Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

568 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 568
Reviews: 301
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 16.48%
Wants: 17
Gots: 96 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: srroos on 02-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 568 | Reviews: 301
Reviews by yemenmocha:
Photo of yemenmocha
3.39/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy copper with thin head that doesn't last long. Nose is good with sweet baked goods or fruity bready qualities, as well as some overripe fruit. Palate is extremely spicy - a huge zip in there - and there's a whopper of a tart fruit flavor with sharp bitterness rounding it out. Finish is also spicy sweet and the alcohol is really in yo face.

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.62/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This is a bright, rich brown in color with a brown-white head. The head is full and fluffy and offers a terrific compliment to the deep, colorful liquid.

Smell – The big hops and rich Belgian yeast are perfectly balanced. The yeast is like a great BSDA and the hops are like the classic Old Guardian. The wine aspect of the beer is right on as well.

Taste – This is incredibly open for being so young and doesn’t require aging. The yeast is a thing of beauty here and the hops are large but don’t interfere with the malt base. The wine character is crisp.

Mouthfeel – This full-bodied Barley Wine is smooth as can be with some light carbonation and just a touch of bitterness at the end. The sugary nature keeps this going down easy.

Drinkability – This is an amazing drinker for being so young. It’s a big beer but is not heavy-handed. It seems like an impossible task to get all of these big flavors working so well together but they managed to nail it.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.87/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

In a tulip glass the beer was a bright cherry amber color, nicely carbonated. Very thin, almost nonexistent, tan head.
Spicy, sweet fruit aroma, with the spice tickling my nose. Caramel malt. Somewhat floral.
Predominantly caramel malt taste. Very sweet and spicy. Hops late, mostly citrus.
Alcohol noticeable. Medium-bodied.
Overall, nice take on an English barleywine. The alcohol made for some slow going. I probably should have shared this with someone.

Photo of mverity
3.42/5  rDev -6%
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.

Photo of Jason
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz brown bomber with "2011 Odd Year Release" on the label.

Rusty orange amber color, hazy with a thick crown of off-white head. Smells of a booze soaked fruit cake, black peppercorn and a box of band-aids ... chaos in the nose. The smooth creamy body does not even have a chance to show off its lushness. Bitterness from the hops, medicinal phenols and a sharp peppery tone from the alcohol all try and whack the taste buds at the same time. The malt is there, you can feel that creaminess but the hops and alcohol does not even give it a chance ... even when the this beer warms up past 55*F there is not much to really pick from the rubble. The alcohol borders being super hot, hops don't want to let go and the spicy Belgian flare kicks this beer right between the legs. Right there in the end a kiss of overripe fruit and a hint of caramel ... but that is it.

Interesting to try but this 12% train wreck does not want to leave any survivors, taste buds are beaten to a pulp and each sip ends up being a chore.

Photo of Billolick
4.43/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone bomber, Belgo Bwine, 2011 "Odd year release" version, picked up yesterday @ Ardsley, NY's DeCicco market.

Pours darker copper, lt. mocha head, stays at 1/8 of an inch, and leaves fine spots of lacing.

Malted up nose, with some whiskey and darker malt flourishes.

Full flavor BW, waves of caramel malts, infused with whiskey, some wood, smoke...with a long gently malty finish. Also some ripe tropical fruit comes to mind. I keep coming back to the smoke, the soft woody notes and the whiskey barrel undertones. Complex, dense flavors, heady stuff @ 12%, alcohol present but well hidden.

World class. Sublime. Got to get more of this one...

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Common Table.

The beer pours a reddish color with a white head. The aroma is very fruity. I get a lot of oranges as well as some yeast, brown sugar and alcohol notes. The flavor is full of alcohol, Belgian yeast, orange citrus notes and some brown sugar. Overall, I get a lot of standard American Barleywine with a nice Belgian yeast spin to it. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Very nice.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.64/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 "odd" year release

22oz. bottle at cellar temp poured into a snifter. split with friends.

pours out a very clear deep reddish bordering on copper/ bronze with a big light tan colored head, great retention and nice lace.

very strange aroma. kind of a meaty almost bologna like mixing with dark fruits, prunes and some rich maltiness. the barleywine nor the belgian yeast really show like i expected.

i find the yeast and the barleywine a lot more in the taste. tastes similar to a belgian dark or a quad. a nice range of fruitiness, lots of dark dried fruits. hints of a meaty flavor. rich maltiness mixes with a slightly spicey, slightly phenolic yeast. finishes with a slightly resinous hop bitterness and spicey yeast.

i didnt like it at first, but the more i drank it, the more i started enjoying it. still definatly nothing special and nothing i would come back to. the belgo stone imperial russian was way better, as well as the origianl old guardian. not something i would really recommend or buy again.

Photo of ehammond1
3.94/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Stone Brew Co.
Escondido, CA

A murky and cloudy deep copper. A big, beautiful, persistent off-white head. Gorgeous. Leaves not so much rings of lacing as sheets of it.

Belgian yeast mixed with orange citrus hop notes make up the majority of the nose. It's certainly unique. There's some other sweet fruits in the nose as well as some alcohol.

Taste is of orange juice, caramel, Belgian yeast, alcohol, some bitterness, and some darker fruits resembling maybe figs or plums. It all comes together surprisingly well, but I do think this beer requires some age to really improve. I, however, didn't have that option.

Silky and sticky. Appropriate and nice.

I went in to this beer with very low expectations. I honestly expected not to like it, but that wasn't the case at all. Where I expected to find a failed experiment gone terribly wrong, I'm left with a very enjoyable evening sipper. Kudos to proving me wrong!

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my SN bubble glass, this brew always pours an amazing harvest moon red with a fluffy tan head with an orange tinge.

S: It's aroma has very distinct Belgium notes, and I am definitely taken back at the fact that Stone is able to pull this off. This has brought depth to a barelywine that was one amazing monster to begin with. An almost perfect balance of malt, hops, and spices the nose contains the classic piny resinous Stone hopes balanced with gobs of caramel malt, classic yeasty Belgium clove and spice.

T: The flavor is a tame version of the original OG. Instead of the hop blast, it's a hop blast tamed by Belgium cloves and a sweet malt backbone. This brew is a like peppery candy explosion, and the ABV...I'm not sweating it!

MF: The mouthfeel is full and really smooth for the hop bill that I know is in this brew.

Overall, this beer is a home run. If Belgium were to brew a barleywine, this is what I think it should taste like. I really had my doubts when I heard about this odd beer, and I still do with the IRS, but I just can't wait to try that one either.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours about the most orange looking barleywine I've ever seen, right up there with O'Dell's India Barleywine, that bright dipa style orange.

Aroma yields the belgo yeast for sure. Not clovey, nice, but definitely pungent.

Citrus themes, fruity ester, big time alcohol. Caramel. Like a triple belgian ipa. Ample hopping, leans to the pine side. This beer is kinda all over the place, but yet very dominated by the belgian yeast and all its typical bringings. Not much in the way of sweetness. The alcohol heat is a tad bothersome, tastes like a homebrew novice just dumps liquor into the beer at times. I go back and forth whether the belgo yeast makes it neat or tedious. Just depends on your mood.

Great price

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.7/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears in my Unibroue La Fin du Monde chalice with a semi hazed glowing blood orange tinted body and a very nice thicket of khaki tan head forming thick. Leaves behind fine intricate detailed lacing on my glass.

Aroma contains upfront peppery, spiced yeast inspired notes with a deep caramelized sugar tone going on with ripened plums/apricots and other hearty fruits. A touch of booze crosses the palate as well, what a beer.

Flavor isn't has harsh as I thought it was going to be, big citric/pine/earthy middle from the big hop additions in this aggressive barleywine style ale spiked with a Belgian yeast strain. Juicy complexity of ripened fruits hints of citrus/plum/apricots. Typically big American alpha acid hops don't blend in the Belgo IPA style that Stone has helped popularize, however with all of this malt in this big bruiser of barleywine I'm getting some nice flavors in the mix. Alcohol/booze is there but doesn't burn or hurt me per se. There's almost perfume like flavors with the spices/aromatics from the yeast strain utilized, wow this is a new direction for sure. I questioned when I heard they were going to go Belgo on odd years with some of their famous big beers, but damn this is good.

Mouthfeel as it warms up so does the heat of the alcohol, big body no effervescence in the carbonation. This is the type of beer that might cure your sore throat. Hop oils are there big bitterness but it doesn't kill the palate completely the warm spiced yeast profile with alcohol makes it seem like a mulled cider or fruit infused fortified wine.

Drinkability overall isn't bad at all, in fact it's kind of dangerous the type of beer that empties faster than your liver can metabolize it. 22 ounce bottle tackled without difficulty, not go forth and preach the word of what European Belgian yeast strains can do to awesome stand up American versions of alcohol, this is experimentation that didn't set us back but moved at least a few spaces forward in brewing.

Photo of OStrungT
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a rusty orange color with a light tan head. The head fades slowly, leaving a nice lacing.

This beer smells of sweet caramel. It has a pleasent spicy coriander aroma to it. A slight boozy alcohol aroma mixes in also. It smells slightly of floral hops.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Sweet caramel malt, with some spicy flavors. Coriander and maybe some cloves. The hops are also present.

This beer is full bodied. It goes down smooth, leaving a spicy aftertaste. Carbonation is good.

This beer wouldnt make a great session beer. At 12% ABV, it is a sipper.

Overall: This beer is pretty good. Not my favorite, but still good.

Photo of jeonseh
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received from a friend so happy to try it out

A - copper in color with a slight haze to it; light carbonation bubbles trail upwards and there is a small white head that only resides on the edges

S - smell is fruity with hints of apricot, clementine and grapefruit with slight caramel sweetness to it. As it warms, the Belgian aspects in the nose start to come out as I note bread and bubblegum flavors. Nose is moderate overall.

T - at first there is a malty sweetness and orange that hits the tongue. The taste then becomes more hoppy with a grapefruit bitterness that becomes stronger and lingers in the finish. As it warms up I start to get more of the Belgian notes that were not there at first as I started to note esters and their bubblegum and clove flavors. Overall it reminds me more of a DIPA than a barley wine.

MF - good mouthfeel with a nice thick, stickiness to it. Feels full within in the mouth and has a slight carbonation to it.

O - an interesting beer that reminds me more of a DIPA, with it's heavy hop presence, than a barleywine beer. Interesting to have the Belgian flavors mixed in there. Worth a try and would be interesting to age to see what it is like as the hops mellow.

Photo of daveytheformer
3.03/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

into a delirium snifter

Pours a thick cloudy amber almost light brown color with a creamy off white head that rapidly fades to sticky lacing.

Smells like bananas, bubblegum, and a little pepper spice. The yeast is certainly real up front. Upon repeated whiffs there is a lot more going.

Taste strongly metallic and bitter. Alcohol heat, bitter hops and Belgian yeast are all the front end. Candy sweetness is underlying but keeps getting dominated by hops and alcohol

Mouthfeel is thick and heavy with lots of carbonation and booze.

Overall is drinkable but certainly not the best Stone beer I've had. Makes me really curious about Belgo Anise IRS.

Photo of glid02
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Taco Mac Metropolis in Atlanta.

Pours a hazy brownish-copper color with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of burnt caramel malts with hints of booze-soaked pears and plums. Also present are hints of toffee.

Tastes more robust than it smells. Smooth caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by candied dark fruits – plums and raisins. Midway through the sip the flavor profile sweetens a bit with the addition of toffee and light chocolate. Finally, the fruit flavors re-assert themselves near the end of the sip, carrying through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It’s got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn’t have a problem finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall I found this to be a good enough beer but it’s just not as good as the original version. Worth a shot for curiosity’s sake.

Photo of rdilauro
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a golden glow with little head. The two aromas I picked up was malt and citrus/honey. It was a very big beer, full, not very carbonated.
It was very soft, almost too soft. Too malty for my taste and the finish was somewhat boring.
I wish that the barley was match with some stronger hops and more flavor

Photo of nickthegun12
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pretty good innovation by stone brewery...they did a wonderful job of making an english barley wine with belgian yeast!....

the smell is spicy....almost resembles a steak with pepper....the taste is very similar...has that classic light clove/banana taste....with all the same things from an english barley wine....dry mouthfeel....color....head retention...they probably used maris otter as the malt base....with some dark belgian malt additions as well...

its hard to drink this 12% abv beer by yourself...but it is pretty good!

Photo of willPS21
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My introduction to barleywine. Since it was stone, I felt it was time. Don't know why I found it in a store in the middle-of-nowhere, MD, but the gargoyle called me, and I answered.

Poured into my $1 gold rimmed Stella snifter-like thing. The color is somewhat bourbony to mahogony with its' cherry hue. A bit menacing considering its abv. The 1F head was strikingly white/amber by comparison, but had a 45sec halflife.

S: it has a smell, but I can't follow it. It seems a bit boozy and sugary with an edge of bourbon, but it certainly doesn't kick you in the face like some. Pretty tough to chase down.

T: I encourage you not to try to "wade in". Dive in. This will reduce the bitter effect of the hops and allow them to express their more floral tones sooner than later. There are definitely some earthy tones and floral tones involved, somewhat like a field of wildflowers, but I can't partition out specific elements. Depending upon which part of the tounge it rests on before swallowing, it seems to have different profiles. I got some very bready notes one sip, but only one.

aT: Aftertaste is a very important gauge, and it's *damn good*. The bitter hops kick fades to fruitier and aromatic tones, and frankly the flavors improve in your mouth with time. One of the most composed aftertastes I've enjoyed with a distinct floral sweetness that eminates very gently from all corners of your mouth with a clear numbingness accompanying.

M: Somewhat thick , perfect carbonation it would seem, and leaves a medium-well sticky finish.

D: if you're starting off with this, you won't charge through it. If you're a bit oiled up, you're in real position to put yourself to sleep. I would say for the abv, it's very drinkable. The alc heat is VERY subdued, an important point.

Boozy wildflower: my best two word description. Something that can be very enjoyable. The brewing seems entirely masterful in this presentation: the aftertaste and disguise of alc reflect this best.

Photo of mdaschaf
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes.

A: Pours a hazy brown/copper color with a one finger tan head on top. Decent retention, with a thin layer of foam lasting for the duration with patchy lacing left behind.

S: Some caramelized malt, dark fruits, mostly some plum and raisins, a bit of toffee and some light alcohol.

T: Heavy on the caramel and some sugary sweet dark fruit, again plum and raisin. There is a little bit of toffee and bread.

M: Medium to full bodied, rather thick, with moderate carbonation.

O: Better than expected, but hard to place in context since I have not had regular Old Guardian as of yet.

Photo of Metalmonk
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had no idea this existed till I saw it on the shelf. And have no real expectations what it's all about, other than, uh, "Belgian-style barleywine?" But it's Stone, so it's gotta be at least super-interesting. Hit me...

Pours a glowing rusted/garnet color, with not much head after several seconds, but there's a crown around the edges that lasts while psychedelic foam patterns swirl inside it. Yep, it's already interesting...

Aroma is compelling, for sure. Smells more like a Belgian IPA with lots of alcohol in there, and some seriously syrupy-sweet fruit too. Belgian candi sugar. More hoppy/fruity than malty, and pretty alcoholic. Swirled to get the aroma moving some more, and the head came right back.

Very earthy/green/pine flavor up front, kind of intense and almost medicinal. Peppery and fruity. Alcohol and sugar intertwine, mingle and threaten to go out of whack, but never totally do. Quite sweet, with brown sugar, pine needle, and mango coming back with a vengeance. Intense, but never "hot." Fairly dry, without much finish to speak of.

Feels smooth and slick, despite an inherent thickness and considerable body.

I like this, because it's got a ton of character and originality. It's a bit busy, and obviously pretty young. And sure, it might be a bit muddled, but I think this one will age with the best of them. Should have bought a second bottle, damn it...

Photo of RockyTopHeel
3.96/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a really nice, warm orange-amber color with a thin lacing of white bubbles. Aroma of hops and burnt sugar.

Creamy in the mouth, but assaults the tongue. After one sip, my taste buds lose their ability to discriminate -- but they don't need to. This is a big, bold, and creamy brew with big time hops and burning alcohol.

Huge and crushing. I'm impressed, but rendered incapable of intelligent analysis. This one thumped me.

Photo of Sammy
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Just OK to drink. On tap at The Ginger man NYC. Very lacey. Sweet caramel mostly.A tad above average mouthfeel. Decent drinkability.Maybe if this thing ages. Like the regular Old Guardian better. A tad spicey, also saccarin toothpaste. Didn't all work out.

Photo of aval89
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark copper.. nice soft off white head..

S: white grape peel.. light biscuits.. yeast spiciness.. some dark fruits.. slight apricot/banana..

T: apricot/banana.. slight white wine characteristics.. spiciness from the belgian side.. very mild dark fruits.. there is a slight bitterness from the hops but the spiciness is a little overpowering.. also some candy sugars.. wow this brew is very robust & complex.. tasty.. its like a tripel mixed with a barley wine..

Mf: full bodied but smooth.. leaves your mouth a bit warm from both the spiciness & booze..

D: this thing is amazing!.. but with the abv/rough mf it might be a little hard to swallow for some.. but for me this thing was great! A nice way to end the night..

Overall, I was greatly impressed with this!!

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Old Guardian Belgo

Appearance: You can see it's got a little bit of body as you pour it: the stream of liquid isn't clear (more from viscosity than yeast); and as it hits the surface of the beer in the glass it doesn't foam up, but it seems to be teeming below, and eventually a thick fingered head of foam rises almost out of nowhere. The head is a yellowed off-white, and the body is a hazy ruby with orange highlights. The head retention is very good, and once settled, it still maintains a thin covering of whispy lace. Short walls of 'mountainous' lace ring the glass, but nothing much is left above.

Aroma: In the nose it's fruity with a mineralish component (crushed granite) and a suggestion of tartness, as well as a hint of spice/pepper.

Taste: The flavor displays a lot of rich dark fruit upfront, as well as some citrus, and there is indeed a slight tartness to it. The mineralish character is present as well, and it almost seems a bit metallic (in a good way). A peppery spice acts as a thin veil that lays over it. The malt is always present, but it doesn't really show itself until the middle where the fruitiness starts to disperse as it warms. It's got some definite caramel malt character, and a good bit of toastiness. There's a candyish note of sweetness at this point, which is offset by the rising bitterness. Hop notes are present, tying back to the fruitiness: they're mainly leafy (or at least appear to be, muddled in with the malt), but they're also a citrusy and a bit piney as well. It finishes sweetish with lots of fruit and a dusting of yeasty spice, but that evaporates quickly (quite possibly encouraged by the 12% a.b.v.), and it's left mainly dry, lingering with some leafiness, some crumbs of toffee, a hint of black pepper, and a dusty mineral character.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly, for a barleywine, it's pretty nimble. It's full bodied, but it seems almost medium-full. Maybe the pH helps to cut through it, or maybe the alcohol thins it a bit. To be sure, the CO2 bites at your tongue before you really feel the maltiness, so maybe it then just goes less noticed. That, along with the fruit and spice of the yeast and hops (and perhaps alcoholic spiciness), leave it seeming smooth and quick, yet still supple. Interesting.

Drinkability: The high alcohol will certainly clock you. The question then remains, 'if you're having a snifter or two, how much would you want to enjoy another one if you could'? It's complex, but not overly complex. On the other hand, it's not overly full which makes it a little easier to approach after having had two already. Could it be more complex? Yes, but it is what it is, and I think it's fairly engaging as it is. It's certainly worth trying.

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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 568 ratings.