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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: 488 | 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 RattleheadKV2
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into 16 oz goblet.

Appearance: Pours a nice dark amber, with about a half a fingers worth of off-white head, the dissipates rather rapidly.Tons of alcohol legs.

Smell: Wow, this sure is an American Barley Wine, hops all over the place. Tons of piney citriusy notes; grapefruit, oranges, pine needles aplenty.

Taste: Tons of hops at the front, that blends into a smooth sweet maltiness, and finishes bitter, and dry.

Mouthfeel: Nice full body on this one, you can almost chew it.

Overall: Great brew, and rather smooth for such a your barley wine. I grabbed a few extra of these to cellar over the years. Truly a great release that I look forward to every year.

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Photo of HopNelius
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served out of 22oz and into sniffer.
Appearance- brown, medium carbonation, some lacing.
Smell- dark fruit and malts.
Taste- dark fruit, clove,bread. Great taste drinkable for the abv, alcohol is not overpowering.
Mouthfeel- pleasant
Overall- great beer, I bought two and will age one to see how thi tastes over time.

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Photo of Prospero
4.46/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle - 2012 (this is one of those beers that gets better with age)

A- sweet caramel nose
L- slight haze, reddish-brown, medium tan head, dissipates quickly
T- sweet caramel and toffee flavor with slight bitterness from the hops that creates an incredible balance, hops much less prominent than fresh
F- rich, coats the palette and lingers nicely
O- I've decided 3-years is perfect age for this that let's the sweet malty backbone shine, hides the alcohol and not much presence of oxidation yet when properly cellared.

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Photo of stangski83
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely amazing; the local bottle shop was clearancing this for 4.99/bomber (2012 release). I can't believe how smooth this 11%'er went down and am damn proud that I was able to snatch a bottle for slow and appreciative consumption. Stone should be proud. Sad that distribution out east sometimes turns into a waiting game and retailers that are unsure of aging and amazing beer in their shops. Sad, sad, sad!

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bias alert--Old Guardian is one of my favorite all time beers. In the past, I've had to buy it online from Beer on the Wall, import it from California friends or buy it in Indiana during our annual Purdue road trip. When I found out that Old Guardian was coming in later in the day when I was buying beer for the One Voice fundraiser beer basket, I was very excited. The next day I called to reserve a case of twelve to last me through the year, and maybe age a few.

The last case of Old Guardian I bought was when I asked my sister to pick me up some bottles when she still lived in LA. Stopping at the local liquor store, she was able to buy a case and did so. I took eleven bottles home in my travel backpack on the plane. This was the 2003 vintage that was the old recipe, and I have two bottles left that I will review as a comparison to 2010 and 2012 versions later.

Today's bottle has a creamy pale brown head on top of a orange tinted brown ale. My wife says the color is a liquefied root beer candy. Nose is mellow when cold, and experience has taught me to sip this one slow--and not just for the 11% alcohol kick. The beer opens up nicely and is a favorite Sunday afternoon beer that I can lazily drink through a fall football game or a movie. Alcohol is apparent in the nose as is the 85 IBUs. Strong hop on top of fig, dark fruit and caramel maltiness. Pleasant and perfectly balance. Hops bite hard on the tongue to counter balance the syrupy malt backbone of this beer along with a resin and oiliness reminiscent of Belgian quadruple.

Stone's description explains the change in character for 2012. Chinook, Calypso and Cascade hops were substituted for the recent usual East Kent Goldings. I like the change, but it is clearly different--like seeing an old friend after years a part. If you are a follower of the hop god at all, I would try a bottle of this beer.

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Photo of JTSbeerislife
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at the Fridge

Poured into a small flared mouth snifter. An acceptable glass.

Pours a rather thin head which rapidly reduces to nothing. A swirl of the glass brings everything back to life.
Beautiful reddish amber color.

Big aroma of malt and yeast, followed by citrus and pine hops. Quite fine and extremely enjoyable.

Very full, crisp, bitter hop dominated entry on the palate. There is a lot of delicious rich malt.
Very full mouth feel with perfect light carbonation.
Slightly sweet but not overdone considering the amount of hops and malt present. Balanced.

Very, very long finish of hop dominated malt. The hop oils last forever. Trademark Stone’s.

An exceptionally delicious Barleywine. In the top tier along with Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Troegs Flying Mouflan. Lots of distinct hops and balanced malt make for a highly drinkable brew.

Highly recommended!

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Photo of Oldejoe
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look. Very nice golden red Amber, with light tan medium head.
Smell. Pretty robust hops and barley. Not too yeasty or beery.
Taste. Soft, slightly sweet, malty start, followed quickly by medium hoppy bitters, ends with dry mild hops.
Mouth feel. Medium heavy body, oily, chewy, palette smacking, with medium effervescence.
Overall. Probably my favorite barley wine. Very nice look, pleasant distinctive aromas, robust mouthfeel, and a good run of tastes from from front to back.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 release poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, brown sugar, dark fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar and citrus fruits. Then a strong but not over-powering hops presence comes in along with a significant alcohol sting. The malt character is hearty and creates a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly hoppy.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this beer seems to lose some fans with each passing year but to me it continues to be a very good high-octane beer to drink for as long as you handle it.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an almost clear amber-orange with a thin layer of frothy off-white head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel, biscuit, and caramelized malts with grapefruit, citrus, and pine hops and some booze.

T - Starts off with some sweet caramel and biscuit malts with lots of grapefruit and citrus hops and some bitterness. Through the middle, pine hop flavors comes through with more bitterness alongside some caramelized sugars and some more biscuit malt. The finish is a mix of sweet caramelized malts with lots of tropical, citrus, and resiny pine hops, bitterness, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a resiny, bitter, dry, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice hoppy American Barleywine. The hop profile is really great and helps to balance out the hotness and body. Enough malt flavor to keep up as well.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review #500! 22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2013 release.

Appearance: Hazy dark amber. Light tan thin head. Lots and lots of persistent fine strand lacing all over the glass.

Smell: Orange citrus, alcohol notes, fruity esters, roasted malts, caramel.

Taste: Citrus hops right up front, the moving into a wide range of flavors: toffee, roasted malts, pine. Some alcohol heat noted. Lingering bitter finish with some malt sweetness thrown in. The finish had notes of pine and lemon, with the lemon being sharp as the beer warmed up.

Mouthfeel: Pleasantly thick, sticky, with just right carbonation under it all.

Overall / Drinkability: Overall, I think this needs to be paired with the right meal, which I didn't hit tonight, which was a barley, potato, and ditilini + vegetable broth soup. But, it's pretty damn good sipping slowly all by itself. I think this would pair better with beef and roasted vegetables. Despite the food mismatch this was quite tasty and dangerously drinkable. I knew it was 11.2% ABV going in, but one large snifter later I'm feeling the effects, and yet I want some more sips. The hoppiness of this Barleywine is just right - it's strong enough for a hophead, but not overpowering; it allows the malt to shine and compliment all the hop flavors. The lemon note was a nice touch with this one. This beer sat and aged for about ~8 months (or whenever it was bottled at the start of 2013), and I wonder how it would be with another 9-12 months but maybe the hop flavors would get too muted. In any case, I very good choice for my 500th beer review and I may pick up another version of this and let it sit longer next time.

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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 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

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Photo of LaneMeyer
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I aged this for a year, and I have to say it's gotten a loottt better. I enjoyed this beer fresh, it wasn't my favorite barley wine so I decided to put one away. Opened it up tonight and Wow!

A - Poured into a Duvel Tulip. Pours a deep amber color with about 1/2 a finger of off-white head.

S - Caramel, toffee, bready goodness, apricots, caramelized sugar, yum.

T - A bit sweet at first, caramel, toffee, apricot, finishes slightly bitter.

M - Can feel the carbonation, light syrupy

O - An amazing beer, wish I had another one aging for yet another year, I can only imagine this will get even better.

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Photo of BigDRS
4.37/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 Release bomber. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a deep copper color with a pillowy light tan colored head that sticks around forever. All sorts of lace clings to the glass.

S - Complex. I get cherry/fruit cake notes along with some tangerine. Malty ... not a lot of hop character.

T - Front end is dominated by malts. Followed up by a blend of fruit, dark cherry, and dark chocolate. Hops finally come through in the end.

M - It's definitely full bodied. Not as thick and syrupy as some other barleywines I've had, and considering that there's 22oz of this for me to finish that probably is a good thing. Lighter mouthfeel (in comparison to others in the style) brings the hops forward a bit more, which I enjoy.

O - A solid barleywine. Would definitely drink another ... next year.

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Photo of dacrza1
4.36/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

DATE TASTED: May 20, 2015... GLASSWARE: Duvel snifter... OCCASION: Cavs begin the Eastern Conference Finals in Atlanta--as good a time as any for the Old Guardian! APPEARANCE: Dark ruby body that is almost opaque; sports a fortified, thick, creamy off-white head that laces in equally thick webbing... AROMA: a blast of hops--Cascade, centennial, and Amarillo, by estimate--elicits a welcome interest; some earthy, damp tree-like tones; malts are dark and intense... PALATE: gloriously and uncompromisingly full-bodied; thick and creamy, with a long-lasting finish that warms the throat--a pleasantly irrepressible presence...TASTE: A potpourri of hops crunch in the teeth--citrus, mango, apple, berry, licorice, liquor, and cinnamon; the malts are the size of a horse blanket and approximate the taste--a raw, full tete-a-tete between hop and malt; slight medicinal undertones... OVERALL: as I remember it--a force of nature, repressed alcohol nonetheless driving a bold, balanced barley wine that smashes the senses--am I speaking in too much hyperbole?--and strikes a vinous similarity with a lighter red; a champion of the genre...supersedes the Bigfoot....

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Photo of Radome
4.36/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tasted from a 22 oz bomber bottle labeled "2015 Classic Release."

L - A beautiful beer. Dark amber color with some red; absolutely crystal clear. Head is light tan, huge and fluffy and long lasting. Gobs of lacing.

S - Great blend of strong bready malt, raisins and stone fruit, and American hops. Some low yeast fruitiness.

T - Like the aroma, the flavors are a blend of malt (warm bread, light plums and raisins, hint of soy sauce) and US hops (pineapple and earthiness). Some rummy alcohol flavors mix with the malt.

F - Medium to full body. High, creamy carbonation. Strong alcohol presence. There is a huge hit of hops bitterness, letting you know this is definitely an American barley wine.

O - A good barley wine, but not excellent for me. This is a huge beer in terms of hops bitterness and alcohol, but I don't think the flavors are as interesting as the other assertive qualities would lead you to want.

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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.

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

Pours amber with 2+ fingers of tan head. Much sticky lacing, good lacing

S: Pine & grapefruit & much booze

T: Follows the nose, some pineapple, rich breadyness & dryness up front. Herbal hops, a touch of caramel & much dryness, plus grapefruit by the truckload & pinesap, plus a touch of booze warmth. Finishes piney with some herbal & woody hops

MF: Chewy as all get out, skews hoppy, but there's plenty of malt body there too, subtle moderate carbonation

Full fledged hop assault, this would be a great one to take the winter chill off, but is going down great on a spring evening. The ABV is fairly well hidden. A great American Barleywine for hopheads & the rest of us too!

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Photo of richj1970
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Today I was able to compare a 2012 release bottle. No date, but by definition should be at least one year older than my previous review. The main difference in this bottle is that the alcohol heat has dissipated quite nicely, and perhaps the sweetness is a bit more prominent. Both bottles are amount my favorite barley wines.

Original review:

Poured from 22 oz bottle into tulip glass. 2013 classic release bottled on 1/16/2013.

A: Pours a golden orange almost brown color with nice 2 finger off white head with nice lacing.

S: Sweet caramel and malts mixed with some citrus and dark fruits.

T: Big on malts and caramels. Nice sweetness mixed with some spiciness. Nice roasty flavors. Oak and other earthy tones present. A little bit boozy, but I suspect this will tame some with time.

M: Nicely carbonated for an 11% brew. Nice body. Not overly thick.

O: A very nice barley wine. Surprisingly easy to drink and the alcohol sneaks up on you. I need to pick up another bottle and let it age some...

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

A - Pours dark ruby into my snifter with about one finger of head, minimal retention and lacing.

S - Caramelized sugar, molasses, piny hops, honey sweetness, mild citrus, dark fruits and very faint booze.

T - Caramelized sugars, toffee, molasses, malt, piny and resinous, slight grapefruit rind bite that lingers through the finish, fig and raisin, with a mild alcohol presence.

M - Extremely well balanced, medium/full body, smooth and creamy, sticky and coats the palate, perfectly balanced carbonation.

O - I was pleasantly surprised after the first sip I took from my glass. I remember being very underwhelmed with last years version and this year they are spot on. I hope to get my hands on more of this to stash away for a bit.

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

Poured a 22oz bottle into a mini snifter

Appearance: a clear reddish amber color with a fine white head and slight retention and a spot or two of lacing

Smells: there is a sweet dark fruit that blends with the big hops and barley notes.

Tastes: a cherry and plum come through the bitter pine hops that merge and balance wonderfully with a generous barley bill I truly adore.

Mouthfeel: at 11% this is a lightly carbonated ale with and sweet aftertaste after the bitter floral hops bite.

Overall: Every year Stone lets this out around Feb. by me and I always enjoy it. this year I picked up six and after cracking the first one I remember why for the past three years I go back out grabbing as much as I can before its gone.

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Photo of mick303
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Release, enjoyed 25/5/13, colour is a dark garnet ruby brown, fairly hazy, with an amazing film and retention, a very pretty beer. 4.75

S – lots of fruity, herbal notes, banana, pecan pie, nutmeg, lots of rich cigar tobacco and syrupy espresso, burnt caramel with a bit of a nice toastiness, leafy forest. Very interesting and complex integration. Steller 4.5

T – slight alcohol spice prickle, with warming wood smoke, burnt caramel linger, hearty campfire smoke, plummy fruitiness, toasty syrupy maltiness, with some restrained caramel honey bourbon sweetness, some spiciness that permeates the flavor, cardamom maybe paprika. 4.5

M – definitely big bodied, a sipper, slight carbonation with restrained sweetness, a bit of a cloying mineral aspect , cigar smoke drying out the side of your mouth, , hop oils come through on the feel, drying and slightly tart. 4

A very nice barleywine, lots of complexity and great flavor. A smooth body with malt and rich caramel fruity notes. A very rich flavour, with biscuit and leafy tropical notes, so full and rather dry and tannic feel to it. Very worthwhile beer.

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Photo of Tonmeister
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle onto Goose Island Glass

Appearance: Red, amber, white thick head at first, followed by a thin head.

Smell: Apple, sweet barleys, hoppy, fruity, sugary with a faint smell of alcohol.

Taste is bitter-sweet, with a hint of alcohol. Sugary, on the forefront and hoppy, citric bitter presence afterwords.

Mouthfeel: thick, bubbly. Highly carbonated.

Overall this is one of my favorite beers. It is very well balanced between the sweet barley wine and the hops. This is a beer that is definitely meant to be sipped on; no need to rush to drink it. The hop presence cuts through when the beer is at room temperature.

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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

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Growler into pint glass. 2013 release (and yes, I trust State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD in this regard). Clear, dark amber with a thin, off-white head that dissipates rapidly....
But enough of this visual crap. You want to know what it tastes like, right? OMFG. This is exceptionally good! Maltiness vs hops (a draw); sweetness vs bitterness (another draw); big, thick, chewy mouthfeel that isn't syrupy but is reeeeeeally smooth. ABV is (too?) well hidden - it drinks like an 8 percenter, but it definitely packs a punch.
This is good stuff. Get you some.

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