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Barrel Aged Old Ruffian | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian
451 Ratings
Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ArrogantB on 10-08-2008

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 451 |  Reviews: 169
Photo of hopsbreath
1/5  rDev -75.8%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Had a little barrel aged barleywine tasting at MADhombrewer and Witchsbrew's residence last night. Filet mignon's were provided by our host's for TulipSnifter and I. Thanks guys!

In the lineup were Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Hellshire I, BA Hi-Fi Rye, BA Old Ruffian, Abacus, and Alpine Great. Our intention was to also open up Perfect Storm '09, Mother of all Storms '10, Kuhnhenn BBBW, and Arctic Devil but we agreed it best to hold off on those beers for another day due to palate fatigue. Small two ounce samples of the six beers from last night were first tasted and notes were taken before returning to the bottles for more tastes and refined notes.

Thanks to jophish17 for supplying me with a bottle. 2009 batch.

I don’t have my typical review lined up for this beer because I fear it may have been an off bottle. I’m giving it all 1.0’s to reflect exactly how bad I felt this particular bottle was. No “pfft” on the cap-crack had me thinking that this was simply low on the carbonation. Pouring the beer as hard as possible revealed zilch in the way of carbonation in the puce colored beer. The body was thin and watery to boot which has me thinking something was just flat out wrong here. Smelled like generic malt and tasted like watered malt that had wet whiskey barrel dunked in it. Some slight sourness and acetone suggests a possible infection. I can’t give the standard smells and flavors that I usually report because it was so off and weird. If I was guessing, 600 of the 750ml’s ended up going down the drain. I’ll try this again if the opportunity presents itself but no way am I going to trade for another.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of russwbeck
2.38/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Enjoyed at tonight's NoVA tasting. Bottle 57/1188

A: Pours like an under carbonated old ale, absolutely no head. Nothing, no pop of the bottle, no head at all.

S: The smell is nice. Whiskey, booze, malts, molasses, really deep and balanced.

T: Wow this is not great. Tastes like a watered down whiskey. A malt character, but the barleywine base is gone. Disappointing.

MF: Flat, stale, boozy, bad.

O: Huge disappointment. Wish I could have had this a bit younger, hope my BA yeti doesn't do this.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.47/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5


A: Poured a thin, tannish color with no head, undercarbonated with no lacing

S: Stinging booze, Earthy and old wood notes with some brown sugar

T: Faded hops, booze, brown sugar, toffee and remnants of old wood, Earth and dark fruits

M: Way to thin, flat, boozey and sweet

O: Not to much to say here.Wow. What a letdown.

Not as thin or hot oddly enough but still thin, a bit more carbonation

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Photo of bum732
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%

Photo of duceswild
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%

Photo of Aisha
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Photo of joshtrich
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

Photo of sweemzander
2.94/5  rDev -29%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 3

750mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2009 vintage. Bottle #535/1188

(A)- Pours quite flat sadly. Some tan bubbles, but kind of murky too overall. Poured a murky and muddy mahogany color.

(S)- Subtle hints at booze soaked raisin and caramel. Bits of oak and subtle spice, but otherwise is very muted due to how flat this really is.

(T)- Disappointing due to its complete lack of carbonation, but its saving grace is that it does have some nice oak and caramel in the aftertaste.

(M)- Flat as a pancake carbonation-wise. It does have some nice oak and sweetness to it, but overall becomes so muted due to its lack of carbonation. I have had my share of flat beers, but in this instance, it really killed this beer; needed it badly.

(O)- A rather large disappointment for me especially since I was looking forward to trying this one for quite a few years now since its base beer was one of my first favorite barleywines as I was getting into the beer scene.
Again, there are some nice qualities about it that are just unfortunately lost in is flat, murky depths.

 1,064 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
2.97/5  rDev -28.3%
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.

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Photo of leschkie
3/5  rDev -27.5%

Photo of BGsWo22
3/5  rDev -27.5%

Photo of shade13
3/5  rDev -27.5%

Photo of Eriktheipaman
3/5  rDev -27.5%

Photo of mmulebarn
3/5  rDev -27.5%

Photo of Jeffo
3.02/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Got this one from BOLTZ9555 in a trade a while back. Cheers for the fun box of beer man!

From a 750ml into a snifter
Vintage: 2011
Bottle 1,574
IBU: 85-90
Aged 9 months in Stranahan whisky barrels

Note: Drank this one right after the base beer. Comparisons drawn.

APPEARANCE: Pours a looser, two finger, off-white or cream colored head with decent retention. A little too loose really, much like the base beer. Body is darker in color, looking more deep mahogony or maroon red, and is clear with higher levels of carbonation. Head slowsly fades to a good foam cap and sticks to the sides, but only a splotchy wisp remains until the end and leaves no real lacing down the glass. Darker in color than the base.

SMELL: Lots of whisky, toffee and caramel on the nose intially, with plenty of oak, vanilla and whisky barrel for sure. Light milk chocolate and a slight tatness with dark fruits actually. This is quite big and barrel heavy, though the barrel is quite nice.

TASTE: Very flavorful for sure. Toffee and caramel with dark fruits up front. Lots of whisky and oak, with a hefty dose of alcohol at the swallow. Huge, boozy and lingering finish of barrel and oak, toffee sweetness, milk chocolate notes and a touch of bitterness as well. Barrel flavors are pretty big, but the toffee and light bitter notes from the base beer still show through. The booze is a little much, however.

PALATE: Lighter and thinner body, especially when compared to the base beer. Light on the palate, somewhat fizzy and not creamy enough either. Goes down with a burn and finishes slightly sticky. Lots of heat lingers. This is quite challenging and much harsher than the base beer. Disappointing here.

OVERALL: This is big, complex and interesting, though the heavy booze quality and the thin, harsh feel make it quite challengind. Although Great Divide is an excellent brewery and their regular Old Ruffian is good stuff, I'd seek a different barrel aged barleywine if I were looking for this style. I'd gladly try an older bottle or a new vintage of this when it comes out, but I didn't find the 2011 is not enjoyable enough at this point to go looking for another one. Cheers again for the trade BOLTZ9555. Always a pleasure.

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Photo of pwoods
3.14/5  rDev -24.2%
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....

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Photo of Faroveryonder
3.2/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of oline73
3.21/5  rDev -22.5%
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.

 449 characters

Photo of Hophead717
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%
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 Auztan
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of jrallen34
3.31/5  rDev -20%
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.

 486 characters

Photo of portia99
3.34/5  rDev -19.3%
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...

 793 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.36/5  rDev -18.8%
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
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 451 ratings
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