Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

572 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 572 |  Reviews: 302
Photo of SkunkWorks
2.82/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle from the 2011 release poured into a Southampton IRS release day snifter, served at cellar temperature. I have only had a few barleywines so keep that in mind as you read the review.

Look: an aggressive pour yields a finger thick head of off white foam. The body is clear and orangey amber in color. Good looking beer.

Smell: I really did not care for the smell. It seems like everything that could go bad with Belgian yeast aromas went bad with this one and I found that it clashed pretty thoroughly with the heavy hopping, malt and alcohol that is present in the rest of the beer. It isn't integrated at all and there are some medicinal smells in there as well. Not particularly inviting.

Taste: incredibly sweet with malt, huge resin flavor, obvious alcohol, medicinal phenolic notes... all in all its just a bit too much for my palate to take in at once and it all clashes with each other. The alcohol and unpleasantly bitter resin character only amplifies as this beer warms, and by the time I'm at the bottom of the glass, I am finding each sip to be more and more difficult to drink.

Feel: the medium-full body is good, as is the level of carbonation, however I can't give this a good score because the alcohol burn is simply too much and the lingering, resinous bitterness is unpleasant.

Drink: as I mentioned above, this was a sipper from the get go but as I reached the bottom of my glass, I really didn't enjoy drinking this beer. I finished the glass but barely and would not have again.

Overall, I truly did not care for this beer. While I haven't had that many barleywines, and have reviewed even fewer, I did not care for this beer at all. The flavors clash too much and the Belgian yeast adds a very unpleasant character to this beer. I am surprised to see so many people enjoying this beer. I am also surprised that this made it out of taste testing at Stone. This is unfortunate, since I ordinarily love Stone. You can do better than this, Stone! I would avoid this one. Cheers!

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Photo of dwilson01
4.23/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

poured from a bomber into my new belgium glass. The body coloration is great, it has the look of a ruby red grapefruit with a little more orange added in there. The head is thin and basically nonexistent after a minute.

The scent is interesting, I get a small amount of caramel from the toasted malt but a huge fruit component from the hops and yeast. I get apricot, a hint of citrus, and some darker fruits like plum, cherry, and raisin. The boozy esters I pick up on the very back end but it's subtle.

The flavor is great, follows well from the nose with a malty fruity slap in the face with a slightly bitter/sour finish to it. The fruits I get the most of are definitely apricot and plum. Those flavors get twisted around toward the end of the brew leaving you with a lingering malty sweetness that fades into the yeasty sour aftertaste I get. The whole profile together works very well.

The mouthfeel is right on for a barleywine, thick and very smooth with a slight hot alcohol lingering and washing down the throat.

Dangerously drinkable brew, 12%? Overall I liked it a lot although Im not sure how well I would have picked up on its belgian style without knowing beforehand. All the aspects of a trip or quad are there if you know to look for them but in a blind taste test Im not sure.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Clear amber/red with over 1 inch of fluffy, light kahki head. Leaves a few light, stringy traces of lacing.

S-Fruity Belgian yeast overwhelms the nose. Can't smell much else.

T/M-Tastes more like a super estery dubbel than a barleywine. Very fruity, tons of banana and clove. Kills any traces of the base barleywine, aside from a thin sugary sweetness, and some lingering dry hoppiness in the finish.

D-Hard to say. This beer is confusing. I need to lie down.

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Photo of billshmeinke
1.99/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Dark amber body slim layer of head that dies down to a ring of foam.

Smells of candied bananas, band aid phenols, peppery spice, and some toffee.

Tastes of bananas sweet rich malt cotton candy some apples Belgian yeast peppery spice burnt band aids and alcohol. Bitter hops add to the confusion.

Big full bodied luscious carbonation.

Confused awful mess of a beer.

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

This beer poured a clear red amber color and formed a nice medium tan foamy head that coated the glass with lace as it subsided. A medium amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, pepper, yeasts, candy and hops. The flavor was of malt, pepper, caramel and candy. It has a medium body and a bittersweet finish.

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Photo of Jason
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz brown bomber with "2011 Odd Year Release" on the label.

Rusty orange amber color, hazy with a thick crown of off-white head. Smells of a booze soaked fruit cake, black peppercorn and a box of band-aids ... chaos in the nose. The smooth creamy body does not even have a chance to show off its lushness. Bitterness from the hops, medicinal phenols and a sharp peppery tone from the alcohol all try and whack the taste buds at the same time. The malt is there, you can feel that creaminess but the hops and alcohol does not even give it a chance ... even when the this beer warms up past 55*F there is not much to really pick from the rubble. The alcohol borders being super hot, hops don't want to let go and the spicy Belgian flare kicks this beer right between the legs. Right there in the end a kiss of overripe fruit and a hint of caramel ... but that is it.

Interesting to try but this 12% train wreck does not want to leave any survivors, taste buds are beaten to a pulp and each sip ends up being a chore.

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Photo of misinformed
2.93/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

2011 bottle, reviewed 3/4/11, tulip glass.

A- Nice deep red/brown color. Clear, but not translucent. Poured with barely a 1/2" of tan head that really quickly faded to a tiny ring around the edge.

S- Really strong right out of the bottle. Huge yeast smell...Spicy, cloves, sour green apple.

T- Again, huge yeast presence...Apple, grain, cloves, spicy/peppery. At the beginning of the glass a hint of the sweet malty backbone peaked out, but very quickly got lost underneath all the yeast. Some notes of the hops in the finish otherwise I didn't detect them.

M- Nice solid medium body. Very smooth with just a touch of heat.

D- All I wrote in my notes was "meh". Right out of the bottle the belgian yeast was the dominating smell and flavor, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if there was something else going on. It very quickly became overpowering for me. I can't taste the original Old Guardian here anywhere. Had about 12 oz. and that was enough.

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Photo of avalon07
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a bright amber color and a cloudy consistency. There was a half inch of foamy head that lasted an average amount of time. Average lacing.

S: A big aroma of hops, yeast, fruit, and caramel. Very aromatic.

T: Tasted of Belgian yeast, a big shot of hops, caramel, citrus, pepper and some other spices. An extremely complex and powerful flavor. Not your classic American Barleywine.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a somewhat slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: As I said, this is not classically of its style, but it is extremely tasty and drinkable.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured a copper color with good carbonation leaving a nice white cap

S: Fruits, bubblegum and caramel is what I got

T: Immediate bubblegum hint, some candy sugar, caramelized sugar, hints of fruits and caramel

M: Sticky, warm with a nice hop bite, thinner bodied than I expected or wanted

D: Its on the verge of average. I would not want another or go back to this. Maybe in a year or two I would give this another shot.

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Photo of Foxtrot
3.66/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hmmm, Odd beers for odd years. This should be interesting.

2011 Bomber pours into my Stone IRS snifter a clear rusty orange hue with and abundance of head and lacing, which is spot on for the style. Long lasting retention even after the foam has faded to just a few bubbles around the edges.

The aroma is heavy on the phenolic and cloves. But just beneath the surface is some light lemon and citrus. To sum up the entire nose, its is simply yeast. It would be nice to get some malted sweetness to come through.

The taste was a big turn around from the nose. Double doses of bubblegum, clove and phenolic esters jump out on the first sip, but are quickly snapped short due to dry roast, and burnt caramel. I mean that in a good way, if that makes any sense. Some slight fruity undertones of lemon zest, due to the hops, but also some hints of banana, and perhaps some over ripened orange. Very dry in the finish with some warming in the chest and throat. The blending of esters that are typical in a Tripel, with a Barleywine makes for a interesting beer with lots of depth and complexity.

Mouthfeel is this beer's bread and butter. Rich and decadent, but silky with a milkshake quality.

Drinkability gets a modest score. The heat is welcoming, but this beer gave me a tremendous buzz after one bomber. Give it a year or two, and this baby will start to turn into a worthwhile buy.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
1.77/5  rDev -51.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

2011 Odd Year release. Poured into a Duvel tulip.
A- The head will rise to a good 2.5 fingers height but its too shy to hang around long. The color is very nice though. Its a partly hazed red, just a shade lighter than ruby.

S- The Belgian style yeast really changes the aroma around on Old G. Its very peppery with lots of green apple and pear. Caramel lays a base to big piney and grapefruit hops.

T- This is pretty weird. Its nearly all over the place, and its certainly very potent. It starts out very spicy. The Belgian yeast flavors are STRONG. Lots of pepper, apples, pears and lots of earthy, chalkiness. It gets very bitter at the back end. Pretty much pure bitterness without any good flavors to offset it. Indeed there is a flash of grapefruit that acts as a transition between the tripel-like yeast and the bracing bitterness, but its not long lived enough. The bitterness lingers and returns in flashbacks.

M- Fluffy carbonation, dry finish with long lingering bitterness and spices.

D- Bahhh.

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Photo of begforme4484
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber/copper reddish color. Looks very similar to the original Old Guardian at least. ;P

Smells a bit spicy. A good amount of molasses and candy sweetness. Hop note also present but subdued.

Sweet up front as was original OG, then the Belgian yeast strain kicks in. It gives this beer a really nice twist. Great combination.

Thick and creamy with a decent amount of carbonation.

I loved this beer. I like the Odd Beers For Odd Years concept. Good for you, Stone.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into an oversized snifter. Impressive clarity in the body, impressive patches of lacing left in the wake of the creamy head.

The substantial booziness isn't strong enough to hold back strong aromas of clove, coriander, orange zest and apple. Caramel sweetness lingers. Tastes pretty hot, though; the booze takes control for a few moments and the lingering warmth is impressive. Even fruitier than it smells, with loads of banana, orange and apple, hints of pear and melon. Bubblegum and herbal notes aren't shy. While the citrusy hops are noticeable, the rawness of the Belgo version seems to come more from the booze than the hops. Plenty of sweetness, but not particularly sticky.

Overall impression: This won't be replacing too much shelf space in my cellar devoted to the badass regular Old Guardian, but it shows promise. Enjoyable sipper, and I'll probably sock away a couple of bottles to see what happens.

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Photo of madpentzer
4.43/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got a couple 22's of this at the local BevMo.

A-Pours a copper-red color into my Gulden Draak tulip glass, with about two fingers of head.

S-Spicy with a little hops and you can definitely pick-up the belgian yeast strain. Smells almost like a Belgian Strong Ale.

T-Bubblegum up front with some toasty malt following. Good hop presence, but not as strong as the regular Old Guardian. Alcohol level is present, but not overpowering.

M-Thick and creamy with a decent level of carbonation.

D-I really enjoyed this beer overall. It went down smoothly, and would probably get even better with age (put the second in my cellar to find out). Another great beer from Stone. Cheers!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up at the COOP over the weekend... Poured into my Delerium goblet... 3/4" tannish foam dies pretty quickly but leaves okay lacing... the brew is a hazed orangish lite amber.

Nose shows nice clove notes and some pink bubblegum... some citrus hops show as lemon zest..

Flavor is damn phenolic... the bubblegum is more than present and lingers.. the cloves show as an almost antiseptic quality.. fruity esters make way mid palate with pear and red apple.. a bit of pale malt and minor toasty malt combine with fruity hops just to remind you this is made in America.. I dig this one, but right now it doesn't really come together.... the esters and phenols sorta battle it out for top spot while fruity hops slide in and add more to the overall confusion..

Not really sure what to make of this one; personally, I like it... but I still have more than half a bomber left and I suspect it is going to be a chore.


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Photo of BEERMILER12
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a copperish red color with a 1/2 finger head that fades quickly

S: Belgian yeast jumps right to the front, with a strong banana character. Malt and hops are quite muted behind the yeast

T: Same as the smell, with some alcohol spiciness. Hops are almost not present until it warms a bit, which is quite different than the regular version. The belgian yeast definitely takes over for both the smell and taste

M: Fairly heavy with low carbonation

D: About as drinkable as a 12% beer can be, the belgian yeast definitely adds an interesting quality that I like. The bitterness that is in the original version is barely present, which was the only flaw that I saw out of this early of a barley wine. Very nice job by Stone incorporating the belgian yeast

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Photo of claytong
3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this the first time about two years ago. But it stood out to me greatly. I got onto a barley wine kick from then. I'm planning to get another bottle soon.
a bit sugary and the malts are not the best. nice alcohol presence. grainy which i actually enjoy but some might not. not the best barley but something somewhat unique. anyways i appreciate it for getting me into beer somewhat and into barleywines.

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Photo of JRed
3.35/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours ruby red with light mist of white head. Candy aroma of sweets, booze, cherries. Powerful flavors of booze, dark fruit, black cherries, some hops in the background, grass, cough medicine. Heavy bodied with medium carbonation. A big, boozy barleywine that hits the palate hard. A Guardian I wouldn't mess with.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle, 2011 release. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a reddish/orange color with about a half inch off-white head that didn't stick around for too long. There's a small amount of lacing left on the glass. Aroma is caramel malt, bananas, spicy yeast, pepper and a bit of lemon peel. The flavor is a little boozy, but I can also taste pineapple, piney hops, caramel malt, pears, grapefruit, toffee and peppery spice. There's also a nice bitter hoppy finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's syrupy and creamy with good carbonation. Drinkability is OK, but I think it's still a little hot and would be better with some aging. I think it's a good brew, I'll have to pick up another bottle and see how this one ages.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
3.92/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy dark amber with great white head that fades very quickly.

The smell is lemon grass, wet dirt, and a hint of bready malt. The yeast makes this beer its own.

The taste is fairly complex alcohol is blended very well but still on the forefront of the taste. Lemon and a straw taste on the back with an alcoholy aftertaste.

I think this is a very good beer fresh but with year or two to mellow the alcohol out would let the malt shine through and the taste from the yeast die down some.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A brilliant red apple color with a loose puffy head. The head fades but a ring stays. Bubble-gum all the way on the nose, with faint hints of banana, clove, and some fruity esters. The flavor hits you full of yeast driven flavors that are fruity, some bubble-gum but less so than the nose, well rounded malt charecter which isn't overly complicated. Bitter hops come in and clean up, leaving a bitter note on your tongue. Fairly slick over the tongue. For such a powerful brew no real sign of alcohol is present and it is pleasant to drink. Rating this is tough as it is an American Barleywine, but with Belgian yeast. I do really like this beer, I'd pick it up again.

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Photo of bobhits
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Reddish orange, extremely clear, good amount of active carbonation, tall white head.

You can smell this bad boy a mile away. That fruity/funky Belgium yeast is over powering. We have another beer reminding me of the 08 epic and the cali whatever ipa they make. A touch more alcohol at the finish and a bit more caramel malt sweetness coming through. Hops are certainly making a showing here. The problem for me with this is that there's a clear burn/metallic /bitter presences but it is hard to be sure this is from the hops or the high abv.

Opens with a sweet caramel malt followed almost instantly by the fruity (somewhat a funky rotten fruit, apples, pears, and some candy) flavors from the yeast. The finish leaves the American hops (armallo) and a very harsh alcohol kick. There's also some bready malt that's coming out as the beer flattens out.

This beer has a weighy thickness without any creamy full body effect. The 12% is extremely apparent in the mouth, the weight, etc. There's a bit of carbonation but the alcohol wins that battle.

The alcohol kick certainly knocks the drink ability down a good bit. If you want fresh hops that's the trade off here. Age this and the carbonation and hops will die rather fast. I fear leaving a far too sweet beer. That said this may turn out to be an amazing beer to age. I certainly see more potential here than the 08 epic. .

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

Appears in my Unibroue La Fin du Monde chalice with a semi hazed glowing blood orange tinted body and a very nice thicket of khaki tan head forming thick. Leaves behind fine intricate detailed lacing on my glass.

Aroma contains upfront peppery, spiced yeast inspired notes with a deep caramelized sugar tone going on with ripened plums/apricots and other hearty fruits. A touch of booze crosses the palate as well, what a beer.

Flavor isn't has harsh as I thought it was going to be, big citric/pine/earthy middle from the big hop additions in this aggressive barleywine style ale spiked with a Belgian yeast strain. Juicy complexity of ripened fruits hints of citrus/plum/apricots. Typically big American alpha acid hops don't blend in the Belgo IPA style that Stone has helped popularize, however with all of this malt in this big bruiser of barleywine I'm getting some nice flavors in the mix. Alcohol/booze is there but doesn't burn or hurt me per se. There's almost perfume like flavors with the spices/aromatics from the yeast strain utilized, wow this is a new direction for sure. I questioned when I heard they were going to go Belgo on odd years with some of their famous big beers, but damn this is good.

Mouthfeel as it warms up so does the heat of the alcohol, big body no effervescence in the carbonation. This is the type of beer that might cure your sore throat. Hop oils are there big bitterness but it doesn't kill the palate completely the warm spiced yeast profile with alcohol makes it seem like a mulled cider or fruit infused fortified wine.

Drinkability overall isn't bad at all, in fact it's kind of dangerous the type of beer that empties faster than your liver can metabolize it. 22 ounce bottle tackled without difficulty, not go forth and preach the word of what European Belgian yeast strains can do to awesome stand up American versions of alcohol, this is experimentation that didn't set us back but moved at least a few spaces forward in brewing.

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Photo of mcgwire756
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary tulip.

Pours a dark ruby red similar to Bigfoot with a small head that lasts for a while. There is decent lacing on the glass that lasts for a while. You can smell the booze in this beer which may be intimidating at first. You also get a lot of the belgian yeast which makes it smell similar to Cali Belgique which I love so this is welcome. The taste is very good with stong malty barleywine chracter but the belgian yeast comes to the forefront at the end and honestly this just tasted like a stronger Cali Belgique to me. The mouthfeel can get a little over bearing after a while with all of the malts and yeast mix, but when a 12% beer goes down like it is 8% you know that it is drinkable and will get you in trouble if you down it quickly. Definitely worth a try if you like big barleywine or belgian beers.

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Photo of Pahn
2.48/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

22oz bomber into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: Free pour yields a one inch offwhite head that dissipates steadily leaving no lacing. Pours a translucent red and leaves spots of lacing.

Smell: Belgian yeast and citrusy, piny west coast hops. Smells like Houblon Chouffe only a bit sweeter. Very airy and inviting. With warmth it gets very boozy.

Taste: Spicy Belgian yeast up front with piny hops, leading to a confusing finish that's mainly dry and astringent. Some roasted flavors and maybe some malt sweetness are in the background, but they're overtaken by harsh bitterness and dryness.

Once I start to get used to the strange, flavor-draining bitterness mixed with dryness, the overwhelming solvent burn comes out to take its place as the other dominant flavor in the beer. After the first sip, there's no sweetness to the flavor whatsoever (this is a barleywine??). Some interesting things happen occasionally, like Belgian yeast playing off of, I guess, some of Old Guardian's big maltiness, but they're so fleeting and so kill-flies-with-sledgehammers annihilated by the alcohol, dryness, and astringency that they may as well not have happened at all.

This beer tastes over-attenuated, abrasive, yet bland. Rating to style, it probably deserves a 1 for taste, but at least it didn't taste like garbage.

Mouthfeel: Extremely dry. Medium bodied, very carbonated, and bitter, but hard to get anything from it besides aggressive dryness.

Drinkability: The best thing I can say is that I finished the bottle. I would have happily given it away and drank something else.

I was excited for this beer, because Stone is my favorite brewery and Old Guardian is a great barleywine. This beer was a hot, dry, bland mess. I can't even see years in the cellar doing anything to improve it. I don't understand why this beer is so dry, and so bad.

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