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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2011 - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2011Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2011

Educational use only; do not reuse.

139 Reviews

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Reviews: 139
Hads: 348
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 15.51%
Wants: 9
Gots: 109 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: muttyd on 02-14-2011

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 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2011 Alström Bros
Reviews: 139 | Hads: 348
Photo of b3shine
3.37/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Draft to snifter. Probably the worst from Stone I've tried - but that's relative to Stone's upper-end craft brews. Just too intense and bitter for a barleywine. A little too liquidy, especially given the high alcohol content (which is overly apparent). I'd drink it again, but only if someone else ordered the round.

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Photo of perrymarcus
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle served in a snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours a cloudy, burnt amber tone yielding 3/4" tan colored head that dissipates fairly quickly; lacing in patches.

nose is malt heavy with notes of citrus, caramel, and some breadiness... a touch of hops in the background... alcohol is evident. decent aroma, nothing spectacular.

flavor likewise is okay. not the complete boozy mess i was expecting, although the alcohol presence is definitely a player. bready maltiness takes center stage with secondary notes of caramel and hops - the latter mostly in the finish. reasonably enjoyable barleywine though in my opinion there are much better renditions out there.

mouthfeel is solid. medium-full bodied with slightly above-average carbonation.

overall i'd say this is a middling BW, maybe slightly above that. booze could be more hidden and the hoppiness turned up a notch. not terrible by any means, just sort of one-dimentional.

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Photo of Phelps
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2011 edition, poured from a bomber into a tulip.

Cloudy burnt umber with a late-arriving one-finger head of medium tan that appears foamy, sticky and dense but disappears rather quickly. Some thick streaks of lace remain. 4

In the nose: caramel, toast, oven-roasted oranges. Nicely citrusy, but balanced by a hefty breadiness. It's pretty rich, with some alcohol and fermenting fruits noticeable. 4

Hmm. I can't taste much except alcohol here. There may be some aged citrus, a hint of caramel and bread but mostly it's booze, almost like orange-peel infused vodka. Caramel sweetness emerges more as it warms, but there's still that undeniable ethanol burn.

Redemption in the mouthfeel. The liquid's nicely velvety, smooth as it moves about. Body between medium and medium-heavy. Very light fizziness. Alcohol is mostly in flavor, as I don't feel it much on the way down. Kind of backwards.

Overall, too much booze in the flavor. I would've liked a little more barley and a little less wine. Hopefully a year in a dark corner will tone down my second bottle.

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Photo of diamondc
2.38/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2011 Vintage.

A: Looks decent. A bronze/copper shade. Not much head here. A small wisp of foam.

S: Pine, caramel, charcoal, hot nuts, nail polish.

T: Insanely boozy. Reminds me of prescription cough medicine. Sticky, syrupy sugary malts. Over the top bitter hops. I'm scared of going for another sip.

M: Gets a little bit more palatable when warming up. Still way too hot to drink now. If you're brave, buy one now and drink it in 2-3 years.

O: A rare letdown from Stone, who's beers I usually love for going to extremes, but here its just a mess.

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Photo of notyourdadsbeer
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into snifter at Euclid Hall.

A: Burnt Amber to Sienna with haziness brown hue. Unfiltered with a very nice thick head. Solid lacing but fades moderately fast.

S: Really complex off the bat. Hints of sweetness and sugar mixed with high california piney hops. I would have liked more sweetness off the nose being a barley but this is Stone so understandable that hops are the key ingredient. Thick malt back up the hops.

T: Minor sweetness up front but clean. I would have prefered more sweetness, not cloying, but just a touch more being a barley. Mid palate is clean and the beer finishes dry. The hops aren't a torpedo on this one, instead they creep into your senses from the back of your palate. Very hoppy but not a hop bomb; this one is a sneeker.

M: This is a very heavy beer. They used a lot of malt to really back up the hop profile so it weighs heavy on the palate. Almost a meal in fact. Entire palate is coated cleanly and the hops on the finish completely take over the palate with a bittering affect.

D: Overall I think it's a pretty good barley wine. I would have prefered a lot more sweetness up front and perhaps even more hop aroma as well as bittering in the beer. It seemed pretty mellow for Stone. I know they didn't dry hop this years batch (2011) but maybe they should have.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a slow to emerge 2" head which dissipated to 1/8". Appears a lovely hazy rustic auburn color. Smells like an IPA with citrus and caramel. Flavor is very strong and sweet, almost bourbon-barrel aged vanilla malt and strength (though it's not a bourbon beer), and it has a definite burn from the 12% alcohol. Luckily I really like that style of beer, but I understand for a few reviewers why it comes across too hot. Personally I thought there was plenty of richness and complexity to the barleywine itself, and my only real complaint is the long bitter finish which whipes the other flavors off the palette after a moment.

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Photo of surprenant1138
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Hazy, murky, dark amber pour leaving almost no head. Slight lacing. Smell is lightly earthy, nutty, with some maple syrupy hints. The hoppy taste is there, but moreso after the swallow. It is then that the rich malty flavors rise. Mouthfeel is light, not too heavy. This tasty barleywine is not my favorite, but it certainly keeps me content.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.66/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Deep deep red, about as dark as one can safely call amber. Thick head retains at a quarter finger's width and leaves lots of sticky lacing.
S- Resinous hops, citric, and actually much maltier than I would have expected out of a Stone Barleywine. Not terrible smelling, just... unexpected.
T- Caramel malts up front, long resinous hop finish. A bit of citric flavor but pine resin is really the big hop presence. Much boozier than I would like as well. Dark fruit, something like I would imagine an unsweet pomegranite would taste like is also in there.
M- Pretty syrupy, definitely needs a bit more carbonation. Good body to it though.
O- (Still used to putting a d there...) A bit boozy and not as hoppy as I was hoping considering both style and brewery. Alas, I would still drink it again, even if it is more boozy, syrupy, and not as hoppy as I would have it.

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Photo of JLeege
3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter

Appearance- Pours a bright copper color with a creamy one finger head. Good retention and lace for such a big beer.

Smell- Lots of caramel and toffee. Some piney resin and lots of citrus.

Taste- Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, dark fruits up front. Dried raison with some light cinnamon like spice. Resinous pine, leading into a bitter citrus finish. Lots of orange, lemon, grapefruit towards the back end. Boozy heat on the finish too.

Mouthfeel- Full body, medium to low carbonation. Sticky and coating. It is "hot", you can definitely tell its 12%.

Overall- Now that I finally like barleywines, I can say this is a very average one. Lots of flavors going on, but nothing to pronounced or super complex. It is a fresh bottle, but there is a lot of heat in this one.

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Photo of SirRuss
2.61/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Hazy honeyed ruby brown body, with a respectably sized beige-stained head. Good retention and lacing.

S: The intensity is satisfactory, but the content is uninteresting - a crude expression of barley, and very light background hops.

T: Irritated inbred yokels spring to mind as something so simple spirals into a crass creation. Simplicity alone is by no means detrimental, and the soft caramel of the forepalate is indeed a pleasant example of this. Even the transition into the midpalate isn't bad, and the heavier malt notes begin to appear in an interesting approach. Unfortunately they just don't know when to stop, and from here it's all downhill. The malts seem to regress into an almost wort-like state, with a pungent wet breadiness burying the potential with which the forepalate had flirted just moments earlier. The pungency descends into a sticky mess, which is then accompanied by a brutishly bitter hop profile reminiscent of childhood dares to eat each others earwax (try not to judge).

M: A bit hot to say the least. On the up side, it does present some pretty good carbonation, although no amount of carbonation could seriously tackle the sickly sweet wet breadiness - then again, let's not dwell.

O - It seems that this one needs a few years to settle down into something more sophisticated. A few years in solitary will never produce mind blowing complexity, but it may well create a solid specimen of barley expression. Here's to looking forward to Older Guardian.

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Photo of Auracom
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Poor Phil's on March 15th, 2011.

A - Dark amber/golden? (poor lighting at the bar). One finger, white, foamy head. So-so appearance.

S - Caramel/Toffee dominates the nose with a slight bitter undertone. Also spice (cinnamon) and citrus (orange mostly).

T - What you smell is what you get. Big malt nose = big malt flavor. The citrus is more apparent. Hops *try* to balance but they feel pretty subdued.

M - Medium body, alright carbonation.

D - The ABV is really well-hidden, could have a few easily in one sitting on that alone. Not sure it did much for my palate, but it wasn't really bad in any respect. Since I'm more of a malt guy I appreciate this in comparison to the standard fair that I've had from Stone before.

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Photo of CuttDeez
3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - This bomber poured into a tulip was brown with amber notes in the light and a kahiki tan beautiful head with lace.
S - Pine hops, roasted caramel, dark fruits, and notes of bitter citrus. There is also a distinct alchohol burn in the nose's back end.
T & M & D - Caramel sweetness is obvious. Then comes a hop that overwhelms the taste buds and dominates. It finishes slightly bitter and then the high alchohol warms and covers. I also can pick up grain as the beer warms a little more making the beer slightly bready and chewy.

I was disapointed in the dominance of hops that seem to mask hidden flavors that were alluded to in the nose. I believe if this was aged a bit those subtle flavors would shine through making the beer much more palate friendly and complex. I picked up an extra bomber to try in the future.


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Photo of jayhawk73
4.23/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful copper color w/ a perfect two finger caramel head. Lots of carbonation as well. Very nice in the looks department. Smell is of alcohol drenched fruit, malt, and hops. Not bad, but I'd like a tad less alcohol in the nose. Taste is along the same lines- fruit, spice, alcohol, malt, hops. I really enjoy the taste of this beer. The alcohol might be on the hot side, but at 12% ABV, that's fine. I'm really surprised this beer doesn't rate higher. Maybe I got a good one. This is the 2011 vintage. Finish is very hop-sided, but smooth. Really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of Trilogy31
1.56/5  rDev -58.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Maybe one of the the worst beers i have ever had. I cant knock it on the appearance but on the nose it is very muted with nothing coming through. The taste is some malts and hops as well, but it is ridiculously hot with a pronounced well vodka taste. Not a good trait in alcohol much less a beer. Love double bastard and stone in general and will even give this beer a chance 2-3 years down the road hoping it mellows a bit. All in all a complete atrocity.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.46/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a snifter glass. The 'standard' 2011 Old Guardian pours similar to the Belgo version, that being a bright and clear caramel brown with a lingering film of swirly lace.

Nose is much more traditional with caramel and lightly candied fruit, a touch of alcohol and brown sugar. Bit light overall. Taste is of well muddled malts and a bit of spice thrown into the mixture. I'm not picking up any overbearing hops as others seem to mention yet there is just enough zest and bitterness to yield a smooth and creamy feel. Touch of citrus oil on the finish.

Overall a nice brew and quite well constructed given the balance. ABV is reasonably masked and yet not too malty sweet either. Somewhat subdued and unexciting at the same time. Flavor profile doesn't encourage cellaring.

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Photo of tbern007
2.76/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear copper. Very thick head, remains for a while.
S - hops, pine, orange citrus, smells like I'm about to have an IPA but you can smell the alcohol on top of it.
T - Starts like sweet orange, moves directly and quickly into bitterness, hops, finishes dry. Very bitter and extreme west coast hops.
M & D - not well balanced. I've had barleywines before and this is taken to an extreme with the hops. Alcohol is noticeable in the flavor. Feels syrupy.

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Photo of MetalHopHead6
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stone Old Guardian is earthy, thick, and long-lasting.

It poured a very nice dark copper with ruby highlights. It had little-to-no head but left a ton of lace. The smell and flavor had a great deal of complexity, with a dark fruit sweetness, followed by an earthy, grassy middle, and a salty roasted nut finish. A slightly unpleasant metallic aftertaste lingered. The feel was thick, full, and bitter, with a dry finish and very long-lasting.

Old Guardian has a beautiful dark color and a nice balance of sweet and bitter flavor with an extreme bitter feel and an aftertast that begs for a water chaser.

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a westmalle chalice a deep amber with a 1/4" head that disapated rather quickly. The nose has some carmel with leather hints.

Being a fresh barleywine, this has a supprising hop bite to it. (Is it just me or has there become a new style in barleywines lately with a little too much hops?) The basic barleywine taste I'm accustom to is there, but the hops kick you in the butt and make you forget what you're drinking. The high alcohol burn takes away from the mouthfeel and causes a little pucker. This is one that needs some aging.

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Photo of broken22
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

So lets get to it. Pouring this beer out you are greeted with a nice dark honey color. A nice head formed during the pour and dissipated quickly. The smell is a sharp hop and a sweet almost fruity smell. The taste is very much the same except the hops bite a lot more. There is a lingering bitterness to this beer on the back end. The flavor is reminding me a little of Arrogant Bastard. As I progress though the beer the hops take a back seat so the subtle sweetness I smelled starts to come though. So this beer is definitely a flavor changer on the palate. The overall mouth feel is very much a full bodied beer with a decent amount of carbonation.

Overall it's a decent beer and very much a Stone Brewery flavor. If your into their stuff and you like a kick in the mouth check this out. I don't think this beer is for everyone much like the Arrogant Bastard but you should still try it because you never know...

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Photo of northaustin
4.6/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a lovely ruby, that is somewhat hazy. a finger of even, light almond head with nice retention and minimal spotty lacing.

smell: super fresh. there is a war going on between the hops, malt and alcohol armies. lets say its the year 1969. the malt flavor is the south vietnamese, the hop flavor is the north vietnamese and the alchohol is like america: once a brute force, that is slowly getting defeated and will soon diminish and leave the others to settle it. or is it more like a yummy world war 3 in my mouth?

taste: big fat honking man meat slaps you in the grill with west coast hops. youre getting dp'ed by flavor, you look up, only to be showered in the juices of brewing success!!
but seriously, this blend of light caramel flavored malts, classic west coast citrus hop varieties and subtle alcohol makes my day, and rivals almost all other barleywines i have tried to date.

mouthfeel: god.

drinkability: satan.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.28/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Extremely clear pour into a snifter with a fast disappearing head. Head was a faint off white color and tight bubbles. Gorgeous red hued very clear and transparent body

On the nose is sea salts and yeast, and a small blast of mild sushi style soy sauce. This might be off putting for some but I actually like this smell. Hints of warming alcohol.

Taste unfortunately is very lacking. Cough syrup sensation borderline medicinal, but it has also a tea tannic quality too it as well, perhaps rosehip. Mouthfeel is not too bad but still a bit wet, and the finish is really missing. Not even boozy tasting and a very front forward palate. Unfortunately the cough syrup Halls like bent is too prominent for me on this so I can't make this better than average.

Not sure if this improves with age, but this does not feel like a barleywine I want to be consuming right now. There's certainly better ones you can have than this at this time.

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Photo of Arbitrator
1.39/5  rDev -62.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

2011 vintage, lightly chilled bottle into a glass.

A: Pours a dark amber body with great clarity. It is capped with a beige-colored head that vanishes quickly into a big-bubbled collar and beads of film on top of the beer.

S: Whoa. This is surprisingly, and off-puttingly, malty. I enjoyed fresh Old Guardian last year, so I picked this up right when it was released, hoping to capture the same vibrant hop freshness in this year's version. Alas, no. Up-front aromas of toffee, molasses, and caramel. Hops are *secondary* (I never thought I'd say this about a Stone beer in a non-hop-shortage year), producing a floral, roselike aroma with citric qualities.

T: Multi-grain bread, caramel, molasses, toffee. Some dark fruit notes that are intertwined with floral hop flavors. The citrus I picked up in the nose is absolutely buried here. An incredibly simplistic, imbalanced flavor that delivers none of the delicious hop freshness I expected from this beer.

M: Boozy, syrupy, and thick. The carbonation seems to be similar to years past, and the booziness is sort of what I'd expect from a big beer this fresh, but the syrupiness detracts a lot, here.

D: I drainpoured about 17oz. Looks like I'll be waiting until 2012 to buy more of the "classic" recipe. Between this, 14th Anniversary, and 101010, Stone has been having a lot of misses lately.

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Photo of steelerguy
3.23/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Deep amber, thin head that hangs around for a bit, low carbonation, nice looking barleywine.

S - Good bit of hop aroma, along with some sweet caramel malt, the alcohol comes through but in a somewhat astringent way.

T - Big malt backbone, nice hop bitterness, and a big smack in the face of alcohol that does not come on in a smooth way.

M - Moderate body, but actually pretty thin feeling for a barleywine.

D - A 22 oz. bottle is about all I could drink in one sitting and I think all I ever need to drink from the 2011 batch.

Overall...Stone...WTF??? This was way below par.

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Photo of mryuk
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours unfiltered with a very nice small bubbly head that dissipates quickly.

smell is sweet with piny hops but certainly not overpowering.

the taste slaps you in the face given how subtle the smell is. tons of flavor and excellent bitterness.

mouth is medium bodied with good carbonation.

I enjoyed this beer. definitely going to let a few bottles age in the cellar and see what happens. could be great with age.

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Photo of katan
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a goblet

A - Pours an almost blood red color - deep dark amber for sure. Head formation is strong, 1/4" down to a film. Very clear, very filtered.

S - Potent nose - lots of caramel malts and a backdrop of hops and associated bitterness.

T - Starts off lightly sweet, some caramel malts. Mid-stream gets very strong very quickly - edgy - lots of bitterness. Alcohol warmth comes in heavily. Finishes with a grainy bite along with a big bomb of bitterness.

M - Moderate body, at times clingy and sugary. Carbonation is moderate - doesn't do enough to lighten the body. Aftertaste is boatloads of alcohol warmth and bitterness.

D - somewhat harsh to the palette - west coast american barleywine for sure. abv is pretty strong.

This beer probably would have registered as an "in your face" barleywine and I probably would have liked it - but the belgo version comparison really has shown me an interesting balance to the style. I guess I probably prefer one that isn't so potent. I should age one of these for comparison.

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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2011 from Stone Brewing Co.
84 out of 100 based on 139 ratings.