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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: 70
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 laituegonflable
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a toffee-coloured ESB kind of hue. Head is off-white, loose threads, not much left. Lace is alright. Looks OK.

Smell is lovely, caramelly toffee and sweet. Buckwheat, a touch of port and salted caramel above all else. Bit of solvent is a slight glitch, but otherwise very pleasant indeed.

Taste gets more of that caramel than all other flavours, but lots more as well. Bit of figgy richness, buckwheat again, some slight herbal hopping and some metallic notes. Bit on the heavy/sweet side, so not for every day, but it was always going to be. Still lots to like here.

A little flat and very syrupy texture. Could use something maybe to dry it up at the back, or more hops to cleanse.

Big, sweet beer. Nice, but could use a bit more on the balance side perhaps.

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Photo of metter98
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very hazy orange amber in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that gradually died down but left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of caramel and malty sweetness in the nose.
T: The taste shares some similarities with the smell but has a moderate amount of hop bitterness. As the beer warms up, hints of toffee and vanilla begin to emerge in the flavors. A bit of alcohol is also noticeable in the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied, very crisp and a little sticky on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The aroma of this beer can fool you because you would expect it to be very malty and sweet but lots of hop bitterness seemingly comes out from nowhere in the taste and provides a nice contrast (although I wouldn't call it balanced). The beer is rather drinkable considering its strength.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 liter of the 2012 Old Guardian bought tonight.

A - Fairly clear dark apricot, huge head, lots of lace.

S - Light malt and hops. Maybe too cold.

T - Rich malt, heavy handed hops to hold it down.

M - Very creamy, good balance, good carb.

D - An excellent beer.

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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 Muthacack
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip.

A-Pours a reddish clear amber and a nice two finger head with good retention which leaves nice lacing on the glass.

S- The smell is not overpowering at all. The hop smell is very faint. A dry cherry aroma is the most prominent along with the alcohol.

T- The hops are definitely present now and the pine shows. The beer has a nice bitterness. It is slightly sweet but not overpowering.

M- There is a little carbonation. Very smooth but a tad sticky. The aftertaste is where you really get the alcohol. It has a nice bite.

O- Needs to sit for a while as the previous years have tasted better with age.

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Photo of Herky21
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle purchased for $5.99 - 2013 Vintage.

Appearance - caramel and burnt like fall leaves with a finely laced and dense head that dissipated quick.

Smell - banana, caramel, nougat, melon and citrus.

taste - alcohol, sweet caramel, backed up by a good amount of bitterness, kind of a fruity note in the swallow.

mouthfeel - very carbed and perhaps a bit too much for the style - full, thick beer.

Overall - pretty well done, but it doesn't quite hold a candle to Bigfoot. If you have one I'd recommend aging. It isn't super hot, but it would be a lot better in say 2 years.

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Photo of DrJay
3.79/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2013. Clear red with a thin, sticky beige cap. Very good head retention. Aromas of hops and booze, sugar, citrus and pine, a bit fruity. Sharp bitterness, earthy, sweet and boozy, sugar and malted barley husk, slight burnt/roast character, citrus in the finish. Pronounced alcohol heat, a bit rough on the palate with mild astringency. Fully bodied, low carbonation with a bit of creaminess to the texture. This has potential but still needs some aging to smooth out the rough edges.

2012. Clear reddish copper with a thin, yellowish cap. Fine bubbles, good head retention, sticky lace. Booze and caramel aromas, citrus, bready with a bit of candy sweetness, hint of rose petals. Strong bitterness with candy/caramel sweetness for balance, earthy, citrus pith, alcohol. Lingering bitterness and booze. Full bodied with low carbonation, a bit creamy with lots of warmth, nice texture. A palate wrecker that needs some aging.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of SawDog505
3.79/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stella glass aggressively. Pours a clear bright orange red, with a beautiful 3 inch head with a little hint of orange in it. Has some nice lacing and the head takes some time to settle. Smell is hard candy, burnt carmel, pine cones, and alcohol. Taste is better, very aggressive hops on the finish, all the stuff in the nose, but more balanced. Body is on medium large, good a mount of life for its large ABV, a little dry, and fairly drinkable for its large size. This is a nice Barleywine, that prefer with a few years on it for some reason. Its not the aggressive hops, but the beer seems to blend better over time.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer pours a slightly dense reddish-copper body with a sticky beige film supported by a slow carbonation.

S- The green hops has some fruity notes to it during the pour and a creamy rich dry caramel aroma with hints of lighter toasted malt.

T- The woody green bitter hops has some green licorice flavors to it with some hop lifesaver qualities. The big bitter hop bite in the finish turns pungent in the aftertaste and lingers quite a bit. The dry caramel malt flavors come through but it is never strong enough to offset the bitterness of the hops.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a gentle fizz and a soft alcohol warmth.

O- It seems like there is a nice barleywine in this bottle but it is buried under a bitterness. The malt comes out much more in the aroma but it doesn’t have the richness in the flavor. The big hop bite in the finish just to much.

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Photo of DavidST
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter, 2012 edition. This pours a clear mahogany color with a small tan head which is short lived. The smells are of alcohol, hops, grapefruit, caramel, toffee, The feel is somewhat thick and tingly. The taste is good, plenty of hops, some caramel and toffee malts, definite alcohol burn.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, 2012 release

cherry amber look with a small ring of foam. smell is melon juice, rubbing alcohol, grassy hops. big and chewy body, some alcohol burn. medicinal hop finish with sweet wine-y (wine-ish?) malt.

very chewy and bitter. I'm likin' it.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chilled bottle into a glass. I don't buy a lot of Stone products anymore besides the 3 main seasonals (Double Bastard, Old Guardian, and IRS). Last year's Old Guardian was not very tasty, so I was hoping this year would have a return to form.

A: This is a rose-tinged maroon body capped with a fluffy, off-white head that leaves streaky lace webbing around the sides of the snifter. It's nice to look at.

S: Caramel malt, rose petals, grass, plum, toffee, and grapefruit. This is a welcome change from the over-malted recipe that 2011 presented; the hops are bright and hint at both flavor and bitterness in the taste.

T: Yep, I was right. This is incredibly, powerfully bitter; grassy hops lead the way, packed with tons of IBUs. Thankfully, the beer also uses some hop flavor instead of just bitterness. It has a floral presence of rose petals that works very well with Stone's signature citrus-driven profile. The malt backbone is firm, giving the beer plenty of caramel and toffee character throughout the taste.

M: The mouthfeel is quite hefty, as you'd expect from a beer of this gravity. It suppresses the booze and provides a firm grounding point for the bitterness and hoppy flavors to do their work. The booze is lightly noticeable, but pretty restrained overall.

O: This is substantially better than last year's recipe, which I found oddly malty. But it is also bruisingly bitter, so the pendulum has swung too far in the corrective direction. The price point in my area ($6) is very reasonable, so I'll probably buy one or two more, calorie budget permitting, before the hops drop off.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.81/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - pours a deep murky amber/bronze color. a bubbly yet thin film of foam rises from a rigorous pour. leaves some spotty lacing with each sip.

S - syrupy sweet notes of caramel, burnt sugar, and toffee. big notes of mandarin orange pulp and grapefruit rind notes along with earthy hints of herbs. sweet cherries and a quick whiff of booze. notes of toasted multi-grain bread lay underneath.

T - toasty bread and sweet toffee notes on the front of the tongue. the center is rife with bitter notes of grapefruit rind and pith play off sweet notes of cherries and orange pulp. backend is herbal and grassy. finish is long, fairly sweet with a bit of booze.

M - rich and thick almost syrupy. full bodied. high carbonation.

O - an intense american barleywine. a bit sweet for my taste but would probably do nicely with an equally rich dessert.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.82/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 edition, picked up in Knightly Spirits Orlando, and survived the trip back to Canada.

Poured into a Chimay goblet. Nice deep copper ruby hue, with about a half inch head from the pour. Settles into a thick ring.

Nose is classic barleywine: malt heavy, good sweetness, a bit of bread, fruit and light citric hops.

Good take on the style: sweet malt, bread, fruit, grape a dry boozy finish. This brew felt a bit hot - a few months of cellaring would have done well, but it is certainly quite enjoyable as is. Carbonation is sharp, mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly sticky.

Nice barleywine, though nothing to stop the presses over. Worth holding on to if you can pick up one or two at any rate!

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

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

Beer poured chestnut with a nice white head.

Nose is citrus booze with a big malt base.

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

Mouthfeel is huge, full and smooth.

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

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Photo of StlHopHead77
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours out a slightly hazy,maroon/crimson body that supported one and a half inches of off white
foam that showed moderate dissipation and left full sheets of sudsy lacing on the glass.

S-The nose here is muted with some scents of toffee,tobacco,a slight Kirsch quality and mild, citrusy hops,which along with the Kirsch,gave off something similar to the smell of Cherry-limeade.Some fruity alcohol notes were present as well.

T-More citrus here with dried cherry, caramel,blonde tobacco,toffee glazed almonds and raw,leafy hop bitterness.

M-Medium bodied with a lasting bitterness that helps to downplay the natural baked sugar sweetness of this beer.

O-A good Barleywine that I'm looking forward to trying with some age on it.

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Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, amber color with a one-finger, white head of bubbly foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of sweet maltiness, caramel, toffee and some spices.

T - Good blend of maltiness, caramel, toffee, spicy bitterness and some pine.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a pretty good barleywine. I think some of the older versions of Old Guardian have been better, but this is still good.

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Photo of artoolemomo
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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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 BrownNut
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Feb 2012 release drunk in May 2013. Served cool in tulip.

A - 4.5 - Beautiful, crystal clear ruby amber. Loose, creamy off white head that lingers a good while.

S - 3.75 - Pleasantly malty. Hoppy in a familiar flavor I can't put my finger on. Smells like it's going to be a moderate bruiser hopwise and moderately caramel sweet maltwise.

T - 3.75 - Moderate sweet malt partially offsetting notable bitterness. The balance swings bitter. Exhale is all hops and aftertaste is lingering bitterness.

M - 4.0 - Medium heavy body. Immediate hop abrasion on the tongue. Thanks to that, it has a dry astringent end. Gentle waves of boozy warmth wafting up the throat.

O - 4.0 - A nice one, if kind of unbalanced. I've never had one fresh - this one is 15 months old. Next time I think I'll try for 2 or 3 years to see if it'll balance out a bit more. The nose on this is nicely balanced. The body not as much. It's to be expected for the style I suppose.

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Photo of mchegash
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.5/5
Deep orange-red. Lots of little carbonation bubbles. A finger and a half of light tan head. Moderately clear.

Smell - 3.75/5
Hops and citrus. Lightly sweet.

Taste - 3.75/5
Tastes like the smell, slightly sweet hoppy citrus flavors. Mellow rather than sharp.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium full, smooth, slight carbonation.

Overall - 4/5
This is way hoppier than I like my barleywines. Still it was a great beer.

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Photo of NewGlarusFan
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
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!

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Photo of tdm168
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a snifter.

Pours an amber, plum color with a thin lacing of white head that fades quickly. The nose is quite fruity with notes of raisins, figs, and ripe cherries. The flavor is a malty, bready, caramel flavor up front that quickly turns to the same fruity notes from the nose, dark fruit, figs, raisins, ripe cherries and maybe plum. The finish showcases a decent, clean, balanced hop bitterness and a warm alcohol presence. The mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, a bit syrupy, crisp, and just a bit heavily carbonated.

This is a decent beer. It's definitely a bit fruity, but is intriguingly complex. The fruity sweetness and the bitter finish at times seem to clash. As the beer warms, the flavors tend to play a little more nicely with each other. If you're a barley wine person, it's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of bushbeer75
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

1pt 6fl oz brown bottle - Bottled on 1/25/13 printed on shoulder/neck 11.6% abv

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2013 Classic Release has a dark amber body and atop sits a 1/2-finger khaki colored head. The head dissipated very quickly to form a collar of bubbly foam in the walls of my snifter. The smell is dominated by toffee malts, yeast and hop character also is noted. The flavor first noticed is of rich malt ,i.e., caramel and toffee followed by a yeast presence. The ale finishes with a strong grapefruit citrus hop bitterness. The mouth feel is full, rich with a lingering hop bitterness and alcohol warming at the back of the palate.

Even after aging a little over 2-years this still is a "monster" of an ale. Drinkability is only limited by its abv. A sipper for sure.

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