Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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 gr0g
3.31/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Notes taken on 3/6/2012. 22oz bottle, 2012 vintage (unaged bottle).

Beautiful clear copper in color, about one pinky finger of head when poured in my 9oz Double Bastard glass. Aroma is sadly very muted, with some malty sweetness and all too much ethanol coming through if you sniff hard enough.

On the palate, huge malt flavor is quickly met by huge hoppiness. Flavor profile is quite different from DB, although not as enjoyable IMHO. Malt character is intense toffee and is overtaken by a huge floral hop note and equally huge bitterness that lasts well past the finish. Alcohol heat is prevalent.

This is definitely a sipping brew, as I'm having trouble polishing off the 9 or so ounces at hand. An intensely flavorful ale, but I'll take a Double Bastard any day.

 769 characters

Photo of thedoubler55
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This brew is a dark amber in color, a bit transparent and a dark redish almost, a tiny off white head at the top that leaves a bit of lacing around the glass.

S: Very hoppy nose, lots of caramel and brown sugar with slight hints of dark fruit.

T: Up front is almost all of the nose, lots of brown sugar sweetness with caramel and dark fruits present, the hops are all over the tail end with the bitterness.

M: Medium bodied, mid carbonation, nice and smooth.

O: Not a bad barley wine but I have had better, this was pretty subtle nothing crazy, but a good beer.

 568 characters

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.

 846 characters

Photo of katan
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2009 vintage.

A - Copper color body, lots of mocha colored head formation. Well retained, little bit of lacing. Fairly opaque.

S - Super strong malty body - caramel, some toffee. Hopping is restrained, but i can't complain based on the aging of this beer. As it warms I get a little bit of resinous hops.

T - Starts off lightly malty, sweet some some background of the lightly toasted malts. Mid-stream does bring in some hopping, citrus first and then pine. Bitterness grows strongly in the finish, tongue grabbing. Finishes clean with toasted flavors.

M - Full bodied, light carbonation. Some alcohol warmth. Very big and sticky overall.

O/D - A good barleywine that I should try fresh. It obviously is a HUGE beer even after several years of aging. A bit filling, very slow sipper.

 792 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a cloudy reddish and orange color. Very little head but what does come out is kind of a creamy white. Leaves some nice lacing.

A strong mix of hops and malts. the malt smells sweet bordering on caramel while the hops seem to be citrus bordering on orange. Other smells include dark fruit.

Tastes like it smells but that the hops are stronger.

Lite carbonation and fairly heavy bodied.

A fairly nice barley wine and this beer really brought me into the style so I might try some other ones.

 545 characters

Photo of mfnmbvp
2.91/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle (1 pint 6 fl oz), the 2013 release of this beer. A beer from Stone that I haven't had before, so I'm going in as unbiased as possible. Bottle claims an 11.60% abv, rather than just 11% as BeerAdvocate says.

Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - First pour yields about a finger of doughy off-white / khaki colored head. Beautiful clear, light ruby red colored body. My final pour, a good hour and a half later, yields some pretty nice sheets of lacing coming down the sides of the glass.

S - Smell is strongly of malted barley, and some fermented dark fruits like plum or cranberry. Faint citrus hops creeping out in the background.

T - Bleh. Not my preferred barleywine, that's for sure. Some hop bitterness is present, but this beer is overwhelmed by a sickening medicinal cherry cough syrup flavor. Thick and heavy. Bit of alcohol warmth. As hard as I'm trying, I am not digging this one at all. Admittedly, as the beer warms to room temperature, the artificial cherry medicine seems to disappear and opens up to more dry bitter spicy hop presence. Body has a sleek creamy feel to it. This is a beer you definitely want to let warm up before consuming it.

M - Feel is dry and chalky. Bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall, I enjoyed the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, and was expecting similar results here, but it took me a long time to warm up to this beer. When cold, it is on par with drinking a 22 oz. bottle of Robitussin. Following a warming period, the beer opens up and becomes more lively, with a more pronounced hop presence, and the sickly medicinal flavors disappear.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale ---3/5.

 1,668 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.29/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 batch, It has been in my cellar for about six months. Sampled on April 9, 2013.

I like the way it pours with its medium reddish to mahogany amber tone and its short, silky white head. The head becomes a ring. Handsome looking beer.

For a barleywine the aroma is more subtle and mellow. Certainly it is malt forward and sweet with a roasted note but the hops are played down. There is also a bit of a dark fruit character mingling in the background.

The body is medium to bold.

The taste is warming. malty, and sweet with the faintest of alcohol. The hop finish lingers briefly but tends to be low to moderate. This is a pleasant barleywine.

 649 characters

Photo of Rope
4.09/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Last one I had was a 2009 or 10, so I am interested to see if there is variance.

A dark brown with a hint of red. I find the best beers have a bit of red to them.

Surprisingly weak smell, it has an orange hop smell to it. Can't detect malt or alcohol. Not bad just demure.

Orange, orange, orange, then it rots into a bitter taste that Stone loves to deliver.

Carbonation encased in small bubbles, not a lot of movement from them.

Very good, the taste is the best part. No alcohol present until you let your breath sit for a second. I don't have barley wines too often, but between this and Three Floyds Behemoth this wins in taste and appearance.

 697 characters

Photo of angrybabboon
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 4/6/13

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this beer

Note: I've already reviewed the 2010 version of this. I'm inclined to guess that review may me merged with this review. But I'm going to review the 2013 version regardless.

Appearance: Clear amber color - nice, off-white head - keeps a solid cap - leaves a nice streak of lacing

Smell: Cooked, caramelized malts - sweet and hoppy - citrus and pine - kind of spicy, reminiscent of the earthiness found in some other Stone beers (e.g., Arrogant Bastard)

Taste: Sweet, earthy, and somewhat balanced - grassy, herbal, with some serious earthiness - caramel malts, some dark fruits, sugar - some alcohol flavor, remarkably more than the last time I had this

Mouthfeel: Medium body - nicely carbonated, smooth, with some alcohol heat in the finish

Overall: Honestly? This is better aged

I'm genuinely surprised how different this beer is from how I remember it. The bottle I had was aged a year. This tastes intentionally harsh, almost as if it demands to be aged. It's overly hoppy and earthy. It needs some time to mellow out.

 1,092 characters

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage. Split with angrybabboon.

Appearance: Clear copper Off*white head drops to a clumpy cap and chunky small collar in short order. some streaks and spots of lacing.

Smell: Crazy malts. Caramel, toffee, and straight up cane sugar. Some nice backing hints of citrus, but it's all about the malts. Some grassy elements. Cooked malts. Very bready. Toasted note. Booze, lots of booze but not boozy or sharp.

Taste: Super caramelized malts. Caramel, toffee, and deeply cooked malts. Some grassy elements. Nice citrus hopping. Some bitter pine needle. Warming alcohol on the back. Gritty and earthy undertones. Vaguely grassy. So very cooked. Biscuity with some underlying spiciness. A good malt complexity, but nothing too crazy.

Mouthfeel: Slightly syrupy medium to full body with a carbonation that runs on the lighter side of moderate. A little bit slick. Nice and clean.

Overall: Let it sit and get that age. Then it can guard it all.

A solid example of the style. Not groundbreaking but solid. Age does improve it, but In don't know what the prime age is.

 1,075 characters

Photo of midnitesun11
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours an amber reddish color with sporadic carbonation bubbles floating up from the bottom. Head is a nice cream color but lacking in volume.

Smells like a fruity citrusy wine. Hoppy, vinegary, kind of a bitter grape type smell.

Tastes of smokey, spicey hops and a bit of alcohol. Has a rich carmel flavor to it as well!

Ends with a slight bitterness that lingers around for a bit. Very thick almost heavy mouthfeel, goes down smooth and pleasant though!

It's a very good beer. I haven't drank too many barley wines but I'm going to start trying more now! Very drinkable and high in alcohol, so drinker beware! Sneaks up on ya if you drink it too fast!

 659 characters

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.

 518 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 release.

Depp ruby and copper colored brew. Decent, slow tan head for a barleywine . Pretty good bubbling too.

Rich, warm, caramelized fruity aroma. Sweet, toasty biscuits overwhelmed by syrupy fruit marmalade and alcoholic warmth. A little mustiness in there too.

Caramel meets with marmalade, heavily toasted biscuits, caramelized plums and apples. Add to that ,a sometimes bitter, alcoholic twang and palate. An obvious slow sipper best shared with family and friends, or selfishly by yourself.


 512 characters

Photo of Smurf2055
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed Nov 2011, vintage 2007

2007 vintage enjoyed at Bevridge Place in West Seattle.

Aroma was amazing! Sweet yet balanced, malt and hops, aggressive yet friendly.

Appearance was dark amber with about a finger of foam. Obviously at four years old, there’s very little carbonation on it.

Taste was decent. Warming feeling and a bit of citrus. Lot’s of malt. There was a bit of an alcohol bite, and I sort of expected a bit more complexity at four years old.

Palate was full and strong all over and remains for a while.

Overall, as far as they go, this one was pretty good. It’s very Stone brewing; up front and aggressive, and it knows it.

 658 characters

Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Veeery bitter, hoppier and more aggressive than a lot of other barleywines I've tasted. Bright color, orange with hints of red, jewel-like and vibrant with a creamy, clean,tan head.The nose was the most amazing part; fruity and sweet, cherries, lychee, grape. The first sip gives you a fleeting moment of sweetness, followed by a rush of bitter pine, grapefruit rind, and earthy herbs. The aftertaste is hot, boozy and bitter. The mouthfeel is full and oily, full carbonation and bite. I wish the taste matched the nose because the scent was the most amazing part. Still a very good barleywine, aggressively hopped and very much in the vein of what Stone does.

 660 characters

Photo of Fatehunter
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 Release.
A finger of head on a deep amber colored body.
The aroma is nice with caramel and lemon coming through; and touch of bread.
The taste is good with a hidden boldness: lemon bitterness, caramel and bready sweetness; great balance and drinkability.
The texture is crisp with moderate carbonation.
One of the most drinkable barleywines that hides its high ABV well.

 376 characters

Photo of JamesMN
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 release.

Appearance: Super hazy orange amber color with a resilient off-white one finger head.

Aroma: Sweet barley and an orangey hoppy character. A tinge of alcohol. Not all that aromatic.

Taste: A big beer by any account. There is a lot of subtle malt flavors that sort of blend and come across as an amber and caramel flavor. No toffee or toasted qualities just unaltered malt flavor. Counteracting the sweet blend of barley is an understated bitterness. It's understated because it never feels more intense than moderate but definitely sticks with you long after the finish. The hop character is mostly orange with a touch of pine. As with most Barleywines, Old Guardian has a serious amount of hops and malt to it but a definite balance between the two extremes. At 11% ABV it's shocking how very little alcohol is present. In fact, there is really only a slight alcohol flavor right at the start that is quickly hidden by the robustness of the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Thick like a milkshake. Average carbonation but I'd recommend an aggressive pour. A full bodied as it is, Old Guardian has good drinkability. Although perhaps not when paired with a meal.

Final Thoughts: I'm a huge fan of Stone Brewing and for the most part Old Guardian completely met my expectations. However, I'm not a fan of orange hop flavor especially in Barleywines as it tends to accentuate the malt sweetness in a bit of a cloying manner. Personal preference that only affected my scoring very slightly. Aside from that note, another excellent beer from one of my favorite and most respected breweries. Would I drink it again? Yes, I expect on-tap would be fantastic.

 1,655 characters

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.

 1,208 characters

Photo of brewski09
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

2011 Release aged in a combination of a cool dark closet and a beer fridge. Poured into a red wine glass (a nice serving substitute for a goblet or tulip style glass).

A - Pours a ruddy brownish red with a small head that doesn't stick around too long. The beer is nice and clear.

S - The smell is now dominated by a big sherry note as expected by the original booze note when this was fresh. I feel like there is a non-distinct hop aroma in the background here too. Overall, a really nice progression of the malt profile and alcohol, but still balanced enough by the other beer characteristics.

T - The beer still has a mild hop bite to it up front that hangs around the taste profile. The sherry hits you up front as well, but then fades into the background and allows the booze to mellow and then allows the malts and hops to return.

M - The mouth feel is thinner than expected, somehow less viscous than the fresh beer was. The carbonation seems a little finer as well. The mouth feel falls just a little short for me.

O - A really nice progression of a high quality barleywine. Happy I hid this one instead of just drinking it right away.

If you have one of these from 2011 still, I would probably drink it now.

 1,223 characters

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.

 458 characters

Photo of zac16125
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle into a small snifter
2013 vintage

A: Pours a rather clear orangish red with less than 1 fingers width of light khaki colored head, which quickly dissipates down to a wispy center and outer ring. Really pretty beer with the color and clarity. Leaves a small amount of lacing.

S: Crisp apple, caramel, toffee, melting sugar. Quite sweet but at the same time smells refreshing.

T: Doesnt follow the nose at all. Heavy hop notes right off the bat (with lots of bitterness) coupled with burnt sugar. The two combine to give it an astringent quality that I sometimes get in American Barleywines but rarely get in the English counterparts. Booze is also prominent. I also get citrus rind and pine hoppy characters, and some sweetness in the form of caramel although this is mostly masked by the bitter astringency.

M/D: Medium bodied, carbonation on the higher end of the style, ABV is noticeable but no heat going down. Drinkability is moderate at best.

O: Ive been really disappointed by the last few ABWs Ive had. Maybe I am just spoiled or have different expectations since I more commonly drink EBWs which are more in line with my palate preference. Either way, this is not a bad beer, but it left me disappointed. It comes off as harsh throughout much of the drink, not in a boozy or burning way, but in terms of harsh flavor with the burnt and bitter notes dominating. Im gonna throw my other bottle in the cellar, we'll see how this changes over the next couple of years. As is, its drinkable but not worth making a special trip for (price is right though!).

Also, Im a pretty big Stone whore when it comes to their hoppy beers, seems like the never miss on those. However, this is the second miss for me when they go outside of the IPA/pale realm, as I thought their RIS was a big miss as well.

 1,819 characters

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.

 770 characters

Photo of Jason
4.09/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz brown bomber with a vintage date.

Deep reddish amber, epic lacing. Minty spicy hops, ripe melon, caramel, broth and esters permeate the nose. Creamy, smooth, boozy and full bodied. Intense, bitter, bready, toasted grain, caramel, ripe fruit, hay and tangerines on the tongue. Finishes bitter and semi-dry.

Powerful and bold and very enjoyable to sip.

 359 characters

Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.54/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. 2012 release.

A - Pours a hazy ruby gold color with a wispy one-finger off-white head. Nice lacing of tiny bubbles all around the glass.

S - Big heady aroma of toffee, butterscotch, caramelized cotton candy, and pine.

T - Matches the smell almost exactly with big toffee/butterscotch sweetness upfront. In the mid-palate the taste take a 180 degree turn with a huge blast of piney/sprucy hops and hop alpha acids. Extremely rich flavors. The mid-point in the transistion between the intensly sweet and intensely bitter is divine. Alcohol very well hidden.

M - Full bodied. Low carbonation. Together this makes for good drinkability for small sips. Just a little oily.

O - A great American barleywine. Love the hop profile in this one, which blends perfectly with the extreme maltiness. Just excellent all around. Why aren't I drinking this more often?? I can remember drinking a "current" version of this one around 2011, and it wasnt nearly as sweet; I think the 9-11 months of aging really did this one some good!

 1,059 characters

Photo of obrike
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bought a bomber at Round Rock Specs just a few days ago.

Pours a deep ruby with a some dark honey/brown. Pour leaves a one finger off white head that dissapates fairly quickly. Lovely looking brew...only thing keeping it from a 5 for me is the lack of significant lacing.

Getting a ton of sticky sweet malts, some pine and citrus...and a booze burn. Big booze burn.

Nice mix of bitter, sweet carmel covered hops and sugary malt. The sweetness is there, but mix of hops and alcohol make for an interesting, bold take on the style. Certainly a sipper as the 11% will sneak up on you quick.

Another Stone beauty here...not one for the masses, but certainly a brew for people looking to enjoy a very well crafted Big Bad-ass American Barleywine

 747 characters

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