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Barrel Aged Old Ruffian | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Barrel Aged Old RuffianBarrel Aged Old Ruffian
454 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: 454 |  Reviews: 170
Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of SaintBenedict
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
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 +8.7%

Photo of Holland
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
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 +2.7%

Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Duff27
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
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 -3.4%

Photo of thegerm87
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of spinrsx
4.18/5  rDev +1%
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

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a bright copper color ale with a medium size head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of whiskey is nice end very enticing with nice balanced sweet malt notes. Taste is a great balance between some whiskey notes with dry grain notes and a solid malt backbone with sweet caramel and light toffee notes. Body is quite full with medium carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I really enjoyed this one which I find had great balance between whisky and malt.

 473 characters

Photo of joefuzz
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours deep muddy brown with a decent sized mocha head. smells very sweet and malty with a little bit of the barrel. the malt bill is very apparent on the first sip with huge amounts of brown sugar and a maple syrup like taste that fades to a very nice chard whiskey barrel. mouthfeel is a little light and carbonation is on the higher side but in this case it works. overall i am very impressed with that way this beer turned out, just enough barrel presence to complement a already impressive beer.

 499 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of djrn2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of bum732
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%

Photo of sukwonee
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage, bottle# 2498

A: Dark brown body with 1 finger head with lots of lacing

S: Bourbon, vanilla,, caramel, brown sugar, malt

T: Bourbon does not overpower, but it certainly adds complexity. Oak, vanilla, caramel malt, brown sugar, some dark fruits, very nicely balanced. Not much hops noted. Not too sweet but alcohol is pretty well hidden.

M: Perfect amount of carbonation, medium-to-thick body, not too syrupy. Slight alcohol burn.

O: This beer is amazing and yet quite underrated, imo. Highly recommended.

 525 characters

Photo of FreshmanPour77
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of carteravebrew
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of joshtrich
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

Photo of mcgwire756
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to daniloknezic for trading me this bottle! Thanks Don!!!

reviewed from noted taken 8/15/12.

2011 vintage poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: copper hued brownish colored beer with a 2 fingers of off white colored head. Beer leaves a curtain of lace on the side of the glass. Very nice!

Smell: This is a really balanced nose. Big malt profile and hops that balance the beer quite nicely. Barrel notes are quite noticable, but they are mellow. Whiskey, oak, and vanilla. Malt profile is dark fruits, caramel, and toffee. Hops are grass, pine and grapefruit.

Taste: This beer has the perfect amount of sweetness. Not too sweet, but just right. Caramel, sweet bread, toffee, vanilla, oak, whiskey, grapefruits, earth and some dark fruits. Surprisingly, I get a touch of spiciness like cinnamin or all spice. Finishes with a whiskey note that is just stellar.

Mouthfeel: at the high end of a medium bodied beer. Moderate carbonation. This beer fantastic carbonation levels, really well done. This beer is creamy, smooth, and rediculiously drinkable for a beer aged in whiskey barrels for 9 months. Not a hint of booze just a little warming sensation.

Overall: Old ruffian was my first American barleywine that I liked. When that beer goes into barrels amazing things happen. It a fantastic base beer for barrel aging. This beer is the best American Barleywine that I have drank and reviewed in almost 500 beer reviews. There is nothing to dislike about this beer it is just so good. Its a nice complex beer with very well integrated barrel aging. Whats not too like? I honestly could drink a whole 750 myself... its just that fricking good. The boooze will sneek up on you so be careful, dangerously drinkable at almost 13%. Dont age this beer is drinking perfectly right now!

 1,793 characters

Photo of chugalug06
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lovely, huge, four-finger, straw colored, head pours into my Duvel Tulip. Brew is Very clear deep blood red, lots of purples. Missing any lacing.

Tons of roasted vanilla and deep sugary caramel malts.

Smooth, buttery, and roasty. Nice light carbonation brings out the sugary flavors. Not overly sweet and zero bitterness. Slight acidic flavor came out at the very end. The flavors are spot on for a B-wine, the barrel just made them more enjoyable.

Highly recommended for many years to come! Age will do amazing things to this awesome brew.

 546 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

big thanks to great divide for stepping up to the plate and sending this one to me after i had the unfortunate experience of opening a badly infected BA Yeti...great divide is a class act. shared this one at a BA Barley tasting on 7/28 (alongside wooden hell, great, king henry, BA HiFi, etc etc...)

a - really attractive maroonish brown with a creamy head. nice lacing. streaky and big and present...in a tasting where most beers looked pretty awful, this one is a stunner.

s - subdued barleywine. good caramel and vanilla, but soft.

t - phenomenal. great english barleywine with great barrel integration. the whiskey really compliments everything wonderfully. toffee soaked whiskey.

m - thick, rich, and full.

o - overall a winner. seek this one out. whiskey is a great match for this barleywine and a nice change from all the bourbon barrel aged barleywines these days.

 877 characters

Photo of billab914
3.72/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage poured from a 750ml bottle into my Devil's Backbone tulip. It poured kind of a murky looking dull brown color. A thin lacing was concentrated around the edges of the glass, where it left some modest lacing.

The aroma shows a pretty big dark fruit presence to it with some notes of plum and fig really coming out. The barrel and bourbon really shows through as well with a strong oak, vanilla, bourbon and slight brown sugar flavor to it. The flavors individually seem pretty good, but it just doesn't seem to come together as well as I would have liked.

The bourbon has a little more influence in the taste. Lots of woody oak up front along with some of the sweeter, brown sugar flavors coming out of the bourbon. It's got a little bourbon heat in the back end. The dark fruits come out a little more towards the finish as well. Things come together much better in the taste for me.

The mouthfeel is leaning towards the heavier side with carbonation being a little below average. Overall, it was a pretty good barrel aged beer but not one that really can hang with the top of the style. Things just didn't seem to come together all that well for it at times. While it was a pretty nice beer to sip on this evening, there is better out there for the price.

 1,274 characters

Photo of Dan25D
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Barrel Aged Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 454 ratings
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