Barrel Aged Old Ruffian | Great Divide Brewing Company

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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 157 | Ratings: 418
Photo of HattedClassic
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

The beer pours a creamy and foamy tan head that takes a while to dissipate. The beer itself is an opaque dark ruby with purple notes. Essentially, the beer resembles a red wine grape but slightly redder. The beer smell has an exceptionally dark fruity and caramel smell. The beer has a slight musty smell alongside the oak and vanilla. The dark fruit notes are buried rather well but become more noticeable as the beer warms. The alcohol also has a slight yet elusive presence. The notes mix very well and give off a sweet with a bit of rustic smell to it even though the vanilla is fairly strong.

The beer taste is a bit different. The same notes in the smell are also in the taste but at different strengths. The beer taste is mainly sweet and tangy with the oak and vanilla. The dark fruits appear to be apricot and orange with a serious bit of tartness/sourness and a boozy taste that is strong enough to be tasted but not that i overwhelms the taste. The caramel and vanilla show up in the end.

The mouthfeel is fairly thick and viscous with very little carbonation, which is surprising given the head strength. The feel is very smooth with the heavy body.

Overall, a pretty unique taste but I had held on to this one for about nearly a year this fall so others' mileage may vary.

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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 GilGarp
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage. Bottle 2889.

750 ml bottle with foil wrapped cap.

Seved at cellar temperature into a goblet.

Barrel aged Ruffian is similar in color to the base beer. It has a deep redish brown color with good clarity and thin white head.

Aroma is rich and boozy with a combination of sweet malty hoppiness and a bourbon barrel oakiness.

Flavor is pleasant but the hops have faded considerably. It's mostly sweet up front with plenty of caramel malts, bourbon, and vanilla. Then the bitterness from the hoppy barleywine comes through in the middle. It finishes somewhat dry as the alcohol is fairly high but it has mellowed nicely so there's no heat.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with great balance and nicely aged after two years in the cellar. Carbonation is low but I prefer it that way in a strong, dark, barrel aged ale.

Overall an excellent barrel aged beer and the Old Ruffian stands up well the the barrel treatment.

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Photo of zhanson88
3.64/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage.

Appearance: I popped the cap on this beer, and if there was any CO2 release it was just the slightest hint. Not a good sign. It poured out a turbid mahogany color, and it became quickly apparent that it was completely flat as expected. Not the slightest hint of head on this. A bit disappointing.

Smell: The nose however was quite nice. Caramel, toffee, vanilla, whiskey, and a bit of oak presence. Well balanced and not overly oxidized, as I was fearing with a 4 year old BA barleywine.

Taste: Mirrors the smell closely. Rich toffee, muted whiskey, vanilla, and oak. There was however more than a hint of oxidation on the palate, which I did not catch on the nose. Good, but not quite as good as the smell mostly due to cardboard presence from oxidation.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Obviously this beer was completely flat, and medium bodied. Not good. Overall, this would have been a very fine example of a BA barleywine if it was not completely devoid of carbonation. Hard telling if it was always like this or if it just lost pressure while aging. Still the flavors are there, and I quite enjoyed the beer even without carbonation. I will re-review with a 2011 bottle I have around...

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Photo of draheim
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL (bottled 2461, May 2012 I believe) into a snifter. Pours a crystal-clear ruby-brown mahogany w/ a nice khaki head that settles to a thin film, leaving some pretty nice lacing behind. Looks great.

Aroma is heavily laden w/ toffee, caramel, vanilla and, interestingly, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices. Whiskey character is blended really nicely.

Taste is smooth and buttery. Tons of gooey caramel and toffee, warm brown sugar, vanilla, oak and booze. Both sticky-sweet and almost bitter @ the same time, this beer almost attains a savory, umami quality I can't quite identify. Reminds me a little bit of really good maple syrup. Very nice.

As expected, mouthfeel is thick and coating, chewy and sticky. Lingering aftertaste like a fine liqueur. It's a real sipper of a beer to be sure.

Overall, I have to give this straight 4.5s. There's little fault to find in any aspect of this beer. Outstanding.

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Photo of matttttYCE
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Happy to be having another of the Great Divide Barrel Aged series. If anyone sees this and would like to trade me a BA Hibernation let me know haha. Anyways, the color is the deepest darkest plum I might have ever seen. The head is a light tan, quite creamy, has decent lacing, and meanders for some time. The aroma is just a tad lighter than expected but not bad by any means. On the nose, sweetness, dark fruits, alcohol, and big malts are in the foreground. In the background, there's molasses and caramel, pleasant oak, smoke, hints at vanilla, and all around light barrel characteristics. The barrel presence increases quite a bit with warming, which is very welcomed. Taste mimics the aroma pretty closely. Very sweet, lots of dark fruits and malty goodness. Not as much alcohol heat on the taste, but also more barrel character/vanilla/oak than the nose. Not much in the way of hops whatsoever but this is a slightly older vintage. Barrel character becomes a bit more present as this warms, much like the nose. The mouthfeel is slippery, viscous, and bordering on full. Viscous consistency, creamy medium carbonation, medium-full body, and a light-medium, wet finish.

Overall this is wonderful for a two year old barrel aged barleywine. This definitely isn't the best barrel aged barleywine I've had but it is still a great offering if you're able to get your hands on it. And despite the usual ability to age barley wines and how well regular Old Ruffian ages, I'd suggest drinking this one sooner rather than later.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ML bottle (bottle # 4004 of I believe 2011 vintage) poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Liquid comes out a nice looking color, somewhere between dark brick red and dark brown. Lighter brown highlights on the sides and the slightest bit of haze. Sort of a slightly darker than creamcycle colored head that comes out pretty big after a hard pour, lots of different sized bubbles but most of them are small. Pretty good lacing to it.

Smell is really, really, really good. The base of the beer has a lot going on. There is a huge amount of malt and huge amount of hops. Don't ask me the breakdown of them all, but whatever they are, they work together quite well. Sweet caramel and toffee combined with some strong hops as well a nice aroma of vanilla and whiskey. To quote my friend Rusty "I wish they'd make a scented candle that smells like this." Sort of tickles your nose a little.

Taste is exactly on par with the smell. Lots of huge malt backbone and a great amount of hops to complement it. Caremel, toffee, brown sugar, some candied dehydrated raisons and some sweeter dried fruit like cherries and hints of citrus peel. Nice vanilla flavors too, sort of an earthy vanilla, like a sweet smoked wood. I've aged the quite a bit, but still a nice piney hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is really good, nice for the style. Full bodied overall, a great carbonation level and super smooth. There's a nice sweet finish with a nice warm finish, slightly sharp at the end. Not too hot though and I actually would have predicted a lower ABV than 12.7%. Really a great beer, strong the whole way through but moderately gentle, super drinkable. Thanks Geoff for the recommendation and the trade.

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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 thagr81us
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Review #2000! The last of the surviving beers from my accident! Bottle #592 of 1188! Served from bottle into New Belgium globe. Poured a deep red brown with a minimal off-white head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, vanilla, sweet alcohol, and wood. The flavor was of sweet malt, vanilla, wood, earth, caramel, brown sugar, and sweet alcohol. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. Still a nice touch of booze going on in this one with a nice touch of vanilla to bring the barrel to life. The touch of vanilla really helped this beer out as without it, it could have been a complete disaster without it. Worth your time trying if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of spicelab
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from dodgy tasting notes 28 Jan.

Deep mahogany with a decent beige head of good retention.

Abundant sharp woody toffee notes, mild dark fruits and good strawberry presence

Rich strawberry milk, earthy toffee and cherry ripe with edgy whisky notes booze and plastic muscle in hard, not quite to the extent of rendering it undrinkable.

Velevty, thick, smooth.

Great beer, only wish it'd been cracked earlier in the tasting.

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Photo of Treebs
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle served in a Southern Tier tulip. 2012 vintage.

A: Pours a murky sienna color with a khaki head forming on the pour. It recedes to a thick ring that leaves some splotchy lace down the glass.

S: Whiskey barrel upfront with some caramel and dark fruits. Chocolate covered raisins with a sweet malt bill.

T: More dark fruits with a whiskey barrel sweetness. Oak barrel, brown sugar with a nice roasted malt backing. The whiskey comes back with a sharp zing on the finish, but there's enough sweetness to balance it out.

M: Medium heavy bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. Medium low carbonation level.

O: I definitely enjoyed this one. The whiskey bite is sharp, but the booze is well hidden and it isn't hot at all.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.94/5  rDev -28.5%
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.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.94/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to whomever brought this one to the taste. Haven't had the regular Old Ruffian at the time of tasting this, though I have two 2010 vintages ready to go... Perhaps I should crack one soon. Pours a dark, burnt brown and tan color with a nicely crafted tan head, fine-bubbled and lasting for half the pour.

Boozy and sweet aroma up front, full of big-time oak notes. Luckily, this one doesn't smell infected like the batches of BA Yeti... Some more sweetness is apparent on the nose, vanilla-ish and warm, alcoholic molasses. I haven't had the original Old Ruffian to compare to (I have a 2010 release in my cellar, no idea when I'll finally drink it). Some dark fruits on the nose as well, typical barleywine aromas abound.

Taste follows right along, starting off with a caramel, molasses, and toffee under-body, moderately sweet and delicate. Along comes a powerful and very sweet, toasted brown sugar flavor, hitting the taste buds pretty hard. Dark fruits become more noticeable eventually; grapes, raisins, prunes, black cherries - all soaked in booze and coated in sugar.

The booze is a little heavier in the aroma than it is on the palate, and it doesn't carry as strong of a bourbon feel as it did before, either. The oak is as powerful as ever, however, along with a mild vanilla and cinnamon spice. The finish is full of more boozy raisins and dates atop a sturdy, oak filled platform. A touch syrupy, silky and smooth on the palate with a lower-end amount of carbonation.

Definitely very drinkable for 12.7% ABV - sweet but not too sweet, with nice oak components, apparent from the barrel aging. I'll have pop the Old Ruffian soon to see how it compares. Luckily this one wasn't infected like some of the Barrel Aged Yetis that were released before this.

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

Poured from a 750ml bottle into snifter

A-Cloudy ruby hue with a small amount of head and little to no lacing

S-As with the other BA Great Divide Brews this one is really barrel forward. Boozy vanilla and oak with some dark fruits, toffee, caramel and maybe a hint of deep roasted barley.

T-Whiskey forward, vanilla and toffee with a nice cereal sweetness, caramel, oak and light raisins. Really well integrated and polished for a big BA beer.

M-Viscous and coating in all the right ways

O-This is my favorite of the BA Great Divide beers (having not had the BA Claymore). It comes across like Stranahan's and Old Ruffian have enough common flavors in their profile to really mesh well, accentuating the toffee and caramell with an oaky vanilla hint. Really well done, worth seeking out.

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

2011, bottle 2428

750 ml bottle poured into my Newport Storm tulip

Out of the gate a dark brown with an inch of khaki head. Initially probably a little cold so the first smell is some sharp oak, whiskey and raisins. As it warms the aromas blend into a better combination. Taste is similar, with raisin, sweet malt, some hops, whiskey and oak. I wonder how bourbon barrels would work with the base beer? Good amount of carbonation, not too sticky, not much alcohol burn. Overall, an above average BBal barleywine. Glad to have tried it.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, 2011 #1943
Hill Farmstead wine glass

A: Pours out a nice, clean deep amber color. Not getting tons of light through, but some. Still get good carbonation, even at that high ABV. Definitely seeing some alcohol feet.

S: Pulling lots of that bourbon still, even after a year. Lots of vanilla and oak from the booze. Sticky toffee pudding. Caramel. Dark booze soaked fruits. Some leather.

T: Flavor follows the nose, getting delicious toffee flavors. Really nice blend of booze, barrel, and beer. Getting that vanilla and oak for sure. Not overpowering, so the year helped. As it warms, you really get more of that caramel and toffee and dark fruit. Long finish on this one. Like others have said, easy to drink but certainly one to savor over time as it changes with warmth.

M: Full bodied. But not overly thick.

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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 Jeffo
3.02/5  rDev -26.5%
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 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 Daniellobo
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Quite a remarkable barrel aged barleywine

Presentation: 750 ml brown capped bottle with a black top foil. Recurrent retro, if somewhat simpler even maybe more elegant than the regular line up label design around over a burgundy background. Short descriptive narrative noting the main ingredients, and intent of the ale. Displays bottling number 0682, recommended food pairings, and 11.8% Alc. by Vol. Poured into a Great Divide snifter.

A - Clear deep amber-crimson pour, rich 1/2" creamy head, medium retention, good surface memory and lacing.

S - Fruity whiskey nose with plenty of wood. Caramel and grapefruit…Complex notes of vanilla and grains linger. Quite the nose.

T - The palate follows with dexterity, if maybe with a tad less subtlety which it makes for in assertive character. Barrel and whiskey with complex malty notes, plenty of caramel, fruity notes, dash of resin... Boozy dash.

M - Medium to medium-full body with soft carbonation, and a nice syrupy smoothness in the finish. Alcohol a bit prominent although with a nice sense of self. Great flow for a couple of servings… Borderline cloying but never quite making it there.

O - Delightful sipper, it surely makes for a memorable drinking experience.

Notes: Where Old Ruffian made for a good US Barley Wine the barrel aged version makes for an outstanding experience. Bottle with 8 or 9 months on it, and it feels assertive with some nice roundness.. It could do with some extra aging. Bottle picked up on my visit to Denver, and wishing I had traveled back with two more. Whiny about the distribution pulling out of DC a year or two ago...

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #2374. 2012 vintage. 750ml bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

.5 finger fine, light brown head with little retention. Beer is a cloudy, dark brown. Lacing is stringy and spotty with good cling. Thin oily legs round this one out nicely.

Nose is boozy. Hints of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and green raisins. Solid.

Opens sweet, boozy and sappy. Caramel, brown sugar, anise, and green raisins. Warm boozy overtones throughout. End is brown sugar and molasses with a very sweet aftertaste. Still a bit hot at this point, hiding some nice nuances in this one. Still decent though.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and warm in the mouth and goes down boozy and hot. Finishes messy with a long, lingering finish. Very good.

A decent beer overall but at this point, this one still needs a bit of time. Nice complexities lurk underneath the booze but the barrel presence covers a lot right now. I'd love to revisit this one in a year or so.

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Photo of SaintBenedict
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage. 750ml bottle, #1538.

After peeling back the foil wrap from the cap, it looked as though the ol' man had grown a little anxious and began seeping out. There was also a fair amount of sticky residue, and what appeared to be a little rust on the cap. Alas, I feared that the bottle had likely gone flat—not a particularly encouraging prospect, especially considering the $26 price tag. However, instead of returning it, I decided to forge ahead.

Luckily, the risk proved well worth it as I was greeted by a reassuring release of CO2 and a thick, tall foamy off-white head. The beer pours a deep chestnut brown with a heart of vermillion and burnt tangerine edges.

The bready sweet malt-laden nose is predictably complex for the style, with plenty of dark juicy stone (think cherry and plum), as well as dried fruits like plump raisins, sticky dates and ripe figs. The barrel aging reveals notes of whiskey, wood, faint chocolate, molasses, black licorice, touches of star anise and notes of herbal black tea leaf.

On the palate, BA Ruffian is tangy, sweet and malty, with boozy flavors of macerated spice-studded orange citrus rind (or is that tangerine?), along with hints of dark chocolate liqueur, more black strap molasses, fleshy ripe dark stone fruit and moist rum-soaked fruitcake. The finish exhibits a final zesty touch of dry bitterness.

This particular variant of Old Ruffian is medium-bodied with a fair amount of fine, prickly carbonation—which is surprising considering the style and size, not to mention the aforementioned suspicious-looking cap.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more rich and flavorful barleywine than Barrel Aged Old Ruffian. Despite its earthy wood aroma and molasses-dominated stone fruit flavor, the beer's whiskey barrel-aging remains evident—if a little distant.

Overall, Barrel Aged Old Ruffian is clearly an outstanding rendition of the style, perhaps even exceptional. However, for my tastes, it would need a touch more complexity, a fuller synthesis of flavors and clearly notable bourbon to truly put it over the top. Nevertheless, despite the steep price tag, I might be tempted to grab this one again.

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Photo of Holland
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Treebs for this beauty!

A: cloudy brown to tan with varying thickness and a small layer of foam after the pour that stays well.

S: dominated by sweet malt and barrel character along with some fruity smells.

T: very interesting combination of barrel character along with a hefty amount of dark fruits. It's almost tart there is so much fruit flavor.

M: thick but well carbonated to create a feel that is heavy but never too heavy.

O: very good beer, but it's just a bit too dominated by the dark fruits in the taste. It also looks a bit gross, but overall it's really delicious. Happy I shared the bottle, but it's drinkable enough to want more immediately when you're done.

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Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 418 ratings.
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