Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe now →

Barrel Aged Old Ruffian - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian

Educational use only; do not reuse.

150 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 150
Hads: 393
Avg: 4.11
pDev: 11.44%
Wants: 258
Gots: 122 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  12.70% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ArrogantB on 10-08-2008

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 150 | Hads: 393
Photo of aerozeppl
4.82/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to bwyker for bringing this

A:Deep brown color that poured with about a finger of white head.

S: A really nice smell of whiskey. Some nice sweetness from the malt to sort of balance things out. The barrel won the battle though.

T: Vanilla is huge in the taste. Whiskey itself is right up there as well. Amazing complexity. This is right up there and possibly surpasses angels share for me. One of the best beers I have had in a while.

M: Very smooth and creamy which is amazing given the style and ABV.

D: World class. Simply put this is an amazing beer.

 570 characters

Photo of drgonzo3705
4.8/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: A deep amber color with a thin white head that leaves thick sticky lacing in the glass.

S: Nice sweet barleywines with a sweet dose of Colorado Whiskey. Big big nose here guys!

T: Oak, whiskey, and sweet malts all meld nicely for a pleasant taste.

M: Thick and sticky. Low carbonation and minimal hops.

D: No problem drinking this one. The ABV will kick my ass in the end but I'll keep drinking until I can't!

 418 characters

Photo of drseamus
4.77/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Incredible thanks to bwyker for providing this beer.

A: Dark red with a thin off white head. Good looking, but not amazing.

S: Sweet whiskey and malt. The aroma leads me to believe it could possibly be overpowering with whiskey in the flavor also.

T: Orgasmic!! Seriously, this is amazing. It is super smooth with an almost brandy character. It compares nicely to Brandy Angel's Share. The barrel aging on this beer completely transforms it. Hops are almost an afterthought in this which stands in stark difference to the non BA version.

M: Medium body but with a heaviness from the whiskey burn.

D: Amazing. I definitely need to try the whiskey from next door they use.

 675 characters

Photo of infinitebruner
4.76/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

April 3, 2015

750 ml bottle, snifter

A – Very rich, deep copper, mahogany, brown. Pours fairly thick. Foam of about a half inch is sudsy and light tan. Bubbles linger for a while.

S – Raisins, figs, cinnamon apples, tons of vanilla, perhaps some candied apricot. Rich, thick toffee and caramel, very juicy. Boozy and warm, with some very noticeable sherry notes. Incredible. If they made this in a candle, I’d buy a lifetime supply.

T – Caramel and toffee and lots of vanilla. Some tannins, and oaky, boozy flavors. Figs and raisins. A lot of very pleasant sherry, vinous flavor.

M – Medium-low carbonation and very full-bodied, thick. A lot of sugar present but not overly sweet. A somewhat bitter finish. Mildly tannic and acidic, but not at all astringent. A lot of boozy warmth, but very, very smooth.

O – Simply one of the best barrel aged beers I’ve ever had, and since I love those, one of the best beers overall I’ve ever had. It was the first bottle opened for my bachelor party in ’12, and is my celebratory beer passing the Certified Cicerone exam. It has proved its worthiness of the moment both times. Complex, incredible aroma and flavors, balanced and smooth. As close to a perfect beer as I’ve seen.

 1,258 characters

Photo of rye726
4.75/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This pours a glowing, hazy cedar and has a silky tan head. The nose has a complex blend of oak and whiskey up front with sweet candy malts, ripe fruit, and subtle hops through the finish. The barrel aging compliments this ale very well. It creates a super complex flavor profile with perfect balance. Delicate yet full body suits the style. The best beer Great Divide has ever brewed.

 384 characters

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.74/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage (bottle #332 of 461) poured into a Stone Levitation flute. Review from notes. Big thanks to Stigs for sharing this.

4.0 A: Murky medium brown color. Two fingers of light brown creamy/frothy hybrid head. Average retention and some spotty lacing.

5.0 S: Absolutely wonderful! Bourbon is in perfect proportion and smells great. Leather, light oakiness. Almost tangy (in a spicy way) malty sweetness. Lots of toffee. Moderately boozy, which works really well in this instance.

4.5 T: Oak is a lot stronger in taste. Bourbon again is complementary, with moderate leather, vanilla, and mild citrus. Underlying barleywine is slightly doughy with lots of toffee and caramel and a mild spiciness. This is much less bitter than the regular fresh. Also, much of the hoppiness is gone, but a mild herbalness still lingers.

5.0 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Good creaminess and super smooth. Not too thick or sweet like some barleywines.

5.0 D: Awesome brew. This demonstrates bourbon barrel aging at its finest. Bourbon complements a very solid barleywine. Highly recommended though I heard the second batch of this isn't as good.

 1,158 characters

Photo of FishPondManager
4.73/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 release, bottle 3139. Poured Into a snifter

Pours a deep ruby red. Soapy head forms on the first pour and thins to a fine film around the edge. Thin lines of lace form as I finish the first pour. Second pour has a fine, creamy head. Very nice

Smells of fine vanilla and caramel. Deep cherry and raisin notes play on the nose and complement the earthy, leather, smokey, bourbon notes. Somewhat one note, but overall pretty good.

Taste is simply divine. Sweet, smokey, raisin notes at first. Vanilla creaminess. Gets even sweeter as the finish culminates in a bit of bourbon bite. Not so much boozy as the full Stranahans bourbon flavor comes through. So incredibly smooth and drinkable for 12%.

Creamy, fine bubble coat the entire mouth covering the palate in sweet, sweet deliciousness. Probably my favorite aspect of this beer. The viscosity is perfect and helps balance all the deep favors.

Overall, the best BBBW I've had this year. Incredibly balanced and complex. This is one to share as I was really feeling the three glasses I had! I don't know if it's the Stranahans barrels or not. I hope it's not because I don't know if Great Divide will have them available anymore after the deal with Breckenridge. Seek this beer out as it is fantastic.

 1,259 characters

Photo of Stigs
4.69/5  rDev +14.1%
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

 1,375 characters

Photo of abraxel
4.67/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #471/1188, thanks to holden303! Poured into a Great Divide tulip.

A - Deep, complex, murky reddish-brown, with a finger or so of off-white head. Quite attractive.

S - Vanilla, bourbon, caramel. Very rich, tasty, and balanced. The slightest bit of alcohol.

T - Wow, this is good. Lots of buttery almond and hazelnut (similar to the regular Old Ruffian, but more so), plus loads of smooth bourbon, vanilla, caramel. Very delicious. The slightest bit of alcohol in the finish.

M - Velvety smooth, nice and thick. Not much carbonation, but that doesn't detract at all.

Overall, this is great! I was expecting a good beer, but ended up being blown away. This is one of the very best examples of bourbon-barrel aging I've ever tasted (up there with bourbon-barrel Fourth Dementia). Damn.

This is going right back on my want list.

 836 characters

Photo of marvin213
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
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....

 1,258 characters

Photo of glid02
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

 992 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to Mr Ford for getting me this one to try on my bday.I decided to use it as my nightcap to seal off a veryintresting and long beer day.Served chilled and poured into a snifter, this one was consumed on 06/11/2009.

The pour was very nice. Rich dark brown in color with a light tan head on top that hung around for a good few minutes before settling down into a thin layer on top. One of the best aromas I have ever come across. Rich bourbon notes just rippling across the nose. Lots of toffee and vanilla, light touchs of oak and a piney hop presence as well. So immacualtly complex. Nothing subtle about this beast at all. Rich toffee and oak flavors are all over the place. Huge hop notes coming through with a nice alcohol hotness that is really well placed. A very tight flavor here with a long lingering vanilla flavor that lasted long after my last sip. Rich medium body with a big alcohol note that you know is there.

Overall this was about as solid as could be. One of the biggest, baddest, barrel aged beers I have ever had. I would have no issue at all with trying this one again any day!

 1,113 characters

Photo of coldmeat23
4.59/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared at approx 45 degrees
I was saving this bottle to share with ElJoebo, on his birthday this year. Since that isn't going to happen now, I drink this tonight, in his honor. RIP, brother. I miss you already.

This pours up a dark amber color, with a nice golden tint to it, and a light hint of ruby. The head is loose and full of big bubbles, which don't stay around too long. The lacing is somewhat minimal, although it does leave a slightly impressive filminess.

This smells incredible. I don't know what it is about Stranahan's barrels, but they produce some of my favorite beer smells.
Tons of buttery vanilla and caramel. Lots of oak. A good amount of toasted coconut. A good dose of sweet, rich, maltiness comes through, from underneath the whiskey notes. Good hints of dark fruits. A touch of molasses. There is still a lightly noticed touch of earthy hops.

Follows the nose, very well. Lots of caramel notes, rich and buttery, mingle with vanilla and toasted coconut. Big maltiness comes through. A good showing of dark fruits. Big, boozy, whiskey presence, which is impressive, since it's well over a year old now.
I like this one a lot. Joe would have, also.

This is full bodied and has a light level of carbonation. The lack of carbo detracts a slight bit, I think. It is extremely smooth, yet lacks the creaminess that would put it over the top. The finish is very warm and somewhat vinous.

This is very tasty. It's not a 'session' beer, for sure....but it is delicious! I hope to get to taste this again, someday.

 1,595 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.56/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a chalice. Bottled on date of March 26, 2015.

Appearance: Pours a deep brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of off white head that settles into a thin creamy layer. Leaves a lot of creamy lacing.

Smell: A rich, toasty, and boozy malt driven aroma with big hints of bourbon, caramel, and biscuit. Big upfront barrel presence with a scent of bourbon whiskey, oak, vanilla, and wood. Toasted barley malt with hints of caramel, toffee, biscuit, toast, and butterscotch. Earthy hops with some hints of grass. Subtle dark fruit hints of fig and dates. Also some sweet hints of brown sugar. A very good complex aroma.

Taste: Like the nose hints at, a rich, boozy, and toasty malt forward taste with notes of bourbon, caramel, and biscuit. Upfront barrel taste with notes of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Toasted barley malt with sweet notes of caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, and butterscotch. Sweet taste of brown sugar. Mild earthy and herbal hop presence with some grass and pine. Subtle dark fruit undertones of fig, cherry, and dates. A very nice taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a carbonation level on the lighter side of medium. Rich, creamy, chewy, and moderately syrupy. A little hot as expected but still smooth considering.

Overall: A very good Barrel Aged twist on a great base Barleywine. Good blend of bourbon and malt flavors.

 1,420 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: deep brown and opaque with a finger of tan head that receded into some bubbly froth along the sides

S: rich malts and whiskey barrels merge to conjure suggestions of dark caramel, soft fruits in booze, and airy oak barrels

T: chewy dark whiskey-soaked fruit and grains, hints of spice like nutmeg and cinnamon, flashes of vanilla and toffee; oaky wood aspects give it a lightness

M: medium-weight with a smooth caramel-esque coat, no palpable carbonation but a tingle of whiskey's touch, slight drying finish, mildly bitter and malty aftertaste

O: surprised at the mixed reviews - perhaps a matter of expectation and personal tastes - I love Old Ruffian and this barrel aged version did not disappoint - lots of malt and booze with deeper impressions of caramel and fruit. A pricey bottle, just under $30, but one I'd go back for if I've got the cash.

 858 characters

Photo of mmapes
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage from a bomber. Figgy fruit smell followed quickly by the alcohol and whiskey. Dark dried fruit, carmel. Cloudy brown liquid under a decent creamy foam. Very mellow, round, smooth in the mouth followed by a brightness. Mellow malty character, sweet, Carmel. Tastes of whiskey and barrel don't overwhelm, are balanced. Pricey at $25 but very very good.

 363 characters

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

look: Deep Red-copper. Quite a big creamy tannish head on the pour. Messy lacing. Quite a looker.
smell: More malty, caramel and whisky notes. The hoppy bite of the base beer is muzzled. Rich.
Taste: Barrel aging has turned this into an English imo and not complaining. This is rich, full, loads of disparate but nicely blended flavors like vanilla, whiskey, malt, with a still a slight hoppy bite in the finish.
overall: Well done indeed.

 439 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark burgundy color with one finger of creamy off white head.

Scent of oak, whiskey, vanilla, and caramel. The barrel characteristic is great here, the scent is just phenomenal.

Taste of wet oak, vanilla, some chocolate, caramel, and a bit of alcohol heat. More oak and vanilla flavors in the finish. Very tasty Barleywine, I hope this one gets even better with age.

Mouthfeel is heavy and smooth with low carbonation.

 436 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.53/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011, I think. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Murky red. Cloudy with a few bubbles. Not an attractive beer.

Smell - Awesome oak bourbon flavor. Still has a hop presence. A ton of brown sugar and a little oxidation.

Taste - Incredibly strong brown sugar. Bourbon and oak. Rich caramel and raisins. Minimal hop presence in the flavor. Superb.

Mouthfeel - Delicious, but heavy. Just enough hop to keep it on the American side of barleywines.

Overall - Incredible. I'd like more barrel, but this is one immense barleywine.

 563 characters

Photo of sukwonee
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage, bottle# 2498

A: Dark brown body with 1 finger head with lots of lacing

S: Bourbon, vanilla,, caramel, brown sugar, malt

T: Bourbon does not overpower, but it certainly adds complexity. Oak, vanilla, caramel malt, brown sugar, some dark fruits, very nicely balanced. Not much hops noted. Not too sweet but alcohol is pretty well hidden.

M: Perfect amount of carbonation, medium-to-thick body, not too syrupy. Slight alcohol burn.

O: This beer is amazing and yet quite underrated, imo. Highly recommended.

 525 characters

Photo of bgold86
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not your typical upfront bourbon barrel aged barley wine. Just as the base beer is hoppy, so is this one, almost like a refreshing ipa, lots of peach and mango, a little bit of vanilla, light but perfectly balanced bourbon kick. The perfect summer bba beer when most are too intense.

 283 characters

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ML bottle (bottle # 4004 of I believe 2011 vintage) poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Liquid comes out a nice looking color, somewhere between dark brick red and dark brown. Lighter brown highlights on the sides and the slightest bit of haze. Sort of a slightly darker than creamcycle colored head that comes out pretty big after a hard pour, lots of different sized bubbles but most of them are small. Pretty good lacing to it.

Smell is really, really, really good. The base of the beer has a lot going on. There is a huge amount of malt and huge amount of hops. Don't ask me the breakdown of them all, but whatever they are, they work together quite well. Sweet caramel and toffee combined with some strong hops as well a nice aroma of vanilla and whiskey. To quote my friend Rusty "I wish they'd make a scented candle that smells like this." Sort of tickles your nose a little.

Taste is exactly on par with the smell. Lots of huge malt backbone and a great amount of hops to complement it. Caremel, toffee, brown sugar, some candied dehydrated raisons and some sweeter dried fruit like cherries and hints of citrus peel. Nice vanilla flavors too, sort of an earthy vanilla, like a sweet smoked wood. I've aged the quite a bit, but still a nice piney hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is really good, nice for the style. Full bodied overall, a great carbonation level and super smooth. There's a nice sweet finish with a nice warm finish, slightly sharp at the end. Not too hot though and I actually would have predicted a lower ABV than 12.7%. Really a great beer, strong the whole way through but moderately gentle, super drinkable. Thanks Geoff for the recommendation and the trade.

 1,689 characters

Photo of draheim
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL (bottled 2461, May 2012 I believe) into a snifter. Pours a crystal-clear ruby-brown mahogany w/ a nice khaki head that settles to a thin film, leaving some pretty nice lacing behind. Looks great.

Aroma is heavily laden w/ toffee, caramel, vanilla and, interestingly, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices. Whiskey character is blended really nicely.

Taste is smooth and buttery. Tons of gooey caramel and toffee, warm brown sugar, vanilla, oak and booze. Both sticky-sweet and almost bitter @ the same time, this beer almost attains a savory, umami quality I can't quite identify. Reminds me a little bit of really good maple syrup. Very nice.

As expected, mouthfeel is thick and coating, chewy and sticky. Lingering aftertaste like a fine liqueur. It's a real sipper of a beer to be sure.

Overall, I have to give this straight 4.5s. There's little fault to find in any aspect of this beer. Outstanding.

 910 characters

Photo of Goliath
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to EmperorStan for sharing this bad boy.

Pours a dark amber/ruby color with a one inch light tan head. Nice retention and some great lacing.

The aroma is awesome. A big shot of whiskey, with some vanilla, oak, fruit, and sweet malt.

the taste is just as awesome. Some notes of vanilla, oak, sweet malt, caramel, and I want to say licorice (?), and even a light coconut. Just really tasty, and you gotta love all the whiskey!

Mouthfeel is full bodied with a light carbonation presence which achieves one of the more ideal mouthfeels for me.

Drinkability was pretty high for such a huge beer. All the extra time spent in barrels really smoothed out the edges on this beer mellowing out the booziness and adding to the complexity. I am pretty pleased with the final product.

 787 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #233/461. Bottled August 2008. Midway between brick red and burnt orange with a gem-like glow and diamond clarity. The upper third of the chalice is filled with a luscious crown of buttered wheat toast colored cream. How can a barrel-aged ale with an ABV this high generate so much outstanding looking lace?

The nose is beautifully balanced between barleywine and whiskey. Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey (aged 9 months) to be exact. Each sniff delivers melted caramel, all sorts of liquor macerated fruits, a mild oakiness and a bit too much ethanol to be granted a perfect score.

Great Divide Old Ruffian (along with Midnight Sun Arctic Devil) is my favorite barleywine of all-time. A large part of that love is due to the perfect combination of huge malt and huge hops. This bottle of Barrel Aged Old Ruffian, now 46 months old, is too long in the tooth to still be a hop monster. Granted, that's my fault for aging it this long.

It's still incredibly beautiful beer, but it's an entirely different beast. Whiskey barrel aging will do that. GDBC nails it *much* more often than not. Such is the case with the amount and quality of the whiskey influence in this Limited Edition brew. As an aficionado of both big beer and America's finest spirit, I hereby pronounce the balance to be... dead... solid... perfect.

As expected, the various flavors are becoming bolder and deeper and more complex as the starting chill seeps away. The rundown includes gooey toffee pudding, golden brown sugar, candied cherries and sugared orange peel, vanilla-soaked oak, and a small shot of Stolichnaya. It has to be extremely difficult to completely bury 12.7%. That said, it does put the score ceiling at 4.5 for taste and drinkability.

The mouthfeel is a little more chewiness away from being outfreakingstanding. Inventing words is fun, and is easier once the alcohol begins to take hold. Each sip is pure pleasure. The carbonation is understated, yet still committed to the cause.

While BA Old Ruffian isn't as mind-blowing as BA Yeti, it's still a remarkable ale that I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced. Thanks to JMBSH for both bottles. I would still take the original over this beer (and 99.9% of all beer on Earth), but BAOR is definitely one of the best of 2010 so far.

 2,283 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 150 ratings.