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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 yankeepride
2.93/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured a beautiful copper color into a snifter, with a quickly-dissolving head. Didn't have a really potent nose like I was expecting, but what I could pick out had some caramel elements. As for the taste, there was such a big hop presence that I couldn't get much from the grain profile. The hops felt like they were getting in the way, and what I could taste seemed ... stale. It was easy-to-drink, especially in terms of being high ABV, but only because it was thin and watery. While I recognize that American BW's are hoppier than their English counterparts, I didn't feel that the hops and grains played well together in this one.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.73/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A 2012 bottle of Old Guardian, served to myself at cellar temperature in a snifter.

A pour of this stuff creates a beautiful, beige, two-finger frothy head that sticks around stubbornly. Also beautiful is the clarity and color of the deep-ruby, sort of mahogany body. Good lacing, too. An astounding appearance.

It smells sublime. It's an aroma of caramel, spicy hops, leather, ripe red apples, grape juice, and dark fruits. POWERFUL dark fruits. Prunes and raisins are pretty apparent. Maybe a hint of vanilla or bourbon, but not in a boozy way.

The taste is... phenominal. It's like potent hops soaked in caramel and dark fruit extracts. As it should be with a Stone beer, this has astringent, bitter and piny hoppiness, but not immediately. At the beginning of a sip, a sweet, luscious brandy character mixes with those awesome dark fruits. This sweetness then fades fantastically into a finish full of the deliciously dry, bitter hops. No alcohol in the taste. This barleywine is mellow and smooth.

Great feel. Somewhat thick with mild carbonation. It lets all the flavor complexities come through wonderfully.

This barleywine rules, dudes.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.46/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Had to go a little strange on the rating in this case due to the fact I agree with the odd review here that this is not a barleywine style of beer. Given the ABV, it's and Imperial IPA.

Given that, I enjoyed the beer a lot, it had classic Stone high-hop dryness in the mouthfeel with a touch of maltiness. However, I don't think it fits the style, as the hops overwhelms the flavor, and I don't believe that should be.

A: cloudy red with nothing special in head or lacing (normal)
S: earthy with some plum notes
T/M: caramel or butterscotch on the malts, helped by the hops and carbonation, the hops draw present throughout, and as the beer warms a little, the malt seems to hang around a little longer
O: as stated above, am not sure it fits the style (and rated down due to that), but if you enjoy Stone beers, don't skip thjs one and ignore the overall score.

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Photo of TastyAdventure
3.46/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasted on tap. (sure glad i didn't buy a bomber just to try it out!

A - nice shining caramel color. nice head.

S - Hops.

T - too much hops for a barleywine in my opinion. But maybe it's not the amount of hops so much as the lack of malty sweetness rich flavor to balance. While I'm sure there are plenty of malts, as the gravity is so high, maybe they should have included more malts that would have contributed more Flavor to balance, keeping in mind they would add a elephant load of hops, as can be expected from Stone. This is just my opinion, as I'm not a hop-head.

I did enjoy Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot, and they are notorious/famous for overusing hops, but I think they had a better handle on how to construct a Barleywine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of aquazr1
3.89/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass. 2014 Classic release.

A - Pours a dark amber, almost brown, with a very small head that dissipates quickly.

S - Mostly malt, I can pick up a hint of the grains in the background. I don't get much from the hops.

T - The toasted malts come through strong, but not in a bad way. Very drinkable.

M - Medium bodied that feels good going down.

A very drinkable barley wine ale. The high alcohol content is hidden well. Another well done beer by Stone.

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Photo of daledeee
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 22 oz bomber.

Poured into a large wine glass. Got a nearly black body with an off white head.

Nose was hoppy mostly. Some malt?

Taste was heavy bodied with lots of malt and hops. I found this one to be very balanced.

Mouth feel was really good. Overall, I thought this was one of the better barley wines I have had; surprised it is not ranked higher.

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

2012 edition, poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass
A: Reddish brown with a 1/2-finger head that settles very quickly
S: Nice, fairly typical barleywine nose full of roasted malts along with some caramel, toffee and a touch of hops
T: Fruit esters, rich malt, toffee and caramel. Like the nose, typical for the style but well done
M: Full-bodied, a bit sweet/viscous but again that's the norm for this type of brew
O: Solid as are most Stone brews. Nothing extraordinary here but a nice beer try if you're looking for a good example of the barleywine style. I have to give a nod in that respect to the SN Bigfoot though, mostly because it comes in a 12oz bottle which given the high abv is much easier to consume solo than the 22oz here

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Photo of Thelonious_Mahler_Crate
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Amber hue with a beige head that surprisingly dissipates somewhat quickly. Very bubbly.

Smell: Tons of malts, as is to be expected.

Taste: Malty, biscuity, earthy richness. As it warms up, more flavors come out, though I can't identify them all... They just taste good. Booze comes out and lights up your nasal cavity a bit at the end of a sip.

Mouthfeel: Nice level of viscosity and carbonation.

Overall: My second barleywine after SN Bigfoot, and I think I like it better. It's a very pleasant beer that I may get another one of, and see what aging does to it.

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

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

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

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

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

M - Can feel the carbonation, light syrupy

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

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Photo of Brew33
2.64/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sometimes I like to revisit a beer I didn't love the first time just to see if I may have had a bad experience, hence me revisiting Stone's Old Guardian. 2013 Vintage

It pours a really nice, deep, garnet with a small, light tan head. Looks nice in the glass, perfectly clear. The aroma is subtle. Caramel malts, slight cardboard, alcohol, no hops to speak of. Not very good frankly.

The flavor is the real disappointment here. One dimensional malt profile. Slight hop bitterness but no real hop flavor. A Stone beer that is underhopped for the style? Huh? Really lacking complexity. The alcohol is prominent but the malt flavors are downright bland and the beer seems a little over attenuated for the style. No real sweetness or pronounced flavors at all. Hop flavor is nonexistent and the bitterness is restrained.

The beer leaves a sticky residue on the lips which is perfect for the style IMO but it's a touch overcarbonated and a little thin for my liking.

Overall, it's pretty much what I remember and that is a below average American Barleywine. Stone has really hit a few homeruns lately especially with the Enjoy By series but this is just not a good American Barleywine.

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

Bottle onto Goose Island Glass

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

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

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

Mouthfeel: thick, bubbly. Highly carbonated.

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

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Photo of Roman5150
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

bottle into duvel glass

appearance: dark red mahogany with 2 finger slightly off white head, intricate lacing

smell: herbal earthy hops, floral notes, sweet grapefruit, clementines

taste: sweet earthy bitterness, you can feel the warmth from the alcohol, but it's not too forward. Very sweet aftertaste that coats the tongue with a warm bitterness.

mouthfeel: average carbonation with a thick syrupy feel

overall: A great brew from Stone, this is a very hoppy sweet beer that is superbly balanced. A regular buy from them, if you're a fan of any of their IPA's you will love this.

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Photo of Bauzen
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark copper in color.

Smells of strong malt, hops, and sweet caramel.

Flavor is hoppier than the smell would suggest. The ABV certainly aids the flavors along and gives the beer a flavorful bitterness. The sweetness doesn't last. In fact, it drinks more imperial-IPA-like than a Barley Wine. There's also an undeniable density to the brew. Carbonation makes it feel light, but it's anything but light. This is a serious beer, but the finish is refined, dry, and bitter.

Second to Stone's Enjoy by IPA, this is my favorite of their year-round offerings. It's potent and rewarding with every sip, a welcome variety from their bolder beers that can be hit-or-miss depending on what you like. Well done, Stone... Well done!

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Photo of Algebrew
4.73/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured a rich, dark caramel color (hazy) and gathered a foamy light tan head about two fingers thick. The head was very long lasting and left a sticky, crawling lace.

Smell: There is a strong, sweet malty presence accompanied be some toffee and a touch of that hop-scent.

Taste: The beginning hits with an empowering sweetness, very malty/fruity; the middle ties down the malts and the sweetness with a more subtle kick of hops (very Stone-like); the end leaves with a nice mix of the sweet beginning and the bitter overtaking, overall finishing off pleasantly bitter.

Mouthfeel: This brew was surprisingly thick (more accurately semi-thick.) The amount of carbonation helped its smoothness greatly. It finishes nice and dry.

Overall: The best Stone brew I've yet to try. It was subtly complex, but maintained a superior richness and quality to what it was try to perfect. An excellent brew by far.

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

Ah, sitting down to enjoy my hundredth beer review on the site.

A - Pours reddish-brown with a two finger head that very slowly dissipates to a substantial cap and sticky lacing.

S - Roasted malt, resin, and caramel take up the scent, sweetness to it.

T - Dark caramel at first turning to heavy resiny hops on the swallow as expected from Stone. Alcohol shows through mildly in the aftertaste along with a smokiness, makes me think a little of scotch, definite numbing to the tongue after a few sips.

B - Medium body and carbonation, slightly syrupy. Oily feeling in the mouth after swallowing.

O - Overall a pretty good beer, especially if you are looking for one to sip through the whole night. Overly bitter in my opinion for a barleywine, would prefer more malt and fruitiness to show through. Would recommend for fans of Stone's other beers but would not be the first barleywine I would suggest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Apellonious
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pt 9 fl oz bottled 1/11/13. Yeah, I know, you are supposed to wait. I can't. I made an effort. I'll pick up another and hide it better next time.

A - ruby red pour with cloudy brown interwoven. One finger head that dissipates quickly.

S - brown sugar, grapefruit, berries.

T - grapefruit and hop forward. Some back end malt sweetness dark fruit style and a slight tinge of alcohol. Tart finish. Picking up some raisin and a hint of toffee.

M - moderate to low carbonation. Decent amount of heft but not thick or sticky. I take that back. Things get sticky.

O - Solid offering, this one will warm you up and hit you. A good beer to share with a friend and a discussion. Would like to try one that is properly cellared. Based on my willpower, it may need to be off site.

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Photo of Andrew61923
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage poured into my Tree House tulip. Have been obviously holding onto this for a while and hoping to start the night off on the right foot.

A: Pours a nice, clear ruby red with a frothy off-white head that leaves behind some nice lacing as it fades. A really good start here.

S: I'm picking up mostly on caramel and toffee sweetness from the high ABV and dosage of malts. I do get some hints of piney hops, but these are dominated by the aforementioned.

T: A lot of the same caramel notes from the nose are on the front of my tongue, but then are washed away by some pretty intense hop bitterness. I'm surprised that these have hung around as much as they have given the age of this beer, but I shouldn't be shocked since this is a Stone beer.

M: Solid carbonation and a smooth coating of the tongue. The ABV is hidden well, but this is most definitely a sipping beer.

O: Barleywines are not my favorite style of beer, but I enjoyed this. I should have probably closed the night with this instead of starting it (or split the bottle a few ways with friends), but I'm happy to have tried it aged.

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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 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 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.

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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.

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