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Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine | Stone Brewing

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303 Reviews
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Old Guardian BELGO BarleywineOld Guardian BELGO Barleywine

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by srroos on 02-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 303 | Ratings: 572
Photo of threeviews
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into fluted, 4oz sample glass.

A-Pours an opaque amber/rust/dark orange color with minimal head which dissipates quickly...but the alcohol lacing is thick.

S-Sweet...dark fruits and banana which alerts you to the Belgian yeast invited for the occasion.

T-Sweet and booze are followed by a signature hop bitterness that Stone is long loved and/or hated for (depending on your position) and lingers for days. The 12%ABV is definitely noticeable.

O-Complex it is! The colder the brew is served, hop bitterness is more prominent. As it warms, everything evens out and the yeast/malt/hop flavor is more balanced. Booziness is always present. Although I'm not much of a fan of Belgian yeast, I liked this more and more and just might purchase a few more for cellaring. As for being listed as an American Barleywine, I still prefer Troegs' Flying Mouflan for this style.

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Photo of jthomp000
3.4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Red/Amberish in color, nice lacing
S - Smelled of raisins/fruit up front, with a boozy back end
T - Tasted "dark" and a little too sugary for my liking
M - Seemed a little heavy and syrupy
O - Not bad by any means, I have found out that I am definitely not a fan of barelywines. Although I didn't go "wow" over it, another good beer from Stone...

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Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Stone Belgo Old Guardian Barleywine 12% Abv

A: This has a murky penny color to it with lots of tiny bubbles. The lacing didn’t blow me away but it comes off with a solid barley wine appearance.

S: This is where this beer excels. It has a smoky raisin note to it with underlying figs and burnt cherry. There is a big boozy backend that imparts some heat on the finish.

T: This is sweeter than I was anticipating but the dark fruits are still lingering around like a lurker in the parking lot of a 7th grade dance. You know that they are there but they don’t really make themselves known in a material way. It has a drying hop finish with more maltiness than I would prefer.

M: There is a hop great balance way that I feel is much better than the original old guardian in this regard. There is a big drying taste on the palate but with a lingering sweetness that kind of gives with one hand and takes with the other. It is a stern stepfather, but loving in execcution.

D: This is a bit strange and, I don’t feel that it is exceptionally drinkable over long periods or in a variety of circumstances. Again, I dislike almost every barley wine that I try so that it with a grain of salt. The Belgian yeast gives this distracting sweetness that makes you not want to drink this in the sun. It relegates this beer to this tawdry secret beer you enjoy by yourself, in a closet, sobbing.

Narrative: “Hello? Is this recordin-pshh- hello?” Taylor Carmen tapped the monitor pleadingly. He never meant for this to happen. Just three weeks ago he was your average Orange County youth, slammed Silverado, flat brimmed hat, Crazy Town not an uncommon artist within the ambit of his auditory selection. But now here he was, an ad hoc astronaut. To be fair, the prank war was getting a bit out of hand. “Please, if anyone sees my step mom, tell her, I am so sorry for mistreating her-” Taylor started it by down tuning his friends bass to E flat. Then the classic bucket in the doorway, things escalated, and they tricked poor Taylor into boarding the launch of a new Verizon satellite. “And if you see Aiden, tell him he is a total dick. . .I am running out of air. . .but he should know. . .those texts never came from a. . .chick-” He layed against the GPS monitor and gasps the sickest final breaths of a bro cut down before the pinnacle of his sickness.

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Photo of kcbearkat
3.94/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A growler from Petrol Station poured into a Saint Arnold pint.

A: poured a caramel color with a thin, lacy white head.

S: carmalized sugar, floral, booze, hops.

T: booze, carmalized sugar, hops, brown sugar

M: medium body, nice carbonation.

O: solid beer with a good barleywine flavor. Tasty.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

appearance: Amber with really no head or lacing. Non-descript.
smell: A whiff of watered down Begian sour. Not much else.
taste: A weird mix of Belgian, smackload of hops and kind of a barleywine. Doesn't work well at all imo.
overall: Not sure if this is failed experiment or what.

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

Poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance: Copper-orange with an off white head about two fingers thick that fades into a ring around the glass.

Aroma: Sweet malt and Belgian yeast fruit characteristics are the most apparent aromas. I think the blending of the strong malt aroma and the fruity Belgian yeast aroma work very well together.

Taste: Sweet and malty with a distinct Belgian yeasty flavor on the finish and alcohol warming.

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy with a noticeable alcohol warming sensation with medium carbonation.

Overall: I enjoyed this BELGO version over the RIS. I think the Belgian yeast were better integrated into the beer and were not hidden. I feel like I enjoyed this beer better than most people.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.16/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

If you've ever wonder how yeast can make or break a beer, try OG then OG Belgo. There you have it; at least the influence of those little bugs.

Pours a nice dark copper, somewhat clear beer. Topped with a soft white foaming head that dwindled to a collar.

Aroma. yeast. Yup, that Belgian kind. Some caramel and light sweet bread underneath. But for the most part it's a mess of coriander, spice and some esters.

Flavor; see aroma. Same. It's not that it's a bad combo, or a bad beer. It's just that it takes away from what the OG has established. I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or indifferent. Probably neither. The caramel and rich notes of the OG are lost here, overpowered by the yeast, which opens the door for the abv to punch ya

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy garnet color with a tight, off-white head that leaves a nice ring of lacing.

Smells of sweet toasted malts with some fruits and spice.

Tastes of some pretty big fruitiness followed by a wave of hops. Fruity notes of apple, pear, and some citrus. Moderately sweet with some peppery spice notes. Any sweetness is then washed out by hoppy bitterness, adding some piny notes. Everything ends with a bready character. Comes through fairly hot and warms the throat.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, I find it fairly interesting, and pretty solid, but nothing outstanding.

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Photo of BierFan
4.45/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a chalice.

Thin head and a cloudy dark amber body that looks like apple cider. Belgian yeast shines through in the aroma more than I was expecting. I'm not sure if this fruitiness I'm smelling is from the yeast or the hops. Time for the first sip. Smooth and sweet. Tropical fruits and a little mint from the hops. Nice bitterness. Kind of reminds me of a fresh Double Crooked Tree from Dark Horse Brewery. I really dig this brew fresh. I'm gonna try to track down a couple more bottles to age and see how it goes.

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

A: This poured a hazy copper with a little white head.
S: It smelled like lemon and caramel, with some apricot and prune and wild yeast and honey wheat.
T: It tasted like strong citrus zest and apricot hops, balanced by sugary caramel and honey wheat and a bit of raisin. Some wild Belgian yeast and clove also. It had a sweet malty aftertaste with some alcohol warming.
M: It was fairly thick and oily with moderate carbonation. Nice and fully body.
D: This was a nice beer, more like a barleywine than a BSPA, but an interesting twist of the standard Old Guardian. It was well balanced and clean, with solid body. The alcohol was quite noticeable, which made it a bit tougher to drink. Cellaring would likely help it mellow. Probably not as good as the original, but I liked this beer.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am probably one of the few that has not had the regular Old Guardian before this Belgo version, so hopefully that will provide a unique perspective. This is the 2011 release, so it is quite fresh. Pours a hazed copper color with a modest tan head.

Nose is more Belgian than Barleywine, but the alcohol is ridiculous either way...tropical as fuck. Fruity yeast and strong hop and caramel malt presence. Not really all that enjoyable of a sniffer, though quite large in the margins.

Immediately upon tasting I thought 'damn, I should have cellared this one'. Taste shows alot of tropical and dark fruit. Tons of alcohol lends a bit of solventy finish. Mixing Belgian yeast and heavy hops has always been hit or miss for me, but surprisingly this one falls somewhere in the middle. I still think that age would improve this beer, but it is still interesting to drink now. The malts are so sweet and thick, somewhere between burnt caramel and toffee. Id say this is one of a handful of beers that exhibits equally massive amounts of the big four: Belgian yeast, malt, hops and alcohol. A bomber by myself might be a bit much, but too late for that now. Like the Gravitron at the local carnival: an interesting ride, just not sure it was all that fun along the way or a good idea after it was over.

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

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2011 vintage. Pours clear red orange color with a dense 1 finger light orange head with good retention that reduces to a thin lacing cap that lasts. Not much lacing left on the glass. Aromas of dark fruits, spices, caramel, citrus, and sweet malt. Definitely some interesting aromas. Taste of sweet caramel, spice, honey, molasses, and fruitiness. Decent amount of bitterness noticed on the finish, but mostly a lot of lingering flavors of caramel, molasses, fruitiness, and some citrus. Very smooth drinking for 12% as well, still quite a sipper though. Medium carbonation and full bodied. No alcohol in the taste and a fairly large warming on the finish. Overall, a very nice barleywine with Belgian characteristics. Tasty stuff!

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Photo of BeerLover99
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: deep amber/burnt orange body, trace head, good lacing

S: date, fig, malt, barley

T: sweet fig/date, big malt, bitter slow long finish

M: med body, sticky/oily body

O: WOW, too much of a good thing. Usually, LOVE
Stone beers, but this one is just chaos in a bottle.


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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.33/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter

A relatively clear dark red amber body with a pretty dense two finger cap. Solid retention and clumps of lace.

Definitely get the 'belgo' right away. Pepper, pears, apples, band-aid, sweet/sticky caramel and a hearty dose of booze. A little all over the place.

The Belgian yeast comes out even more on the palate and really dominates. Green apples and pears, candi sugar, black pepper, some citrus hops and booze. You could feel the heat all the way down. I think the yeast strain took away from this beer more than it added. It seemed imposing and really didn't let all of these flavors shine.

Medium body with a good carbonation. A bit sticky/chewy. Overall, this didn't do it for me. There's a good beer in there, I know that, but the yeast strain was too overpowering.

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Photo of flipper2gv
2.9/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks a ton to crossovert for this bottle!

A: Cloudy burnt orange color with a creme white head. The head is creamy, one finger and half high, retention is pretty good and lacing is just as good.

S: This smells exceptionally sweet. Lots of candi sugar in this. Strong aromas of vanilla, maple syrup and brown sugar. Light molasses and toffee. Caramel is near overwhelming. Light grassy hops in the background. Some cinnamon, prune and dates from the yeast (I think).

T: Kind of mix of sweet caramel, vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar and grassy/floral hops. Chaotic.

M: Heavy body with light carbonation. Quite sticky.

O: Well, it's not a very good beer. I tried to let it age a bit to make it less chaotic but I'm still unimpressed by the brew.

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Photo of UpToMeBeer
2.56/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Ordered this on-tap at Fresh Craft in Denver. I like barleywines-- and I've liked other Stone offerings a lot-- but this one is disappointing.

A -- goldish light brown; one-finger head with minimal lacing.

S-- a combo of floral yeast, spices, alcohol, sugars, orange.

T-- a strange arrangement of conflicting flavors. Not as much alcohol as I like in a barleywine. I don't claim to know why, but the prevailing taste I get is what I imagine soapwater would taste like. With a hint of honey on the finish.

M- My palette was too confused to enjoy any aspect of this let alone the overall experience. A fuller body, I think, would help.

Overall, it's just too out of balance. Seems like a daring experiment gone wrong.

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

Had no idea this existed till I saw it on the shelf. And have no real expectations what it's all about, other than, uh, "Belgian-style barleywine?" But it's Stone, so it's gotta be at least super-interesting. Hit me...

Pours a glowing rusted/garnet color, with not much head after several seconds, but there's a crown around the edges that lasts while psychedelic foam patterns swirl inside it. Yep, it's already interesting...

Aroma is compelling, for sure. Smells more like a Belgian IPA with lots of alcohol in there, and some seriously syrupy-sweet fruit too. Belgian candi sugar. More hoppy/fruity than malty, and pretty alcoholic. Swirled to get the aroma moving some more, and the head came right back.

Very earthy/green/pine flavor up front, kind of intense and almost medicinal. Peppery and fruity. Alcohol and sugar intertwine, mingle and threaten to go out of whack, but never totally do. Quite sweet, with brown sugar, pine needle, and mango coming back with a vengeance. Intense, but never "hot." Fairly dry, without much finish to speak of.

Feels smooth and slick, despite an inherent thickness and considerable body.

I like this, because it's got a ton of character and originality. It's a bit busy, and obviously pretty young. And sure, it might be a bit muddled, but I think this one will age with the best of them. Should have bought a second bottle, damn it...

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured into my snifter a slightly hazy and reddish amber with a nice 2-finger head of fine white foam that quickly dissipated. There's a nice, fruity aroma of apples, berries, and some kind of freshly-baked fruit-filled treat (one that involves apples and berries).

This beer has lots of flavor. It is quite malty and jammy up front. As it slides across your palate, it gets quite creamy. I detect nice flavors of raisins and black currants, but always there's a definite alcoholic presence. I know, this is a barley wine after all, but it's still not something I like tasting. The beer is not very dry, which is a shame since it might have balanced out a bit of the alcohol. Not much of a finish either.

I think the use of Belgian yeast in an American barley wine is very clever and gives it a nice tartness which I find complementary for this style. Unfortunately, for me the semi-strong alcohol taste cannot be ignored and keeps this beer from being really, really good. I know, I'm a wimp. I should call this `Barley whine'. I probably won't buy this again, but that shouldn't stop anyone from trying it if they haven't already.

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Photo of DrJay
2.49/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Looks great. Clear reddish colour with some orange highlights topped by a large, dense beige cap. Great head retention, especially for a barleywine at this abv, clumpy lacing. The aroma was heavy on the "Belgo" - peppery and phenolic, heading into band-aid territory, bready, alcohol, pears and apples. Fruity and sugary up front, slowly faded into bitterness and booze. A bit peppery on the finish, slightly phenolic, lots of alcohol warmth. Hop character was herbal and bitterness somewhat harsh. It left a bitter, medicinal aftertaste lingering long after each sip. The texture was alright, until the booze and spice kicked in and obliterated all other flavours. I'm not sold on this Belgo thing, it seems to just muddy the beer's character. And be warned, this one is a palate shredder. Maybe some time in the cellar would do it some good.

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Photo of riored4v
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 6/1/11

Poured in to a tulip. Burnt copper color with a clear body. 1 finger, tan head that faded to a thin cap with light lacing.

Smell had a slight musty, dark fruit aroma. Hints of caramel, molasses, booze and a sweet maltiness. Some good floral hop aroma.

Taste had a noticeable boozey presenence along with some good dark fruit. Fairly strong bitterness with pine and resiny hop bitterness. Light floral presence. Caramely with notes of toffee and molasses. Light musty belgian presence. Bitterness dominates. Nice malty sweetness, hints of banana.

Medium body, medium carb. Slightly slick mouthfeel with a lingering bitterness.

Drinkability was decent. High ABV and strong bitterness limit it a tad. But regardless, a nice blend of flavors. Belgian notes are enjoyable.

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

Appearance: amber-hued body with a thinnish, near white head. decent lacing.

Smell: definitly know it's belgian as I open it. Lots of citrus hops and mixed fruits

Taste: sweet to bitter in a instant. love the progession, but it's a little weird. probably too sweet, too much belgian yeast character. Old Guardian original recipe is a little lost.

Mouthfeel: Medium- full body.

Drinkability: I don't hate it as some have stated, it's sweet, but not way overdone. Good be with lots of flavor. honor to sample. love the experiment. Kinda of like a hoppy quad? Whats so bad about that?

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

Bottle from a small liquor store in Tracy, CA

A - Poured a dark copper color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of Belgian yeast on top of sweet malt with a hit of alcohol

T - While the smell is good all of those flavors don't work out to being more than average like the nose starts off with Belgian yeast that train wrecks in to the sweet malt

M - This beer has a fuller body with higher carbonation to it

O - I'm a little disappointed with this one as I like regular Old Guardian and the vast majority of Stone's offerings along with Belgian beers but the flavor just didn't impress me far from a drain pour but not something that I would really want to buy again

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Photo of rootbeerman
4.19/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours dark honey brown with a touch of red when held to the light. Head is a thin initial pinky thickness, off white to tan
S: a nice Belgian yeast funk, a touch spicy, malt sweetness.
T: same yeasty light funk and spice. A hint of alcohol. Very malty.
M: just a touch coating, low carbonation.
O: a nice change to the normal OG

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

Picked up a bomber from the LaJolla Whole Foods in late February for $5.99.

Beer poured an amber-red with a one finger head that disappeared quickly.

Nose is classic belgian yeast strain, sweet malts, northwest hops.

Taste is sweet malts well balanced by a blast of hops with belgian yeast strain over the top.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and quite smooth. The belgian yeast strain is quite nice!

Overall this is good, albeit unconventional. ABV is not noticed until it hits the belly. Kudos to Stone for going mass scale on something experimental. Glad to see they made the original style as well!

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Photo of weller1js
4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

appearance: pours a bold red-amber, with heavy small-bubbled carbonation, cloudy hazy, with slight foam dissispating into very little lacing.

smell: sweet and spicy, notes of tangy citrus are also notable in the hops, yeastiness also lingers with the spicy scent.

taste: first impressions are sweet, strong hoppy sensations that yield into a deep, heavy taste of barley, further complemented by the spicy characteristics of the Belgian yeast; finishing spicy and bitter, but does not linger as long as one would expect.

drinkability: all of the elements of the style are there, heavy but not overwhelming, hops and yeast are dynamic yet not intense.

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