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Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale | Stone Brewing

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding
277 Reviews
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style AleOld Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States
stonebrewing.com

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by smerrell on 02-18-2012

BEER STATS
Reviews:
277
Ratings:
1,976
Avg:
4.03
pDev:
11.41%
 
 
Wants:
86
Gots:
528
For Trade:
29
User Reviews
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Reviews: 277 | Ratings: 1,976
Photo of biboergosum
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

450ml glass, at Craft Beer Market - this is the 2014 edition, and after looking this one up on here, it was never more apparent to me that some people either just can't read, or are indeed not worthy.

This beer appears a fairly hazy, dark bronzed amber colour, with one flabby finger of densely foamy, slightly bubbly, and generally creamy ecru head, which leaves a broken wall of sagging paint job lace around the glass as it lazily falls away.

It smells of thick, viscous caramel/toffee malt, a subtle treacle sweetness, sharp orange, grapefruit, and aged lemon citrus, plum, prune, dark cherry, and fig fruit, and a further bit of earthy, leafy, and certainly perfumed bitterness. The taste is again quite malty upfront, with a hefty dose of nougaty Mars Bar on top of the 'standard' caramel, toffee, and vanilla players, which all seems overwrought, until the big C hops (and their friends) come bursting onto the scene - pine and citrus detritus everywhere, my oh my. While my palate acclimatizes, some boozed-up black fruit, in a kind of Eastern European cake format, closes things out.

The carbonation is more or less just supportive, barely a whisper of fizz to be found here, the body a solid as a rock medium-heavy weight, and way smoother than anything this heady, hoppy, or boozy should be. It finishes still sweet, of course, as this sort of malt isn't quite that forgiving.

Yeah, this is exactly what I thought my exposure to Old Guardian might be - huge, on every side and vector of the beer spectrum. Stone does not disappoint, providing a tight package of high-test goodness, one which taken in larger doses, will certainly get you tight in your unworthy drawers.

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Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber with 2+ fingers of tan head. Much sticky lacing, good lacing

S: Pine & grapefruit & much booze

T: Follows the nose, some pineapple, rich breadyness & dryness up front. Herbal hops, a touch of caramel & much dryness, plus grapefruit by the truckload & pinesap, plus a touch of booze warmth. Finishes piney with some herbal & woody hops

MF: Chewy as all get out, skews hoppy, but there's plenty of malt body there too, subtle moderate carbonation

Full fledged hop assault, this would be a great one to take the winter chill off, but is going down great on a spring evening. The ABV is fairly well hidden. A great American Barleywine for hopheads & the rest of us too!

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Photo of richj1970
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Today I was able to compare a 2012 release bottle. No date, but by definition should be at least one year older than my previous review. The main difference in this bottle is that the alcohol heat has dissipated quite nicely, and perhaps the sweetness is a bit more prominent. Both bottles are amount my favorite barley wines.

Original review:

Poured from 22 oz bottle into tulip glass. 2013 classic release bottled on 1/16/2013.

A: Pours a golden orange almost brown color with nice 2 finger off white head with nice lacing.

S: Sweet caramel and malts mixed with some citrus and dark fruits.

T: Big on malts and caramels. Nice sweetness mixed with some spiciness. Nice roasty flavors. Oak and other earthy tones present. A little bit boozy, but I suspect this will tame some with time.

M: Nicely carbonated for an 11% brew. Nice body. Not overly thick.

O: A very nice barley wine. Surprisingly easy to drink and the alcohol sneaks up on you. I need to pick up another bottle and let it age some...

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours dark ruby into my snifter with about one finger of head, minimal retention and lacing.

S - Caramelized sugar, molasses, piny hops, honey sweetness, mild citrus, dark fruits and very faint booze.

T - Caramelized sugars, toffee, molasses, malt, piny and resinous, slight grapefruit rind bite that lingers through the finish, fig and raisin, with a mild alcohol presence.

M - Extremely well balanced, medium/full body, smooth and creamy, sticky and coats the palate, perfectly balanced carbonation.

O - I was pleasantly surprised after the first sip I took from my glass. I remember being very underwhelmed with last years version and this year they are spot on. I hope to get my hands on more of this to stash away for a bit.

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Photo of crismf
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: amber, nice foam, some lacing

S: mild aroma of hops with a hint of citrus

T: starts off sweet with a hint of caramel and finishes with a predictable bitterness, but not overdone

F: effervescent and crisp

O: I enjoyed the OG very much. It had a very nice airiness quality and was very drinkable, it's a shame I was only able to find one at my local spot. Nice work Stone! I will definitely keep in my favorites list.

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Photo of kennylopez
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 22oz bottle into a mini snifter

Appearance: a clear reddish amber color with a fine white head and slight retention and a spot or two of lacing

Smells: there is a sweet dark fruit that blends with the big hops and barley notes.

Tastes: a cherry and plum come through the bitter pine hops that merge and balance wonderfully with a generous barley bill I truly adore.

Mouthfeel: at 11% this is a lightly carbonated ale with and sweet aftertaste after the bitter floral hops bite.

Overall: Every year Stone lets this out around Feb. by me and I always enjoy it. this year I picked up six and after cracking the first one I remember why for the past three years I go back out grabbing as much as I can before its gone.

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Photo of mick303
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Release, enjoyed 25/5/13, colour is a dark garnet ruby brown, fairly hazy, with an amazing film and retention, a very pretty beer. 4.75

S – lots of fruity, herbal notes, banana, pecan pie, nutmeg, lots of rich cigar tobacco and syrupy espresso, burnt caramel with a bit of a nice toastiness, leafy forest. Very interesting and complex integration. Steller 4.5

T – slight alcohol spice prickle, with warming wood smoke, burnt caramel linger, hearty campfire smoke, plummy fruitiness, toasty syrupy maltiness, with some restrained caramel honey bourbon sweetness, some spiciness that permeates the flavor, cardamom maybe paprika. 4.5

M – definitely big bodied, a sipper, slight carbonation with restrained sweetness, a bit of a cloying mineral aspect , cigar smoke drying out the side of your mouth, , hop oils come through on the feel, drying and slightly tart. 4

A very nice barleywine, lots of complexity and great flavor. A smooth body with malt and rich caramel fruity notes. A very rich flavour, with biscuit and leafy tropical notes, so full and rather dry and tannic feel to it. Very worthwhile beer.

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Photo of Tonmeister
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle onto Goose Island Glass

Appearance: Red, amber, white thick head at first, followed by a thin head.

Smell: Apple, sweet barleys, hoppy, fruity, sugary with a faint smell of alcohol.

Taste is bitter-sweet, with a hint of alcohol. Sugary, on the forefront and hoppy, citric bitter presence afterwords.

Mouthfeel: thick, bubbly. Highly carbonated.

Overall this is one of my favorite beers. It is very well balanced between the sweet barley wine and the hops. This is a beer that is definitely meant to be sipped on; no need to rush to drink it. The hop presence cuts through when the beer is at room temperature.

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Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 release

Appearance: A cascading bubble show produces a massive head that perches above the copper colored liquid; loads of foam clump on the side of the glass

Smell: A beguiling blend of caramel, toasted bread, piney hops and pith

Taste: The toasted bread and caramel create a massive first impression, with the pine, pith and outright bitterness building into the middle; the hops continue to assault the palate through the finish, though the malt bill refuses to retreat and battles to the finish

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: The thing I most dislike in many of the Stone hopped out beers (their assertive stickiness) is quadrupled in Old Guardian yet I find myself quite enjoying this bottle; though I am more a fan of English barleywines than their American counterparts, I have to say that this is a first class interpretation of the latter style

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Growler into pint glass. 2013 release (and yes, I trust State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD in this regard). Clear, dark amber with a thin, off-white head that dissipates rapidly....
But enough of this visual crap. You want to know what it tastes like, right? OMFG. This is exceptionally good! Maltiness vs hops (a draw); sweetness vs bitterness (another draw); big, thick, chewy mouthfeel that isn't syrupy but is reeeeeeally smooth. ABV is (too?) well hidden - it drinks like an 8 percenter, but it definitely packs a punch.
This is good stuff. Get you some.

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Photo of Craigory
4.31/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 release, poured from a 22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Pours a slightly murky, auburn colour, with tons of off-white head. The head sticks around for a decent amount of time, eventually settling to a light ring on top of the beer.

S: Tons of caramel and burnt sugar, a fair amount of alcohol, and just a bit of citrus-y hops. Smells sweet, sweet, and sweeter.

T: Follows the nose exactly. This is a lot of burnt sugar and toffee, a bit of caramel, a bit of citrus hops, and just enough alcohol to keep me from drinking too fast. There is a little bitterness on the back end, but this is a nice, sweet barley wine.

M: Medium-bodied, just a bit of carbonation. A nod toward syrupy, but not so much as to totally coat the mouth.

O: I like this as an American Barley Wine. Big sweetness, big alcohol, and fairly hop-forward, in keeping with Stone's values. Drinkable in the sense that it tastes great, but take the 11% seriously; this is a night of drinking unto itself.

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Photo of BastardKing24
4.31/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My 50th review, and on Christmas! woot! one of my all time joys of a beer, very first barleywine I ever had. This beer was my gatewqay to stronger beers. I can still remember the day I had it, drinking it out of the bottle (many years ago I did this) and thinking how bitter it was and how complex I thought it tasted.

A - a lovely deep red color with a small head that falls to a ring and lacing. Sticks around for a bit. Looks rather sticky. Bubbles are present ascending in the body.

S - I get big caramel malt smells and hops. Citrus, leather, biscuit, pine, although not as big a nose as some other barleywines I've had.

T - Big sweetness hits you in the face, then an assault of bitter hops glides through the profile and ends with a slightly sweet yet bitter aftertaste. Orange zest, ripe fruits, candied mango, dates, and brown sugar. The flavor changes through the taste, and is a little in your face, this being 2013 and 6 months old. Its balanced yet has sufficient polarized flavors to keep you interested at this age of the beer. I have had this aged for 2 years and its much more mellow and rounded out in terms of the sweetness and bitterness.

M - Great feel to this one, its medium carbonation keeps your taste buds tickling, and leaves a long finish of hops and malt.

O - I like this beer alot for the price and wish I could find it more often here in Oregon. It's around but have to seek it out.

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Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.31/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Veeery bitter, hoppier and more aggressive than a lot of other barleywines I've tasted. Bright color, orange with hints of red, jewel-like and vibrant with a creamy, clean,tan head.The nose was the most amazing part; fruity and sweet, cherries, lychee, grape. The first sip gives you a fleeting moment of sweetness, followed by a rush of bitter pine, grapefruit rind, and earthy herbs. The aftertaste is hot, boozy and bitter. The mouthfeel is full and oily, full carbonation and bite. I wish the taste matched the nose because the scent was the most amazing part. Still a very good barleywine, aggressively hopped and very much in the vein of what Stone does.

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Photo of mschrei
4.31/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown with light orange undertones. Creamy looking with a lasting thick white foam and lacing to go with active carb. Mild hop and malt notes on the smell. Well balanced hop and malt tastes. Very ale like for a barleywine. Alcohol is hidden rather well. Slight back burn. Good beer.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.31/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Draft into snifter at Yard House in San Diego, Calif., on July 28, 2012. Three fingers of head when I got it. Mahogany brown color. Thick white foam/lacing. Good retention all around (sides and top).

Smelled caramel, light chocolate, rye and nuts.

Tasted nutty, toffee, caramel. Very malty. So smooth.

Full body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Long lasting smooth finish.

Absolutely loved this beer. Very malty, but it worked. So smooth and a great aftertaste.

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Photo of obywan59
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crystal clear orange/amber with a 4 finger, thick and chunky, light tan head.

Rich sweet malt, alcohol, and tart to over-ripe citrus in the aroma. A bit of pineyness as well.

Sweet malts and alcohol dominate the taste. Tart citrus contributes in a big way. Bitter hops finish it off. The flavor seems to be in much better balance after the beer warms.

Fairly heavilly-bodied with a light prickle of catbonation and the sting of alcohol. Creamy and syrupy.

I sampled this with some Hersheys Bliss rich and creamy dark chocolate. I'd say that the chocolate moderated the sweetness of the beer, bringing out the beers tart citric character, but the beer moderated the bitterness of the chocalate. This beer is well balanced, especialloy after it warms. Not as good as as I rememvber the previous versions to be, but still worthy.

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Photo of smcolw
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Size able head. Leaves ample blanketing lace. Cloudy amber to brown color where light passes in a murky way.

Sweet malt sugar nose. It smells like pre-hopped, pre-fermented batch of home brew. Some alcohol in the background.

Rich, thick and full of caramel. This could probably go well on top of vanilla ice cream. There's enough hop to prevent this from becoming cloyingly sweet. It's surprisingly easy to drink despite the 11% abv. The mouthfeel is chewy.

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Photo of Bauzen
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark copper in color.

Smells of strong malt, hops, and sweet caramel.

Flavor is hoppier than the smell would suggest. The ABV certainly aids the flavors along and gives the beer a flavorful bitterness. The sweetness doesn't last. In fact, it drinks more imperial-IPA-like than a Barley Wine. There's also an undeniable density to the brew. Carbonation makes it feel light, but it's anything but light. This is a serious beer, but the finish is refined, dry, and bitter.

Second to Stone's Enjoy by IPA, this is my favorite of their year-round offerings. It's potent and rewarding with every sip, a welcome variety from their bolder beers that can be hit-or-miss depending on what you like. Well done, Stone... Well done!

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Photo of KomodoDragon
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Copper with thin tan head. Quiet and clear.

S - dark fruits, barley, can sugar.

T - intense sweet malt, grassy hops and a looong finish with citrus tone and a bit of a warming feel

M - Tremendous. Smooth, full, and lightly carbonated.

Solid entry and perfect to style. Dangerously delicious.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.29/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 batch, It has been in my cellar for about six months. Sampled on April 9, 2013.

I like the way it pours with its medium reddish to mahogany amber tone and its short, silky white head. The head becomes a ring. Handsome looking beer.

For a barleywine the aroma is more subtle and mellow. Certainly it is malt forward and sweet with a roasted note but the hops are played down. There is also a bit of a dark fruit character mingling in the background.

The body is medium to bold.

The taste is warming. malty, and sweet with the faintest of alcohol. The hop finish lingers briefly but tends to be low to moderate. This is a pleasant barleywine.

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Photo of JTbrue
4.29/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

'14 vintage on tap at the Bier Stein, Eugene, OR. L: Great color, a little hazy but the orange-dark red-brownish color with an off-white head is really doing it for me. S: more booze than I expected considering there's not too much in the taste for an 11%, big hops, big caramel-candi-dark fruit smell. T: Well it's a Stone beer... Perfect hop balance and flavor from beginning to end. The malt flavors are there too, along with dark fruits and a little caramel. Very little alcohol- big plus for me with a barleywines. F: heavy bodied, not too much carbonation which I like with my barleywines. Incredibly smooth and dangerously drinkable. O: living in Southern California, I am always hesitant to say that I love Stone beers considering how huge they are nationwide, but they continue to come out with beers that are just fantastically well made. This is one of them, especially after a year when you get that hop flavor and the bitterness has died down a bit. Really tasty, very drinkable, overall a really good beer.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I bought a single 22oz bottle (2012 Release) from Woodman’s in Rockford, IL in early 2012 for $6.49

Pours a cloudy, medium brown color with a fluffy, cream colored head. Scent reminds me of an IPA with strong scent of hops, some grains and hints of citrus. Taste is strong and bold. Lots of barley taste mixed with hops and yeast. Smooth and so delicate almost as if it was aged in an oak barrel. A bold and yet dry finish. Delicious and well worth purchasing.

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Photo of thecheapies
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone Old Guardian 2012

Poured a share into a brandy snifter. Oh boy, I can already start to smell this one.

Two-and-half fingers of cream-colored head that looks dense. Dark amber in color with some murk, but otherwise, great clarity.

Papery scents mixed with muted citrus hops, toffee, buckwheat, pine, booze sweetness, and dark fruits. Lots of malty vs hoppy, where malty wins.

Hops are in the front row, getting tackled by the alcohol in the middle. There's a rye spice character that works in tandem with the pine/citrus hops. An earthy, bread crust-y malt is big and enveloping, working in media of burnt sugars and musty fruits. Gotta love that spicy prickle, almost like there's a bit of cayenne in the mix. Stings in the finish amidst the bubbles. Hey, it's hot, but I kind of like it like that. I have another one to bury in a dark place for awhile, but I like to experience the fresh example. Medium-heavy bodied with great fresh barleywine carb presence. A little sticky on my upper lip, but far from cloying. Knock a few points for the big stomach-sinking booze, but the mouthfeel is otherwise top-of-the-line.

I can't believe this is the first time trying Old Guardian. Gotta look into scoring some older vintages. Highly recommended, and at $6.99 a bottle, a huge win! I'll buy mo', fo' sho!

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 2/7/2014 Drank 3/29/2016

A - nice copper amber clear beer with a big fluffy off white head that sticks nicely and leaves nice lacing
S - big thick caramel malts, grapefruit/piney hops, caramel, bread, little bit of oxidation
T - big sweet caramel malts, grapefruit and pine from the hops balances it out, some slight lemon peel type flavor in there too, oxidation starting to creep in.
M - big thick beer, alcohol completely covered, no burn at all, aftertaste is sweet caramel malts
O - great beer. Will drink again.

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Photo of 44Stone
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 9oz Brandy Snifter. Pours Dark Copper with a light tan foamy head. Excellent lacing and body.

Smells of softened dry fruit and honey with a nice earthy hop aroma. Very inviting.

Tastes like it smells; beautiful malty sweetness, more than I remember from last year's version (although we just tried last year's bottle from the cellar and the hops of course mellowed a bit). The hops are defintely present but not as forward as past versions, in a good way. It takes a little warmth to develop but worth the wait. Excellent balance and dangerously drinkable.

Overall, probably my favorite Un-aged version of Old Guardian. I lean towards the English style for Barleywines, and this one satisfies until the end. A must-try.

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Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing
4.03 out of 5 based on 1,976 ratings.
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