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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.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

308 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 308
Reviews: 131
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 12.29%
Wants: 253
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
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Ratings: 308 | Reviews: 131 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of portia99
portia99

Massachusetts

3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
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...

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2010 04:14:21 | More by portia99
Photo of mothman
mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2010 00:29:23 | More by mothman
Photo of Kaiser81
Kaiser81

California

4.15/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2010 03:01:38 | More by Kaiser81
Photo of emmasdad
emmasdad

Colorado

3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2010 03:23:11 | More by emmasdad
Photo of kbutler1
kbutler1

Minnesota

3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2010 19:47:33 | More by kbutler1
Photo of Arbitrator
Arbitrator

California

2.95/5  rDev -28.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2010 21:15:11 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of DavoleBomb
DavoleBomb

Ohio

4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2010 19:17:49 | More by DavoleBomb
Photo of Stigs
Stigs

Pennsylvania

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

Serving type: bottle

09-24-2010 14:58:45 | More by Stigs
Photo of jrallen34
jrallen34

Illinois

3.25/5  rDev -21.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2010 20:03:23 | More by jrallen34
Photo of illidurit
illidurit

California

3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2010 08:42:12 | More by illidurit
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
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!!

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2010 04:17:47 | More by Viggo
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle #338 of 461, generously shared by Lance. Thanks! Pours dark amber with a nice tight head. Smells wonderfully sweet and whiskeyish, with notes of coconut, whiskey, and light grain, with some spicebox aromas on the finish. Seamlessly integrated, and very nice. The taste is a little hotter, and a little more overtly oaky, but luckily the oak doesn't dominate. Still has nice notes of coconut and whiskey along with the wood notes and the heat. A bit hot in the mouth, but smooth. Very nice indeed.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2010 02:12:35 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of billshmeinke
billshmeinke

California

3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

2009 bottle, 787/1188. Poured into a Bruery tulip. Had this side by side with the regular Old Ruffian for comparison. Review from notes.

Very dark brown, almost black, murky body with ruby highlights. Bubbly foam that's gone in an instant and doesn't even manage to cover the entire surface of the brew. A tiny trace of foam clinging to the side of the glass. Oily legs, but no lace.

Smells of apple pie, raisins, apricots, oak, a touch of whiskey and alcohol.

Tastes of rum raisin ice cream, green apples, apricots, caramel and raisins. Some oak and vanilla. Only a hint of bourbon. Some piney and bitter resin clean out the back end.

Full and heavy with almost zero carbonation. A bit of heat.

Would have been better (especially in terms of looks and mouthfeel) if it had some more carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden in the taste however.

There may have been a problem with the bottle I got judging by the issues with carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2010 02:17:26 | More by billshmeinke
Photo of nickd717
nickd717

California

4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared at a tasting awhile back. Not sure who I owe this pleasure to. Realized this had been a lost tick that I'd forgotten to record. 'Tis nothing so sad as a lost tick.

Slightly hazy medium brown color with a small light tan head leaving a ring.

Aroma is great - hoppy with great barrel notes and caramel. Lots going on.

Flavor is caramel, toffee, oak, whiskey, and piney hops. Like Old Ruffian gone -bals to the wall. Drier than the original. Man I love -bal aged barleywines.

Smooth, subtle, and hoppy with medium-full body and medium-low carbonation.

Awesome beer overall. Great even for the style of -bal aged awesomebeer.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2010 15:58:28 | More by nickd717
Photo of mentor
mentor

Colorado

4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Original Batch (2008), bottle #225/461. Cellared for the two years in my cool dark basement at excellent cellaring conditions. Pours a heavy two finger tan fluffy head over a clear rich mahogeny liquid. Smells strawberry fruity and bourbon oaky during the pour. To the nose, rich strawberry vanilla, licorice, playful oak, bourbon char, sweet caramel, cherry, clean alcohol, pineapple, lavender, and more. Wow, just amazing, I hope the flavor is a match.

Tastes strong wood waxiness with bourbon, caramel, and cherry beneath. Clean alcohol is present and cooperates with the well-fermented beer to give a dry finish leading to a peppery aftertaste. Beneath alot of tannin, I get some raisin and some basil (may sound awful, but it actually fits pretty well). Md-light body with some dextrins and a nice creaminess. I wish this were a bit heavier for a more enjoyable mouthfeel, plus it would make the beer stick and the finish would be not quite as dry. Too hot and dry going down, similar in many ways to the Anniversary Ale made by Shorts Brewing, I think in 2006 or 2007 (check my reviews).

Needs at least two more years, probably five, for the oak and peppery sting to settle. No sign of the sherry-like (I describe it as soured caramel-like) oxidation that would so enrich the flavor of this beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2010 04:13:35 | More by mentor
Photo of grub
grub

Ontario (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ritzkiss shared this one. thanks eric!

750ml bottle topped with black foil. 2009 vintage, bottle 603/1188. sampled aug 10/2010.

pours hazy reddish brown with a thin ring of fat bubbles that drop quickly and leave only a few spots of lace.

aroma is great. vanilla and caramel. barrel. bit of toffee. whole wheat bread. biscuit. touch of cracker. bourbon. hints of citrus, cherry, and other dark fruit.

taste is good. caramel and vanilla. raw oak and barrel. light toffee. whole wheat bread and biscuit. bit of cracker. hint of fruit. good, but a bit muddy. light alcohol. medium-low bitterness level. the barrel comes across more as whiskey than bourbon.

mouthfeel is good. medium-large body. low carbonation level.

drinkability is good. nice balance. good barrel character. overall it's a bit muddy and i think that with another year or so in the cellar this one will be amazing. now to find another somewhere...

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2010 17:52:24 | More by grub
Photo of ritzkiss
ritzkiss

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received in a trade with cschmidt87, thanks man! Bottle #603/1188, 09 vintage.

Pours a hazy burnt caramel color with hints that almost lean to purple, just a few big bubbles on the pour, very lightly carbonated.

Rich brew that feels a little young still. Burnt caramel, wood, loads of whiskey, spices, toffee, nuts, toast, vanilla, a light bitter finish which is in contrast to regular Ruffian where hops are much more of a component, a little hot still, especially noticeable in the finish. Moderately sweet, full body but light carbonation could be upped a touch IMO.

This is a well made brew that feels a little unintegrated at this point, I imagine with some more age on it, it would be amazing and one of the best.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2010 14:05:23 | More by ritzkiss
Photo of womencantsail
womencantsail

California

4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
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...

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2010 06:39:18 | More by womencantsail
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-13-2010 21:54:22 | More by drabmuh
Photo of pwoods
pwoods

Ohio

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....

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2010 20:55:36 | More by pwoods
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2010 14:48:42 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of largadeer
largadeer

California

3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2010 23:33:53 | More by largadeer
Photo of wagenvolks
wagenvolks

Texas

4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up bottle 168/1188 on a Geology field trip to western Colorado. Great little liquor shop in Dillon, CO on the way out to Grand Junction. Poured into a Motel 6 plastic cup (that's right, bitches, eat your heart out!)

Pours sluggishly and forms a listless head of wispy, light khaki foam. The color of BA Old Ruffian is an amber-crimson, with edges transitioning to an earthy toffee hue. A sharp pungency from the Stranahan whiskey barrels leaps out of the cup, and pairs nicely with the underlying sweetness from caramel and toffee malts.

This is delicious stuff. The barrel-aging process lends a sharp, green, fresh & tannic woodenness to the normal Old Ruffian barleywine profile. Loads of whiskey flavor, almost as if ale & spirits were blended and bottled. Mouthfeel is smooth, chewy, and breathy with booze but far from hot. Low carbonation, thick body, and a slightly bitter hop note on the finish. This beer is a sipper for sure, and something I'd gladly have again. I almost wish I could've checked my baggage flying home from Denver and given this beer some age, but it was still wonderful fresh. A tad pricey, but a treat worth savoring.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2010 18:42:41 | More by wagenvolks
Photo of lightindarkness
lightindarkness

Florida

4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle, '09 number 362/1188 (11.9% abv listed on label)

Unique color to this one, murky without being clouded at all. Burnt caramel in appearance, a dark, rich, warm brown, and yet nearly clear, with ruby and burnt sienna flashes of color. Hard pour gives some bubbles, but no head. Only a thin wisp of anything shows carbonation, leaving a moment of fading milky-way-esque galactic formation on the surface, but then... nothing.

Nose is very enticing. Rich notes of aged grain-heavy beer blend into smooth aromas of vanilla and caramel, hinting at the whiskey aging and mellow tones of old soft oak. Very little alcohol. Very smooth and supple.

Taste follows nose with more intrigue and heightened intensity. Sweet and caramelly at first sip, with nice soft aged oak character, becoming more airy and astringent in alcohol with increasing grain flavor through the sip. Caramel and vanilla give way to dry sharp roasty grains, tight raspy bitterness and alcohol. Fades with a hop bitterness and boozy heat that hits a little in the back of the throat. Hot out of the bottle it presents as two different beers overall from start to finish, both great, but there's some conflict between them. The latter of the two suggests some more years in the bottle would mellow this one nicely into a more unified beer (but a little decanting to let it breathe accomplishes this nicely for now). The bright bitter finish, however, is a nice reminder of the base beer hiding in the swirl of oak and whiskey. My biggest problem with the beer at this point is the sharp finish isn't a nice cap to the rich aged beer up-front. I like it in sum total, but hard to really get into it more given its current character. It's as if I keep finding myself reluctant to take another sip knowing that the sweet caramelly taste up front will yield a bitter tight bite on the back end each time.

Feels smooth and silky, except for some mild astringency at the finish and some slight harshness in the alcohol. Carbonation is barely worth mentioning.

Overall quite a treat. Not a disappointment in any sense for what it is, and really seems a great display of barrel aging for this big hop-forward barleywine. Though, if Old Ruffian is your favorite beer, don't expect this one to wow you with being bigger and better, because it really seems to come out of the barrel its own creation. Definitely one I wish I had more bottles around to sit on for a couple year.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2010 20:06:17 | More by lightindarkness
Photo of fairdinkum2
fairdinkum2

Georgia

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.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2010 22:31:06 | More by fairdinkum2
Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.