Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine
Stone Brewing

Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Barleywine - American
3.68 | pDev: 16.3%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine
Reviews: 304 | Ratings: 579 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohneHoodlum:
Photo of JohneHoodlum
JohneHoodlum from Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Dec 05, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of faernt
faernt from Illinois

4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This tastes like an Arrogant Bastard barleywine. I get a "don't mess with success" vibe. It's well made. It's good,but it's not remarkable. I realize that I hold Stone to a hired standard. That's a compliment. Other brewers in Stone's league are taking more risks.

Apr 09, 2011
Photo of Dreadnaught33
Dreadnaught33 from District of Columbia

4.18/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a while ago, poured into Lost Abbey Sinners Glass.

A: Very sinewy head and ruby/light brown hazy appearance. With a twirl, tufts of head form and swirl into the body nicely. Beautiful lacing.

S: The big change from regular old guardian here is the Belgian yeast and malts used I believe. Sugary sweet medium fruits and spicy clove notes and to sugary alcohol notes. Cinnamon and ginger seem to be there as well.

T: Dark fruit and plum notes add into the sugary spicy flavors. Almost a ghost of a lactic sour at the back with citrus fruit bite from the stone signature hop array. Some dried fruits and nutty flavors as well. Alcohol definitely present with some heat and sweetness at the back of the palate. Very interesting and complex flavor that I like.

M: Medium feel with appropriate carbonation. A little burn at the back from the alcohol that will die with time, but a little distracting now.

O: A good beer that seems like it will age gracefully, and I look forward to that.

Apr 12, 2011
Photo of EDubLovesBeer
EDubLovesBeer from California

2.75/5  rDev -25.3%

Nov 18, 2014
Photo of Suds
Suds from Missouri

4.17/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well, this isn't what I'd call a normal barleywine. Clear an light brown, the beer has a faint white head. The beer has a fascinating aroma...estery, fruity, a bit of funk and straw...wow, there's a lot going on in here. Some malt scents behind the yeast aromas, and a little flower and wood scents. The aroma is very intriguing as well. It's a peppery, semi-dry, spice-like beer with a solid malt backbone. Alcohol is omnipresent in the beer...not hot, but very warming. Full and rich in body, the beer is mouth engulfing. This is an amazingly engaging beer.

Apr 23, 2011
Photo of mikeincharleston
mikeincharleston from North Carolina

3.25/5  rDev -11.7%

May 13, 2013
Photo of swh1972
swh1972 from North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

May 12, 2012
Photo of Wildman
Wildman from Ohio

4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a clear red amber color and formed a nice medium tan foamy head that coated the glass with lace as it subsided. A medium amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, pepper, yeasts, candy and hops. The flavor was of malt, pepper, caramel and candy. It has a medium body and a bittersweet finish.

Mar 06, 2011
Photo of Anthony1
Anthony1 from Colorado

4/5  rDev +8.7%

Dec 15, 2011
Photo of smurphy493
smurphy493 from New York

3/5  rDev -18.5%

Jun 28, 2014
Photo of pathman
pathman from Ohio

4.75/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

05/08/20 bottle @ home (2011 release)

May 09, 2020
Photo of yemenmocha
yemenmocha from Arizona

3.39/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy copper with thin head that doesn't last long. Nose is good with sweet baked goods or fruity bready qualities, as well as some overripe fruit. Palate is extremely spicy - a huge zip in there - and there's a whopper of a tart fruit flavor with sharp bitterness rounding it out. Finish is also spicy sweet and the alcohol is really in yo face.

Apr 05, 2011
Photo of LarryMyers
LarryMyers from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +22.3%

Jun 30, 2012
Photo of Cookierachas
Cookierachas from California

5/5  rDev +35.9%

Feb 24, 2012
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Old Guardian Belgo

Appearance: You can see it's got a little bit of body as you pour it: the stream of liquid isn't clear (more from viscosity than yeast); and as it hits the surface of the beer in the glass it doesn't foam up, but it seems to be teeming below, and eventually a thick fingered head of foam rises almost out of nowhere. The head is a yellowed off-white, and the body is a hazy ruby with orange highlights. The head retention is very good, and once settled, it still maintains a thin covering of whispy lace. Short walls of 'mountainous' lace ring the glass, but nothing much is left above.

Aroma: In the nose it's fruity with a mineralish component (crushed granite) and a suggestion of tartness, as well as a hint of spice/pepper.

Taste: The flavor displays a lot of rich dark fruit upfront, as well as some citrus, and there is indeed a slight tartness to it. The mineralish character is present as well, and it almost seems a bit metallic (in a good way). A peppery spice acts as a thin veil that lays over it. The malt is always present, but it doesn't really show itself until the middle where the fruitiness starts to disperse as it warms. It's got some definite caramel malt character, and a good bit of toastiness. There's a candyish note of sweetness at this point, which is offset by the rising bitterness. Hop notes are present, tying back to the fruitiness: they're mainly leafy (or at least appear to be, muddled in with the malt), but they're also a citrusy and a bit piney as well. It finishes sweetish with lots of fruit and a dusting of yeasty spice, but that evaporates quickly (quite possibly encouraged by the 12% a.b.v.), and it's left mainly dry, lingering with some leafiness, some crumbs of toffee, a hint of black pepper, and a dusty mineral character.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly, for a barleywine, it's pretty nimble. It's full bodied, but it seems almost medium-full. Maybe the pH helps to cut through it, or maybe the alcohol thins it a bit. To be sure, the CO2 bites at your tongue before you really feel the maltiness, so maybe it then just goes less noticed. That, along with the fruit and spice of the yeast and hops (and perhaps alcoholic spiciness), leave it seeming smooth and quick, yet still supple. Interesting.

Drinkability: The high alcohol will certainly clock you. The question then remains, 'if you're having a snifter or two, how much would you want to enjoy another one if you could'? It's complex, but not overly complex. On the other hand, it's not overly full which makes it a little easier to approach after having had two already. Could it be more complex? Yes, but it is what it is, and I think it's fairly engaging as it is. It's certainly worth trying.

Mar 08, 2011
Photo of Phelps
Phelps from Arizona

2.73/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sent by nlmartin in the Blind Beers BIF. This here’s a bomber that I poured into a tulip and reviewed blind.

Cloudy copper with a frothy half-finger head of cream-colored foam that fizzles away quickly, becoming a thin, sticky ring.

The nose is fruity with Belgian esters of pear and apple, along with some citrus and herbal mint. In the background is a subtle, weird smokiness, akin to pork and black pepper.

The flavor is absolutely overrun with alcohol. Behind the heated blast are hints of curacao, toffee, black pepper and caramel. Yeesh.

Medium-high carbonation peppers the tongue from one angle while the beastly alcohol attacks from the other. The runny medium-light body fizzes up softly as it moves about. Fumes blaze through the nose and set my chest ablaze. If I breathed out near a flame, I think it would ignite.

Well, there’s nothing outright damning about this beer, but there’s nothing redeeming about it either. It’s as if the Belgian yeast went into a rebellious teenage stage and started producing only alcohol instead of flavor and aroma. Damn teenagers.

May 27, 2011
Photo of brettski
brettski from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

May 21, 2012
Photo of hyuga
hyuga from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +22.3%

Nov 15, 2011
Photo of DrDemento456
DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

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

Last beer of my flight a 5oz pour.

A - A a nice clear dark amber brown with some pretty sweet foam and lacing for 12%.

S - Damn that smells hoppy. Along side of that I get some Belgium yeast, a bit of sugars and warming alcohol.

T - Wow this was all over the place! It seems the Belgo yeast does balanced the ABV somewhat but the harsh levels of alcohol along side of bittering hops made this very hard to drink.

M - Very heavy with distinguishable ABV.

Overall pretty much in the same ballpark as the regular Old Guardian. Hash, hoppy, and warming. The only way I would try this again was with an aged bottle at least 3 years.

Jan 13, 2012
Photo of H0rnedFr0gs
H0rnedFr0gs from Texas

3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Apr 04, 2012
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek from West Virginia

4.7/5  rDev +27.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears in my Unibroue La Fin du Monde chalice with a semi hazed glowing blood orange tinted body and a very nice thicket of khaki tan head forming thick. Leaves behind fine intricate detailed lacing on my glass.

Aroma contains upfront peppery, spiced yeast inspired notes with a deep caramelized sugar tone going on with ripened plums/apricots and other hearty fruits. A touch of booze crosses the palate as well, what a beer.

Flavor isn't has harsh as I thought it was going to be, big citric/pine/earthy middle from the big hop additions in this aggressive barleywine style ale spiked with a Belgian yeast strain. Juicy complexity of ripened fruits hints of citrus/plum/apricots. Typically big American alpha acid hops don't blend in the Belgo IPA style that Stone has helped popularize, however with all of this malt in this big bruiser of barleywine I'm getting some nice flavors in the mix. Alcohol/booze is there but doesn't burn or hurt me per se. There's almost perfume like flavors with the spices/aromatics from the yeast strain utilized, wow this is a new direction for sure. I questioned when I heard they were going to go Belgo on odd years with some of their famous big beers, but damn this is good.

Mouthfeel as it warms up so does the heat of the alcohol, big body no effervescence in the carbonation. This is the type of beer that might cure your sore throat. Hop oils are there big bitterness but it doesn't kill the palate completely the warm spiced yeast profile with alcohol makes it seem like a mulled cider or fruit infused fortified wine.

Drinkability overall isn't bad at all, in fact it's kind of dangerous the type of beer that empties faster than your liver can metabolize it. 22 ounce bottle tackled without difficulty, not go forth and preach the word of what European Belgian yeast strains can do to awesome stand up American versions of alcohol, this is experimentation that didn't set us back but moved at least a few spaces forward in brewing.

Feb 25, 2011
Photo of Radome
Radome from Florida

4.22/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber bottle into a snifter.

A - The beer is a slightly hazy orange. The head built to about 1/2" on pouring, then faded to a thin off-white layer with strong lacing.

S - Some caramel, nuts and warm burnt sugar in the nose, then fresh, flowery hops. Capping it all is a whiff of warm alcohol. Very inviting.

T - Initial sense is the flowery hop flavor that matches the aroma. There is lots of caramel and sugar flavor, but with definite Belgian characteristics. Warm, sweet alcohol finishes it off.

M - Body is medium to heavy. Hop bitterness is moderate to high. The finish is sweet and a little heavy, despite the high alcohol content.

D - Good drinkability, despite the high alcohol and sweet finish. I definitely enjoy this Belgian twist on a Barley Wine, although it sounds like I am in the minority aomg other BA reviewers. It reminds me of Scaldis or other high alcohol Belgians.

May 15, 2011
Photo of Schwag

4/5  rDev +8.7%

Mar 22, 2012
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
brewdlyhooked13 from Ohio

3.91/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - a cloudy amber iced-tea with a finger of manila foam. Holds for a bit and recedes to thin cover. Goes bare after a few minutes, but looked good for a bit.

Aroma - all citrus, orange and mango initially, and some grapefruit and pepper bite as it sets up. I get some toasted bread notes very late, unusual but nice. Finally, notes of the Belgian yeast come through, playing off the breadiness. The layers of aroma are a treat.

Taste - this may the first time I've had the Guardian the same year it was brewed. The hops are huge. Some chewy sweet malts lay the groundwork for the wave of intense citrus and bitterness. A lot of beers turn me off at this point, going medicinal, but the influence of the Belgian yeast provides some change of pace flavor that keeps the bitterness from getting unpleasant to me. Good resilience as well, the yeast keeping up with the hops on the aftertaste. Extended finish as the flavors just hang around. The alcohol really comes through on this bw, this one might need some aging to see if that tames down.

Mouthfeel - good elements of smoothness and crispness. Heavy-ish body. Good stuff.

Drinkability - two kinds of beer I tend to stay away from - uber-hopped and the sometimes funky Belgians. Mix them together, throw in five/six years experimenting and trying new things, and I kinda like this one. Cheers to Stone and their ceaseless adventurousness.

Nov 07, 2011
Photo of xnicknj
xnicknj from Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter glass

Pours a transparent deep burnt cherry with golden orange hues. A soft white head fades out into clouds of film with rings and spots of lacing left on the glass.

Plenty of malty presence in the nose with a noticeable Belgian funk followed by soft fruit sweetness. Light alcohol warmth and hop bitterness as well.

A nice punch of pine hops right up front, quickly followed by some sticky bitterness. The Belgian yeast comes right to the forefront with funk and assorted fruit flavors. Pineapple and grapefruit swirl with a bit of acidity. Boozy warmth with caramel and syrupy malt backbone. Finishes bitter, hoppy, and warm.

Fuller body, a bit syrupy and creamy, decent carbonation. This is still a bit hot but is super drinkable considering the ABV and complex taste. I tried this on tap a while ago and wasn't sure how I felt but I'm convinced right now.

Feb 19, 2011
Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 579 ratings