Great Divide’s Old Ruffian pours a rich mahogany that possesses a full, off-white to tannish head; this head seemingly grows larger as the beer approaches room temperature. The beer has a similarly dense collection of flavors comprising the nose, with notes of sugar, spice, and a wee bit of malt all poking through. Where traditional offerings in the barleywine style can be overwhelmingly sweet, Old Ruffian’s considerable hop presence creates a balanced effort. The slight bit of alcohol burn that concludes each sip will refresh imbiber’s palettes, making each subsequent sip a wholly new experience.
The beer’s overall flavor profile is scintillating, changing from the beginning to the middle and end of each bottle. The residual hop bite begins to accumulate in one’s throat, allowing for more malty and grainy elements to come to the fore. There is a small hint of oily, perfumy tastes that play at the periphery to provide additional complexity to Old Ruffian. The 10.2% ABV means that one will only need one or two bottles to create a memorable night; this is much more of a sip and explore rather than a chug and forget affair. Old Ruffian expands the possible path that a barleywine can taken, without losing the essence of the beer style.
Great Divide’s website has a fully-stocked shop with GD swag, food pairings, and a bevy of information about the brewery. An exhaustive list of their year-round and seasonal offerings are present as well.
Old Ruffian / Barley Wine-Style Ale / 10.2% ABV / Great Divide Brewing Company / www.greatdivide.com /