Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

301 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 301
Hads: 570
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 22.59%
Wants: 16
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine Alström Bros
Reviews: 301 | Hads: 570
Photo of smakawhat
3.44/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on tap into a snifter at ChurchKey as part of a group tasting.

A ruby cherry red and clear bodied color, really dig this body color. Light off caramel head with some stickiness and good lacing.

Nose is kind of closed, but a small sense of mild cinnamon. Very muted with perhaps some small cherry fruit. Not really dynamic or exciting.

Taste is malt mostly and quick sharp alcohol even for a barleywine, but just tolerable enough on the palate. Estery fruit sense with a novocaine numbing finish and sharp bitter probably from hop stinging.

Kind of odd but not too bad. Sort of a mixture of good and bad overall for a barleywine.

 640 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.43/5  rDev +22%
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...

 651 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.31/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

650 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. 2011 bottle.

Appearance - Pours a deep burnt orange with a small off-white head. A little bit murky.

Smell - Smells like honey. Really. Exactly like honey. Fruity. Apples. Fascinating.

Taste - No honey here. Slightly sweet up front. Fruity, like the aroma. Apples. Immediately caramelly and then a strong hop bitterness. Astringent in the back. Hot, too.

Mouthfeel - It's hot, but not that bad. Well carbonated. Sweet without being syrupy.

Overall - The reviews make this sound like it's going to be awful. It's a rough beer, but its flavors are just a bit better than average.

 623 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 1,429 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.16/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

If you've ever wonder how yeast can make or break a beer, try OG then OG Belgo. There you have it; at least the influence of those little bugs.

Pours a nice dark copper, somewhat clear beer. Topped with a soft white foaming head that dwindled to a collar.

Aroma. yeast. Yup, that Belgian kind. Some caramel and light sweet bread underneath. But for the most part it's a mess of coriander, spice and some esters.

Flavor; see aroma. Same. It's not that it's a bad combo, or a bad beer. It's just that it takes away from what the OG has established. I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or indifferent. Probably neither. The caramel and rich notes of the OG are lost here, overpowered by the yeast, which opens the door for the abv to punch ya

 741 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4.32/5  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.

 489 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.73/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 359 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a tulip, this beer pours a hazy, dark copper-red coloring with a decent one inch foamy, off-white head. Aromas are bountiful, with spices and citrus fruit characteristics. Also, some meaty notes in the smells. The beer is creamy and bold bodied, carrying a slightly sour malt flavor, with peppery and nutmeg spices, and citrus highlights. Dark fruit flavors reveal themselves as the beer has time to warm and expand in the glass. Sour notes carry into the aftertaste, and the finish is light, but it lingers longer in mouth. Higher ABV and stronger flavors make this a sipper, especially when served at the proper temperatures. Good dessert brew.

 672 characters

Photo of liamt07
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Jason, 22oz in to a tulip. 2011 vintage.

Poured an opaque ruby-brown, with a cream coloured head that's quite transient. Thin collar and a thin layer of head retain. Nose has Belgian yeast qualities right off the bar, spicy hops, citrus zest and rind notes, less caramel malt notes than you'd anticipate from a barleywine. A substantial amount of sharp lemon character came through as this warmed. Taste has thick malt and bready notes with a signature Stone hop assault, in both flavour and bitterness. Yeasty finish and alot of fruity notes derived from the yeast and hops it appears. Full body, spicy and bitter finish. Boozy, medium effervescence. Rich and interesting, but just a little too much going on to make this worthwhile again. Certainly good to split with others.

 796 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
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?

 913 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

 532 characters

Photo of HopHead84
3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


On tap at Stone Winter Storm 2011.

A: Reddish orange with a big beige head.

S: Decidedly Belgian, with faint coriander and a lot of bubblegum. Old Guardian lurks beneath: toffee, grapefruit, orange, and pine, with a little candied sugar.

T: Grapefruit, orange, and a little pine. Belgian yeast is pronounced. Spicy phenols are evident, reminiscent of white pepper and clove. I detect some coriander.

M: Upper medium in body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is sticky

Overall: Not bad, though the regular version is better.

 545 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

 1,854 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ The Deli in State College, PA.

A - Medium amber colour with a half finger of off-white head.

S - Caramel, Belgian yeast, brown sugar, some dark fruit.

T - Brown sugar, Belgian yeast, cloves, caramel, sweet candy.

M - Medium body. Light to moderate carbonation.

 277 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up at the COOP over the weekend... Poured into my Delerium goblet... 3/4" tannish foam dies pretty quickly but leaves okay lacing... the brew is a hazed orangish lite amber.

Nose shows nice clove notes and some pink bubblegum... some citrus hops show as lemon zest..

Flavor is damn phenolic... the bubblegum is more than present and lingers.. the cloves show as an almost antiseptic quality.. fruity esters make way mid palate with pear and red apple.. a bit of pale malt and minor toasty malt combine with fruity hops just to remind you this is made in America.. I dig this one, but right now it doesn't really come together.... the esters and phenols sorta battle it out for top spot while fruity hops slide in and add more to the overall confusion..

Not really sure what to make of this one; personally, I like it... but I still have more than half a bomber left and I suspect it is going to be a chore.


 933 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

 427 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 2/2011 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a clear medium red-orange amber. Minimal head and slight lacing. Sweet malt and tropical fruit aroma with a slight sourness. Sweet malt up front blending into Belgian spicing, cloves and cardamom, finishes with an astringent bitterness. Nice start, but not so great finish. Medium bodied. I'll cellar one to see if this finish mellows out.

 410 characters

Photo of akorsak
2.71/5  rDev -25.3%
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.

 874 characters

Photo of corby112
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
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!

 2,098 characters

Photo of Evil_Pidde
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark warm amber with a medium-large off-white head that sinks into decent lacings.

S: Sweetness glaore, just what you could expect. Then there's some fruit; red apples and oranges. Yeasty, and alcoholic.

T: Syrupy sweetness, caramell malt, a bit roasted. Lots and lots of fruit; apples, oranges, grapefruit. Some modest belgian yeast. Alcoholic.

M: Carbonation is held way back while body is full and syrupy sticky. Lots of warming alcohol. Aftertaste is as always, short and sweet.

O: This is a nice Barleywine, surprisingly rich in hops. But a barleywine is usually better after a couple of years (if properly cellared), and then the hops will have "died" - and the beer will be better in every aspect. Damn, I only bought this one bottle...

 757 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

 1,600 characters

Photo of beertunes
3.93/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in fluted tulip. Poured a clean, clear, reddish mahogany with 1/2 inch of head that had low retention and OK lacing.

The aroma was on the sweet side, was malty and had a slight fruit aspect floating behind the yeast perfume. The taste started out the same but was noticeably fruitier than the aroma. The beer was sweet and had a definite alcohol flavor.

The body was good, but was noticeably lighter than I look for in the style. Drinkability was very good, the two I had went down very easy and I look for having more.

Overall, a pretty good beer. I was expecting a trainwreck and it wasn't. Certainly worth trying when you see it.

 642 characters

Photo of Derek
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy copper with an off-white head, very little retention but it leaves some leg/lace.

Aroma of marmalade, candied papaya, mango, toffee and cloves.

Candied papaya, mango, marmalade, toffee, nut, clove with a hint of spice. Strong, resiny bitterness with a light alcohol warmth.

Light residual sweetness with a slightly drying alcohol finish. Carbonation is nicely between a barley wine and a belgian.

A good drinker and nicely crafted. I'd use a yeast with less clove character though.

 490 characters

Photo of DrJay
2.49/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Looks great. Clear reddish colour with some orange highlights topped by a large, dense beige cap. Great head retention, especially for a barleywine at this abv, clumpy lacing. The aroma was heavy on the "Belgo" - peppery and phenolic, heading into band-aid territory, bready, alcohol, pears and apples. Fruity and sugary up front, slowly faded into bitterness and booze. A bit peppery on the finish, slightly phenolic, lots of alcohol warmth. Hop character was herbal and bitterness somewhat harsh. It left a bitter, medicinal aftertaste lingering long after each sip. The texture was alright, until the booze and spice kicked in and obliterated all other flavours. I'm not sold on this Belgo thing, it seems to just muddy the beer's character. And be warned, this one is a palate shredder. Maybe some time in the cellar would do it some good.

 843 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.28/5  rDev -9.6%
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

 714 characters

Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 301 ratings.