Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

302 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.

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Reviews: 302 | Ratings: 572
Photo of gpogo
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Amber red body with a small cream head. Heavy steady stream of bubbles.

A- Malty sweetness. Dark fruits like raisins and cherries. Candy sugar and anise.

T- Sweet malt immediately. Caramel and anise. The Belgian yeast flavor isn't as prevalent as I would expect. Quite a bit of alcohol in the end.

M- Medium-heavy body. Very smooth, but with a hit of alcohol. Medium carbonation.

D- Enjoyable and intense. Relaxed and drank a bottle for three hours. That said I was a bit disappointed by the, "Belgo" label. Belgian characters were lacking.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ The Deli in State College, PA.

A - Medium amber colour with a half finger of off-white head.

S - Caramel, Belgian yeast, brown sugar, some dark fruit.

T - Brown sugar, Belgian yeast, cloves, caramel, sweet candy.

M - Medium body. Light to moderate carbonation.

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Photo of gdkersey
2.79/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: amber-red, pretty interesting color. an aggressive pour yields a small off-white head, which doesn't stick around for long.

S: some really great aroma here - coconut, vanilla...not sure how else describe the slight alcohol aroma but reminds me of spiced rum

T: big alcohol burn. lots of tangerine and grapefruit, which intensifies as the beer warms.

M: carbonation works well, a bit thin

I'm actually getting a headache as I drink this beer. It comes across as hot and alcoholic and doesn't give up. I know this is a beer that should age well, but this beer really suffers from drinkability when it shouldn't.

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

Review from notes.

A: Pours a hazy brown/copper color with a one finger tan head on top. Decent retention, with a thin layer of foam lasting for the duration with patchy lacing left behind.

S: Some caramelized malt, dark fruits, mostly some plum and raisins, a bit of toffee and some light alcohol.

T: Heavy on the caramel and some sugary sweet dark fruit, again plum and raisin. There is a little bit of toffee and bread.

M: Medium to full bodied, rather thick, with moderate carbonation.

O: Better than expected, but hard to place in context since I have not had regular Old Guardian as of yet.

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Photo of jdense
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Share with neighborhood beer buddy 9.20.11.

Less than half a finger slightly off-white head, quick dissipation, no lacing and no visible carbonation in clear amber body. Not a whole lot going on in nose, the Belgian yeast is pretty faint, may have been poured too cold, though there wasn't too much more character after warming, a bit of caramel malt or candi sugar sweetness with citrus hops. Taste unfortunately mirrors nose, not much going on until the beer fully warmed at which point the yeast dominated the front end with back end sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium, a bit light for style, with very little effervescence, ABV relatively hidden.

This may benefit from some aging, but at this juncture there isn't a lot going on. Worth a try at price point but not sure I'd get another bottle of this vintage. Other than the Belgian yeast, absolutely unremarkable. One of my least favorite Stone products to date.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish orange color that is ruby like until held to light. There is a one finger tannish color head on top with some lace. The aroma has a big sweet belgium yeast aroma along with a boozy finish. The taste starts out with a nice strong beligan yeast strain sweetness and is then replaced by a slight dark fruti flavor. The end has a big alcohol bite, the bite is a litle much but tolerable and the flavor prior to the bite I did like a lot. The mouthfeel was moderately carbonated and slightly syrupy. Overall I did enjoy the beer, I liked the aroma and flavor and I really liked the look. The big alcohol bite in the end though wasn't blended as well as I hoped for.

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Photo of akorsak
2.71/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A bomber bottle.

A: The barleywine has the right look, a coppery amber color, barely transparent, with a thick head. That head reached nearly three fingers and dries in clumps.

S: That's an unusual nose. Candi sugars drive a hard bargain, sweet with a pear and apple sweetness. Plenty of thick malts are amidst the yeast, as is a syrupy shot of anise. LaChouffe with an excess of malts.

T: Too much anise, so much that it easily cuts through the Belgian yeast. And that yeast is pretty damned formidable. Barleywine flavors are lurking below the surface, strong and thick, they just don't have much of a shot at making it through. So cloyingly sweet that I can't stomach the beer. A noble experiment; but so was New Coke.

M: Sweet, the Belgian yeast strain carries its weight and then some. Not your mother's Old Guardian; and if you love her, don't introduce it to her.

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Photo of ottovon
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours out a clear, orangish-cherry color with a off-white head that fell to leave about a half inch of fluffy foam and lacing down the glass.

S: quite a sweet aroma. there is a belgian yeast aroma, with spices like white pepper and clove, with subtle hints of banana. i get toffee and some orange like citrus hops in the aroma. there is some alcohol in the nose as well.

T: quite a bit of alcohol in there. starts out with a touch of sweetness and then that fades quickly into a hop bitterness. this is still pretty hot. there is some spicy belgian yeast flavors, with hints of clove and pepper. hints of caramel malt in there, but mostly spicy yeast and alcohol. doesnt blend very well together.

M: it has a medium body with tiny carbonation bubbles running throughout. somewhat creamy as well.

O: i liked the look and aroma of this beer, but that is about it. the flavors did not mesh well, and there is too much alcohol presence.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.28/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours about the most orange looking barleywine I've ever seen, right up there with O'Dell's India Barleywine, that bright dipa style orange.

Aroma yields the belgo yeast for sure. Not clovey, nice, but definitely pungent.

Citrus themes, fruity ester, big time alcohol. Caramel. Like a triple belgian ipa. Ample hopping, leans to the pine side. This beer is kinda all over the place, but yet very dominated by the belgian yeast and all its typical bringings. Not much in the way of sweetness. The alcohol heat is a tad bothersome, tastes like a homebrew novice just dumps liquor into the beer at times. I go back and forth whether the belgo yeast makes it neat or tedious. Just depends on your mood.

Great price

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Photo of WesWes
3.23/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours a dark amber, almost orangish color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry, yet fruity scent that boasts of burnt toffee and yeast esters. It's alcohol ridden with a charred wood character to it. The taste is decent as well. It has a thin burnt toffee favor along with loads of yeast character and a warming finish. Again, it tastes like charred wood that's soaked in liquor. It goes down slow and warm with yeasty/burnt finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I applaud the concept, but the end result isn't that attractive. I won't be seeking this one again.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.44/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on tap into a snifter at ChurchKey as part of a group tasting.

A ruby cherry red and clear bodied color, really dig this body color. Light off caramel head with some stickiness and good lacing.

Nose is kind of closed, but a small sense of mild cinnamon. Very muted with perhaps some small cherry fruit. Not really dynamic or exciting.

Taste is malt mostly and quick sharp alcohol even for a barleywine, but just tolerable enough on the palate. Estery fruit sense with a novocaine numbing finish and sharp bitter probably from hop stinging.

Kind of odd but not too bad. Sort of a mixture of good and bad overall for a barleywine.

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Photo of bminor7
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 from Hoosick.

Love m'a barleywines! also really enjoy belgian flare when it comes to breakfast food and beer making. Belgo is a good place in the world and something BellGians hate to be called!...can't go wrong with this hi-brid of west coast american gargoyle's high-power brewing with lowland europe's secret yeast army.

It is a little heavy on the booze...oommm...12% is not out of the realm of typical barleywines but this one goes for sweetness and that thins the cover. Alcohol comes through in the nose along with SUGAR. WATER...and fruitiness.

Looks reddish amber in my glass, different in some other guy's glass, it was dirty. This is pretty viscous as well, but not 'syrupy' as some would say. Has fleeting potential for 'good fomey' but fades quickly due to low soap content.

Taste----not surprisingly tastes like: little bitter, not cloyingly sweet, has a mild candi-sugar bite of Aventinus, maybe just a touch of the Belgo? Seems like needs more maltiness. Also a savory meatlike element that is hard to place. In many ways this is reminiscent of a Belgian Strong Color Ale and would probably be indistinguishable between a sturdy Unibrow. Maybe there is too much america for the belgoyeast to chew thru and make a name for itself!! I would have read the back of the bottle but I had to go to bed.

This was a 2011 vintage so it has not aged much at all, except for the time it will age whilst in my GI. I would recommenda' layem' down for a while longer before consumation especially since hops are not a major player, player. Personally would think Stone could do better if they went after Chouffe's BIPA and replicated that - there is more try than their collaboration with dawfished.

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Photo of projectflam86
3.32/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bomber served in a tulip.

A- Pours a murky amber color with a decent sized off-white head that leaves some lace.

S- Caramel, plums, banana, pear, and apples. The nose is actually incredibly sweet and fruity with a very noticeable amount of alcohol. Only getting a faint whiff of hops which seems strange for Stone...

T- Very boozy initially with an incredibly sweet finish. Some bitterness throughout but it gives way to a fruity caramel like malt backbone that keeps this very much balanced towards the sweeter end of the spectrum. A bit astringent with an unusual herbal/vegetal taste that becomes more pronounced as it warms. The banana, pear, and other light fruit flavors are there along with a touch of funk which is probably a characteristic of the yeast.

M- Full bodied and almost syrup like. Carbonation is a tad low, especially for a "Belgian" style beer. A touch cloying.

O- Overall this was a very interesting take on a Barleywine, but not one of my favorites.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review adapted from notes taken 6/4/11

Appearance: Clear dark orange, a bit lighter in hue than the non-BELGO Old Guardian - not much head, minimal lacing

Smell: The aroma is more reminiscent of a barleywine than the Belgian experiment I was expecting - malty, cooked, caramelized - some spiciness and fruitiness as it warms up - some nice citrus and pine hops

Taste: Again, maybe this is better than expected because I was expecting a Belgian yeast bomb - cooked, caramelized malts - nicely bitter citrus hops - they put up a pretty good fight with the malts - some dark fruits, some light fruits - the Belgian yeast is mostly in the background and adds some sweetness, certainly does not subtract from the flavor

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium to heavy body, adequately carbonated - could probably use a few months to smooth out more

Overall: Better than expected

I firmly believe that Belgian yeast should only be used in Belgian-style ales. I want the fruity esters, clove, and subtle funk in my Belgian Pale Ales, Belgian Dark Ales, Dubbels, etc. Old Guardian BELGO is a RARE exception to this belief. It works surprisingly well.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.11/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle into a couple of tulip glasses. 2011 Release. Drank in April, 2011.

Pours a clear coppery amber, with a near finger of off-white head. This maintains some rich edges, with a frothy flare-up that leaves thick foamy swathes of lacing behind. That Belgian yeast is right out there in the nose, with notes of soft fruit, earth, spice, and bubblegum. Hops move in next, with a strong citrus character, pine, and a floral feel that is then quickly replaced by more fruit and bubblegum flavors. The chewy smelling graininess of the malts is there but it mostly sits in the background. There’s a lot of fruit here in the nose. Too much in fact.

Those hops are bit bolder here in the taste, with green bitter grapefruit and sharp resins taking control. This is balanced on the edges by sweeter notes of caramel, maybe even some candied sugars, and tropical fruit. The finish is dry and piney, with a LOT of lingering spiciness. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a lively prickliness to the carbonation, before this works itself into more of a smooth oily slickness on the tongue. Like the regular Old Guardian, any heat from the ABV is well hid for the most part but the yeast addition does seem to draw out the alcohol a little more in this version.

I really couldn’t get into this one a whole lot. The yeast added extra fruit and sweetness to this that wasn’t really needed and the spice that it contributed covered up the warm alcohol spice that I really like in the original. It’s not a poorly made beer but the concept of a Belgian Barleywine, American hops or no, just wasn’t working for me.

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Photo of errantnight
2.86/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bubblegum and banana and spun sugar.

Stone Old Guardian has always been a bit of a conundrum... burdensomely hot, bitter, and sweet when young, it mellows into something just shy of sublime somewhere between 6 and 18 months then starts to fade elegantly from there. What is it not lacking? Dryness. Or fruity esters. So why add them?

I don't know. It's not a BAD beer, but the heavy fruitiness and soft bubblegum-y sweetness of this yeast strain is not my particular bag, it doesn't do particularly well with resiny, citrusy hops, and the slightly dryer finish only increases the harshness and does nothing to cut through the bulky, caramel-malt middle. It lacks the mouthfeel or body or subtle nuance and yeast complexity of something like, say, a quad (not that it's trying to be one).

It's not one note, but it's very few note. It's not particularly harsh or unpleasant, but I can't see myself being in the mood for it, either.

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Photo of abgba121
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a beautiful ruby color with an inch off white head that remains and leaves a light lacing down the glass, it also bubble for a long time

S: intensely sweet and malty, slight alcohol bite to the nose, the belgian yeast is very evident on the nose with the fruitiness

T: tastes of belgian yeast, still very sweet and fruity, a very slight alcohol harshness towards the back of the sip and a quick and intense bitterness on the finish

M: medium body and great carbonation

O: a good barleywine, the belgo version is a nice change from other barleywines

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Photo of n2185
4.02/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a murky mahogany-brown with a finger of off-white head that fades into a thin layer with a little lacing.

S: Lots of bubblegum and candy sugar on the nose at first from the Belgian yeast. Some caramel malts peek through along with orange citrus and bitter aromas from the hops.

T: Caramel malts along with a lot of Belgian candy sugar and bubblegum sweetness at first. There are some slight spicy notes in there as well. Orange flavors from the hops follow with a light bitterness. The finish has a bready flavor from the yeast along with a decent alcohol burn.

M: Medium-thick body with low carbonation, this beer is almost creamy rather than being sticky feeling like most barleywines. The Belgian yeast seems to give it a somewhat lighter body, which I like.

O: I've had this bottle for a while, fearing it would be horrible based on other people's dislike of it. I was quite surprised by how enjoyable I found it, though. It's not the best beer I've ever had, but the Belgian yeast does a good job of mixing things up a bit. I actually regret not buying a second bottle while it was out to age a bit.

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.64/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 "odd" year release

22oz. bottle at cellar temp poured into a snifter. split with friends.

pours out a very clear deep reddish bordering on copper/ bronze with a big light tan colored head, great retention and nice lace.

very strange aroma. kind of a meaty almost bologna like mixing with dark fruits, prunes and some rich maltiness. the barleywine nor the belgian yeast really show like i expected.

i find the yeast and the barleywine a lot more in the taste. tastes similar to a belgian dark or a quad. a nice range of fruitiness, lots of dark dried fruits. hints of a meaty flavor. rich maltiness mixes with a slightly spicey, slightly phenolic yeast. finishes with a slightly resinous hop bitterness and spicey yeast.

i didnt like it at first, but the more i drank it, the more i started enjoying it. still definatly nothing special and nothing i would come back to. the belgo stone imperial russian was way better, as well as the origianl old guardian. not something i would really recommend or buy again.

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Photo of Bookseeb
3.4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance has an orange amber color with a light head to top. Smell of the rich malt with over ripe citrus and alchohol in the back. Taste is sweet citrusy thats a bit tart in the heavy malt backbone. The alchohol is there, but not as strong as it could be. Mouthfeel is heavy viscous with good carbonation. Not all bad, but it seem it should have more body for the style.

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Photo of bierguru
2.17/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

a - body is a clean orange amber pours a thin creamy off white head what i did not like was it laced out rather quick

s - pungent overripe orange peel with a spicy booze backbone

t - tart orange peel with a spicy overly sweet malt finishes with a firey booziness

m - overly tart sticky body dries the mouth out and leaves it kind of flemy leaves a flavor of a really really bad cigar

o - usually enjoy barleywines and stone products but this may be the worst to date however i am happy to see they have moved away from grapefruit in that sense this beer is refreshing

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Photo of DIM
2.94/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

a: This was a clear, orange tinted amber color. It poured with a moderately sticky head.

s: Surprisingly bland and very different from what I tasted. Mellow yeasty esters that suggest clove and banana, plus a little toffee. Where are the hops?

t: Starts off pretty well with softly sweet toffee and some and some vague fruitiness in the form of raisins and bananas. I also found some caramel hop candy towards the middle. The finish is where this falls completely apart. Its a long lasting combination of yeasty cloves and strong, flavorless bitterness. Its also pretty hot at the end.

m: Big and chewy with nicely creamy carbonation.

o: This didn't sound good to me but I had to try it. It is a mess, but not quite as bad as I thought it would be. The inventors behind this should have spent more time wrangling with the pickle matrix.

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

Sampled on tap at 1702; March 2011
The beer arrives with a half-finger thick, pale amber tinged head that sits on top of a rich, amber hued beer that shows clear with gold tinges around the edges when held up to the light. A bright berry aroma is backed by notes of candied citrus zest (tangelo and grapefruit being the most noticeable). There is a solid, toasted and caramelized malt character that adds some depth and savoriness to the nose.

The beer has a chewy texture to it, though it is not overly heavy, but it is definitely a sipping beer. Bitter herbal hop flavors try and temper the rich, caramelized malt character that is in this beer. The hint has a touch of coffee-like flavor to it as well as a toasted, whole grain character; though it doesn’t really get roasted. The finish can also have some hot alcohol warming to it at times. Big caramelized hop notes have lots of citrus flavors as well as a softer berry like note and there is also some herbal / menthol like hop contributions here. This is somewhat sweet up front, but it is not nearly as sweet as the nose would have suggested. The hop notes that are herbal and bitter quickly dries this beer out, though it remains chewy and sipping beer throughout. An earthy spiciness with notes of clove, and a definite phenolic character in the finish is noticeable from the yeast. This is enjoyable, but for some reason doesn’t quite seem to be doing it for me.

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Photo of gordavidson
3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a luminescent, cloudy orange liquid with a peach head that settles to a splotchy covering. Looks rather menacing.

S- Resinous pine and caramel with a Belgian kick. Hints of orange rind and a strong alcohol presence bring up the finish.

T- Strong pine and orange rind along with super sweet malt and a hot alcohol presence on the finish. Serious. Business.

M- A nice carbonation presence from what I can tell initially, but the hoppiness and alcohol quickly becoming numbing.

O- This is a monstrous beer that may settle down with some age. Definitely a sipper and worth splitting a bottle with someone.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.35/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

We pour a syrupy and utterly opaque brew the color of darkened, warm butterscotch. It produces barely any head, with a few tan bubbles spotted here and there. There is thick haze, but no chunky sediment is noted. Carbonation appears low to medium, with the bubbles snailing to the surface. The nose on this beast must be taken from a distance, to avoid burning your mucous membranes with the intense fusel alcohols jetting off the top. Once this settles, the aromas are sweet, with darker caramel malts that have a rather deep roast. There is also a tartness of fruit and hops, like pineapple and acidy citrus. The yeast appears undeniably Belgian, with a soft bready sweetness and soft feel. The slightest hints of banana esters top us off, adding a final cooling component to counteract the alcoholic burn. As we sip, the mouth meets with the sweeter side of the malts, bittering from the yeast, and big citric hoppy freshness. This adds up to quite a lot for the introduction. Moving through the middle produces milder flavoring, with cooling esters that cut the bitterness. This really only effectively makes room for the enormous booze character to push its way to center stage. We finish on high notes of bready, bitterly roasty and dark malts. Accompanying this is the booze from the nose in all of its glory, sterilizing the mouth. The aftertaste breathes with dark and boozy fruits, more of that characteristic Belgian yeast, clean citric hops, and heavy malt action. The body is full and the carbonation is solidly medium. There is great slurp and smack to each sip, with a generous coating all around the mouth. The sweetness and booze, however, act to seriously dry the hard palate and tongue. The beer is also notably sticky to the feel. The abv is huge but within range, and the beer drinks rather slowly, due to this, as well as the sweetened bitterness.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about it was the complexity of flavor. Right off the bat there was a lot going on. There were big hops, awesome Belgian yeast, huge malts, and astronomical booze characteristics all fighting for first place. The former three were nice, and balanced well, but the booze eventually overcame all flavoring by the end to give a tough finish to an otherwise noteworthy beer.

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