Sep 7, 2016

Great Divide Barrel Aged Old Ruffian

The standard Old Ruffian has been appropriately named by Great Divide Brewing. It’s an assertively hoppy barleywine that delivers a solid warmth and full-flavored experience. It’s also a favorite for aging though it’s been tougher as of late to find bottles. So, when I happened across a bottle of the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Old Ruffian, I nearly tripped over myself in the process of grabbing one from the shelf (stupid bottle limits).

The barrel-aged version of this big barleywine is even more potent (11.8% ABV), a result of resting in Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey barrels for over nine months (some reports say 12 months). Those barrels impart an incredibly smooth bourbon influence on the beer with plenty of boozy traits, old wood and vanilla. Add in toffee, caramel and dark fruits (that arrive when the beer has warmed) and, well, you’ve got yourself an outstanding beer.

The brew has plenty of depth of flavor and chest-glowing warmth, but it feels a bit thin on the palate as has become typical of many barrel-aged beers as of late. That aside, Barrel-Aged Old Ruffian is a treat of a beer and one that I probably should have been more patient and let sit for a good deal longer than the additional six months it sat in my basement. Now, I’ve just got to find more of this stuff to make up for it.