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Barrel Aged Old Ruffian - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian

Educational use only; do not reuse.

153 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 153
Hads: 404
Avg: 4.11
pDev: 18.49%
Wants: 257
Gots: 126 | 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
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Reviews: 153 | Hads: 404
Photo of Sammy
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.34/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jerz for sharing this one at NoSignsOfPain's birthday bottleshare hosted by mrbubbler.

2012 vintage. Bottle # 2695.

Pours a slightly murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, wood, and bourbon/whiskey. Taste is much the same and quite sweet with an alcohol kick and woody finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is is a very good beer with a great barrel aged presence in the aroma and taste.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Small head with scattered lace on a cloudy brown and copper body. Aroma of whiskey first and foremost with some apple, apricot, and caramel. Flavor sweet and tangy and although it is boozy in the way you can tell it has a high alcohol content it isn't in the way that makes it hard to drink. Red apple, fig and apricot for fruity notes. Thick body and light carbonation. Smooth for sure. I held onto this one for a year and a half. I like the whiskey quality. It's almost not very beer like but still glad I tried it.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Lunch for pulling out this bottle at a recent tasting. Longtime want for me. Served in a snifter.

Pours a nice ruby-garnet color with a thin off-white head and a light color made up of fairly-large bubbles. The nose brings a mild barrel character as well as some dark fruits and a bit of caramel. Hops are certainly noticeable. Bit of booze.

Taste is really quite nice with the booze mingling with the dark fruits and sweetness in a really fantastic way. Good barrel character with some nice toffee and caramel. A bit hoppy as well. Mouthfeel melds the barrel character, some sweetness, booze, and a bit of bitterness quite well. Definitely a well made brew. Not quite as good as the BA Yeti, but quite good and I'm really glad I got to try this. Thanks again, Paul.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a bright copper color ale with a medium size head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of whiskey is nice end very enticing with nice balanced sweet malt notes. Taste is a great balance between some whiskey notes with dry grain notes and a solid malt backbone with sweet caramel and light toffee notes. Body is quite full with medium carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I really enjoyed this one which I find had great balance between whisky and malt.

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Photo of largadeer
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bifrostguard shared this one last night. Thanks, Cameron. The beer is a murky and opaque dark amber with a thin off white cap.

The aroma has a surprisingly robust hop character to it, noticeably faded but pine-like in character. It's moderately oxidized with a good balance of bourbon, tobacco and earthiness. It smells fairly dry and nuanced rather than sweet and rich.

It has flavors of pine and earth, leather and tobacco, some whiskey sweetness that balances the oak and hops. Sherry-like oxidation contributes depth. Full-bodied with a boozy, oaky, caramel finish and lingering resiny hops. This is pretty dry and hoppy for a bourbon barrel barleywine, a nice change of pace for the style.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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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.

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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!

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Photo of oline73
3.21/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 bottle poured into a tasting snifter.

Pours a red amber color with hardly any head at all. The smell is sweet and malty with just a touch of hops and alcohol. This definitely tastes like it has some age on it. The barrel characteristics have smoothed, but the bitterness level is still quite high. The sweet malt overtakes the bitter in the beginning of the sip, but the bitterness crushes the finish. The body is too thin with no carbonation.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jerz for sharing this one at Sour Fest.

A: The pour is a dark amber color, bordering on brown with a thin ring of foam.

S: The nose is certainly reminiscent of a barleywine, with good caramel and toffee notes providing sweetness. There is, however, a very surprising amount of piney and resinous hop character to this beer.

T: The bitterness that this beer retained is quite surprising. Lots of resinous bitterness, toffee, a subtle sweetness of caramel, and some oak, tobacco, and bourbon.

M: The body is medium with a fairly low level of carbonation to it, which is fine for a beer like this.

D: I was really shocked by the amount of bitterness this beer still had. A nice beer all around...

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

Big thanks to Homebrew311 for sharing this bottle!

2009 edition, bottle #627/1188. I'm very curious to see how the Ruffian takes to the barrel-aging. It pours a slightly murky garnet-amber topped by a very minor bit of dirty white foam. The nose comprises bourbon, oak, caramel, vanilla, toffee, grapefruit, and orange peel. The taste holds notes of orange peel, bourbon, oak, vanilla, light cocoa, ruby red grapefruit, and, near the finish, a light and vague semi-astringency. Luckily, that last bit ain't enough to really mess with things. The body is a hefty-ish medium, with a very light carbonation and a kinda oily feel. Overall, a very nice bit o' barrel-aged b-wine goodness. 'Nuff said.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2012 vintage. Acquired at Davidson's Liquor in Colorado. Reviewed live as a barrel aged barleywine per the label. Served cold into an Odell stem-tulip at high altitude in Fort Collins, CO. Expectations are quite high; I'm a big fan of the regular Old Ruffian.

Allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Bottle is large format and features uninteresting label art.

HEAD: 2 fingers wide. Off-white colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

BODY: Dark red with brown hues. Translucent. Nontransparent. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears aptly carbonated. Not a unique or special appearance for a barleywine, but generally appealing.

AROMA: Amber malts, caramel, bready malts, ample malt sweetness, and toffee. Maybe some treacle; it does have some unrefined characteristics. Aromatic intensity is moderate.

Where's the bourbon? It's sorely absent. It ultimately seems too sweet, but I'm optimistic.

Has no noticeable hop profile, detectable yeast character, or noticeable booziness.

TASTE: Where's the fucking bourbon? No vanilla, no barrel sugars, no oak, no toastiness...this has no bourbon presence whatsoever.

The backbone is caramalts, amber malts, breadiness, and caramel. It's shockingly simple for a barleywine, and lacks toastiness, marshmallow...any note that I look for in a barleywine is absent here. I even find myself wondering if Old Ruffian was the base for this.

Balance is decent. Build is okay. Average depth, duration, intensity and amplitude of flavour (for the style). It lacks adequate complexity, intricacy, subtlety, and nuance.

TEXTURE: Smooth, wet, medium-bodied, overcarbonated, bread-like, aptly thick for the style, and chewy.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

Suits the taste okay, but doesn't seem custom-tailored specifically to it. Fails to elevate the beer.

OVERALL: A sore absence of bourbon and a fundamentally lacking core build make this one hell of a disappointment - especially considering how much I enjoy regular Old Ruffian. Great Divide can do better, but then again I've yet to see them release a good barrel-aged beer. Maybe barrel aging just isn't in the cards for them. I wouldn't buy this again, and its high price point is very unreasonable given the quality.

High C+

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Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: part of a Nov. '12 bottle share.
Thanks to the BAer who brought this one out!

Dark amber-garnet pour, cloudy, with a thin foamy ringlet. Nice aroma of caramel and toffee, notes of dark fruit, bourbon barrel, and earthy hops. Mostly the same in the taste, malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, molasses, touches of plum, bourbon and some hop bitterness in the finish. Full-medium body, pretty smooth...I think this was a 2011 vintage, and any heavy booziness had definitely mellowed by the time of the tasting, making this quite good overall. Second best barleywine of the night I'd say (behind MoAS, which is still one of my favorite beers).

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Photo of russpowell
4.41/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 18/461 pours a brown tinged chestnut with a finger of fluffy sand colored head. Very good lacing 7 good head retention

S: Bourbon notes & oak & more assertive booze as this warms.

T: Much dryness, breadyness, toffee, bourbon & leafy hops up front. Dryness & tobacco notes, brown sugar, as this warms, along with boozey warmth & raisins, plus figs. Finishes dry, with Bourbon, cherry oak & vanilla, plus leafy tobacco

MF: Chewy with fairly vigirous carbonation, a bit too much boozey dryness

Drinks easy enough for the style, not the best ABW I've had but pretty damn good. Way over priced at 25 dollars a 750 ml bottle IMHO

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Photo of mdfb79
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 12/12/10 notes. Got to try at a local tasting thanks to Lunch; was very excited to see it. Thanks Paul!

a - Pours a mahogany brown color with an inch of fluffy off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, dark fruit, toffee, bourbon, oak, bready malts, and molasses. Smells great.

t - Tastes of bourbon, caramel malts, oak, dark fruits, toffee, bready malts, sweet fruity malts, sugar, and alcohol. Again, very nice.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, so incredibly smooth. Perfect mouthfeel.

d - I thought this was a really good barrel aged barleywine. I enjoyed MoaS more, but was very glad to try this one. Would love to try again.

EDIT: Had this again on 2/13/11 at Max's in Baltimore, MD thanks to jslot38. Enjoyed it even more the second time around and added a few notes.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Joe1510 for sharing this one last night. I think we've meant to get to this bottle for about six months. Served in a pint-style tasting glass. Bottle #23/461 (this is the original Stranahan batch).

A - Pours with a finger of tan foam that slowly settles to a thin cap and leaves a good amount of lacing. Pretty impressive for such a big barrel-aged barleywine. Bright red-orange body that is mostly opaque.

S - Raisins, dark fruits, caramel, burnt sugar, earthy barrel, boozy spirits. The Stranahan character is markedly different from the Kentucky bourbon barrels and it's not overpowering either - there's still a lot of aged (read: non-hoppy) Old Ruffian character shining through. I wish there was a little more sweet barrel and a little less earthiness to it.

T - The taste is more in line with what I was expecting. Coconut and vanilla flavors supplied by the barrel-aging, dark fruits, caramel, raisins, and significantly better hidden alcohol. This is what I expected when I heard the name Barrel-Aged Old Ruffian. It's quite good, but not in the upper echelon of barrel-aged barleywines.

M - Smooth, medium body, low carbonation, chewy with high residual stickiness. Not very tannic or woody though, which is a surprise considering how long this sat in barrels.

D - It's relatively easy to drink considering the heft to it, but it still took my a while to put down my 6oz or so. A very nice beer, but for the price I think there are better options available.

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Photo of mothman
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a small layer of beige head. Color is a murky caramel brown.

Aroma: A lot of toffee, caramel, and malt. The barrel aging doesn't show very much. It has vanilla and oak with a touch of whiskey flavors. It has some sweet dried fruits.

Taste: Much better than the nose. I get more barrel aging notes. It has a lot of whiskey flavors, vanilla, caramel, toffee, oak, dried fruits, plums, and raisins.

Mouthfeel: Warming, smooth, and creamy. Medium to full bodied with a low to medium amount of carbonation. Ends a little bit hot.

Overall, it is a pretty decent beer, but I expected more. The nose was a bit muted, but the taste got better. Decent drinkability.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Last beer cracked by Lunch and I at his place. Long time desire to try this, sampled side by side with Ruffian. I don't know if the Ruffian vintage was similar to the BA Ruffian, I drank mostly the BA Ruffian but preferred the regular Ruffian to the BA version somewhat. All the oak-a-philes will come after me with a stick.

Bottle 361 / 2188 - I believe. Beer has no head, no lacing, carbonation is really low. Its brown and kind of cloudy. Looks OK I guess.

Aroma is malty with a mild oak running through it and some old hop character, almost lauric acid in aroma. Odd.

Beer seems heavy, very malty, sweet up front, finishes slightly dry overall. Mouthfeel is good, no carbonation in mouth unfortunately but its still good. Overall a smooth mouthfeel. There is some bitterness in the back of the mouth. I'm glad I got to try it. Thanks Lunch.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.87/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Lunch, who loves all that is barrel-aged. Thanks Paul!

Bottle 792 / 1188

A: The beer appears a murky / hazy mahogany brown hue, with a decent sized head that leaves virtually no lacing.

S: Aromas include caramels, toffee, alcohol, oak, ripe dark fruits, malt.

T: The flavor is of everything found in the aroma, especially toffee, caramels, and alcohol. There is a subtle hop showing, but this barleywine is much more about a powerful malt presence and toffee candy sweetness.

M: Low carbonation and high alcohol. Smooth and creamy feel, with a pronounced sweetness throughout.

D: I was very excited to sample this limited release, and would definitely have it again. Best enjoyed in small quantities, this beer is ideal for sharing a few ways.

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Photo of billab914
3.72/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage poured from a 750ml bottle into my Devil's Backbone tulip. It poured kind of a murky looking dull brown color. A thin lacing was concentrated around the edges of the glass, where it left some modest lacing.

The aroma shows a pretty big dark fruit presence to it with some notes of plum and fig really coming out. The barrel and bourbon really shows through as well with a strong oak, vanilla, bourbon and slight brown sugar flavor to it. The flavors individually seem pretty good, but it just doesn't seem to come together as well as I would have liked.

The bourbon has a little more influence in the taste. Lots of woody oak up front along with some of the sweeter, brown sugar flavors coming out of the bourbon. It's got a little bourbon heat in the back end. The dark fruits come out a little more towards the finish as well. Things come together much better in the taste for me.

The mouthfeel is leaning towards the heavier side with carbonation being a little below average. Overall, it was a pretty good barrel aged beer but not one that really can hang with the top of the style. Things just didn't seem to come together all that well for it at times. While it was a pretty nice beer to sip on this evening, there is better out there for the price.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Deep creamy vanilla top, slightly faint beige with fine bubbles and a mix of swiss cheese. Body color is a milky reddish orange, slightly brackish looking and a bit cloudy. Settles quickly, big bubbled collar with little retention, a little bit of pill like lacing as well, and a slightly oily sheen.

Interesting aroma. Very light bodied smelling, but has real good toasted woody notes to it. Hints of splintered wood, a bit of pine bitterness, and toasty caramel syrup qualities. Large wood and earthy bent to this brew, but seems like the body is going to hint towards light character.

Palate is kind of surprising. Milky and light but with some depth, and giving to a very full mouthfeel with some easy drinkability. Peppery and slight bitterness in the mid palate. Caramel mixes with a nice woodsy tone, but almost some cola like sweetness is thrown in the mix. Milky finish if slightly chalky.

Overall interesting and comes off not even boozy or hinting of barrel aged, but tastes very different from most barrel aged barleywines I've had, but there is some degree of great barrel notes, and classic American hoppy barleywines cancelling each other out.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 25.4oz bottle split with some friends.

Into the glass, BA Ruffian comes out a pretty dark shade of brown with some lighter shades towards the sides. A nice half inch of tan foam that dwindles very quick, still looking beer after a bit.

This is a str8 up Barleywine with the hop scent from fresh bottles faded in this BA version. Still, a decent amount of hop scent that I normally don't find in BA'ed beers. Under that, brilliant caramel malt, toffee, plum, dark fruit and a pleasant whiskey scent. Nice hits of oak and vanilla, Smells like a winner.

BA Old Ruffian is much more complex in taste than smell The hops are nice and there but not as resinous as a fresh bottle, I cant imagine what this was fresh. Caramel, Toffee, plum, dark fruit, chocolate, whiskey tones, these all integrate with grace as it warms up.

Feel is above medium, sticky, coating, and pretty well carbed. Alcohol seeps on the tounge a bit, that's the only downfall but that's something a few years can handle.

I drank a healthy amount of the bottle and wanted more. Very drinkable now with age, but a few more years cant hurt, sans a little oxidation. A slow sipper, something to read a book by the fire with.

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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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.36/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008, Bottle 100/461; Sampled October 2011
An aggressive pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a fat, finger thick, amber tinged full tan colored head. The beer is a dark, concentrated amber / brown that shows a murky, dark amber color when held up to the light. The aroma smells strongly of bourbon, alcohol, toasted coconut, big vanillin notes, tart whiskey notes, whiskey soaked caramel, perhaps a touch of salty smokiness and a bit of sherry; these last two notes are definitely the effect of some oxidation. The biggest notes by far in the aroma are sweetened, almost caramelized, toasted coconut and vanillin, which is followed closely by a general whiskey character; the base beer plays a distant role in the nose, which is great if you really like whiskey, but if you were looking for a Barleywine then you might be a bit disappointed (which I am a bit). As the beer warms up, the caramelized malt portion of the aroma starts to pick up a bit; when combined with the barrel notes it almost reminds me a bit of cotton candy at times, in some weird way. Some toasted, whole grain character also becomes a bit more noticeable in the aroma.

Bitter, slightly herbal hop flavors are anchored by a toasted and richly caramelized malt character that is enhanced by flavors of toasted coconut and vanillin. The finish dries out with a big hop bitterness that provides quite a bite as well as some green hop astringency; this is accentuated by some woody spiciness and some warming, sometimes hot, whiskey flavors and alcohol. The body of this beer is fairly luscious, though it has certainly significantly thinned from the base beer; the body along with the spiciness from the oak makes this a definite sipping brew though. The hop flavor has significantly faded in this brew, but it is still a bit harsh & it makes me wonder how this was drinking when it was a much younger beer. Towards the middle and more towards the finish there is a slightly nutty flavor that shows the touch of oxidation and there is also a touch of sherry or even wet cardboard perhaps.

This is another barrel aged beer that spent way too much time in the barrel, alternatively this should have been blended with some fresh Old Ruffian as I am really wishing the base beer came through in some way. As it is this is purely a vehicle for the Stranahan barrels, if that is your thing then you will enjoy this beer, but if you are looking for beer then you might be a bit disappointed. I am enjoying this beer a little bit, so it is not a complete loss, but not enough to remotely want to finish this bottle by myself (I might finish my glass).

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Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 153 ratings.