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 Arbitrator
2.85/5  rDev -21.5%
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.

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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 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 AgentZero
2.93/5  rDev -19.3%
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.

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Photo of fox227
2.93/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: A dark ruby amber with a tiny off white head.

S: Toffee, caramel, malty-ness, with Belgian yeast esters.

T: On the palate I'm getting some harsh, dominate white wine type flavors and heavy alcohol. There's some raisin and fresh grapes present as well.

M: Mouthfeel is dry and thick. There's some astringent aftertaste from either the yeast of the hops that lingers for a long time.

O: Not a pleasant experience. This bomber is taking a long time to put down, and I would definitely recommend the original over this. The Belgian yeast just doesn't factor in well.

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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 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 Mosley1212
2.98/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Taken from notes. Poured from the bomber into my DFH Signature glass. Split between me and my girlfriend.

A—Very little head. White cream-colored head that dissipated quickly. Lots of carbonation. Ruby, amber colored, lots of light coming through it.

S—Wow. Tons of yeast. Smells like a Belgian IPA without the distinct hop aroma. Also, there’s a bit of a fruity (grapefruit?) after smell.

T—Yeast and spice. This thing burns from the alcohol. There’s nothing to this beer except the yeast to me.

M—Heavy bodied, lot of carbonation, and alcoholic burn.

O—This is not something I enjoyed. I’m usually a huge fan of Stone, and I love regular Old Guardian, but Belgo was practically undrinkable.

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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 Rutager
3.02/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2011 bottle

Appearance. Pours a murky burnt orange with a finger of off-white head.

Smell. Banannas and cloves, sweet caramel, a little citrus fruit, berries and white pepper. Not too shabby!

Taste. Sweet caramel, molasses, metalic bitter hops, a little citrus and fruity yeast.

Mouthfeel. Full body, low+ carbonation, warm.

Overall. Some nice flavours, some not so nice. Way too warm for me as well. I've had worse.

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Photo of daveytheformer
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

into a delirium snifter

Pours a thick cloudy amber almost light brown color with a creamy off white head that rapidly fades to sticky lacing.

Smells like bananas, bubblegum, and a little pepper spice. The yeast is certainly real up front. Upon repeated whiffs there is a lot more going.

Taste strongly metallic and bitter. Alcohol heat, bitter hops and Belgian yeast are all the front end. Candy sweetness is underlying but keeps getting dominated by hops and alcohol

Mouthfeel is thick and heavy with lots of carbonation and booze.

Overall is drinkable but certainly not the best Stone beer I've had. Makes me really curious about Belgo Anise IRS.

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Photo of dcloeren
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Shared this bomber with JayAre46

Poured a beautiful crisp copper with 2.5 fingers of light tan head. This brew looks fantastic, very inviting.

SWEET Belgian yeast, very present hop aroma, carmal malt, a little bit of citrus and some mint??? Regardless of the subtle mint aroma, this beer is smelling great.

NOTE: At this point in this experience I'm thinking to myself "What the hell is everyone bitching about? This beer looks and smells fantastic!" And then I took my first sip...

Taste: The SWEETEST beer I have ever tasted. It tastes like someone ground smarties and sweet-tarts up into a fine powder and slipped it into my beer. What the FUCK is this? Nothing but sweet belgian yeast and sweet tarts until the very very last part of the sip a bitter hops shine through.

The mouthfeel of this beer (outside of taste) was great. Great carbonation, bitter hop aftertaste, medium bodied.

Overall, I want to know what the fuck went wrong with this beer. Everything but the taste was great. It was the sweetest damn beer on the planet. I'm hoping that the sweetness will mellow out with some age because I feel like this beer has alot of potential due to the other aspects of the beer. I definitely expected a better beer from Stone.

Definitely drain poured this beer. No way I could have made it through more than half a glass

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Photo of goldbot
3.04/5  rDev -16.3%
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.

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Photo of david18
3.05/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I bought a bottle of this, along with the 2011 regular version, at my local beer store. In the case of both, they were a little hot and unbalanced. This one is another example of the combined "Belgo" mix that does not work.

The appearance was a dark honey, very cloudy with a good amount of carbonation that stuck around for a long time.

Aroma was strong, there was a lot of malt as well as a lot of yeasty esthers. No hops to speak of and a lot of alcohol.

Flavor was also very strong and the mouthfeel was thick.

Overall this is not my favorite barleywine although I will give it another chance and revise my review if it changes.

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Photo of number1bum
3.05/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a vibrant reddish amber color, somewhat dense looking and cloudy, with an inch of khaki head. Head seems creamy enough but still dissipates to a bubbly, semi-full lace. No real stick on the sides.

Smell leaps from the glass with a ton of citrusy hops, booze and caramel sweetness. As I go back for more the fruit and booze combine in sort of an alcohol-soaked, overripe kind of way. It's peppery with some estery, Belgian character as well. It's all over the map frankly, although there are some nice things going on. The big boozy quality has me worried, however.

Taste starts off very fruity, transitions to hot and boozy, after which the alcohol gives way to a big peppery, spicy quality and an onslaught of hop bitterness. All over the map fits the bill here too. This is very hoppy, both in terms of flavor - leafy and citrusy - as well as bitterness, which is substantial. There is a load of caramel sweetness too. The Belgian yeast contributes some fruity esters and a ton of peppery spice. The problem is that the various components just mentioned are working independently. It's not smooth, nor balanced.

Mouthfeel is a creamy full body, but the bitterness and booziness really detract from the smoothness. It would be quite nice if both of those characteristics calmed down. Perhaps with some age.

This is a tough drink, and to be frank I haven't decided yet if I even want to try to finish the bomber. I can taste some potential here, but it's derailed by the booziness and the other components just don't come together. It's like a 4th grade boys choir, painful to listen to in its complete lack of harmony. Or maybe a young pitcher with nasty stuff who just can't put together a clean inning. It's just not meshing at this point. Perhaps with some age - a year at least - this will start to come together, but right now it is a hot mess.

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Photo of farrago
3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

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Photo of ArchEnemyBrew
3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark amber/polished copper like color with about half an inch of off white head. Clarity is perfect and lacing is quite nice as well

S: Smells of sticky malt, earthy hops, a slight twinge of green apple and some spicy phenols.

T: This is where this beer starts to turn on me. The taste is a little thin and boozy with belgian yeast phenols and almost a soapy flavor that lingers on my tongue.

M: A little harsh, coats the tongue with a slick soapiness im wishing for a little bit more fullness (think quad)

O: I think it's great that Stone is trying new things and this beer may be for some, just not for me. The standard version of OG continues to be one of my favorite American BW's.

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Photo of ryanonline
3.1/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Has a nice clear deep reddish amber hue, with some thin creamy head with very compact bubbles nice lacing.

Smells very citussy and even a touch grapelike. Sweet like a sparkling wine. The carbination appears to be very effervescent as I can already feel it on my nose. Also a very orangey scent.

Still very sweet but with a fairly significant bitter bite. It has a strong heat to it. Lots of citrus though. Really strong bitter finish. Having some trouble placing the actual flavor, like an acrid burnt pine flavor. The body and major flavors are pretty good, but they are just overpowered by the finish and unnecessarily bitter hop taste.

Thin body and prickly carbination. Biiitttter finish. Dry as well.

Drinkability is fairly low. Toooo bitter, in a bad way, and very dominating.

Overall this beer is actually pretty good but the nagging bitter finish just kind of ruins it totally.

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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 Bajasith
3.11/5  rDev -14.3%
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.

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Photo of gopens44
3.13/5  rDev -13.8%
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.

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Photo of silentjay
3.13/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of JayAre46
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - amazing looking bomber shared by dcloeren, as the first of the "Odd beers of odd years" motto, when if first came out i searched all over where i could get this, just had to get the 1st of course, anyway pours a transparent ruby color almost resembles cough syrup, 1 1/2 fingers of off white stickyness,

A - hops up front, which were extremely pleasant then the belgian yeasty aroma along with some caramel malts...not bad i thought, the hops absolutely made everything remain tame and controlled very pleasant aroma, the only knock i did get a mint like aroma i kept saying outloud in confusion.

T - FUCK...sweet, sweet, sweet, boozy, sweet, sweet, sweet, subtle hop bitterness, sweet, sweet, sweet, subtle yeast presence, more sweet, sweet, sweetness then that mint again and then some more sweetness just to make sure you've had enough. oh i did i mention the fire this one brings?

M - medium body, low carbonation and creamy, not a bad feel, but very difficult to drink.

O - the appearance is good, the aroma is good, the taste is awful, the mouthfeel is good. im not sure what aging this will bring and if salvation is possible through time. the beer is quite a mess and stone is much better than this, C'MON STONEGREG, no way you drink this on the reg. avoid

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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 BMoney575
3.16/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sampled on 5-22-11
2011 Vintage

Pours a cloudy but bright amber color, with a sticky off white head that leaves behind a huge layer of lacing.

Smell is very strange, the out-of-place Belgian yeast adds a strongly medicinal quality, compared to the more standard Stone malt and hops, which are still there. Very different, but not necessarily in a good way.

Taste is exactly like the smell, with the Belgian yeast dominating what would be a normal Old Guardian. The alcohol is prevalent, coming right after the Belgian kick. It's hard to place anything else, other than a boozy finish and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is good, right for the style, and not really affected by the changes.

Drinkability is poor, a result of the odd Belgian character and the intense alcohol.

Overall, maybe it will improve with age, but I just don't understand what Stone was thinking.

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