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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

1,831 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,831
Reviews: 267
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11.5%
Wants: 64
Gots: 459 | FT: 34
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,831 | Reviews: 267
Photo of mfnmbvp
2.91/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle (1 pint 6 fl oz), the 2013 release of this beer. A beer from Stone that I haven't had before, so I'm going in as unbiased as possible. Bottle claims an 11.60% abv, rather than just 11% as BeerAdvocate says.

Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - First pour yields about a finger of doughy off-white / khaki colored head. Beautiful clear, light ruby red colored body. My final pour, a good hour and a half later, yields some pretty nice sheets of lacing coming down the sides of the glass.

S - Smell is strongly of malted barley, and some fermented dark fruits like plum or cranberry. Faint citrus hops creeping out in the background.

T - Bleh. Not my preferred barleywine, that's for sure. Some hop bitterness is present, but this beer is overwhelmed by a sickening medicinal cherry cough syrup flavor. Thick and heavy. Bit of alcohol warmth. As hard as I'm trying, I am not digging this one at all. Admittedly, as the beer warms to room temperature, the artificial cherry medicine seems to disappear and opens up to more dry bitter spicy hop presence. Body has a sleek creamy feel to it. This is a beer you definitely want to let warm up before consuming it.

M - Feel is dry and chalky. Bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall, I enjoyed the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, and was expecting similar results here, but it took me a long time to warm up to this beer. When cold, it is on par with drinking a 22 oz. bottle of Robitussin. Following a warming period, the beer opens up and becomes more lively, with a more pronounced hop presence, and the sickly medicinal flavors disappear.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale ---3/5.

Photo of yankeepride
2.93/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured a beautiful copper color into a snifter, with a quickly-dissolving head. Didn't have a really potent nose like I was expecting, but what I could pick out had some caramel elements. As for the taste, there was such a big hop presence that I couldn't get much from the grain profile. The hops felt like they were getting in the way, and what I could taste seemed ... stale. It was easy-to-drink, especially in terms of being high ABV, but only because it was thin and watery. While I recognize that American BW's are hoppier than their English counterparts, I didn't feel that the hops and grains played well together in this one.

Photo of Bottlebomber
2.98/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked up a bomber of this from the liquor store, poured into a wine glass.

A: A dark burnished copper. Pours a nice head, then BAM! Gone. Left spotty lacing. Unfortunately this is probably the highlight of this beer.

S: Bread, buttered biscuits, caramel, and some citrusy hops. With the amount of malt and hops that can potentially go into this style, I was underwhelmed.

T: Tasted quite like the smell - biscuity malt, some caramel, some citrusy hops. One thing I will have to give it was the bitterness was just right. Some people go really nuts bittering these ABW's, and I think a Barleywine should be more about the malt. Still, not enough going on to impress.

M: Semi-full. Really not as voluptuous as a Barleywine should be. This is supposed to be a sipper, I wasn't planning on finishing the bomber but it is drinking like an IIPA.

O: Meh!! An unexpected meh! I am really surprised that with all of Stone's over the top offering that they put so little into this beer. I should have listened to the other reviews :(

Photo of terence
3/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An okay American Barleywine. Not as good as SN Bigfoot or Anchor's Old Foghorn. Very sweet with a strong boozey finish.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Hazy reddish amber. Off white head. Sticky lacing. Some chunks of sediment.

Smell - Hoppy. Lots of barleywine malt aromas. Caramel. Very monotonic.

Taste - Hops and caramel. Well balanced, but it's just hops and caramel. Nothing wrong with it, as long as you're into hops and caramel. Bitter in the back.

Mouthfeel - Not boozy and not really heavy. Easy drinking and clean, but dull.

Overall - Unexciting. I wrote in my notes that it "hits hard." Take from that what you will.

Photo of Jeffreychason
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%

Almost a gritty quality to it, this is a 2012 bottle. Very sweet, almost caramel flavor. Leaves a very heavy alcohol, bitter flavor. Would exactly call this highly drinkable, but not a bad beer. Would be interested to see what a couple more years would do, maybe help mellow it out a little

Photo of gr0g
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Notes taken on 3/6/2012. 22oz bottle, 2012 vintage (unaged bottle).

Beautiful clear copper in color, about one pinky finger of head when poured in my 9oz Double Bastard glass. Aroma is sadly very muted, with some malty sweetness and all too much ethanol coming through if you sniff hard enough.

On the palate, huge malt flavor is quickly met by huge hoppiness. Flavor profile is quite different from DB, although not as enjoyable IMHO. Malt character is intense toffee and is overtaken by a huge floral hop note and equally huge bitterness that lasts well past the finish. Alcohol heat is prevalent.

This is definitely a sipping brew, as I'm having trouble polishing off the 9 or so ounces at hand. An intensely flavorful ale, but I'll take a Double Bastard any day.

Photo of cultclassic89
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm just really not a fan of this beer.

Photo of Hoptometrist
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served from the bottle into a tulip glass

A- Poured a very clear and dark ruby/mahogany color with a three finger soapy head that left some minimal lace

S- Big sweet sweet caramel, grapefruit, big breadiness, pungent aroma, molasses, and some hay funk

T- Big sweet breadiness, caramel, molasses, and raisin notes. Grapefruit, hay funk, and lots of alcohol

M- Quite sticky, syrupy, low carbonation, big alcohol warming

O- This is a super sweet beer, a little over the top for me. I think 10 oz. of this beer would have been fine, but a bomber of this was too much for me. I don't have a ton of experience with barleywines and it is not a favorite style of mine, I did like this beer more at first but after a while it became cloying sweet.

Photo of Philousa
3.36/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly bright, clear copper color with a couple fingers head that dissipates quickly to leave splotches of bubbles on the surface. Aroma is sweetly caramel with a slight cinnamon accent. Hops are definitely prevalent - mainly grassy and musty, not too abrasive. Caramel and woodsy flavors dominate. A little barky, rough in flavor. Syrupy sweet, but balanced in feel. The aftertaste lingers in the back of your throat like it owns the place, all musty and bitter-like. It's very Stone-ish. The alcohol is there, but deceptive. I never would have pegged this at 11%. Feel is slightly thick, finish is dry.

I'm ambivalent about this beer. It's super sweet for a Barleywine, but the bitterness milds it out a bit. I've had the 2009 version this winter and I can say for a fact that it does mellow well with time. Should have layed this down for a couple years...

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Popped a bottle that is a few years old. Wish I could remember how old, somewhere in the 2-3 year old range most likely. Pours out a deep burnt copper and light brown. Mild off white head in the .4" range. Heavy aroma of alcohol, two row and hops. Hops being last in the aroma equation, alcohol first.

Taste, gigantosaur beer, heavy sting of alcohol, full bready mush of a malt presence, massive. Hops really don't come through as much as Greg Koch insisted a few years ago at the San Diego International Beer Festival. If the bitterness and hops are going to be this high, I'd like to see less of a malt impression, more like a dipa, but then even many dipas these days are more like barleywines. This has the west coast hopping, but with like east coast hops and a heavy east coast attempt at balance with the gigantic malt bill.

I was surprised how much the hops stuck around years later in this one. Or maybe it was just the bitterness. Anyways, not really my favorite Stone beer by a mile, and as time goes on, I get less and less interested in this style of beer. Used to love it. Now, its only the old favorites and new blonde barrel aged barleywines that seem to do the trick.

Photo of TastyAdventure
3.46/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasted on tap. (sure glad i didn't buy a bomber just to try it out!

A - nice shining caramel color. nice head.

S - Hops.

T - too much hops for a barleywine in my opinion. But maybe it's not the amount of hops so much as the lack of malty sweetness rich flavor to balance. While I'm sure there are plenty of malts, as the gravity is so high, maybe they should have included more malts that would have contributed more Flavor to balance, keeping in mind they would add a elephant load of hops, as can be expected from Stone. This is just my opinion, as I'm not a hop-head.

I did enjoy Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot, and they are notorious/famous for overusing hops, but I think they had a better handle on how to construct a Barleywine.

Photo of cjgiant
3.46/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Had to go a little strange on the rating in this case due to the fact I agree with the odd review here that this is not a barleywine style of beer. Given the ABV, it's and Imperial IPA.

Given that, I enjoyed the beer a lot, it had classic Stone high-hop dryness in the mouthfeel with a touch of maltiness. However, I don't think it fits the style, as the hops overwhelms the flavor, and I don't believe that should be.

A: cloudy red with nothing special in head or lacing (normal)
S: earthy with some plum notes
T/M: caramel or butterscotch on the malts, helped by the hops and carbonation, the hops draw present throughout, and as the beer warms a little, the malt seems to hang around a little longer
O: as stated above, am not sure it fits the style (and rated down due to that), but if you enjoy Stone beers, don't skip thjs one and ignore the overall score.

Photo of JustinQ
3.53/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from 22 oz bottle into Snifter Glass

Appearence: Clear, Burgundy color, Nice head, Beautiful Beer

Aroma: Grapefruit, Some citrus, Hops, Good yeast character

Taste: Hops, Good bitterness, Bitter grapefruit, long hop dryness, No alcohol. Residual Sweetness +1

Mouthfeel: Good co2, Dry, Crisp, Warming

Overall: Great Beer, Should grab another one for the cellar.

Photo of ADZA
3.53/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2012 edtion and thanks to my favourite bottleshop for this and it pours a hazy light amber hue which leaves a two finger creamy head and lacing everywhere,the smell is very barley and malt orientated with aromas of obviously barley,caramel fudge,toffee treacle,butterscotch and also Xmas cake,the mouthfeel is medium bodied and could be thicker for my liking of the style and the taste is nice but doesnt leave you gobsmacked like other big American Barleywines and the taste is very sweet with hints of marzipan,toffee treacle,butterscotch candy,raisins soaked in brandy,fruit cake and finished with a touch of bitter herbal hops to take a little edge off the sweetness first encountered and overall its not bad and could age a little bit but not too long as the malt profile is dominant and if left for a while could be even more sweeter and theres definately better Barleywines out there cheers.

Photo of BrewskiGal
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I need to rate this as fairly as possible. I know this is a good beer. There are two elements it has that I actively dislike. But if you like these two things, this beer does them well.

1. Citrus hops
2. Sweetness

Right from the first whiff of this beer, I could smell sweetness. That made me nervous. I'm not a fan of sweet beers, especially if the sweetness lingers. The color was gorgeous, however. Deep amber, bordering towards a reddish hue. It had a nice head and it's mouthfeel is essentially how I prefer most of my beers. Hearty and full, but not thick.

This beer is quite sweet, which I find to be typical of beers with a high ABV. The sweetness lingers, but it does not cancel out the bitterness of the beer. I have never tasted a beer as sweet as this one that still has noteable bitterness. I appreciate that fact.

It is sweet and caramelly, but its citrus hops (I would specify "lemon") keep it alive in a consistent bitterness as well.

For a sweet beer, this is a good one. For a citrus-hoppy beer, this is a good one. Being that I'm not a fan of citrus hops or of sweet beers, I doubt I will buy this again. Not anytime soon. It far outweighs other beers with the same characteristics and I can tell this is a quality beer. If my two dislikes are things you actively look for, this is your beer. I recommend it to those with this preference. But I will shy away from it in the future, despite its ability to stand as an exemplary model of what its "type" should look like.

Photo of Beer-Revelry
3.56/5  rDev -11%
look: 5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

A - 5 - Wow, this beer pours beautifully. Poured a deep ruby color. Great head potential, especially considering the ABV. Forms a finger and a half of dense, slightly off white colored head. Decent head retention. Spotty lacing.
S - 2.75 - Not sure what up with mine, had the peach, toffee and caramel smells I expected, but there was a distinct and strong metallic aroma.
T - 3.75 - Good, not great. Slightly sweet peach upfront, followed by a malty bitterness. Lots of boozy alcohol. You could do better with a Barleywine, but also a lot worse.
F - 3.50 - Medium bodied mouthfeel, expected something a bit more creamy and slick.
O - 3.75 - As I said before, it's a good barely wine, but you could do better in my opinion. Didn't live up to what I expected, but was good nonetheless.

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.57/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Clean ruby with red and brown accents. An off-white head that seems to never go away. Great staying power at this abv. Impressive looking

S- Not nearly as hoppy as expected. Expected Stone to get after it in that department. Earthy, chocolaty, and malty. Some toffee and caramel.

T- Hops rear their head here. Some fruity esters also blend with the rich malty profile in the nose. Toasted bread. Harsh, bitter finish. Runs a little hot as you can tell its pretty green. Somewhat medicinal. Could be a touch of mint I'm getting too.

F- Rich, lighter side of full body, creamy, low carbonation. Alcohol quite present.

O- Certainly one to set in the back of the cellar for a while. Difficult to rate at this point, but I will give it another go in a year or so. It has a chance to be special, but bold flavors just haven't come together quite yet.

$6 for a 22oz bottle.
Bottled 1/21/14

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Poured dark brown and hazy. Head was minimal. Not much light penetration but this beer was blatantly brown and didn't tiptoe on the realm of blackness.

S-I was expecting more punch from the aroma. There was booze, a bunch of concentrated sweetness and some bitterness which was subtle. Dark fruits. Not very impressed by the nose.

T-The bittering hoppiness comes out more on the tongue. The hops lend much bitterness but are not very complex and do not leave much hop-derived flavor complexity. There is plenty of booze (although shaded in decently enough), and dark fruits laced in rich caramel.

M-Big body. Mellow carbonation. Bitterness lasts. Somewhat slick. A rich feel.

O/D-Full pint glass of this came in at $3.50 so I cannot complain about the price, but I was not satisfied with this beer. Most of Stone's brews are great but this one didn't hit the same spot for me. Still a nice juggernaut beer for a great price-per-fill.

Photo of Swim424
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into sweetwater snifter.

A-nice clear amber color. Fat fluffy creamy white head.

S-smells great but a bit weak. Very malty. A bit of hoppy floral scent as well.

T-Very malty upfront with a nice bitterness at the finish. A bit boozy. Hops help balance it out a bit. Its like getting hit in the face but getting kicked in the nuts at the same time so it makes the hit to the face not as bad.

MF-very thick and a bit creamy. Carbonation isn't really noticable.

O-This is pretty good. Had it on tap and went to buy it right after. Very thick and gotta drink it slow, but nice to sip on. Nothing I would go out of my way for but definitely a good choice for a higher ABV beer.

Photo of zac16125
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle into a small snifter
2013 vintage

A: Pours a rather clear orangish red with less than 1 fingers width of light khaki colored head, which quickly dissipates down to a wispy center and outer ring. Really pretty beer with the color and clarity. Leaves a small amount of lacing.

S: Crisp apple, caramel, toffee, melting sugar. Quite sweet but at the same time smells refreshing.

T: Doesnt follow the nose at all. Heavy hop notes right off the bat (with lots of bitterness) coupled with burnt sugar. The two combine to give it an astringent quality that I sometimes get in American Barleywines but rarely get in the English counterparts. Booze is also prominent. I also get citrus rind and pine hoppy characters, and some sweetness in the form of caramel although this is mostly masked by the bitter astringency.

M/D: Medium bodied, carbonation on the higher end of the style, ABV is noticeable but no heat going down. Drinkability is moderate at best.

O: Ive been really disappointed by the last few ABWs Ive had. Maybe I am just spoiled or have different expectations since I more commonly drink EBWs which are more in line with my palate preference. Either way, this is not a bad beer, but it left me disappointed. It comes off as harsh throughout much of the drink, not in a boozy or burning way, but in terms of harsh flavor with the burnt and bitter notes dominating. Im gonna throw my other bottle in the cellar, we'll see how this changes over the next couple of years. As is, its drinkable but not worth making a special trip for (price is right though!).

Also, Im a pretty big Stone whore when it comes to their hoppy beers, seems like the never miss on those. However, this is the second miss for me when they go outside of the IPA/pale realm, as I thought their RIS was a big miss as well.

Photo of jmdrpi
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, 2012 edition.

deep copper in color, clear. 1/2" cream colored head. fades fairly quickly. fairly piney aroma, but mixed with some biscuit malt.

taste is much more hoppy and bitter that the smell. lingering earthy hop flavors. mouthfeel is a bit stickey. medium thickness & carbonation.

overall - maybe not as over the top as last year's version

Photo of scottfrie
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Split with abecall98 and friends. Snifter.

A: Pours a deep dark caramel color with a finger of khaki head that faded into a bubbly collar.
S: Sweet scents with a good dose of sticky hop resin. I get hints of caramel, toffee, leather, and cocoa. Leafy and sweet smelling.
T: Follows the nose with sweet and a bit woody and buttery flavors of leather, toffee, caramel and hop resin. I get hints of vanilla in the finish.
M: Bubbly carbonation, smooth body, full mouthfeel and solid bitterness.
O: A very solid barleywine but I think I prefer these with some age.

Photo of rarbring
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer is clear copper amber, a warm off-white head leaving good lacing and small curtains.

Smelling hoppy, grass, nettles, pine. Then sweet dried fruits, honey, heather.

Sweet toffee, brown bread with honey, bitter oranges, dried apricots, then bitter citric peel. Slightly boozy.

Medium carbonation, small bubbles, oily and sticky, a coarse dry finish.

Once again I have consumed a barley wine far too young.

Photo of DrewV
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very creamy, thick, viscous, but smooth barleywine that shows virtually zero hint of the 11% ABV. However, it is incredibly sweet and carmel-y without sufficient balance from the hops. I really like this style of barleywine, though, where it focuses more on the caramel malts and less on the fruity flavors. I would still prefer a bit more bitterness to offset the heavy malts.

Overall a very good beer, but lacks balance and is a bit muted in this style for my tastes. A better example of this style would be Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Ale. This is nice for a year-round offering, but not as exciting or price-competitive as Bigfoot, unfortunately. I'd rate this a solid B+.

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,831 ratings.