Josh Weikert's picture

Barrel Aged Old Ruffian

Judges Rating: 
23 / 24
5 / 6
38 / 40
10 / 10
Overall Impression: 
20 / 20

Barleywines tend toward the extreme, and it's a wonderful treat to drink one that can do so without sacrificing the ability to kill an entire bomber by oneself. I'm happy (tipsy?) to say that this one does, and it is the kind of beer that restores the faith of session-beer lovers in high-gravity beer.  

It pours a rich copper with slight haze and scant head, and those superficial elements are really the only area where the beer disappoints. You know how a classic dopplebock has that come-hither look to it, with its garnet jewel tones and rich foam? Nothing like that here. But what it lacks in appearance it more than makes up for in every other area.

The aroma is like velvet on the nose with graham cracker, toffee, and an interesting blackberry note (that I assume it picked up in the barrel). There's a hint of the alcohol impression to come, but there's no hint of a fusel burn. The flavor is likewise direct, rich, and reminiscent of an English candy store, with a surprisingly dry finish and a beautiful caramel aftertaste that hits after about 45 seconds of flavor development. The barrel added mostly light, delicate notes that will likely be different to every palate, but shows remarkable restraint given the 12 months of aging time.

Despite the rich aromas and flavors, this is an easy-drinker. The body is medium at most, with a pleasant moderate carbonation level and light tannic structure. It never veers into the syrupy or slick, and was a pleasure to drink.

Some might criticize it as being too "light" or suggest that it underperforms in an intense category, but that's what makes it such a pleasure. Just ask yourself how long it's been since you said, "Wow, let me have another pint of that barrel-aged barleywine!" Never? Well, now you can. A world-class beer.