- Style: American Barleywine
- Serving: Bottle
- Volume: 22 oz
- ABV: 12.00
What happens when Stone takes their Old Guardian Barleywine and adds a bit of Belgian yeast? You end up with the Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine. Brewed as part of the “Odd Beers for Odd Years” Series this 2011 version has a 12% ABV tag and comes in a 22oz bomber. I really enjoy the regular Old Guardian, so I wonder will the addition of Belgian yeast help or hinder what I already consider to be a great beer?
The BELGO pours an amber / orange color with a thin white head which dissipates to a ring and leaves some spotted lacing behind. The aromas are full of Belgian hints and many other things. Citrus, hops, alcohol, yeast, spices and a malt sweetness are all evident on the nose. Complex, but unfortunately disorganized. I do enjoy the yeast and citrus aromas but the other elements muddy the waters.
The taste is classic Barleywine with Belgian yeast added, what you would expect given how this beer came about. Sweet malt upfront, spicy hops, spicy Belgian yeast and breadyness mid-palate. The finish is spicy and contains a decent hint of alcohol. This seems a little disjointed overall but not as much as the nose. The finish sticks with you, alcohol and spice fighting long after each sip. The mouth feel is smooth and decently carbonated, but I’m not sure if it helps the confusion of the flavors.
I wanted to like the BELGO more, but the adding of the Belgian yeast seems to have thrown off the balance of the Old Guardian. There are good elements but they need to be tamed. I have had this beer on draft as well and it is a bit better out of a keg. It’s smoother, and the flavors and aromas blend a bit better. If you want to give it a go, find it on tap — bottled may not be worth it.
out of 100
Mike Hoff is a Senior Writer for Passion Beer.
He is always seeking out the new, weird and wonderful in the world of beer. When he is not writing for the site, you can normally find him with a camera around his neck and a beer in hand.