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Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style AleOld Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

255 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 255
Hads: 1,884
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 31.17%
Wants: 70
Gots: 488 | FT: 33
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: smerrell on 02-18-2012

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 Barley Wine Style Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 255 | Hads: 1,884
Photo of craftbeersweden
4.63/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hazy, copper beer with a biege-yellow big head that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

Nose: Caramel, cream, milk, orange, butter, banana, syrup, hops, malt and grass.
Taste: Burned malt, coffee, burned christmas candy, dark syrup, grapefruitcest and orange.
Body: Medium to full body. Oily. Little carbonation.

WTF! This is sooo good! I just love Stone! How the h*** do they always deliver?

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Photo of QuantumPint
4.62/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Release from a bomber. Poured into CCB snifter.

A: Pours a hazy, deep amber. Thin head which dissipates quickly.

S: Smells like bread pudding. Raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg reign.

T: Again bread pudding and the aforementioned ingredients. Boozy late and on the finish.

M: Still comfortably crisp, with enough carbonation to give it a pleasant feel. Finish is surprisingly dry.

O: Solid brew. I would definitely drink this again. I'd love to try it with a bit less than 4 years on it.

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Photo of MrJolly
4.58/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Color is slightly hazy copper-gold. The little carbonation in the pour dissipates after a couple minutes. The slightly bronzed head, which is thin and full of small bubbles, pours to two fingers but settles to less than a half.

Smell: It is a sweet and rich smell with definite alcohol in the nose.

Taste: This one starts out a bit tame, actually, with a very sweet kiss at the tip of the tongue and a warming in the middle. At the end, though, you might be swerving homeward with the lingering sensation of citric bitter. It's a good taste, but leaves you a little forlorn. What a lot of emotion in this outwardly-sweet looking beer.

Mouthfeel: It is a thick beer, not super slippery. It is almost edible. You could take a bite, maybe.

Overall: Wowzers. The barley wine-"style" means maybe a lot more hops than a barleywine. It is a good thing Stone Brewery exists in the world.

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.58/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark red with creamy head about a finger thick. Smells of tropical fruits, caramel and some barley. Really inviting. Tastes of mango, bananas barley and some hops come in the background to finish things off. Alcohol is noticeable a bit, but not overpowering. A fantastic barleywine. Hope to score some more in the future.

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Photo of Ellis1701
4.57/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I usually hate barley wines...but this one is really excellent. I think what makes it so tasty is that Stone tends to heavily hop their beers, and the hop bite in Old Guardian that offsets the sweetness that usually makes barley wine style beers among my least favorites. I go back to this one again and again...something I've not done with ANY other barley wine.

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.54/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. 2012 release.

A - Pours a hazy ruby gold color with a wispy one-finger off-white head. Nice lacing of tiny bubbles all around the glass.

S - Big heady aroma of toffee, butterscotch, caramelized cotton candy, and pine.

T - Matches the smell almost exactly with big toffee/butterscotch sweetness upfront. In the mid-palate the taste take a 180 degree turn with a huge blast of piney/sprucy hops and hop alpha acids. Extremely rich flavors. The mid-point in the transistion between the intensly sweet and intensely bitter is divine. Alcohol very well hidden.

M - Full bodied. Low carbonation. Together this makes for good drinkability for small sips. Just a little oily.

O - A great American barleywine. Love the hop profile in this one, which blends perfectly with the extreme maltiness. Just excellent all around. Why aren't I drinking this more often?? I can remember drinking a "current" version of this one around 2011, and it wasnt nearly as sweet; I think the 9-11 months of aging really did this one some good!

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Photo of goochpunch
4.53/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Version.

Pours out a rusty, orangey red with a thin, almost not there head. Smells of caramel, dates, toasty malts, and citrus/pine sap from the hops. I pick up some booze as well. Taste is maltier than some versions from other years. Sticky dates and golden raisins. Citrus and earthy hops towards the finish. Aftertaste is like citrus peel candy. Not too much bitterness or alcohol burn compared to last year's. Mouthfeel is sticky, mouth-coating, and has low carbonation. They did a great job with Old Guardian this year, which has always been a hit-or-miss barleywine, depending on the year. I might have to get a few more bottles than I'd planned to drink more of it fresh, instead of putting it away to age.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes: Aroma – rich intense malt, faint hops, fruit. Appearance: Rich amber, 2”off-white head, quickly dissipates. Palate: big malt, malty, caramelly, sweet, and then the hops come on, the hops are assertive but not harsh. Mouthfeel: Very creamy rich, malt, alcoholic, malty. Above average carbonation, chewy body. Overall: A big bitter, malty beer.

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Photo of Flashy
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Purchased in Vermont, $8 for a bomber. One of the finest, and most readily available American Barley Wines out there. Like with most Stone products- the price and quality are right.

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Photo of bgold86
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage, poured into a 12 ounce snifter. Pours a dark orange, slight oxidation, tons of apricot and peach on the nose. Taste is amazing rich and full, tons of mid-range color fruit, thick mouth-feel, wish I had more than one bottle...

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Photo of barnzy78
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Release, poured into a 25oz snifter. Pours a deep brown color with reddish hues when held to the light. Creamy beige head holds good retention and leaves some chunky lacing on the glass. Huge, rich caramel nose, with toast, grain, bread crust, piny hop, brown sugar as well. Tastes are complex and bold with rich and sweet caramel up-front, followed by an assault of the palate with pine resin. Bready, toasted grain, dark brown sugar in the middle. Full of flavor, well balanced, boozy on the finish with burnt caramel and pine lingering. Body is full, creamy but resiny, with ample carbonation. Overall, once again awesome Stone quality!

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Photo of a0lbudman
4.49/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-a hazy brown color with a large tan head that lingers and leaves a heavy lace
S-heavy hop aroma and a malt mixture
T-heavy wine taste with a heavy hop aftertaste that then goes to a heavy alcohol taste that does not go away
M-medium body and high carbonation
O-The warmer it gets or the more I drink the better this one gets. Never been much of a barley wine person but this one hits the mark

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Photo of 29mikoyan
4.48/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

One of my most favorite barley wines! What I like about it is that the citrus hint is not overly strong. It does have that piney hoppy flavor, but at the same time it has that nice maduro tobacco and cedary hint.

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Photo of sevenarts
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruddy reddish-orange, somewhat cloudy and opaque, with a modest off-white head and no lacing. Very cidery-looking.

S: Lots of layered malt tones: caramel, bread, toffee. The malty sweetness is mixed with an equally strong hoppy presence of pine and grapefruit.

T/M: Delicious! Caramel malty goodness up front, quickly giving way to the bitter sting of the hops, with lots of grapefruit and pine notes as in the aroma. Very dry, throat-coating thickness on the back end, with a lingering grassy, piney hop aftertaste. The high ABV is very well-hidden.

O: A real tasty, powerful barleywine with loads of flavor. Well balanced and does a very good job of hiding its alcohol so it's not nearly as hot as one would expect. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of Bobheed
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: light caramel color with a pasty off-white head, about 1 finger. Pretty fair amount of alcohol lacing

S: Hops right up front, huge rotten grapefruit kind of hops. I get lots and lots of sweetness to it, almost like a caramel sugary sweetness.

T: Get lots of caramel malts and fruitiness. The flavor has shifted from a citrusy kind of fruitiness though, to a more dark fruit taste, like raisins and dates. Hops really hit you at the end and stick with you for quite a bit

M: Nice and creamy with medium carbonation. Leaves the mouth tingling and wanting more.

Overall I thought this was very good. This is, by all accounts, what an American style barleywine should taste like

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Photo of RattleheadKV2
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into 16 oz goblet.

Appearance: Pours a nice dark amber, with about a half a fingers worth of off-white head, the dissipates rather rapidly.Tons of alcohol legs.

Smell: Wow, this sure is an American Barley Wine, hops all over the place. Tons of piney citriusy notes; grapefruit, oranges, pine needles aplenty.

Taste: Tons of hops at the front, that blends into a smooth sweet maltiness, and finishes bitter, and dry.

Mouthfeel: Nice full body on this one, you can almost chew it.

Overall: Great brew, and rather smooth for such a your barley wine. I grabbed a few extra of these to cellar over the years. Truly a great release that I look forward to every year.

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Photo of HopNelius
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served out of 22oz and into sniffer.
Appearance- brown, medium carbonation, some lacing.
Smell- dark fruit and malts.
Taste- dark fruit, clove,bread. Great taste drinkable for the abv, alcohol is not overpowering.
Mouthfeel- pleasant
Overall- great beer, I bought two and will age one to see how thi tastes over time.

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Photo of Prospero
4.46/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle - 2012 (this is one of those beers that gets better with age)

A- sweet caramel nose
L- slight haze, reddish-brown, medium tan head, dissipates quickly
T- sweet caramel and toffee flavor with slight bitterness from the hops that creates an incredible balance, hops much less prominent than fresh
F- rich, coats the palette and lingers nicely
O- I've decided 3-years is perfect age for this that let's the sweet malty backbone shine, hides the alcohol and not much presence of oxidation yet when properly cellared.

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Photo of stangski83
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely amazing; the local bottle shop was clearancing this for 4.99/bomber (2012 release). I can't believe how smooth this 11%'er went down and am damn proud that I was able to snatch a bottle for slow and appreciative consumption. Stone should be proud. Sad that distribution out east sometimes turns into a waiting game and retailers that are unsure of aging and amazing beer in their shops. Sad, sad, sad!

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bias alert--Old Guardian is one of my favorite all time beers. In the past, I've had to buy it online from Beer on the Wall, import it from California friends or buy it in Indiana during our annual Purdue road trip. When I found out that Old Guardian was coming in later in the day when I was buying beer for the One Voice fundraiser beer basket, I was very excited. The next day I called to reserve a case of twelve to last me through the year, and maybe age a few.

The last case of Old Guardian I bought was when I asked my sister to pick me up some bottles when she still lived in LA. Stopping at the local liquor store, she was able to buy a case and did so. I took eleven bottles home in my travel backpack on the plane. This was the 2003 vintage that was the old recipe, and I have two bottles left that I will review as a comparison to 2010 and 2012 versions later.

Today's bottle has a creamy pale brown head on top of a orange tinted brown ale. My wife says the color is a liquefied root beer candy. Nose is mellow when cold, and experience has taught me to sip this one slow--and not just for the 11% alcohol kick. The beer opens up nicely and is a favorite Sunday afternoon beer that I can lazily drink through a fall football game or a movie. Alcohol is apparent in the nose as is the 85 IBUs. Strong hop on top of fig, dark fruit and caramel maltiness. Pleasant and perfectly balance. Hops bite hard on the tongue to counter balance the syrupy malt backbone of this beer along with a resin and oiliness reminiscent of Belgian quadruple.

Stone's description explains the change in character for 2012. Chinook, Calypso and Cascade hops were substituted for the recent usual East Kent Goldings. I like the change, but it is clearly different--like seeing an old friend after years a part. If you are a follower of the hop god at all, I would try a bottle of this beer.

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Photo of JTSbeerislife
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at the Fridge

Poured into a small flared mouth snifter. An acceptable glass.

Pours a rather thin head which rapidly reduces to nothing. A swirl of the glass brings everything back to life.
Beautiful reddish amber color.

Big aroma of malt and yeast, followed by citrus and pine hops. Quite fine and extremely enjoyable.

Very full, crisp, bitter hop dominated entry on the palate. There is a lot of delicious rich malt.
Very full mouth feel with perfect light carbonation.
Slightly sweet but not overdone considering the amount of hops and malt present. Balanced.

Very, very long finish of hop dominated malt. The hop oils last forever. Trademark Stone’s.

An exceptionally delicious Barleywine. In the top tier along with Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Troegs Flying Mouflan. Lots of distinct hops and balanced malt make for a highly drinkable brew.

Highly recommended!

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Photo of Oldejoe
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look. Very nice golden red Amber, with light tan medium head.
Smell. Pretty robust hops and barley. Not too yeasty or beery.
Taste. Soft, slightly sweet, malty start, followed quickly by medium hoppy bitters, ends with dry mild hops.
Mouth feel. Medium heavy body, oily, chewy, palette smacking, with medium effervescence.
Overall. Probably my favorite barley wine. Very nice look, pleasant distinctive aromas, robust mouthfeel, and a good run of tastes from from front to back.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 release poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

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

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

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar and citrus fruits. Then a strong but not over-powering hops presence comes in along with a significant alcohol sting. The malt character is hearty and creates a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly hoppy.

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

O: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this beer seems to lose some fans with each passing year but to me it continues to be a very good high-octane beer to drink for as long as you handle it.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an almost clear amber-orange with a thin layer of frothy off-white head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel, biscuit, and caramelized malts with grapefruit, citrus, and pine hops and some booze.

T - Starts off with some sweet caramel and biscuit malts with lots of grapefruit and citrus hops and some bitterness. Through the middle, pine hop flavors comes through with more bitterness alongside some caramelized sugars and some more biscuit malt. The finish is a mix of sweet caramelized malts with lots of tropical, citrus, and resiny pine hops, bitterness, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a resiny, bitter, dry, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice hoppy American Barleywine. The hop profile is really great and helps to balance out the hotness and body. Enough malt flavor to keep up as well.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review #500! 22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2013 release.

Appearance: Hazy dark amber. Light tan thin head. Lots and lots of persistent fine strand lacing all over the glass.

Smell: Orange citrus, alcohol notes, fruity esters, roasted malts, caramel.

Taste: Citrus hops right up front, the moving into a wide range of flavors: toffee, roasted malts, pine. Some alcohol heat noted. Lingering bitter finish with some malt sweetness thrown in. The finish had notes of pine and lemon, with the lemon being sharp as the beer warmed up.

Mouthfeel: Pleasantly thick, sticky, with just right carbonation under it all.

Overall / Drinkability: Overall, I think this needs to be paired with the right meal, which I didn't hit tonight, which was a barley, potato, and ditilini + vegetable broth soup. But, it's pretty damn good sipping slowly all by itself. I think this would pair better with beef and roasted vegetables. Despite the food mismatch this was quite tasty and dangerously drinkable. I knew it was 11.2% ABV going in, but one large snifter later I'm feeling the effects, and yet I want some more sips. The hoppiness of this Barleywine is just right - it's strong enough for a hophead, but not overpowering; it allows the malt to shine and compliment all the hop flavors. The lemon note was a nice touch with this one. This beer sat and aged for about ~8 months (or whenever it was bottled at the start of 2013), and I wonder how it would be with another 9-12 months but maybe the hop flavors would get too muted. In any case, I very good choice for my 500th beer review and I may pick up another version of this and let it sit longer next time.

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Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 255 ratings.