Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine
Liked This Beer
3.64 w/ 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.

User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 572 |  Reviews: 302
Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.13/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Am I the only person who liked this beer? First off, it pours a beautiful amber orange color, though the head formation and retention is a little lacking. Nose is largely Belgian, with fruity yeast notes making a big play. Flavor is really nice actually, though maybe a bit sweet. Fruity up front with a bit of clove, followed by some hoppy bitterness. Finish isn't too lingering which is a bit of a shame. Decent mouthfeel and really great drinkability in my opinion (especially considering the ABV). This is very different from regular Old Guardian, but I happened to like it quite a bit.

 590 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Old Guardian Belgo

Ontap, pours a clear mahogony and a small off white head. In the aroma, candied fruits, yeast and booze. Tastes almost like a belgian quad, big time maltyness, fruit notes, alcohol also checks in. Toffee, cherry, kiss of piney hops rounding it out. A nice big beer and the belgian yeast really made things interesting. Would have it again.

 359 characters

Photo of raszputini
2.77/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I must say to begin with that I am very picky with barleywines. Many I just dont' like. This is an interesting combo a barleywine with belgian style yeast and sugars. Nose is what you'd expect - a combo of belgian fruitiness and phenols along with the yeasty nose from a barleywine. Taste starts like a trippel with coriander and belgian sugars and then morphs into a barleywine. Complex - definitely not a session. Rough around the edges. I think simply pouring a blithering idiot into a cheap trippel would yield similar results.

 531 characters

Photo of Overlord
1.28/5  rDev -64.8%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I admit, I was not enthused when I heard about this beer. I think stone should retire their belgian yeast strain and burn all samples, this beer is that bad.

Pours a beautiful orange amber. Great head. The cake is a lie!!!

Smells like cleaning solvent with abrasive citrus, nasty yeast, and alcohol. Wow. This is horrid.

Taste, if anything, is worse. Pine cleaning solvent, harsh awful booze, truly atrocious rotting citrus yeast....one of the worst beers I have ever had. I must, however, praise stone for having their bourbon aged beers at the winter storm. I love stone! But not this beer. Awful bitter earthiness, runaway spicy yeastiness, nothing melds and the entire thing is dry, solventy, and abrasively harsh.

One of the least drinkable beers ever.

 761 characters

Photo of charmcityboh
3.44/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

First off, a perfect looking beer, but from Stone, what else can be expected?
Smell is overly boozy, but some caramel sweetness does creep in there.
Gotta say this on drinks a little hot. Or at least that is how I recall this beer at the start. As I type this, nearing the end of the bomber, I find the taste much more subtle, with hints of caramel and a slight grapefruit sweetness. But then again, I cant help feeling the 12% ABV is just taking advantage of me here, making my judgement cloudy. I remember this being too boozy when I started this journey an hour ago. But now I'm cool with whatever.
This beer is not bad, but its not great either. Will pick up a few to cellar, this will surely age well.
And for future notice, review all 12% brews at the start of the bomber, not the end, as I am having a lot of trouble typing right now. Good night all!

 859 characters

Photo of Bajasith
3.11/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a translucent ruby red color with a small single finger head.
Smell was of unmistakable Belgium yeast, fruity with alcohol masking the hops... Almost astringent in aroma.
Taste, where do I begin... A mixture of a triple and DIPA... Alcohol dominates and steals the show. Some malt/hop sweetness tingle but are blown away with the warmth of the 12% ABV...
Mouthfeel is moderate to dry. Slight bitterness at the end.
I love that Stone brews are bold yet this one did not rank with those other brews I would enjoy over and over again.

 539 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Well it's reddish brown and a bit hazy. There's not much head but the lacing is nice.

Smells of strong malts, plenty of yeast and a light fruitiness, with a touch of hops and noticeable alcohol.

Taste is strong, fruity alcohol notes dominate, with cherry, plum, apple, pear and peach all showing a tinge of flavor contributions. Malts are plentiful and powerful, complimented by a light yeastiness. There's also a pungent sour bitter component. Overall it's quite flavorful and a good example of the style.

Feel is rich and alcoholic, with a strong warming going down. Bitterness is light but pleasant. Fruity sweetness, complimented with a dichotomy of bitter sourness, lingers on.

Drinks well enough for the style, but it's not something I'd seek out very often.

 772 characters

Photo of Briken
3.32/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Slightly hazy red amber and thin tan head with no retention or lacing. Intoxicating barley and yeast aroma. Salty yeast and sweetness upfront that mellows into a little smoother taste. A little more hoppy flavor is accentuated by the yeast and a light lingering salty/bitterness. Good warming, a little more than the regular OG. Slick but biting mouthfeel with a light mouthcoating.

Definitely more challenging than the normal OG yet still not complex but yeast adds another dimension when the sweetness comes through. I don't think it was as good overall as the normal OG, but I think I still enjoyed it a little more because I could take my time.

 649 characters

Photo of gopens44
3.13/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at Beer & Wine Westpark - lost receipt, so I can't recall the price and threw out the bottle before I noted the date (my bad) but it was obviously circa 2/11

A - Dark ruby brown-ish and fairly unmuddled. Head was foamy and pretty nice in size, checking in at a decent 3/4 " or so with a slightly off white / beige color

S - All that I got here at first was the yeast smell, but that's sorta what I expected. Following the yeast was a more familiar aroma of the original, but still overpowered by the yeast.

T - Again, the Belgium yeast was the dominant taste, which was followed up by faint plum, a smidgeon of wood and plenty of alcohol presence.

M - Medium bodied with a dry finish. Some level of a cloyingly sweet aftertaste film thing going on.

D - I'd like to see what would happen with some age on this, but as a fresh libation, it misses the mark.

 869 characters

Photo of nlmartin
1.18/5  rDev -67.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Where to start with this beer? I guess the beginning is the proper place. This beer was chilled and served in an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: This is the beers shining moment. The body of the beer is a bright shining caramel amber coloration. The head of the beer looks a creamy caramel tinged off white. No real head retention but not expected for the ABV. The beer is wearing a wonder bra. Now you may ask what brings a wonder bra to mind? You think your girl has a great rack and she takes her bra off and you wonder where her tits went. The beer looks like its got a great rack but leave me wondering what the hell happened?

Smell: The aroma of the beer is confusing to say the least. Heavily peppered caramelized apples, wet band aids, grapefruit, pine citrus slamming into a wall of solvents, rubbing alcohol, an odd mint and clove. This beer smells very odd to me.
Taste: This beer taste awful! This is like biting into a band aid used on a chemical wound. Lots of rubbing alcohol and other solvent flavors. Very very astringent flavors. Sure its hopped up but the hops are ramming against a wall of astringent cloves.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The body of the beer is astringently dry. Just bitterness and more bitterness complete with alcohol burn. Drinkability this is a drain pour. This is awful! Is this beer an Arrogant Bastards joke on fanboys? You guys will drink anything and love me! Sorry it aint so. Stones stumbled with Emperial IPA. A very poor offering. This beer is a straight up piss pour effort. Hopefully this beer goes the way of new coke. Yuck!

 1,583 characters

Photo of jwinship83
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle picked up as soon as i noticed it on the shelf. drank from my la fin du monde tulip.

A- this one pours a dark amber colored body with a large and fluffy eggshell colored head on top. the head lasts for a while and leaves behind large rings of lacing. very nice.

S- the first thing that comes to mind when i take a whiff is spices. lots of coriander and a little bit of pepper. some orange zest and banana as well. the alcohol makes itself known. some sweet caramel and bready malts.

T- the sweet caramel and toasted bread like malts i could smell come to the front of the taste. after that the spices i could smell (pepper and coriander) come out along with bubblegum, banana, and orange peel. at the end i get a healthy dose of alcohol.

M- medium bodied, bordering on full with ample carbonation. moderate to intense warming from the alcohol.

D- its amazing how changing the yeast can change a beer. i think i liked the original version better, but this one is still very very young. lets see what a little time in the cellar will do to it. too strong to attempt a second, this is a bottle that is best to split with someone.

 1,145 characters

Photo of bamadog
2.8/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Review is from notes taken on 3/10/2011 and poured from the bottle to a goblet.

Appearance: Pour is a dark apricot/coppery color with lighter orange highlights and it starts with a 1/4 finger creamy off-white head that fades quickly to a thick, but uneven skim hanging around on the surface; body is fairly hazy and shows moderately slow carbonation bubbling up from the bottom; only a couple of small spots of lacing are left hanging around on the sides of the glass.

Smell: First and foremost, I would say there is plenty of Belgian yeast flowing out of this one and it has a bit of a smooth banana like aspect to it and is probably the best aspect to it next to the sweet bottle.

Taste: Sad to say it, but it's a bit of a mess -- lots of the Belgian yeast right up front and there's a super sweet blast of malts (possibly some candi sugar in there as well?) and it turns the stomach a bit as it's a little too sweet; then there's the assault of the strong and grassy hoppiness that one would expect from Stone, and if it wasn't for unbalanced sweetness, it would probably be pretty good; definite presence of big alcohol rounds it all out.

Mouthfeel: Body is moderately thick and of medium mouthfeel; carbonation is smooth and fitting of the body; a very thick and sticky coating is left all over the palate and the belly is left quite warm from the 12%ABV.

Drinkability: Not too high -- the uber-sweetness turns it and I can't finish the bottle. Worth trying, but only once.

 1,483 characters

Photo of goldbot
3.04/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2011 odd year release, 22 oz bottle.

Pours dark, tawny with some copper hues around the edges. Very hazy/cloudy. Very little tan head that dissipates immediately. Some lacing. Lots of malt aroma - bread, caramel, grain. Also a strong Belgian yeast characteristic. Spicy, floral, a bit sulphury. The aroma lacks somewhat underwhelming but is quite pleasant.

The flavor profile in this beer is out of this world. Tons of malt as expected from a strong barleywine. However it is overshadowed with tons of spicy Belgian yeast notes. Typical coriander, orange peel notes. Also a strong floral hop character with some hints of pine resin. Strong aftertaste of hops mixed with yeast notes. Incredibly bitter on the back end.

Complex and interesting brew but lots of clashing of flavors going on. Hopefully this one ages well and becomes a bit more balanced and even.

 862 characters

Photo of Gosox8787
2.75/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Presentation: 22 oz. bomber bottle poured into my Portsmouth Brewery tulip glass. Served at room temperature.

Appearance: Light brown to darker orange in color. Pours a one finger white, piloowy head with decent retention.

Aroma: The Belgian yeast definitely hits first. Lots of fruit notes and clove here. Hints of caramel and booze soaked raisans behind that. A touch of grassy and herbal notes round out the aroma. I really do not get a cohesive aroma from this. A lot of the notes don't really work well together at this point.

Taste: Belgian yeast notes of fruit and clove are definitely present and assert themselves first. There is definitely a strong caramel and dark fruit presence here as well. There is also a ton of hops here. Bitter, astrigent hops really take over the beer and actually completely overpower the other components at times. The hops really do not pair well with any of the other components, especially the Belgian yeast. Together, they impart an artificial and almost band aid quality, which clearly is not appealing. There are some qualities here, but they are drowned out by bitter hops and too much booze.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and smooth. Not a ton of carbonation. I would prefer a bit crisper feel for a beer that feels this heavy, in flavor and feel.

Drinkability: I had a lot of problems finishing a bomber of this. The ABV was not too bad for 12% but I just really did not enjoy the combination of flavors working here.

Overall, an unbalanced beer without any direction. Too many big flavors that do not compliment each other. The amount of hops used really confused me, they add no nice hop flavors, just astrigency and bitterness. I would not be against revisiting this beer with some age on it, but I have to imagine it would need at least two or three years for the hops to subside and the malt to become the attraction, when paired with the Belgian yeast. Definitely would not recommend this to anyone at this stage. I was letdown a little by this.

 1,997 characters

Photo of SolomonGrundy
4.34/5  rDev +19.2%
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!!!

 1,522 characters

Photo of jampics2
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Into my snifter, the beer pours a nice brownish-red color. Some cloudiness but low opacity. I notice a steady stream of bubbles rising to replenish the nice, fluffy white head that has finally receded to a ring, leaving no lace behind.

The smells are instantly recognizable as having a Belgian focus. There's a ton of yeasty esters atop the sugary, malty base. Banana, white pepper, caramel, apricot, bubblegum, corriander, orange and some booze. The beer has nice expression, but not enough cohesiveness and the booze could take a giant step back. It's almost at a spirit level of phenols.

Taste is a trip, man. Things start off with a nice caramel sweetness with some bright fruit. There's some under-ripe plum, fig, apricot, and banana. Then the booze comes in and flips over the table at our dainty little teacup fruit beer party. There's a huge warming alcohol kick, as well as some lingering bitterness and malt stickiness. A final sweet spike then lingering booze. Brute squad is in the house!

The mouthfeel is a bit on the sticky side, but the carbonation levels feel right. I like the idea of playing around like this. There is a weird mix here of Belgian dark ale and Barleywine. Interested to see if this goes anywhere in a few years, as I love vintage Old Guardian. But, for now, this goes in the "eh" category.

 1,326 characters

Photo of AgentZero
2.93/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Hazy orange colored beer that poured with a big, foamy head on it. Surpringly low stick on the sides.

S - Belgian yeast is upfront and center. Quite pungent, with a smell of fruits and ethers. Some coffee, toffee, and floral notes round out the aroma.

T - A dose of caramel and toffee with some floral and herbal notes. Then the yeast really takes over. I don't particularly care for the combination of strong belgian yeast and barleywine notes, it is overly pungent.

M - Too much soapy carbonation and fizz, pretty full bodied.

D - Kind of hard to drink this, not even considering the high ABV. It is just an odd tasting brew that I don't care for in most circumstances.

 680 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
2.85/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2011 vintage, chilled bomber into a glass.

A: Pours a clear, reddish-maroon body with a short-lived beige head. It leaves a very light collar on the beer. The reddish tint (especially when pouring) reminds me of cough syrup.

S: You can smell the Belgian yeast right away (literally, the yeast), and its effects after. There's a phenolic presence of clove and white pepper that work well with a note of booze. The crystal malt of the base beer shines through with caramel and toffee aromas. It's floral and rose-like.

T: This beer is weird. It starts off with the same imbalanced maltiness I found in the base beer: lots of caramel and toffee. Then the hops come in, but they don't impart any particular flavor, just a lot of bitterness, which pulls into the aftertaste. In the meantime, the yeast gives the beer a spicy, peppery finish that accentuates the booze bite. I find myself grabbing onto the small, estery presence and trying to enjoy what fruit flavors I can pick up (apricot?), but the yeast just isn't expressive enough on that front. This is better than the base beer, but it misses its potential by a long shot.

M: Oddly clashing body. The hops leave their bitter mark; the yeast leaves spicy, peppery phenols in the finish; the booze produces a burning heat. The carbonation seems to be right on the body, but it's one right thing out of several flaws.

D: Far more drinkable than the base beer this year, though I'm not suggesting it's amazing by any means. I put down a bomber and I'm content not to have it again.

 1,540 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Standard bomber bottle served in a wine glass. Shows on the caramel side of brown on the pour, with bright neon orange highlights and a light haze. A thin cap of off white foam settles out in standard style, keeping a steady ring of carbonation.

Yeast notes are quite dominant in the aroma and muddled with rich caramel malts. Bit of spice and alcohol are subtle at first but more prominent with warming. Intriguing though not truly endearing by any means.

Initial taste was all caramalized candied apple with a moderate finish of light brown sugar. Fair amount of hop and yeast spiciness accompanies the finish as well. Warming thins the upfront body a bit while giving the spice components more play. At the same time the sweetness is felt more on the finish with caramel and brown sugar again. Not really that complex in flavor yet doesn't come across as too richly sweet either; but then the ABV is reasonably subdued so the sweetness, while not overly viscous, is surely there.

Overall it seems that simply changing the yeast has a profound effect on this brew though I think that changing the recipe to adjust for such influences could be in order. But then, it wouldn't be Old Guardian then. Hmmm.

 1,208 characters

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

Poured into my Stone Old Guardian Glass.

Pours a cloudy amber color. A semi hard pour got a thin tan head but it dissipated to nothing. No lacing. Looks like a Barleywine though.

Aroma is actually not that strong. Just a hint of Belgian yeast. Little bit of malt.

Taste is pretty good. Super strong Belgian yeast character. Little bit of clove. There is a lingering bitterness in the finish. Too much Belgian in this batch IMO.

Mouthfeel is heavy. It's a sipper. High carb.

Overall I couldn't finish a whole bomber of this. Glad I split it. Hope th Belgian character settles down a bit over time. It wasn't this crazy of a Belgian flavor when I had it on tap at stone like 6 months ago.

 691 characters

Photo of metter98
3.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and poured with a finger high beighe head that quickly died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface. The head also left lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of chocolate malts in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is malty and has some notes of chocolate and hints of vanilla.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied, smooth and thick on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer isn't overly difficult to drink because most of the alcohol is well masked from the taste.

 586 characters

Photo of gford217
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber.

Pours deep, clear copper with a small, thick beige head that recedes quickly to a big collar and no lacing.

Aroma is odd and very sweet, but not in the way most barley wines are sweet. It's got candied apples and some spicy notes you'd normally see in a Belgian pale. There is caramel, astringent hops and some alcohol burn in the nose.

Taste is also an intriguing mix of sugar-coasted fruits, light spices and honey. The malt backbone and typical barleywine flavors are more event as it warms and the finish is bitter with the "Stone bitterness" that I would always expect in their beers. Astringent and boozy.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and really smooth and sticky on the palate.

This is an interesting and very sweet take on Old Guardian. The yeast bring some sweet and spicy character to things, but I'll sitcom with the original OG.

 868 characters

Photo of MadCat
4.42/5  rDev +21.4%
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!

 1,137 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

 2,723 characters

Photo of Chaney
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Crystal clear, dark amber, almost like one of the crystals from "Superman." It poured a fairly small 1/2 finger head, but immediately dissipated to a mere sud formation that stayed present throughout the session.

S: Sweet, mildly hoppy, yet somewhat understated with a bit of a grassy overtone. Belgian funkiness maybe?

T: It's odd that one notices the finish before the actual forefront of the brew, but that is totally the case with this beer! VERY dry finish.... as any competent BW should be. Candy sweetness, hoppy bitterness, with Stone's taste profile implanted in the middle.

M: Once again, grassy bitterness, but still somewhat smooth overall. The actual brew was pretty thick, but might have just been the sugar content. Still, I appreciate the lawn clippings cutting through the sugar. Carbonation low.

D: About as good as a barleywine could be. Still, I personally liked the regular "Old Guardian" more.

 922 characters

Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 51.7% out of 100 with 572 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.