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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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
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