Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Great Divide: Old Ruffian

Beer: Great Divide Old Ruffian
Brewery Location: Denver, CO
Beer Style: American Barley Wine
Serving Style: Bomber
ABV: 10.2%

Holy palate-smacking deliciousness! I haven't had this beer in so long it's a crime for me to have forgotten how amazing a beer that Great Divide has come up with. As most of you know I am a big hop head, and if you are a hop head then barleywines are something you should give a try. Barleywines in my experience take on something that DIPA's just can't. A DIPA can tend to be a hop bomb that isn't well balanced, not well made, and full of brewers mistakes, but the hop bomb will cover up those mistakes. A barleywine on the other hand is something so much more. Smooth, bitter, complex, balanced, lively, and just has so much more character most of the time vs. a DIPA. I still like DIPA's more though when they are done right.

When sampling this beer get your palate ready. There is just so much going on with this beer at every single drink. The smell hits you before you can get it close to your face, the sweet intense front flavors followed by a huge bold finish and an amazing aftertaste that leaves you wanting more.

It pours a beautiful deep mahogany. When held up to the light colors of rust and crimson show themselves. A non-aggressive pour reveals a huge tan head that lasted throughout the entire beer with very big rings of lace all over the glass.

The nose on this beer is an achievement. Floral hops, oily hops, and then some more hops hits your nose with a deep aroma of toasted malt and caramel. The nose on this beer is by far the best of any beer I have yet reviewed.

The taste on this beer is exactly what I want from a beer. Huge flavors of bready malt hit your palate followed by an amazing caramel and candied fruit sweetness just before a hop wallop takes command of your taste buds. No part of your mouth is left without tastes of pine, grapefruit, malty backbone, and warming alcohol. In terms of balance on the big beers that I love so much there isn't much better than this. Each drink becomes better than the last drink. The beer provides the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness, but challenges the palate every single step of the way. Even at 10.2% the drinkability is so high on this beer. I finished my bomber and wanted another one. No flavor is so dominant that you won't want to come back for more. The warming alcohol was subtle and will be very nice during the winter as the temperature keeps falling.

Overall this beer is simply amazing. I don't normally gush over a beer, but this beer is really something. It's a very reasonable price for a barleywine and delivers the flavor better than the more expensive barleywines. I really can't say enough about how amazing this beer is all around for the senses. I will say again though be ready for the beer when you try it. I still can't give out a 5 out of 5. I just can't do it, but this is pretty damn close to it.

4.9 out of 5.


CorrND said...

Wooo-eee! 22oz at 10.2%! That'll getcha right lit.

Sounds like an amazing beer. I'll have to give it a try sometime. I noticed Hercules DIPA from Great Divide at The Goose, but I don't think I saw Old Ruffian. Probably have to hit Party Pak or Kahns for it. Where'd you grab it?

Matt said...

I did get it at Party Pak. It was only 5.99 as well. Blonde Behemouth from FFF's comes in at 17, so this is a better beer than that and it's at a much better price.

I would imagine you could find it at Kahn's if you are in the area.

Joe said...

All things equal, it's NOT a better beer than Behemouth. With that said, it's still an awesome beer.

Matt said...

Behemouth is an amazing beer, but all things being equal I still would go with the Old Ruffian. I will gladly drink behemouth any opportunity I get though.

Joe said...

I'm just surprised you'd go with Old Ruffian over Behemouth. I like Great Divide, but I think they get too malty with their offerings. Although, the Double Hercules on tap is a big, bad, hoppy, bastard of a beer.