Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Red Wine Barrel-Aged
Stone Brewing

Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
American Barleywine
Ranked #122
Ranked #10,255
4 | pDev: 14.25%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 36 | Ratings: 74 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by rrryanc:
Photo of rrryanc
5/5  rDev +25%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 liter growler; Sampled August 2009
A vigorous pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces an almost four-finger thick, lightly amber tinged, tan colored head that leaves lots of lace on the sides of my glass as it slowly subsides. The beer is a nice amber hue that shows a clear, copper-amber color when held up to the light. The aroma has notes of caramelized malt up front and a warm, spicy alcohol note to the finish. Fruity notes of dates and raisins are joined by light oak contributions of coconut as well as some toasted malt notes in the finish. There seems to be a fair amount of vanillin noticeable as well as a touch of buttery oak and even some spicy oak notes that combine with the alcohol to produce a sense of Bourbon character. There is quite a bit of malt character here with lots of toasted pale malt notes, biscuit like aromas, lots of crushed whole grain cracker notes, some caramelized pale malt aromatics as well as some toffee. After a bit it seems like the hot alcohol gets a bit too dominant in the, in fact I am soon questioning that I ever was able to notice the up front complexity that was first found in the aroma. After coming back to the aroma after some time I notice some nice fruitiness again as well as some herbal hop notes that get a bit grassy and green at times.

The beer tastes lightly sweet with caramel malt notes (though not overly so) and some toasted grain flavors. Bitter hop notes are joined by hot alcohol, and some spicy oak character in the finish. Bitter, green, somewhat astringent hop character in the finish can really linger on the palate. Up front there is a nice fruitiness, some of which seems to be hop contributed (citrus), but there is a bit more to it than that, but I can't quite put my finger on the other notes right now. There is a nice toasted malt character to the flavor with biscuit like notes, crushed malt notes and crystal malt flavors; this last plays a supporting role and does not too heavy as crystal malts can so often get.

Coming back to the nose makes me wonder if I imagined the oak influence; hop character and fruit notes are all I notice in the nose now. Even the flavor doesn't seem to have any real barrel character to it. The fruitiness is nice and might be from the Red Wine barrel, but I could easily be convinced that this is not the case. Overall this beer has certainly softened a bit with age as it is not as aggressive as when it is fresh. The beer does become much better as it warms up, despite starting at a 50ºF / 10ºC initial temperatures; it becomes more fruity, with more berry like notes and some notes of lightly spicy oak, a even a hint of vanillin seem to come out even.

I let this beer sit for a whole hour in the hopes of it getting more complex, finally I seem to get confirmation that this was aged in a Red Wine barrel; there is a definite red wine fruitiness (though it is soft still) and even some grape skin and tannin notes towards the finish.

Interesting, my second pour of this has me noticing more of the red-wine berry notes in the nose again. Letting this beer breath quite a bit certainly helps with the flavor as well. Still, the red wine character in this beer is easily missed, especially if you didn't know it was there. This beer really wasn't all that great during my first, full pour of this beer; despite starting out at only a cool 50ºF / 10ºC. I easily could have poured this beer out. I am glad I stuck with it though as it really starts to open up after warming up and being allowed to breath. In the end though, I waffle between enjoying a complex, interesting beer and not really finding this beer all that drinkable.

 3,657 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.2/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was the worst barleywine of the 4 I sampled at churchkey. This beer was much hazier than the others. It was red and had a weird distraught head. It had no carbonation.

Beer smells about the same as the others. Its malty, caramel, but this one had more of a sense of alcohol and perhaps a little fruits.

Beer tastes like barleywine mixed with red wine. Redbarleywine. Not pleasing, still kind of malty in the front, mild sweet, no bitterness, the midpalate was 100% wine. Not again.

 488 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Served up a modestly-hazed orangey body with a wispy, near-white head.

Smell: An initial sniff yields a faintly sweetish scent of bready malts with toffee and encrusted sugars. Then, some citrus rinds, follow by a whisper of oak wood and even less when it comes to the wine.

Taste: Sweet uprush of toothsome, candyish caramel maltiness towing a subtle grainy breadiness behind it. Touch of citrus. Tart red wine character bringing in modest tastes of raspberry and rosehips. Slight flutter of tannins, follow by a pop of hop bitterness, which somewhat scuttles the wine character leaving only a dry, bitterish finish with plenty of alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: The wine pulls you in one direction, the bitterness pulls you in another direction, the alcohol pulls you in a third. It's interesting, though, perhaps, not the smoothest presentation.

 913 characters

Photo of mcallister
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at Dark Lord Day. Poured a mahagony color with very little head showing red highlights.

Aromas of piney hops with citrusy accents, hints of wood and of red fruits. Some thick caramel and alcohol aromas with hints of dried fruit.

The barrel aging seems to have just tamed the Old Guardian adding just a hint of woodsy character. Not much coming through from the red wine. Maybe a hint of red currant and berry. Otherwise hops are tame yet showing good bitterness on the finish with a citrusy bite.

 506 characters

Photo of Hobbit
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of kleffman
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cracked our 1 liter growler of this last night and split it up 3 ways. Poured into my OG glass, with a frothy 2 finger head. Orange hue and nicely carbonated with a good lacing.

Aromas of fruits, some pine hops, and a slight bit of the red wine hiding underneath.

Taste is hoppy, but sweet and rich with an underlying red wine character on top of the hops and malt. Nice aftertaste with some bitterness, but restrained and smooth.

Decent drinkability, but like most barleywines they're easy for me to spend an hour sipping a small amount. Good mouthfeel on this one too, with just the right carb.

Overall a very interesting take on a barleywine. Pretty out there, and unusual, but works.

 691 characters

Photo of bonbini26
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of NickMunford
3/5  rDev -25%

Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at Stone. 2008 Old Guardian aged in red wine barrels.

A: Reddish orange with a beige head.

S: Plum, grape, grapefruit, orange, pine, and sugary caramel. The wine barrels add a nice vinous element to the beer.

T: A nice balance of hops and sugary caramel malt. Notes of grape, plum, and grapefruit are present, with accompanying orange and pine. Booze is mellow and bitterness is at a moderate level.

M: Upper medium body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is smooth and sticky.

Overall: A nice variation on Old Guardian.

 545 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this at Small Bar Fullerton side-by-side with the 2005 Bourbon version. This was listed as the 2008 vintage. Served in a goblet.

A - Looks pretty similar to the other Old Guardian variants, but with a slightly thicker ring of foam left after the foam dissipates.

S - It's vinous, but more in a sweet grape rather than heavy red wine way. It's definitely less oak and barrel influenced than the bourbon version. The grape sweetness integrates quite well with the caramel and sugar flavors.

T - The taste is again, a pleasant integration of vinous ripe red grapes and typical barleywine flavors of caramel and burnt sugars. I'm guessing the wine barrels have had a lot of the oak stripped through the multiple uses, and as a result this doesn't have the nice vanilla flavor in the bourbon version.

M - Feel is pretty similar to the bourbon version.

D - This is slightly more drinkable, as it doesn't have the whiskey bite and slightly astringent oak in the nose, but not so much that it warrants additional points.

 1,021 characters

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of hooliganlife
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at dark lord day 2010

pour was light copper with orange. nice white head that retained very well

very citrus hop oriented on the nose with light hints of sweet bread and floral hops.

lots of hops on this, they still dominated but there was a light red wine sweetness that lingered through out. light bitterness. light caramel and bread in the malts. this was good but different.

moderate carbonation, full body, but not too heavy.

this was good, but it was very different. i enjoyed this but it was not something i wanted a lot of. there just was not the balance or something.

 588 characters

Photo of Overlord
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours orange-ish brown with a surprisingly large off-white head.

Smells like booze, some caramel with orange-rind sugar, maybe a hint of grapes, and ... umm ... some more booze and a bit of grapefruit? Where's the red wine?

No red wine in flavor, either. Or at least, not much. Maybe a hint of grap-iness. The booze and caramel/orange sweetness take over and obliterate whatever else might have been here. Pleasant enough.

I like, but wouldn't go out of my way to seek out again.

 482 characters

Photo of nrbw23
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a reddish brown color. Seemed a bit more murky than the regular Old Guardian. A fairly thin off white head not too much lacing.

S- I could pick up a red wine smell clearly on this one. Quite a bit of hops coming through and some nice hops.

T- Again I'm picking up red wine traits here. Quite a bit of hops and caramel malts here. A little on the boozy side but still very solid. Being not a huge fan of wine I think it might of taken a little bit too much away from this one.

M- Smooth feel to it. Medium in body and lighter carbonation.

D- A little hot here from the alcohol. Not my favorite by any means but it was cool to try for sure. It was very different but not too bad either.

 701 characters

Photo of charlzm
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Consumed Feb 7th, 2010 at Stone World Bistro.

2008 vintage.

Presents a cloudy orange-yellow (as most Old Guardians do, apparently). Fine off-white head provides good lacing.

Aroma is a little sweet, slightly herbal and fruity; I got more of an apricot aroma, though the wine scent is there in a supporting role.

Flavor is a different story; red wine pops right out with the first sip. Flavor is otherwise weighted towards sweet, bready and caramel malts. Some alcohol flavor towards the end. Low bitterness.

Some of the "flavor experiment" beers I have tried fail because the featured flavor overwhelms rather than complements the standard flavor profile of the beer. This one works due to its relatively subtle addition which works with rather than buries the usual flavors.

Dry, fairly clean finish marked by alcohol heat.

Interesting experiment I would gladly try again. And again.

 892 characters

Photo of tbeq00
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of m1ked
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Off work early on a Friday. At K&B during beer week. Not bad at all.

A- pours a murky rusty orange brown color. When held up to the light I can't see through it, but it looks as if there is a small fire in the center. Micro thin off white cap with clinging edges.

S- Rich sweet maltiness. Not quite caramel, a little brown sugar. Unmistakeable white grape aroma in there. A touch of sweet vanilla. Smells heavy, but good.

T- Rich malty, sugary with a sharp bitterness that softens a bit but hangs on. I am unable to grasp the wine charcter until the very end, but subtle.

M- Thick, chewy, viscous. Just how I like my b-wine.

D- delicious b-wine. I was hoping for more red wine influence, and the reality is that it may be there and I'm failing to appreciate it. Good 1 glass beer for me.

 797 characters

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of MisterClean
2.2/5  rDev -45%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Had on tap a the Grad. List said 11.20%...AT LEAST.

A - Dull orange color and no head. No carbonation either.

S - Very fruity, nectars, fruity, and malty. Strong smell of alcohol.

T - very acidic, lots of alcohol, some fruit, the wine barrel basically killed the beer.

M - Very astringent, moderate to full bodied, wine barrel, I mean malt dominated. High alcohol.

D - Virtually undrinkable. Alcohol and wine dominate. Wow, I had a bad beer from stone. Maybe it's freezing in hell?

 486 characters

Photo of SolsticeDreamer
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Found myself at Stone Brewing company during the weekend where they had this one tap, had one small sample and decided to get a full growler to take home. This is review is based on a pour from the growler a couple days later.

Rich copper color with a small head that quickly disappears but traces that glass as one drinks.

The aroma is a bit subdued, not the usually nose full of maltiness and hoppiness that you get from the traditional Old Guardian: This version is a bit more balanced with fruity cirtusy hop aroma and a sweet malt wine like aroma.

Huge mouth feel! Super light carbonation probably due to the growler great full bodied beer!

This is a wonderful beer to be sip and enjoyed, a great nightcap to aid in wonderful dreams.

 742 characters

Photo of photomike
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Draught at Rattle 'N' Hum Stone event, 8-9 oz pour. '08 vintage.

Pours hazy copper, thin, soapy off-white head.

Nose is rich and malty, carrying notes of maple, toasty caramel, some subtle rich candy citrus underneath, hints of piny hops.

Taste is, again, rich maple and toasty caramel up front, with some citrusy notes and a bit of over-ripe stone fruit creeping in. Almost tropical, but rich rather than bright. Bit of heat. Oak is hinted at, but really rather hard to pull out completely.

Mouthfeel is smooth, full, crisply carbonated but almost creamy, so smooth.

Drinkability is good, though the big abv and malty richness keep this one firmly in the sipper category.

Not a lot of barrel comes out in this one, but the base beer is plenty delicious to carry the day without help anyway.

 799 characters

Photo of Kelp
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of 0110x011
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got the last of the keg at Stone on 05/10/09. 2008 vintage, poured into a New Belgium globe.

A - Medium amber color. One-finger off-white head has solid staying power.

S - Huge oak aroma, with vanilla and caramel notes. Citrusy hops in the back.

T - Huge, overwhelming oak presence. Some Caramel and hazelnut, with a piney, citrus hop character in the back. Did i mention oaky?

M - Big and full. Tannic from the oak.

D - Good for a barleywine, but loses points for the insane amount of oak.

Holy crap, this is the oakiest beer I've ever had. I thought I was an oak fiend, but this beer changed my mind. Alone, this is very tasty, as the oak aging calms some of the OG's flaws (over hopping, excessive heat), but were this blended into standard OG, the intense oak flavors wouldn't dominate the overall profile. Glad I tried it, but I wouldn't seek it out again.

 867 characters

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Red Wine Barrel-Aged from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 74 ratings