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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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

The smell Is getting to be a problem now that I am getting older. Served in a red wine glass to get more aroma and breathing - and this turned into a good sipping beer!

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Photo of steelerguy
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark amber, large off white head, a good bit of carbonation for a barley wine keep the head tall for awhile.

S - Lots of malt in this bad boy, you get hints of toffee, but the aroma is about the hops...earthy and citrus.

T - Starts off with a lot of malt, sweet toffee and some slightly toasted malts. The resinous hop character then comes on with citrus quickly followed by a good bit of alcohol flavor. This barelywine is young and does not come close to hiding the fact that it is 11%...some more age would help smooth it out. End with a bitter bang of hops.

M - Full bodied beer, the alcohol and carbonation help keep it from being overbearing, but this is a sipper regardless. Ends with quite a bit of alcohol warmth.

O - This is good American Barleywine that would certainly improve with some aging. Lots of good flavors and qualities that would meld together and round out over time.

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Photo of hardy008
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with a two finger off white head with very good retention and lacing. The aroma has grapefruit, caramel malt, and pine. I am very happy that Stone chose to use Cascade hops for this year's Old Guardian.

The taste has grapefruit, pine, and caramel malt. Has a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. The alcohol is not noticeable, which is surprising for an 11.00 % abv beer.

Full bodied with average carbonation. Has a bitter sweet aftertaste with a bit of a sticky feeling, and finishes somewhat dry. A nice beer to sip and enjoy. This would be a nice beer to age for a while.

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Photo of oberon
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After taking a one year hiatus from Old Guardian I decided to pick up the 2012 today,glad I did.Poured into in impy nonic a rich deep amber with a creamy slight off white one finger head,great rich clarity to the color.Yeast and brown sugar in the nose mainly,some stinging alcohol also as it warms,not much hop presence.Brown sugar and cakey flavors at the start with underlying alcohol notes,now the resiny hops come in and make for a dry even a litle raw finish.This is brash and big it's boozy with a big hop presence like I would think an OG would be,Iam gonna cellar one and see in six months how it is,as for this "young" one, I loved it.

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Photo of MEsoJD
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

[Poured into a Snifter glass]

I: Not much to say about this. It's a new stone, and automatically warrants a purchase on that fact alone. That said, I'm intrigued to see stones take on Barley Wines.

B: [11% ABV. 1 Pt. 6Fl Oz. Ingredients ("Tons and tons of Barley, bountiful hops, water, and yeast")] Stone makes some of the most beautiful beer bottles out there. Their Barley Wine bottle takes a more minimalistic approach that seems fitting. Nice gold font for the majority and red for the latter.

A: Damn fine looking brew. Transparent dark ruby red body, with a bubbly semi fluffy head(fast/medium dissipation), and light lacing.

S: Slight boozy pine, sweet caramel malt, some citrus, and some dark fruit presence. Smell wasn't as prominent as I expecting.

T: Heavily moderated by the creamy sweet caramel malt, fig, biscuity, molasses, citrus hops (take a backseat), and warming alcohol.

M: Super slick dry finish, medium/full bodied, medium carbonation, and apparent boozy alcohol presence (becomes more subtle overtime, but will creep fast).

O: Aw stone I love you so. Stone almost never diss-points with their official releases (same can't be said about the collabs). For once the hops aren't the star of the show, but the malt in this case. The only blind taste test identifier is the uniqueness of this brew. This is one slick/syrupy/sweet tasty beer that gracefully coats your mouth. It also looks gorgeous. I would say "Old Guardian 2012" is another winner. I recommend you buy this. Hell I wish I bought 3. Cheers!!!

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Photo of brureview
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Stone Old Guardian glass. This beer is best served at 55F to bring the hops, toffee, and alcohol finish.

The beer poured a tea color with a 1F head. The aroma was evident without holding the glass close: toffee and some alcohol.

The mouth feel, as expected, was very carbonated- the higher serving temp brings out the hoppiness and alcohol.

The taste is similar to other American Barleywines: toffee, big hops, and a strong alcoholic finish.
Comparing this beer to a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot- while similar to the Bigfoot in hops, toffee, and alcoholic finish- the Bigfoot seems more balanced and has more fruit in the taste.

Overall- this is a BIG beer. Best tasted at warmer temps- cellar temp to bring the hops and alcoholic finish. I wanted to taste more fruit- but the hops and alcoholic finish were too prominent.

This is an excellent beer for the style.

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Photo of entenduintransit
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2015 classic release. 11.2% ABV. Really tasty stuff. Hoppy and easy drinking for a barleywine. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a good sipping beer.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From 06/17/13 notes. 2010 vintage on tap at Pony Bar on the UES in NYC. 8 oz. pour, side by side with the oak and smoke version.

a - Pours a hazy amber brown color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Leaves some light lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of caramel malts, toffee, toasted malts, molasses, sugar, dark fruits, and bready malts. Very nice nose, loads of caramel and fruits, but not too sweet. I like it a lot.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, toffee, sweet dark fruits, toasted malts, sugar, molasses, bread, burnt malts, earthy notes. Taste has a little more dark fruity malts and is a little bit sweeter. Like the nose a little bit better.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, body is very smooth and creamy. Doesn't feel like 11% ABV at all.

o - Overall I liekd this a lot; I think it has aged really well. I've had it freshed and thought it was fine, but think 3 years on it has definitely improved it. Super smooth and easy to drink and a ton of caramel in the nose. Will probably pick up a bottle and store it away for a while now.

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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.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness Chalice glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and slightly hazy brownish ruby red with a moderate amount of bubbles. Decent one finger of off white head that dissipates into a small patch. Moderate amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel malts with a good hint of toffee. Hints of bananas and some citrus fruits. Light presence of earthy hops and some sugar. The sweet malts and caramel stand out the most here with the hops being fairly subtle. Alcohol is pretty faint.

Taste: The hops come out a lot more in the taste. Sweet malts with plenty of caramel and toffee. Hints of banana and a little sugar. A good amount of citrus hops with notes of grapefruit and orange. Also a hint of apple. Pretty juicy with a nice kick of bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Chewy and moderately sticky. Alcohol heat is pretty moderate.

Overall: A very good American Barleywine. Full juicy flavor and pretty smooth for the ABV.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Fubar1453
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful deep red with a thick foamy white head.

S: Lots of fruit and sweetness.

T: Does not match the sweetness of the nose, of of the most bitter beers I've ever had. It tastes like Arrogant Bastard mixed with a large amount of dark fruits.

M: Very slick and creamy, mixed with the bitterness, its a sipper.

O: Great beer, my first barleywine and I absolutely loved it. I want to have this with a thick cut sirloin every night of the week.

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Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.19/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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

2013 release. 11.6% ABV. Quite fresh.

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

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

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

M: Fairly heavy, very sticky and very oily.

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

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.19/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 1/28/15 so it's already 4 months old.

Appearance: copper red with a thick and billowy off white head. Very clear.

Nose: English malt backbone, raisins, fig, light hops aroma

Taste: slightly boozy, not hot alcohol but warming, sweetness from the heavy malt profile, spicy hops, very coating mouthfeel.

Overall: this is a great American barleywine. 2 more bombers of the 2015 left. I'll grab more.

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

Got this off tap at crunchys in east lansing. served in a snifter.

A: pours a fine clear ruby orange color with a short beige head that dissipates fast leaving a thin remanant that lasts the whole way. medium amounts of lacing too.

S: thick, wafty aroma. barley, yeast, malts, bourbon, caramel, brown sugars, hops, booze

T: woooo. strong flavor. wheat, barley, bourbon, yeast, caramel, woody, very bitter, hoppy, strong kick of booze.

M: rich full body with lower amounts of carbonation, a slow sipper fore sure. bitter, hoppy, booze after taste.

O: sheet. crazy strong. Crazy good.pricey but id recommend it.

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Photo of 9InchNails
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light copper body color with a lot of noticeable carbonation. Off white head that leaves some lacing on the snifter glass.

Dark fruits, smells very sweet, candy sugar, caramel and some hints of alcohol.

The taste is where its at! Dark fruits, toasted bread, caramel, some bitterness and alcohol at the very end.

Medium body, smooth, light but slightly noticeable carbonation, dry, it doesn't leave the lips feeling sticky surprisingly. Some alcohol warmth going down.

Not quite pungent as the aroma but very smooth and to the point with the taste - the balance of flavors are near perfection.

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Photo of Viciousknishs
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've always had a special place in my heart for this beer. It was my first barleywine and my first aged brew at that. 

A- pours a seductive ruby garnet hue with a finger and a half of off white head. Solid retention with some lacing as well.

S- big caramel and toffee characteristics with a liquor like note hits the nose with delight. Bountiful sticky pine and candy coated citrus from the hops blend in making this brew distinctly American and Stone like. Finishes with candied notes and just a little to much heat from the alcohol. The nose begs one to lay this down in the cellar.

T- sticky sugary malts explode on the palate with notes of caramel and toffee. Palate annihilating hops soon usher in some balance and a candied citrus and pine flavor. Liquor like characteristics hit the palate on the finish with a warming alcohol that again wants a year or two tucked away. Still rather tasty and more than drinkable however.

MF- sticky syrupy mouthfeel with a subtle creaminess. Heavy body and good soft small bubbled carbonation.

D- for a barleywine this has very good drinkability. However fresh this brew is monster and will take you some time to conquer. Age will only do wonders.

Overall a great example of the American barleywine style. Tons of malt, buckets of hops and high ABV!

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Photo of 4thmedbn
4.21/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 out of an Old Guardian specialty glass. Picked up at Tully's Beer and Wine in Wells, ME

A - Beautiful deep red amber color with a hint of an almost strawberry blush. Really gorgeous stuff in the glass, head dissipates fairly quickly, little retention and no lacing.

S - Despite the high hopping of this beer, mostly the nose says malt. Nice chocolate, some dark fruit, leading into some nice fruity hop aroma. Not as huge of a nose as you might expect with this beer, but what is there is all good.

T - Huge malt character up front. Lots of nutty and mild chocolate notes. By mild chocolate I just mean not an overly sweet chocolate character, but also not wicked dark and bitter. Just like a toasty, nutty chocolate. Finishes with a pretty solid bitterness. Mostly piney and resiny hop character. I don't get a huge amount of citrus, but that may be due to the fact that it's sitting next to such a strong malt body. A long, lingering hop finish.

M - Full bodied, no way around it. Carbonation is fairly smooth, but definitely present. Doesn't seem to be as much residual sugar as you would find with some of the Barley Wine out there. That contributes to how dry this beer is, but also it's not wicked thick or syrupy, and that works to accentuate the hop character.

O - A great beer. Definitely going to be laying some of this down. A nice dry, well attenuated example of the style. As much as I love big boozey and sweet barley wine, this makes me excited that there is so much diversity within the style. Another absolutely fantastic beer from Stone.

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Photo of herman77
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark clear amber/dark copper with a fairly large off white head that dies down after a bit. Awesome lacing.

S: Lots of bready malt. Toffee and a bit of carmel malt too. Pine hops and a bit of grapefruit in the mix as well.

T: Tons and tons of deep carmel malt and toffee. Caramelized sugar. There is a good dose of pine hops. It's got that classic stone hop profile taste that's intense and in your face, but the malt is stronger than the hops in this one. Some lingering hop bitterness in the finish.

M: Medium body. Smooth and moderate carbonation.

O: Nice. I thought it would be a lot hoppier having had a decent amount of Stone's stuff, but the malt is center stage here. I like it, but if remember, it seems a lot like Double Bastard.

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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.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This was poured into a snifter.
The appearance was a dark amber color with a little cap of a white head that dissipates at a nice pace. Lacing was mostly messy and sliding into the beer.
The smell starts off with a classic sweet caramel goodness sliding into mellow citrus and earthy hops. Barely a touch of "tobacco" slyly moves in underneath.
The taste was moderately sweet yet drawing on the subtle dry to earthy tobacco flavor to balance. There's a semi-sticky light little caramel aftertaste leading into a nice finish.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied. Its a great sipper on a chilly Autumn night with a slight dry bitter harshness hitting my tongue nicely.
Overall, English Barleywine or American Barleywine, well, let's just say, it's a damn good barleywine and call it even. Sure glad I have another bottle for Winter.

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