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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

541 Ratings
THE BROS
74
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 541
Reviews: 298
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 16.76%
Wants: 18
Gots: 95 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-07-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine Alström Bros
Ratings: 541 | Reviews: 298 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.72/5  rDev +29.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2011 19:43:34 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of Kegatron
Kegatron

Pennsylvania

3.1/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2011 18:41:09 | More by Kegatron
Photo of WesWes
WesWes

New York

3.2/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours a dark amber, almost orangish color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry, yet fruity scent that boasts of burnt toffee and yeast esters. It's alcohol ridden with a charred wood character to it. The taste is decent as well. It has a thin burnt toffee favor along with loads of yeast character and a warming finish. Again, it tastes like charred wood that's soaked in liquor. It goes down slow and warm with yeasty/burnt finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I applaud the concept, but the end result isn't that attractive. I won't be seeking this one again.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2011 15:22:02 | More by WesWes
Photo of Mora2000
Mora2000

Texas

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.

Serving type: on-tap

04-24-2011 04:32:50 | More by Mora2000
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

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

Sampled on tap at 1702; March 2011
The beer arrives with a half-finger thick, pale amber tinged head that sits on top of a rich, amber hued beer that shows clear with gold tinges around the edges when held up to the light. A bright berry aroma is backed by notes of candied citrus zest (tangelo and grapefruit being the most noticeable). There is a solid, toasted and caramelized malt character that adds some depth and savoriness to the nose.

The beer has a chewy texture to it, though it is not overly heavy, but it is definitely a sipping beer. Bitter herbal hop flavors try and temper the rich, caramelized malt character that is in this beer. The hint has a touch of coffee-like flavor to it as well as a toasted, whole grain character; though it doesn’t really get roasted. The finish can also have some hot alcohol warming to it at times. Big caramelized hop notes have lots of citrus flavors as well as a softer berry like note and there is also some herbal / menthol like hop contributions here. This is somewhat sweet up front, but it is not nearly as sweet as the nose would have suggested. The hop notes that are herbal and bitter quickly dries this beer out, though it remains chewy and sipping beer throughout. An earthy spiciness with notes of clove, and a definite phenolic character in the finish is noticeable from the yeast. This is enjoyable, but for some reason doesn’t quite seem to be doing it for me.

Serving type: on-tap

08-01-2011 14:42:15 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of mactrail
mactrail

Washington

2.78/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Orange and coppery amber in the Saxo tulip. Smells like brettanomyces and butterscotch. Head flattens out before too long. Only a few stray bubbles enliven the appearance.

Truly peculiar. So hot with alcohol, it's like some kind of salsa. The bitter burn also kicks in making this tough going after a few sips. Very woody, and the bitterness makes it taste like something charred and doused with red wine. Fain vinegar hints. Sugar seems to have been eaten, though there is some lingering candy flavors. The Belgian yeasty taste is nice for a while, but it gets lost in the sourish, spoiled fruit flavors.

I wish Stone would get over the need to overdose so many beers with hops. This is so bitter after a while it is just undrinkable. From the 2011 batch in 22 oz bottle.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2012 06:35:33 | More by mactrail
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

4.33/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours amber with a medium white head, frothy, good lace.

S: Yeasty, leather, pepper, the Belgain character is overt and inviting.

T: Strong crystal malt flavour overall. The yeast is heavy and truly dominates the beer in a good way. Heavy leather, mushroom and bacon fat with a hint of funkiness, intense and flavourful.

M: Full-bodied, resiny but smooth, easy carbonation.

D: A really good take on the classic Old Guardian. Well worth a pickup, I loved this.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2011 04:42:16 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

4/5  rDev +9.9%

07-03-2014 22:10:42 | More by GClarkage
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this bottle up yesterday and am curious how it stands up to the standard version.

Pours a dark golden orange/amber color with golden blood orange hues when held to a light and a one finger frothy yellowish-beige head. Decent retention, quickly settling into a thick lasting ring that leaves sporadic streaks and spots of lace behind.

Earthy aroma with hints of floral, pine and citrus hops countered by a sweet, slightly leathery malt presence. There's also some boozy sweetness in the nose with hints of light fruit and bubblegum. The citrus rind presence from the hops are nicely complimented by the sweeter bubblegum and fruit notes. The malt becomes more prominent as it warms with caramel, toffee and biscuit. Very interesting and complex smelling. Not as boozy and/or earthy as I expected. I'm really curious to see how the nose will develop with some age.

Full bodied, complex and well balanced with a blast of fresh, dank, oily hops up front that linger throughout over the sweet malt, booze and sweet Belgian yeast notes into a slight dry finish. Nice and dry/bitter up front with hints of floral pine needle countered by sweet citrus fruit flavor, notably pineapple, grapefruit and orange peel. This is quickly countered mid-palate by some subtle boozy heat, sweet malt and Belgian yeast character. The malt is only slightly leathery with hints of caramel, rye, toffee, biscuit and hazelnut. Toward the end of the swallow, the Belgian yeast flavors make an appearance giving off hints of light fruit and subtle bubblegum. I'm picking up some apricot and apple which blend really nicely with the sweet malt flavor and booze.

The ABV is excellently masked with only slight alcohol flavor and subtle warmth in the finish. This beer is dangerously drinkable making it hard to believe that it's 12%. Much smoother and more quaffable than most barleywines with less of an earthy, boozy feel and flavor. The combination of flavors make it extremely complex and unlike most beers I've had in the style. I was a little skeptical of this one but I really enjoyed it. Highly recommended!

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2011 07:48:22 | More by corby112
Photo of imperialking
imperialking

Illinois

3.75/5  rDev +3%

07-03-2012 16:10:26 | More by imperialking
Photo of MarkyMOD
MarkyMOD

Colorado

4/5  rDev +9.9%

04-05-2012 06:23:51 | More by MarkyMOD
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured a copper color with good carbonation leaving a nice white cap

S: Fruits, bubblegum and caramel is what I got

T: Immediate bubblegum hint, some candy sugar, caramelized sugar, hints of fruits and caramel

M: Sticky, warm with a nice hop bite, thinner bodied than I expected or wanted

D: Its on the verge of average. I would not want another or go back to this. Maybe in a year or two I would give this another shot.

Serving type: on-tap

03-03-2011 14:29:24 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of akorsak
akorsak

Pennsylvania

2.68/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A bomber bottle.

A: The barleywine has the right look, a coppery amber color, barely transparent, with a thick head. That head reached nearly three fingers and dries in clumps.

S: That's an unusual nose. Candi sugars drive a hard bargain, sweet with a pear and apple sweetness. Plenty of thick malts are amidst the yeast, as is a syrupy shot of anise. LaChouffe with an excess of malts.

T: Too much anise, so much that it easily cuts through the Belgian yeast. And that yeast is pretty damned formidable. Barleywine flavors are lurking below the surface, strong and thick, they just don't have much of a shot at making it through. So cloyingly sweet that I can't stomach the beer. A noble experiment; but so was New Coke.

M: Sweet, the Belgian yeast strain carries its weight and then some. Not your mother's Old Guardian; and if you love her, don't introduce it to her.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2011 21:16:11 | More by akorsak
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

4.5/5  rDev +23.6%
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...

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2011 02:50:37 | More by Billolick
Photo of oriolesfan4
oriolesfan4

Maryland

3.35/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bomber of this for $5.99 at my local store. Pours a cloudy orange/brown, very little head or carbonation to it. Strong alcohol aroma.. pretty much expected from a 12% ABV. Taste is medium bodied, and first thing noticed is the sweetness. Overly sweet, almost mouth puckering. Some dark fruit almost shines through, slight alcohol burn is in there too. For a 12% ABV, it's smoother than I thought it would be, but it's definitely sweet and isn't the most drinkable beer... going to be hard to finish the bomber in one night. A slightly above average barleywine I'd say, but I've had much better.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2011 22:36:24 | More by oriolesfan4
Photo of Zorro
Zorro

California

3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear reddish orange colored beer with a small tan colored head.

Smell is distinctly Belgian. Sweet smoky with a spicy yeast aroma this smells strongly of cardamom. Scents of lemon, coriander and black pepper.

Starts out sweet with a cardamom aftertaste. Black pepper, lemon, coriander and a hint of vinegar. Can't taste the ethanol but you can really feel it warm your chest. Smoke and a little honeysuckle in this on.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Drinkability is OK. This one really needs time to develop, not yet ready for prime time.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2011 02:24:01 | More by Zorro
Photo of orangesol
orangesol

Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev +3%

01-20-2013 18:50:38 | More by orangesol
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

4.18/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Huh, I'm surprised by all the lukewarm reviews- I like this beer, and it's exactly as advertised- tastes like a blend of a Belgian IPA and Old Guardian barleywine. As such, it pours a reddish copper with a light head. Nice malty, vinous, sweet base with some dry, crisp hops on top and a touch of yeasty Belgian-style twang in the nose. The taste is more robust, with a nice marriage of big, spicy hops with a long bitter finish and a big malty and vinous middle with a touch of slight sour in the finish just before the bitterness overwhelms it. I really like the interplay here, and although it's a big chewy beer in the mouth with a long finish, the alcohol is fairly subdued for such a high abv brew. I'll definitely grab a few more of these.
Personally, I don't get a phenolic character at all, nor alcoholic heat, and on top of that, my bottle seems fairly integrated. Perhaps some bottles are a little off?

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2011 23:59:46 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

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

Old Guardian Belgo

Ontap, pours a clear mahogony and a small off white head. In the aroma, candied fruits, yeast and booze. Tastes almost like a belgian quad, big time maltyness, fruit notes, alcohol also checks in. Toffee, cherry, kiss of piney hops rounding it out. A nice big beer and the belgian yeast really made things interesting. Would have it again.

Serving type: on-tap

03-14-2011 16:23:00 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of BillRoth
BillRoth

Maryland

3.75/5  rDev +3%

12-08-2013 05:12:32 | More by BillRoth
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

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
Photo of brandoman63
brandoman63

Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +30.5%

11-20-2011 03:34:17 | More by brandoman63
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

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

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2011 vintage. Pours clear red orange color with a dense 1 finger light orange head with good retention that reduces to a thin lacing cap that lasts. Not much lacing left on the glass. Aromas of dark fruits, spices, caramel, citrus, and sweet malt. Definitely some interesting aromas. Taste of sweet caramel, spice, honey, molasses, and fruitiness. Decent amount of bitterness noticed on the finish, but mostly a lot of lingering flavors of caramel, molasses, fruitiness, and some citrus. Very smooth drinking for 12% as well, still quite a sipper though. Medium carbonation and full bodied. No alcohol in the taste and a fairly large warming on the finish. Overall, a very nice barleywine with Belgian characteristics. Tasty stuff!

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2011 03:46:41 | More by superspak
Photo of rab53
rab53

Washington

3/5  rDev -17.6%

12-09-2011 04:19:40 | More by rab53
Photo of beerthulhu
beerthulhu

New Jersey

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

A: Soft caramel-cola pour while exiting the glass becomes a dirty apple skin coloring within the glass. A lightly dense and slow paced effervesce rises within a translucent body. Spongey light tan head is atop but lapses rather quickly leaving a clean window dressing.

S: The aroma speaks of boozy soaked apples, pears, and sweet caramel grains. One part sweet, one part fruity, with a light recognition of the Belgian yeast being noted.

T: The flavor brings out more of the yeast character then the nose led on. Pears, fresh fruit, apples all with a rather clean delivery. Sweet speciality grain with a fruity and boozy alcohol warmth is felt not only in the mouth, but going down and in the belly there-after. The flavor is not what I expected from a typical barleywine, the addition of the Belgian yeast did add a new twist or spin but really takes away more then it gives in the end. Sweet, slightly malty and fruity tones come on the close along with a woodsy and piney hopping.

M: medium base, perhaps a bit lighter then one would like from a big barley as it tends to weaken a bit on longer holds. Warming with a sweet and fruity malting aided by a gentle carbonation.

D: Drinkability provides a fruity warming and alcohol tones going down that stays with you a bit after. Traditional slow sipper per style, but really holds little surprise and weakens with interest deeper into a bomber serving. Drinks better slightly chilled rather then warmer, as I generally like my barleys at a moderate warm temp most of the time. Probably wont repurchase but interesting enough to warrant a try.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2011 23:34:41 | More by beerthulhu
Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 541 ratings.