Alibi V.17 No.4 • Jan 24-30, 2008 

Hip Hops

Old Ruffian

There have been days when we’ve cursed the Rocky Mountains for keeping the Colorado beers we love (and those we think we could love, if that love were only given a chance) from reaching us—silver bullet indeed. Of course, we know it’s not the breweries' fault we can’t drink their beer. It’s just economics and geography. Still, it makes us sad.

So when we ran headfirst into the Great Divide section of a local liquor emporium, it was like a screechy “Oh my god, look at you!” family reunion. We introduced ourselves first to Old Ruffian, its barleywine-style ale. We got to know each other in a garage on a snowy morning. Filled to the brim from veggie breakfast burritos, feeling awesome about wearing motorcycle gloves, we popped the top of this bad boy, literally, on the engine of a 1957 Chevy.

And this beer is hardcore. Poured like a handshake into a frosty pint glass, Old Ruffian froths with a wavy head of hop-scented foam—like a mane of skunky hair on a Hell's Angels biker. The rest of the glass shimmers like molasses soda. Old Ruffian is the kind of badass brew that balances sugar, sweet and sour notes diplomatically without wussing out on any of them. There’s the piney hop sting at first taste, and a maple syrup throat itch while gulping. It’s a little juicy, a little boozy and totally thirst-quenching despite its dangerous alcohol by volume (ABV). If you can get it, don’t be afraid of this beer. Deep down it’s not so rough, like a biker with a mom tattoo.

Dairy Pairy: Barbeillon

Soundtrack: George Thorogood’s “I Drink Alone”