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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.

322 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 322
Reviews: 134
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 12.08%
Wants: 251
Gots: 103 | FT: 8
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
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Ratings: 322 | Reviews: 134 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Vdubb86
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter

Thanks to homebrew311 for this bottle

Bottle #627/1188

This is barleywine number four for those of you keeping track at home. Compared side by side with the non-BA version this beer was rather interesting. The first thing that can be said about it is that this beer is devoid of bubbles, totally flat, carbonation kaput, etc. Though its reddish amber color is still rather inviting. The aromatics of this beer are a good deal of mellow bourbon characteristics. There is a lot more vanilla on the nose of this barrel than on previously smelled BA beers. There are lots of good and subtle flavors. Aside from the vanilla, oak and bourbon, which have mellowed to a really nice point, the main flavors are a rum raisin, butterscotch, and strong notes of fig. It's rather tasty stuff, if only it wasn't a flat syrup it might be even better. Overall this was tasty and I am loving this series of barleywines, because there's not been a bad one amongst them.

Vdubb86, Apr 21, 2011
Photo of Florida9
3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009; bottle #627

A: Ruby red to brown in color. Absolutely flat. Forms a few large sticky bubbles. Becomes increasingly cloudier on subsequent pours.

S: Predominantly oak and vanilla.

T: Stewed tea with a stewed tea astringency. Oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Some alcohol, but not boozy.

M: Thinnish and totally flat. Mildly bitter.

O: Apparently flat bitter bourbon isn't my thing.

Florida9, Apr 20, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

TMoney2591, Apr 18, 2011
Photo of philbe311
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Edition - Bottle 631/1188 - A huge belated thanks to Doodler for this one... I've been sitting on it for a while...

A - No head... Just a couple of large chunky tan colored bubbles that quickly dissipate... The coloring is a beautifully rich medium brown caramel... Ultra still, with no discernible carbonation... The appearance exudes sophistication and potency...

S - Absolutely exquisite... Raisins... Brown sugar... Let's just call it liquid sticky bun... Dark fruits... Fig... Candied sugars... The booziness of the barrel aging lies beneath the sweet surface and adds loads of depth and complexity...

T - The barrel aging rises to the forefront as the palette is greeted with a warming booze component right of the bat... A lot of the great Old Ruffian characteristics that I expect get either muted or down right hidden by the alcohol... Some brown sugar and vanilla survive, but the rest of the palette is filled with the barrel aging... Still, this is a tasty offering... Just not quite what I was hoping for or expecting...

M -Surprisingly light as this one doesn't get past the medium bodied marker... Sleek and slightly sticky... Perhaps even a bit thin... Loads of alcohol burn on the finish...

D - A definite sipper... Sophisticated... Worldly... Unfortunately, the best barrel aged beers are those that add depth and complexity to the base beer... Unfortunately, in this case the barrel aging takes away from the Old Ruffian components... While the alcohol component is nice, overall this one is a slight disappointment...

philbe311, Apr 03, 2011
Photo of TurdFurgison
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Someone brought this to a tasting at Jackie O's, not sure who but they have my gratitude.

It poured a dark brownish red with a tan foam, wet looking with threads of lace. The hops come through strong, along with a nice bourbon character, plenty of caramel malt too. Definitely a lot going on here. It tastes sweet up front, with a lingering liquor aftertaste, plenty of bitterness in the aftertaste too.

Full bodied, decent carbonation, this gets a stamp of approval, even though I'm not a fan of American barleywines.

TurdFurgison, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of brew3crew
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 82/1188
Thanks BA website for making me do it twice

Part of an epic tasting at jackie o's with brad and Co.

A-muddy and amber in color
S-nice roastianess to it. Actually has some hops to it
T-alot like I tastes. Nice mellowness to it
M-medium bodied and smooth. Very dinkable
O-glsd I got to try it. More'age would have done it favors....

brew3crew, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
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
Photo of Urbancaver
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky amber brown. Not really an attractive looking beer. A bit of white head that dissipates quickly. Smells phenomenal. The nose is awesome tastes heavily of bourbon with a touch of hops but not very bitter. Vry dry on the pallette but the bourbon character is the only thing that carries it...

Urbancaver, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of maximum12
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to the madman known as wyoming, who has sent me great beers for a song on the wind. Considering how much I enjoyed the BA Yeti, also aged in Stranahan barrels, I'm getting pretty worked up for this one. Split with my wife, who immediately proclaimed the smell awe-inspiring. '09 Vintage, bottle 322/1188.

Big, heavy, lovely bottle. Pours spring creek muddy; nothing trout stream about this brew. Dark brown/tan/red, with enough particulate matter to get it declared an imparied waterway by the EPA. With all due respect to my wife, the nose isn't terribly different than the regular version, malts, faint oxidation. Not getting much.

Barrel Aged Old Ruffian lays a thick, heavy layer of whiskey sediment over the base barleywine. Clenched fist of caramel is wrapped up in a glove of Stranahan's, which is interesting in it's own right. The whiskey isn't overpowering the base beer, but lays down a track of its own, coating the back of the throat with subtle, sultry whiskey. Almost like two beers in one, complementing one another like salesmen at a conference. Other than those two, minor players come & go without acclaim: toffee, brown sugar, tons of sly, sweet malts, good amounts of booziness. The bourbon & a powerful drying oakiness finish up, wiping away the base beer that hung around so admirably.

No hops were harmed in the creation of this beer (that I can tell, anyways). It's heavy & still, but feels right with the presence of booze & riot of the barrel. Regardless, I'd be happy to have had this bomber to myself.

It should be obvious, but this one needs a while to warm. My first sips didn't impress, but the more it warmed, the happier I was. Not quite the supremely world-class beer that BA Yeti is (but how many are there, really?), but damn excellent in its own right. I'd be willing to drink this any/every night of the week.

maximum12, Feb 10, 2011
Photo of Sammy
4.18/5  rDev +1%
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 scottfrie
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle shared by ipa247. Thanks a lot for sharing this one Jeff. Bottle 260/461, bottled April 2008. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours an extremely dark blood red with a thick dark tan head that receded into a thick film that left soapy, wispy lacing.
S: Rich caramel malt, slight hops still, very sweet overall. Some vanilla and maybe oak, caramel and sweet malt.
T: Sweet malts overall, similar to the non-barrel aged version but with notes of whisky in the finish. Alcohol is fairly muted at this point though. Notes of tobacco and vanilla in the aftertaste.
M: Creamy rich full body, low carbonation and a syrupy mouthfeel. Slight alcohol warmth is still present.
D: Goes down easy enough but I wouldn't want a ton of this. I was happy with the pour I got. Love the regular version, and this is definitely a delicious brew. Thanks again Jeff for your generosity!

scottfrie, Jan 18, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.15/5  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.

Thorpe429, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of Huhzubendah
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

Huhzubendah, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of mdfb79
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

mdfb79, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of portia99
3.33/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

750ml bottle (427 of 1188) poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Bottle opens without the slightest whoosh of carbonation...uh oh. Seems like this one might be flat. An aggressive pour only creates a loose bubbley ring around the glass. All appearances lead me to believe this one is still.

S - Boozy, lots of alcohol present here. Overall sweetness is present with caramel, booze and oak.

T - Boozy, malty, some hops, lots of caramel. Tons of bourbon flavor.

M - Thinner than I expected, but still what I'd call medium bodied. Totally still, no carbonation at all.

D - Pretty low...lack of carbonation hurts tremendously. Flavors are good, but the non-existent carbonation is a real problem. This is a bit rough...I had very high expectations that sadly are not even close to being realized...

portia99, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of mothman
3.88/5  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.

mothman, Nov 09, 2010
Photo of Kaiser81
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to rye726 for this bottle. 09 vintage. Bottle 131/1188

A - very hazy. A murky, muddy, brownish plum color.there is some head on it, though not much. It leaves some ok lacing.

S - nose is more muted than reg ruffian. Some sweet dark fruits and toffee. whiffs of bourbon linger on the back end.

T - dark fruits are there. Some candied sweetness and caramel. This is following the nose. Bourbon lingers on the finish as well.

M - minimal carbonation with a heavy body. Maybe a touch more carb would be great.

D - its a good beer. Easily drinking my glass. But its a big beer. Sharing with 2 others is great.

Kaiser81, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of emmasdad
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Earlier this year, I picked up a bottle of this one for a trade. Seeing it sitting in my cellar for a few days, I decided to grab another for myself to celebrate passing the bar exam. Upon returning to the store where I had purchased the other one, I discovered much to my dismay, that the remaining stock was depleted. Fast forward a couple months; opening my birthday beer box, I discovered a bottle of 2008 BA Old Ruffian amongst the bottles my wife had purchased. WOW!
First, I love Old Ruffian, and look forward to its release every year, so I was very excited to finally try this one. Pours a dark mahogany color, with ruby edges and a light brown head that hangs around for quite a while. On the nose, I picked up a little oxidation, some grassy hops and a little bourbon. On the palate, medium bodied, rich, alcoholic, with a little bourbon and branch, oak, milk chocolate, dark fruits and caramel. The Stranahans barrels add a nice complexity to an otherwise hoppy barley wine, but I would love to try this one fresh, and eagerly anticipate the arrival of the 2010 version.

emmasdad, Nov 04, 2010
Photo of kbutler1
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours a murky orange color with a slight white head. The aroma is farily fruity to me with notes of apples and pears mixed with some barrel notes. The taste is very similiar to the aroma. Sweet fruit flavors up front that is very easy to drink, almost too easy. No real hop characteristics. Very smooth. Medium mouthfeel. Slight warming effect from the alcohol.

kbutler1, Oct 29, 2010
Photo of Arbitrator
2.95/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Batch 2. Shared at a tasting... I don't remember who brought it. Thanks!

A: Pours a light brown body without much pop to it. It's turbid and dirty-looking, with very little head and no retention. I'll give it somewhat of a pass since it's so high in ABV, but it was pretty unattractive.

S: An old/stale hop aroma. Vanilla, wood, light bourbon, some caramel, toffee. Aside from the stale hop note, it's fairly nice.

T: Among pretty much everyone I compared notes with, the common note seemed to be that it doesn't taste bad, or good; it's not offensive, but it's not outstanding. It's smack in the middle. Some muddled hop bitterness, a light barrel character of bourbon, vanilla, oak. Some base beer sweetness in toffee, brown sugar. But mostly unremarkable. The Perfect Storm that came later blew this out of the water, and I'm not even a huge fan of TPS.

M: Medium-bodied, with low carbonation. Muddled flavors.

D: Nothing offensive; nothing great. Just very middle-of-the-road as far as a barrel-aged barleywine goes. I wonder if it was just a bad bottle.

Arbitrator, Oct 10, 2010
Photo of DavoleBomb
4.72/5  rDev +14%
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.

DavoleBomb, Sep 25, 2010
Photo of Stigs
4.68/5  rDev +13%
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 jrallen34
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Nate for bringing this, bottle into a Bells tulip...Pours an ugly light brown, muddled, with no carbonation at all...The aroma is awesome, lots of vanilla, really nice wood notes, a little bourbon, caramel, and a touch of hops...As great as the aroma is the tasting is as outstandingly awful. The sweetness is gone, all you get is rotten wood, lots of chalk, and a little alcohol. A weird wood finish just dooms this. This was undrinkable, could only get through half a glass.

jrallen34, Sep 19, 2010
Photo of illidurit
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle courtesy photomike. Pours a brownish gold color with a khaki head. Big whiskey notes alongside the usual caramel and toffee, partially damped by a mild woodiness. Vanilla, caramel, and coconut are the predominant flavors with a slight astringency that could be from the wood or the hops. Markedly less hoppy/bitter than the standard version. Not a huge fan of barrel aging a hoppy BW.

illidurit, Sep 19, 2010
Photo of Viggo
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

HUGE thanks to ritzkiss for sharing this rarity. 2009 Vintage, bottle # 603 of 1188.

Pours a very hazy dark red, almost purple, slightly muddy looking, thin and big bubbled tan head forms, quickly settles down to a thin ring around the glass, few spots stick.

Smell is neat, very boozy, caramel and toffee, quite fruity, some raisin, whiskey/bourbon, vanilla, big biscuit, lightly buttery, solid oak character, more booze and fruit.

Taste is similar, a ton of booze and whiskey up front, light bourbon sweetness, toffee, dark fruit and raisin, brown sugar, vanilla, oaky, dates, very rich and decadent, balanced finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation. Very neat and the potential is there but I think we all agreed some more time would tame this beast. Thanks Eric!!

Viggo, Sep 09, 2010
Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 322 ratings.