Barrel Aged Old Ruffian | Great Divide Brewing Company

BA SCORE
91
outstanding
444 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
greatdivide.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
444
Reviews:
167
Avg:
4.11
pDev:
11.19%
 
 
Wants:
255
Gots:
136
For Trade:
15
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 444 |  Reviews: 167
Photo of bmmortale
5/5  rDev +21.7%

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.

 1,195 characters

Photo of speak72
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

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.

 2,224 characters

Photo of Auztan
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%

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).

 646 characters

Photo of fbc24
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of baybum
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

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...

 1,620 characters

Photo of jaminjohnson
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of ObiWanKushnobi
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

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.

 970 characters

Photo of st9647v3
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of mkennedy119
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of uziangis
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

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.

 2,170 characters

Photo of bpfrush
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

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.

 697 characters

Photo of mfield14
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of Duff27
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage, bottle #2686

Thin beige head on a murky copper body. Collar and cap. Sticky lacing, a swirl of the snifter leaves a cool effect.

Subdued but present whiskey notes. Juicy fruits...movin' me mayne.

Well balanced overall, everything about it...citrus-tinged hops, caramelly malts, boozy barrel aged finish. Fruitiness is off the chainz.

Medium-thick mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

Giving a bump for the great balance. Thanks for the share 4DAloveofSTOUT.

 471 characters

Photo of ms11781
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of thegerm87
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of spinrsx
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml Bottle from 2011 - Thanks to pushkinwow

Appearance - Hazy copper/brown colour with a below average size fizzy/frothy off-white coloured head. Hard to make out the level of carbonation and there is some great lacing. The head lasted for only a short while.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, butterscotch/caramel, whiskey, wood

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts mixed with some caramel/butterscotch. There is also a bit of a dark fruit taste and a woodiness mixed with whiskey. It ends with a malty dark fruit aftertaste with a lingering booziness.

Overall - A beer with some big bold flavours that is perfect for sharing. I think the bottle might have benefited from a bit more age to take the edge off the booze, but it was still quite smooth. A great beer that is well worth seeking out.

 843 characters

Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 444 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.