Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

572 Ratings
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Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by srroos on 02-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 572 |  Reviews: 302
Photo of LarryMyers
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of wattershed
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of cadaugherty
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of razorsdescent
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of mjmadsen21
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of KiMiRaiK
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of patm1986
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into Duvel snifter

the beer has an impressive head for a barleywine: very thick and sea-foamy, it retains much like a barleywine, less like a brew with such head regularly would. the cream-colored lace settles after a swirl and a sitting for a few moments. the color of this beer is a beautiful, reddish-brown, like mahogany.

it smells of honey, grapes, raisins, some ambiguous berry, and that all-too-familiar belgian yeast sourness. alcohol coasts underneath, but mildly.

it tastes unlike any barleywine i've had. it's sour, then sweet, then the carbonation explodes with the honey and sharpness of yeast. it has a casecade and simcoe bitterness in the middle there that plants some serious hop-pop.

it's thin-bodied. i haven't tasted a barleywine this light that has such complex characteristics. it's so smooth, and that's a total testament to the yeast; it veils the abv and the hop-forwardness incredibly. this beer just flows through your palate and down the hatch.

at 12 abv, it's a tall order, but the flavor and body deceive that detail. this is a wildly interesting take on the style for me; the belgian yeast really makes everything that seems out of the genre feel like it should be involved invariably. this is beautiful.

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Photo of Fettpopps
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Zodijackyl
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber split with my brother. It's a February and this is a 2011 release so it is most certainly fresh despite the lack of a freshness date (that I can find).

Pours very dark amber with a thin off-white head. Aroma of sticky barley, somewhat creamy yeast and somewhat medicinal hops. Taste has less astringent bitterness and is less tannic than most heavier barley wines. Very creamy malt - barley and a very creamy taste and feel from the yeast, and perhaps a bit of wheat, or something reminiscent of Belgian wheat beers beyond the yeast. Quite a smooth and malty taste, but lacking the astringency of most barley wines. Mouthfeel is excellent, creamy and smooth. This is the most drinkable strong barley wine I have consumed.

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Photo of DaveONan
4.5/5  rDev +24%

Photo of hickmancase
4.46/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Brewery.

A: Hazy brownish orange. Thick-bubbled two-finger head.

S: Glistening hops.

T: Robust. Solid. Excellent and unique hop profile. Strong malt backbone. The strength of the other ingredients didn't quite seem to let the belgian yeast come out.

M: Just like it should be.

D: Quite strong, so it's a sipper. Great sipper, though. Gotta have another one just to double check everything.


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Photo of BierFan
4.45/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a chalice.

Thin head and a cloudy dark amber body that looks like apple cider. Belgian yeast shines through in the aroma more than I was expecting. I'm not sure if this fruitiness I'm smelling is from the yeast or the hops. Time for the first sip. Smooth and sweet. Tropical fruits and a little mint from the hops. Nice bitterness. Kind of reminds me of a fresh Double Crooked Tree from Dark Horse Brewery. I really dig this brew fresh. I'm gonna try to track down a couple more bottles to age and see how it goes.

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Photo of Billolick
4.43/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone bomber, Belgo Bwine, 2011 "Odd year release" version, picked up yesterday @ Ardsley, NY's DeCicco market.

Pours darker copper, lt. mocha head, stays at 1/8 of an inch, and leaves fine spots of lacing.

Malted up nose, with some whiskey and darker malt flourishes.

Full flavor BW, waves of caramel malts, infused with whiskey, some wood, smoke...with a long gently malty finish. Also some ripe tropical fruit comes to mind. I keep coming back to the smoke, the soft woody notes and the whiskey barrel undertones. Complex, dense flavors, heady stuff @ 12%, alcohol present but well hidden.

World class. Sublime. Got to get more of this one...

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Photo of madpentzer
4.43/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got a couple 22's of this at the local BevMo.

A-Pours a copper-red color into my Gulden Draak tulip glass, with about two fingers of head.

S-Spicy with a little hops and you can definitely pick-up the belgian yeast strain. Smells almost like a Belgian Strong Ale.

T-Bubblegum up front with some toasty malt following. Good hop presence, but not as strong as the regular Old Guardian. Alcohol level is present, but not overpowering.

M-Thick and creamy with a decent level of carbonation.

D-I really enjoyed this beer overall. It went down smoothly, and would probably get even better with age (put the second in my cellar to find out). Another great beer from Stone. Cheers!

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Photo of NickMunford
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a perfect amber hue, with pretty much no head or lacing. I did pour it from a bottle in a smaller than normal snifter, so maybe there wasn't enough of a fall for the liquid to produce a head.

S: The first thing that hits me is a delicious malty sweetness, which immediately makes me think Belgian rather than barleywine. As it warms up, a spiciness emerges which reminds me of a spiced beer... nutmeg, cinnamon and the like.

T: The Belgian influence is immediately apparent to me. If fact, it makes me want to expand my palate by trying more Belgians. I've tried a few and liked them, but tend to go for craft American brews before going to the world beers, but I need to remedy that. Anyway, back to the point, this is a great marriage of malt and yeast. The hops is balanced out well and comes in at the end with a mild bitterness.

M: This has a substantial mouthfeel, with moderate carbonation. There is a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.

D: This is much more balanced and drinkable than the regular Old Guardian, in my opinion.

I know I should score this a little lower for the style, because it seems to be half Belgian and half barleywine, but it tastes so good! I had to give it high marks.

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Photo of avalon07
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a bright amber color and a cloudy consistency. There was a half inch of foamy head that lasted an average amount of time. Average lacing.

S: A big aroma of hops, yeast, fruit, and caramel. Very aromatic.

T: Tasted of Belgian yeast, a big shot of hops, caramel, citrus, pepper and some other spices. An extremely complex and powerful flavor. Not your classic American Barleywine.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a somewhat slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: As I said, this is not classically of its style, but it is extremely tasty and drinkable.

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Photo of MadCat
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First off, this is a bit different than what the other reviews would suggest. I enjoy belgians, and I enjoy most of the different brews stone comes up with, so this excited me, though I've never had Old Guardian before. And I'm quite pleased with the results.

Appearance: Amber brown typical of barleywines, minimal white head, leaves no lacing.

Smell: Beautiful boquet of fruit and hops. Banana, plum, raisins, a little bit of orange and pine in there. Hints of alcohol, which is less than I would expect for 12%

Taste: An explosion of flavor. More banana, plum, raisins, orange, pine, along with some hop bitterness, and some balancing sweetness that reminds me of a Belgian Quad. Tastes like a hoppy quad. Quite good in my book.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, light carbonation, semi-dry, bitter finish

Drinkability: From the reviews, I thought I would have to choke down the first glass, and have to save the rest of the bottle for another night. Not necessary at all.

Overall, I'm glad I got a second bottle, and might be picking up more because I think it is that good. Maybe I'm in the minority, but that means more for me!

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Photo of obywan59
4.41/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crystal clear light ruby with a 3 1/2 finger pale-tan head. It looks very elegant in my Old Guardian glass, almost like a liqueur except not so clingy.

Not a lot going on here, but nice. Hard candy sweetness and Belgian yeast.

The bitterness was borderline off-putting on the first swig, but I soon adapted. Very sweet. That, along with the Belgian character and the strong taste of alcohol, combined to remind me of a hard candy I enjoyed as a child. It had a brownish color and a barrel-like shape. I don't remember what it was called. Bitterness rises after the sweet to balance. The beer is vaguely licorice-like in flavor with a whiff of cherry as it warms.

Relatively light-bodied for such a sweet brew. Pleasant feel of light syrup and very warming to boot. A nice combination.

Another over-the-top creation from Stone. Perhaps a bit too over-the-top, judging by the reviews, but right down my alley. A sipper for certain, but not a chore for this sweets lover. A beer to relish, a beer to challenge your taste, and a beer that I would not hesitate to sample again.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.38/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap into a tasting glass.

The color is a red/amber that is clear with a finger or two of white foamy white head and some nice lacing.

The smell is a little fruity and has a pretty strong yeast flavor that comes right out as well. This was a bit surprising for Old Guardian.

The taste is a pretty sweet fruit flavor with some plum and dried apricots. There is a nice bitterness as well in the beer on the back end where the hops takes over and gives a bit of a knock at the taste buds. Some grapefruit and tangerine flavor.

The feel of this beer is pretty light and is a bit easy to get down then Old Guardians in the past. The alcohol does not seem to be as pronounced and does not seem to warm the palette as much.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.37/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap in a snifter.

Appearance: Slightly hazy caramel color. Soft white head with a ring of lace around the edge.

Smell: The Belgian yeast first makes itself apparent in the smell. As opposed to the regular Old Guardian, the aroma contains a variety of spices - cloves, all spice, and cinnamon. Smells like Christmas.

Taste: I found the taste of the Belgio-Barleywine to be worth an extra .5 in the taste department compared to the regular Old Guardian. Bready notes are present up front, balanced with a variety of spices. The robust malt flavor gradually fades to the light citrus hops. Almost no alcohol is tasted over the course of each sip; it is masked perfectly. The ending is smooth and balanced, with nearly no aftertaste. I am actually left with a nice floral aroma in its place. Still a little hoppier than most barley wines, though.

Mouthfeel: A nice, bubbly feel. There is also a slight graininess here.

Drinkability: Great taste, but knowledge of the ABV will slow me down.

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Photo of gjahn123
4.36/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of xnicknj
4.35/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
4.34/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Part of the "odd years" category at Stone...

The basics: 12% ABV and $5.99/bomber...good stuff, that...

Super clear orange-red amber. nice two fingers of head, very creamy. Poured very thick, an ode to the massive malt backbone herein. Not really carbonated, and the bubbles move slooow...lacinbg is actually excellent given how short the head is.

Nice, sweet aromas. Lots of caramel and vanilla. I get the Belgian yeast they used, also. Very nice and subtle nuance. Not a huge hop caharacter in the aroma profile, however. This is pretty much to style with the added falre of the Belgian yeast. Pretty cool...This is a winner so far.

Flavor is incredible. It's not even remotely as huge and overpowering as I feared it might be. The alcohol is very present throughout and commandeers the ship for itself. You can't really escape it, so the best thing is to join in with the crew. The malt is also very forward, and I also get a very big hop punch to it, starting early middle and carrying all the way through. This is awesome for a barley wine. The price makes this a tier 1 selection for sure. This is drinkable to a fault, so people will get painfully hammered off it...Find and stash a few bottles to mellow it out a touch, but it's great now...

What I like most: The surprisingly balanced flavor profile.

What I like least: The rather subdued appearance, but only a touch.

Verdict: Excellent and uniqgue version of the style, this is awesome and well-priced enough to be an all the time type of ale. Find it!!!

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Photo of TIJAE
4.33/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at A&P in Old Lyme for dinner at the Cove - served with a potluck-a-palooza with the Tuesday night gang - Dave's Quiche, Doug's Spinnach, Dan's Stuffed Mushrooms, Jon's Spagetti Casserole, and mini Valentine's cupcakes...
Appearance: Red, with a hint of brown

Smell: Gin soaked olive with juniper berry

Taste: Roasted grain with a long aftertaste that melts in your mouth. It tastes like a freakin' martini - dirty, with a lot of vermouth and olives. That's all we can say about it.

Mouthfeel: Smooth. that's it.

Drinkability: Only in small servings - chill first then swirl in a wide bottom glass until room temperature.

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Photo of soulfly1492
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: Can smell this one from several feet away during the pour. Lots of barley, caramel, citrus hops, spicy yeasty phenols. Lots of dark fruits as well, dates and apricot. Mild alcohol.

Appearance: Cloudy, looks like a cup full of caramel when held up to a bright light. Deep copper, like caramel of course. A pour from high above the glass develops and a moderate head which is light brown with orange highlights. Great retention, like an espresso, a nice thin frothy layer. Obscene amount of lacing.

Taste: Wow. Super bold. Moderate barley, lots of pine and orange citrus hops. Some dark bitter grapefruit. Some sweet apricot also. Definitely seeing the Belgium yeasty phenols. Tart citrus. No flavor is particularly harsh, just bold all around.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Slick and creamy.. Finishes dry, of course considering the 12% ABV and boat load of hops. Mild to moderate hop sting.

Overall: Bold and beautiful. A bit over the top but it goes down quick nonetheless. The aftertaste lingers for some time.

Notes: 2011 Odd-year release. Drank on 4/4/2012.

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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing
3.63 out of 5 based on 572 ratings.
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