Ridge Runner - Rock Art Brewery

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Ridge RunnerRidge Runner

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192 Reviews
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Reviews: 192
Hads: 368
rAvg: 3.45
pDev: 15.65%
Wants: 5
Gots: 20 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Rock Art Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  7.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Murph on 08-07-2002

"Robust, Dark and Smooth, hold on to your hat cause you’ll lose your feet on this one!" Brewed with pale, dark crystal, Munich, flaked barley, black and chocolate malts. Hops include Cascade, Crystal, Challenger and Perle.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 192 | Hads: 368
Photo of Sammy
3.57/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I think a cross-over-style. Barley and hoppy aroma, beautiful head, very cloudy, some retaining lace. Smokey peat then bitter, with barley wine in taste. Though malty with chocolate malt, making for easy drinkability, it has Thinnish mouthfeel. High carbonation. Not bad. (271 characters)

Photo of brentk56
2.48/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Even with a hard pour I could barely raise a head on this amber colored beer; no lacing, either

Smell: Caramel, tea and cooked vegetal aromatics

Taste: Very strange opening, with a bit of toffee and some herbal elements; perhaps some dusty chocolate underneath; grainy throughout, with a vague brown sugar element in the finish

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, rather aqueous; very low carbonation

Drinkability: Not undrinkable, but why waste the time; this is the most insipid barleywine I have encountered (523 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.59/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

good not great, this English style barleywine is nice and smooth, coppery and caramel malt forward, but not quite ad big and bold as I have come to expect the style to be, even the English versions. nice amber color, darker, red brown, with a half inch of creamy tan head that fades after just a minute. aromatics of well toasted cereal grains, red malt, caramel that's just a touch burnt, and warming alcohol. the flavor follows the nose, but I am impressed how the sweetness does not pollute the flavor or feel of this beer. the residual sugars are short lived on the tongue, which allows the grains to be tasted for what they are. English malt is obvious here. mix of American and English hops. not much carbonation, but I suppose it suits the style. I also like that its not even 8% abv, usually bigger barleywines are one and done, but I see why they sell this one in a sixpack. gets better and better as it warms up too. a great evening slow sipper with a good book. (972 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
1.62/5  rDev -53%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle: Poured a deep clear amber color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of sweet with loads of overcooked vegetables. Taste is also dominated by some overcooked vegetables with some oversweet malt. Body is really thin with some good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I thought there was way too many brewing flaws in this beer. (378 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.88/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

"In Pueblo myths, Kokopelli carries in his hump, seeds, babies and blankets to offer to maidens that he seduces. As a fertility symbol, he was welcome during corn planting season and was sought after by barren wives, although avoided by shy maidens."

--from 'Kokopelli, Flute Player Images in Rock Art'

Dusky cranberry that becomes glowing crimson with any sort of backlighting. The sandstone cap isn't especially creamy or firm--it's more whipped and frothy--but it looks great as it drops below the upper edge of the snifter, collapsing in sections and leaving beautiful arching bird wings of lace on the glass.

Maybe it has something to do with the low ABV for the style, but the nose isn't all that powerful, nor is it very barleywine-like. It's dark maltier than most and leans toward the fruity side of things. Hops don't make much of an impression; too bad since Cascade, Challenger, Crystal and Perle would have made for a compelling nose if they had been the focal point. A mere 18 months in the bottle shouldn't have reined them in to this degree.

Ridge Runner is one of the wimpiest... no, make that the absolute wimpiest... barleywine that I've ever had. I thought that at 7.5% it would be a less aggressive version, but I had no idea that it would wave the white flag so vigorously from the word go. What's the point of adding six varieties of malt when the total malt load is this pathetically light?

Chocolate and black malt in a barleywine don't strike me as especially good design choices. Hard telling how it might have turned out in a well-brewed beer though. Cocoa and dark fruit continue to lead the way with no other flavors interested in following along behind. With a body this incredibly aqueous, complexity and depth of flavor simply isn't possible.

The mouthfeel improves just enough when the final few ounces are added to the glass to pull it out of laughable territory, although I'm still snickering each time I take a sip. I can't believe that Rock Art even calls this beer a barleywine when the mouthfeel is this vapid. In order to be taken seriously, it needs double the malt; maybe even triple.

Kokopelli deserves a much better beer than Ridge Runner. Not only that, but if he hopes to remove a few buckskin dresses along the way, he'll require a more enticing, more inebriating brew than this. (2,350 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

caramel in color with a light, off white head on top that comes to about a half an inch in this glass, but has incredible staying power. Caps the top just about right before it settles down into a subtle, yet defined broken crown that clings to the sides of the glass throughout the rest of the session. Classic look here.

Aroma is light, hints of vanilla, light leather and bourbon are the most pronounced. Really rich smelling and the alcohol is coming through clearly. Evidence of the malts dominates everything, this is a good thing and even an hour into this bottle, that sweet vanilla aroma is mixing with an almost toffee like touch and a hint of plum. Smooth, rich flavor washes across the tongue (705 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this at Deacons Den in West Dover,Vt last month I had never heard of it so I gave it a try.Pours a deep red with some brown tones showing thru,not to much head here but what there was left some nice lacing.Aroma was real sweet with some burnt fruit aromas and lightly bready.Very malty brew lightly sweet with dried fruit and chocolate,it is slighlty alcoholic.A decent find in the wilds of Vermont. (405 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle 10 months old:

This basic barleywine is very English in style. It's more about malt than hops, and very reminiscent of a dark mild.

It pours a short head of light tan foam atop a clear, dark-chestnut body. The head retention is fair, and it leaves tiny spots of lace about the glass.

The nose offers deeply caramelized malt and a smear of leafy and minty hops, as well as the occassional whiff of gently fruity yeastiness.

It's lighter in the mouth than one might suspect (again, quite English in character), and it's remarkably smooth with a low-level carbonation.

The heavily caramelized malt is not as pronounced as the aroma suggests, and appears to be more of the result of a long boil than the use of crystal malts (although that could be due to the use of a very small amount of roasty malt like Paul's Chocolate, or even some black malt). I really like the underlying almost-burnt caramel character, but it's kind of lost as it's entwined in leafy, earthy, and minty hop flavors (once again, possibly due to a long boil). Some yeasty fruitiness does peek through now and again, and it's also really well-balanced. The alcohol is superbly cloaked, and if it wasn't at 7.5% this could easily be a session ale.

Unique and enjoyable! (1,270 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.37/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a reddish brown, with a thin tan head that fades very quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: Caramelized malt is the prime component of the aroma. It also contains tea, spice, a bit of fruit, some hops and a hint of smoke (which is quite different for the style).

T: The taste seems quite weak, mainly consisting of caramelized malt, some dark fruit and some smokiness. There almost no hops flavor at all. Overall, the taste really isn’t bad; there just isn’t much of it.

M: Mouthfeel is watery and thin, light-to-medium body, medium-to-high carbonation, dry finish.

D: This beer is easy-to-drink, but only because there really isn’t anything special about it. I could drink this beer for a long time, but only if there wasn’t much of anything else to choose from. (863 characters)

Photo of jlindros
3.46/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a frothy 1 finger head that fades at a medium pace, with a bit of lacing, over clear mahogany molasses brown color.

Nose has some reddish malts, some dark malts, a bit of crystal, lots of herbal earthy hoppy Hedgerow UK hop aromas, a bit of a molasses like syrupy aroma. Not much there either, kinda flat, a slight bit of fruits.

Taste brings more of the herbal UK Hedgerow bittering hops, with some light minerality flavors, that herbal hop flavor dominates (not my favorite) with a slight bit of minerality and a plasticy like taste, then come the malts, lots of medium reddish to darker malts, crystal malts some light syrupy flavors, and a hint of dark fruit. Finishes with some sweetness but dries some from the initial sweetness, with a lingering crystal malt flavor and some herbal hops, as well as more minerality.

Mouth is medium to a little heavier bodied with decent carbonation.

Drink is so-so, not much by way of booze, but the minerality combined with the herbal hop flavors and a sticky finish give it a bit of trouble. (1,044 characters)

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.2/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This was the oddest barleywine I've had up to this point in my life.

First off, it was only $7.99/6, which is the cheapest barleywine I've ever seen. Second, it's 7.5% ABV makes it the weakest barleywine I've seen, can't recall any in the single digits actually.

I didn't detect any hops taste at all in this one, which made me think it is more of a stout. Very low carbonation and not much for flavor/taste. But, it is smooth and goes down easy.. just a little boring as it goes down. (487 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
3.06/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked this up at Thirsty's in York, poured chilled into a tulip and allowed to warm gradually.

The color is ruby with brilliant clarity and thick sand colored cream cap with about two fingers that holds well. The bead is fine and inchworms of lace decorate the glass. the smell is pretty high in the buttery realm, almost toffee-like and sweet aroma with some floral hops, but practically like bread with some diacetyl augmenting. The feel is very high in carbonation for the style with moderately low malt texture, perhaps a strong yeast element is distracting with a slightly slick and moderately bitter finish with mild alcohol.

The taste has subtle toasted cracker and spice with the diacetyl pretty dominant. The flavor of the malt comes and goes with the carbonation washing most of the taste clean except as the beer is swallowed a slightly astringent and mildly piney hop flavor emerges. The beer is neither good nor bad, it just is IMO. The problem is it has the diacetyl too forward and there is not enough malt with the yeast and hops taking over the flavor. I would not buy this again most likely as it lacks a good malt body which is what I look for in a good barleywine. (1,193 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.61/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Moderate lace but it leaves a lot of ring and stringy lace. Cloudy beer with a dark amber/light brown color.

Sweet aroma of concentrated malt syrup.

Very good dollop of hops to the otherwise malty (and mildly sweet) beer. Low alcohol presence for the style. Accurate body and carbonation. (290 characters)

Photo of jwc215
2.83/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown with a thin head.

Pours brown with a thin head.

The smell is almost undetectable. Some caramel and fruitiness is there. Nothing offensive - just too mild, esp. for style.

Very thin flavor - lacks typical characteristics. Thin body - even as it warms. Some sweet grains. A hint of earthy hops. Alcohol is not too noticeable for abv. Not necessarily bad tasting - just lacking.

Spritzy carbonation is noticeable in the feel. The body is too watery for style. I've had chilled and at complete room temperature - Drink warm for some hints at a body - still not enough though. Flavors (what little there were) barely hang on.

Light and goes down easily. Still-in-all, doesn't fit style and nothing really noteworthy. I noticed that it has something of an aftertaste that is common in other beers of this brewery. Bottom line - needs more body and complexity. (885 characters)

Photo of WesWes
3.18/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a musty pale and crystal malt scent that also has a mild hop bitterness. The taste is average. It has a grainy pale and roasted malt flavor. It's got a smokey off-flavor to it as well. It's a struggle to put down. The mouthfeel is average as well. It's a medium bodied beer with a little too much CO2. It's quite thin for a barleywine. This is a forgettable beer for sure. It's got to be my least favorite of this style. It's one and done for me. (566 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
3.2/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to my brother for this bottle.

A: Pours a deep ruby/brown color with a small tan head that fades quickly and leaves behind thin and sporadic lacing.

S: Lots of caramel and candied sugar with a little bit of dark fruit - some raisins and prunes.

T: Similar to the aroma, but comes of a little bland for style. Some caramelized malt and a little bit of non-descript dark fruit.

M: Medium bodied, but seems a little thin for style. Medium carbonation.

O: Have had some pretty good beers from Rock Art, but this one was a bit if a disappointment. (558 characters)

Photo of woodychandler
4.09/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! I called Matt about this one to find out how long it might have been awiting consumption. Based on the notching, July of 2004 when I was attending the Vermont Brewer's Festival. Now, 2 1/2 years later, how would it fare? It began with two fingers of mocha-tan head that reduced to cloudiness, but not wispiness. Nose had a mild smokiness to it. Color was a deep brown with gorgeous ruby highlights as well as NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was full and soft with a lot of carbonation presnt on the tongue. Matt had told me that this was intended to be an English-style barleywine and indeed, the malt and the hops were somewhat subdued on the tongue. The best part was the finish, which left an aftertaste of malted cocoa, like you might get from Quik or PDQ. It had a slightly burnt quality to it, but in the best way. Man, if this is what English barleywines are all about, I may make them a routine stop. (911 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
3.33/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip shaped glass late at night watching some shit.. Vermonster's little brother??

Ridge runs into a dark bronze kinda brownish kinda orange/red in color with a head, if you can call it that. Nothing left on the glass. This does look barleywine esque, but the lack of head on a seven point fiver baffles me. Smells include MMMAAALLLTTT, alot of malt, caramel, toffee, but some piney hops from the fresh botle, faint dark fruit, that about sums it up. Taste include caramel, slight sugar, coconut, dark fruit, earthy hops, toast, YEP! Feel is mediumish with low carb, kinda deadish but ah well, I drank it, I thanked it, I super ranked it(?), good for a gander. (681 characters)

Photo of Gavage
3.48/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a clear brown-burgandy color with a 1" head. Some spots of lacing develop.

Smell: loads of sweet malts, brown sugar, and some hop bitterness.

Taste: sweet malts with a hint of toasted nuts, soft vanilla, alochol, and strong bitterness. Overall quite simple but bold and a bit unbalanced.

Mouthfeel: smooth at the start and finish. Relatively short aftertaste for the bold flavors. Medium-heavy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: average for me as I did not want to venture into a second bottle during the session. Overall a so-so barleywine in my book. (573 characters)

Photo of Billolick
3.7/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, with bottled on dating notched onto the label. Pours a dark reddish amber, white head quickly subsiding and leaving minor lacing. Nose is of shelled peanuts and some caramel. This is an understated, subtle ale, a tad on the light side for a barley wine. Minor hop notes and malt is smooth and moderate. British style all the way. Nice sipper, but needs some more oomph to rate with the finer brews of the style. Wouldnt pay top $ for this creation (464 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.95/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Certainly an interesting barleywine. At first it comes off like a really big, or double, ESB, as it has very bready and biscuity malt flavors as opposed to the more traditional big, fruity malt. The balance also clearly tips toward the big, grassy, earthy hops here, making it feel more American in bitterness. My only complaint is that the mouthfeel is a little thin and watery at times. The hops do a good job of keeping the drinkability up, in a nice hoppy way. Worth a try if you like ESB's, big English hops, and something different for a barleywine. (555 characters)

Photo of corby112
2.56/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle sampled from a rock art variety pack.

Pours a clear amber color with thin head. Aroma of malts, hops and alcohol but all less prominent than in your average barley wine. Flavor again is similar to a barleywine yet much weaker. Niot a strong alcohol presence with more of a malty taste. Dissapointing. (308 characters)

Photo of weeare138
3.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Aged bottle from 6/05...
Appears a dark brown with an amber hue when held to the light. A thick, light tan head slowly fades out. Plenty of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of roasted malt, caramel, and light fruit with a touch of smoke.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with the roasted grain coming through on a slightly lower level.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, slightly grainy, and a bitter & thin finish.

On a side note, this seems much better when aged. When fresh, it doesn't have much characther unless you're able to find it on cask somewhere. (561 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
3.52/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium reddish copper color with a smallish off white head that quickly dissipates to a ring on top. Smells of caramel toffee and light bready grainy malt. Light sulfur and a hint of earth with a light butterscotch round out the nose. The flavor is biscuity bready grainy maltiness with bits of toffee and butterscotch. Light earthy hops flavor with a bit of sulfur provides a counter the the malty sweetness. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet slick mouthfeel. Nice enough barleywine, the bready maltiness is nice but the toffee butterscotch is a bit too much on my palette. (609 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.03/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this in trade from Yamar18
Poured a deep amber color with a dirty white and rocky head. Nose was molasses, brown sugar and some fruits. Taste was rather bland and weak for bwine. I was expecting more hops and more malts. taste was ok but it just tasted rather weak, not bad but not what i expected from an English bwine.Mouthfeel was nice, easy drinkig, a little bitter at times. Drinkability is average. There are many bwines out there who provide stiff competetion. Though good it was not special. I believe with some age this will fill out. Lucky me for getting 2 bottles. (579 characters)

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Ridge Runner from Rock Art Brewery
79 out of 100 based on 192 ratings.