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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

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Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine
572 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 572 |  Reviews: 302
Photo of Krakistophales
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy red with half a finger's worth of head that dissipates quickly and leaves some border lacing behind. Carbonation is solid throughout the draught.

S: A touch bit of honey, lemon zest, coriander, and some floral notes.

T: The middle is full of tart cherries, blood orange, and maybe some grapefruit. The aftertaste is pretty hoppy, boozy finish.

M: A bit of a lingering carbonation, but other than that it goes down rather smoothly and is highly drinkable if the flavors are up your alley.

O: Definitely a sipper, but a beautiful beer. It's sweet, but the bitterness and citrus notes balance the sweetness, while still retaining complex flavors. Definitely a great beer.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear, red-brown color served with a pleasingly tight cap on board. Somewhat sticky.

Nose is great: caramel and candi sugar on the sweet, cherry and lemon zest on the fruit end, and alpha acids, phenols, and white pepper on the bitter spectrum. Great complexity and power for the nose.

Surprisingly full-bodied, gushing with flavor compared to the way I remember the bottle. Caramel mingles with citrus hops for that awesome American barleywine hugeness, but the ripe cherry, booze, and hint of earthy Belgian twang keeps everything down to the ground.

Dry finish, velvety smooth and pretty full body. I didn't love the bottled version, but I wanted something different on tap the other day at Papago Brewing. I got that and more with this one. Definitely needs to be refined, but I think they're on to something.

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Photo of OStrungT
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a rusty orange color with a light tan head. The head fades slowly, leaving a nice lacing.

This beer smells of sweet caramel. It has a pleasent spicy coriander aroma to it. A slight boozy alcohol aroma mixes in also. It smells slightly of floral hops.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Sweet caramel malt, with some spicy flavors. Coriander and maybe some cloves. The hops are also present.

This beer is full bodied. It goes down smooth, leaving a spicy aftertaste. Carbonation is good.

This beer wouldnt make a great session beer. At 12% ABV, it is a sipper.

Overall: This beer is pretty good. Not my favorite, but still good.

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Photo of benclimbs
3.54/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours brown, no head...pretty basic looking, not any visual carbonation.

Smell is actually impressive, all malt and dried fruit with a nice grassy light character, wood aged and fresh with some vanilla in there.

taste is pretty nice, sour fruit, dried prunes, spices, and a hoppy finish - not super drinkable but interesting.

feel is just ok - a little sticky and harsh

overall this a slightly better than average barleywine, not a super impressive beer from stone, but interesting nonetheless

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Photo of beagle75
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, rich medium amber color with a fine ring of off-white foam around the periphery. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Wood smoke and fermented grain combine to present a slightly boozy and toffee-accented smell. Yeast character is nuanced, coming across more as a fine spirit than a typical Belgian combination of fruity esters and phenolics.

T: Begins sweet, with heavy caramel malt and spicy hop aromatics. Fruit is present in the form of dark citrus that seems complex at first but becomes less interesting over time. Acidity is sharp, dominating the palate at times. The finish is potently bitter and spirituous, with lingering malt richness.

M: Medium to thick viscosity, oily and resinous on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D: Clearly more than just a variant yeast strain makes this new formula stand apart from the standard variety of Old Guardian. The Belgo version is an enormous beer, even by barleywine standards, and fills the senses to the point of bursting with every sip. It is not an easy beer to drink; four ounces of this will go a long way.

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Photo of edsanchezz28
3.89/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fresh from the brewery. It was poured Into a Fuller's Tulip glass.
A- Nice golden copper complexion.
S- Being a Stone Craft very hoppy.
T- Semi-sweet robust taste. Due to Alcohol content it will sure give you a head change.
M- Smooth....lightly carbonated due to being packed ionto the growler.
OA- It was pretty good. After my third glass everything taste the same.

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Photo of SDtastentune
4.97/5  rDev +36.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Nice lighter look, more ipa look & bronze, little head but great lacing.

S - Smells of hops and alcohol, mixed with some malty bubblegum.

T - Bubblegum hops, mixed with alcohol some sweets malts and great beer'ish taste.

M - Great carbonation, larger bubbles and goes down hot & tasty

O - GREAT barley wine! Love this stuff, its like a hoppy barley wine on steroids. Highly recommend this stuff! Thumbs WAAYY UPPP!

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Photo of alexgash
3.3/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle. 2011 release. Served at 60 F.

Very clean copper penny body. Small, dirty khaki head. Minor lacing. Rich, complex nose, with notes of clover honey, caramel, caramelized fruits, pear brandy mixing with some fruity Belgian yeast.

Sweet caramel, fruit, and honey malt up front. Malty sweetness swells, before some toasted marshmallow and herbal hops come in. Hop bitterness increases, with some strong piny, herbal, resin flavors. As the bitterness peaks, the Belgian yeast twang kicks in and as it blends with the bitterness, the beer gets more astringent. Rummy fruit and coconut flavors fill in underneath and last into the astringent, slightly warming finish. Full body, with a thick, creamy feel.

I feel that the Belgo-twang hurts this beer, but maybe it will get better over time.

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Photo of Brent
2.81/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Started on a great note, with a radiant caramel color and sturdy head. Belgian yeast aroma. Good so far. First sip, big caramel malt with sharp hops that quickly begin to wrestle with the funky Belgian yeast notes. Going downhill now. Alcohol that first claimed notice with peppery bite now heats up, growing hotter with each sip. Hops take on a raw, herbacious note that does not play well with the Belgian character. Gaining speed on the downhill run. Toward the end the beer takes on a too-young, unfinished character, too rough to enjoy at all. Perhaps a year under the belt will settle this beer down, but I don't ever see the flavors coming together.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.13/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, allowed to warm some before being poured into my Duvel tulip.

Stone's 2011 Belgo Barleywine pours a crystal clear amber. There's a bone colored head that comes up to a couple fingers in height, but doesn't display much in the way of retention or lacing. The nose is an absolutely intoxicating blend of caramel, cotton candy sweetness and citrusy, resinous hops. Caramel leads off on my palate, before being joined by that same candy sweet flavor from the yeast, except now a medicinal phenol taste fades in as well. There's a slight alcohol burn, and that fades in to a juicy Pacific Northwest hop finish. The beer finishes on the dry side fro an American barleywine, but I guess that's to be somewhat expected using a Belgian yeast strain. At the same time, while the cabonation's enough to cut through the residual sweetness, I feel like a little bit more would really showcase the hops better. I was quite enamored with Stone's Belgo Barleywine when they debuted it on draft last year, and eagerly looked forward to the bottled release of it this spring. Unfortunately, the bottled version isn't quite as smooth/refined at this point, but it's still a quality beer.

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Photo of obywan59
4.41/5  rDev +21.2%
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 notchucknorris
3.23/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Orange-ish amber color with almost no head whatsoever.

S: Kind of a strange smell on this one. A hint of belgian yeast along with a sort of smokiness/peatiness and malt.

T: Lots of malts and a touch of Belgian yeast. I feel like the yeast could shine a bit more if the beer wasn't so big. Lots of booziness and a bit of overripe orange and a touch of caramel. Mouthfeel is pretty syrupy. I prefer the regular Old Guardian a bit more.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.24/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Dark ruby brown, not much head or lacing.

Smell - Man this is strong odor of yeast, hops malts and sugars. I smelt this as i opened bottle. Tons of floral yeast, spices, alcohol, sugars, grapefruit, orange, carmal. Lots of smell...

Taste - Well now, where to start. Really strong yeasty floral kick with tons of malts and booze. Its a none stop fight of flavors with the barleywine and belgium yeast. Lots of lemon and carmal. Malts are bold and overdone. This is really a flavored mess.

Mouthfeel - Too much of a mess to enjoy. Bittered then sweetned then burnt. And yes, a nasty aftertaste.

Overall - Not good. Out of balance, too strong, needs alot of work. Sounded like a good idea but the final product ended up being a mess. Avoid this, so far my least liked beer ever from stone. Maybe in 2013 they will have worked out the issues with this.

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Photo of argock
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. 2011 Odd Year Release on bottom of bottle front. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.79.

A: Husky amber with 1-2 fingers of stiff, frothy off-white head with good retention for the ABV and some streamers of lacing.

S: Tart, citric, phenolic Belgian IPA type of nose with a light undercurrent of malt, but the yeastiness and hoppiness batter the maltiness nearly into oblivion, in a good way.

T: The flavor is unfortunately a boozy Belgian IPA and the malty greatness of the base OG never gets a chance. There is barely a whiff of caramel maltiness in this guy, but then the massive herbal, citric, minty hoppiness and phenolic yeastiness just takes over to a bit of a fault. It is a big beer, but to me it just tastes like an overindulgent, boozy Belgian IPA. I'd rather drink Stone Cali-Belgique, GD Belgica, or a Flying Dog Raging Bitch for the same level of flavor without the booze and the ungodly ABV.

M: The creaminess of the base beer is unaltered and it does roll across the palate smooth as a 12% can.

O: I was glad I tried this beer, but as soon as I opened it, I regretted the 12% smackdown I was about to receive. It overdelivers on the alcohol flavors and the Belgian yeast addition, while interesting to try, was probably better left in the brewpub as Batch # whatever. Give me Stone OG or any of the other Belgian IPAs I listed before this one again.

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Photo of seagis
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber at my own kitchen table.

Poured up a beautiful color. It was like liquid copper. I told myself that if it tastes anything like it looks then I'm in for a treat.

Aroma? Hmm. It was almost a bit muted. Not as strong and forward as I would have expected, but the sweet hint of a Belgian ale is still there, though.

Taste: As has been noted, it tastes fantastic when it is still chilled. I took a note of raisins, caramel and even some pumpkin in the very front. As it warms up, however, a very distinct, almost medicinal, flavor begins to emerge, and that knocks off the quality just a bit. Really, though, this sort of beer shouldn't be had at this temperature, so drink it at the proper temperature and all should be well.

Mouthfeel: Very robust. The strong, sweet essence lingers on your palate long after the beer itself has worked its way to your stomach. Again, this is tremendous while the beer is still properly cooled, but is not quite so engaging of a quality as it begins to warm.

Overall, though, this is a good solid sipping beer. The one bottle I had was enough. More than that and the flavor will likely start to taste a bit cloying. I'd certainly buy it again, though.

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Photo of jsh420
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

pours reddish copper with a 2+ finger head that had decent retention and it left some spotted lacing

smells of that belgian yeast very fruity with some spice

taste - again the belgian characteristics that the yeast brings to the beer over power the flavors of the standard Bwine but i do get caramel candy fruit malt that i would get if they would not have used this yeast

mouthfeel is a heavy full sticky body that is just too much for me but for the style its ok

overall - the beer is not for me - it has the flavors of a belgian pale but with a body that is heavy and sticky - i could not finish my half of the bomber and would not buy this again

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle at 48 degrees into a snifter.

A: It pours a glowing brick-red color with a finger of dirty-white head that is lively and laces very well.

S: Red apples, dates, figs, cherry, caramel, raisin, and Belgian yeast. The Belgian yeast and barleywine aromas blend together beautifully and the first sip can't come soon enough.

T: Candied dark fruits, cherries, caramel, and brandy-like booziness.

M: It has a thick body and becomes quite hot as the beer warms. By the time it reaches room temperature, it burns like a liquer.

O: This is an enjoyable experimental beer but only while it is cold. When it warms, it is a sweet, hot, and boozy mess.

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Photo of bunnyhustle
4.05/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Kinda surprised at some of the other reviews on here. I try to not look too much but was curious before I bought this and expected higher reviews. I personally thought it was great! Pours a very nice and clear amber (almost ruby) color. Good head an retention, not much lacing. Smell was a little heavy on the sweet side i thought but a nice mix of malt, fruit, alcohol, and yeast. Definitely a Belgian twist to it. Taste was a little varied. As it warmed it seemed a little on the sweet side if you ask me. While it was cooler it had a smoother blend of malt, citric hops, sweetness and ripe fruit and some alcohol. Mouthfeel was surprisingly light and smooth I thought with a warming alcohol bite to it. The ABV is extremely well hidden i have to say. Overall a great beer and a nice and welcome twist on the Old Guardian.

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Photo of Murchmac
2.15/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Say what you want about Stone but they create buzz. I didnt want to try this beer but had to. Not expecting much and didn't get much.

The best parts of the beer are the look and the smell. It looks beautiful and smells delicious. Thats where it ends.

Every other sip with this beer is different. But only 1 of 2 tastes. Either good syrupy sweet sipper to harsh unbearable drain pour awfulness.

Overall its way too laborious and misses the mark entirely. I guess with three years of age on this it would balance out. I dont know if im going to finish the bottle, and mos def would not try again.


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Photo of ehammond1
3.94/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Stone Brew Co.
Escondido, CA

A murky and cloudy deep copper. A big, beautiful, persistent off-white head. Gorgeous. Leaves not so much rings of lacing as sheets of it.

Belgian yeast mixed with orange citrus hop notes make up the majority of the nose. It's certainly unique. There's some other sweet fruits in the nose as well as some alcohol.

Taste is of orange juice, caramel, Belgian yeast, alcohol, some bitterness, and some darker fruits resembling maybe figs or plums. It all comes together surprisingly well, but I do think this beer requires some age to really improve. I, however, didn't have that option.

Silky and sticky. Appropriate and nice.

I went in to this beer with very low expectations. I honestly expected not to like it, but that wasn't the case at all. Where I expected to find a failed experiment gone terribly wrong, I'm left with a very enjoyable evening sipper. Kudos to proving me wrong!

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Photo of hickmancase
4.46/5  rDev +22.5%
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 SkeeterHawk
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone is available in Texas, but I have not seen this particular version in Texas. When I saw it, I figured I would give it a shot. I am too terribly hopeful that it is ready now, but let's try it anyway.

Appearance: Pours a very clear reddish brown color with a small head of tan bubbles that disappeared almost immediately. After the beer settles, it is looking a bit like a still brandy in my glass.

Aroma: The aroma is definitely Belgian with some evident hops and a little bit of toasty malts. The alcohol is there and is adding heat and some spice. The aroma has some evident fruitiness.

Taste: Spice is the first thing that I noticed with some fruity Belgian aromatics from the yeast. The alcohol is obvious in here. The body is thin to medium with some evident warming and the hops being reserved in the finish. The body is quite a bit creamy overall, and though it is well attenuated and lightly carbonated, it comes across the palate very full. I would say that it is medium to full bodied so far.

Opinion: Overall this is a pretty good beer. It really doesn't remind me much of a Barley Wine at all. It has a whole lot of flavor and is clean and well done. That said, it seems like it fermented at a high temperature for what the yeast would tolerate as it is quite hot with alcohol. I have enjoyed this beer, but it doesn't stand out enough that I would want to drink it again very often.

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Photo of silentjay
3.13/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

a glowing orange/mahogany color that is pretty hazy with a huge light tan head that recedes rather quickly, and leaves a bit of lacing.

malty and yeasty and boozy, with tons of spice, dark fruit, alcohol phenols, bitter citrus and a bunch more all mashed into one.

alcoholic and astringent flavor with plenty of spice and grainy maltiness. yeast flavors just do not mesh well. plenty complex, but maybe overly so? maybe age would help? not terrible, but not up to Stone's normal repertoire. warming helps the flavors mingle better.

heavy bodied with an alcohol tingle and burn throughout and a significant carbonation prickle.

drinks okay at best. a concept that didnt turn out as well as intended i believe.

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Photo of farrago
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Two plus fingers of tan-orange foam, moderate density, mixes in some larger bubbles without much dimpling, forms a good layer across the surface which lingers well, the lacing forms solid sheets which slowly glide downwards without much residue. Cloudy amber red with more brown in the center and brighter orange at the glass bottom, a few scattered bubbles visible, deeply hued for sure. There's a burnt edge to the nose which highlights the smokiness as well as caramelized sugars, candied orange peels, pine sap, equally concentrated and close to dried fruit apricot, peach, pineapple, cherry with fresh ginger slices to boot, avoids extremes of both hoppiness and maltiness ending up in a muddle in the middle. Full-bodied, thick and bottom heavy, this in spite of super-creamy carbonation. The ginger, coriander, clove spice pairs with orange peel, caramel, toffee, pine, too boozy and rough and tumble for the florality to show a lot. Curiously, any yeast or dough notes seem to get stamped out, never mind anything remotely tasting like barley. It carries the signature "Stone" profile but little grace and balance. The finish is at once very sugary and astringent.

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Photo of Retsinis
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this bottle at a tasting, split between myself and 3 others, so I got about 5 to 6 oz.

Review from notes.

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Bruery tulip glass.

The beer pours a dark copper, with a amber red hue. Small half inch of beige head rose, and dissipated quickly, no lacing really.

The smell has the distinctive Belgian yeast whiffing off of it, along with citrus hops, caramel, and tropical fruit notes.

The initial draw had a bit of spice to it, mixed with banana, caramel, and some hop bitterness. Kind of a cornucopia of flavors going on in here. As it warms a bit more, some dark fruit notes also come through, as well as the Belgian yeast and the heat.

Mouth feel was a little heavy, spicy, with a decent amount of carbonation. Heat comes through a bit too much for me.

Overall, I did like this better than the regular Old Guardian, fresh that is, since it is not as hoppy or bitter. It was worth a try, and glad I did, but out of the gate this recipe needs a bit of tweaking in my humble opinion or perhaps aging will meld things out. Still better then my expectations were though, but I do not plan on picking any more up.

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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.64 out of 5 with 572 ratings
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