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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: 69
Gots: 487 | 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 midnitesun11
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours an amber reddish color with sporadic carbonation bubbles floating up from the bottom. Head is a nice cream color but lacking in volume.

Smells like a fruity citrusy wine. Hoppy, vinegary, kind of a bitter grape type smell.

Tastes of smokey, spicey hops and a bit of alcohol. Has a rich carmel flavor to it as well!

Ends with a slight bitterness that lingers around for a bit. Very thick almost heavy mouthfeel, goes down smooth and pleasant though!

It's a very good beer. I haven't drank too many barley wines but I'm going to start trying more now! Very drinkable and high in alcohol, so drinker beware! Sneaks up on ya if you drink it too fast!

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Photo of Jree261
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a red amber color out of the bottle with a thin layer of foam.

Smell: Lots of cedar and char going on. Also an underlayer of pork and bbq.

Taste: All of the flavors that remind me of a backyard bbq, pork, gamy, some dairy flavors as well. Smoke, tobacco, and earth are big time.

Mouthfeel: Big hefty beer with a finish that goes on for almost a full minute.

Overall: Good beer, the finish definitely stands out as the best part for me. It makes me want a cheeseburger, a hot dog, and a sunny day.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 release.

Depp ruby and copper colored brew. Decent, slow tan head for a barleywine . Pretty good bubbling too.

Rich, warm, caramelized fruity aroma. Sweet, toasty biscuits overwhelmed by syrupy fruit marmalade and alcoholic warmth. A little mustiness in there too.

Caramel meets with marmalade, heavily toasted biscuits, caramelized plums and apples. Add to that ,a sometimes bitter, alcoholic twang and palate. An obvious slow sipper best shared with family and friends, or selfishly by yourself.


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Photo of Smurf2055
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed Nov 2011, vintage 2007

2007 vintage enjoyed at Bevridge Place in West Seattle.

Aroma was amazing! Sweet yet balanced, malt and hops, aggressive yet friendly.

Appearance was dark amber with about a finger of foam. Obviously at four years old, there’s very little carbonation on it.

Taste was decent. Warming feeling and a bit of citrus. Lot’s of malt. There was a bit of an alcohol bite, and I sort of expected a bit more complexity at four years old.

Palate was full and strong all over and remains for a while.

Overall, as far as they go, this one was pretty good. It’s very Stone brewing; up front and aggressive, and it knows it.

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Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Veeery bitter, hoppier and more aggressive than a lot of other barleywines I've tasted. Bright color, orange with hints of red, jewel-like and vibrant with a creamy, clean,tan head.The nose was the most amazing part; fruity and sweet, cherries, lychee, grape. The first sip gives you a fleeting moment of sweetness, followed by a rush of bitter pine, grapefruit rind, and earthy herbs. The aftertaste is hot, boozy and bitter. The mouthfeel is full and oily, full carbonation and bite. I wish the taste matched the nose because the scent was the most amazing part. Still a very good barleywine, aggressively hopped and very much in the vein of what Stone does.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 Release.
A finger of head on a deep amber colored body.
The aroma is nice with caramel and lemon coming through; and touch of bread.
The taste is good with a hidden boldness: lemon bitterness, caramel and bready sweetness; great balance and drinkability.
The texture is crisp with moderate carbonation.
One of the most drinkable barleywines that hides its high ABV well.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 release.

Appearance: Super hazy orange amber color with a resilient off-white one finger head.

Aroma: Sweet barley and an orangey hoppy character. A tinge of alcohol. Not all that aromatic.

Taste: A big beer by any account. There is a lot of subtle malt flavors that sort of blend and come across as an amber and caramel flavor. No toffee or toasted qualities just unaltered malt flavor. Counteracting the sweet blend of barley is an understated bitterness. It's understated because it never feels more intense than moderate but definitely sticks with you long after the finish. The hop character is mostly orange with a touch of pine. As with most Barleywines, Old Guardian has a serious amount of hops and malt to it but a definite balance between the two extremes. At 11% ABV it's shocking how very little alcohol is present. In fact, there is really only a slight alcohol flavor right at the start that is quickly hidden by the robustness of the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Thick like a milkshake. Average carbonation but I'd recommend an aggressive pour. A full bodied as it is, Old Guardian has good drinkability. Although perhaps not when paired with a meal.

Final Thoughts: I'm a huge fan of Stone Brewing and for the most part Old Guardian completely met my expectations. However, I'm not a fan of orange hop flavor especially in Barleywines as it tends to accentuate the malt sweetness in a bit of a cloying manner. Personal preference that only affected my scoring very slightly. Aside from that note, another excellent beer from one of my favorite and most respected breweries. Would I drink it again? Yes, I expect on-tap would be fantastic.

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Photo of Dope
4.19/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 release. 11.6% ABV. Quite fresh.

A: Pours a clear dark red/amber. Big, fluffy tan head. Head fades away quite slowly, leaving thick fluffy splotches of lacing behind. Top notch head retention.

S: Lots of bread and caramel but a surprising amount of hops too. Resinous, piney hops mainly.

T: Even hoppier than the aroma gives away. Tons of pine and resin up front with a surprising amount of bitterness. Dark breads and caramel in the middle. Sticky malt and oily hops with more bitterness in the aftertaste. Long lingering bitter, drying resinous aftertaste. Hoppy all the way through, really surprising.

M: Fairly heavy, very sticky and very oily.

O: Wow, I was really surprised by this one. Yes, it's Stone, but I wasn't expecting it to be THIS hoppy. Honestly it's hoppier than fresh bigfoot. It's borderline big DIPA-ish, like a double crooked tree or a 120min. Very sticky mouthfeel one of the strongest I've had in that sense. The beer literally stick to your mouth and the flavors stays around forever as a result. Oily from all the hops. Very intriguing. I really enjoyed this one, one of the better american barleywines I've ever tasted. I bet some barrel aging would make this sublime.

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Photo of brewski09
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

2011 Release aged in a combination of a cool dark closet and a beer fridge. Poured into a red wine glass (a nice serving substitute for a goblet or tulip style glass).

A - Pours a ruddy brownish red with a small head that doesn't stick around too long. The beer is nice and clear.

S - The smell is now dominated by a big sherry note as expected by the original booze note when this was fresh. I feel like there is a non-distinct hop aroma in the background here too. Overall, a really nice progression of the malt profile and alcohol, but still balanced enough by the other beer characteristics.

T - The beer still has a mild hop bite to it up front that hangs around the taste profile. The sherry hits you up front as well, but then fades into the background and allows the booze to mellow and then allows the malts and hops to return.

M - The mouth feel is thinner than expected, somehow less viscous than the fresh beer was. The carbonation seems a little finer as well. The mouth feel falls just a little short for me.

O - A really nice progression of a high quality barleywine. Happy I hid this one instead of just drinking it right away.

If you have one of these from 2011 still, I would probably drink it now.

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured entire bomber into 34oz mug. Dark orange, almost ruby with a thick white foamy head. Smell could almost be from an IPA from the floral and hop notes, but more sweetness is noticeable. Taste is sweet and malty, with a bitter hoppy finish. Alcohol isn't really noticeable, quite sinister for 11%. Mouthfeel is fizzy at first, then slick but heavy. Seems to be missing the middle or something; overall it's a great beer though. Big in flavor and alcohol.

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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.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a toffee-coloured ESB kind of hue. Head is off-white, loose threads, not much left. Lace is alright. Looks OK.

Smell is lovely, caramelly toffee and sweet. Buckwheat, a touch of port and salted caramel above all else. Bit of solvent is a slight glitch, but otherwise very pleasant indeed.

Taste gets more of that caramel than all other flavours, but lots more as well. Bit of figgy richness, buckwheat again, some slight herbal hopping and some metallic notes. Bit on the heavy/sweet side, so not for every day, but it was always going to be. Still lots to like here.

A little flat and very syrupy texture. Could use something maybe to dry it up at the back, or more hops to cleanse.

Big, sweet beer. Nice, but could use a bit more on the balance side perhaps.

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Photo of Jason
4.09/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz brown bomber with a vintage date.

Deep reddish amber, epic lacing. Minty spicy hops, ripe melon, caramel, broth and esters permeate the nose. Creamy, smooth, boozy and full bodied. Intense, bitter, bready, toasted grain, caramel, ripe fruit, hay and tangerines on the tongue. Finishes bitter and semi-dry.

Powerful and bold and very enjoyable to sip.

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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 obrike
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bought a bomber at Round Rock Specs just a few days ago.

Pours a deep ruby with a some dark honey/brown. Pour leaves a one finger off white head that dissapates fairly quickly. Lovely looking brew...only thing keeping it from a 5 for me is the lack of significant lacing.

Getting a ton of sticky sweet malts, some pine and citrus...and a booze burn. Big booze burn.

Nice mix of bitter, sweet carmel covered hops and sugary malt. The sweetness is there, but mix of hops and alcohol make for an interesting, bold take on the style. Certainly a sipper as the 11% will sneak up on you quick.

Another Stone beauty here...not one for the masses, but certainly a brew for people looking to enjoy a very well crafted Big Bad-ass American Barleywine

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A two year vertical (and horizontal with the current oak-smoked Guardian)
2013: Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours an orange-copper amber with a thin, patchy off-white head forming an almost perfect clover shape in the glass with a ring around the glass with light lacing. Surprisingly mild aroma of caramel malt, pine hops and grain alcohol. Flavor follows aroma with caramel malt, great piney and citrus hops, a bit of dark fruit. The hops dominate the finish, leaving a pleasant pine bitterness. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. A very nice hoppy American style barley wine.

2009: Also poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours an orange-copper amber with a thin off-white head formed a thin persistent film and ring around the glass with light lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, brown sugar, dark fruit and a hint of sherry oxidation. Flavor follows with caramel malt, dark fruit and mild grassy hops. Nicely integrated and the alcohol noticeable on the fresh Guardian is now well covered. Medium bodied with only a suggestion of creaminess (unusual for a barley wine aged this long). This has held up very well and definitely mellowed with the flavors and alcohol melded very well. Hops are muted, but identifiable. This will absolutely stay in my cellaring cycle, but scores about the same as the fresh one; the fresh shows brighter, spicier hops, but the alcohol is more noticeable. The older one is more muted in flavor, but more balanced and less boozy tasting.
Scores are almost identical, but the 2013 gets a half point off for being rather muted. Total score here is for the aged one.

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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 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.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The 2012 edition. Poured into a tulip glass.

A: Dark amber with a tan half-finger head that leaves bubbles in its wake. Significant lacing.

S: Bourbon, leather, licorice, brown sugar.

T: Excellent. Smooth; robust hops dominate. Barley malt heavy. Sweet, bourbon-y. A lightly bitter finish that settles well.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. Creamy.

O: Outstanding. Alcohol slides in for a fine buzz. Will buy again. One of the better barleywines available. Go, Stone!

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A 22 oz bomber 2012 release

A - A cloudy amber red, with 1 finger of head and sticky lace left all over the glass. Zero clarity and particle floating throughout. Unfiltered. Beautiful

S - Brown sugar, piny, and caramel. Lots of brown sugar. Not as quite as strong in the nose as some other Barleywines

T - Oh my. Brown sugar, sweet, malty, boozy. Delicious!

M - Full bodied and well carbonated. This one is a sipper

O - Another amazing offering from Stone. All hopped out and full of flavor. Would not expect any less from Stone. Well done, and I will be purchasing this one again...and soon!

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Photo of Craigory
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 release, poured from a 22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Pours a slightly murky, auburn colour, with tons of off-white head. The head sticks around for a decent amount of time, eventually settling to a light ring on top of the beer.

S: Tons of caramel and burnt sugar, a fair amount of alcohol, and just a bit of citrus-y hops. Smells sweet, sweet, and sweeter.

T: Follows the nose exactly. This is a lot of burnt sugar and toffee, a bit of caramel, a bit of citrus hops, and just enough alcohol to keep me from drinking too fast. There is a little bitterness on the back end, but this is a nice, sweet barley wine.

M: Medium-bodied, just a bit of carbonation. A nod toward syrupy, but not so much as to totally coat the mouth.

O: I like this as an American Barley Wine. Big sweetness, big alcohol, and fairly hop-forward, in keeping with Stone's values. Drinkable in the sense that it tastes great, but take the 11% seriously; this is a night of drinking unto itself.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, 2012 release

cherry amber look with a small ring of foam. smell is melon juice, rubbing alcohol, grassy hops. big and chewy body, some alcohol burn. medicinal hop finish with sweet wine-y (wine-ish?) malt.

very chewy and bitter. I'm likin' it.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I was surprised to see I hadn't reviewed this one yet, I guess tonight we set that straight.
2009 Vintage.
Pours a slightly hazy orange amber color with a decent sized beige head that settles in quite nicely. Smells of caramel and brown sugar with a bit of dark dried orange, tangerine and plum with a hint of earthy hop and ethanol. The flavor is lots of fruity sugar with a hit of ethanol. Orange and dark fruits covered in a syrupy glaze with a solid hit of alcohol. Medium body with a light level of carbonation and a sweet resinous mouthfeel. Nice barleywine that I enjoy every year. At 3 years old this one is just starting to develop a sherry like note.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.85/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage

Appearance : a beautiful dark amber color. The head formed up to about two and a half fingers worth. The head slowly subsided but was present throughout.

Smell: the barley is present here which mixed nicely with the boozy aroma. The aroma was more subtle with the aging which made it very pleasant.

Taste: it is perfect here. Strong caramel sweetness really dominates this brew. The aging of this bottle allowed the boozy flavor to be nicely hidden. 11% abv is noticeable but does not interfere. Alcohol provides a warmth instead of an offensive bite which makes this an elite barley wine.

Mouthfeel: sweet. Smooth. There is a creamy texture to this but a slight sting keeps you on your toes.

Overall: probably my favorite barley wine. Simply awesome, no doubt another amazing product from stone. The sweetness mixed with the alcohol sting sets this one aside for me. I anxiously await the 2013 release

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer pours a slightly dense reddish-copper body with a sticky beige film supported by a slow carbonation.

S- The green hops has some fruity notes to it during the pour and a creamy rich dry caramel aroma with hints of lighter toasted malt.

T- The woody green bitter hops has some green licorice flavors to it with some hop lifesaver qualities. The big bitter hop bite in the finish turns pungent in the aftertaste and lingers quite a bit. The dry caramel malt flavors come through but it is never strong enough to offset the bitterness of the hops.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a gentle fizz and a soft alcohol warmth.

O- It seems like there is a nice barleywine in this bottle but it is buried under a bitterness. The malt comes out much more in the aroma but it doesn’t have the richness in the flavor. The big hop bite in the finish just to much.

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