1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 98 | Reviews: 89 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gusler
4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage Winter 2003 Release:

The beer after its extrication from the 22-ounce brown bottle sets in the glass a deep burnished copper color on the pour with the head pythonic in size and the texture frothy and a toothsome light tan in color and after its demise the lace forms a thick and sticky sheet to smother the glass. Big sweet malt nose rich in fusel alcohol, caramel and hints of the hop flower, a real treat for the schnozzle. Start is ambrosial, loaded with malt and the top peanut butter thick, and the finish spiteful in its carbonation, the hops prickly in their spicy bite. The aftertaste dry as a bleached desert bone, oh yes, almost forgot the “alcohol”, quite evident in its bitterness and “tummy warming”. Ah another great year of Old Guardian got a case aging away, but the chances of it lasting more than a year slight.

Gusler, Aug 18, 2004
Photo of BrewMaster
3.58/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 22 oz bottle. Color is a nice orange/amber with a stiff but thin head. The remains through most of the drinking but thins to a lacy near the end.

Aroma offers a sour spice smell. Taste is sour and tangy without much of a finish. Overall the flavor is harsh in a bad way.

I tasted this along side a 2002 and a 2004 Old Guardian and this 2003 was my least favorite of the three.

BrewMaster, Aug 09, 2004
Photo of silenius
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

silenius, Jul 25, 2004
Photo of ngandhi
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
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.
ng

ngandhi, Jul 06, 2004
Photo of Rastacouere
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance is a rather clear amber with a generous and beautifully laced off-white head, surprisingly big for a 10% beer. The aroma is very hoppy, citrusy but flowery, not so piney. A bit of alcohol is noticeable, especially as it warms where it seems to get a little thinner and more vinous with an almost grapey fruitiness. At cellar temperature, it had a flowery/peachy flavour profile with a creamy maltiness playing around with the big hops, warrior?

Rastacouere, Jun 09, 2004
Photo of benmiliron
3.88/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Paid $4.79 for a 22 oz. bottle.

Pretty good barley wine, but not great. Good sweetness and malty hoppiness. There's a corky flavor in the back of this that I can't quite pinpoint. A bit cloudy in the glass. When Sierra Nevada Bigfoot is on the shelves, there's no contest, go with the SN!!!

benmiliron, Apr 22, 2004
Photo of SeanChouffe
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

SeanChouffe, Mar 18, 2004
Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
4.28/5  rDev 0%
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.

NearerMyBeerToMe, Feb 01, 2004
Photo of aracauna
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a medium, coppery brown. It's seems to be the official color of American barleywines actually. We had several classic American examples of barlwines tonight and almost all of them looked like this. There's a good caramel malt to it and a bit of alcohol and grassy hops to support the sweetness.

aracauna, Jan 11, 2004
Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured with little head, produced minimal scattered lacing. Beautiful color: a medium ruby-orange, rusty and scotch-like. The aroma contained powerful hops, some maltiness and alchohol. This was a great tasting barleywine, with moderate malty caramel overtones, well hidden alcohol, with a strong but perfectly balanced resiny hop finish. The mouthfeel was also excellent: thick, smooth and velvety, but not syrupy at all. Solid. Yet another amazing Stone brew, a must try!

HiroProtagonist, Dec 26, 2003
Photo of Crosling
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Old Guardian poured a reddish copper color with a beautiful fluffy overpowering head that proclaimed its brilliance throughout the entire session.

The nose was nice. Dark fruits, caramel and a nice hop presense.

Plums, Raisins, Dates, Caramel, Cherries dominated this beer. The flavor was incredible and was so lingering on the palate. As the beer warmed more burnt dark fruits came out and the alcohol content became more alarming. Can't go wrong with Stone!

Crosling, Nov 30, 2003
Photo of Dmann
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is what a barleywine is all about! It poured a deep amber color with almost no head at all. The smell was of plums and alchohol. The taste was pure malty goodness with a touch of hops to ballance it out and just a little bit of plum flavors in there as well. I think this one is a definant improvement over last years version which was much sweeter than this one. Another awesome brew from stone

Dmann, Nov 22, 2003
Photo of Brent
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Brent, Nov 20, 2003
Photo of ManekiNeko
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber served at cellar temperature in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Clear reddish copper topped by a thick and frothy tan head that quickly dissipates to a film, and subsequently to a ring. Incredibly dense lacing left on the glass. A beautiful sight.

Smell: Powerful smell of caramel and other sweet caramel malts. Golden raisins, peach, and honey aromas. Orangey pine scents as well.

Taste: Freeeyow, that hurts. A peppery, harsh, and bitter assault at first. Light caramel malt sweetness comes through eventually. Rough and brackish at times.

Mouthfeel: Viscous and heavy in taste and body. Aftertastes linger for eons.

Drinkability: Too rough at this point, IMHO, unless you like a burly barleywine. This sucker needs to guard the cellar for some more time. There are 2 more bottles in the cellar that are more than up for the job. Will get back to you on both of them. Bring on 2004!

ManekiNeko, Nov 18, 2003
Photo of RBorsato
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Copper-amberish color with a decent low tan head and low carbonation. Hops a bit more citric with a light fruity aroma compared to the '00 version. Tastes more balanced than aged versions. Full bodied and smooth but doesn't burn like aged versions.

Drink Fresher !

Label States: 9.91% ABV and Warrior hops.

Bottle: Winter '03 Release
Tasted: 11/14/03

($5.39 / 22 oz.)

RBorsato, Nov 17, 2003
Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.15/5  rDev -3%
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.

AtLagerHeads, Oct 26, 2003
Photo of cokes
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Crimson hued. Bloody and angry-looking beneath its gaudy beige helmet.

And deservingly so.

Nose is bombarded with dried, smoked cherries, sherry, and more torched fruit. Caramelized mangoes drenched in vaporous pine syrup. Burnt raisins. Oh my! For as much hype as Stone gets from their hops, I gotta say that the malt loads of their brews are every bit as impressive.
A double-edged assault, indeed.

Raids the mouth. Loots and pillages and rapes. Like ten thousand vikings, drunken and horny. Touting massive caramel swords, swinging brandy-dripping battle axes and lighting huge fruit bonfires. Tossing orange rinds, pineapples, mangoes, raisins, and plums into the ceremonial inferno. An inebriated cry goes up around the the stack of smoldering fruit, as its molten discharge of raspberry- and currant-syrup floods the recently conquered streets. The brawn is flaunted unshakably. Cocky as hell. Boasting tanginess, burned fruit and substancial hop wrath; Who's going to stand in its path?
Give up your lands now, and avoid the ensuing carnage. The savage victory is laden with sprucey hop sludge. Warrior indeed!! No analysis is needed. The rubble Old Guardian produces is testiment enough. Another war cry goes up towards Valhalla, as the cognac-infused, sherry alcohol vapors dance above the flames.

The strike is thick and all-consuming. Little time for the reprieve carbonation provides. A blanketing conquest. Unrelenting in its coating invasion.
No time to prepare, or make plans of escape.

Its over now.

Best not to fight, as your casualties are mounting.

Give up, stop resisting, and accept your domination.

Hope there was sufficient time to hide your women and children.

cokes, Oct 26, 2003
Photo of RoyalT
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Extremely thick and cloudy orange-brown in color with a monster head that would not go away. Finally it settled down to a deep film on the body, but this was relentless. The lacing on my glass was beautiful.

Smell – Big, giant hops lead the way for this Barley Wine. The sherry base is present as well, but this one is all about the hop compliment.

Taste – The sherry and hop mixture is amazing. There are also some nice fruity flavors in here such as big cherry, orange, and cranberry, but the quality hops and oak-aged sherry flavors stand out.

Mouthfeel – Dry, dead flat, and extremely refreshing. This is a full-bodied ale that quenches the thirst. There is absolutely no indication of alcohol whatsoever.

Drinkability – They serve this on tap at the beer store that I frequent. I usually suck down a pint while I’m buying some pints. Awesome!

RoyalT, Oct 07, 2003
Photo of hotstuff
2.53/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

First of all I am not a fan of Barley Wine's by any means, but I will still give them a try.The appearance was that of a small sized ivory head with fine-medium sized bubbles that fully dissipated.The body was dense and there was some carbonation observed.The hue was copper and the nose consisted of malt, caramel and some fruitiness.The flavor was very hoppy and sweet tasting with a fore and aftertaste that lingered.It had a tingly and bitey mouthfeel and it was light bodied.The lacing was somewhat fair.

hotstuff, Sep 28, 2003
Photo of UnionMade
3.1/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours a rich tawny amber, topped with a meager ring of head. The head dies out completely about halfway through the glass. Very attractive and potent looking.
Aroma is pretty much all hops. A very resinous bitterness wafts up, with some big malt, and a touch of alcoholic booziness poking through. I'm betting the IBUs on this are way up there. Very floral, with a citric, grapefruity hop aroma. A bit of graininess to the malts, lending an overall coarseness to the aroma, when coupled with the overwhelming hops.
The flavor starts out powerfully malty, which is effortlessly crushed almost instantly by an oily, resinous juggernaut of hops. Gigantic body, with a coarse, lightly carbonated mouthfeel. Rindy citric hops up front, leading into a herbal pine flavor. Some fruitiness is buried beneath the bitterness, but mostly lost in the undertow. Big grapefruity hop finish, with a slick alcoholic warmth going down. Some grainy flavor pokes through in the finish. The beer is mostly an offering to the hop gods.
I think the beer will certainly be better with a few years aging, to let the hops tone down. Any subtlety within the flavor is completely blasted over at this point. Good, but pretty mediocre as far as a barley wine goes. I think drinkability will increase as the flavors tone down, but it's too coarse and rough hewn for me at this time.

UnionMade, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of tavernjef
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark caramel brownish orange with a plumy purple reddish tone, has some chill haze to it. A small fine tannish creamy head bubbles slowly up from underneath gaining strength and girth and then fades away quickly like a ghost in a dream. The carbonation boils slowly from below as if its just starting to cook. Which I think is the leading cause to the smell of lots of ethanol/alcoholic sense, which takes a second to get past, which eventually leads to lofty strong darkly sweet malts, some fruityness and hard candy, caramel and toffee-like slightly make some wayward notions in subtle nuances. Juicy citrus hops with a bit of floral factions play in the back. The alcohol really makes its presense felt as it warms, quite strong and warming in the nose with a mellow sweetness. Taste is smooth, creamy, and warm, a pure pleasure to let it fill your your head and tummy up. Solid malts lending soft bread chewyness and caramel and toffee candy and light dark fruits of plum and maybe cherry upfront. Hops keep a very nice lingering bitterness of subtle pine and juicy citrus-like peels throughout the middle with some herbal/floralness slipping in and stemming into the finish with some light peppered spicyness and herbal hoppy grab sundrys in the finish as well but a bit later just after the hops make there way off the palette, a very nice effect. Feel is quite full, pleasingly warm from start to finish, smooth and creamy, mellowing and easy. One excellent drinkin' BW, the bomber wasn't enough but the alcohol was. A fine barleywine, top notch with no rough edges, balanced well, and I'm sure with some aging the alcohol might lose some of its potency and make it much more unbelievabley yummy then what it is now. Wow, what a notion. Given what it's at now it can only get better.

A big thanks to the big dog, xlperro for the bottle!

tavernjef, Sep 19, 2003
Photo of nomad
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a very red amber color, quite beautiful, with a thin foam head that stuck well. Left big stains of all sorts of shapes from the great lace. Smelled of big ass barley malt, almost cherry and certainly of caramel notes. The malt could be slightly grainy at time – a nice rough hewn touch, though. Eventually it opened to grapefruit notes. Tasted of an even and straightforward sweet barley malt flavor, and of course high alpha hops. A tiny bit spicy, it had some caramel tones swirling about and a creamy finish. Thin mouthfeel, so it drinks like a session beer.

Straight, simple, and solid, thus lacking the amazing complexity of many other barleywines. Good now but would strongly benefit from aging. Not everything Stone makes is perfect.

nomad, Sep 08, 2003
Photo of xgrigorix
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Twenty two ounce brown bottle.

Radiant redish brown, clear appearance. Dense almond coloured head settles after a few minutes, leaving behind a thin sheet a lace that quickly slides down the glass to rejoin the host.

Interesting hop aroma, grapefruit, & a slight whiff of alcohol.

Nice caramel flavour swims through some malty sweetness. A bit of raisins, apples, & even some plums. A mild grapefruit flavour, with some pine. Hops are subdued, but more than present. The finish is semi-dry. Apples with a slight metallic flavour lingers pleasantly.

Think full body is complemented by slow & steady carbonation.

Alcohol eventually warms the body. Nice way to pass part of an evening.

xgrigorix, Sep 05, 2003
Photo of johnrobe
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stone continues to impress with this brew! This is probably the most drinkable barleywine I've ever had. It pours a slightly hazy, light burnt orange with a scant off-white head. BALANCE. This sucker is exquisitely balanced on both the nose and the palate. There is quite a load of both chocolate and caramel malts giving that "Tootsie Roll" flavor which seems to be the hallmark of many a great barleywine. Partnering with that rich malty sweetness are some citrusy hops that don't don't overwhelm. Amazingly smooth for such a young barleywine. The high alcohol presence is never obvious (until you try to type a review...and have to constantly edit). :-D The rough edges so obvious in other barleywines (I'm lookin' at you, Bigfoot!) are absent here. Perhaps this will hurt its cellaring potential; only time will tell.

johnrobe, Aug 26, 2003
Photo of freed
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

freed, Aug 20, 2003
Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2003 from Stone Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 98 ratings.