex, this beer requires a bit of work from the drinker, but 11.2% more than 2 pints would be too much regardless.

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Photo of colts9016
3.99/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bottle from a BIF, poured into a snifter at 51 degrees.

Appearance: A nice one finger ivory head that is creamy and a little foamy. The head has no retention. The body of the beer is a reddish amber hue with a copper tint. There is some very small bubbles coming from the bottom of the glass. The clarity of the beer is hazy, but light is visible.

Nose: A nice rich maltiness, there is some citrus, wood, and floral esters. There is phenols, a alcohol/solvent aroma, a gentle sweetness, hint of caramel and a little yeasty.

Taste: A very rich malt flavor, with citrus, wood, floral esters, some phenols, alcohol, a gentle sweetness, hint of caramel and a little yeasty.

Overall: The mouth feel of the beer is waming from the alcohol, some carbonation but it is gentle on the tounge and a little astringent. The body of the beer is medium, and the finish is medium full. This is another really good beer from Stone. There is not much to critic, except that I wish that flavor was a little brighter.

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Photo of projectflam86
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had at a Vintage Stone Tasting as part of an Old Guardian vertical (07,08,09).

A- Allowed to warm up to about 50 degrees and poured into a nice snifter. Beautiful deep amber color with a small white foam that leaves some lacing. A bit cloudy with a nice bubble stream.

S- Some floral and citrus hops and some yeasty biscuit scents as well. This one had WAY more hop presence than the 07 that I tasted just before it. Alcohol is present in the aroma but is kept in check with some piney apricot and brown sugar/caramel scents.

T- Light grapefruit and piney hop taste initially that gives way to a more noticeable malty sweet bread flavor. The hops do a decent job coming through but the age has knocked their bitterness down a bit. Spice and dark fruit flavors are present with a caramel sweetness and the slightest bit of a roasted finish.

M- Big and chewy with a decent amount of carbonation.

D- A decent brew that aged well with the hops putting up quite a fight for being over a year old.

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Photo of argock
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of BeerCon5
3.74/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly hazy, light amber color with not much head.

Fruity scent with very pronounced alcohol.

The taste is most notably strong alcohol, citrus, and fruit.

This beer is medium bodied, kind of thick and smooth in texture, with moderate carbonation.

Average drinker. Very flavorful and interesting, though tough to drink more than a bomber.

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Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Classic great barleywine. Medium red grapefruit colour, with lasting off-white head. Aroma of barley and malt. Maly-barley aroma. An above average hoppy barleywine with very good mouhfeel. Fruit, caramel taste a and above average mouthfeel.Middle of road in a great roster of barleywines.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.44/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged just slightly over a year.

A- Wonderful red amber copper color with very little head.

S- I can smell the glass from 3 feet away. It smells like golden hoppy excellence. Great honey and bubble gum smell. This is very tasty smelling.

T- The taste is nice and herbal, the hops are still there, but have mellowed quite a bit. This has a great taste, with honey, bubble gum and vanilla.

M- The mouthfeel is thick, yet good carbination.

D- Very drinkable, even tough it is potent.

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Photo of frothyhead
4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky hazy amber/brown into a snifter with a small off-white head.

Nose is malty sweetness, dark fruit and bread, some alcohol, and a good amount of hops still coming through on this year old bottle - grapefruit and a bit of pine.

Mouth is full bodied with low to medium carbonation and some silky oiliness from the hops.

Taste is a nice blast of bitter hops and grapefruit, with a solid bready malt backbone. Some subtle caramel sweetness mixing in as it warms.

Drinkability is good. There's quite a bit of bitter hoppiness here, but it's balanced somewhat nicely by the malts. Alcohol is not all that apparent, making this 11+% ABV brew a dangerous beast.

Overall this is quite a nice barleywine. I wish I had had it closer in time to the 2006 bottle I recently had so that I could compare, but from what I remember this is quite a bit more hoppy. Looking back at my review, it looks like the 2006 lost its hops in favor of alcohol, so I'd say this is a solid improvement. I've only recently truly acquired a taste for barleywines, but this Old Guardian is quite nice. Since I've now had a 1 year old bottle and a 3 year old bottle, and the fresher was better, I'd like to pick up a fresh bottle sometime soon. Another solid brew from Stone.

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Photo of jbone78
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I don't drink a whole lot of Barley Wines, but I do enjoy them. These Stone products are new to my area and I am liking.

A- Cloudy pumpkiny color with nice head, about a fingers worth.
S- Malty/Hoppy aroma, but in a good way
T- The hops are more present than the malts.
M- Super carbonated with a bittersweet aftertaste.
D- I think this Barley Wine is very easy drinking. Tasting this beer without knowing the alcohol content, I would guess lower than it is.

I will buy more and age for about a year.


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Photo of damienblack
3.32/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Short review going off memory from last night. Pours light brown, like an apple juice. A bit of head, nothing lasting, nothing super impressive. Smell of sweet fruit like peach, or pear, but overpowered completely by the hops. Huge hop nose, which carries through to the taste. You would get a hint of the nice malt body, and then piney, grapefruity hops would just demolish it. Between the hops and the boozeyness of the finish, tough to drink. A sipper that I actually drainpoured the end of. I didn't really get a lot of carbonation in mine, but it was nice and chewy. It boggles my mind how this can have just 5 IBUs more then Stone IRS, yes that is super smooth and balanced and this is so... not. Very disappointing to me.

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Photo of rayjay
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I personally don't see why this beer is reviewed as a vertical; I don't think it's that different from year to year, at least no more than many other seasonals that aren't categorized this way. Anywho, thanks for the birthday present Heather! Complete with an "I love you" ribbon!

Deep amber with a small cap of sticky foam. Fine haze. Lots of pale malt is evident.

Smells of malt with a capitol M. Hope you like malt! A bit of alcohol comes through too, along with lots of NW hops (chinook?). A big old fermented Xmas fruitcake.

First sip reveals first runnings galore. Sticky as hell and dense as tar. Chewy and meaty. Alcohol shows no mercy and is not ashamed to show itself. Tons of hops in here, and dry hopped to oblivion, all bastardized by the huge malt body. I mean HUGE.

Carbonation is on the low side of medium, I think good for the beer. Loads of fruity esters and hot alcohol including higher alcohols. A rude beer in terms of manners, seemingly unsophisticated and wild. Reminds me of B grade homebrew.

Don't get me wrong, I like it. It's just a big beer in every way.

Barley wine fans should love this. Definitely not for everyone though. If your a fan of big beers that show their strength then this is your beer. As for barleywine standards, it certainly makes it's mark, and is well made, but I prefer more subtle examples.

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Photo of taez555
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from Notes. Tasted 1/24/09

This beer poured an amber, thick honey, tan, nectar type body with a small white head.

Nose is thick with sweet malt and caramelly with a touch of sweetness.

Taste is pure malt syrup. Thick and very heavy. Carmel, bread malt, dark caramel syrup. Very bitter with lots of muted citrus peel and some soft muted grapefruit. Classic American Barleywine. Big Malt, Big bitterness. The bitterness is a little much even after a year of aging, still... very good. Finishes with a long lingering bitterness.

As always, Stone makes a fabulous BW. Year and year it continues to kick ass and be one of the best.

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.76/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into my Chimay Chalise.

Drink this a cellar temperature, folks! I began a review of this when it was a bit colder and the warmup made all the difference.

A-When chilled, a cloudy Apricot copper with an almost non existant head. When it warms up, it has a marked clarity and a slick looking creamy white head....very pretty.

S-Sweet apricot malts and yeast

T-Extremly sweet and alcoholic. Malt and dark fruits and malts, Slight hop bitterness in the finish. The alcohol bite mellows as this warms, but it always present.

M-Well balanced overall with a slick mouthfeel and moderate carbonation.

D-This is decent and drinkable. The label says early 2008 release, so it has had a year to age. I have another in the cellar and will age that another year to see if it mellows a bit more to allow the alcohol to blossom this into something truly remarkable. Worth checking out if you like the style. Cannot drink more than one of these in a sitting however.

Re-review of the cellared bottle on 1.19.11. Age has definately improved the scores at least a half a point, any booziness has receded and it is all sweetness and good, but I think this could even get better as the years go on. Alas, I have no others. Time to buy the current batch and let it sleep.

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Photo of SwiftyMcBeer
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark deep copper with a nice creme head. Smell is structured on a nice backbone of mineral and earth. You get hints of fruit, alcohol, and hops off of that backbone. I like it. The taste continues the trends set in the smell. AT first it is a bit simple tasting but the flavor starts to deconstruct quickly as you continue drinking it and you can appreciate the different fruit, malt, and hop notes that combine to the seemingly simple first impression. The beer was a little hot and a bit fizzy for my liking, but overall I thought the 11% was hidden pretty well and I would certainly look forward to this beer in the future. Stone continues to impress.

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Photo of ElGrecoVerde
4.11/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy copper with a giant white head. This is the kind of brew you just want to hold up next to a macro lager and say "See, this is what beer is supposed to look like."

Sweet and sour citrus fruits, crisp tea-like herbs, and clean caramel are apparent in both the taste and aroma. Toasted grains and some light spices round out the complex list of flavors.

The crisp, bubbly mouthfeel and variety of flavors masks the high ABV well. Another great beer from Stone.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this puppy from IntriqKen from what I believe was my first trade ever.

Pours a slightly fogy amber with a thicker and nice crème head. Nose is chalky with figs and raisins clearly evident. Barely evident alcohol tones. Smells nice. Flavor is slightly hot and burning it seems. Nice sweet tones are there. Raisins are fairly noticed as well. Feel has a carbonation that strikes me as a bit too full. Liquid is slick and smooth though. Overall I like this barley wine much more than I had anticipated. The detractors are the alcoholic aftertaste and being able to notice it and the carbonation that bites too much. This in 2-3 years would probably be quite good.

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Photo of HopEnthusiast
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky orangish copper with a medium persistant off white head. Lots of lacing. Aroma is very sweet caramel, many fruit notes- pears and plums, a bit of alcohol and a touch of earthy yeastiness. Taste is similar to the smell. A very solid but not overpowering carmelly sweetness again with lots of fruit notes. A nice light bitterness in the finish balances this out well. A bit herbal neer the end as well with some slight alcohol warmth. Lightly carbonated and creamy. Overall very pleasant and pretty drinkable for the style and strength.

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Photo of bum732
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy orange amber, decent head that dissipates quickly leaving nice lacing. Smells predominately of caramal and toffee, some brown sugar, anise, very faint hops, Tastes of rich toffee malt followed by a very pronounced bitterness. Lots of layers going on, some dried fruits, earthy hops, notable alcohol. Finishes quite sweet leaving a pronounced hop bitterness.

A very good barleywine. The hops weren't really present in the aroma, but came through in the taste. A nice bitterness cuts through the rich toffee malt. Still, this is a huge beer and the toffee flavor is a bit much.

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Photo of MaduroMike
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Golden/ amber with a frothy off white head. Almost no retention.

S- Aroma of sweet bready malts. Hints of fruit, alcohol and yeast.

T- Sweet caramel malt, non citrus fruits, a bit of alcohol. Nice balance of bitter hops to finish.

M- Medium body, creamy with a touch of bitterness. Good amount of carbonation.

D- Sweet, tangy, and bitter. Not really my style right now. I would need to be in the mood for it.

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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2008 from Stone Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 259 ratings.