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

Not Rated.
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

98 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 98
Reviews: 89
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 9.58%
Wants: 5
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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Mitchster on 01-29-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 98 | Reviews: 89 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mzwolinski
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a few of these as soon as I saw them show up in the local liquor store. This is my "early" tasting of the beer, and while it hasn't aged to peak condition yet, it's still pretty damn good. Autumn leave amber in color, with a thickish, off-white head and a good lace down the glass. Malty aroma with citric hops and a bit of alcohol present as well. The taste starts off surprisingly sweet -- do I detect a bit of bubblegum-like candi sugar up front? Lightly caramely, with a bit of banana-like fruit mid-palate. The alcohol is virtually undetectable, though it lends a certain peppery flavor toward the end. Typical generous Stone hops at the end contribute enough citric flavors and bitterness to balance the sweetness of the beer, and lends a tingly finish to an otherwise viscous, chewy, full-bodied beer. A lovely beer -- can't wait to see how it develops.

mzwolinski, Apr 06, 2003
Photo of TXHops
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

-ABV: 9.91%
-Hops: Warrior

Old Guardian starts with a beautiful, very clear reddish-mahogany body topped by a thinnish barleywine looking head that managed to stick around longer and lace better than the first impression suggested it might. The initial nose is unexpectedly dominated by a bready malt character more in league with Bell’s Third Coast Ale or Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout than a West Coast barleywine. I expected a beer that could easily be confused for a Double IPA, but Guardian is at least as malty as it is hoppy. It helps (me at least) that the malty nose is the kind of nose that comes typically from the use of wheat malt, Belgian aromatic malt, or one of those other exceptional, pleasantly-pungent smelling malts. In addition to that addictive bread aroma, a good dose of those Warrior hops is evident, as well as a hot flash of peppery alcohol.

The ultra viscous body is the first impression of this beer in my mouth. I couldn’t even concentrate on the flavor at first because I was so overwhelmed by the thickness of the body—it feels like lightly carbonated mineral oil: so thick and slippery… After my brain forced that other part of my brain to begin cognitive analysis on the actual flavor of the beer, I was able to very quickly ascertain that the malt flavor was not contradictory to the malt aroma: doughy bread with slightly caramelized frosting? Perhaps I’m reaching a bit… Then come the hops—the flavor I anticipated all along. Interesting that they play 3rd fiddle to the maltiness and the mouthfeel… Those resinous cones team up with the roasted malts (crystal maybe—I’ve tasted this before) to create a touch of harshness that lingers in the corner of my mouth. That’s the flavor that I expected to dominate this brew. I was thinking that Guardian would be more like SN Bigfoot than Old Horizontal. In reality, it was right in the middle, with Stone’s very English (IMO) house yeast providing the slight diacetyl-ish creaminess to the body that sets their Pale Ale apart. I guess I’m assuming they use the same yeast for both brews.

All in all, this was a great beer and one that was way more balanced than I anticipated. The aromatics of the maltiness were a real treat and the super-thick, oily texture was refreshingly different and quite enjoyable. I’m glad that I bought multiple bottles of this one :)

TXHops, Mar 31, 2003
Photo of Darkale
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bright cherry red in color, really quite a beautiful beer to pour, though the tan head is small and temporary and soon fades to a faint skim. Awfully sweet, heavy and alcoholic, and an underpinning of smoky hops. But, to my mind, not enough hops to balance.

Still, a lovely beer to contemplate. Could drink far too many of these far too quickly.

Darkale, Mar 26, 2003
Photo of Myk
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Myk, Mar 22, 2003
Photo of hyuga
4.93/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Mahogany colored with a tan head that disappears after a couple of minutes. Wonderful and huge aroma, big citrus hop character combining with ultra-caramel malt and fruitiness. Makes something that slightly resembles a fruitcake, or something like that. Maybe a bit of grape and breadiness as well. As for the flavors, first I must say that this year's is an improvement over last year's in the hop department. Big, chewy, sweet caramel and bready malt come in first, hops are all around and are very well placed, yet not too overpowering. Spreads the warmth very quickly. Excellently brewed barleywine, makes you feel like you're eating something, not just drinking it. Grab it while you can, and put some back for later too!

hyuga, Mar 14, 2003
Photo of aaronh
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

aaronh, Mar 10, 2003
Photo of jdhilt
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear copper color with a good head and some lace. Nose is malt and not much else. The finish is very slightly hoppy and goes real good with a mild cheese and wheat thins. This is a good, medium bodied barley wine, too bad it is $6.99 for a 22oz bottle.

jdhilt, Mar 07, 2003
Photo of WanderingFool
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

When I opened this bottle of '03 Old Guardian a yeasty aroma came flowing out. Once poured it quickly faded. The beer is a nice clear copper color with a small beige head that quickly dissappears. A smell of caramel, hops, citrus and alcohol floats above the beer. Each sip begins with a strong caramel flavor that is quickly followed by a combination of bittersweet hops and spice. I think there's a hint of citrus in there as well. A mild alcohol taste is found at the end and stays behind for a little while.

This is a well balanced brew that hides the 9.91% alcohol very well. It's very drinkable with more flavors emerging at every sip as the beer warms in the glass.

WanderingFool, Mar 04, 2003
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I step into the Arena, head bowed, I enter the darkness that is punctuated by camera flashlights. I walk forward & my number #2 prizes the ropes apart, I climb into the ring, a strange name for a square platform. I sit, absolutely shit scared in the blue corner.

The decibels raise as the Champ enters; a chant of ‘Old Guardian’ & ‘Gargoyle’ reverberates around the arena. He enters the ring with a cocky self-confident leap over the ropes. He stands exactly where he landed in the red corner. 22 fl.oz. of pure brown muscle, he looks resplendent in his red & gold silk shorts. The referee calls us together, we stare each other out, “I want a clean drink gents - obey my commands at all times”. I return to my corner, punching my gloves together but quietly petrified.

The bell rings, the air is filled with the baying stench of hops, pine needles & a sweet but malty anticipation. We square up to each other, the ‘Old Guardian’ is a fine looking red-golden brown but I am pale white with fear. OG protects his head, it is hardly visible through his gloves, I weave & bob, left & right to catch a glimpse, it is as if he has no head at all. OG throws the first punch, it is a smooth alcoholic right arm that emerges slowly & a second later it is followed by a toffee & syrupy-fig left jab, another probing spicy right punch is quickly followed by a powerful refulgent barleywine left. My eye is cut by this quick voracious flurry. A tremendous reaching malty forearm hits me again; my face warms as the blood swells in my bruised skin. I struggle to regain composure & I take my eye off the champ for the merest part of a second. He catches me with a finishing alcoholic hoppy Uppercut, I’m stunned, dazed & confused - I'm canvas bound.

I lay, staring up through my sweat & blood drenched stinging eyes at the lights. The referee is waving his right arm in a chopping motion whilst the Champ stares down at me; I hear nothing in my ringing ears. Slowly my aural capability returns, the count gets to 8, 9, 10… the Champ walks, turns around & raises both arms to the crowd.
A winner yet again, I lay dejected & beaten. 49 seconds is all it took.

Can you go more than One Round with this Heavyweight Champion? Maybe the ‘Old Guardian’ does not fight like he did when he was at his peak in '02, but he still packs one serious fucking punch. My head hurts.

Old Guardian 2003 - A true Pugnacious Pugilist.
Marquis of Queensbury Rules, or not….
You take the “Old Guardian Gargoyle” on at your peril this year.

TheLongBeachBum, Mar 01, 2003
Photo of FINA
4.28/5  rDev 0%
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.

FINA, Feb 27, 2003
Photo of Bierman9
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Oh, another gift from the Bier Gods {Greg, don't let it go to your head! ;-) }. The color of this bier is simply exemplary! It is such a rich, chestnut-mahogany color!! Clear throughout, with some garnet shades as well. The head was thin, though, with a wispy, off-white ring of tiny bubbles ringing the glass, with a little bit o' lace. I poured it into my snifter and could get whiffs of it from a foot or so away.... Lots of robust, sweet malt combined with a healthy dose of hops. Quite pleasant!! The body is a bit over the medium point, trying to make its' way to fullness, though not quite getting there. It also has a silky smoothness on the tongue; not quite top-notch, but almost.... A sweet, rich toffee-like maltiness attacks the palate first, to soften things up, and then the main force of the Stone Army, the hops, attack full-bore! They are "Warriors", after all. Both components linger long on the tongue, savoring their successful assault! A wonderful bier, though if memory serves me, not quite up to the lofty standards set by the '01 and '02 vintages. Then again, I don't have them here to compare side-by-side. I might have to set one of these aside to compare to '04, if I can let it sit that long! Long live Stone!! Prosit!!

overall: 4.55
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 5

491

Bierman9, Feb 24, 2003
Photo of mickeymac
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's a pretty amber with a smallish head the disappears quickly. Sweet maltiness and pine needles come through in the smell. The taste becomes more complex as it warms, but it lacks the complexity and some of the spiciness of last year's version. Although I'm certainly no expert on cellaring, this doesn't seem like a beer that will hold up well over a long time. It's good now but may not hold up as well as a Bigfoot.

mickeymac, Feb 23, 2003
Photo of zerk
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear light amber with a thin off white head that leaves a touch of lace. Aroma is fruity and sweet, with notes of caramel, apricot, pine, and some spice. Flavor is quite malty, with caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, and a spicy bitter finish. Hops are pretty bold for a barley wine. Moutfeel is full, and somewhat oily and smooth. This is a very easy drinking beer, considering the high alcohol content.

zerk, Feb 23, 2003
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22oz amber bottle with the TM gargoyle guarding against "all things drab, dreary, & dull." $5.29 at Carytown Wine & Beer.

Appearance: Poured a fiery copper-red with a brief appearance by a tan-colored head that quickly disappeared.

Smell: A lovely mixture of caramel, citrus, pine cones.

Taste: This is a tough barleywine to judge. On one hand, the other BW's I've had have been much smoother and sweeter than this one. However, this is a very good beer, too. There is a very delicate balance achieved between the hops, the malt, and the alcohol. For a 95 IBU rating, I was very impressed by the smoothness and body. The hops clearly are present, but not off the scale like other Stone products I've had. When I first tasted it (right out of the fridge), it was a little on the harsh side. But as it warmed, the balancing act really put on a show. For an ABV of almost 10%, you sure don't notice it. Very well-hidden. Makes more of an appearance at the end and only after the beer had warmed considerably.

Mouthfeel: Not as creamy and chewy as I'd expected, but then again, how creamy can a hoppy beer be?

Drinkability: A little on the "crisp and dry" side for me. Not too much of a lingering aftertaste, either. Normally, this is a good thing. But I wanted a little more from a barleywine.

OldFrothingSlosh, Feb 21, 2003
Photo of BeerManDan
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

BeerManDan, Feb 20, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Did I ever say that I love Stone Brewing Company, well I will right now because as far as I have tasted they are the only ones with the balls to make a beer known for it's malt, a kick you in teeth hoppy beer. She poured an amber copper with a minimal short lived irish cream cappucino toned head. When I went to take a sniff of her I got greeted by a barrage of Tomahawk hops, and somewhere buried inside the aroma came the nice mellowing sweetness of a shitload of barley. Flavor is the great spicy kick of the tomahawks mixed with bite of the alcohol to eventually mellow out in the finish with the wave of barley malt. It was like throwing some water on the flame. But as it warms and settles this beer takes on the attributes off one of the best barley wines I have come into contact with. With two feet of snow outside there is no beer I would rather be enjoying right now then the Old Guardian. Simply put it brings you to the very edge of the style of perimeters only to pull up at the last second and grab you with all the malt you have come to know and love when you're about to fall. A nice syrupy texture carries all of this magnificant brew, and the heavy body is welcome with the style. A bold , big huge representation of a barley wine by one hell of a brewery.

WVbeergeek, Feb 19, 2003
Photo of Viking
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Viking, Feb 18, 2003
Photo of HopheadEd
3.85/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Limited winter '03 release, this ale pours a usual caramel brown color with a limited head that fades quickly but leaves a lasting, sticky lace. Caramel and spices confront you at the first smell, and a bit of alcohol. Starting with a big malt flavor, this beer changes with temp., as now that it has warmed, the alcohol and hops take over. Short, spicy mouthfeel, with limited carbonation, I now realize this will be unbelievable in a year or two. Too new, but as it warms becomes pretty good. Next review(or update) Feb. 04.

HopheadEd, Feb 17, 2003
Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coppery red in color with minimal brown head.
Sweet malt, hops, and some alcohol in the aroma.

Taste is pretty well balanced. Huge malt sweetness followed by an onslaught of hops. Some alcohol as well. Finish is a bit harsh at first, but this improved as the beer (and I) warmed. Barleywine style ales are new to me this year and I liked this one more with each drink I took. It left me eager for more. Big and bold, but well put together.

Good mouthfeel.
Good drinkability for the style.
Overall, a good beer I look forward to sampling again.

PhantomVodoo, Feb 16, 2003
Photo of LarryV
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice reddish amber with a thin head that was quick to go the way of the Dodo. Pleasant aroma of hops greets the nose. This is a mellow brew for a barleywine, the hops lend a nice bitterness, but are well balanced by the malt. I thought the alchohol was very present in the taste, it was on the warmer side when I drank it. Quite tasty, but not what I would consider a big beer.

LarryV, Feb 11, 2003
Photo of scottum
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a clear red amber with a very thin head head. Not too smooth, not too bitter. This is a nice flavorful barleywine. Although for the price I was expecting the best barleywine on earth. This is not the best barleywine on earth, but it is quite good and worth tasting. I suspect that this brew will grow better with age. Double Bastard is much much better and cheaper, so I'll stick with that as my Stone brew.

scottum, Feb 08, 2003
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Limited Winter '03 Release" enjoyed at just below cellar temperature to start, and up to room temperature (65F) to finish. It pours a surprisingly clear mahogany with an orange cast and beautiful crimson and ruby highlights. (It was so clear that I had to check the bottle for sediment to see that it hadn't been filtered)! Tiny bubbles rise slowly to the surface adding to the appearance. The body is capped by a short lid of creamy light-tan foam that holds fairly well before dropping to a creamy collar and whispy surface covering. A thin head can be brought back up simply by swirling the glass; and it leaves some nice lace throughout the serving. The nose expresses deep caramel, mildly citrusy/piney hops, and just a touch of dark fruit (mainly raisins, some plum). A limited amount of alcohol becomes more apparent as it warms. The body is full and it's remarkably smooth and creamy in the mouth due in part to an exceptionally fine, and moderate carbonation. The flavor is rich with a supple caramel maltiness, a touch of fruitiness, some mild citrusy/piney hop flavor, and an assertive bitterness that's balancing rather than abrasive. I was hoping to find more of the characteristics of the Warrior hops (as I'm unfamiliar with them), but I prefer it the way that it is - well-balanced! The alcohol is extremely well hidden within the aroma and flavor, although it clearly warms in the swallow. It finishes dry, but surprisingly short for a Stone beer, with some lingering malt and a solid bitterness as well as a fair amount of spicy alcohol. It's nicely restrained (can you say that about a Stone beer and not be beaten up?). I was expecting a more assaulting barleywine after tasting the Double Bastard and Ruination, but I'm delighted to say that this is much more refined. Extremely enjoyable, and with a great level of drinkability for a beer of this strength. Very nice! I'm considering buying a case to put away but I'm on the fence about that as it seems to need to be enjoyed fresh. I fear it may lose its vivid character if left for too long. Regardless, I'm highly impressed and sad to be at the end of a 22 oz. bottle. Really enjoyable, although limited in complexity. Well worth seeking out!

NeroFiddled, Feb 02, 2003
Photo of Wildman
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 Edition:
Well, I finally laid my hands on some Stone Barleywine. Thanks to the brewmasters old connection to Columbus, it is one west coast beer we can count on getting. This beer poured a dark amber color and formed a nice light tan bubbly head that disipated quickly and left some circular lace. A small amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, caramel and spice. A flavor of malt and caramel. The finish was a touch astrigent. May need to have this a little warmer, but I couldn't wait to try it.

Wildman, Jan 29, 2003
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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003 from Stone Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 98 ratings.