Old Guardian OAK - SMOKED Barleywine | Stone Brewing

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Old Guardian OAK - SMOKED BarleywineOld Guardian OAK - SMOKED Barleywine

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.40%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 02-18-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 172 | Ratings: 761
Photo of Beaver13
3.14/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle. Pours hazy copper red with a big creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is a bit subdued - some peaty smoke with sweet caramel malts in the background.

The flavor is sweet caramel malts and dark fruits with a big bitter smoke finish. The alcohol is noticeable in the finish too. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation and is a bit watery.

Overall, the smoke is interesting, but the beer is a bit watery with a lot of harsh bitter alcohol.

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Photo of WankelEngine
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a deep but clear ruby-mahogany color. There is a foamy light tan head that slowly fades to a cap of foam. Heavy curtains of lace.

S: A wonderfully smoky aroma, like I'm downwind of someone cooking bacon over a bonfire. Behind this there are sweet notes of maple and toffee.

T: There is an herbal hop flavor on the attach which blends into a smoky bacon flavor. The smoke flavor is prominent and lasts through to the finish. Some toffee, caramel and fig come through in the mid-palate, but they are almost overpowered. The finish is long and consists of smoke which lingers at the back of the mouth. The bitterness is increased by a complementary dry alcohol flavor.

M: Medium bodied for the style, with low but foamy carbonation. A little thick and oily with mild alcohol presence.

O: A great smoked beer. The smoke overwhelms the many of the other flavors but isn't uncomfortably powerful in itself.

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Photo of CaptMaelstrom
3.77/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle to tulip glass. 2013.

A: Deep Ruby/Burgundy color, poured vigorously so it had a good 2 finger foam. Off-white that dissipated quickly leaving a little sticky lacing down the glass.

S: Maple

T: Burnt sugar, cigar, maple, cherry-flavored Robotussin. The 11.4% actually doesn't jump out at me a whole lot. The flavors mingle nicely except for the Robotussin aftertaste.

M: Syrupy, slick.

O: I like barleywines, but this one is probably on the bottom of the list for me.

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Photo of ElSid
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The Beers of California


Freshness Date: None

2013 Odd Year Release

A: Amber with a burgundy edge after a brisk pour. The head is khaki with small, effervescent bubbles which fade to a rim.

S: Breeze of brown sugar, caramel, and jackfruit. Earthy bitterness, wood, and burnt maple leaves in the back. Interesting nose.

T: Thick and syrupy sugar mix with a grainy, woody burnt warmth and a strong earthy, piney and spicy bite. Finish is astringent and dry with whiskey-like alcohol turning a bit phenolic in the end.

M: Syrupy and full with coating linger and faint carbonation.

O: I usually enjoy big beers but the alcohol here comes off somewhat medicinal and heavy throwing off the balance of this brew. I enjoyed the sweetness, smoke and wood complexity but would have liked more agreement of the component flavors. Expected a bit more from this.

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Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours rustic brown with a small head and great lacing.

Smoke dominates the nose. Lots of oak, earthy char, burnt sugar, smoked barley, toffee, alcohol.

Less smoke in the taste but more heat. Toffee comes on stronger with subdued piney hop character, burnt sugar, oak, big residual bitterness.

Big, thick feel on this beer. So chewy I can almost eat it. Slightly dry finish and big bitterness.

Interesting spin on a heavy hitter. Try it if you can.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 odd year batch

22oz bottle with a Sierra Nevada balloon glass.
*notes from 03/03/13

A: Look is a dark amber with some ruby tones and great clarity for such a big malty brew. Head was minimal in production. Thin khaki color with loose bubbles and low retention. Leaves behind a few light dots of stick with some squeaky runners of lace upon the glass.

S: Campfire smoke dominates the nose and has a nice meaty anchor to it. Like smoked ham with a glazing of sweet caramels. Reminds me more of a wet smoke. There is an earthy wood element as the smoke starts to dissipate and a bit of alcohol presence revealed. Nice overall but pretty smoke laden.

T: Tastes like candied bacon! Yes it’s that delicious...well almost. The smoke malt is much more subtle in flavor than the nose leads on and it really plays well with the other elements. Campfire and meat smoke combine together with the caramel candy sweetness. Hops are a bit understated working with the other flavors here but do offer up some supporting earthy pine and herb notes. The smoke is sharp at times but actual bitterness to the brew seems lower than the base beer. Alcohol disguised incredibly well behind the smoke screen. Vanilla sugar. Oak becomes more prevalent as the beer comes up to room temp. This is pretty nice. Great balance in flavors.

M: Creamy soft texture overall with some moderate to heavy chew there. Carbonation is crisp and frothy with a solid drying effort towards the finish. Touch of tannic smoke derived astringency . Alcohol warmth is pretty minimal. Exits the palate rather clean.

D: I do like the premise of a smoked B-Wine and this one is done pretty well. Really grows on you as you make your way through the smoky start. I thought this is drinking incredibly well fresh and the balance of flavors overall was great for such a big beer. Not hot or boozy in anyway. The sweetness really saves it all for me as it tends to teeter on the smokier side. Recommended and for the price it would be pretty hard to beat.

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Photo of flayedandskinned
3.32/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottled on 1/16/13
Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Pours a perfectly clear, deep amber with rich red highlights. A 2 and half finger tall light tan forms quickly with good retention. Lots of thick, meringue-like lacing adheres to the side of the glass. Great looking barleywine.

Aroma: Smoky, caramel laden malt with very light grapefruit and vanilla accents. Astringent alcohol becomes more and more apparent as the beer acclimates to it's room temperature glass. For as big as this beer is, the aroma is quite subdued.

Taste: Juicy caramel, vanilla infused malts right up front with only a mere suggestion of leafy, citrus-y hops before you're hit with a smoky, bitter and astringent off dry finish. As in the nose, the astringent characteristics of the alcohol become more obvious as the brew warms. Luckily, the smokiness grows as well.

Mouthfeel: Viscous and chewy with soft carbonation.

Overall: A decent barleywine that is not overly sweet and is somewhat complex. I truly enjoyed the smoke character of this barleywine, but other than that this beer is rather pedestrian. The strong alcohol flavor component does it no favors in regards to opening it's flavor profile.

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Photo of mjtiernan
4.21/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pretty standard. Head disappeared quickly. Reddish-brown body. Noticeable alcohol legs.

S: Oh man. The smoked part of this smells pretty good. Honestly, it's mostly smoke, lightly charred oak and alcohol on the nose. Maybe a little dark brown sugar. Where is the usual malty sweetness and hop goodness? Weird.

T: Pretty darn good actually. Some hops up front, then deep wood, smoky-sweet dark sugar and caramel followed by sharp alcohol and pronounced hop bitterness.

M: Full bodied, oily and moderate carbonation. Finishes pretty dry.

O: It's bold, but I like the level of wood and smoke on this. It's a definite departure from the OG that I'm accustomed to, but it's a really nice trip.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.77/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked one of these up at the COOP tonight for $6ish... clear deep amber brew with a long lasting tannish head... good lacing with a firm cap.

The nose is Old Guardian with a little bit of campfire thrown in.... caramel and lesser toasty malt with plenty of pungent hops with the smoke sorta complimenting the sweetness in the aroma.

The flavors mirror the nose with a more pervasive smokiness... standard big bitterness that lingers mid palate through the finish... caramel malts are also very present, a bit of nuttiness also shows up.

Thick and coating on the palate allows the finish to linger forever..

Not sure that I dig this one... I think the bitterness and heavy hop hand clash with the smoked malt.


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Photo of mt24turner
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this was a well made barleywine, smell was nice but not imperessive,taste i liked the hoppiness and the malt character, alcohol was still a tiny bit hot, i dont typically like smoked beers much but the smoke character blended with the oak and was just right. id buy this again

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.26/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Hazy copper-brown color with a finger of frothy tan-khaki head. Fades at a normal pace.

S - Sweet caramel malts, oak,vanilla, smoke, grapefruit, citrus, pine hops, some booze.

T - Sweet caramel malts, vanilla, oak, smoke, grapefruit, citrus, pine, grassy hops, good resiny bitterness, some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a sweet, smokey, bitter, and warming finish,

D - Great smoked barleywine. The overall balance is really great.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.84/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Oh, you brewers just know how to romance me, don't you? Anyway, this stuff pours a clear ruby-copper topped by a finger of off-tan foam. The nose comprises caramel apple, light grapefruit zest, oak smoke, light sweet biscuit, and the lightest kiss of mild ash. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a sharp, bludgeoning twang of pine resin. (Yes, it's possible to be both sharp and bludgeoning: imagine smashing someone's skull with a large, double-bladed war-axe.) Making matters worse, the resin cooperates with the smoke, creating a harshly abrasive bitterness that malingers for quite some time. Hints of the waxy coating on a lemon's peel slide in for occasional visits. The body is a solid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, I'd venture to say that the smoke did not do anything positive here, as the normally strong and lightly abrasive hop flavors characteristic of Old Guardian haven't abated, but have instead been twistedly enhanced by the hand of some diabolical malevolent force. This stuff hurt to drink, both physically (my tongue is pissed at me right now) and mentally, as I had high hopes for a strong, smoked barleywine. Oh well.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Red with 1 finger of off-white head that dissipates quickly. Extremely low carbonation and excellent clarity.

Caramel smoke and oak. Pretty straight forward.

Good amounts of beechwood smoked malts and oaky wood. The body is filled out with caramel and pale candy sugar. Lighter note of earth, leather, cherry and oats. Hints of piney hops and grapefruit zest in the finish.

Full bodied, velvety, creamy and smooth.

This is pretty much everything that it claims to be and is surprisingly drinkable at 11.4%. An oaky, smokey American Barleywine. It's worth checking out for $8/22oz bottle, you know, if this is your thing.

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Photo of flexabull
4.31/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark and crystal clear amber color with a very nice off white head. Beautiful looking beer.

Aromas are of dark fruits, earthy hops, and a nice subtle smoke note.

Taste starts out with a nice smoke background of flavors. Charred and slightly peaty, with some nuttiness, dark stewed fruits, and subtle caramel sweetness. Finish is earthy and warm. Flavorful, well balanced, and not overly smokey.

Mouthfeel is full, smooth, with nice body.

Overall, I really like this. I'm a sucker for smoked beers, and I think Stone did a nice job adding the smoke element without overdoing it. Another winner from Stone, this and the Enjoy By have been really nice offerings.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.58/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Caracole small snifter. Pours an orangey copper amber with a nice one finger off-white head with good retension and lacing. Pleasant aroma of caramel malt, hops, licorice, faint smoke. Wow. Excellent flavor of well balanced smoke, oak, sweet malt, pine hops, finishing with pine and floral hops and smoke. Everything is perfectly balanced. Great medium, creamy body. This is just superb and more complex and interesting than the regular Old Guardian. I will cellar one of these, but it seems near perfect right now. I'm a big fan of smoked beer and this is now at the top of the list. I can still taste sweet malt and smoke as I finish this review.

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Photo of watsonmd
4.34/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle, @ 50 degrees, poured into snifter.

A: nice amber dark pour, tight head, constant lacing of foam.

S: Oak and smoke, living up to the name... with some citrus, and something. Hard to name.

T: In your face. Bringing me back to the fresh DIPA sensation. There is an initial smoke and wood flavor, but then there is a nice, hoppy grapefruit/citrus/pine bite that grabs your tongue. The smoke and wood linger for a ling time...

M: smooth, but not thick. almost oily? the hops or oak... something that coats the mouth.

O: Nice beer. Not "awesome," but good, and interesting. Would recommend it be tried once. Maybe a tasting instead of a whole 22 if you're not a huge hop head or smoke fan.

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Photo of tut2528
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: pours dark ruby in color, with a solid 2 fingers worth of foamy looking, off-white head formation. lacing is phenomenal. just slightly transparent.

S: big smokiness and oak notes right up front, and they rather dominate this aspect of the brew. there is a slight peppery aspect to this as well.

T: interesting blend going on here. the "oak-smoked" character is still very much alive, but there is a nice molasses and sugar sweetness that comes into the scene. I also pick up on some pepper, slight citrus and theres a bitter hop finish. alcohol is nearly undetectable

M: full bodied brew, and just a tinge of heat is felt along the gums. it leaves the palate with a nice subtle smokey character and a bitterness from the hops

O: high drinkability, nicely balance brew (taste), and it brings a uniqueness to this style. for the price its worth the purchase, but its nothing to go crazy about (IMO)

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours a super dark amber to brown with a frothy off-white head leaving lots of lace, great head retention.

S: Mesquite smoke, notes of orange and toffee, smells like BBQ ribs in a way.

T: Lots of dark bready malt, with a secondary undercurrent of smoke which carries the beer. Some minor notes of molasses and treacle with a still heavy grapefruit hop component.

M: Medium to full-bodied, rich, frothy, soft for its size.

O: A good beer, I think it suffers a bit from the oak aging/smoke malt like OA Arrogant Bastard is not as good as the regular. It rounds the beer out for sure, but takes out some of its character. Still a nice brew, and the price ($5.99/bomber) is very nice, but in the end I prefer the original.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

"Left field, here we go!" Stone Brewing kicks off their trip through the twilight zone in '13 with a Oak-Smoked version of their Old Guardian Barleywine to add to the portfolio of "Odd Beers for Odd Years" that has been dormant since 2011.

Not unlike the original Old Guardian, this version has no deviation because of its smoky influence. It's a deep amber-stained ale that shows bright clarity with mahogany and crimson highlights. Incredibly frothy, the sandy-yellow head blankets the beer's surface with a dense barrier of cream. Bold speckled lace and broken rings adorn the glass with each draw from its rim.

Smoke trumps the aromas, but do so with a strong rebuttal of true starch malt aromas. Surprisingly, the hoppy and toffee aromas that are so prevalent in the standard Old Guardian takes a serious backseat in the beer's scent. Bold mesquite and teriyaki offer a meat-centric scent that's similar to beef jerky. Lightly piney, these hop notes marry up with the smoke tones effortlessly. Fruit aromatics of orange and grapefruit and mildly jammy and inform the toffee sweetness that lurks close behind.

But in taste, the toffee and caramel malts shine. Just as vibrant and succulent as the original, the efforts of smoked oak are relegated to a reserve role in the beer's taste. The longevity of sweetness lives indefinitely on the palate and is accompanied by starchy breads and spaghetti, but then gives way to a growing and intensifying hop character which starts fruity but ends bitter, resiny, and piney. But there it is- the cloud of campfire smoke that was so dominant in aromas slowly cast its ominous shadow over the taste as well, particularly as echos as the beer finishes.

With the first draw into the mouth gives the impression that the ale can be drank like a standard ale. But it's just then that it swells to a marshmallow-like texture that's chocked full of toffee, pine-like bitterness, and peppery alcohol. It dominates the mouth with no apologies before trailing late with growing warmth, residual toffee malt, and smoked oak.

In closure, the oak-smoked Old Guardian shows more complexity than even the ultra-complex standard Old Guardian but the oddly compelling "oak smoked" character throws the balance and prohibits the balance of the beer from at least equaling that of the base barleywine. But for the lovers of smoke, cigars, or scotch whisky- they may find this example superior.

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Purveyed from the Bier Cellar in Portland ME, 22 oz bomber 6.99.

A- poured into imperial pint glass (why not?) a little over aggressively, seemed to not want to produce head at first but then resulted in an immense 3 finger off white head. Body is a beautiful amber to redish. Head takes a long time to reduce, leaving both apparent legs and copious amounts of lacing. Looks amazing headwise, body seems a little light in color for the style. But I guess I can't knock this for the hue, the head retention and lacing is amazing despite the high abv. Probably the best looking barleywine I've had.

S-Intense aroma of malt, alcohol, piney resinous hops. Nice toasted notes, almost roasted barley-ish. Strong smoke comes through more pronounced as it warms, coupled with the sweet malt notes, it is almost reminiscent of barbecue sauce, or even bacon.

T- Taste is very complex, and very smooth. Big malt flavor with burnt sugar, smoke, roasted, and sweet character. Malt profile extends through the finish. Hops are present with definite flavoring hops, with a floral and pine flavor up front and a nice bitter finish, certainly enough to quell the sweetness that is ever present. With a few less IBUs this would be too sweet. ABV is well masked.

M- one of those brews where I skip to mouthfeel before even touching taste, it stands out. So smooth, great balance of carbonation, Heavey body but by no means thick. Finishes very balanced and I was afraid it would be too sweet.

O- I love the idea of a smoked oak barleywine. I love this style in general, but it's good to have something unique like this to break the monotony when all you drink is barleywines in the winter and they start tasting very similar. It's a shame this is only a limited release, this is just an absolutely enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Deigea
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into stone Imperial Russian Stout snifter. Beer was allowed to warm for 20 minutes after pulling out of fridge, but still below 55 degrees F.

Appearance: Low, slightly brown head, fading to white. After settling, a light head is present.

Aroma: Definite barley smell, with a hint of oak. Taste overpowers smell after first few sips. After warming a hint of berries or similar fruit seem to come through.

Taste: Very spicy at first, very overpowering, but settles after a few seconds. Initially, fruit flavors come in after the spice fades, but the spice lingers in back of throat long after the first sip. After the initial taste has taken over taste buds and the beer has been allowed to warm up, the wood notes become present. The high alcohol content is noticeable at first, but fades away as the other flavors become more prevalent.

Mouth-feel: Beer carbonates in mouth, medium viscosity for a beer, but that feeling might be from the lingering of the carbonation. Spice lingers in back of throat long after sips. As drinking continues, carbonation is still present although fading. Throat still has some spice after sips, although numbing has mostly taken it's place, most likely from the high alcohol levels.

Overall Impression: Beginning tastings were quite potent with spice and carbonation. As this began to fade after the first quarter of the bottle, the taste was very pleasant for a barley wine. I think with aging the carbonation will die down a bit which will help with my main problems with it. I plan to purchase another few bottles to try 6 months from now, and depending on taste, a few years down the road. Overall, very pleasant, definitely a sipper. One bomber will get you pretty buzzed.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 "Odd Beers for Odd Years" Release

APPEARANCE: tawny red, translucent, ruby, soft yellowish head, finger, foamy lacing.
AROMA: burnt wood, smoke, meat, citrus hops, caramel, toffee, light roast, faint booze, earth, grain.
TASTE: caramel, smoked meat, woody char, medium bitterness, toffee, sweet malts, candied sugar, light dark fruits, citrus fruit hop notes.

***Question: How the hell do you make OG better? Answer: F*cking Oak - Smoke that Ish!

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Old Guardian OAK - SMOKED Barleywine from Stone Brewing
3.97 out of 5 based on 761 ratings.
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