Old Saguaro Barley Wine | Sonoran Brewing Company

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Old Saguaro Barley WineOld Saguaro Barley Wine
37 Ratings
Old Saguaro Barley WineOld Saguaro Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Sonoran Brewing Company
Arizona, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bierman9 on 09-22-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 37 |  Reviews: 37
Reviews by GClarkage:
Photo of GClarkage
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Consumed in September 2004 from a 12 oz bottle purchased out of a four pack from Trader Joe's. Poured a murky amber/brown color. Left a tiny head which quickly disapated. Smelled of carmel, malt and alcohol. Tasted like a perfectly middle of the road barleywine. Maybe a apple, maple sryup kinda taste to it. You can tell the alcohol is there. It is not hidden. Not a great beer, but not a bad one either. I would grab many others over this one though. Still, worth a try though.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Saguaro '99 - roughly 3 years old at this point. Carefully poured it delivers a fairly clear, orange-ish/honey colored body topped by a thin and foamy white head. The retention is poor and the head drops readily, but it does leave some tiny specks of spotty lace. The nose delivers a good burst of sweet caramel, some vanilla, a mild fruitiness, and alcohol. The body is firm with a gently creamy carbonation, and it's smooth across the palate. The flavor is rich, malty, and caramel-tinged with some light vanilla, mild fruit (cherries) and a clear presence of alcohol that's highly noteable but not overly intrusive - although it does linger in the aftertaste with some malt and bitterness. Overall, it's a nice barleywine that seems to age fairly well. I wouldn't buy it for the purpose of putting it away... but whatever's left at the end of the season will probably be just as good or better come next year. Enjoyable.

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Photo of beerluvr
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 Version.

Pours out with a micro-bubbled creamy ivory colored head that falls calm upon a finely carbonated wee hazy amber-reddish brew. Very nice lacing in the glass as the head subsides. I swera I can smell some apple pie/cinnamon spices as I take a whiff of the nose, followed by a light maltiness. First rate mouthfeel...smooth and rolling with complex flavors of malt, fruitiness and a refreshingly restrained yet fully palpable hoppiness, Barleywines are often hop monsters so this is a nice change! A warming alcohol sensation follows to bring things to a close, then it dries slightly, becoming a tad more bitter than sweet. A very commendable effort from Sonora Brewing!

Thanks to Gusler for the bottle!

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Photo of Padron4KM
3.93/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 ltr swingtop bottle. 2001 release, bottle #86 of 180.

pours a beautiful reddish amber, with a short lived copper colored head. head does come back with agitation.

Aroma is prune,cooked banana, a touch of caramel and alcohol vapor.

Flavor is of cooked dark fruits, caramel, and a little syrupy sweetness. mild alcohol warming.

Finish is long with some dry yeasty notes. Tasty.

Too bad Sonora is going away, this and Inebriator IMHO are two of the better AZ beers.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 edition, poured from a stubby 12oz bottle. Had a reddish sandstone color and a compact off-white head that wasted no time shrinking down to a skim. The smell had a hefty fruit aroma and some caramel malt backed with a dose of aromatic hops and alcohol. That big ABV doesn't hide very well so you know what you're getting into before your first sip.
The taste had strong and equal elements of caramel malt, alcohol soaked apple and plum flavors, and hops bitterness. The sweetness of this barleywine got right up to the point of being cloying, as it slathered the palate in syrupy sweetness.The fruity, malty, toffee flavor is all alcohol laden. The bitter finish managed to restrain that sweetness to a tolerable level. The feel was full, rich, and chewy.
This was a pretty good barleywine that had been cellared for about six months. I'd be interested in picking up a couple more to stash for a year or two to see how they'd turn out.

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Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1998 - First Batch/Bottling”
What a treat to get an “Original” first batch/bottling of this quite astounding “Barley Wine, a favorite “Beer Style”, and I have at least one bottle of all the years brewed, and it does age nicely.

The Pour is a dark rusty brown color, the head is modest, frothy, but disbands quite quickly leaving a very fine sheet of lace. Lots of suspended goodies floating between the top and bottom, the aroma of fusel alcohol quite conspicuous, brandy like, candy apple sweet, and a touch of malt and yeast underlying it all, “WOW” what a treat for the senses. Ambrosial start, thick malt top, and the finish is spectacular in its hop spicy bite, the carbonation indifferent with the aftertaste dry, long lasting and most certainly alcohol bitter. What a warmer, quite decent barley wine to start with, now I must go out and find some to lay down for a few years

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Photo of mwilbur
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 22 oz bottle into snifter.
A: Copper color with very thin light tan head.
S: Bright floral and medicinal hops dominate. Hint of caramel malt.
T: A jumble of hops and malt with cough syrup sweetness. Not well balanced and honestly not that good.
M: Smooth and lighter body than would be expected from 9.2% ABV.
D: If the taste wasn't holding this back, it would be quite drinkable. ABV is well hidden. But alas, not one that I would recommend.

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Photo of weeare138
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage '04 bottle...
Appears an amber haze with a small white head that doesn't die out. Scattered streaks of lacing left around the glass.
Smell is of mild oxidation with caramel, raisins, raspberry, and cherry.
Taste is of the aromas with some vanilla and oak in there.
Mouthfeel is sugary, mellow, and actually quite drinkable.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Originally sampled on 13 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a cloudy burnt orange color w/ nearly no head. The nose has some hints of banana & syrup. It's thick & rich on the tongue w/ a nice warm afterglow. This is a decent barleywine

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Photo of aracauna
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This has a sweet caramel aroma and it is a dark cloudy amber body with an ok head. Buttered biscuit malt carries a little bit of molasses with just enough hops to balance it out. I can't say that this is an excellent barleywine, something just makes it seem second rate without noticing any flaws.

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Photo of Mustard
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle; "brewed in year" warning -- in this case 2003 -- notched on the label's left edge; $4.99/4 from Trader Joe's.

Appearance: Pours a fairy clear, amberish copper; not much in the way of a head, even with a rough pour.

Aroma: Thickly of caramel, toffee and tropical fruits; faint floral traces; somewhat phenolic.

Taste: Primary notes are of toffee, figs, cherries and tropical fruits; sweet, as per the style, but not abusively so; a light to moderate hop bitterness pokes its head out in the finish; slightly soapy hop character; phenolic, but not heavily so; medium to heavy in body; smooth mouthfeel.

Notes: Can't honestly say I've had enough barley wines to describe this as good, bad or simply par for the style; eminently drinkable vis-a-vis several other bw's I've had; for $1.25 a bottle, I personally consider this a very good deal.

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Photo of GreenCard
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: strong pineapple ester with slight malt backbone, a little floral hop aroma but not much, prevailing tropical fruitiness, but very enticing.

Appearance: copper with decent clarity, slight haze perhaps from chilling, tan head rises and depletes quickly but that's to be expected from the 10% abv

Flavor: malty sweetness is highly dominated by the tropical fruit esters which also come through heavily in the flavor, pretty mellow hop flavor but a good hop bitterness finish, a nice flavor progression, well-balanced despite the esters, pleasant lingering malt after-taste

Mouthfeel: warming but not overly so, full bodied, nice creamy texture, fine-beaded carbonation that lasts to the end

Overall Impression: though I'm generally not a big barleywine fan or hop-head, I really like this one. Not too aggressive and pretty easy to drink, sneaks up on you though.

*I believe this was from the 2002 stock, though I'm not sure. Bought it at the Sonoran Brew-out on Feb. 8th, 2003.

Update [7.9.2009]: I am drinking a bottle of this same stock (2002) that I have aged since then. How does it measure up with 6 years on it? Brilliantly! There are still a lot of tropical fruitiness, but the hop bitterness has receded quite a bit, allowing the malt to come to the fore. Also hints of brown sugar and port wine. Very tasty!

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Photo of mzwolinski
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A deep amber beer, with almost no head retention. Some sediment.

The aroma is a little thin -- caramel sweet with a solvent alcohol boquet.

This is one of the sweetest barley wine's I've ever had. This beer has a medium body -- maybe a little too light -- with a sweet malty flavor. Fruity overtones -- apple I think? Very sweet finish. A bit low on hop flavor for the style. Still a very decent beer.

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Photo of jahred
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to drweizen for another of his Arizona beers!

My bottle has #5175 stamped on it, and says it was brewed in '03.

Pours a light brown color with a fairly thin head.

The light scent is of light malts, alcohol, and ester. Nothing exciting.

The taste hits me as rather odd. Is it peppermint? That's the first thing that comes to mind, but that's not quite right. No. Pepperminty malt? No ... I can't quite recognize this strange taste, which is only around at the beer's finish. Earlier in the taste there's some chewey, biscuity malty going on, but nothing overwhelming or too huge. I don't notice anything hoppy, either.

Back to the weird taste. It's intriguing, if odd, and something I've never encountered before in beer. It doesn't taste bad, but it's sweet, and doesn't really fit in with the rest of the beer. Hmmm... As the beer warms, the minty flavor becomes a minty orange flavor. Strange. I finish off my beer, and wonder if the flavor was somehow associated with licorice. Not sure. But I do know that it made the beer a bit harder to drink than I'd expect otherwise.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 "Limited Release", labelled @ 9.2% ABV.
I had only tried the IPA from this Brewery and was not impressed at all. A 4-Pack of this Barley Wine in Trader Joes attracted me though for some reason, I picked it up and put it back on the shelf a few times, as the memory of the IPA was still prevalent. In the end I went with it.
The bottle has “limited release” stated on it, and the label also indicates that this was bottled in '02.
Pours a deep brown, ruddy red color. Looks like a piece of dusty unpolished dark cherrywood furniture. It is not clear, there are no “floaties”, but it does have a mild haze.
Head is quite restrained at first, a light tan color that settles to ½” depth and it laces well, but eventually settles to a quite thin vicars collar.
Aromas are very fruity and quite strong. The dark fruit nose has a strong alcoholic smell that has a pervasive sweetness linked to it. Not offensive, but not too appealing, at first it did smell like a “young” sweet Barleywine. As the beer warmed, this did not seem as harsh.
Tastes are of malt drenched in a sweet alcoholic stew, other ingredients include a syrup-toffee caramel middle that helps the high strength beer linger without offending. The caramel sweetness stays around in the finish, longer than that annoying uninvited neighbour who always drops by. It does help though. Has some dryness in the finish but not much bitterness.
A quick tilt and flick of the glass reveals a very high inherent carbonation and a freshness that contributes to the vivacity of this offering. This I believe also aids the softness of the fluids embarkation onto your palate and protects you somewhat from the harsh alcoholic strength of this beer, which is quite considerable at the stated 9.2% ABV. The 6 months pre-aging of the beer before bottling probably also helps this as well.
Overall I grew to like this beer in time, but it is only just working I think. It is a little too sweet and I would prefer a little more hop-bitterness bite in the finish. Will this come with time I wonder? I will pick up another couple of 4-Pack’s and keep them – because I believe that it may well improve over time. Maybe not the 5 years that the label states, probably more like a peak at 2 or 3 – but who knows?
Worth a try! If you can get older bottlings from 99, 00 or 01, I would pick them up.

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Photo of TXHops
2.85/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Old Saguaro emerges from the bottle a clear, tawny red color with a typically quick dying barleywine head of cream-colored foam and a very sweet, almost cloying nose of malt mingling with alcohol. The aroma is vaguely reminiscent of turpentine in a bad way, but also of a VERY strong rum laced Shirley Temple, complete with Maraschino cherries, in a good way. Odd nose, to say the least.

The flavor, which is difficult to divorce from the aroma, also has a strong, sweet alcohol flavor putting me a little in the mind of cough syrup, or possibly cherry NyQuil but without tasting absolutely wretched. This beer has very little hop character aside from the amount that’s required to keep 10% ABV worth of malt from wreaking total havoc on the possible rating.

Unfortunately, this beer was too sweet and actually became cloying as it warmed. I liked the unusual cherry flavor, but that wound up being the only flavor, creating a one-dimensional profile and an aftertaste like drinking cheap cocktails. The thick body was almost vinous, but then just settled for sweet. I’m really curious to see what a few months or a year (or even two) in the cellar will do to rectify this beer’s current flaws. Glad I bought two bottles.

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Photo of srandycarter
1.8/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

A - Deep murky natural cider/dark caramel color, only ring for head. Trace lacing.

S - Cooked ripe fruit, some off notes.

T - egad! Sour, vinegar, nasty bitter, won't go away, finish.

M - Medium body, fair carb, etc.

D - This hit the wall, unfortunately.

No date on this one, only a number on the label : 5175.
Hoping since others have reviewed in last months it would still be good. NOT.

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Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light red color, small nearly no head. Very malty nearly syrupy, caramelized malt flavor. Sweet yet hopped to balance sweetness. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is very smooth. Aftertaste is sweet yet subdued. Very complex flavor is this beer. Nice barley wine. Need to hide some away for a year or so.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark and muddy sort of color, hints of caramel amidst the brown. Head initially leaps high in the glass, and eventually leaves some okay lacing. The nose is malty over the hops, with a pretty good whiff of honey. Vinous character, almost like a barrel aging number. Could be an oldish bottle, although frankly it looks quite fresh.

In the mouth Old Saguaro is quite sweet with a lightly puckering vinegar sourness that isn't quite what I had in mind but really doesn't play too poorly with the barleywine style.

Bottom line is that Old Saguaro has a saggy, low-carbonated feel to it that makes the mouthfeel and flavors drag too much. There's a lot to like here, but the overall package is not great.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer had a bit of age on it, so I don't know what it was like originally and especially what the hop level might have been, but overall this has held up very nicely as it should for the abv and style. This had a particularly nice, pancake head for the age. Definitely smells malty, sweet and honeyed. Pleasant. The taste was very sweet with a very slight grainy sourness in the background that overall made it seem just a tad vinous. No oxidation, though. Smooth and winey, the real limitation on drinking this is the sweetness rather than any heat from the alcohol. Not bad at all.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 Compliments of brewandbbq

Pours a cloudy orange hued brown with no head. Nose is a mild caramel, apples, and brandy tones. Flavor is very smooth with levels of caramel, dark fruits, wood, brown sugar. This is extremely smooth after all these years. Slick and quite smooth feel on the liquid. Low carbonation. Quite good.

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Photo of BeerManDan
2.1/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Like said before, bought this for $4.99 a four pack at Trader Joe's. After tasting this barley wine? I returned the other three bottles back to TJ's and they refunded my money so I could use it to buy so good beer. After the smell, it was rock bottom after that. This was so bad that my friend and I threw it down the drain. This is on of the worst BW's that I've tasted.

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Photo of rkhaze
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 Limited release. $4.99 a 4/pak at Trader Joe's.
Poured a slightly hazy, bright reddish brown. Looked great!
The aroma was sweet. Toffee, caramel and malt. The taste pretty much followed the aroma with the addition of some fruitiness and yeast. Almost too sweet. There was a slightly tart sharpness in the aftertaste that I didn't care for. A little out of balance.
The body was medium for the style but the sweetness didn't help the drinkability. Certainly worth a try.
I think this barleywine is just a little young and should improve with age. The potential to mellow and get more complex is there. For the price it's worth laying some down and seeing what develops.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.12/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is a solid cloud of cherrywood with a waffer thin head of yellow fizzy foam and leaves very thin strings and spots of lace.

Heavenly strong aroma of toffee, plums, raisins, and spicey candy like peppermint sticks and honey sugared nuts and a load of warming alcohol. Whoa, what a sniffer!

Taste is toffeeish sweet caramel candy, roasty soft malts and quite a bit of them, a little bit chewy and bread dough, light turn towards a small grab of citrusy sweet bittering hop thinness. Lacks a bit of complexity and balance. The finish ends with a bit of a textured warmth from alcohol and slight bitterness.

Solid medium body, smooth start, lightly creamy leading into a textured swallow and finishing with a warming slight bitterness and light crisp dryness mellowing.

This barleywine has its qualities, mostly good, but isn't quite hefty enough and favors a more mellow malty version. Still a pretty good offering, a great late night sipper. This probably ages pretty well. Of course you've got to keep it out of that Arizona heat.

Thanks to Gusler for the bottle.

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Photo of Jables
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks go out to Gusler for this regional delicacy.

Pours a hazy orange, brown, red composite.

Aroma is sweet caramel malt with estery hops and alcohol.

Taste is exactly what I'd expect based on the aroma but with strong fruity notes. Buttery toffee with fruit candy all over it about sums it up.

The mouthfeel is actually thinner than expected as I thought this would be mighty heavy but it's not thin by any means either.

Overall, a superwarming brew yet the alcohol isn't obvious. That helps the drinkability.

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Old Saguaro Barley Wine from Sonoran Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.63 out of 5 with 37 ratings