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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

2,008 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,008
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 212
Gots: 288 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Old Ruffian is a hefty, hop-forward Barley Wine. Seemingly mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness, it quickly becomes aggressive with its bold hop flavors and huge hop bitterness. Ultimately, the big body, succulent sweetness and massive hop character come together to work wonders on your palate.

(Beer added by: gbontrag on 11-28-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,008 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Dope:
Photo of Dope
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12/02/2011 bottling date. Coming up on 2 years old.

A: Pours a nice dark mahogany. Big dense tan head. Head fades super slowly with fantastic retention. Thin but widespread walls of lacing. Great island of foam sticks around forever.

S: Sticky caramel and toffee. Pretty mellow, probably due to the age.

T: Yup, lots of sticky caramel and toffee just like the nose. Surprising decent bit of hoppiness sticking around. Mainly a piney, resinous hop. Hints of raisin and fig, mainly in the finish and the aftertaste oddly enough. Lingering resin in the aftertaste with just a hint of toffee.

M: Third time I'm going to use the term sticky. It truly does stick to your mouth like drinking caramel (not that I've ever tried that). Or maybe it's hop oils. Who knows. Nice heavy body to go with it.

O: Hmph, interesting. I wonder how hoppy this is when fresh. It's got plenty of hop flavor even after 2 years, which is saying something. Nice hoppy barleywine balanced with quite a malt wallop. Honestly reminds me of Bigfoot a lot. Big, belly warming and tasty. One of the best.

Dope, Sep 14, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first carack at this bad boy its nice to see it here in Greensboro,pours a deep amber with a creamy like head that leaves a nice amount of lace behind as it slowly settles.Big fruit in the aroma upfront along with some raisin and caramel very vibrant in color and aroma it really jumps out at ya.Like the aroma the flavors of this are very fruity up front very ripe peaches and brown suger,there is a real hop presence even more as it warms in the finish keeping it balanced.Wow this is a dangerous brew intense and flavorful this is one I'll be grabbing alot of now that its local.

oberon, Sep 22, 2005
Photo of RoyalT
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - When I started softly pouring this I saw that it was flat so I worked the pour a little more. Boy was I mistaken. The head came up a full inch and a half and almost overflowed my Chimay glass.

The body was a solid orangish-brown and just gorgeous. The afore-mentioned head was light brown and showed great retention, leaving tons of lacing as it slowly went down. I can't believe that this is a 10% ABW.

Smell - There's a good malty winey aroma here, but the hops really rule the roost. They are very complex and seem to favor pine resin, which is something for a BW. There are a lot of sugars in here, too.

Taste - Man, this has some big flavors. The hops are gigantic, almost like an ADIPA, but the malt flavors are so strong that it's somewhat balanced. The sugars are raw table and grapes. The wine is more cab than anything else. The ale just explodes with flavors.

Mouthfeel - This one is borderline full in the body but not quite. The body goes perfectly with the flavor profile. There's a slight sense of carbonation in the mouth. The show here though is the roller coaster that your tongue gets on with all of the dynamic flavors. You have big hops, chewy malts, and candy-sweet sugars all driving you wild. The huge dryness will have you lapping your lips.

Drinkability - I'd have to do a few side-by-sides to say that this is the best American Barley Wine that I've ever had, but it has to be in the running. It's such an easy drinker and just epitomizes the style as I've imagined it to be.

Update - I originally drank this in 2005 so thought I'd take another shot in 2010. This is an exceptional BW by any measure and certatinly represents the best of the best by any stretch of the imagination.

RoyalT, Jul 08, 2005
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautiful rusty red with a golden halo around it poured from a bottle which had been cellared for nearly 9 months. Delectable dollup of beige cream on top. Wildly hoppy, even when cold. The hops intensify greatly as it warms. Body is full, syrupy. The viscosity is simply mind-blowing. Full…that’s an understatement. This beer is bloody explosive. Nose is diesel fuel, citrus fruit, mountain holly, juniper, sweet bread, mango. Taste is brown sugar, jam, rye bread, cinnamon, mango, earth, pineapple, and much, much more. How much more? Well, there are chocolates, melons, dates, grapefruit, figs, and caramels a plenty. The whole deal is great. Tremendous, depthful, balanced better than most if not all of the competitor and ever so complex. Strong and numbing as the alcohol is, the hops just kick starts your face back into believing that you could just drink and drink this brew all day. Minimal carbonation, (as expected). Filling MF. Rich and creamy. Drinkability is crazy good. This stuff is 10% yet I could guzzle it if I wished. A damn near perfect representation of the style.

DaPeculierDane, Apr 17, 2006
Photo of boston2bburg
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky fig color with a couple fingers of creamy khaki head that leaves strong layers of lacing down the snifter. It hangs around in a clump at one side and a ring around the glass.

Caramel malts hit the nose first, then dark chocolate, toffee, and roasted malts. The fruit talked about on the label begins to shine with warmth - mostly of the dark variety like fig and prune. Some earthy hops round things out.

Flavor is far more bitter than the nose lets on, a great swath of which expands across all corners of the palate with the first sip. Again, these hops are earthy and woody, developing some floral and slight grapefruit character as it warms. Caramel and chocolate are still prevalent all along. Five degrees or so of warmth makes all the difference. With the second pour out of the bomber, you're now drinking a vanilla caramel praline ice cream cone with chocolate sauce, albeit still with a bitter backbone, but more subdued.

The mouthfeel is massive and robust, and the hop bitterness is relentless. I'd recommend cellaring this one for a while. Alcohol only shows up both in nose and on tongue towards the final 20% of the beer, but it's so full-bodied, it's one and done per sitting for this one. It's a great version of the style but a bit too bitter for me at least at this age.

boston2bburg, Apr 06, 2008
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Gorgeous. A very pretty ruby color, with an extremely light khaki, almost white head. A medium hard pour yields a 2-finger head that leaves behind fluffy, pillow-y lacing. The head retention is impressive. This is one of the most attractive beers mine eyes have e'er gazed upon.

S: Heavy on caramel and brown sugar sweetness in my nose. I'm not positive how long ago this was bottled (I picked it up about 2 months ago) and maybe because of this, I am not getting much of a hop presence from the smell. I smell a slight hint of plum and pear mingling with the sweet candy smells.

T: There is a fine pine hop flavor in my mouth (especially on the tongue) that balances the sweetness almost perfectly. The lingering bitterness on my palate is downright IPA-ish, which shows that this beer is aggressively hopped, because the malt bill is huge, as well. Surprisingly, I am getting a lot pear flavor from this beer.

M: Phenomenal. The first word that comes to mind is velvety. Such a full feel that disperses over my palate and then becomes deliciously drying as the hops kick in.

D: As with many beers that are similarly big, I think this is a once in awhile treat. It is delicious and satisfying, but would be too much for both my palate and mind to have more than a bomber in a sitting. I would certainly have another, but not right now.

TCHopCraver, Apr 17, 2010
Photo of MadScientist
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was picked up about 7 months ago so it's probably last years release; it kind of got forgotten about in my basement.

A: A medium copper with a red hue and excellent clarity. A persistent, light-tan head that is a quarter inch of compact foam and leave small patches of bubbles on the glass instead of lacing.

S: A strong, rich malty aroma with a moderately-strong caramel malt character and a moderately citrus hops aroma. There is a low fruit ester with a slight raisin character. Smooth, perfume alcohol aroma a a moderate level.

T: An intense malt flavor with bready and caramel malt flavors. The hops bitterness is at a moderately-strong level with a moderately-low citrus hops flavor. There is a modest amount of malt sweetness up front but the balance is strongly towards the bitter with the alcohol also countering the malt sweetness. The after taste is of caramel and hops bitterness.

M: A smooth and slightly cream medium-full bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The alcohol brings a moderate warmth that keeps on creeping all the to the belly.

O: Even with a year of age it's still a sipping beer but man is smooth. Normally I'd be more than happy to enjoy this in all of it's young, aggressive, hop forward glory but a little bit of age smooths the rough edges and tamps down the hops. This beer would pair well with a steak but I'll be matching it with a Reuben for tonight's dinner.

MadScientist, Nov 20, 2012
Photo of brownbeer
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 5-15-07

A- Amber with a thick, frothy tan head with good retention.

S- Rich doughy, caramel malt with a pretty big spicy hop presence still.

T&M- Full bodied malt sweetness up front and rounds out to a balanced finish. The fruity hop flavor and bitterness comes out more as it warms.

D- This beer ages very well and is a pleasure to drink. I'll definately be picking up more of this vintage for the cellar. Recommended.

brownbeer, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of Tiernan
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Tiernan, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of TimBeaulieu
5/5  rDev +18.5%

TimBeaulieu, May 18, 2014
Photo of SkiBum22
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a murky orange/red color with a thick slightly off white head that leaves some nice lacing.

S - Big malty sweet aroma upfront before the citrusy and slightly herbal hop notes come in. Faint hint of alcohol in the background.

T - Fruity, boozy and quite intense (yet balanced). Citral and piney hops make an appearance. Citrus peel, dark fruit, caramel and boozy finish.

M - Thick and syrupy and full and very much bold with flavor.

O - Another solid beer from Great Divide. This is my first time having this beer and I can tell that I'll like this one more with a few years on it.

SkiBum22, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of joemetric
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A. Copper with ruby highlights, good clarity, and nice foamy lacing.

S. Malt sweetness with a touch of caramel, fruit, and hops.

T. An assault of rich malts in front and an herbal citrus rind and warming finish

M. Lush and smooth with a perfect amount of carbonation.

O. One of the more flavorful barleywines I've had without being overwhelmingly sweet or thick. The hop character is a little off for me, I'd like to try one with a bit of age on it.

joemetric, Feb 11, 2014
Photo of skybluewater
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep rust color. Smell is huge, mostly pineapple and caramel. Pineapple and caramel come through in the taste as well. There's also a fair amount of hops present, although this isn't quite as bitter as a fresh Old Crusty. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden. Mouthfeel seems a thouch thin, but quite smooth.

Overall, this is a great barleywine, and a fabulous addition to the Great Divide family. To me, it tastes more like a Double IPA, but then, the good people at GD know more about beer than me, so I'll take their word for it. This is a great beer to warm body and soul on a below-zero evening here in the nation's icebox.

skybluewater, Jan 18, 2005
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The Old Ruffian pours from the bottle a wickedly thick and syrupy dark reddish brown with a nice sticky khaki head that lingers on nicely. Aromas smack you in the face from the minute the brew is poured. Incredibly rich, big caramel malts hit upfront with mixed fruity notes all over with a touch of raisin. Resinous, piney, somewhat citric hops are in full force as well as puffs of alcohol. Simply a wonderful attack on the senses here and a good sign of things to come.

First sip brings starts with a massive thick caramel fruity maltiness that is fairly sweet. However...as the brew reaches the back of the tongue you're assaulted by a shockwave of piney, resinous hop bitterness that lingers on after each gulp. Raisins and dark fruits are well integrated as well as a faint bready flavor. This is definetly a hoppy barleywine but it remains quite nicely balanced throughout. A tasty treat.

Mouthfeel is freakin spot on. So full, big and creamy..it grabs on and does not let go...all the while being extremely drinkable at the same time. So tasty that it's hard for me to set my glass down. I wouldn't mind have another bomber on hand to cellar. A very nice barleywine that I wish I had access to locally, as I get the rest of the Great Divide line. Picked this up on a trip down to Kentucky.

orbitalr0x, Nov 20, 2005
Photo of blitz134
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear garnet colored with lots of carbonation bubbles rising to the surface to support a cloud-like tan head that never goes away. Amazing head for a 10.2% abv beer. Sticky lacing all around the glass. Now if only everyone could pull this off. Gorgeous beer, really dont know what else I could ask for.

Aroma is amazingly strong. Sweetness dominates this hefty brew. Thick syrup caramel with dark ripe fruits and some citrus, tangerine hop overtones. Some toffee works its way in as well.

Flavor has the toffee coming back in initially and then syrupy pine and citrus hops come through. Sweetness is the key to the flavor, brown sugar, raisins and ripe plums. Alcohol doesn't try to hide itself at all but blends in nicely.

Nice mouthfeel. Full bodied and almost oily. Sticks to the tongue and refuses to leave.

Drinkability is good. A super complex beer that works well together. Alcohol is strong making this a definate sipper. I've been holding off on having this for just that reason, its a lot of beer for one person. My stomach is definatly warm right now.

blitz134, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of JasonA
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a translucent carmel headless

Carmel, sweet, malt. Yummy. Dont get the hops as mentioned. Cant smell the ABV, but I can sense it :).

Sweet into hops. Wow. Lots of flavor, not mesing around. Alcohol present, might want to mask it some. Full bodied.

Little syrupy, staring to really enjoy this about the style. Little biting at the end, but overall sits well in the mouth.

Being an east coaster, Im starting to love Great Divide. Everything seems to be very full bodied. This beeris very drinkable and Im not sure what I would pass up of beers I have had to date for a Great Divide.

JasonA, Dec 23, 2006
Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -5.2%

danthehopslamman, Aug 06, 2013
Photo of lordofthewiens
4.72/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Easily the best barley wine in my recent samplings, and quite possibly the best one I've ever had. This is an awesome beer. Served in aa snifter, the beer was a hazy amber color. It had a thick tan head with excellent retention and some great lacing. It had a caramel aroma with some fruit and a little bit of floral hops. The taste followed the aroma, and expanded on it. Sweet caramel to begin with, then the fruit, and a nice hops kick. A wonderful combination of the sweetness and the hops. I'll drink this beer anytime, anywhere.

lordofthewiens, Apr 30, 2008
Photo of NWer
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

NWer, Apr 26, 2013
Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev -5.2%

DaftPatrick, Mar 19, 2014
Photo of Beaver13
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Pours a deep copper-red with a huge long lasting orange-brown head that laces the glass.

Its aroma is piney hops, caramel/toffee malt with some fruity figs, anise and smokey alcohol.

The flavor is sweet caramel and figs initially followed by some anise and a big hop bitterness that lingers in the aftertaste. The alcohol is very noticeable and warming, but not overwhelming. The more I drink, the more I like it - it becomes smoother and better balanced. It is medium to full bodied, creamy and slightly syrupy.

Overall a big, bitter barley wine that really kicks your butt! Yet it's not overbearing and is easy to drink. I think this would age very well. It's pretty well balanced as it is, but I think some aging would smooth it out even more.

Beaver13, Jan 28, 2005
Photo of Callmecoon
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

Callmecoon, May 23, 2013
Photo of Jayman931
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Jayman931, Aug 18, 2013
Photo of mverity
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Nice creamy head, and gorgeous deep amber brown hue. Aroma is malty goodness and brown sugar. Taste also wonderful, sweet, fruity, toasty, hoppy, and a touch earthy. Smooth, it coats the tongue in a rich caramel feeling. This had about 6 months on it, which took down a bit of the holiness, in a very good way.

mverity, Jun 02, 2013
Photo of Doomcifer
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Doomcifer, Aug 01, 2014
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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,008 ratings.