Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale | Stone Brewing

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding
276 Reviews
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style AleOld Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States | website

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:
276
Ratings:
1,971
Avg:
4.03
pDev:
30.27%
 
 
Wants:
83
Gots:
528
For Trade:
31
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 276 | Ratings: 1,971
Photo of laituegonflable
3.77/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a toffee-coloured ESB kind of hue. Head is off-white, loose threads, not much left. Lace is alright. Looks OK.

Smell is lovely, caramelly toffee and sweet. Buckwheat, a touch of port and salted caramel above all else. Bit of solvent is a slight glitch, but otherwise very pleasant indeed.

Taste gets more of that caramel than all other flavours, but lots more as well. Bit of figgy richness, buckwheat again, some slight herbal hopping and some metallic notes. Bit on the heavy/sweet side, so not for every day, but it was always going to be. Still lots to like here.

A little flat and very syrupy texture. Could use something maybe to dry it up at the back, or more hops to cleanse.

Big, sweet beer. Nice, but could use a bit more on the balance side perhaps.

 770 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness Chalice glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and slightly hazy brownish ruby red with a moderate amount of bubbles. Decent one finger of off white head that dissipates into a small patch. Moderate amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel malts with a good hint of toffee. Hints of bananas and some citrus fruits. Light presence of earthy hops and some sugar. The sweet malts and caramel stand out the most here with the hops being fairly subtle. Alcohol is pretty faint.

Taste: The hops come out a lot more in the taste. Sweet malts with plenty of caramel and toffee. Hints of banana and a little sugar. A good amount of citrus hops with notes of grapefruit and orange. Also a hint of apple. Pretty juicy with a nice kick of bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Chewy and moderately sticky. Alcohol heat is pretty moderate.

Overall: A very good American Barleywine. Full juicy flavor and pretty smooth for the ABV.

 1,030 characters

Photo of mfnmbvp
2.91/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle (1 pint 6 fl oz), the 2013 release of this beer. A beer from Stone that I haven't had before, so I'm going in as unbiased as possible. Bottle claims an 11.60% abv, rather than just 11% as BeerAdvocate says.

Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - First pour yields about a finger of doughy off-white / khaki colored head. Beautiful clear, light ruby red colored body. My final pour, a good hour and a half later, yields some pretty nice sheets of lacing coming down the sides of the glass.

S - Smell is strongly of malted barley, and some fermented dark fruits like plum or cranberry. Faint citrus hops creeping out in the background.

T - Bleh. Not my preferred barleywine, that's for sure. Some hop bitterness is present, but this beer is overwhelmed by a sickening medicinal cherry cough syrup flavor. Thick and heavy. Bit of alcohol warmth. As hard as I'm trying, I am not digging this one at all. Admittedly, as the beer warms to room temperature, the artificial cherry medicine seems to disappear and opens up to more dry bitter spicy hop presence. Body has a sleek creamy feel to it. This is a beer you definitely want to let warm up before consuming it.

M - Feel is dry and chalky. Bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall, I enjoyed the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, and was expecting similar results here, but it took me a long time to warm up to this beer. When cold, it is on par with drinking a 22 oz. bottle of Robitussin. Following a warming period, the beer opens up and becomes more lively, with a more pronounced hop presence, and the sickly medicinal flavors disappear.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale ---3/5.

 1,668 characters

Photo of KYGunner
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of toasty, roasty malt, biscuit, toasted bread and barley. Caramel malt is evident but not sweet. Some tea leaf, roasted nut, pecan and grains. I let this sit a while to cut down the hoppiness and I'm glad I did.

 217 characters

Photo of Marius
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled at CBC 2016 - second day. Deep caramel pour with a thin beige head. Tons of hops in this barley wine, making it quite delicious. Notes of caramel, grapefruit, pine resin.

 178 characters

Photo of ADZA
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2012 edtion and thanks to my favourite bottleshop for this and it pours a hazy light amber hue which leaves a two finger creamy head and lacing everywhere,the smell is very barley and malt orientated with aromas of obviously barley,caramel fudge,toffee treacle,butterscotch and also Xmas cake,the mouthfeel is medium bodied and could be thicker for my liking of the style and the taste is nice but doesnt leave you gobsmacked like other big American Barleywines and the taste is very sweet with hints of marzipan,toffee treacle,butterscotch candy,raisins soaked in brandy,fruit cake and finished with a touch of bitter herbal hops to take a little edge off the sweetness first encountered and overall its not bad and could age a little bit but not too long as the malt profile is dominant and if left for a while could be even more sweeter and theres definately better Barleywines out there cheers.

 910 characters

Photo of arizcards
3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a bomber from Total Wine in early March for $5.99. Bottled on 2/7/14.

Beer poured chestnut with a nice white head.

Nose is citrus booze with a big malt base.

Taste is zesty hops up front, big malt base, a bit uneven but tasty.

Mouthfeel is huge, full and smooth.

Overall this is quite a booze bomb, lively hops make things interesting. Looking back at prior Guardian reviews i can tell my palate has change as has the offerings out there. This is a good beer, worthy of a shot for the price. Give it a try if you like big hoppy beers.

 550 characters

Photo of Tucquan
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-03-08 in Lancaster, PA at The Fridge

A - Pretty clear mahogany with 1/4-finger off-white head and light lacing.

S - Mild dark fruit, brown bread and hop floral. Not very strong.

T - Rich malt body with some caramel, raisin, earthy spice, touch of pepper, pine, grapefruit juice and rind. Fairly sweet but the alcohol helps to balance this. Aftertaste remains sweet, peppery, very spicy with lots of rind bitterness. I like the flavor.

M - Medium-heavy body and light-medium carbonation. Prickly and lightly oily.

O - Very good. Plenty of interesting flavors. Reminds me of a triple IPA.

 608 characters

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.14/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage. Dirty brown body with a surprisingly foamy tan head. Aroma is of sweet malt, green raisins and a bit of caramel. Flavor is on par for the style, sweet caramel, toasted malts, a dash of dried fruit. Full bodied with medium carbonation. This one is a good example of the style and has held up very nicely after a few years.

 335 characters

Photo of cjgiant
3.46/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Had to go a little strange on the rating in this case due to the fact I agree with the odd review here that this is not a barleywine style of beer. Given the ABV, it's and Imperial IPA.

Given that, I enjoyed the beer a lot, it had classic Stone high-hop dryness in the mouthfeel with a touch of maltiness. However, I don't think it fits the style, as the hops overwhelms the flavor, and I don't believe that should be.

A: cloudy red with nothing special in head or lacing (normal)
S: earthy with some plum notes
T/M: caramel or butterscotch on the malts, helped by the hops and carbonation, the hops draw present throughout, and as the beer warms a little, the malt seems to hang around a little longer
O: as stated above, am not sure it fits the style (and rated down due to that), but if you enjoy Stone beers, don't skip thjs one and ignore the overall score.

 864 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 version poured from the bomber into a snifter.

I like the healthy glug-glug sound as this pours into the snifter. I'm impressed by the heavy carbonation this beer shows and the finger-thick, fluffy white head that forms. The beer's got a light amber color and some transparency to it. As I take the time to write some notes, the head shows some excellent persistence.

Taking a whiff, I was expecting a blast of hop, being that it's Stone, but I instead got a pungent sweetness. Caramel and toffee notes are very pronounced. There is a hint of some piney hops, but they're playing second fiddle here.

Sweetness continues on the tongue. I get a lot of caramel up front, followed by a piney hop finish. There's a good malt presence and it gives the beer a creamy quality that helps dumb down the mild heat of the booze. At the finish, the beer is remarkably bitter and dry.

I'm pretty impressed by how this is drinking fresh. Most folks cite Bigfoot as a drink fresh barleywine and I agree, but this one deserves more mention. I'll have to buy another to age and see how it changes from this review. Looking forward to it.

 1,131 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.07/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle

A: Pours a light brownish/amber color with about a half inch of head

S: Lots of malts and hops, some alcohol. Pretty standard fare for the American barleywine, aside from the big dose of hops that Stone is known for

T: Follows the nose with a big dose of hops at first and then a transition to the malts and alcohol. The alcohol isn't too hot and leaves some nice peppery and fruity notes on the tongue that work well with the bitterness of the hops that return for the finish

M: Medium-full bodied with low-moderate carbonation. Slick from the hops

O: Still one of my top 5 American barleywines, although I still feel this is best with at least a year on it. Even though this isn't too hot or overbearing right now, the smoothness and complexity take a turn for the better after aging. Get a few bottles, drink one now and lay the others down. You'll be glad you did

 884 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 Classic Release (11.2% ABV): Pours cloudy copper to reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger creamy/foamy tan head that was full of tiny bubbles, dissipating very slowly and leaving excellent foamy lacing covering the sides with rings as it went down. The lacing stuck to the glass and did not budge, it was great looking.

Smells of caramel, sweet malt, toffee, light brown sugar, faint cinnamon, dark rum, toasted grains, piney hops, dark fruits, orange peel, grapefruit and fruity candy. Some herbal notes like tea leaf, fresh wet citrus hops and weed mix in with the malty sweetness which comes off lightly boozy and full of toffee and caramel.

Taste of strong booze soaked grains up front, followed by toffee, caramel, graham cracker, vanilla, orange peel, brown sugar, honey, tea leaf, piney hops, grapefruit, wet leather, tobacco, gummy bears, Belgian candied sugar, coriander or peppery spices and rum or even dark rum. The ABV is well hidden and the dominant malt base allows the hops to add character and nice complexities to the overall profile. There is a constant sweet yet earthy aspect that ties everything together and almost seems like a thick bready yeast acting like glue. Pretty damn tasty.

Mouthfeel is on the smooth side with average, fizzy carbonation, a medium to thick chewy body that feels dense and like leaf particles are floating in it. Aftertastes is slightly bitter, but still unleashes a lot of malty sweetness, caramel and toffee notes. Seems midway between an American Barleywine and a Strong Ale. Either way you classify this to me it was very good. Enough kick for a barleywine and enough flavor to help it go down.

 1,656 characters

Photo of srandycarter
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 liter of the 2012 Old Guardian bought tonight.

A - Fairly clear dark apricot, huge head, lots of lace.

S - Light malt and hops. Maybe too cold.

T - Rich malt, heavy handed hops to hold it down.

M - Very creamy, good balance, good carb.

D - An excellent beer.

 266 characters

Photo of Brew33
2.64/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sometimes I like to revisit a beer I didn't love the first time just to see if I may have had a bad experience, hence me revisiting Stone's Old Guardian. 2013 Vintage

It pours a really nice, deep, garnet with a small, light tan head. Looks nice in the glass, perfectly clear. The aroma is subtle. Caramel malts, slight cardboard, alcohol, no hops to speak of. Not very good frankly.

The flavor is the real disappointment here. One dimensional malt profile. Slight hop bitterness but no real hop flavor. A Stone beer that is underhopped for the style? Huh? Really lacking complexity. The alcohol is prominent but the malt flavors are downright bland and the beer seems a little over attenuated for the style. No real sweetness or pronounced flavors at all. Hop flavor is nonexistent and the bitterness is restrained.

The beer leaves a sticky residue on the lips which is perfect for the style IMO but it's a touch overcarbonated and a little thin for my liking.

Overall, it's pretty much what I remember and that is a below average American Barleywine. Stone has really hit a few homeruns lately especially with the Enjoy By series but this is just not a good American Barleywine.

 1,186 characters

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!

 1,311 characters

Photo of Herky21
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle purchased for $5.99 - 2013 Vintage.

Appearance - caramel and burnt like fall leaves with a finely laced and dense head that dissipated quick.

Smell - banana, caramel, nougat, melon and citrus.

taste - alcohol, sweet caramel, backed up by a good amount of bitterness, kind of a fruity note in the swallow.

mouthfeel - very carbed and perhaps a bit too much for the style - full, thick beer.

Overall - pretty well done, but it doesn't quite hold a candle to Bigfoot. If you have one I'd recommend aging. It isn't super hot, but it would be a lot better in say 2 years.

 585 characters

Photo of harrymel
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2012

Copper with a straight etching of cream foam. Smells of hops, rich malts with some tea and caramel and some nicely woven in toffee and sweetness. Flavor is sweet with a good bitterness on the backside with some caramel and a gobs of malt syrup. I like the flavor. Medium bodied with sharp carb and a semi dry finish. I like this beer quite a lot.

 360 characters

Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an almost clear amber-orange with a thin layer of frothy off-white head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel, biscuit, and caramelized malts with grapefruit, citrus, and pine hops and some booze.

T - Starts off with some sweet caramel and biscuit malts with lots of grapefruit and citrus hops and some bitterness. Through the middle, pine hop flavors comes through with more bitterness alongside some caramelized sugars and some more biscuit malt. The finish is a mix of sweet caramelized malts with lots of tropical, citrus, and resiny pine hops, bitterness, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a resiny, bitter, dry, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice hoppy American Barleywine. The hop profile is really great and helps to balance out the hotness and body. Enough malt flavor to keep up as well.

 933 characters

Photo of 57md
3.71/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Copper in color. The nose smells like stale hops - odd since this was just shy of two months old when I cracked it open. This offering is malt forward with just the right amount of hop bitterness. The malty sweetness really comes forward as this beer warms. The finish is dry with just a trace of alcohol.

May 2016 Update: After over a year of aging, I popped open a 2015 on Memorial Day weekend. The stale hop nose continues to linger (not sure if it really changed from the relatively fresh one that I had last year). I'd say that much of the flavor profile remained similar. My advice is to enjoy this fresh.

 618 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance:
Pours a cloudy reddish and orange color. Very little head but what does come out is kind of a creamy white. Leaves some nice lacing.

Smell:
A strong mix of hops and malts. the malt smells sweet bordering on caramel while the hops seem to be citrus bordering on orange. Other smells include dark fruit.

Taste:
Tastes like it smells but that the hops are stronger.

Mouthfeel:
Lite carbonation and fairly heavy bodied.

Overall:
A fairly nice barley wine and this beer really brought me into the style so I might try some other ones.

 545 characters

Photo of aquazr1
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass. 2014 Classic release.

A - Pours a dark amber, almost brown, with a very small head that dissipates quickly.

S - Mostly malt, I can pick up a hint of the grains in the background. I don't get much from the hops.

T - The toasted malts come through strong, but not in a bad way. Very drinkable.

M - Medium bodied that feels good going down.

A very drinkable barley wine ale. The high alcohol content is hidden well. Another well done beer by Stone.

 495 characters

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.

 472 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 750ml 2012 vintage bomber into a heavy chalice glass. Pours amber/orange appearance with a froth off-white head that slowly thins out into nice lacing throughout. Aroma portrays a clean hop bitterness with pine followed by raisin, a bit of toffee, and light sweet malt. Taste is clean hop bitterness and spots of pine followed by a strong bitterness with raisin, plum, and a bit of heat in the back finish. Mouthfeel is thin-bodied and crisp up front. A nice example of a barleywine, but a bit too hoppy (which exemplifies what Stone truly stands for in their beers).

 579 characters

Photo of rarbring
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer is clear copper amber, a warm off-white head leaving good lacing and small curtains.

Smelling hoppy, grass, nettles, pine. Then sweet dried fruits, honey, heather.

Sweet toffee, brown bread with honey, bitter oranges, dried apricots, then bitter citric peel. Slightly boozy.

Medium carbonation, small bubbles, oily and sticky, a coarse dry finish.

Once again I have consumed a barley wine far too young.

 416 characters

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale from Stone Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 276 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe