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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

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303 Reviews
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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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 303 | Ratings: 572
Photo of Halcyondays
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours amber with a medium white head, frothy, good lace.

S: Yeasty, leather, pepper, the Belgain character is overt and inviting.

T: Strong crystal malt flavour overall. The yeast is heavy and truly dominates the beer in a good way. Heavy leather, mushroom and bacon fat with a hint of funkiness, intense and flavourful.

M: Full-bodied, resiny but smooth, easy carbonation.

D: A really good take on the classic Old Guardian. Well worth a pickup, I loved this.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At jungle jims event with 1arrogantbastard. Had side by side with regular old guardian

A-pours. Deep amber with minimal head
S-funky and sweet. Belgian for sure.
T-tastes a lot like it smells. Belgian and malty. Not too much hops here.
M-medium bodied and pretty smooth
D-nicely drinkable but not as nice as the regular. Dangerous.

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Photo of edrachman
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a snifter with little white creamy head that leaves nice lacing. Deep amber color with hints of red.

Very dry aroma - presumably from the barley - with malty notes. Exotic fruit (rather than citrus) is in the background of the aroma - but can't exactly place the fruit. The alcohol really comes through.

Taste a fruity malt. There is a dryness as well. The Belgian yeast is definitely discernible in the taste, but a little tough to describe.

The mouthfeel is nice - good amount of carbonation and a certain smoothness that goes down nicely. The malt flavor makes the beer a little less drinkable than ideal, but otherwise top notch.

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Photo of rdilauro
3.28/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a golden glow with little head. The two aromas I picked up was malt and citrus/honey. It was a very big beer, full, not very carbonated.
It was very soft, almost too soft. Too malty for my taste and the finish was somewhat boring.
I wish that the barley was match with some stronger hops and more flavor

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.41/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on draft at the Stone Total Tap Takeover in Baltimore.

A-pours a transparent orangish amber color with an off white dense and creamy head.

S-the nose brings light notes of yeast, very citric aromas, orange peels with notes of caramel malt backbone.

T-caramel malts and light notes of brown sugar set a foundation. this gives way to a nice spicy yeast. a big time citric hop presence is strong in the back adding orange peels with a hint of pine. the finish has a moderately aggressive bitterness to it.

M-medium body, very syrupy with a slightly muffled palate and medium to light carbonation.

D-tasty and balanced, nice amount of spice with enough malt body. the typical huge hop presence in the back.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.21/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on tap at the Barley House. Poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a caramel colored amber and produced a minimal but present white cap of foam that stuck around for a bit.

(S)- Very dry with a mineral-like yeasty bite. Bits of fig and caramel.

(T)- Similar to the smell. Very yeasty. That belgian yeast strain rlly takes center stage with some caramel and fig bits in the far background.

(M)- A good carbonation level to it. The one plus to the overpowering dry yeast is that it really covers up the 12% this carries along with the hop addition.

(D)- All in all an interesting take on Old Guardian, however I far prefer the regular version to this. I would be curious to see how this one would age, but from what I am seeing in this glass, I would be hard pressed to buy a bottle if the regular was next to it on the shelf.

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Photo of IKR
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Medium amber-red color with small light brown head.

Smell -Citrus hop overtones with a slight musk from the Belgian yeast. Some alcohol also comes through.

Taste - Moderate citrus flavors, with some some toffee/dark sugar flavors. The Belgian musk present in the smell also makes an appearance. The hop bitterness and alcohol are the main players in the finish.

Mouth-feel -Decent body with light carbonation.

Drink-ability - Decent for a 12% ABV beer.

I'm not a hop head and to my tastes, for the last 2 years, Old Guardian seems to have been brewed for those whose tastes lean towards DIPAs. I prefer a more balanced or malt-centered beer and need to seek out the English-style Barley Wines if the trend for American-style Barley Wines to taste like DIPAs continues.

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Photo of emmasdad
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Saw this one on the shelf last night at Argonaut Liquors, and figured I should give it a go. Poured a medium amber color with a finger or so of tan foam on top. Aromas of Belgian yeast, oranges and cloves. On the palate, this one is medium bodied and way to drinkable for its alcohol content. Slightly phenolic, with Belgian yeast, some hops and a lingering bitter finish. A very good beer.

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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 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 aval89
4.23/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark copper.. nice soft off white head..

S: white grape peel.. light biscuits.. yeast spiciness.. some dark fruits.. slight apricot/banana..

T: apricot/banana.. slight white wine characteristics.. spiciness from the belgian side.. very mild dark fruits.. there is a slight bitterness from the hops but the spiciness is a little overpowering.. also some candy sugars.. wow this brew is very robust & complex.. tasty.. its like a tripel mixed with a barley wine..

Mf: full bodied but smooth.. leaves your mouth a bit warm from both the spiciness & booze..

D: this thing is amazing!.. but with the abv/rough mf it might be a little hard to swallow for some.. but for me this thing was great! A nice way to end the night..

Overall, I was greatly impressed with this!!

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

4oz. pour from bottle during Stone's Winter Storm. The following review is based on notes taken Thursday, February 10, 2011.

Served in a fluted tulip.

Appearance: Crystal clear, deep reddish-amber body with a big layer of khaki froth on top. Head retains as a moderate-sized crown for the entire session and drags tons of web-like lace.

Smell: Pine battles banana, clove, and bubblegum - smells a lot like a fresh Belgian IPA. Molasses lays down a solid base. The mix of strong aromas masks the alcohol pretty well.

Taste: Banana and bubblegum come forth first, then shortbread, and then a wave of pine and alcohol. Molasses and caramel are surprisingly subdued - apparently not bold enough to hang with the other flavors. Flowery esters peek through in an intensely hot and bitter finish. Bold throughout. Needs time to cool off.

Mouthfeel: Starts full and creamy with fine, rolling carbonation; finishes hot, dry, and bitter. Fresh Old Guardian sort of walks the line between pleasure and pain, though it's leaning more toward the pain end at this point. Still, I'm diggin it.

Drinkability: Intense and hot when fresh, just like the regular version. I'd love to try this in a year or two, but right now 4oz. is more than enough.

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Photo of beertunes
3.93/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in fluted tulip. Poured a clean, clear, reddish mahogany with 1/2 inch of head that had low retention and OK lacing.

The aroma was on the sweet side, was malty and had a slight fruit aspect floating behind the yeast perfume. The taste started out the same but was noticeably fruitier than the aroma. The beer was sweet and had a definite alcohol flavor.

The body was good, but was noticeably lighter than I look for in the style. Drinkability was very good, the two I had went down very easy and I look for having more.

Overall, a pretty good beer. I was expecting a trainwreck and it wasn't. Certainly worth trying when you see it.

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Photo of duluoz
4.7/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on cask at Stone.

A - golden orange, beautiful creamy head and lacing.

S - spicy Belgian yeast with piney hops.

T - this tasted like Cali-Belgique but hoppier, fuller-bodied, and creamier. hops were really big on it and there was some Belgian candy/bubblegum, but the bitterness prevailed in a good way.

M - smooth and silky like most good cask pours.

D - dangerously drinkable -- not much hint of the 11.2%.

Pleasantly surprised that it tasted like a bigger Cali-Belgique as opposed to a spicier, yeasty Old Guardian. The cask really rounded this out beautifully, it was pretty amazing.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


On tap at Stone Winter Storm 2011.

A: Reddish orange with a big beige head.

S: Decidedly Belgian, with faint coriander and a lot of bubblegum. Old Guardian lurks beneath: toffee, grapefruit, orange, and pine, with a little candied sugar.

T: Grapefruit, orange, and a little pine. Belgian yeast is pronounced. Spicy phenols are evident, reminiscent of white pepper and clove. I detect some coriander.

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

Overall: Not bad, though the regular version is better.

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

Appearance: Reasonably clear, amber-gold body with a thinning, white head.

Smell: Very modest hints of caramel and bread underscoring the simple pale maltiness, a splash of hot orange liqueur, and the expectedly spicy notes from the new yeast strain.

Taste: Sweet and candyish on the first sip. Lightly bready pale malts, some hints of caramel, but they're mainly overridden by a cutting sugariness. Soft touches of clove as well as coriander. Cirusy hops, prominently featuring an orange-like flavor, with a firm bitterness. Like the original version, the alcohol really shines through. Dry, bitter finish with ample alcoholic warmth and some roundabout phenolic accents.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Some noted stickiness to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Truth be told, the Old Guardian barleywine was never at top of my favorite barleywines list, and was always one I generally considered to be merely OK. Dosing it with a Belgian strain, well, it's still OK, but now with a different yeast.

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Photo of cwguy5
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Enjoyed at Duckworth's in Charlotte on tap in a glass chalice. Reviewed from notes of 10/09/10 tasting.

- poured rich amber color with haze; thin head but with good lacing

- a lot of hops; fairly boozy with some floral and mild herbal

- nice foamy, chewy mouthfeel

- overall a bit bitter for me in combination of some mildly hot boozy alcohol; would this benefit from laying down? i would prefer if the hops faded a bit and the alcohol settled some. still a decent brew for sure.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this on-tap at Small Bar Fullerton. Got a stange-like taster glass of this one.

A - My buddy Andres had a goblet of this, and it looked almost identical to the other versions. Perhaps a touch cloudier body and slightly more foam.

S - Huge Belgian yeast, with some fruity esters that evoke stone fruits. Very yeasty and bready, with much less overt caramel sweetness. Not as hoppy as regular Old Guardian either. You can definitely pick this one out of a lineup, but I don't think it's an improvement.

T - Taste is again very evocative of a Belgian Strong Ale rather than a barleywine, with plenty of yeast and fruity esters mixed with sugar and toffee. Better balance of sweetness and other flavors here. It's hard to believe such a minor change in recipe results in a drastically different beer, but such is the power of the Belgian yeast. Again, the hop character seems muted - I think this batch was available at EBF, so it's not super-fresh at this point.

M - It's a little thinner than the other Old Guardians I had, with some dryness in the finish rather than unabashed stickiness. Seems appropriate for the Belgian style.

D - My sample went down easily enough, but I don't think I could have done a full goblet of this one.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Churchkey.

Pours a ruby red with a bit of rust. Slight off white head that leaves a pretty good trail of lacing. Nose is a bit faint in that while there is a lot going on, it is almost too much and it was hard to discern individual elements. The taste helps clarify things quite a bit. While we had some drink confusion throughout the evening, this was plenty unique and easy to identify. Large quantities of Belgian yeast esters and a good amount of accompanying fruit. Some malt sweetness and also spice. Hop profile is pretty strong win nice citrus and pine notes. Medium feel is nice. Fairly drinkable but not one of my favorites of the evening.

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

Yep, on draft at Churchkey, after drinking more than 20 Stone beers last night, its no wonder why I woke up with the taste of hops on my mouth.

Beer is ruby red and has a tiny head of off white tiny bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is malty with these odd esters in there from yeast and bready and fruits. Smells really interesting.

Beer is big bodied and very malty up front but the midpalate gives way to these great Belgian characteristic esters and some late bitterness finishes it off well. Its a very good barleywine IMO.

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Photo of tpd975
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Diego for this one.

A: Pours an amberish brown hue with an average tan head. No retention or lace.

S: Aromas of belgian yeast. Lightly sweet and fruity with hints of citrus and grass.

T: Worlds different than regular Old Guardian. Yeasty Belgian esters mostly banana and bubblegum with mild spicey notes. The hops are still here with nice sweet pine and enough bitter citrus to make this a real interesting brew.

M: Medium in body, nice carbonation for the style.

D: Very good. Tasty and unique. I would say Stone put a unique yet tasty twist on this one.

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Photo of Florida9
4.06/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap, served in a snifter. Orangey-copper in color. Served with a good 1/4" of head billowing over the top of the snifter. Good retention. The nose on this was surprisingly muted, leaving me a little surprised. The flavor was on the sweeter side. Malt, orange and citrus with a bitterness that seemed fade as the beer disappeared from the glass. The Belgian yeast were trying to assert another dimension to the flavor profile, but it wasn't showing through clearly. In all actuality, the flavor was quite tame for a beer of this caliber and alcohol content. It did have a very nice smoothness to it - not at all harsh - that encouraged another sip.

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Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.28/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly hazy red amber.
Long lasting head with some lacing

At first a quite fruity and flowery nose. Almost transported me to a florist shop. But after a while the nose settled down to a fraction of what it was at first popping the top.

Flavor-- I might as well admit that I'm a Stone Brewery Groupie.
The flavor of this beer is robust to say the least. Bitter comingled with malt. While the ABV slightly exceeds 11 % I notice that the alcohol is subdued. Whatever it is with the flavor the bitter note has me smacking my lips.. and I could envision getting very well toasted on this beer. Alas I only have one bottle.
A wonderful fruity and flowery flavor.

A long lasting "Energizer Bunny" finish that keeps going and going--

The mouthfeel is very cordial- it's as if this beer had a greater viscosity on my palate... the flavor lasts so long it incites me to keep taking swigs to renew the flavor.

Drinkability-- this is the only thing I'd downgrade-- thanks to the 11+% ABV. I admit w/o it the beer wouldn't be a barley wine.. still under the influence of this libation I'll be welded to my chair only to be released with a pounding headache.

Highly recommended a wonderful beer.

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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 willPS21
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My introduction to barleywine. Since it was stone, I felt it was time. Don't know why I found it in a store in the middle-of-nowhere, MD, but the gargoyle called me, and I answered.

Poured into my $1 gold rimmed Stella snifter-like thing. The color is somewhat bourbony to mahogony with its' cherry hue. A bit menacing considering its abv. The 1F head was strikingly white/amber by comparison, but had a 45sec halflife.

S: it has a smell, but I can't follow it. It seems a bit boozy and sugary with an edge of bourbon, but it certainly doesn't kick you in the face like some. Pretty tough to chase down.

T: I encourage you not to try to "wade in". Dive in. This will reduce the bitter effect of the hops and allow them to express their more floral tones sooner than later. There are definitely some earthy tones and floral tones involved, somewhat like a field of wildflowers, but I can't partition out specific elements. Depending upon which part of the tounge it rests on before swallowing, it seems to have different profiles. I got some very bready notes one sip, but only one.

aT: Aftertaste is a very important gauge, and it's *damn good*. The bitter hops kick fades to fruitier and aromatic tones, and frankly the flavors improve in your mouth with time. One of the most composed aftertastes I've enjoyed with a distinct floral sweetness that eminates very gently from all corners of your mouth with a clear numbingness accompanying.

M: Somewhat thick , perfect carbonation it would seem, and leaves a medium-well sticky finish.

D: if you're starting off with this, you won't charge through it. If you're a bit oiled up, you're in real position to put yourself to sleep. I would say for the abv, it's very drinkable. The alc heat is VERY subdued, an important point.

Boozy wildflower: my best two word description. Something that can be very enjoyable. The brewing seems entirely masterful in this presentation: the aftertaste and disguise of alc reflect this best.

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