Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine - Stone Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 544 | Reviews: 298 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by JamesMcPolin:
4/5 rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Poured from a bomber into a snifter.
Beautiful copper/red-orange/dark amber. Pours with good head. Not the best lacing.
Great nose. Detecting the usual sweet malt and of course hops (what else would one expect of a Stone brew). But there is also something... something strange... is it spice? Hmmm... not sure but making me nervous because I'm not at all a fan of spice.
This is as far from the normal 'barleywine style' taste as anything I have ever tasted. Even including the recent "Black Barleywine" from Sierra Nevada's 30th series. Most barleywines range from the sweet malt bomb at one end, to the more well-balanced sweet malt plus hops with interesting and complex esters in the middle, to uber-hopped versions that have as many pounds of hops that went into the brew as any respectable IPA. But this Stone "BELGO" seems to fall almost nowhere within this traditional range, and seems to remind me much more of some sort of Belgian ale. I wish I could be more specific and tell you more precisely which kind of Belgian influence. But alas, I will not lie and must admit my knowledge of Belgians is far from expert (nor highly appreciated since I'm not into spices). However, my knowledge of barleywines is highly respectable. Therefore, I say confidently, this one is an oddity. Certainly a surprise for any lover of regular Old Guardian or barleywines in general. On the other side of the coin, if you love Belgians and Belgian spice, then this is the "barleywine style ale" for you and a must try! Cheers!
Still highly drinkable, I would just refer to my description of the taste to see if this is going to be more toward your preferences or not.
Serving type: bottle
02-24-2011 05:55:02 | More by JamesMcPolin
More User Reviews:
3.6/5 rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25
The "BELGO" part is as emphasized in the appearance as it is on the label; this much froth and foam is equivalent to bold, capitalized print reminding us that ONLY BELGIAN yeast could produce a head of such mass and magnitude. Otherwise, however, Old Guardian looks much the same glassy, clear-ish, burnt amber beer as always.
What I love most about American barleywines is their combination of rich, sticky-sweet maltiness and candied, citrusy hops. Old Guardian - even fermented with Belgian yeast - exemplifies that profile as good (maybe better) than anything else; the figs, flower petals, dried apricots, and candied grapefruit are completely unperturbed by the yeast.
When aging beer, the yeast is typically the last thing to go. Hops, they fade fast. Malt, it thins out and oxidizes. Alcohol, it mellows. But the yeast, it seems to sometimes gain strength when left to brood at the bottom of a bottle. And yet this beer, distinguished by its use of Belgian yeast, at three years of age, has plenty of malt and even hops but little appreciable yeastiness...
Which is especially curious because Belgian yeasts have invariably the most character, distinction, and longevity of any. Indeed, this 2011 vintage has held up mighty fine but seemingly with no thanks to any additional esters or phenols. The crushing bitterness, the familiar dried and rotting orchard fruits, honeyed malt and nut brittle notes of standard Old Guardian still prevail.
Old Guardian is a consummately American barleywine. Even fermenting it with a strain of Belgian yeast can't change that. I didn't quite understand the appeal of a 'Belgianized' barleywine and, frankly, I still don't - it didn't make the beer any better or, surprisingly, more distinct. Maybe a side-by-side tasting would yield a different conclusion, but I didn't like this enough to buy it again.
Serving type: bottle
03-28-2014 16:09:53 | More by biegaman
3.34/5 rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25
Bottle poured into a snifter. Great reddish-amber-brown color with thick tan head that held pretty well. Good lacing and legs. Full body and medium carbonation. Aroma is of toffee, some mahogany, medium roasted malt sweetness. Taste is funky. The big thing that throws me off is that it tastes like burnt marshmallows. That burtn flavor is front and center and I'm glad I was splitting this bottle because I would've drain poured it if I tried to finish it myself.
Serving type: bottle
03-03-2014 03:55:48 | More by mverity
Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 544 ratings.