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 biboergosum
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

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 JoeAmerican77
4/5  rDev 0%

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.

Photo of Bowers-Brew
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%

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!

Photo of mt24turner
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

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

Photo of barczar
4.12/5  rDev +3%
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.

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

Photo of jsausley
4.12/5  rDev +3%
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.

Photo of SerialTicker
3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Photo of craftbeersweden
4.63/5  rDev +15.8%
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?

Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.58/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

Photo of atlasalain
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
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

Photo of a0lbudman
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
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

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

Photo of arizcards
3.84/5  rDev -4%
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.

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 NewGlarusFan
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 edition that's poured into a Lunar Brewing Company sifter.

A) Dark brown, shoe leather, somewhat clear, thick head interesting for being 11% abv.

S) Brown sugar, sweet malt, caramel, toast, sherry too

T) Same as the aroma, no alcohol it's well hidden.

M) Thick batter like, medium carbonation

O) Very solid barley wine. I know it's American but I didn't get any hop character what so ever. I almost thought it was an English style until I re-read the label. It could have been the bottle or my pallet could have been off. Go get this one!

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.84/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle poured into an Old Guardian glass.
11.6% ABV, 2014 release, bottled 01/24/14, best cellared at or below 55°F

A - Light easily shines through this crystal clear, bright amber brew giving it one hell of an appeal. If that weren't enough, the ivory cap of foam that rests on the beer lingers for quite some time, leaving lacing on the glass for good measure.

S - Melted caramel sweetness coats heaps of cut-off bread crusts and toast with peanut brittle cooling in the background but this barleywine isn't without it's fair share of hops. The green cones impart a balancing piny bitterness that recalls tree sap as well as sharp grapefruit rind before warming alcohol gently tickles the nostrils as it passes through.

T - Like the aroma foreshadows, Old Guardian is hoppy but malt-forward, laying down a nice level of malty sweetness on the tongue. The rich bready characteristics offer toast and bread crust flavors that absorb and retain the hop-driven earthy pine sap notes like being dunked in hop tea.

M - The first few sips of Old Guardian coat the tongue in sweet malt and breadiness but it's not long before the hops catch up and sharpy attack the tongue with bitterness. This balance is key should Old Guardian remain drinkable beyond a few sips, which it sure does. Even fresh, the higher level of alcohol never becomes cloying or boozy but instead warms the throat and stomach upon the swallow - putting the perfect kibash on the brew.

O - Behind Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot, Stone's Old Guardian is one of the most iconic barleywines the States has to offer. Like most of Stone's brews, this beast is big and bold while offering deep malt and hop complexities that mingle wonderfully for a balanced and drinkable brew fresh but one that easily ages with the best of 'em which I've put to the test time and again.

Photo of Dave1999
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 bottle.

The appearance is a dark amber with a nice white head.

The smell is sweet, caramel, toffee and peppery spices. There's a little bit of alcohol as well.

The taste is sweet up, caramel and toffee like the smell, it finishes very bitter, with some pine and some citrus.

The mouthfeel is smooth and sticky with medium carbonation.

A very nice barley wine, very bitter for the style but still delicious as expected from stone.

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 ONovoMexicano
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 version poured from the bomber into a snifter.

I like the healthy glug-glug sound as this pours into the snifter. I'm impressed by the heavy carbonation this beer shows and the finger-thick, fluffy white head that forms. The beer's got a light amber color and some transparency to it. As I take the time to write some notes, the head shows some excellent persistence.

Taking a whiff, I was expecting a blast of hop, being that it's Stone, but I instead got a pungent sweetness. Caramel and toffee notes are very pronounced. There is a hint of some piney hops, but they're playing second fiddle here.

Sweetness continues on the tongue. I get a lot of caramel up front, followed by a piney hop finish. There's a good malt presence and it gives the beer a creamy quality that helps dumb down the mild heat of the booze. At the finish, the beer is remarkably bitter and dry.

I'm pretty impressed by how this is drinking fresh. Most folks cite Bigfoot as a drink fresh barleywine and I agree, but this one deserves more mention. I'll have to buy another to age and see how it changes from this review. Looking forward to it.

Photo of artoolemomo
3.86/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours up an okay amount of head which has decent retention. The head is a very light tan or khaki while the body is a very dark amber that has slight hints of maroon which don't appear in the light. Considerable lacing is left behind.

Nose- Very hop forward with a thick, malty base. Big notes of orange, lemon, and grapefruit. Caramel to burnt caramel and brown bread. Matchstick, some tropical fruits. Light notes of honey and raisins. Some cherries. Swirling rounds out the bitterness of the hop notes a little bit.

Taste- Very reflective of the nose and every bit as hoppy as the aroma indicated. Lots of citrus that ranges from orange to grapefruit with some tropical fruits thrown in. Big middle of caramel with some toffee that mixes with the pine, resin, and matchstick of the hops to give off a burnt caramel note. The hops are definitely very fresh and even tend toward earwax on the finish. A slight indication of heat on the finish but the strong pine of the finish pretty much trounces it. Hints of spice- some pepper, perhaps a little coriander. Some cherry and other stone fruits around the edges. Hop lovers should really appreciate this one but it's a little much for me. This beer is quite representative of why I tend to avoid American barleywines. Some molasses, brown sugar, and brown bread to the malt bill. A good, solid beer that flirts with being really good. And I would consider it to be really good if I appreciated the hop profile as much as I would have in the past. Not as messy as a lot of the American barleywines that I encounter, such that the word almost doesn't apply.

Mouthfeel- A little more than medium bodied with a good amount of syrup to the texture. Appropriate carbonation that has a little bit of a sting which works well with the spice and hop bitterness of the finish.

Drinkability- Fairly accessible for a young American barleywine. A little over the top for me but the alcohol is almost invisible. Another Stone bargain at 7 bucks a bomber but the only reason I would buy this again would be to age it.

Overall- A solid, good beer that has inclinations toward being really good. It is a very good representation of the style and a must try for fans of American barleywines.

Photo of goochpunch
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Version.

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

Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

A: Burgundy red and brown with a slight tan-reddish head. A bit foggy.

S: Hops definitely, barley, sweetness, and malt.

T: Hops, brown sugar and cherry oak. Burnt molasses, some nuts, orange peel, old dates/raisins, caramel, syrup, sour dough, and a big malt bill. Very very nice.

M: So perfect. Thick and creamy. Some of that rough velvet feel.

O: An excellent brew. Next up is the oaked version! The complexity of this beer astounds me. The flavor takes you on an adventure from bitter hoppiness to sweet candy to thick malt. It's an awesome barley wine.

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