Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

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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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Reviews: 302 | Ratings: 572
Photo of LiquidAmber
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 2/2011 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a clear medium red-orange amber. Minimal head and slight lacing. Sweet malt and tropical fruit aroma with a slight sourness. Sweet malt up front blending into Belgian spicing, cloves and cardamom, finishes with an astringent bitterness. Nice start, but not so great finish. Medium bodied. I'll cellar one to see if this finish mellows out.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A head forms a skim coating over a hazy, tawny copper beer with an iridescent glow. Each sip deposits a fine film, but no lacing, on a Dogfish Head snifter.

Earthy fermented fruits with spice and some citrus. The aroma is intriguing with a background of pepper, coriander and light funkiness.

This one is overly bitter with alcohol that is almost hot; an assault on the tongue with each opening. BELGO is far less complex than I expect from a Barleywine. It has only two layers and no real progression. The finish is modest in comparison to the opening and warmth adds nothing.

Full bodied, with light carbonation and a slick texture. Alcohol has a dominating presence.

This can only be sipped, and misses the style benchmarks. Assertiveness is too powerful to allow any nuances to be appreciated. While I will finish this beer with dinner, it will be a challenge. I would consider holding a second bottle for aging but am dubious of the outcome.

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Photo of billab914
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my CBS snifter. It poured a murky, orange amber color with a thin white film barely covering the top of the beer.

The aroma mixes the malty, caramel sweetness of OG with some pretty strong fruity, estery, Belgian yeast flavors. The Belgian yeast dominates a little too much in the aroma for me, but it's not a bad aroma overall.

The taste shows a lot of the Belgian yeast, fruity, earthy, spicy flavors up front. The malty, caramel flavors try to come out a little more in the finish. Again though the yeast flavors just seem to take over though.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being moderate. Overall it wasn't a bad beer, but I definitely wouldn't choose it over the regular version. The yeast just added some spicy, fruity, estery flavors that just dominated a little too much for me. It seemed to overshadow a lot of the really great regular OG flavors.

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Photo of Drinkerofales
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear copper with some red. A huge fluffy cream colored head leaves some respectable lacing.

Smell is caramel and rich malt. Some alcohol is present with some roasty malts and a hint of hop fruitiness.

Taste is bold, even after one year. Tasted like hard alcohol with some rum sweetness and malts. A cough syrup like finish rounds the taste out. Um, yuck.

Feel is burny. Hard to find the creamy texture I want from the BW, but it's there, just hidden. While carbonation is good, it's hard to drink.

Wow, even after 1 year of aging, it's still offensive. This is hard to drink and my first one year old cellared beer. I won't say it's a bad beer, but I am glad I only have one of these, as I would hate to have to drink another. Especially as I am dreading every look I make at my tulip while this beer is in it.


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Photo of scottfrie
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into 25oz snifter. 2011 release.

A: Pours a very dark burnt caramel orange with a finger of fuzzy dark khaki head that faded into a long lasting film that left a few sticky spots of lace down the glass.
S: Sweet and spicy notes of caramel, toffee, pepper, grassy hops, pine resin, spicy Belgian yeast and a bit of candied orange and citrus. There is just a hint of alcohol vapor in there as well.
T: Strange but good. The flavors mostly follow the nose with the addition of tobacco and cooked carrots? The finish is lightly bitter but also strangely sour (lightly) from what I assume is the yeast. I get notes of cinnamon as well.
M: Medium-thick body, slick and resinous mouthfeel, with even carbonation.
O: A decent barleywine, definitely interesting. The Belgian yeast adds an interesting dimension, and for what it is I think it’s done very well. That said I think I’ll stick to the original.

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Photo of liamt07
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Jason, 22oz in to a tulip. 2011 vintage.

Poured an opaque ruby-brown, with a cream coloured head that's quite transient. Thin collar and a thin layer of head retain. Nose has Belgian yeast qualities right off the bar, spicy hops, citrus zest and rind notes, less caramel malt notes than you'd anticipate from a barleywine. A substantial amount of sharp lemon character came through as this warmed. Taste has thick malt and bready notes with a signature Stone hop assault, in both flavour and bitterness. Yeasty finish and alot of fruity notes derived from the yeast and hops it appears. Full body, spicy and bitter finish. Boozy, medium effervescence. Rich and interesting, but just a little too much going on to make this worthwhile again. Certainly good to split with others.

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Photo of fox227
2.93/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: A dark ruby amber with a tiny off white head.

S: Toffee, caramel, malty-ness, with Belgian yeast esters.

T: On the palate I'm getting some harsh, dominate white wine type flavors and heavy alcohol. There's some raisin and fresh grapes present as well.

M: Mouthfeel is dry and thick. There's some astringent aftertaste from either the yeast of the hops that lingers for a long time.

O: Not a pleasant experience. This bomber is taking a long time to put down, and I would definitely recommend the original over this. The Belgian yeast just doesn't factor in well.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark warm amber with a medium-large off-white head that sinks into decent lacings.

S: Sweetness glaore, just what you could expect. Then there's some fruit; red apples and oranges. Yeasty, and alcoholic.

T: Syrupy sweetness, caramell malt, a bit roasted. Lots and lots of fruit; apples, oranges, grapefruit. Some modest belgian yeast. Alcoholic.

M: Carbonation is held way back while body is full and syrupy sticky. Lots of warming alcohol. Aftertaste is as always, short and sweet.

O: This is a nice Barleywine, surprisingly rich in hops. But a barleywine is usually better after a couple of years (if properly cellared), and then the hops will have "died" - and the beer will be better in every aspect. Damn, I only bought this one bottle...

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
3.96/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a really nice, warm orange-amber color with a thin lacing of white bubbles. Aroma of hops and burnt sugar.

Creamy in the mouth, but assaults the tongue. After one sip, my taste buds lose their ability to discriminate -- but they don't need to. This is a big, bold, and creamy brew with big time hops and burning alcohol.

Huge and crushing. I'm impressed, but rendered incapable of intelligent analysis. This one thumped me.

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Photo of rogueleonardi
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is something different. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor for the first two drinks. After that it was downhill. By about half way through my first glass I realized that I would be to drunk by the end of this beer that I wouldn't enjoy. Sure enough, when I finished the 22oz bomber I hated myself, and the beer. However if your a fan of Brooklyn monster ale, or Rogue old crustachean you would enjoy this beer.

Color - Cloudy, deep redish brown
Smell - Over-powering floral
Taste - Typical barleywine, strong alcohol taste no trying to hide it
Mouthfeel - The taste of the bitter alcohol was not pleasant
Overall - Will not be buying this one again.

*if your a fan of barleywine fan i've got a case -1 i'd be willing to get rid of.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received from a friend so happy to try it out

A - copper in color with a slight haze to it; light carbonation bubbles trail upwards and there is a small white head that only resides on the edges

S - smell is fruity with hints of apricot, clementine and grapefruit with slight caramel sweetness to it. As it warms, the Belgian aspects in the nose start to come out as I note bread and bubblegum flavors. Nose is moderate overall.

T - at first there is a malty sweetness and orange that hits the tongue. The taste then becomes more hoppy with a grapefruit bitterness that becomes stronger and lingers in the finish. As it warms up I start to get more of the Belgian notes that were not there at first as I started to note esters and their bubblegum and clove flavors. Overall it reminds me more of a DIPA than a barley wine.

MF - good mouthfeel with a nice thick, stickiness to it. Feels full within in the mouth and has a slight carbonation to it.

O - an interesting beer that reminds me more of a DIPA, with it's heavy hop presence, than a barleywine beer. Interesting to have the Belgian flavors mixed in there. Worth a try and would be interesting to age to see what it is like as the hops mellow.

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Photo of ggilman
4.08/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 release poured into a Sebago tulip glass.

Beautiful amber copper hued, cream soda looking beer with tight small bubbled head. Small amounts of slick soapy foam laces the glass. Nose is vanilla, alcohol, bourbon & fruit. Tastes like booze! After the initial alcohol flavor burns off, you get a bit of bitterness , and roasted barley maltiness. Quick dry finish with more vanilla notes. An oily mouthfeel, with crisp Belgian bubbles.

This is potent stuff, beware, and enjoy. Bonus points for the hysterical label notes!

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.44/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 12/2/11 while listening to Wesley Willis Greatest Hits

2011 Vintage (duh)

This is a nice looking beer; can't lie there. Toasty amber brown hue; looks very much like a fluid spectrum of autumn leaves. Two finger head has almost a soft yellow hue. The head thins but leaves an impressive enough amount of lace.

Maybe I should have popped this critter sooner because it doesn't smell nearly as bad as I've been told or subsequently feared. Orange peel, tangy apple, random fruit juiciness, toasted bread, some caramel-ish type sugars. Hey Seth, where's the band-aid? I mean, there are some musty, off-aromas going on and it smells disjointed and over-ripe but it could be way worse. No booze.

Eh, this tastes like an perpetual back and forth of "kind of ok" and "unpleasant bull jive." Caramelized sugars, toasted bread, earthy hops and some decaying citric tones seem fairly standard for Old Guardian; however, the belgo yeast imparts a musty (almost vegetal) notion and annoyingly spicy finish.

Medium-full body with appropriately moderate carbonation. Booziness is kept in check, considering the abv (at least for the abv). Still, it's more than warming. It finishes rather dry with some residual hops, too.

This could be so much worse, but I haven't exactly enjoyed it. Thankfully I was able to pawn half of it off on one of my friends. he happened to enjoy it. We'll be cracking the Belgo Anise shortly. It's even less pleasant as it warms.

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Photo of rarbring
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer is slightly hazy, but bright amber, a rather high warm off-white head, leaving good lacing, good curtains.

Smelling fruity, peaches, spicy, liqueur.

Starting sweet, brown bread, a fruity acidity, spicy, herbs, liqueur.

Little carbonation, slightly sticky and oily, a bit boozy, slightly dry.

As most American Barley Wines a bit too heavy on the hops.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.61/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the second serving Stone Old Guardian BELGO I've had. THis one was better than the first (maybe the 6 months aging helped). It mellowed. Still not a great barleywine. The Belgian characteristics aren't very noticeable.

A: Red colour and a 8 mm head that lasts pretty well despite poor carbonation. 4.5

S: Sweet and malty. Not a strong smell. 3.5

T: Malty with some honey and oxidation. The finish tastes like slightly bitter cardboard. 3.5

M: Thick and flat. 4

O: 3.5

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hefty and intriguing Belgianized barley wine.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Screen printed label with the gargoyle hooding the jar tin gold framing wand characters. Back offers a personal mini article signed by Greg about the craft beer scene in Europe and how it compares to the States, next to cellaring, and ingredient notes. Notes 2011 odd year release, and shows 12% Alc. by Vol. Served in a snifter.

A - Medium amber gold pour, good finger of creamy head, medium to moderate retention, fair surface memory, and touches of lacing.

S - Boozy yeasty nose, caramelized orange with a touch of spices.

T - Malty and yeasty with a bitter and boozy sense, caramelized orange peel, malty range with a compact fruity sense, spicy bitterness woven under the astringent sweetness…

M - Medium-full body with medium-low carbonation, fairly smooth with a lingering strong character in the finish.

O - Complex and challenging sipper, a bit too aggressive for a bigger serving but worth the experience.

Notes: Probably not my thing, yet, but this is starting to feel like a new style. If we have come to recognize Belgian IPAs this is coming to be a Belgium Double IPA-Barley Wine kind of thing? It is not that it is all off, or all over the place. I feel it is how this experimental range is shaping. Too hefty and harsh at cellar temperature for an easy flow it sure works a bit better a touch colder… But the complex flow again reminds me of those US double takes with hopped tripels such as Clown Shoe´s Muffin Top, Smuttinose´s Homunculus, or Terrapin´s Monks Revenge. We´ll see where this goes…

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Photo of ebrauser
3.46/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz to a snifter "2011 release" but not drink-by or drink-after date

Appearance: Dark amber and red, with a very thin white head.

Aroma: Raspy oak tones mixed with sweet candy and touches of apple. It is a little acidic/sour smelling. Interesting

Flavor: Also interesting, and not what I would've expected with stone's usual brash flavors. Strong yeast dominates a mildly malty sweet base. Hints of apples and dark fruits starts to come through, with the alcohol well hidden. The aftertaste is a little cardboardy and grassy.

MF: Good feel for a barleywine, not too syrupy or chewy. Flavors don't coat the mouth. Nothing special, and I would say it's interesting...once

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

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Photo of ArchEnemyBrew
3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark amber/polished copper like color with about half an inch of off white head. Clarity is perfect and lacing is quite nice as well

S: Smells of sticky malt, earthy hops, a slight twinge of green apple and some spicy phenols.

T: This is where this beer starts to turn on me. The taste is a little thin and boozy with belgian yeast phenols and almost a soapy flavor that lingers on my tongue.

M: A little harsh, coats the tongue with a slick soapiness im wishing for a little bit more fullness (think quad)

O: I think it's great that Stone is trying new things and this beer may be for some, just not for me. The standard version of OG continues to be one of my favorite American BW's.

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Photo of Greywulfken
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep orange haze, tan head thins but was initially very creamy and dense

S: malt and yeast, sweet

T: I thought the balance between sweet malt, bitter yeast, and alcohol was well-handled. I am attracted to barleywines, but also repelled if they are too astringent or metallic tasting (I found Brooklyn Brewery's Monster to be a touch too metallic, for example), but this beer was very enjoyable

M: medium bodied, some syrupiness, but the carbonation keeps it lively, and the hops have a cleansing effect

O: better than I expected. I'm always leery of a beer that I'm about to try that I see the Alstrom brothers didn't give at least a B, but this one suited my tastes and had a rewarding abv to complement its flavor.

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Photo of GreenGoblinCC
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently found on Draft at Melt, Lakewood OH over the weekend. I like it better than the Normal Old Guardian. Slightly more sweeter than the normal version and packs one hell-of-a punch if you don’t watch yourself. At 12% a glass I highly recommend you sip and enjoy. Definitely if there were any 22oz bottles floating around I would highly encourage anyone to pick them up, will definitely age nicely!

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bomber of this for $5.99 at my local store. Pours a cloudy orange/brown, very little head or carbonation to it. Strong alcohol aroma.. pretty much expected from a 12% ABV. Taste is medium bodied, and first thing noticed is the sweetness. Overly sweet, almost mouth puckering. Some dark fruit almost shines through, slight alcohol burn is in there too. For a 12% ABV, it's smoother than I thought it would be, but it's definitely sweet and isn't the most drinkable beer... going to be hard to finish the bomber in one night. A slightly above average barleywine I'd say, but I've had much better.

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Photo of Derek
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy copper with an off-white head, very little retention but it leaves some leg/lace.

Aroma of marmalade, candied papaya, mango, toffee and cloves.

Candied papaya, mango, marmalade, toffee, nut, clove with a hint of spice. Strong, resiny bitterness with a light alcohol warmth.

Light residual sweetness with a slightly drying alcohol finish. Carbonation is nicely between a barley wine and a belgian.

A good drinker and nicely crafted. I'd use a yeast with less clove character though.

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Photo of DavidST
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter, 2011 odd release.

This pours a semi thick slightly hazy residue tea color with an off white head which quickly dissipates. The smells are of some Belgian yeast, some fifteen, caramel malts there is also a very present alcohol smell. The feel is medium to thick. The taste is of caramel malts a little hop and a noticeable alcohol burn, a little yeast esters although I'm not sure what the Belgium yeast brings.

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