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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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

259 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 259
Hads: 328
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 8.17%
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 JoeyBeerBelly
4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
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. (585 characters)

Photo of merlin48
3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
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. (596 characters)

Photo of flexabull
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
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... (991 characters)

Photo of Metalmonk
4.57/5  rDev +13.1%
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. (1,647 characters)

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a clear orange amber with one finger of creamy beige head.

Aroma of sweet malt, grapefruit, orange and a touch of booze.

Taste is a sharp punch of grapefruit, orange, and malt. Bitterness increases at the finish. The alcohol is big and hot.

Medium mouthfeel, dry, palate warming, and sharply carbonated.

A big beer to say the least. But well balanced and enjoyable. (390 characters)

Photo of GbVDave
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
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. (714 characters)

Photo of bobsy
3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
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. (2,372 characters)

Photo of peensteen
4.42/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at Volo

Pours a hazy deep copper, decent white head, nice light lacing. Smell is of caramel, big malt, biscuit, quite hoppy considering the age, faint citrus and alc. notes. Taste is rich with caramel, good malt, sweet but not cloying and actually quite nice, dark sugar, no alcohol to be found. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel, thick, full body, very light carbonation. Awesome stuff overall, ABV almost undetectable, really good stuff. (439 characters)

Photo of Overlord
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
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. (928 characters)

Photo of dsa7783
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
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... (810 characters)

Photo of mdagnew
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
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... (1,246 characters)

Photo of atsprings
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
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. (451 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
2.35/5  rDev -41.8%
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. (1,139 characters)

Photo of BretSikkink
4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thought I better try it out of the bottle too...

Dark orange color, great highlighting. Off-White head looks very nice, jumps up several inches, great stick and lacing. Tight cap.

Malty caramel sweetness backed by citric hopping in the nose. I thought it was a tad weak, as in overall power, but the notes were well struck.

Flavor brings more of the same; the hops are multi faceted with herbs, pine, and citric fruit making an appearance, while the malt brings the caramel backing. Very solid and chewy ale, dry finish.

Carbonation is low, alcohol high, let this one warm up and start hitting on all 8 cylinders..or should I say all 11.26. Recommended. (660 characters)

Photo of thekevlarkid
4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This barleywine style ale was released in 2008 and I had the joy of sampling it on-tap at the American Flatbread Stone event. My goblet was delivered to me a deep amber/garnet color with a short lived head. The retention of the collar was good however and the lacing scattered. The aroma was surprisingly light, alcohol esters and heat with a general sweetness of floral hops and ripened fruit. The flavors blew me away. Vanilla, caramel malt, floral and citrus hops, oak, nuts, especially hazelnuts, pears, apples along with hints of cinnamon and brown sugar. As it warmed up the alcohol appeared more prominently but at 11.26% it was astoundingly well-hidden. Dangerous! The mouthfeel was very smooth, the carbonation delicate and the body medium/full. As complex as an aged cognac yet highly drinkable. Wow. (810 characters)

Photo of JamesS
3.63/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light copper color (lighter than most barley wines I've had), with some very nice head and (rapidly diminishing) lacing. It has a very nice malty aroma, hints of caramel, but not really strong at all for the style. A very well done, deep, earthy taste, huge malt flavors. It goes down fairly well for a high abv brew. A very nice beer! (343 characters)

Photo of rye726
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A healthy amber color with a tan head that settles to a thin cover. The nose was of quiet bready malts, ripe fruits and some floral hops. Taste also has a nice hop presence that is well balanced by sweet malts. Well carbonated silky body is full on the palate. A good brew, but there are much better. (300 characters)

Photo of charlzm
3.8/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 bottle, consumed 01/31/08. Yes, it's young, but I'll probably revisit this vintage several times over the coming years.

Coppery pour, off-white one- finger head. Aroma is grapefruit hops with tobacco notes and some kind of fruit (apricot or plum). Thick mouthfeel, almost syrupy. Mild astringency, some alcohol burn. Flavor is a massive dose of bitter hops immediately, with a bit of medicinal cherry cough drop in there, too. The bitterness subsides fairly quickly (or else my palate is just too blasted to taste the enormity of the hops for long) but lingers as the primary note in the background.

This will improve with age, to be sure. (648 characters)

Photo of Doomcifer
3.43/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a ruddy brown with a nice creamy head. Decent retention. Okay lacing. Smells of doughy malts, grassy hops, slight alcohol fumes. Taste is of a huge doughy malt backbone, sweet, balanced out with a nice hop bitterness. Dark fruits, figs, definite alcohol bite to it. Mouthfeel is heavy but not too syrupy. Decent carbonation. Fairly drinkable. (349 characters)

Photo of FreshHawk
4.04/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Burnt orange/amber with a red-orange color. Small bubbly white head that disappears fast and leaves almost no lacing behind.

S - Strong caramel and malt aroma with touches of pine and citrus hops coming through. Vague hint of alcohol. Pretty sweet and a bit of a sugary aroma as well, although there is some bitterness that cuts that a bit.

T - Initial caramel sweetness. This quickly gives way to a piny (and a bit of citrus) bitterness. Mid-sip to finish there is some spiciness, alcohol, and a touch of malt flavor. Some floral/herbal hop flavors also start to come out a bit. Very slight apple fruitiness. Fairly sweet finish. Strong mixing and contrast of hops (particularly pine but some citrus, floral and herbal) and a sweet caramel/toffee malt.

M - On the fuller side of medium body and on the lower side of carbonation (however given the style, it is about average carbonation). Has a nice velvety, full, texture in the mouth.

D - Between the strong hops (even after a couple of years), sweet, sticky malt, and the ABV and noticeable alcohol taste, this isn't the most drinkable beer. Very strong on the palate. I didn't struggle to finish the bottle, but after I did, I was done for the night. That said, given the style and what the beer is meant to be, it is fairly drinkable.

Notes: Early 2008 Vintage. Overall I enjoyed this beer, but I wasn't wowed by it. Still had a pretty strong hop and alcohol presence after a couple of years aging. This is a strong barleywine. Like I said, I enjoyed it, and it is a good barleywine, but given the price, I probably won't get it again (although maybe another vintage to compare). (1,643 characters)

Photo of JDV
2.34/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle generously shared by MiguelMandingo. Thanks!

Pours dark amber to copper with a fair amount of transluscency. Smell is very mildly malty with a hint of alcohol and almost what I would expect an oxidized beer to be like. Taste is equally mild flavorwise with a hint of maltiness, balancing hops, but a subdued flavor overall with good bitterness on the finish and a noticeable alcohol presence. I found this to be very lackluster, and bland on the whole, unfortunately. (476 characters)

Photo of hosehead83
4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a cellared "2008" bottle into my Arrogant Bastard pint glass
Cloudy, orange/amber in color, with a half-inch head of foam
Aroma-Definite malt presence, faint citrus
Taste-Big malt onrush followed by a steady hop backbone. Incredibly smooth and easy-drinking for the strength. Warning! Take it slow or you will be ambushed by the 11.26ABV!!
If you let it warm,the alchohol asserts itself, leaving a warm afterglow in the finish. (439 characters)

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

A: Poured with a finger and a half of white head. Good lacing especially for a barley wine. A nice looking amber/copper color.

S: Big malt nose. A little boozy as well. Some figs and raisins in the back.

T: Nice big malt taste. The raisins and figs are right there. A little bit of hops in the back mixed in. Booze throughout.

M: Thick body. Very sticky in your mouth.

D: This is a little bit hot. With a year on it this will blend together nicely. I would say hold on to this a little while longer. Good beer though still. (527 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA. Poured into a 22 oz. Terrapin snifter.

Appearance: A hazy and dull looking reddish-brown beer with a foamy, tan, creamy one-finger head with average retention and some nice sheets of lacing, if a little runny. Gets definite points for head, but loses a little in the color department.

Aroma: Surprisingly mild (despite many reviews to the contrary - perhaps it's my glass, or an old bottle), but pleasant. Spicy, leafy, herbal, earthy hop notes and caramel malts. Hop notes come out a little more as it warms, with grapefruit slowly emerging.

Taste: Not nearly as hoppy as I was expecting, actually - at least, not for a Stone brew! But maybe that's the age of the bottle. A pretty sweet roasted malt backbone - lots of caramel, sweet pale bready notes - and some solid but not overly hoppy or bitter notes participate in a great balancing act here. The bitterness is mild but persistent, and the hop notes - mainly herbal and earthy notes, though there are some light citrus overtones - are pleasant. A surprisingly well-hidden alcohol presence (11.26% - both high and calculated to a surprisingly precise number of decimal places). Improves drastically as it warms, though I'm beginning to wonder how much of the "warmth" improvement of a beer is really improvement and really "I've consumed more of this beer by the time it's warmed and am slightly more intoxicated by this point." Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Fine-bubbled, creamy, milky, a little oily from the hops, full-bodied, and fairly thick and syrupy but not as thick as it could be given its malt content.

Drinkability: A good barleywine, though not my absolute favorite. I've heard this one was better in years past, but since they do change the recipe every year, who knows what's in store in the future. Alcohol's definitely up there, but largely well hidden - aging this one for a year might mellow out the alcohol a little, but given it's not as highly-hopped as many American barleywines, it might mellow out a little too much. Who knows. I'll buy one and give it a shot. Recommended, though - definitely not bad. (2,131 characters)

Photo of HalfFull
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a rich hazy orange amber with light head and lacing.

Smell is very nice, some fruit and bready malts with just a tinge of alcohol, with sweet dessert scents on the finish.

Taste follows suit. The sweetness, and a slightly chewy malt stucture, masks the alcohol content in this beer quite well. This is quite smooth for a barleywine of this strength. A bit too sweet overall, I'll try the other half tomorrow.

Feel is somewhat rich and smooth for a barleywine given the malt balance yielding a relatively easy drinkability. (573 characters)

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