May 23, 2011

Stone Brewing Old Guardian Belgo

The last time I had Stone Brewing’s Old Guardian Barleywine, I may or may not have had a bit too much to drink before hand. Needless to say the experience was less than enjoyable. That was 3 years ago. I’ve just now gotten the courage to tackle it again, but this time around I’m going for the brewery’s “Belgo” version of the massive 12% ABV brew.

This Belgian variation on the company’s barleywine is just as big in terms of the alcohol and hop presence, but it’s got a decidedly different overall vibe due to the introduction of the same yeast used in the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. The end result is a beer that you need to take your time with and a beer that I enjoyed thoroughly despite my past history (read: stupidity) with it.


Bright copperish orange in color with only a patchy lacing on the surface.


It certainly smells tasty with hints of fruity esters, light Belgian candy, apples, subtle orange peel, pepper, malt sweetness and light piny hops.


This is not an easy drinking beer. It’s got a hell of an alcohol presence and a load of bittering hops that dominate throughout. The beer starts off with a fruity, malty sweetness before quickly jumping into the hoppy, dry finish that has a solid warmth from the higher ABV. Hints of apple, orange and peppery yeast hit the palate, as well.


I’ve heard this beer described as a “boozy, over-hopped mess,” and I can understand why, but if you know anything about Stone Brewing you know they like their hops — they really don’t mess around in that regard. Having that knowledge going into this beer more than prepares you for the big alcohol and bitter hop bite that accompanies the sweeter, maltier side of this barleywine. It’s anything but traditional and should be seen as such. That all said, I enjoyed this beer a good deal. I was in the mood for a beer that kicked the palate around a little.

Rating: 3.75/5

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