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 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 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 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 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 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 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 xymyl
4.27/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just opened this 2003 1 litre Ltd. Edition bottle with some friends.

Color: Copper/brown hazy off white head that settles to a ring pretty quickly. Good carbonation.

Aroma: Hops are very muted gigantic malt, caramel, raisins, sweet and sour, spicy, a little hint of bourbon.

Taste: Surprisingly balanced for how malt forward the nose is. Everything shows up but the hoppy bitterness combined with the sourness tame the malt.

Other notes: Full bodied. Great, I don't believe that the recipe was any different for this bbottle vs. others I've had, but this has really matured well. I liked it much better than the fresh ones I had back then. And everybody who tried it loved it. But now I don't have anymore. I don't remember much if any sourness in this in the past, but I haven't tried it since 2003.

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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 murrayswine
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Retired MY ASS!
Scott Yarosh, the Sonoran Brewmaster gave me a bottle of this, corked like fine wine.
It pours a beautiful ruby red/amber with a true barley wine head, as in, it has none. the smell is huge ripped hops backed by oak and more oak. then comes the sweet malts, it's heavy like molassis.
On the taste, it's very big, but, a lot like Kentucky breakfast, astonishingly smooth. Lots of hops, but more like british hops. I know he uses the same style malt for everything he makes, but it sure as hell doesnt taste that way. This stuff is the devil, like a great port wine! This beer is far from dead, and based on previous reviews, a hell of a lot better!
Call the brewer and get yourself some.

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