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
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.