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 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 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 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 feloniousmonk
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright, beautiful , crimson color, firm, solid, cream-colored head.
Aroma: sweet, fruity, hoppy, vibrant, airy, delicious, bright,...nice...
Taste: sweet, bright, tasty, a magnificent meeting of malt and hops, happy and fruity, not a world-class barleywine, but a decent addition to the set. Just what I need in the throes of a Minnesota winter, very enjoyable, though the ABV is deceptive, doesn't stick out in the palate, then slowly kicks in!
Muchos gracias to gusler for this bottle! Only the second Sonora brew I've had, and both were beauts!

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 mattcrill
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Beerski for the chance to sample this fine brew.

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear auburn with an off-white, chunky head.

Smell: Smell is alcohol first with a nice malty backbone. Picked up hints of dried cherries along the way.

Taste: A nice malt sweetness shines through, dried fruits (apricots or peaches maybe), and then a nice dry alcohol finish. Really complex tasting. Not sure my palate is developed enough to pick up all the nuances of this beer.

Mouthfeel: Big and bad! Chewy with lost of character.

Drinkability and overall: This is my kind of beer! Stout-like in it's character. Drinkability suffers a little just because I can't imagine making this a session. But this is a fine after dinner treat. All characteristics of a good beer are there yet no one quality dominates. Nicely balanced.

Thanks again to Beerski for this great barley wine!

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