Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale (2008)
Stone Brewing

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale (2008)Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale (2008)
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Style:
Barleywine - American
ABV:
11.26%
Score:
91
Avg:
4.1 | pDev: 10%
Reviews:
259
Ratings:
328
From:
Stone Brewing
 
California, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  6
Gots
  26
SCORE
91
Outstanding
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale (2008)Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale (2008)
Notes:
Reviews: 259 | Ratings: 328 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by dbrauneis:
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis from North Carolina

4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Mugs Alehouse in Brooklyn, NY

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden orange in color with a thin off-white head. The head reduces to a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate lacing is observed.

S: Lots of very sweet malts with caramel and toffee notes. Also, there are some subtle pine hops present as well.

T: Very sweet with a lingering pine bitterness in the finish. Caramel and toffee notes upfront with intense pine hops in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky.

O: This beer tastes great with some age on it. After having both this beer and the 2012 version of it this week, I much prefer the 2008 with the age on it. Very nice sipping beer.

Mar 12, 2012
More User Reviews:
Photo of Lothar666
Lothar666 from Rhode Island

4.48/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- An aggressive pour yielded a light, translucent orange-ruby-red body with a two finger thick, creamy off white head. Small traces of sediment were barely visible, and this one was much lighter and more carbonated than I expect in a barleywine. Lacing was thick and sticky, coating the sides of my snifter.

S- Very fruity- Apples, raisins, pears, grapes, with strong alcohol and very sweet malts thrown in for good measure.

T- Flavors are extremely subtle, complex and very well blended, producing a flavor profile full of dry grapes, other fruits, sweet malts and toffee. Hops round this out to finish off with an extremely well balanced flavor profile that hides the alcohol content very well.

M- Smooth- almost too smooth to be a barleywine. Very well carbonated, dry and sticky at the same time with just enough tingle in the finish.

D- Watch out, this Old Guardian is a sneaky bastard. He disguises his alcohol content so well that you don't know what hit you until you stand up. This is an absolutely fabulous and highly drinkable beer.

NOV 2013 UPDATE-
Had another one of these tonight after aging it for several years. 100% worth the wait, but a very different experience. A slightly weaker head over a darker and significantly more opaque body. Dry grapes have been reduced to only a slight tartness, replaced almost entirely by the toffee and brown sugar flavor and mouthfeel complete with a delicious powdery feeling on the roof of the mouth. As smooth as this one was before it only improved with age.

Mar 06, 2008
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
AKBelgianBeast from Alaska

4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Guess I oughta review one of these eventually.

Pours a very nice looking amber and orange color with a large fluffy off white head that leaves good lacing. Nose is some big maltiness, hops, some dark fruit or peachiness and a bit of spice. Flavor starts out with a big malt presence, followed by some savage hoppery and a good spice kick. dark fruit, some light caramel and candy sugar. Hops finish it up with a nice bitter kick. Mouthfeel is thinner than I would like in a BW, but nice and viscous, and most certainly tolerable. Drinkability is outstanding for the abv. Overall a solid representation of the american barleywine style. A good one, and a go to for an easy choice in the realm of american BW. Good beer.

Sep 02, 2008
Photo of Kallessin
Kallessin from Massachusetts

3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very hazy orange/apricot color. It almost has a cider appearance. Has a tan head with a slight orange tinge to it, but it goes away very quickly.

Has a very fruity/spicy yeast aroma. The booze is obvious but not overpowering. There's some sweet cotton candy, vanilla and almonds?? in there as well.

A lot of sweetness with fruity esters and spiciness up front. Then plenty of malitness that goes to a moderate amount of hoppy bitterness. The alcohol is very toned down, which was a little surprising from the aroma. Not a very complex tasting beer but very enjoyable.

It's very smooth and full bodied. There's a little carbonation bite with a warming sensation and only a very slight burn on swallow. There's a little lingering dryness.

This beer is dangerously easy to drink. It should be a sipper but it's easy to forget the alcohol content. It's fairly well balanced between the fruity spice, sweetness and bitterness. A nice beer.

Oct 18, 2009
Photo of Slynger
Slynger from Illinois

3.55/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy deep orangey amber with a cap of creamy off-white foam.

Boozy and malty, rich and bittersweet caramel and toffee, with some melon, prune, and stout citrus rind bitterness. Full bodied with a nice amount of carbonation, though it's not particularly smooth or creamy.

Not bad stuff, but not really something I need to try again.

Nov 21, 2008
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bebopkola from New Jersey

4.09/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber color surprisingly light in color for a barleywine. Smells of grapefruit and other citrus upfront with some sugar carmel finishing it up. Probably the hoppiest barleywine I've ever tasted which is no surprise coming from stone but it's a bit to much in my opinion. As it warms up the hops seem to mellow out and hints of spice and sugar carmel come up. Overall, not my favorite barleywine this season but definatley a good one. Taste wise it's a bit all over the map. This barleywine definatley needs some aging to mellow out and unify the brew.

Feb 25, 2008
Photo of Yesac
Yesac from Georgia

3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

"Limited early 08 release"

A - Orangy rust color. Small white/orangy head that fades.

S - The smell isn't that strong. There alcohol scent is surprisingly subtle, and then I pickup some butterscotch and caramel.

T - Caramel up front, some butterscotch and a strong alcohol overtone.

M - Medium alcohol burn, sticky and a medium body.

D - Would only have one bottle due to the strong ABV, but its a great sipper. I'd rather have some other barleywines over this one though.

Nov 04, 2008
Photo of CrellMoset
CrellMoset from Virginia

4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA. Poured into a 22 oz. Terrapin snifter.

Appearance: A hazy and dull looking reddish-brown beer with a foamy, tan, creamy one-finger head with average retention and some nice sheets of lacing, if a little runny. Gets definite points for head, but loses a little in the color department.

Aroma: Surprisingly mild (despite many reviews to the contrary - perhaps it's my glass, or an old bottle), but pleasant. Spicy, leafy, herbal, earthy hop notes and caramel malts. Hop notes come out a little more as it warms, with grapefruit slowly emerging.

Taste: Not nearly as hoppy as I was expecting, actually - at least, not for a Stone brew! But maybe that's the age of the bottle. A pretty sweet roasted malt backbone - lots of caramel, sweet pale bready notes - and some solid but not overly hoppy or bitter notes participate in a great balancing act here. The bitterness is mild but persistent, and the hop notes - mainly herbal and earthy notes, though there are some light citrus overtones - are pleasant. A surprisingly well-hidden alcohol presence (11.26% - both high and calculated to a surprisingly precise number of decimal places). Improves drastically as it warms, though I'm beginning to wonder how much of the "warmth" improvement of a beer is really improvement and really "I've consumed more of this beer by the time it's warmed and am slightly more intoxicated by this point." Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Fine-bubbled, creamy, milky, a little oily from the hops, full-bodied, and fairly thick and syrupy but not as thick as it could be given its malt content.

Drinkability: A good barleywine, though not my absolute favorite. I've heard this one was better in years past, but since they do change the recipe every year, who knows what's in store in the future. Alcohol's definitely up there, but largely well hidden - aging this one for a year might mellow out the alcohol a little, but given it's not as highly-hopped as many American barleywines, it might mellow out a little too much. Who knows. I'll buy one and give it a shot. Recommended, though - definitely not bad.

Sep 06, 2008
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Goliath from Illinois

4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very cloudy orangey/amber color with a large inch and a half yellowed head. Nice retention.

The aroma is decent. some hop spiciness up front with some nice sweet malts. Some fruity esters and a bit of alcohol.

The taste is ok. It's rather aggressive. Pretty hot, with some sweet malts up front. Some pineapple in there too. A slight bitterness on the finish. Not my favorite barleywine, but I could definitely see why this has become such a popular cellar candidate. It seems it could be a great beer with several years on it.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, slightly syrupy, and fairly creamy. Carbonation is fairly light.

Drinkability is low to moderate. It's not a bad brew, but definitely aggressive in both taste and strength of alcohol. With some years in the cellar I imagine the drinkability would improve dramatically.

Aug 26, 2008
Photo of ElGrecoVerde
ElGrecoVerde from Michigan

4.11/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy copper with a giant white head. This is the kind of brew you just want to hold up next to a macro lager and say "See, this is what beer is supposed to look like."

Sweet and sour citrus fruits, crisp tea-like herbs, and clean caramel are apparent in both the taste and aroma. Toasted grains and some light spices round out the complex list of flavors.

The crisp, bubbly mouthfeel and variety of flavors masks the high ABV well. Another great beer from Stone.

Mar 11, 2009
Photo of bobsy
bobsy from Canada (ON)

3.65/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage picked up in Buffalo, and sat stoppered in my fridge for the past two days as I was in no state to finish it at Saturday's barleywine tasting. I've not used stoppers often, and I'm surprised that this beer doesn't seem to have degraded at all. I will be using them for bigger bottles more often from here on out.

Pours a slightly clouded cider with a brief bubbly cream coloured head, which eventually settles down to a wispy film, and leaves a few spots of lace on the glass. The slight lack of clarity is a little surprising, but I do note some sediment at the bottom of the glass, so it may well be fine yeast particulate in suspension. The aroma is surprisingly subdued for a big barleywine, and while its pleasant, it doesn't leap out of the glass like most Stone products. An earthy caramel base supports some light zesty hops, but there's not much else to be smelled, which is a touch disappointing.

The flavour turns things up a notch, and makes the letdown of the aroma seem like a distant memory. Strong caramel lasts from the moment the liquid hits the taste buds to long after the warming sensation in the throat has subsided. Its grounded (pardon the pun) by a distinct earthiness, and the occasional hint of toasted nuts. Zesty, resiny hops provide a good level of bitterness, and they've not really started to fade too much. Some alcohol is present in the finish, though considering the weight its fairly well. The mouthfeel is great, and considering this bottle has been wine stoppered for almost two days, the carbonation is still at the perfect level. The body is rich and full, without becoming too sticky and cloying, largely thanks to a good stream of CO2 which lightly prickles the taste buds.

This barleywine doesn't wow me, but it's a good enough example of the style. Its just you expect so much more from Stone, and this one doesn't deliver on the usual fronts. I'd say it would be better fresh, when the hops are more aggressive, but I've heard the alcohol is too in your face at that point. With more age they'll drop out all together, and I don't think there's enough interest in the malt base to make this anything more than average at that point. With that in mind, she's probably in her sweet spot right now. I won't be buying another bottle though - Stone have too much great stuff to linger on the ones that are only good.

Dec 01, 2009
Photo of watchnerd
watchnerd from California

3.85/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hmmm, not exactly what I think of when I think of a barley wine.

This is more like an 'Imperial IPA', if there was such a thing. It's pretty dang hoppy and, despite what the other reviewers say, I don't find the alcohol particularly well hidden, reducing the drinkability.

Overall, I'd say it's not exactly a barley wine, and decently enjoyable, but not quite on par with some of Stone's other offerings.

Mar 15, 2008
Photo of gpogo
gpogo from California

4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Hazy red-orange amber with cream colored head that dissipates. The color is very pretty though.

A- Sweet malts and citrus hops. Very floral and sweet, slightly fruity.

T- Amazingly sweet, but so bitter at the same time. The bitterness seems to be contributed to with the high(11.26%) alcohol content. Leaves a slight bitter aftertaste.

M- Full bodied, slick and syrupy all at the same time. Worked out great for this brew.

D- This beer was incredible. I've had barleywines before, but never have experienced anything like this. Such great strength in malt and hoppy bitterness, not to mention the 11.26ABV. This is definitely a sipping beer, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jul 02, 2008
Photo of maximum12
maximum12 from Minnesota

3.28/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

An almost two-year old bottle of Old Guardian sent my way by an East Coast BA. I do wonder why this beer merits its own designation every year? Oh well.

Pours Mississippi muddy, about as turbid a beer as I've seen, even with a gentle pour excluding the bottom muck. Rusty & flat. Wicked booze in the nose, not much else.

Old Guardian is nothing if not old. Pungent, solventesque taste is rather over-the-top, tempered by a square of caramel & deep, hard-dirt fruit in the background. Touch of yeast, bit of day-old bread. Very flat & slick in the mouth, lack of carbonation is either from age of high ABV. Either I'm getting old or not eating enough, because this one's warming me up in a hurry after an evening out on the ice.

Pretty decent beer, but it feels like I'm missing out on something reading the other reviews, & I believe I will not be buying any more barleywines any time soon - I believe I've lost my taste for them. If this happens to IPAs there might need to be a medical intervention of some sort.

Jan 22, 2010
Photo of ryrust5301
ryrust5301 from Louisiana

4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Murky and cloudy orange with lemon yellow highlights flowing around the edges. What made it impressive was the finger length tight white head that blew up at the end of the pour. A misty froth coats the top just adding to the beauty of this one. Very thick band forms a white halo around the top. Once again a fantastic looking brew.

Smell - Deep bready scent and caramel malt which is matched by a piny hop.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Bitter and biting on first taste. Hops are definitely pronounced, and have a bit of a citrus taste as well. Malt is very sweet and bready, most likely caramel based. The bitterness doesn't really ever go away and really hangs around throughout the entire experience.

Drinkability - This one looked citrusy on the pour due to the color, and it was a lot more hoppy than I like my barleywines. This one just needs some age to blossom more.

Aug 15, 2008
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THEOPTIMATOR88 from Illinois

4/5  rDev -2.4%

Nov 22, 2011
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BeerCon5 from Pennsylvania

3.74/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly hazy, light amber color with not much head.

Fruity scent with very pronounced alcohol.

The taste is most notably strong alcohol, citrus, and fruit.

This beer is medium bodied, kind of thick and smooth in texture, with moderate carbonation.

Average drinker. Very flavorful and interesting, though tough to drink more than a bomber.

Jun 04, 2009
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bonkers from New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a tulip glass. The beer pours an amber/orange color with an average white head. The aroma is of dark candied fruit, maybe a hint of orange marmalade. The flavor is of rum soaked dates with a phenolic, lingering finish. The beer is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer is a sipper due to high ABV. I enjoyed this one. I was suprised not to pick up any hops since Stone normally loves hops. I felt this was very balanced.

Jan 25, 2009
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ScottyC54 from New Jersey

4/5  rDev -2.4%

Mar 17, 2012
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kurtissellen from Virginia

3.79/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like the big bottle really forces you to commit. Dirty beige head with large bubbles just over a fingers length tall and lace that really clings to the glass. Looks the color of ice tea and has a kind of a bready smell to it. At first a roasted malt flavor hits you followed by the alcohol then the bitterness of the hops kicks in and leaves a lingering flavor. I could start to feel the effect of the alcohol by the time I was halfway thru my second glass. Not quite as sweet a barleywine as I would like but still very good.

Mar 19, 2008
Photo of bum732
bum732 from Lesotho

3.73/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy orange amber, decent head that dissipates quickly leaving nice lacing. Smells predominately of caramal and toffee, some brown sugar, anise, very faint hops, Tastes of rich toffee malt followed by a very pronounced bitterness. Lots of layers going on, some dried fruits, earthy hops, notable alcohol. Finishes quite sweet leaving a pronounced hop bitterness.

A very good barleywine. The hops weren't really present in the aroma, but came through in the taste. A nice bitterness cuts through the rich toffee malt. Still, this is a huge beer and the toffee flavor is a bit much.

Mar 04, 2009
Photo of HalfFull
HalfFull from California

3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a rich hazy orange amber with light head and lacing.

Smell is very nice, some fruit and bready malts with just a tinge of alcohol, with sweet dessert scents on the finish.

Taste follows suit. The sweetness, and a slightly chewy malt stucture, masks the alcohol content in this beer quite well. This is quite smooth for a barleywine of this strength. A bit too sweet overall, I'll try the other half tomorrow.

Feel is somewhat rich and smooth for a barleywine given the malt balance yielding a relatively easy drinkability.

Jul 28, 2008
Photo of ckeegan04
ckeegan04 from Texas

3.78/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark orange/amber in color. One finger light brown, almost yellowish, head. Little retention and little lacing.

S - Alcohol and a caramel malt sweetness. Hint of earthy hop in the background but the malts and alcohol definitely dominate.

T - Alcohol up front and some malt sweetness. Roasted caramel. Alcohol definitely dominates the flavor though. Might be a good one to cellar for a while and see if it mellows some. This beer improves greatly as it warms. Alcohol becomes less dominate and a sweetness of dark fruits really starts to take over.

M/D - Full bodied and somewhat chewy. A stronng barleywine that is a little rough around the edges. I would definitely like to pick one up and cellar for a year or so.

May 28, 2008
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TasteTester from Ohio

4/5  rDev -2.4%

Dec 17, 2011
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skibumdc from Virginia

5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a white wine style glass.
Appeared to be Amber color, although it was a dark restaurant.
Nice mouthfeel. Not too thick, not too thin
Taste of plentiful VERY toasted malts with caramel, honey, and tea flavors.
Exceptional
A sipping beer to start off the night.

Apr 17, 2008
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale (2008) from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 328 ratings