Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003 - Stone Brewing Co.

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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003

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89 Reviews
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Reviews: 89
Hads: 98
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 9.32%
Wants: 6
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.91% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Mitchster on 01-29-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 89 | Hads: 98
Photo of Brent
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled this with some trepidation - knowing well Stone's predilection for massive flavor overload, I expected a monstrous assault on my palate. Big flavor, indeed, but I was pleasantly surprised with the beer's relatively easy-going nature, for a barley wine. Massive, slightly syrupy malt - but not overwhelmingly caramel, as is so often the case with the style. Big hops prop up the malt, but don't try to steal the show. High abv is slyly hidden, showing itself more in a peppery burn on the tongue than in the flavor. For me, a little barley wine usually goes a long way, but here the bomber vaporized with little effort.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.12/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a really fiery red amber color. Virtually no head and no lace though carbonation is clearly evident.
Aromas of juicy, dark and light citrus fruits mingled with some lighter pine and caramel notes.
Flavor packs a really chewy caramel note, almost sticky; followed by light resiny notes and some citrus notes as well. .
Mouthfeel is really very sweet and herbal. Just a hint of the ABV present with a slight tingle of burning on the finish.
Drinkability is very considering the power inside this bottle. May have just been starting to lose its edge a bit but very enjoyable.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

OK, I've tried and tried, and there's just no use. I can't find a bad beer from Stone. Sorry I tried, but all of their stuff is great, not that I won't keep trying.

This barley wine, not one of my favorite styles, is no exception to the Stone rule. Though highly ABV'd and full the brew still satisfies in a very nice way. The look is a lovely red-tinged hazy amber with very finely packed head above and tight lacing throughout.

The nose is full of lovely malt and hops come through as well. The flavor is rich and full of malt, sweet and yet not over the edge. A strong spicy sense joins in a also gives a strong warming sense. The feel is full and taste lingers long; not a clean finish but not overtly negative either. Limited drinkability.

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Photo of ggroller
4.15/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another trade with Swillinbrew.

Same type of silk screened bottle as 2002.

Translucent amber colored beer with a huge, tightly wound head. Very nice lacing.

The smell is surprisingly subdued. Sweet caramel with hints of brown sugar.

Tastes hot. A bit rough around the edges. Sweet honey up front with a bit of coffee and dark chocolate in the back.

Chewy sweet mouthfeel with a residual maltiness.

A nice beer that I think would have been even nicer (is that a word?) next year.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark, obscured, rich amber body with a thin, beige head.

Smell: Sweetish, robust caramel maltiness with a scent of juicy raisins and aged plum jelly.

Taste: Rich caramel maltiness with a delicious, home-made quality to it. Pleasant dark fruitiness. Fairly restrained hop character, assumably due to age, but even less so than the 2002. Light hoppy flavors of citrus and shaved wood. A touch grainy. Very mellow alcohol presence. Sweetish, satisfying finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: Enjoyed as part of a vertical spanning the vintages between 2002 and 2007. The 2003 was the real standout in the group, closely followed by the 2005. I'd recommend pulling it out of your cellars now or stealing out of someone else's.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.18/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

ReRate 07 Feb 2003: Had the '03 on draught in a vertical tasting w/ the 99, 00, 01 & 02. The 03 has a very full mouthfeel a nice rounded taste & a sweet finish. This is a huge step above the 2002, in my humble opinion. Old Guardian has gone from a pretty good barley wine to a world class barleywine.

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Photo of freed
4.18/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pulled this out to share with a friend who had recently started enjoying good beers. Maybe not the best introduction, as its significantly hoppier than most Barley wines.

22 oz. bottle poured a rich orange golden color with just the slightest of a head that left only a thin ring. Carbonation was minimal. The aroma is of hops, rich malts, and alcohol. Taste is demanding; a mixture of copper and amber type flavors, some spiciness, and a rich bready, biscuit flavor. Significant hop flavor & bitterness aren't immediately noticeable, but slowly build and have a cumulative affect that's quite nice, though very different for a barley wine. High alcohol is apparent in a warm sensation that permeates each drink. Overall its a very good beer, and quite reminiscent of Brown Shugga, though not what I'd expect of a barley wine. My friend may have been turned off, but I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of silenius
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass. It is a clear brown with red-orange glints. The head is slight at first, but as it warms and the beer is swirled, it actually produces a fair amount of tan foam. This is a thick beer in the glass.

I get a surprising melon scent off this one with some big sweet malts. My girlfriend describes it as smelling like something sweet baking in the oven. Green hops are big as well. Piney, piney, piney. Little citrus fruit hop scent finds its way out from this one.

Taste is alcoholic warming sweet malts and considerable bittering from the hops. A green hops flavor smothered in dark caramel and buckwheat honey. The bitter and sweet fight for who will last longer on your tongue.

Mouthfeel is wonderfully smooth and viscous with some carbonation keeping it from appearing syrupy. A little alcohol warming here. Perfect!

Despite being so big, it is not tiring. Great drinkability. I still like Bigfoot better, though.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It poured a clear, thick reddish-brown with no foam or lace. The smell was of spices and malts, with a hint of fruit. The taste was of spice and malts, with a hint of caramel and you can taste the alcohol, but not over powering. Althought it was well balanced with the spices, malts and alcohol, it was just a touch to bitter. The bitterness in the after taste took away the pleasantness of the spices and malts. Not as good as 2002 or 2001! Maybe with age it will mellow out.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber poured into a thistle glass. It pours an orange-red color with two fingers of head. There is just a little lacing. The smell has a bit of malt, but much more of a hop aroma. Tons of hops and a touch of alcohol are present in the nose. The taste has a hardcore maltiness up front, but even after almost 2 years the hops are still representing. Great hop flavor, not too green. The body is pretty thick and smooth. The drinkability is pretty good for such a strong brew. Stone does it again.

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Photo of Myk
4.22/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 version. good stuff man. i love the saying on the bottle... "guarding against all things drab, dreary and dull." this is very true. starting off with the appearance it poured with a thick plae yellow head with a brilliant ruby color. the aroma is of sweet malt mixed with cranberry, cherry and yeast. great mix. the taste was yeasty, alcohol, oaky, and malt. it was a medium bodied beer that had a very late, surprising, hop flavor kick in, in the aftertaste.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.22/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hazy, dark caramel in color, forming a thin, light-beige head atop fine bubbles with poor retention and lacing. A fine silt bed of yeast settles in the bottom of my goblet. Aroma is of figs, raisins, sweet prunes, and potently strong notes of whisky-like alcohol. Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth with a semi-dry finish, syrupy, but not sickeningly so for a brew of this strength. Taste begins with abundant citric hops with initial bright acidity, fading into a firmly sweet sticky menagerie of amber malts..prunes, raisins, dates....mmmm good. A whiskey note pops in as spicy alcohol warms the belly. This Stone brew, unlike the majority of their brews, is in harmony with itself. The finish is everlasting bitterness with astringent whiskey alcohol and sticky malts that leave the gums sweet. One bottle of this and it's time for nap.......Zzzzzz. A winner.

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Photo of Viking
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Winter '03 edition, all Warrior hops, 9.91% abv.

Clear coppery-amber body. Tons of CO2 apparent. Head initially about 3/8" thick, and quickly fades to lace. Smell is very malty (caramel and molasses, slightly rum-like) and slightly vinous, herbal and spicy, with faint notes of alcohol (especially as it warms a bit more). Malty and surprisingly bitter flavor, considering the maltiness. Finishes oily with a surge of alcohol, hop bitterness, and a lingering flavor of apple-like fruit. Chewey, smooth, and full-bodied beer. Damn good fresh. I'll have to pick up a couple more bottles to try in a year or so - if I have the patience.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a nice amber red color with just a coating of head over the beer. The nose gave me some raisin/fig and even a hint of sugary sweetness ontop of the malty sweetness. The flavor is nicely balanced with sweet caramel and figgy malt and a solid backbone of hop. Those flavors play well together. The beer is thick and highly drinkable for such a big boy. Thanks to SheepNutz for sharing this one with us.

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Photo of SeanChouffe
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper red, light carbonation and a tan rocky head. The aroma is of hops, roasted grains, grassy, caramel and some smokiness. The flavor has a sweet start, very rich and creamy, with a lasting hop bite. The mouthfeel is full bodied; syrupy, slick and oily with a nice presence of effervescence.
As the beer warmed its character improved. Although it is very hoppy, this barleywine was well balanced and a pleasant experience.

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Photo of kmcnair
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This barley wine pours a nice dark and opaque amber and carries a rather sweet fragrance. It fills my glass smoothly with very little head at all, but in my experience this is an acceptible characteristic of a barley wine. Flavor is very sweet, fruity and floral. As I indulge, I notice there is very little lace left on my glass. The 9.91% alcohol smacks you right in the face, but I expect that from the gargoyle on the bottle, very strong and very present. The mouth feel is very sweet, sticky, and leaves a thick coating on the throat... almost overbearing Overall I really enjoyed this one, very sweet and mellow with an alcoholic sneak attack.

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Photo of Jon
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The pour from a 22 oz. bomber is a beautiful, clear copper with a concentrated, tan head that dissolves into almost nothing after standing for a minute or so. No lacing is present. The nose is hugely fruity, most likely due to the copious addition of Warrior hops. In addition, the aroma is quite sweet, which is certainly a by-product of the addition of a ton of malt. Taste is quite sweet, and surprisingly balanced between the fruity hops and the sweet malt. I was expecting more bittering hops, but alas, fruitiness is the key element here. Notes of raisins are present. Feel is quite oily in a good way. For a barleywine, this one drinks almost too easily as the alcohol is difficult to detect until the final sips. Coming from Stone, this one surprised me a bit. For a barleywine bottled in Winter 2003, it's all ready quite mellow and a pleasure to drink. However, I still desire more hops!

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love hops. Enough of this, "its too hot to drink barleywines." This is exactly what I need. Pours out a dense bright amber, with a flowing hoppy aroma that also contains traces of smoke, dry fruit, and a bit of a dank mustiness. It's got character.
Flavors seem pretty balances. Barley wines can sometimes have a dominant character, but this seems to have nothing standing out more than anything else. A mild sweetness (very mild) precedes the blast of hops...ends with a bit of dry malt and plum. Quite a tasty and complex barley wine. Maybe it's just that I havent had one in a while, but this is delightful.

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Photo of FINA
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Golden / amber in color with a gorgeous dark cream colored head. Taste was outstanding with a malty nuttiness hitting me right away with a strong, but not overpowering, wave of hops coming in right after. That was followed by a slight warming alcohol on the backside. This beer was magnificent, I can only wait to try it in a year or so and see how the flavors mature.

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Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Not so thick a pour; off-white head goes up by a finger and subsides slowly to a clingy collar; after a swirl, thin sheets of lace crawl back into the glass, leaving surging walls of carbonation in their wake. Awesome burnt sienna color, a bit hazy; held to light this barelywine stuns the eye with a luxuriant ruby glow, a bursting neon pomegranate... Aromas of burning toffee and medicinal alcohol from a mile away. Enormous bouquet of molten dates and brown sugar; apricot and ginger brandy; hop cones leafy and blooming, rosemary and pine. Nosefeel is velvety in the body and vaporous in the finish. Flavor is at first shockingly sweet, with more dates and golden raisins; extreme caramel sugars and toffee, toffee rampant and oh yeah also butterscotch rum raisin and rum and then the HOPS without an ounce of twang pull towards juniper, pine sap, ginger (?). In no way are these flavors competitive--the balance is astonishing--finally, things wrap up with a sandalwood dryness. Massive, nougaty mouthfeel with alcohol that warms and dries; the hops resiny and coating fairly shellac the mouth; the palate waters. As far as drinkability, let's just say you're going to need some endurance... The thought of pairing this with baclava or a similar insanely sweet, syrupy dessert is boggling. Heroic.

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Photo of aaronh
4.28/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark reddish copper body is topped by a tan head that displays great retention for a barleywine. The aroma is sweet malt and fruit, balanced very well by some assertive hops (did the bottle say Tomahawk?) Very sweet, yet very hoppy, as expected from a young barleywine from Stone. There are some alcohol notes controlling the taste, but the malt and hops put up a good fight to get noticed as well. The mouthfeel is very thick and rewarding. The drinkability is good, even at this young age. I hope to find a few more bottles of this to age for a while, because this is a very good beer now that I expect will only improve as the years go by. Another rewarding experience compliments of the Stone Brewing Company.

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Photo of goz
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pour is a deep mahogany, with a small tan head that leaves little lace, a lot of clingy carb bubbles on the glass with the initial pour. Aroma has a big caramel sweetness, backed up with a strong hop presence. Flavor starts with dominant sweetness (mostly caramel), middle has some "raw" maltiness to it, and ends with a rather strong spicy hop assault. Incredibly thick and chewy mouthfeel.

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Photo of BlindPig
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Thin light tan head on a clearish amber body. Hints of orange too.Thin and small collar with very little sticking to side of glass and a little tiny bit of lacing in the middle.
S- Alcohol, malts, bit of fruit, and some grassy and citrus hops. Smell isn't as strong as the other years. Alcohol and caramel malts come though most. It has a pretty sweet smell to it also.
T- Big caramel malt flavor. Bitterness is also big but more under everything else but it like a bumpy know it's there. Some light cirtus flavors also. Maybe a hint of grapefruit. Alcohol is pretty strong too. It is very sweet. Can taste the pale malts also. A bit of toffee. Hints of oak too (almost like part of this was aged in oak barrels and mixed with beer that wasn't (like 20/80). Bit sticky and cloggy. Big in flavors and very complex. Maybe a bit bready?
M- Light to medium carbonation. Bit cloggy with a medium to full body to it.
D- It is a very good brew but not as good as 02 and 00 (they are the top so far). Very sweet and complex.

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Photo of ngandhi
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a sight to be seen: Dense, lupulin rich head battles for almost a minute with the alcohol that wants to cut it down. In the end, they compromise and settle on an abstract lace atop the pint, but I sense a bitterness in both of them, some plan for revenge.

Measured. An aroma of big, but controlled hops and no alcohol leads into pineapple followed by pine, brown sugar reduction, a God-hating alcoholic dragon breath warmth, and sweet melon coming through on the finish. The Warrior hops are a wonderful go-between of the classic(ally boring) fruitiness of West Coast Cascades, the delicate peppery spiciness of some British hops, and the fight-you-to-the-13th-round retsina of Stone.

Cloying? Perhaps, but only in the sense that so many barleywines from Hardy to Victory are. With no oxidative qualities to back it up, the Stone relies on an impeccably fresh hop presence to balance the malt. This is both sweet and bitter beyond recognition, but the two flavors are so deeply concentrated that they balance, making this dangerously drinkable and paradoxically off-dry.

Despite its thickness -- a body derived clearly from an otherwise stealth alcohol -- and malt intensity, Old Guardian is in no way worty, which is what I love most about this beer. It feels like brew right out of the kettle and tastes like something fully attenuated and matured. The hops and malt linger -- the former with its floral, green, drying tongue, the latter with its tickling caramel sweetness -- and develop together with nuts, nougat, potpourri, and wood in the finish, nothing ever taking center stage.

I think this will age with the best of them. It's hedonistic now, but gives glimpses into the future of softer fruit and sugar, less piney aromatics, and more focused nuttiness on the finish.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of Running4beer
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber....
Poured out a rich amber color with little to no head and no lace. Strong smell of spicey hops, citrus hops and some caramel malts. Taste was fairly balanced a bitter bite at first with a sweet finish, raisons, spice, caramel and a hint of lemon or grapefruit was noticed in the flavor, quite good. Mouthfeel was rather smooth not what I had expected, I was expecting something rough with a crisp sharp bite on the palate. This was very good.

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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003 from Stone Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 89 ratings.