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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Ratings: 37 |  Reviews: 37
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 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 Crosling
2.74/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark copper in color. Nutty aroma (salty peanuts, almonds) with hints of caramel. The malts (caramel, toffee, butter toffee and biscuits) are very sweet but the hops are present enough to balance everything. Extremely salty. The body is a bit light and again, the texture is lacking.

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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 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 drabmuh
2.97/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle without a visible date on it. Beer is slightly hazy and brown, almost no head carbonation is low and there is no lacing.

Strong sweet malt aroma with a hint of apples.

Strong back flavor, low to medium body. Kind of harsh. Going in again, sweet and then oddly bitter, there isn't much carbonation in the mouth so not a lot gets connected. Sorry, this beer is not very drinkable and I'm not enjoying it at all. Maybe its past its prime but I'm done.

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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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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 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 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 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 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 mickeymac
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

OK, this is the '03 release and I probably have no business drinking it yet. Poured from a 12 oz bottle taken from a 4-back it pours a nice amber with a fairly thick head that leaves a fair amount of lace until the beer is about half gone. The head seems to more or less disappear at that point. The smell is most certainly on the sweet side, with little hop bitterness, and an interesting smell that could most closely be associated with dirty laundry. The taste is fruity sweetness, with notes of toffee, and other candy-like flavors. The mouthfeel is fairly creamy, and the prodigious abv is well-hidden. I'd like to put some of this away for a year or two and reassess it then. It's worth trying now, but it may have some room for improvement.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 Vintage, Sampled 12.06.03
A slightly hazy amber color, topped by a tan head. There is a fruity candy type aroma with cherry notes here. The candy notes are in the taste of this beer as well. There is some almost imperceptible phenolic notes, but they are just barely there. The alcohol is quite evident in the finish. It finishes with a bit of bitterness that balances the malty sweetness. There is some hop flavor in here as well. This beer is quite full bodied (just about perfect), but not tot syrupy like some. Quite fruity with notes of cherry, which is an interesting note in a Barley wine.

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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 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 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 erica
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

We got a 4-pack of this in Palmdale, CA while on vacation; I wanted it because I like barleywines and the label is a cactus. Looked interesting...

So... it poured a very pretty dark reddish colour and smelled strong of alcohol and sweetish. It was nice. It tasted good, there were hops in there definitely, and it was sugary, which was all very tasty. However, there was an overpowering taste of alcohol throughout, which really got to me by the end. I mean, yes, it is 10%, but the alcohol taste was too much in the foreground for me, not quite balanced as well as I would've liked. Mouthfeel was good for a barleywine, but drinkability suffers a bit because of that big alcohol bitter taste.

Overall it was not a bad beer but it also wasn't one of my favourite barleywines. It's a good one with room for improvement. Would I drink it again? Sure. Am I sad that I can't get it where I live (at least i dont think i can)? Not really.

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Photo of francisweizen
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 Edition: This is a dark reddish brew with a small white head of foam that does not last too long. The aromas are of booze, deep sweet malts, and some nice floral hops. The taste is a lovely blend of alcohol, hops, and sweet, sugary malts. The taste of booze is a bit heavy in this BW, and I think that this would be a much better brew in a year or two. The mouthfeel is a bit thick, but not cloying and the drinkability is above average. A mellow BW, but with a bit of an alcoholic flare to it. Nice.

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

This beer stated that is was a limited release and bottled in 2002.
Served cold and allowed to warm.

This beer poured into the glass a dark gold/red/brown color that was slightly cloudy. This beer, when poured semi-vigorously, produced a thick, foamy, creamy tan/beige head. It lasted for a few moments then shrunk into a thin rim. When in its foamy head state, there was lace produced, not great, but more sparse then full, also semi-decent carbonation was noticed. The aromas that came from the glass were sweet in nature. I nosed malts, fruits, caramel, yeast and some slight wood. The taste was slightly bitter when it was first poured (cold), flavors of hops, flowers, fruit, malt, caramel, yeast, and alcohol. I also noticed that it was slightly plastic/astringent in nature. I let it warm and noticed that the aforementioned totally disappeared. It became sweeter in nature and much, much better. The flavors seemed much more solid, more pronounced and very good. The label states that it is better warm, and I totally agree. The finish when cold was dry in nature. The finish was creamy and sweet malty in nature when warmer. This beer is far, far better when served at a warmer temperature. My suggestion to anyone who gets this beer is to follow the label, and remember one phrase – warmer is better.
My review points reflect the differences in temperature and how I tried to rate it. Taking it into consideration

Thanks Gusler for the experience.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This barley has a luscious mahogany-ruby color!! Gorgeous!! It is mostly clear, and has a slightly tan, fine, creamy head. Lacing is fairly nice, as well! Nose has the requisite malty notes combined with some hops, yet there is also a slightly fruity aspect to it as well. I find it detracts a bit from the aroma, as it was somewhat unexpected. Body just barely makes the grade in the medium category, and it does pass fairly smoothly on the tongue. The flavor has a sharp, yet quick, initial hit of malt which disappears as soon as it hits you. After that, there is an abundance of hops, with a good share of piney, citrusy notes, yet there is also a fruity, tart characteristic. A fairly good, middle of the pack barley. Not in the Bigfoot realm, yet nicely quaffable! Mucho thnx to Gusler for the bier! Danke, Herr G! Skol!!!!

overall: 4
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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