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 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 jampics2
3.18/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.19/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Very orange colored barleywine, much like a dipa. Aroma was belgian spice rack, fucking huge.

Taste dropped lots of caramel, yeast and citrus. Huge hops and malt. Its hella hot, lots of alcohol wafting all the time in this one. Yeast still giant. Its a big beer that does nothing subtle.

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Photo of Airyk12
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep rusty copper, with hints of orange. Small tan head disappeared quickly, but there was some decent lacing on the glass.

Smells of hops, malts, a little yeast, and definite alcohol. Each smell fights to be on top, with no real winner. Just not great.

Hop bitterness starts in the mouth, but quickly gives way to dried fruit-like malts and the belgian yeast, which struggle to find a balance. Again, nothing comes out as a clear winner except the obvious alchohol flavors.

Smooth, with a little bit of bitterness. Nothing too great. Again, alcohol brings the warmth.

Overall, not a very good beer. I haven not had the regular Old Guardian, so I can't say, but this one was too insane. Too many flavors without any balance whatsoever bring this beer down. At first I thought a little age might help, but it's just too boozy.

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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 sweemzander
3.21/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on tap at the Barley House. Poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a caramel colored amber and produced a minimal but present white cap of foam that stuck around for a bit.

(S)- Very dry with a mineral-like yeasty bite. Bits of fig and caramel.

(T)- Similar to the smell. Very yeasty. That belgian yeast strain rlly takes center stage with some caramel and fig bits in the far background.

(M)- A good carbonation level to it. The one plus to the overpowering dry yeast is that it really covers up the 12% this carries along with the hop addition.

(D)- All in all an interesting take on Old Guardian, however I far prefer the regular version to this. I would be curious to see how this one would age, but from what I am seeing in this glass, I would be hard pressed to buy a bottle if the regular was next to it on the shelf.

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Photo of colts9016
3.21/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2011 Edition

A one finger light tan head with terrible retention. The color of the beer is murky with some mahogany and orange hues. The beer does show some life with carbonation bubble dancing it way to the top.

A rich sticky caramel sweetness assaults your nose. Citrus, toasted malt, biscuit, bread, toffee, floral and some yeast.

The beer has a caramel, wood, vanilla, citrus, toasted malt, bready, yeasty, floral, and resin

The mouthfeel of the beer is carbonated, and slightly astringent.

This beer pales in comparison to the the Old Guardian BW. It tastes as if they dry hopped stuffed it in a barrel and then bottled it. The beer is big and boozy, yet lacks refinement like its brother. It is a decent barley, but it could be much better.

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

A: Orange-ish amber color with almost no head whatsoever.

S: Kind of a strange smell on this one. A hint of belgian yeast along with a sort of smokiness/peatiness and malt.

T: Lots of malts and a touch of Belgian yeast. I feel like the yeast could shine a bit more if the beer wasn't so big. Lots of booziness and a bit of overripe orange and a touch of caramel. Mouthfeel is pretty syrupy. I prefer the regular Old Guardian a bit more.

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

A: semi dark mahogany amber, cloudy, minimal almond colored, head that shrinks quickly. sporadic oily lacing.

S: some mild booze, earthy grassy quality, malt and hops balanced in the nose.

T: bitter hops, resiny, saison like funk/grassyness. Big time hops in this one. extremely bitter! probably one of the most bitter beers I've ever had.

M: expected level of carbonation for the style, extreme hop bitterness. finishes harsh.

D: Given the ABV and harsh bitterness, this is not very drinkable.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.24/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark copper, less than average head retention, some rings of lacing.
S- Malt sweetness, some pine pitch aroma, and a good bit of Belgian-esque yeast, with some tropical fruit deep in there, a bit spicy and you can already tell the alcohol is there.
T- Starts mostly like a Barleywine, with rich malts, and something like maple syrup up front. Piney hops show up there, and then a flash of Belgian spicyness in the end. Tropical fruit syrup in there too. All decent flavors, but it just comes out as a mess of competing flavors, not to mention it ends up way too hot in the finish.
M- Sticky feel, slightly full body.
O- I promised I would give this one a fair shot, but it ends up being too much of a mess. An interesting idea but it just simply didn't work for me.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.24/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Dark ruby brown, not much head or lacing.

Smell - Man this is strong odor of yeast, hops malts and sugars. I smelt this as i opened bottle. Tons of floral yeast, spices, alcohol, sugars, grapefruit, orange, carmal. Lots of smell...

Taste - Well now, where to start. Really strong yeasty floral kick with tons of malts and booze. Its a none stop fight of flavors with the barleywine and belgium yeast. Lots of lemon and carmal. Malts are bold and overdone. This is really a flavored mess.

Mouthfeel - Too much of a mess to enjoy. Bittered then sweetned then burnt. And yes, a nasty aftertaste.

Overall - Not good. Out of balance, too strong, needs alot of work. Sounded like a good idea but the final product ended up being a mess. Avoid this, so far my least liked beer ever from stone. Maybe in 2013 they will have worked out the issues with this.

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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 beagle75
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, rich medium amber color with a fine ring of off-white foam around the periphery. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Wood smoke and fermented grain combine to present a slightly boozy and toffee-accented smell. Yeast character is nuanced, coming across more as a fine spirit than a typical Belgian combination of fruity esters and phenolics.

T: Begins sweet, with heavy caramel malt and spicy hop aromatics. Fruit is present in the form of dark citrus that seems complex at first but becomes less interesting over time. Acidity is sharp, dominating the palate at times. The finish is potently bitter and spirituous, with lingering malt richness.

M: Medium to thick viscosity, oily and resinous on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D: Clearly more than just a variant yeast strain makes this new formula stand apart from the standard variety of Old Guardian. The Belgo version is an enormous beer, even by barleywine standards, and fills the senses to the point of bursting with every sip. It is not an easy beer to drink; four ounces of this will go a long way.

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

Had this bottle at a tasting, split between myself and 3 others, so I got about 5 to 6 oz.

Review from notes.

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Bruery tulip glass.

The beer pours a dark copper, with a amber red hue. Small half inch of beige head rose, and dissipated quickly, no lacing really.

The smell has the distinctive Belgian yeast whiffing off of it, along with citrus hops, caramel, and tropical fruit notes.

The initial draw had a bit of spice to it, mixed with banana, caramel, and some hop bitterness. Kind of a cornucopia of flavors going on in here. As it warms a bit more, some dark fruit notes also come through, as well as the Belgian yeast and the heat.

Mouth feel was a little heavy, spicy, with a decent amount of carbonation. Heat comes through a bit too much for me.

Overall, I did like this better than the regular Old Guardian, fresh that is, since it is not as hoppy or bitter. It was worth a try, and glad I did, but out of the gate this recipe needs a bit of tweaking in my humble opinion or perhaps aging will meld things out. Still better then my expectations were though, but I do not plan on picking any more up.

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Photo of russpowell
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up at Wilbur's in Ft. Collins a week ago...

Pours caramel/scarlet with 1+ finger of fluffy tan head. Nice viscosity to this, near zero lacing & head retention

S: Pears, green apple skins, faint boozey & phenol notes

T: Follows the nose, some candi-sugar sweetness, a touch of pineapple & dryness, some sneaky funkyness sneaking around the edge of my throat. Faint boozeyness & herbal hoppyness as this warms. Finishes with boozey pears & bit of tartness & candi-sugar. Would probably bump this up a bit as an example of Belgian PA...

MF: Chewy, slick with slight carbonation.
Carbonation picks up as this warms

Belgian Barleywine is a style that not working for me so far. Nice try by Stone, but this failed to excite me, maybe in a few years this will impress, not so far...

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Photo of rogueleonardi
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is something different. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor for the first two drinks. After that it was downhill. By about half way through my first glass I realized that I would be to drunk by the end of this beer that I wouldn't enjoy. Sure enough, when I finished the 22oz bomber I hated myself, and the beer. However if your a fan of Brooklyn monster ale, or Rogue old crustachean you would enjoy this beer.

Color - Cloudy, deep redish brown
Smell - Over-powering floral
Taste - Typical barleywine, strong alcohol taste no trying to hide it
Mouthfeel - The taste of the bitter alcohol was not pleasant
Overall - Will not be buying this one again.

*if your a fan of barleywine fan i've got a case -1 i'd be willing to get rid of.

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Photo of specksnreds
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber, thin bubbly confusion, and I don't understand. I want to understand, but I can't make sense of it. The esters and malt are mismatched and odd. Again, I want to understand. Their cumulative sweetness is too much and not complimentary. The booze, oh the booze. The burn and the fire of it should tame the sweetness. No, no it doesn't. It's bitter too, and it smells a little piny. Not like a bag-o-pine cones, but a bit-o-the-pine for sure. Maybe some age will tie it all together...like a noose.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle, has a sticker for $7.99, but I don't remember where it came from. I guess its 9 or 10 months old now.

Appearance: Pours dark orange amber with a bit of chill haze that clears quickly and leaves a nice clear beer. Off white head with scant retention and lacing- its 12% though.

Smell: Rich fruity and caramel malt. Lots of phenolics from pleasant spice to bandaid. Also acetone and jet fuel-like fusels that burn the nose a bit.

Taste: Just too much burning. Burns the mouth and nose. The Old Guardian in the background is still good, but its wrecked by the heat and overly phenolic flavor.

Mouthfeel: I'm surprised how well the mouthfeel holds up. Smooth and sticky, leaves a long finish of the good tasting part of the beer.

Overall: This is a great idea, but it didnt turn out well. It needs to be lower gravity, and matbe fermented cooler. This is a hot mess.

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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 rdilauro
3.28/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a golden glow with little head. The two aromas I picked up was malt and citrus/honey. It was a very big beer, full, not very carbonated.
It was very soft, almost too soft. Too malty for my taste and the finish was somewhat boring.
I wish that the barley was match with some stronger hops and more flavor

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of thagr81us
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from tap into a sampler shaker. Poured red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark fruit, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark fruit, banana, and alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this wasn't too bad, but it also wasn't too good. I liked the regular version a little better than this one. The banana and booze in this one kind of clash in my opinion rather than complimenting each other. The aroma was decent though... This one is still worth trying at least once for the curious.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Soft caramel-cola pour while exiting the glass becomes a dirty apple skin coloring within the glass. A lightly dense and slow paced effervesce rises within a translucent body. Spongey light tan head is atop but lapses rather quickly leaving a clean window dressing.

S: The aroma speaks of boozy soaked apples, pears, and sweet caramel grains. One part sweet, one part fruity, with a light recognition of the Belgian yeast being noted.

T: The flavor brings out more of the yeast character then the nose led on. Pears, fresh fruit, apples all with a rather clean delivery. Sweet speciality grain with a fruity and boozy alcohol warmth is felt not only in the mouth, but going down and in the belly there-after. The flavor is not what I expected from a typical barleywine, the addition of the Belgian yeast did add a new twist or spin but really takes away more then it gives in the end. Sweet, slightly malty and fruity tones come on the close along with a woodsy and piney hopping.

M: medium base, perhaps a bit lighter then one would like from a big barley as it tends to weaken a bit on longer holds. Warming with a sweet and fruity malting aided by a gentle carbonation.

D: Drinkability provides a fruity warming and alcohol tones going down that stays with you a bit after. Traditional slow sipper per style, but really holds little surprise and weakens with interest deeper into a bomber serving. Drinks better slightly chilled rather then warmer, as I generally like my barleys at a moderate warm temp most of the time. Probably wont repurchase but interesting enough to warrant a try.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 fl oz brown bottle served in a snifter.

Pours a very clean copper with good clarity. Creamy, white head that holds rather well, leaving patterns of intricate lacing in its wake.

Mildly sweet, soft candied sugar. Rounded citrus as a result of the sweetness; lemon, green apple, orange. Young alcohol notes, but not overpowering.

Wow, a lot going on here. Citrus up front that is just a shade solvent-like. The sweet, rounded malt character is overshadowed by each one of the different, prominent flavors: citrus flavors, hop bitterness, and sweet Belgian candy. The imbalance is a bit disappointing, but not surprising considering the feat of marrying a barleywine with a Belgian yeast.

A full, medium bodied; initially smooth, but predominantly slick and ultimately unflattering.

I didn't really know what to expect with this one, but I was very eager and optimistic; I mean, barleywine...Belgian yeast...sounds good so far. Unfortunately, this one was a little too ambitious which is reflected in its bulkiness in flavor and texture. I don't think that it's even a question of maturity; maybe just a matter of experimental inexperience.

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