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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

551 Ratings
THE BROS
74
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 551
Reviews: 299
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 16.8%
Wants: 17
Gots: 94 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-07-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine Alström Bros
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Ratings: 551 | Reviews: 299 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

Sammy, May 19, 2011
Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

t0rin0, Feb 25, 2013
Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.45/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep orange honey color with a 2 inch beige head. Good rings of lace on the drink down. Smells solely of Belgian yeast. That's it. I get no other smells. Taste is of Belgian yeast up front followed by bitter citrus zest hops and a faint sweet malt finish. Decent carbonation with a bubbly but somewhat full bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a Belgian yeast bomb. The other flavors are drowned out in the long run. I am disappointed by this beer.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 21, 2011
Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -17.4%

djrn2, Jan 10, 2012
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

zestar, Jul 19, 2014
Photo of spycow
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

spycow, Mar 09, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Churchkey.

Pours a ruby red with a bit of rust. Slight off white head that leaves a pretty good trail of lacing. Nose is a bit faint in that while there is a lot going on, it is almost too much and it was hard to discern individual elements. The taste helps clarify things quite a bit. While we had some drink confusion throughout the evening, this was plenty unique and easy to identify. Large quantities of Belgian yeast esters and a good amount of accompanying fruit. Some malt sweetness and also spice. Hop profile is pretty strong win nice citrus and pine notes. Medium feel is nice. Fairly drinkable but not one of my favorites of the evening.

Thorpe429, Oct 05, 2010
Photo of nmann08
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

nmann08, Apr 06, 2012
Photo of metter98
3.93/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a finger high beighe head that quickly died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface. The head also left lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of chocolate malts in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is malty and has some notes of chocolate and hints of vanilla.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied, smooth and thick on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer isn't overly difficult to drink because most of the alcohol is well masked from the taste.

metter98, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is how I remember great barleywines to be- deeply resiny, malty rich, and the beverage equivalent to a swift kick to the teeth.

The pour delivers a deep mohogany, dark amber hue but with an unexpected clarity for both intensely hoppy beers and Belgian-style ales. A froathy off-white cap tops the beer but succums to the alcohol and weight of the beer rather quickly, leaving a thin lace around the edge. Light on lacing, the beer displays brandy legging quite proudly.

Barleywine aromas dominate with the bullyish balance of intense malt sweetness and resiny hop perfumes to match. Alcohol and phenolic spice rise as the carbonation settles and the beer begins to warm. Fruitiness could be attributed to the normal procession of American barleywines ro could be a result of the new Belgian yeast. Regardless, the spicy/fruity Belgian notes are there but are cleaner than in more classic Belgian ales- more like those of Flying Dog Ragin' Bitch or Stone's own Cali-Belgique.

Flavors are much more intense than the nose suggests as the malt sweetness takes on proportions of scorched molasass, dry toast, and caramel-rich breads. Hop aggression soon matches the hops with a growing resiny flavor and sharp bitterness- grassy, piney, and acute grapefruit. In the interest of Belgian yeastiness, the beer adopts added, yet understated fruitiness, along with a peppery, medicinal (perhaps a little soapy) phenolic character that creates as many contradictory flavors as they do complimentary. The intense richness of malt and hop resins combine for a minerally, quite salty taste (with a somewhat metalic note).

Rich with a blend of expansive malt and unresolved syrups give sweetness and a fat mid-palate while leaving a savory stickiness on the mouth. Still, the tongue piercing bitterness create the sensation of dryness on the throat. Bitterness is to the extent that questions a grassy astringency. Alcoholic heat gives restrained yet solventy warmth without the fusal character that's expected from a 12% beer.

The mere intensity of hops with spice, alcohol, and deep malts shout complexity, even at the expense of causing difficulty in drinking, even for the most die hard beer advocate.

BEERchitect, Feb 23, 2011
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +10.2%

kjkinsey, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a very weird beer indeed, really not sure at all what to make of this one.

I was a touch disappointed by the look to be honest, as it was just a bit dull. Very hazy, golden yellow color came though immediately, but no head at all. Only the slightest broken crown around the edges and a good amount of carbonation streaking up were the only signs of life in this one, very strange occurrence indeed.

The aroma was very nice. Lots of yeast and coriander here. Almost a peppery like note bouncing around in there as well. Hints of grass, and honey as well as some light touches of wheat and lemon. The flavor was very peppery, with a pronounced zing on the tongue from the first sips. Nice and lively feel, which was good as I was afraid it was going to come off dull, but was pleasantly surprised. Coriander riddled throughout this one, which on its own, this would be an excellent Belgian ale, but with this added level of spice it just got that much better. Very dry finish, with the moisture zapped from the tongue and a nice bitter taste left behind to balance and play around. Not hardly a touch of alcohol in the flavor at all, though at 12% it definitely was felt by the end of the bottle. A very nice sipper, and light enough in feel and profile for even the hottest of days.

mikesgroove, May 22, 2011
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -17.4%

ygtbsm94, Mar 03, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

jaydoc, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of womencantsail
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Stone

A: The pour is a dark amber in color with a finger of off-white head and minimal lacing.

S: Wow, a lot of spice (coriander and pepper) going on here. Lots of phenols with a bit of bubblegum. Quite a bit of booze on the nose and it cannot really be covered up by the caramel and bread.

T: A surprising amount of fruit flavor: banana, pear, and citrus. Like the nose, plenty of spicy phenols. The malt is prominent and is mostly of bread and semi-sweet toffee. Noticeable alcohol flavor as well.

M: The body is medium to full with a moderate level of carbonation.

D: This is significantly better than the previous Belgian Old Guardian, but it's still way too boozy for its own good.

womencantsail, Feb 22, 2011
Photo of kylehay2004
3.4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single finger head with excellent lacing on a cloudy amber with a slight golden hue body. Lots of malts, caramel, candy sugar in both the aroma and the flavor. The flavor is fairly boozy though and very sweet. This upsets the smoothness and drinkability of the beer. The flavors are overwhelming and the alcohol content makes it worse. Body is medium with moderate carbonation. Overall the malts are over the top and the flavors produce contrasts that make the beer seem disorganized.

kylehay2004, Aug 21, 2012
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Reasonably clear, amber-gold body with a thinning, white head.

Smell: Very modest hints of caramel and bread underscoring the simple pale maltiness, a splash of hot orange liqueur, and the expectedly spicy notes from the new yeast strain.

Taste: Sweet and candyish on the first sip. Lightly bready pale malts, some hints of caramel, but they're mainly overridden by a cutting sugariness. Soft touches of clove as well as coriander. Cirusy hops, prominently featuring an orange-like flavor, with a firm bitterness. Like the original version, the alcohol really shines through. Dry, bitter finish with ample alcoholic warmth and some roundabout phenolic accents.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Some noted stickiness to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Truth be told, the Old Guardian barleywine was never at top of my favorite barleywines list, and was always one I generally considered to be merely OK. Dosing it with a Belgian strain, well, it's still OK, but now with a different yeast.

ChainGangGuy, Jan 31, 2011
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +10.2%

JAHMUR, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.28/5  rDev +17.9%
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.

NeroFiddled, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of Jason
3.23/5  rDev -11%
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.

Jason, Mar 06, 2011
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.72/5  rDev +30%
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.

WVbeergeek, Feb 25, 2011
Photo of Kegatron
3.1/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle into a couple of tulip glasses. 2011 Release. Drank in April, 2011.

Pours a clear coppery amber, with a near finger of off-white head. This maintains some rich edges, with a frothy flare-up that leaves thick foamy swathes of lacing behind. That Belgian yeast is right out there in the nose, with notes of soft fruit, earth, spice, and bubblegum. Hops move in next, with a strong citrus character, pine, and a floral feel that is then quickly replaced by more fruit and bubblegum flavors. The chewy smelling graininess of the malts is there but it mostly sits in the background. There’s a lot of fruit here in the nose. Too much in fact.

Those hops are bit bolder here in the taste, with green bitter grapefruit and sharp resins taking control. This is balanced on the edges by sweeter notes of caramel, maybe even some candied sugars, and tropical fruit. The finish is dry and piney, with a LOT of lingering spiciness. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a lively prickliness to the carbonation, before this works itself into more of a smooth oily slickness on the tongue. Like the regular Old Guardian, any heat from the ABV is well hid for the most part but the yeast addition does seem to draw out the alcohol a little more in this version.

I really couldn’t get into this one a whole lot. The yeast added extra fruit and sweetness to this that wasn’t really needed and the spice that it contributed covered up the warm alcohol spice that I really like in the original. It’s not a poorly made beer but the concept of a Belgian Barleywine, American hops or no, just wasn’t working for me.

Kegatron, Aug 18, 2011
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 release poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a murky medium brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, brown sugar, a good amount of hops and little fruit.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of brown sugar, caramel and fruit. Then a strong but not over-powering hops bitterness comes in. The malt character is hearty and there’s a faint hint of Belgian yeast creating a good balance. There’s also a little bit of an alcohol sting. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, this is a solid stronger beer to sip on for a while but I find the regular Old Guardian to be much better.

TheManiacalOne, Sep 28, 2012
Photo of RblWthACoz
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

RblWthACoz, Jan 24, 2013
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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 551 ratings.