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

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Reviews: 165 | Ratings: 435
Photo of MattyG85
4.56/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a chalice. Bottled on date of March 26, 2015.

Appearance: Pours a deep brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of off white head that settles into a thin creamy layer. Leaves a lot of creamy lacing.

Smell: A rich, toasty, and boozy malt driven aroma with big hints of bourbon, caramel, and biscuit. Big upfront barrel presence with a scent of bourbon whiskey, oak, vanilla, and wood. Toasted barley malt with hints of caramel, toffee, biscuit, toast, and butterscotch. Earthy hops with some hints of grass. Subtle dark fruit hints of fig and dates. Also some sweet hints of brown sugar. A very good complex aroma.

Taste: Like the nose hints at, a rich, boozy, and toasty malt forward taste with notes of bourbon, caramel, and biscuit. Upfront barrel taste with notes of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Toasted barley malt with sweet notes of caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, and butterscotch. Sweet taste of brown sugar. Mild earthy and herbal hop presence with some grass and pine. Subtle dark fruit undertones of fig, cherry, and dates. A very nice taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a carbonation level on the lighter side of medium. Rich, creamy, chewy, and moderately syrupy. A little hot as expected but still smooth considering.

Overall: A very good Barrel Aged twist on a great base Barleywine. Good blend of bourbon and malt flavors.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: deep brown and opaque with a finger of tan head that receded into some bubbly froth along the sides

S: rich malts and whiskey barrels merge to conjure suggestions of dark caramel, soft fruits in booze, and airy oak barrels

T: chewy dark whiskey-soaked fruit and grains, hints of spice like nutmeg and cinnamon, flashes of vanilla and toffee; oaky wood aspects give it a lightness

M: medium-weight with a smooth caramel-esque coat, no palpable carbonation but a tingle of whiskey's touch, slight drying finish, mildly bitter and malty aftertaste

O: surprised at the mixed reviews - perhaps a matter of expectation and personal tastes - I love Old Ruffian and this barrel aged version did not disappoint - lots of malt and booze with deeper impressions of caramel and fruit. A pricey bottle, just under $30, but one I'd go back for if I've got the cash.

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Photo of Jjski
3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2015,

Wow, what a hot mess for$30. Starts Carmel into buttery, but quickly falls. Sour and overly barrel tart in the middle. A stale faintness with hops which are blunted at the end. Bourbon? Nope, but plenty of hot alcohol

frankly: yuck. I ended up mixing 1/2 glass of this with Evil Twin Naked Lunch just to get it down. It's that wide sour spot in the middle of the taste

Better beers: Old Conundrum, Hammerhead, Arctic Devil, Joseph James Anniversary Rye Wine, BA Bigfoot, Oak Horizontal. All of these I have had in the last 6 week for direct comparison. With one caveat, this very well may do good with aging since it's so hot right now. I've recently been in the habit of drinking the barreled beers early to avoid infection, and this is real fresh. I try to read the reviews to see if "a hot beer", and if so I let it age. Last week I was thrown off by the BA Hibernation being so syrupy sweet, with poor age potential.

Last week, I ordered BA Hibernation, and BA Ruffian from a west coast mail order spot, because you can't get it in Upstate NY. Both were total disappointments . A let down.of $30 each. Wife wouldn't even drink hers more than one sip ( and she loves stuff like Scucaba and Conundrum). The year old Devil Dancer I had last night was more enjoyable, better and that costs @ $6.50 for 750 ml

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Photo of infinitebruner
4.76/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

April 3, 2015

750 ml bottle, snifter

A – Very rich, deep copper, mahogany, brown. Pours fairly thick. Foam of about a half inch is sudsy and light tan. Bubbles linger for a while.

S – Raisins, figs, cinnamon apples, tons of vanilla, perhaps some candied apricot. Rich, thick toffee and caramel, very juicy. Boozy and warm, with some very noticeable sherry notes. Incredible. If they made this in a candle, I’d buy a lifetime supply.

T – Caramel and toffee and lots of vanilla. Some tannins, and oaky, boozy flavors. Figs and raisins. A lot of very pleasant sherry, vinous flavor.

M – Medium-low carbonation and very full-bodied, thick. A lot of sugar present but not overly sweet. A somewhat bitter finish. Mildly tannic and acidic, but not at all astringent. A lot of boozy warmth, but very, very smooth.

O – Simply one of the best barrel aged beers I’ve ever had, and since I love those, one of the best beers overall I’ve ever had. It was the first bottle opened for my bachelor party in ’12, and is my celebratory beer passing the Certified Cicerone exam. It has proved its worthiness of the moment both times. Complex, incredible aroma and flavors, balanced and smooth. As close to a perfect beer as I’ve seen.

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Photo of angelmonster
4.01/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not sure if this is 2013 or 2011 vintage

Pours a murky walnut color, head is a small 1/4 inch and creme colored. Lacing is above average and head retention is average.

Smell is of rich toffee and caramel candy. Next is roasted malt, charred oak and whiskey with a hint of vanilla. Hops aren't present and alcohol is definitely there.

Taste is heavy on caramel, butterscotch, diacetyls, and charred oak. Some whiskey burn is also present on the back end. Weird vinegar/acidic finish

Mouthfeel is syrupy, not as viscous as maple syrup, more like cough syrup. Carbonation levels were par for style and age. Wish head was present to add some layers to beer.

Overall good beer but at 25 bucks a pop, not worth the price. There were some off flavors that detracted from the beer reaching elite status. Glad to have tried it and always intrigued to get my hands on anything Great Divide releases.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%
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 joe1510
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Bottle # 0731

A huge thanks goes out to the ever generous Oxymoron for this treat! Hugs and kisses, buddy..
The pour alone is dark and menacing. The body is that of a cloudy, muddy, tarnished penny, which in the case of a timely barrel aged barleywine works. The foam takes some force to produce but when it does it's beige and sits at a cap. Slow rising bubbles keep the head steady. This beer just looks like I'll be hungover in the morning.

I've had a couple of these in the past and loved them, the nose on this one meets the lofty expectations set by the previous incarnations. It's bold in the barrel department but smooth and not at all boozy. Humongous caramel, vanilla, and most importantly, toasted coconut leap from the glass. There's a good deal of candied citrus peel from the hopping way back when that makes this beer smell like dessert. Toffee and freshly made gooey caramels make up the remainder in luxurious fashion.

I believe these used to be aged in Stranahan's barrels and that's a smooth whiskey, but this batch tastes like it was aged in old barrels. I'm talking 18-20yr. The barrel characteristics I mentioned above are so seamless and well integrated yet bold. The noticeable alcohol is zero. Rich caramel, vanilla, coconut, and mild oak rule the roost but the underlying caramel maltiness and toffee add insane depth. This beer is layer on layer of richness without being overly sweet. Candied citrus wraps it up. Delicious and refined.

The body obviously leans toward the heavy side of the spectrum, as it should. It's rich, decadent, but never comes close to being sticky. The carbonation is bubbly enough to bring frothiness on the swallow that cleans up the sugars and actually dries up eventually. This beer is dangerous.

This is a snifter that Henn' ya'll like to drink. It's rich, luxurious, and a sipper. Too easy of a sipper I'm afraid. This beer is going to have me hurting later. The booze is so well hidden that it scares me a bit. Can't get enough of that wonderful, Ruffian. Thanks a million Aaron!

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.39/5  rDev +6.8%

Bottle in trade from Adam. Big thanks for a big want to a great trader. Looks like an ’11 on the bottle so I am assuming this is a 2011 bottle, 750 ml, poured 8/17/14. Bottle #1113. Pours muddy brown with a creamy two finger off white head. Awesome aroma of whiskey, oak, vanilla, interestingly some chocolate here, toffee, and lots of figs and some brown sugar. Flavor is big time bourbon but super smooth, oak, massive vanilla tones, figs, brown sugar, some caramel, lingering vanilla oakiness. Medium to heavy bodied, medium plus carbonation, smooth finish with nearly no booze burn. Wow this is really nice.

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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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Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 435 ratings.
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