Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Old Cactus Juice: Sonoran Old Saguaro Barleywine 2004 Vintage

Where ever I travel in the world, be it for business or pleasure I'm always on the hunt for a new beer. Back in 2004 I paid Phoenix, AZ a visit for the first time, and enjoyed many a beer from the Sonoran Brewing Company. I've made a few visits to Arizona since, even lived in AZ for a few months on a work assignment. I love the state of Arizona, and I love the beers from the Sonoran Brewing Company. One of my favorites is their limited release barleywine called Old Saguaro.  I first tried this beer back in 2004. Here was my impressions of this beer back then:

Old Saguaro (pronounced "suh-whar-oh") is a barleywine by style, and is an exceptional one at that. A Saguaro is the variety of cactus, most of us see when ever we see a desert land scape of the Southwest.  No cactus juice is used in the brewing of this beer, however. Here is what the brewery has to say about it from the 4 pack
Old Saguaro is a barleywine styled ale. Barley wines are traditionally strong beers(they are not wine) with an alcohol content similar to wine. Rest assured no grapes or saguaros are harmed during the hand crafting of Old Saguaro. Just lots of malts and hops, with somewater and yeast, resulting in a smooth, malty, robust brew that you can always count on to relax with.

Well said, and I could not agree more. I've enjoyed many a barleywine in my day, and Old Saguaro is one of
them. This beer is aged at the brewery for 6 months before its release, and the 2004 vintage that I
enjoyed, and brought back with me for my beer cellaris truly outstanding. Coming in at 9.2% abv by volume,
this is the perfect beer to sit in relax with as you watch the Southwestern sky fall.

Old Saguaro pours to a beautiful, bright, deep tawny brown color with a slight tan head that fades, and soft carbonation. The nose on this beer is very iinviting with lots of sweet malty and caramel aromas, paired with just a hint of peppery alcohol. The palate is firm with some soft touches, as flavors of biscuit and caramel malts fill with mouth. Hints of estery fruit play along as this beer glides over the tongue.Old Saguaro finishes with more sweet malt and touchesof estery fruit up front, then ends with a slightly warming, peppery burn.

So how does it taste with 7 years of age on it? In a word, amazing.
I was careful to pour this one as it is sedimented with yeast. The 2004 vintage pours to a beautiful, bright, deep tawny color, with no head, and a soft carbonation. The nose on this beer has become more polished with malty aromas of toffee and treacle paired with peppery alcohol. The plate on this beer has become smooth and silky on the tongue as flavors of sweet malts and toffee glide over the tongue. This is paired with a wonderful flavor of plum and sherry that has come from age. I say plum and not prune as it has a more fresh than dried fruit flavor that is just wonderful. Old Saguaro 2004 finishes with more good toffee and plummy flavors up front, then ends with a soothing, peppery burn that lingers.
This beer has held up exceptionally well in my cellar. Old Saguaro has stood the test of time, and shows that a good barleywine can improve with age. This beer was fantastic young, but I believe 7 years of age has made Old Saguaro even better.
A fantatic beer from a fantatic Arizona brewery. If you see this one, do not hesitate to purchase it, and cellar a few bottles. My rule of thumb with barleywine is to always try it young, and always cellar vintages for future enjoyment. I'm happy to say Old Saguaro Barleywine 2004 was a great beer when I first tried it, and its as good if not better 7 years later. For more information about this beer and the brewery, visit their site at:

1 comment:

  1. I have some 2008 if you're interested, I too agree this brew ages beautifully!