Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Oak-Smoked
Stone Brewing

Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Oak-SmokedOld Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Oak-Smoked
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Barleywine - American
3.98 | pDev: 12.56%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Oak-SmokedOld Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Oak-Smoked
Reviews: 186 | Ratings: 782 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of warmstorage
warmstorage from California

3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was excited to grab a 2013 Oak Smoked Old Guardian bomber for $10.99. I always know with these older vintages I'm taking a chance with how it has been stored and kept, but at this price, which feels like what I would have paid for it eight years ago, it was well worth it.

Opens with a nice small hiss, pours with very limited head build or retention (not surprising for an eight year old beer.) Poured into a clean goblet.

Look: mostly opaque due to haze, chestnut brown. Some sediment visible in the bottom of the bottle. Limited to no legs.

Aroma: deep notes of leather, some must, stonefruit. Smoked wood, almost a hint of charred / burnt, is slightly evident, especially as it warms.

Taste: burnt / charred dominates. I can tell it's a barleywine in that it carries it, but most other characteristics of a barleywine are hidden underneath the char.

Feel: full, slightly slick. Carbonation noticeable, but not much. Fine for the style. Some warmth / heat, but I'm unsure if I'm conflating the intense char / smoke with that.

Aftertaste is lingering charred / creosote / burnt.

Overall a fun experiment. It's a good thing I like campfires and taking a chance. I'll be delighted to finish this bottle, but I wouldn't rush out to see if the store has more of them. I have another bomber of 2014 (regular) Old Guardian that I'll review soon, and it'll be interesting to see how it stacks up without the smoked.

Feb 02, 2021
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kemoarps from Washington

3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 bottle (I assume that's the only year they did it?) so about 7 years later? Side by side with the base 2013 Old Guardian.

Somewhat lighter and less ruddy than the base version. Still in the copper/amber range of things, though. Much more clear as well, but still has some floaties. Nice head with good retention and sticky curtains of lace.

Immediately the oak and the smoke make themselves known vs the base version. Lightly sweet wood and faint smoky astringency set the tone, and the barleywine behind it offers mainly sweet fruity notes. The oak is the most recognizable individual note overall.

The oak and the smoke thin this out and smoothe it down nicely, while offering a balance to the big earthy bitterness that is still present. The oak highlights more of the high sweet notes than in the base, and I think if I could kind of split between the two that would be my preferred lane. Maybe I'll cuvee them a bit. This one also lacks the deeper richer notes I typically associate with the style (and that I love so much): the caramels and toffees and the like. There's just the faintest hint of toffee here which is more than I can say for the base version, and I think that's highlighted by the lightness the oak and smoke bring to it.

The carbonation is more brightly effervescent, and the body feels fuller, oddly enough, and more pillowy. The big earthy bitterness that dominated the base is still here, and lingers through the finish, it just has to lurk behind the oak for the duration of the main event, so to speak. Again, the alcohol is easy to take for granted, though it's certainly there.
I'm actually pretty impressed with how these have held up, and wish I'd taken notes fresh to compare (I remember having at least the base version on draft 'live' if you will). I think maybe two years ago would have been slightly preferable, as it may have helped stave off some of what I'm chalking up to oxidation, but without those notes I can't even be sure. I wish they emphasized the richer caramel/etc tones more, but they obviously still display gross competence and I find myself enjoying them

May 31, 2020
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From old, undated notes. Poured from the bottle.

Murky, rusty orange hue.

Off-white head; thick lace.

Smoke & sweet caramel nose.

Thick mouthfeel.

Heavy peat-y smoke up front, hint of caramel on the finish.

The smoke keeps this from cloying, so this is a BBQ ready winner for me.

Jun 17, 2019
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neenerzig from Ohio

4.52/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

So, I've had a bomber of this sitting in my cellar for almost 6 years now, as this was originally released in the spring of that year. Poured into my snifter, this beer pours a very dark amber/copper color with some ruby highlights when held up to the light. Has an off-white head that's about an inch thick when first poured that settles to a very thick foam ring lining the inside of the glass with some good sized bubbles, good lacing, and a nice thick surface coating of foam. Aromas of some fairly bready, toasted, caramel malt sweetness along with fairly heavy oak and peat notes along with some plum and dates. There's also some earthy hops notes here. And of course some booze notes. I can sure smell the 11.4% ABV here, and that's just fine. The taste is very similar, with some fairly bready, toasted, caramel malt sweetness along with fairly heavy oak and peat notes along with some plum and dates that give some additional sweetness. And then comes the earthy hop bitterness that also has a dank, resinous quality. Even after sitting in my cellar for almost 6 years, the hops are still, albeit somewhat slightly, the dominant aspect of the flavor profile over the other flavors. But afterall, this is Stone so we should expect nothing less I suppose. I continue to be amazed by Stone's dedication to the hop and how Stone's incorporated it so perfectly into so many of their beers over the years. I mean, seriously, this 6 year old beer has more of a real hop bitterness bite that just ensconces it itself into my tastebuds and palate and isn't interested in letting go and does so in this regard in a way that puts many current, new/freshly brewed IPAs to shame hop bitterness wise. The hops and the oak smoked malts really compliment each other very nicely indeed. And then there's the boozy notes from that 11.4% ABV, which is quite noticeable and also incorporated very well into this beer's flavor profile. Has a fairly crisp, yet also smooth and frothy, also somewhat oily, full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. The hops and oak smoked-ness really like ti linger on the palate for a long time after each sip. Another fucking fantastic beer from those guys at Stone!


Jan 19, 2019
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draheim from Washington

3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dug this bottle from January 2013 out of the back of the beer fridge. No idea what age does to oak smoke, but I'm way behind in my reviews and this one won't be getting any fresher.

650mL into a tulip. Pours a clear amber with a light off-white head, medium carbonation. So far looks pretty good.

Aroma is fruity and sweet, herbal/floral hops. Not picking up any obvious smoke notes (unless I"m imagining just a hint, but that could be because I know what this is). Just smells like an American barleywine.

Taste is ... OK, there's the smoke. Reminiscent of Aecht Schlenkerla. Roasty, a little bitter/acidic. Underneath that, standard barleywine malt and American barleywine hops, which have not surprisingly faded a bit over the intervening half decade. Fruity, floral.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied, slick. Lingers on the palate. About right for the style.

Overall an interesting twist on a hop-forward barleywine. I prefer English style--leave the hops for American IPAs--but it's still a pretty solid offering from Stone.

Aug 16, 2018
Photo of GarrettB
GarrettB from Colorado

3.44/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

May 7th, 2015 - Stone's Old Guardian is already a burly beer, but smoking it makes for a potent potable. Dark and somber in the glass, the aroma is crazy intense, spiced with fine leather and cumin. The flavor is much the same, but with an overwhelming booziness. The hops tries to assert itself, but the maelstrom of ethanol is far too much to cope with, suggesting that the base recipe might be at maximum strength already. Any additional oomph is too much.

May 11, 2018
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WickedBeer from Alabama

4.49/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rust brown pour , nice even lace. Nice frothy head that settles quickly.

Tons of peat and smoked oak chips. A nice even sweetness of dried fruits and molasses.

Smokey, bitter, oaky, boozy. Bitter hops in the finish. Sweeter as it warms.

Medium body, slightly sticky. Warm, smooth.

May 10, 2018
Photo of babaracas
babaracas from Florida

4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nearly opaque reddish-purplish-brown with thin creamy white cap; couple thin rings of lace. Smell: sweet and boozy with plenty of oak, vanilla, dates and raisin bread. Taste: boozed plum, overripe peach, dates, caramel. Enough clean hop bitterness to balance the sweet. Just a little oxidation, but it works along with the oak to lend some bourbon-ish and vinous notes. Carbonation is on the low end, which also works. Didn't have it fresh, but sitting on this for 5 years turned out alright!

Mar 18, 2018
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LifesAnesthesia from Virginia

4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Aged 5 years - bought at Stone RVA:
L - Burnt brown with hints of dark orange/copper around the edges with a thin tan head that leaves lacing behind. Tons of particulate and a nearly opaque appearance besides the edges.
S - Sweet malt, yeast, and alcohol notes along with notes of caramel. The smell is good but not exactly strong.
T - Sweet malt and yeast up front followed behind by notes of caramel, molasses, dried dark fruits, toffee, all finished with a somewhat pronounced smoky finish. Hops round out the palate but they aren't the punch you in the face bitterness you typically expect from Stone - they are more subdued here.
F - Medium to full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Somewhat sticky mouthfeel.
O - A nice take on the Old Guardian. I'm not sure what aging 5 years did for the flavor as I was not lucky enough to try one back in 2013 - but regardless this is a nice barelywine that mixes things up with a pretty pronounced smoky flavor that rounds the flavor out quite nicely.

Mar 07, 2018
Photo of EMV
EMV from Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip. 2013 vintage.

L: Nearly clear caramel/copper pour. 1.5 fingers of white head... falls fast with a nice sticky rim of lacing.

S: Caramel and toffee... mild campfire smoke and dark fruits.

T/F: Caramel and toffee malts... rich and sweet with unsurprising hop bitterness... still potent after 5 years. Well balanced... dark fruits in the background becoming more prominent as it warms. Leaves a sticky coating on the tongue. Medium to thick bodied. Well carbonated... more than I was expecting. Smoke and peat on the finish.

O: Everything I'd expect from an oak-smoked Old Guardian from Stone. Big boozy barleywine... bitter hops, and a strong smoke presence at the finish. Very well done beer.

Feb 28, 2018
Photo of ajm5108
ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ember, just a whisper of a head, no carbonation. Aroma has some sweet malt, Belgian sugar and a good amount of smoke - it works well to counterbalance the sweetness of the malt, and isn't overpowering. Surprised hoe much I liked it - given, it is 4 years old at this point, but the smoke isn't choking, adds a nice husky depth to the beer. It really works well with the hops, which are pretty medicinal and sharp on the regular Old Gaurdian but the smoke helps temper that while working with the bitterness. Smoked beers can be a risk but this one pulls it off

Jan 12, 2018
Photo of micada
micada from New York

4.49/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just had a small taste from a growler pour, obtained from Consumers Beverages as part of their 12 beers of Christmas. Delicious! Smoke, oak, barley wine. The flavors come together superbly. Can't wait to get a full glass with some friends. Good carbonation makes it feel and taste fresh, not like a flat sleeper. ABV a little up front, but does not detract from the sip. I had a mixed attitude on Stone offerings, but this one is a clear winner. Get it if you can...as much as they'll let you take!

Dec 21, 2017
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Red5StandingBy from Maryland

4.21/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Alright alright alright had this on hand for a little while now, finally found the appropriate time to sit down and give a nice review of this nice looking brew. Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Snifter glass. This is the 2013 Odd Year Release for Stone and probably the oldest beer I have had from Stone yet. No bottling date that I can find.

L: Cloudy mahogany with a tight bubbled finger width khaki colored head that retains quite well. Thick patches of lace left behind.

S: This smells a lot more like a Dubbel to me although there is some Barleywine character left. Smells of dark fruits, mainly figs, with a strong molasses note, as well as faint smoke, not overpowering which is nice. Some caramel or toffee. I would also note possibly some leafy hop. Vanilla lent from the booziness. Quite a complex aroma to be sure, possibly the most complex and it smells very nice.

T: Again the first flavor apparent is the dark fruit and booze, definitely leaning towards a Belgian Dubbel, moving into molasses however then it lightens to a caramel and toffee note, then switches to a light-medium amount of smoke and finishes off that way.

F: Full body, medium carbonation, the finish is relatively light smoke but lingers on a little too long that is almost unpleasant.

O: I wish I could have tried this fresh as well as now however this beer seems to have cellared quite well. The finish is really the lacking area. Super complex flavor and aroma. This was another brew from Stone that solidified my very high opinion of them.

Jul 06, 2017
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch from Colorado

4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought On-line
22 oz. Bomber
2013 Odd Year Release
Bottled On: 01.16.13

Over 4 years on this bottle.

Poured into a goblet a very nice clean/clear light amberish color, very nice carbonation, with a pretty nice small creamy light tan head, which leaves a very nice big island and some pretty nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some hop notes, oak, nice smokeyness, citrusy. The taste is very nice, malty, oaky, smoky, with some nice hops/citrus. Full Body, ABV hidden very well. Overall, this brew is holding up pretty well.

Apr 22, 2017
Photo of Jadjunk
Jadjunk from Georgia

3.44/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

No (relevant) label information. Brewed in the style of an American Barleywine with German oak-smoked wheat malt added, available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft. This is an "odd year" variant on Stone's Old Guardian Barleywine, brewed as a one-off experimental release.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a smooth, creamy foam head of a butterscotch cream color over a deep red body with ample pulpy sediment in tow and fine streams of carbonation. Retention is very good and lacing is light and patchy. 4.25

(Smell) An evident waft of smokey malts alongside a substantial malt body of bread, caramelized malts and delicate roast, for a very rich malty beer. Some measure of balance is achieved through a slight but acceptable graininess as well as the density of the specialty malt additions. Potency is medium/high. 4

(Taste) A far more exposed graininess and shallow malt body, thin bread malts, slight caramelized sugars, noticeably thin flavor overall. Very sharp grain alcohol and little to no impact from the smoked wheat malts. It doesn't stand very strong as a barleywine either. Overall, not very enjoyable. 3

(Mouthfeel) Smooth, slick, chewy and moderately residual texture with a moderately dry finish. Carbonation is mild, generating a medium frothiness and a lightly crisp finish. Body is shy of medium for the style, medium/heavy overall. Balance is grainy and boozy over sweet. Alcohol presence is moderate/heavy and there are no off characters. 3.25

(Overall) So, this ale did not hold up nearly as gracefully as I had hoped it would, and all that made it an appealing purchase in the first place was where I was let down the most. There is no remaining smokey character aside from the aroma, the malt profile nears being completely eroded and the graininess and alcohol is more exposed than I find desirable, even for the style. Bummer. 3.5

Stone Brewing's
Old Guardian Oak Smoked Barley Wine Style Ale

Jul 21, 2016
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MusicaleMike from Pennsylvania

4.57/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Cellar review. 22oz bottle served at cellar temp (about 55-60F) in a balloon snifter.

The body is a beautiful clear ruby mahogany color with a soft, stable tan head on top that has a creamy texture to it.
The aroma is showing a little age to it, slightly musty. Underneath that is a mixture of sweet caramel, vanilla, nougat, oak, smoke.
The taste is sweet, with more notes of caramel, butterscotch, oak, honey, spice, subtle smoke, and the body is effervescent enough that the carbonation lifts this heavy, full-bodied beer right off the palate and makes this a much more quaffable drink.
I love smoked beers and this is right up my alley. Barleywines can be a bit too sweet, and I think that the bitterness of the hops combined with the oak-smoked malt made for an interesting package that took the attention off the sugary malt background. I would definitely drink this again, and I could see this beer pairing incredibly well for food. Sharp cheddar, blue cheese, candied walnuts, duck, rotisserie chicken, or barbeque.

Jun 03, 2016
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Wolberjs from California

4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Out of the bottle after some aging.

Looks delicious like all beer. Dark copper Amber with a dissipating head.

Nose is smokey caramel. When it was cold (fridge temp) it was more caramel/toffee sweet with a hint of smoke and oak. As it warned it was smokey oak with a hint of caramel/toffee. Really good cold, warmed the smoke was more than i like. Taste followed the nose both cold and warm except with bitterness on the finish. The bitterness distracted. Mouthfeel is smooth smooth smooth start to finish. Quite good.

Overall really quite good. Admittedly I'm not much for smoked beers but this one surprised me. If you have one laying around I'd suggest drinking it cold

May 31, 2016
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Sabtos from Ohio

3.64/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2013 Oak Smoked on draft at Hunahpu's Day 2016.

Brown amber with a minimal tan head.

Classic barleywine characteristics of caramel and prune with some spicy booze and a hint of smoke.

Exceedingly smooth and wet.

Apr 06, 2016
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Rimbimhoot from Illinois

3.54/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber, pours thick, light head
S: Sweet, toffee, dark fruit, caramel, marmalade, sweet orange, light pine, brown sugar, oxidized
T: Smoke, very bitter, oak tannin, caramel, alcohol, sweet toffee, dark fruit, rye
M: Medium mouthfeel, nice carbonation
O: Not a fan of the bitterness in the style and I feel that the additional ingredients brought this down from the base beer

Mar 05, 2016
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StJamesGate from New York

3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark ruby amber with floaties and sepia film that trails. 3.75
Oak smoked meat nose with cranberry and vanilla. 4.25
Cherry jam, wheat crackers, a big dose of smoky phenols, some toffee, then dried orange rind, pine shavings and resin hops. 4
Glace cherry end and syrupy linger.
Medium, sticky, hot. 3.75

Big, from all angles. Smoke more than oak, hops are there, and plenty of malts - plays as a barley wine. I want more - restraint? Kinda don't know what to do with this one. 3.75

Aug 10, 2015
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emyers from Illinois

4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Firkin. 2013.

Appearance: pours a murky amber brown color with a thin off-white head

Smell: somewhat restrained, caramel malt, oak, smoke.

Taste: much more intensity than the aroma. Tons of toffee and caramel balanced out by quite a bit of oak. The smoked malt is very subtle but gives an extra layer of complexity. There is also a nice fruity hop presence. Finish is fairly bitter between the oak and hops.

Mouthfeel: full-bodied, quite dry between the oak and bittering hops.

Overall: excellent beer. Never had it fresh so I have nothing to compare it to, but seems very balanced and clean so I imagine this aged well.

Jul 28, 2015
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Hopheadjeffery from Illinois

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted from draft at Firkin on July 22, 2015. Look is deep Amber with lacing on the glass. Smells of dried fruits and barley. Taste is smokey and malty. Feel is smooth but by no means flat.

Jul 22, 2015
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elNopalero from California

4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Odd year, oak smoked, with two years rest.
This pours a dark caramel color with thin foam.
There's a light char and a touch of toasted coconut under a bit of booze.the beer itself runs hot, with some smoke and an intense bitterness that remains, although the hops faded away.

Jun 28, 2015
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scottfrie from California

3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle dated 01-15-2013.

A: Pours a deep ruddy caramel color with a thick and very greasy and oily looking tan head. Head stuck around for a while and slowly faded into a thick and greasy film. Sheets of sticky lace were left after each sip.
S: Definitely a smoky nose, but I get layers of tobacco, caramel, raisin, leather, and peppery spice as well. The nose is a bit bready and reminds me of rye/wheat toast crust.
T: Smoke is savory and woody with hint of campfire. Base barleywine flavors are full of leather and caramel, with a huge bitter punch of leafy and earthy hops. There’s a huge amount of woody, peppery spice in the finish alongside a balancing amount of sticky candied sugar and bitter and oily hop resin. There is just a hint of powdery dark chocolate mixed in as well, but for the most part the finish and aftertaste are hugely bitter and spicy with the oak giving the beer an almost rye-like spicy quality. The bitterness is akin to orange zest or dried orange peel. Smoke is present throughout, but it definitely takes a backseat to the woody spiciness and crushingly bittersweet hop resin.
M: The alcohol is not hot but there is still a potent boozy presence despite a couple years in the bottle. The bitterness and spiciness is dominate the smoke and the boozy though and create a heavy, greasy, oily and tingly mouthfeel. Low but tingly carbonation that froths up a bit on my palate. Thick and chewy body.
O: There is a lot going on in this one. The flavors are fairly integrated for being so complex, but the combination of everything makes this beer a bit rough around the edges. Glad to have tried it, but I wish I had someone to help me with this bottle.

Jun 23, 2015
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hosehead83 from Ohio

4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a vintage 2013 bottle. Amber/brown in color with a decent cap of off-white foam.
Aroma-Sweet malt, caramel
Taste-Oakey spiciness, woodsmoke, caramel, toffee. Way-in-the-background hop presence
that gradually reveals itself sip by sip. This brew is a slow, mellow sipper. Perfect with an after dinner cigar or a beefy meat or BBQ dish. Very smooth despite high ABV.

May 27, 2015
Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale - Oak-Smoked from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 782 ratings