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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.

253 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 253
Hads: 1,868
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 30.92%
Wants: 68
Gots: 483 | FT: 34
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: smerrell on 02-18-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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: 253 | Hads: 1,868
Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney.

Pours a lovely burnished copper-red colour with a fine, slightly overly frothy off-white head. Lacing is patchy, but the body is deep and heavy. It looks very clear and bright, but deep and suspicious as well. Love it.

Nose is heady and boozy, with a barley-sugar character laced with plenty of straight-up and possible straight-down hops. It gives it a slightly medicinal overtone, especially with the wafts of booze coming through. But really, it feels exceptionally sweet, with hops being the afterthought rather than part of the full process.

Taste is similar. There's a chewy, deeply sweet barley-sugar character throughout, that only really gets cut on the edges by the bright hop bitterness, and at the end, where the sharpness comes to a point. It's deeply sweet, however, yet doesn't have a lot of depth or complexity. It's a very odd mixture. I feel like this should be a heady maelstrom of intriguing flavours, when in fact it feels like a barleywine By The Numbers.

I mean, overall, it's good, right? It has to be. It's Stone, it's a barleywine, it's clearly well made and executed. I just really didn't connect with it though. It didn't have anything that got me excited or made me want another bottle right now. But it's solid and worthwhile, at least. That's about as enthusiastic as I can get.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of rarbring
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer is clear copper amber, a warm off-white head leaving good lacing and small curtains.

Smelling hoppy, grass, nettles, pine. Then sweet dried fruits, honey, heather.

Sweet toffee, brown bread with honey, bitter oranges, dried apricots, then bitter citric peel. Slightly boozy.

Medium carbonation, small bubbles, oily and sticky, a coarse dry finish.

Once again I have consumed a barley wine far too young.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Popped a bottle that is a few years old. Wish I could remember how old, somewhere in the 2-3 year old range most likely. Pours out a deep burnt copper and light brown. Mild off white head in the .4" range. Heavy aroma of alcohol, two row and hops. Hops being last in the aroma equation, alcohol first.

Taste, gigantosaur beer, heavy sting of alcohol, full bready mush of a malt presence, massive. Hops really don't come through as much as Greg Koch insisted a few years ago at the San Diego International Beer Festival. If the bitterness and hops are going to be this high, I'd like to see less of a malt impression, more like a dipa, but then even many dipas these days are more like barleywines. This has the west coast hopping, but with like east coast hops and a heavy east coast attempt at balance with the gigantic malt bill.

I was surprised how much the hops stuck around years later in this one. Or maybe it was just the bitterness. Anyways, not really my favorite Stone beer by a mile, and as time goes on, I get less and less interested in this style of beer. Used to love it. Now, its only the old favorites and new blonde barrel aged barleywines that seem to do the trick.

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Photo of IronLover
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep weathered copper orange in color with a deep haze. Poured with a short off-white foam that reduced to a wispy cap that left sticky lacings on the glass. Sweet caramel malt and pungent tropical grapefruit and orange hop aromas with a hint of booze in the background. Medium bodied with a resinous feel and light, subdued carbonation. Sweet caramel malt flavors up front that are slowly washed away by tangy citrus hoppiness. Finishes with a rush of grapefruit hop flavor, followed by alcoholic heat and a sticky pine hop aftertaste.

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

2011 bottle

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

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

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

Mouthfeel. Full body with medium+ carbonation.

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

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Photo of BrownAleMale
2.19/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bomber bottle poured in a Gulden Draak tulip glass.

Appearance- An orange yellow color with even some reddish hues in it. Hardly any head what so ever.

Smell- Floral hop and booze

Taste- Very boozy here and not in a well balanced or good way, more like a malt liquor way.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied all the way around.

Overall- The strong boozy flavor killed the beer for me. Only thing I can say is as the beer warmed the booze mellowed and some other flavors started to appear but I was already turned off by the 1st half and not able to enjoy the new flavor notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of barnzy78
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Release, poured into a 25oz snifter. Pours a deep brown color with reddish hues when held to the light. Creamy beige head holds good retention and leaves some chunky lacing on the glass. Huge, rich caramel nose, with toast, grain, bread crust, piny hop, brown sugar as well. Tastes are complex and bold with rich and sweet caramel up-front, followed by an assault of the palate with pine resin. Bready, toasted grain, dark brown sugar in the middle. Full of flavor, well balanced, boozy on the finish with burnt caramel and pine lingering. Body is full, creamy but resiny, with ample carbonation. Overall, once again awesome Stone quality!

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Draft into snifter at Yard House in San Diego, Calif., on July 28, 2012. Three fingers of head when I got it. Mahogany brown color. Thick white foam/lacing. Good retention all around (sides and top).

Smelled caramel, light chocolate, rye and nuts.

Tasted nutty, toffee, caramel. Very malty. So smooth.

Full body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Long lasting smooth finish.

Absolutely loved this beer. Very malty, but it worked. So smooth and a great aftertaste.

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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 Philousa
3.36/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly bright, clear copper color with a couple fingers head that dissipates quickly to leave splotches of bubbles on the surface. Aroma is sweetly caramel with a slight cinnamon accent. Hops are definitely prevalent - mainly grassy and musty, not too abrasive. Caramel and woodsy flavors dominate. A little barky, rough in flavor. Syrupy sweet, but balanced in feel. The aftertaste lingers in the back of your throat like it owns the place, all musty and bitter-like. It's very Stone-ish. The alcohol is there, but deceptive. I never would have pegged this at 11%. Feel is slightly thick, finish is dry.

I'm ambivalent about this beer. It's super sweet for a Barleywine, but the bitterness milds it out a bit. I've had the 2009 version this winter and I can say for a fact that it does mellow well with time. Should have layed this down for a couple years...

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Photo of Bottlebomber
2.98/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked up a bomber of this from the liquor store, poured into a wine glass.

A: A dark burnished copper. Pours a nice head, then BAM! Gone. Left spotty lacing. Unfortunately this is probably the highlight of this beer.

S: Bread, buttered biscuits, caramel, and some citrusy hops. With the amount of malt and hops that can potentially go into this style, I was underwhelmed.

T: Tasted quite like the smell - biscuity malt, some caramel, some citrusy hops. One thing I will have to give it was the bitterness was just right. Some people go really nuts bittering these ABW's, and I think a Barleywine should be more about the malt. Still, not enough going on to impress.

M: Semi-full. Really not as voluptuous as a Barleywine should be. This is supposed to be a sipper, I wasn't planning on finishing the bomber but it is drinking like an IIPA.

O: Meh!! An unexpected meh! I am really surprised that with all of Stone's over the top offering that they put so little into this beer. I should have listened to the other reviews :(

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Photo of obywan59
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crystal clear orange/amber with a 4 finger, thick and chunky, light tan head.

Rich sweet malt, alcohol, and tart to over-ripe citrus in the aroma. A bit of pineyness as well.

Sweet malts and alcohol dominate the taste. Tart citrus contributes in a big way. Bitter hops finish it off. The flavor seems to be in much better balance after the beer warms.

Fairly heavilly-bodied with a light prickle of catbonation and the sting of alcohol. Creamy and syrupy.

I sampled this with some Hersheys Bliss rich and creamy dark chocolate. I'd say that the chocolate moderated the sweetness of the beer, bringing out the beers tart citric character, but the beer moderated the bitterness of the chocalate. This beer is well balanced, especialloy after it warms. Not as good as as I rememvber the previous versions to be, but still worthy.

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Photo of acevenom
4.83/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 Release.

Poured into a large brandy snifter. Pours dark caramel brown with a tall, biege head that dissipates very slowly. A moderate quantity of tiny bubbles can be seen rising from the bottom of the glass. Some lacing is left on the side of the glass as the head dissipates. Plenty of lacing is left on the side of the glass during consumption.

The aroma is sweet and malty with some citrus hop aromas. There is a dark fruit smell as well. There smell is mostly sweet and bready. The big, sweet malts are very forward in this beer. The sweetness is akin to caramel. The hops provide a nice balancing bitterness for this malt bomb, also adding to the bitter aftertaste. The alcohol is also detectable in the taste.

The body is medium with adequate carbonation. The beer is smooth with excellent drinkability for a sipper. You definitely want to sip this beer and savor it. This is an excellent barleywine and a fine example of the American take on this style.

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Photo of gustogasmic
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours straight copper with a large head, 2 inches at least. smells like pruney alchohol blended with bourbon old ale. good stuff, could use more age. comes across boozy and sweet. very nice vsnills/ bourbon to carry the dark prune-rum notes. works well and is perfectly balanced. old hop dryness, alcohol warming.

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Photo of brandon911
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a beer chalice

It poured a tan, one-fingered fairly dense head that dissipated quite quickly. The beer itself is reddish amber and quite opaque. On the noise it's got barley, some faint roast malts, some grassiness,cotton candy, hops, a little booze, and some citrus. It tastes fairly similar to the nose, less so on the malts, but with addition of caramel, raisins and bread. The mouth is quite nice, bitter with some bite-y carbonation, just enough to keep one from drinking it too quickly. It's also pretty smooth going down. Overall it's a great beer, not as good as the other barleywines I've had, but still very good. I'd suggest getting it, but not going out of your way for it.

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Photo of ADZA
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2012 edtion and thanks to my favourite bottleshop for this and it pours a hazy light amber hue which leaves a two finger creamy head and lacing everywhere,the smell is very barley and malt orientated with aromas of obviously barley,caramel fudge,toffee treacle,butterscotch and also Xmas cake,the mouthfeel is medium bodied and could be thicker for my liking of the style and the taste is nice but doesnt leave you gobsmacked like other big American Barleywines and the taste is very sweet with hints of marzipan,toffee treacle,butterscotch candy,raisins soaked in brandy,fruit cake and finished with a touch of bitter herbal hops to take a little edge off the sweetness first encountered and overall its not bad and could age a little bit but not too long as the malt profile is dominant and if left for a while could be even more sweeter and theres definately better Barleywines out there cheers.

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Photo of KingPuuChuu
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal red from the bottle. A large head dies down, and leaves elegant lacing on the glass.

The aroma is huge. Roasted, sweet malt, and a strong hop scent are the biggest parts of this beer. The flavor is at first surprising for the amount of hops and 11% alcohol. Heavy roasted raisin and carmel. But, as the beer warms, a warmer smoothness comes through, and tones down the extreme flavors.

Mouthfeel is good. While it's bubbly, I wish it wasn't so. That being said, it prevents you from drinking the bottle too fast.

A word of caution though: Drink this beer over time, as it will hit you.

Overall, it's a great beer.

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Photo of FlemingVSKing
2.68/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I had a lot of expectations. I love Stone. And I'd loved my only other Barley Wine experience with Sam Adam's Griffin's Bow.

Old Guardian is probably made well, but it tastes like pure alcohol. I could seriously describe it as tasting like a rather subpar jello shot.

Now at 11% it is one of the very strongest beers I've had, and that's part of the taste, but I just don't pick up anything else of value in the flavor profile. The alcohol taste just sits right on top of what comes off of an amber ale background. Not fruit tones, no hop or spice notes.

Generally I'm not terribly concerned with the pour, but it is worth noting that after dumping this one straight down a pint mug like a Pepsi, it formed no head. A slight head emerged only after sitting for a few moments, and it was about 1/4 inch, fairly thin, and dissipated soon after.

I just don't see anything really special going on here.

Frankly I'd rather have some stock beer than this.

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

The color is a clear medium amber red, a one and a half finger creamy off white head building. Good retention, good lacing.
The smell is citrusy hops, honey caramel, and some alcohol.
Tasting this beer, the sweet honey caramel flavors hit up front, being checked by fruity and citrusy hops in the middle. At the finish, some more bitter hop flavors as well as some bread flavor.
Nicely balanced beer with some kick, just as a Barley Wine is supposed to be.

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

2012 batch poured into an Old Guardian glass

A- Pours a clear dark orange with a one finger off whitish head. Decent retention and lacing. Some good alcohol legs here as well.

S- Smells very citrusy up front. A lot of grapefruit and some dark fruits as well. This beer smells very much like caramel and it also has some breaddy malt notes.

T- Nice bitterness up front and all throughout the mouth. A nice dark fruit and caramel malt flavor. A bit of a molasses and toffee. A good bit of a hop citrus flavor. A bit of alcohol. This is one bitter Barley wine. The flavor is not too bold or different but is very high quality and is there in balance.

M- This is a big beer but not as big as I was expecting an 11% barley wine to be. There is some alcohol taste as well as some warming. Very bitter and mouth tingling at some points.

O- This is a good barley wine and a perfect example of the style. It has a nice, but plain flavor. Would love to see it with some age. This beer is not as intense or as harsh as I was expecting. I always forget that Stone, while making bold and intense brews, never rules out drink ability. This is a high quality, available and reasonable priced barley wine that does the style justice.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into snifter

Appearance – Pours a deep reddish-amber color with a one finger yellow tinted off white head. The head has great retention and fades slowly over time to give decent lacing.

Smell – The aroma is of a big bready biscuit smell. Mixed with this aroma there is an alcohol smell and with some fruit aromas of citrus and banana. There is a very light pine aroma that mixes with the others overall creating a nice complex aroma.

Taste – A big bready and slightly hoppy flavor greet the tongue. The breadiness is initially mixed with a sweeter orange citrus and the banana that was in the nose. The orange taste also is present initially as a light hop like flavor. As the taste advances on, some nice pine hoppiness begins to develop with the sweeter citrus lightening. While the sweeter fruit flavors diminish in the middle of the taste, some caramel sweetness takes its place. The pine hop gets more intense as the taste advances until just before the end, where it levels out. While the hop flavors level out at the end, an alcohol taste comes into the flavor, leaving a nice warming aftertaste on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of this brew is on the creamier side with a lower level of carbonation. While creamy, it is not as thick as would have been expected from its abv. and bready taste and smell. The lower carbonation suits the beer well although the body would be better a little chewier.

Overall – This is a barleywine with a nice taste and great smell. Its mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, but overall it is a good brew to sit back and enjoy.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber, 2012 version, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a dark ruby color with two fingers of thick beige head, leaves some spotty lacing.

S- Smells like a monster, I'm getting a pretty even mix of piney, fruity hops and sweet caramel malt and booze, all in pretty large and aggressive doses.

T- Follows the nose with lots of hop bitterness, citric and very piney, is followed up by loads of sweet caramel malt, nice bready texture, has a bitter finish of herbal hops with a bit of black pepper.

M- Full-bodied, thick but smooth and creamy, dry finish, very pleasant.

O- A very tasty barleywine, manages to keep huge flavors working together very nicely. I also tried pairing this with some Roquefort cheese and Old Guardian seriously rocked it, the beer's sweetness, caramel and some nutty flavors came out really well, while the cheese seemed to balance the hops and booze. I had a great time drinking this beer.

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Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 253 ratings.