1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Barrel Aged Old Ruffian - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

315 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 315
Reviews: 133
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 12.05%
Wants: 252
Gots: 104 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  12.70% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: ArrogantB on 10-08-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 315 | Reviews: 133 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BeerAndBourbon:
Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Pours a hazy brown with amber edges with a bit of foam on top.

S. Nice bourbon character with a bit of hoppiness and a nice sweet malt character.

T. Dark malt sweetness with bourbon and a slight hoppy bitterness that barely reflects the american barleywine influence.

M. Thin to medium body with fairly low carbonation.

D. As always, I'd rather an English barleywine with barrel aging, but I like this.

BeerAndBourbon, Mar 19, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to whomever brought this one to the taste. Haven't had the regular Old Ruffian at the time of tasting this, though I have two 2010 vintages ready to go... Perhaps I should crack one soon. Pours a dark, burnt brown and tan color with a nicely crafted tan head, fine-bubbled and lasting for half the pour.

Boozy and sweet aroma up front, full of big-time oak notes. Luckily, this one doesn't smell infected like the batches of BA Yeti... Some more sweetness is apparent on the nose, vanilla-ish and warm, alcoholic molasses. I haven't had the original Old Ruffian to compare to (I have a 2010 release in my cellar, no idea when I'll finally drink it). Some dark fruits on the nose as well, typical barleywine aromas abound.

Taste follows right along, starting off with a caramel, molasses, and toffee under-body, moderately sweet and delicate. Along comes a powerful and very sweet, toasted brown sugar flavor, hitting the taste buds pretty hard. Dark fruits become more noticeable eventually; grapes, raisins, prunes, black cherries - all soaked in booze and coated in sugar.

The booze is a little heavier in the aroma than it is on the palate, and it doesn't carry as strong of a bourbon feel as it did before, either. The oak is as powerful as ever, however, along with a mild vanilla and cinnamon spice. The finish is full of more boozy raisins and dates atop a sturdy, oak filled platform. A touch syrupy, silky and smooth on the palate with a lower-end amount of carbonation.

Definitely very drinkable for 12.7% ABV - sweet but not too sweet, with nice oak components, apparent from the barrel aging. I'll have pop the Old Ruffian soon to see how it compares. Luckily this one wasn't infected like some of the Barrel Aged Yetis that were released before this.

tectactoe, Feb 10, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is from the second bottling.

Pours murky brown, very clear, with no head at all.

The nose is wonderful. Maple, brown sugar, vanilla, and really doesn't show much alcohol.

I didn't like the experience of drinking it as much as I enjoyed the aroma. Pretty sweet with caramelized brown sugar and what I thought was a pretty serious lack of hop flavor, considering the non-barrel-aged stays hoppy for years. It's thick and boozy, and prickly on the tongue and has next to no carbonation.

It's pretty hot right now, so I would say to hold on to it for now.

brownbeer, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of bulldogg915
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

bulldogg915, Apr 02, 2013
Photo of marvin213
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Murky mud with a creme, bubbly beard, it looks like slop in whic a pig would play! It smells like sweet, creamy butter. And toffee. Some caramel sweets sway through and, as it warms, sweet, sweet whiskey. Perhaps the best nose on any barleywine I've encountered (Cabernet barrel-aging with others offering a considerably distant second).

It tastes strong and smooth. Tough with purpose, I respect it like the old carpenter who wears too much Brut or the immigrant barber with heavy aftershave, huge hands, and an eastern European accent (no homo). I mean it's a manly beer!

The beard is thick, and it leaves its marks everywhere it swirls. There's a butterscotch sweetness that's seductive and alluring, while all the while a leathery malt burn reminds you that this pour has power. I feel like my granddaddy would be proud of me for drinking this!

I imagine the whiskey will wait to impart its influence until after it warms up a bit--too subtle an influence there might provide for my biggest criticism. So mellow and smooth a taste for such a powerful beer, I eagerly await it taking me over (no homo--too much shades of grey in the collective consciousness right now). This is undoubtedly a propulsion into classy tastiness for the Ol Old Ruffian....

marvin213, Jul 22, 2012
Photo of megamass
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

megamass, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of Prospero
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

Prospero, May 05, 2012
Photo of jaminjohnson
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

jaminjohnson, Oct 30, 2012
Photo of bpfrush
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

bpfrush, Oct 06, 2012
Photo of jbogner
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

jbogner, Jul 04, 2014
Photo of glid02
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this thanks to RustyDiamond - thanks!

Pours a brownish-copper color with a 1.5-finger off-white head. The head sticks around for a while before receding into a thin pancake on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of bourbon and vanilla with good amounts of caramel malt and toffee lurking in the background.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Huge bourbon and vanilla flavors up front are backed by a strong caramel malt backbone. Near the end of the sip the caramel and toffee flavors come out a bit before a bitter ending. Piney hop flavors are present throughout but take a backseat to the aforementioned flavors, actually they're stuffed in the trunk.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a very nice thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is great. I finished my glass quickly and could easily finish the entire bomber.

Overall I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for bourbon in beer, and this one did not disappoint. Definitely worth a shot if you can get your hands on it.

glid02, May 11, 2009
Photo of davistabuff
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

davistabuff, Jan 08, 2013
Photo of beenitty
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

beenitty, Jan 06, 2013
Photo of pwoods
3.15/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

750ml brown bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a dirty, murky brown with damn near no carbonation. No head on the pour with no lacing.

S: Sweet yet rich malts with a light bourbon aroma but a good barrel nose.

T/M: No carbonation. Some citrus but more of the rich but sweet malts. Bourbon comes out as it warms but not very bit. Lots of barrel. No carbonation is very dissapointing.

D: drinks easy for as big as it is bit no carbo....

pwoods, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

acurtis, Sep 09, 2012
Photo of Mnewcomer1219
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Mnewcomer1219, May 10, 2012
Photo of biboergosum
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml, heavy black foil-capped bottle, number 0132, and 11.8% ABV. Thanks evermore to doktorzee for bearing the obviously sturdy luggage back from Colorado.

This beer pours a hazy, murky dark orange brickish hue, with three fingers of finely foamy, even a bit creamy beige head, which leaves some nicely thorough cascading cloud layer lace around the glass as things sink away - purdy, indeed.

It smells of sweet, musty caramel/toffee malt, a mildly astringent grainy woodiness, soft boozy bourbon vanilla, and quite evident resinous leafy, herbal, and piney hops. The taste is rather sugary caramel, toffee, and alcohol, a bit of further simple syrup sweetness, soft vanilla and spicy rye whiskey soaked wood, a tame earthy, tobacco ash mustiness, and more somewhat citrusy, but mostly pine needle and herbal tea-esque bitter hops.

The carbonation is weakly fizzy, but broad enough to count, the body medium-heavy in weight (the boozy wood quotient always seems to take a toll there), mostly smooth, with a hint or two of oppressed creaminess. It finishes on the sweet side, no surprise, but now more than a bit tempered, as the hops, wood, and general old basement mustiness come into their collective own. The big booze still seems to have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque, or something.

I've not yet had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the base Old Ruffian, so I can only surmise as to the mollifying effect that the Colorado whiskey barrel has had here, though I will say that the understated effects have a seemingly positive spin. More relevant, supposedly, are the big and brash hops, which do well here to preserve the American status of this tasty barleywine, even as the the wood is equally Yankee in nature.

biboergosum, Jun 20, 2013
Photo of mdaschaf
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

mdaschaf, Apr 29, 2013
Photo of GilGarp
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage. Bottle 2889.

750 ml bottle with foil wrapped cap.

Seved at cellar temperature into a goblet.

Barrel aged Ruffian is similar in color to the base beer. It has a deep redish brown color with good clarity and thin white head.

Aroma is rich and boozy with a combination of sweet malty hoppiness and a bourbon barrel oakiness.

Flavor is pleasant but the hops have faded considerably. It's mostly sweet up front with plenty of caramel malts, bourbon, and vanilla. Then the bitterness from the hoppy barleywine comes through in the middle. It finishes somewhat dry as the alcohol is fairly high but it has mellowed nicely so there's no heat.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with great balance and nicely aged after two years in the cellar. Carbonation is low but I prefer it that way in a strong, dark, barrel aged ale.

Overall an excellent barrel aged beer and the Old Ruffian stands up well the the barrel treatment.

GilGarp, Jan 06, 2014
Photo of Stigs
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle - marked #332/461 dated 8/2008

split with a local BA'er, served in Stone Levitation flute glasses

A - pours with a little over half an inch of very frothy, medium tan colored foam which settles to a thin film and large ring within a couple minutes. the beer is very murky/muddy, brown in color with some small visible bubbles.

S - bourbon right off the bat, though not overpowering or stale...very nice sour mash comes through before sweet notes of toffee, caramel, milk chocolate, raisins, before finishes with some mild oak and an awakening whiff of alcohol. simply divine.

T - sweetness kicks in immediately with dominating toffee and caramel, some twinges of dark fruits, and licorice. bourbon slowly creeps in bringing along some oak, vanilla, and cola flavors. sweetness balanced nicely by an assertive earthy and slightly citrus hop profile before booze wipes it clean.

M - medum to thick body with a creamy texture. subtle prickly carbonation cuts through the massive flavors yet delicious sweetness clings to all corners of the mouth. slightly burning alcohol (pleasant) finish with lingering oak and bourbon flavors.

D - ill admit, liked this more than I expected to. up there on the list of my favorite smelling beers, this is a wonderful example of bourbon-aging done well with balance, control, and complexity.

thanks to koopa for the trade

Stigs, Sep 24, 2010
Photo of Sammy
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 303, and thanks I believe to Jason B. Having this was like having an old friend over after several years, wiser and more interesting. At serious wine booziness, it was a major challenge to conduct intellectual exercises. Great looks with a to-inch head. Boozy but also woody aromas. Mellow, hoppy, oaky, full mouthfeel, it was very satisfying. The bourbon, Thank G-d, was minor, as we Canadians are not such big corn whiskey fans. I was getting more excellent oak. A great blending, and something I wanted to share, and is meant to share, but could not on the coldest night of the year.

Sammy, Jan 23, 2011
Photo of fairdinkum2
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is quite the education. Not what I expected at all.

First the pour. Weak, watery head that required a very vigorous pour to generate anything at all. No lacing, no retention whatsoever. First impression is OH OH - not good at all. Murky brown appearance. Strike two.

Now things start to get interesting. Very attractive nose of malt, caramel, vanilla with chocolate notes. Alcohol is there too, but not the dominant or even very noticeable characterisic.

First taste impression is not alcohol, as I would have expected and it's not hoppiness either. Actually cocoa and vanilla, followed by smooth, oaked alcohol. Long finish without any alcohol heat.

Very low carbonation. Could almost be described as flat. However, the complex nature of this ale makes up for these deficiencies.

Limited production. I'm stocking up, so get it while you can.

fairdinkum2, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #2374. 2012 vintage. 750ml bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

.5 finger fine, light brown head with little retention. Beer is a cloudy, dark brown. Lacing is stringy and spotty with good cling. Thin oily legs round this one out nicely.

Nose is boozy. Hints of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and green raisins. Solid.

Opens sweet, boozy and sappy. Caramel, brown sugar, anise, and green raisins. Warm boozy overtones throughout. End is brown sugar and molasses with a very sweet aftertaste. Still a bit hot at this point, hiding some nice nuances in this one. Still decent though.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and warm in the mouth and goes down boozy and hot. Finishes messy with a long, lingering finish. Very good.

A decent beer overall but at this point, this one still needs a bit of time. Nice complexities lurk underneath the booze but the barrel presence covers a lot right now. I'd love to revisit this one in a year or so.

SpeedwayJim, Oct 28, 2012
Photo of leschkie
3/5  rDev -27.7%

leschkie, Dec 31, 2011
Photo of Photekut
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photekut, Nov 18, 2011
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 315 ratings.