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

245 Reviews
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 245
Hads: 1,838
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 65
Gots: 465 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 245 | Hads: 1,838
Photo of BrewskiGal
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
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. (1,496 characters)

Photo of Beer-Revelry
3.56/5  rDev -11.2%
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. (821 characters)

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.57/5  rDev -11%
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 (892 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
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. (939 characters)

Photo of Swim424
3.61/5  rDev -10%
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. (687 characters)

Photo of zac16125
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
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. (1,819 characters)

Photo of jmdrpi
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
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 (362 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
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. (564 characters)

Photo of rarbring
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
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. (416 characters)

Photo of DrewV
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
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+. (683 characters)

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage. Split with angrybabboon.

Appearance: Clear copper Off*white head drops to a clumpy cap and chunky small collar in short order. some streaks and spots of lacing.

Smell: Crazy malts. Caramel, toffee, and straight up cane sugar. Some nice backing hints of citrus, but it's all about the malts. Some grassy elements. Cooked malts. Very bready. Toasted note. Booze, lots of booze but not boozy or sharp.

Taste: Super caramelized malts. Caramel, toffee, and deeply cooked malts. Some grassy elements. Nice citrus hopping. Some bitter pine needle. Warming alcohol on the back. Gritty and earthy undertones. Vaguely grassy. So very cooked. Biscuity with some underlying spiciness. A good malt complexity, but nothing too crazy.

Mouthfeel: Slightly syrupy medium to full body with a carbonation that runs on the lighter side of moderate. A little bit slick. Nice and clean.

Overall: Let it sit and get that age. Then it can guard it all.

A solid example of the style. Not groundbreaking but solid. Age does improve it, but In don't know what the prime age is. (1,075 characters)

Photo of JustinAniello
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ah, sitting down to enjoy my hundredth beer review on the site.

A - Pours reddish-brown with a two finger head that very slowly dissipates to a substantial cap and sticky lacing.

S - Roasted malt, resin, and caramel take up the scent, sweetness to it.

T - Dark caramel at first turning to heavy resiny hops on the swallow as expected from Stone. Alcohol shows through mildly in the aftertaste along with a smokiness, makes me think a little of scotch, definite numbing to the tongue after a few sips.

B - Medium body and carbonation, slightly syrupy. Oily feeling in the mouth after swallowing.

O - Overall a pretty good beer, especially if you are looking for one to sip through the whole night. Overly bitter in my opinion for a barleywine, would prefer more malt and fruitiness to show through. Would recommend for fans of Stone's other beers but would not be the first barleywine I would suggest. (905 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2012 release

Pours a clear copper color with a nice two finger head that had good retention. Eventually the head settles to a thick cap. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left on the glass.

There is something odd about the aroma. Sort of smells like an orange cream soda. A cream soda with a bunch of booze in it. More citrus and grassy hops along with caramel malt.

The flavor just does not feel deep to me. The alcohol comes on too strong, too soon. Just not able to savor the malt and hop flavor. Bitterness is high with citrus, grassy flavors. Some toffee malt as well.

Good body and carbonation. Enjoyable, smooth texture.

This beer, like a few other Stone brews, would benefit greatly from some age. A couple of years from now, this beer could be excellant. As it is now, just too hot. (798 characters)

Photo of Rutager
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle

Appearance. Pours a murky burnt orange with almost two fingers of thick orange/off-white head.

Smell. Oranges, grapefruit, booze caramel and lemon with a little lightly toasted grains.

Taste. Burnt caramel, bitter oily pine sap, orange and grapefruit rinds, booze. Lots of lingering bitterness. Fairly sweet.

Mouthfeel. Full body with medium+ carbonation.

Overall. Crazy amount of hops in this one. I'll bet that in around 5 or so more years, when the bitterness and booze mellows a bit, this would be really nice. I'll have to grab another bottle to stash away and collect some serious dust. (609 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter. This is a 2012.

Pours somewhat cloudy, reddish brown color, very little head. The head that is there is light beige. Smell is sweet and musty, very fruity. Lots of alcohol in the aroma.

Taste is muted, alcohol, some fruityness. Some hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel is thick and still. Overall, it's pretty god. Not as good as I remember, but pretty good. (394 characters)

Photo of angrybabboon
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 4/6/13

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this beer

Note: I've already reviewed the 2010 version of this. I'm inclined to guess that review may me merged with this review. But I'm going to review the 2013 version regardless.

Appearance: Clear amber color - nice, off-white head - keeps a solid cap - leaves a nice streak of lacing

Smell: Cooked, caramelized malts - sweet and hoppy - citrus and pine - kind of spicy, reminiscent of the earthiness found in some other Stone beers (e.g., Arrogant Bastard)

Taste: Sweet, earthy, and somewhat balanced - grassy, herbal, with some serious earthiness - caramel malts, some dark fruits, sugar - some alcohol flavor, remarkably more than the last time I had this

Mouthfeel: Medium body - nicely carbonated, smooth, with some alcohol heat in the finish

Overall: Honestly? This is better aged

I'm genuinely surprised how different this beer is from how I remember it. The bottle I had was aged a year. This tastes intentionally harsh, almost as if it demands to be aged. It's overly hoppy and earthy. It needs some time to mellow out. (1,092 characters)

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the most badass beers I’ve ever had was Stone’s Double Bastard: 22 ounces of 10.5%, mega-hopped brew. If this barleywine is even half the beer that was, I’ll be smiling from ear to ear by the time the bottle’s empty. Cheers!

“2012 Release” is emblazoned on the front of the painted label; according to the website, that means a release date of February 2012, or eight months before the date of this tasting.

A: Pours a hazy rust color, or whatever you’d call a dirty red. Decent head for a big beer, a creamy tan that gets as high as an inch or so before slowly fading. Stringy lacing.

S: The main thing I’m getting here is an earthy, diminished toffee tone, like a big malty IPA that’s been sitting on the shelf for too long. Whenever a beer has that aroma anywhere in the nose, it jumps out at me instantly; this barleywine has a complex character beneath it, though, and it serves well to distract. There’s a load of pungent cherry and tropical sweetness below, for instance, with a good blend of raw, grassy grain (like alfalfa), spiced rum, and wheat bread on the back end. Smells quite malty.

T: Pretty damn bready, pretty damn hoppy – that’s what I was looking for when Double Bastard came to mind. Granted, it’s not as powerful as the Bastard, but it has those oily Stone hops I know and love (in force). Starting deep and grainy with pumpernickel and near-blackened toast, it quickens to a foray of bitter, briny pine and grapefruit. I’m not surprised by the booze that’s present, too, and it definitely doesn’t go over without notice; actually, its lip-smacking syrupiness is a little much at times. Aftertaste is a little cough-syrupy from the aforementioned alcohol, but with an oily, sustained hop dryness. Overall, this is a smooth palate with a lot of nice transitions, though it’s all wrapped up in a package of medium-dark malt and syrup.

M: Syrupy – one or two bubbles pop on the tongue only once every second or so, it seems. It’s a big beer, and I guess I was prepared for that; still, the syrups are emphasized, it seems.

O: Another big, bad Stone creation. This one I didn’t like as much, but that’s only because I had the perfection that is Double Bastard in mind; still, no matter what I did, I wasn’t able to escape that old toffee character behind it all. In the end, I’ll finish the bottle, but I won’t be seeking another. (2,410 characters)

Photo of Murrhey
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Reviewed live.

A- Thin khaki head with decent retention. Light caramel brown color with awesome clarity.

S- Barley and some booziness to it. A light sweetness with some caramel notes.

T- Strongly bitter in the first sip, the barley and grains are very present. Some bourbon sort of booziness.

M- Winey body, light and smooth.

O- Good overall. Not my favorite, but tasty and drinkable. Also boozy. (443 characters)

Photo of StoneTSR
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: Poured into an oversize snifter at Freshcraft in Denver. The head was huge on my 8 oz. pour and it stuck around for a while. The color was a little on the lighter side than the typical Barleywine, but it was still mahogany. Some spotty lacing clung to the backside of the glass.

SMELL: Tons of banana and some sweet maltiness. A little sugar cane and some breadiness come through as well.

TASTE: Bread, banana and dark fruit up front with a warming estery heat at the finish. A little pine and some lemon and grassy bitterness tie everything together.

MOUTHFEEL: Rich and bold up front, but thinning towards the end. Creamy and without much sparkle.

OVERALL: The Old Guardian is a solid beer fresh, but it seems designed to age. The bitterness and heat is a bit strong, but in two, three years this is going to be spectacular. (842 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a reddish brown with solid one-finger offwhite head and lace on top of lots and lots of barely malt, as the label states, but also lots and lots of floral hops to match it seems. Hearty, boozy malts are prevelant and a slightly sticky and medicinal feel. The malts only slightly overpower the hops, so while there is a good sweetness and some hop bite the sweetness doesn't stick out like it should. Thicker, less carbonation leads to a dry, bready finish w/ minimal sweetness as the ABV kicks in here. A good beer, nice sipper, but more hoppy than I prefer for this style so TO ME a tad off balance. (607 characters)

Photo of KajII
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

[Suggested Glassware: Snifter]

The pour was a murky medium chestnut brown with an average (1-2 finger) light tan frothy head that reduced to a large puddle with a medium collar and had excellent streaky lacing.

The aroma was of a sweet bread malt, resin and pine hops and a doughy yeast with notes of citrus (grapefruit and orange peel), caramel, dark fruit (raisons and prunes) and a pronounced alcohol odor.

The taste was malty sweet with notes of caramel and dark fruit up front, and then became very hoppy with a good strong citrus peel presence and an intense alcohol finish. The flavor lasted quite a long while following the swallow, with a bitter-sweet citrus peel alcohol taste left behind.

Mouthfeel was medium in body and dry in texture with a carbonation that was just beyond medium.

Overall this was a very powerful tasting brew that possessed a nice hoppy sweet taste, although it was slightly overpowered by the high ABV...

http://www.facebook.com/KAJIIsBeerReviews (986 characters)

Photo of 57md
3.71/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Copper in color. The nose smells like stale hops - odd since this was just shy of two months old when I cracked it open. This offering is malt forward with just the right amount of hop bitterness. The malty sweetness really comes forward as this beer warms. The finish is dry with just a trace of alcohol. (309 characters)

Photo of Bills453
3.72/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into my Duvel tulip glass

Appearance - cloudy red-orange color. Nice off white head.

Smell - very citrusy and sweet. Bit of hops aroma.

Taste - bitter, sour. Hoppy aftertaste, bot a sweet foretaste. Very interesting.

Mouthfeel - smooth

Overall - good offering of the style, but I have had better barleywines. For ex. Bigfoot. (351 characters)

Photo of rangerred
3.72/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter out of a 22oz bomber. 2011 vintage.

Pours a clear dark copper with just a fleeting white head that fades to a thin ring around the top of the beer.

The aroma really disappoints me. It is lacking nearly entirely giving off just a slight metallic note with some caramel and pine very distant in the background. Not sure if this is a product of the age but the aroma has really fallen off.

Thankfully, the taste is more substantial than the aroma. Sweet, bready grain along with a strong bitterness from piny hops. Strong wood notes along with some hints of sherry from what i presume to be some oxidation. Alcohol makes an appearance towards the finish but it is only fleeting leaving a pleasant warmth. Mouthfeel is silky and a bit sticky but not too sweet.

Overall, this barleywine has aged really well apart from the nose. The bitterness is still there but the aroma is lacking. Not my favorite barleywine but really good. (949 characters)

Photo of pmlondrigan
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 into a short glass. Deep amber to light red, creamy light tan/off white head. Completely transparent, little head retention. Very pungent aroma. Mostly pithy grapefruit hop aromas. Some sticky resin and a faint amount of caramel and toffee. The flavor brings more of the same. A huge amount of hops, grapefruit flavor, bitter citrus pith, and behind this there is that little bit of caramel flavor and toffee. The finish has a hint of sweet followed by all bitterness. Clearly a hop forward affair. Thick and rich mouthfeel, almost syrupy, which I like. I just have no idea why I always return to this style, I don't like it. But...this is a good interpretation of it. (673 characters)

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 245 ratings.