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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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

250 Reviews
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 250
Hads: 1,850
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 63
Gots: 475 | 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: 250 | Hads: 1,850
Photo of Cylinsier
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz.

Pours a hazy amber, inch of yellowish white head is pillowy and retains well. Eventually dissipates to a lacing.

Smells of buttered bread, apples, fresh piney hops, and maple.

Flavor is of maple and honey malts, buttered toast, apple, and a piney floral hop finish. Some woody and nutty undertones.

Body is medium to full, viscous, with a stinging carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

Very good Barleywine, not as hoppy as a lot of American styles, but hoppy enough to balance out the heavy malt. Overall very balanced, very good flavor and aroma. Worth seeking out. (585 characters)

Photo of JTbrue
4.29/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

'14 vintage on tap at the Bier Stein, Eugene, OR. L: Great color, a little hazy but the orange-dark red-brownish color with an off-white head is really doing it for me. S: more booze than I expected considering there's not too much in the taste for an 11%, big hops, big caramel-candi-dark fruit smell. T: Well it's a Stone beer... Perfect hop balance and flavor from beginning to end. The malt flavors are there too, along with dark fruits and a little caramel. Very little alcohol- big plus for me with a barleywines. F: heavy bodied, not too much carbonation which I like with my barleywines. Incredibly smooth and dangerously drinkable. O: living in Southern California, I am always hesitant to say that I love Stone beers considering how huge they are nationwide, but they continue to come out with beers that are just fantastically well made. This is one of them, especially after a year when you get that hop flavor and the bitterness has died down a bit. Really tasty, very drinkable, overall a really good beer. (1,021 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 biegaman
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Despite a papaya-like colour, Old Guardian looks as rigid as the marble gargoyle on its label. My LED desk lamp may light up the beer but there's no way it's getting through it; turns out even pale amber beers can be opaque. There's not much head but I suppose that's to be expected.

This 2008 vintage smells every bit as sweet (figuratively, though also a little bit literally) than ever. Nearly 7 years in the cellar has only turned this into more of a honey pot of rich, nutty, buttery fruit. Loads of fresh mango, dried apricot, as well as pine resins abound.

Barleywines are something of an anomaly insofar as they can be ultra-malty and simultaneously rich and resiny with hops. This is full of both sticky and tropical flavours; it tastes like caramel coated pineapple or toffee-laced grapefruit. Neither sweepingly bitter nor sweet, this blends the two in a perfect marriage with an abundance of delicious nuances and just a pinch of spice.

Most seductive as always is the texture of Old Guardian. Dried and honeyed orchard fruits promptly excuse themselves on the finish, parting way for leafy-bitter, herbal notes of pine, spruce, and strongly-steeped chamomile that mingle with lasting impressions of toffee, marmalade, and wildflower honey. It has the components to be a powerhouse but is not.

Old Guardian is seemingly immortal - if not the beer itself then certainly my enjoyment of it (not to mention the fond nostalgia of vintages past). If my cellar consisted of just one brand it'd probably be this one. To my knowledge there is no liquid better suited to moments of quiet reflection. This was an early favourite of mine and one that I continue to return to year after year. (1,705 characters)

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage. Dirty brown body with a surprisingly foamy tan head. Aroma is of sweet malt, green raisins and a bit of caramel. Flavor is on par for the style, sweet caramel, toasted malts, a dash of dried fruit. Full bodied with medium carbonation. This one is a good example of the style and has held up very nicely after a few years. (335 characters)

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. (183 characters)

Photo of Furlinator
3.74/5  rDev -6.7%

2012 vintage.

Pours a hazy copper. The 1/2 inch khaki head fades to a thin cap on top and leaves very faint lace. There is visible floating sediment.

The smell is of toasted bread, caramel, toffee and faint booze.

The taste roasted malt, biscuit bread, toffee and a hint of booze.

The texture is heavy bodied with low carbonation.

A solid caramel malt heavy barleywine. (378 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 release

Appearance: A cascading bubble show produces a massive head that perches above the copper colored liquid; loads of foam clump on the side of the glass

Smell: A beguiling blend of caramel, toasted bread, piney hops and pith

Taste: The toasted bread and caramel create a massive first impression, with the pine, pith and outright bitterness building into the middle; the hops continue to assault the palate through the finish, though the malt bill refuses to retreat and battles to the finish

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: The thing I most dislike in many of the Stone hopped out beers (their assertive stickiness) is quadrupled in Old Guardian yet I find myself quite enjoying this bottle; though I am more a fan of English barleywines than their American counterparts, I have to say that this is a first class interpretation of the latter style (895 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

450ml glass, at Craft Beer Market - this is the 2014 edition, and after looking this one up on here, it was never more apparent to me that some people either just can't read, or are indeed not worthy.

This beer appears a fairly hazy, dark bronzed amber colour, with one flabby finger of densely foamy, slightly bubbly, and generally creamy ecru head, which leaves a broken wall of sagging paint job lace around the glass as it lazily falls away.

It smells of thick, viscous caramel/toffee malt, a subtle treacle sweetness, sharp orange, grapefruit, and aged lemon citrus, plum, prune, dark cherry, and fig fruit, and a further bit of earthy, leafy, and certainly perfumed bitterness. The taste is again quite malty upfront, with a hefty dose of nougaty Mars Bar on top of the 'standard' caramel, toffee, and vanilla players, which all seems overwrought, until the big C hops (and their friends) come bursting onto the scene - pine and citrus detritus everywhere, my oh my. While my palate acclimatizes, some boozed-up black fruit, in a kind of Eastern European cake format, closes things out.

The carbonation is more or less just supportive, barely a whisper of fizz to be found here, the body a solid as a rock medium-heavy weight, and way smoother than anything this heady, hoppy, or boozy should be. It finishes still sweet, of course, as this sort of malt isn't quite that forgiving.

Yeah, this is exactly what I thought my exposure to Old Guardian might be - huge, on every side and vector of the beer spectrum. Stone does not disappoint, providing a tight package of high-test goodness, one which taken in larger doses, will certainly get you tight in your unworthy drawers. (1,687 characters)

Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. Bottle (2009 vintage)

Lets play a game called the waiting game. I didnt mind this fresh, but aged... That is another story. This is the 2009 edition that I am currently enjoying. Yeah, I am boring you, time for the brew! This Gargoyle pours pretty! Deep copper body with light golden blonde hues. Nice white soapy lacing. This beast looks outstanding!

The aroma has notes of oxidation, wet cardboard with an underlaying caramel and toffee. They seem to stretch out first and hit the nose hairs first. On the backend seems to be a bleachy aroma that fades fast to some green apple skin. I am not joking its there. Yet to me that adds some complexity to the aroma.

The flavor is the justifying agent, so what does the tastebuds have to say? The flavor is fine! Its shooting forth notes of caramel sweetness that lays forth sherry notes of toffee and fruits. So I guess some oxidation is proven in the flavor. Yet, its not as off-putting as the aroma describes. Then the apple skin flavor pulls forth after the swallow that leaves an earthy bitter tobacco aftertaste. This finishes sweet and bitter with a subtle dryness that leaves you satisfied. This brew feels is light on the palate with boring carbonation.

Overall: I would like to have a Verticle with all the vintages. Yet right now, I know it ages with the best of them. If you like oxidation in your brew. The age of this brew has hidden the high gravity of the brew, yet it's oxidation pulls forth some favorable characteristics. Sherry notes I like, yet the wet cardboard and bleach in the aroma is a bit of a let down, not by much though. The rest of the flavor of the brew is a win for me! So I guess its not a total loss at all to age one of these buggers. Now I have to see how a fresh one tastes. Blah, blah, blah! This brew is Recommended! (1,818 characters)

Photo of Jeffreychason
3.25/5  rDev -19%

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 (290 characters)

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Purchased from Okinawa Brewing Company, Next to Tori Station Okinawa...

A - Poured from bomber into Avery tulip taster glass; a rich mahogany, pure and clear with a thick off white head.

S - A full hop profile from the nose hides what should be a metric ton of malt making up the backbone of this beer.

T - Sweet, savory, and thick in the front, hoppy and spicy in the rear, very enjoyable and a kick in the teeth like I so needed.

M - Shows a nice full body with a calm level of carbonation; warming while it sticks to the cheeks and gums.

Overall a very nice ABW that has what is expected, high IBU's, a waterfall of malts and a burning touch reminiscent of an old friend. Recommend. (690 characters)

Photo of Bowers-Brew
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%

A - Nice brown / amber malt, clean white porous head.

S - Sweet malt, caramel, slight vanilla / oak, light grassy notes.

T/M - A sweet creamy malt body with a hoppy/bitter finish.

O - I wanted to try one fresh so I can compare it to one that ages. This was a bit hot and hoppy, which I hope will smooth out. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about some of the extra hoppy American barleywines. Some people will read the label, because why not? Prost! (465 characters)

Photo of mt24turner
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Aroma- Dried Apricot, pineapple, Heavy Malt sweetness.
Taste- Sweet upfront with heavy fruit flavor apricot, pineapple, raisin, plenty of caramel sweetness backed up with a nice balance of bitter hop resins, very spicy hop oils and warming alcohol finish.
Huge mouthfeel on this one, carbonation helps balance the heavy malt. Great barleywine definitely recommended (367 characters)

Photo of barczar
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy deep copper with a billowing, frothy dark cream head that slowly dissipates, leaving sheets of thick lacing.

Sweet, brown sugary caramel malt, toffee, muted grapefruit, resin, and caramel form the initial aroma. Raisins, dates, and prunes add complexity.

Flavor reveals underpinnings of grapefruit pith, tart tangerine, and lime, with a fairly sweet, toffee malt backbone, finishing resiny and fairly bitter. Rum-soaked dates, raisins, and figs add complexity.

Body is full, smooth, and luscious, with modest carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

Great contrast of sweet malt and bitter hops, with tart, fruity hop notes countering dark fruit nicely. It's a little hot and a bit bitter for my liking, but the other notes redeem it very well. (758 characters)

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes. Twenty-two ounce bottle shared by Andrew. 2006 Vintage.

A: Pours a semi-clear amber with a very thin (1/16-inch) white head with essentially dissapears and leaves a couple of spots of lace.

N: Loads of caramel and vanilla, sweet malts, slightly oxidized notes.

T: Sweet caramel and toffee, slight stale bread.

M: Semi-full body and light carbonation. Finishes with a lingering sweet caramel.

O: The age on this makes it extra special. A treat. (469 characters)

Photo of jsausley
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a stout glass.

A: Dark and thick like a black coffee. Little bit of carbonation bubbles on the outside edge of the glass.

S: Rich and malty with a toffee and vanilla nose.

T: Very boozy, but not overpowering. Big chocolate and vanilla flavors. Malt body, no bitterness or hops apparent. Coffee, toffee and caramel in the middle and on the finish.

M: Smooth, rich and creamy. Very fun to drink. Silky.

O: A very cool, rich and heavy beer. Not something to drink lightly (no pun intended), but very, very good. (539 characters)

Photo of SerialTicker
3.79/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

$7 pint at Boat Works in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.

Seeing this on-tap and loving Stone, I knew I had to try it. I'm not the hugest fan of American Barleywines, but I enjoy them time-to-time. The last one I really liked was Crunkle Sam from Clown Shoes, so this unfortunately gets compared to that.

When I first got it no doubt at a temperature far colder than the recommended temperature, I just zeroed in on the intense bitterness that would be off-putting to many. As it warmed up, it changed a lot, as I expected it to. The rich, plentiful malt character shined through, although there wasn't much sweetness, given this particular style. Massive hop bitterness with a lot of citrus rind characteristics in this one. Lacking on flavor depth, though -- a nice Barleywine-y malt quality that I expect, then the fruitiness from the hops, but nothing too new or original. I really enjoyed, for instance, Crunkle Sam because it offers a distinct orange sort of flavor.

Old Guardian is a very good American Barleywine that certainly doesn't skimp on the hops. The alcohol is reasonably hidden when it's cold, but as it approaches room temperature, you REALLY know what you're getting into. A nice beer -- not a great one, but one worth trying if you like the style, no doubt. (1,276 characters)

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? (399 characters)

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. (329 characters)

Photo of atlasalain
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Really a spot on Barleywine. medium body perfect blend of hops and hoppiness. balanced fore middle and aftertaste. This is the best beer that this brewery produces. Their other stuff is for ignoramuses that like to overspend on goofy unbalanced beer. But this stuff right here nigga... this stuff right here (307 characters)

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 (394 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle shared with a friend this weekend. Poured into a wine glass.

Pours a hazy dark orange/amber, with a half inch fizzy head, and not a whole lot of lacing.

Smells like brown sugar, raisins, pine, citrus, booze, and brown sugar.

The taste is similar. A big hop blast up front, sticky pine resin and some citrusy grapefruit zest, followed by a big wave of sweet malt flavor- some brown sugar, caramel, toffee, raisin, and a spicy alcohol burn that is integrated into the flavor profile fairly well. The flavor combinations in the malt profile bring to mind candied plums and cinnamon raisin bread, it's awesome.

Medium bodied, sticky, boozy mouthfeel, drinkable despite the ABV. Low carbonation.

This was awesome, glad I finally got to try it. (750 characters)

Photo of arizcards
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a bomber from Total Wine in early March for $5.99. Bottled on 2/7/14.

Beer poured chestnut with a nice white head.

Nose is citrus booze with a big malt base.

Taste is zesty hops up front, big malt base, a bit uneven but tasty.

Mouthfeel is huge, full and smooth.

Overall this is quite a booze bomb, lively hops make things interesting. Looking back at prior Guardian reviews i can tell my palate has change as has the offerings out there. This is a good beer, worthy of a shot for the price. Give it a try if you like big hoppy beers. (550 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.25/5  rDev -19%
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. (565 characters)

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 250 ratings.