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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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1,953 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,953
Reviews: 1,037
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 204
Gots: 274 | FT: 12
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: 1,953 | Reviews: 1,037 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.83/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz bomber, served in a pint glass.

A - clear, deep amber color with a light tan head that stayed for the entire glass (I didn't sip the first glass), leaving a clump of head and a whole bunch of lacing.

S - sweet malty aroma with a faint smell of hops, it is a very pleasant smell.

T - delicious tasting barley wine, extremely well balanced sweetness of malt along with a snappy hop finish. ABV is totally un-detecable in taste.

M - medium bodied, lightly carbonated, enjoyable treat for the palate.

D - kick back wherever you are and enjoy this barley wine, drink this brew slowly, the alcohol is in there, even if you can't taste it.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2007 01:11:01 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of hero27


4.83/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber.

Possibly the best I've had in Great Divide's amazing bomber series.
90 IBUs..crazy, the bitterness seems much more subtle..the hops blend in so well with the massive malts that it tames the hop character down quite a bit. The enormity of this brew alone may be enough to intimidate even some BAs, but it's really one of the easiest drinking barleywines I've had. The flavors are full, rich, and complex without being overpowering. The piney & citrus hops are as present as ever, but they go in perfect harmony with the toffee & caramel malts.

Such a fantastic beer..and one of the best (if not THE best) barleywine I've had. Full bodied and very chewy mouthfeel..and still, the drinkability is insane....the bomber was gone before I knew it. If you're looking for the quintessential American Barleywine, look no further.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2005 02:53:32 | More by hero27
Photo of Gusler


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer disembarks the 22-ounce brown bottle a smoggy rusty-red with a Brobdingnagian light tan frothy head that after it deliquesces, the lace forms a sticky sheet that seals tightly to the glass. Nose is hop floral with hints of fusel alcohol, sweet malt backs it up, start is delightfully sweet and the malt profile significant and the top middling in feel to the palate. Finish is emphatic in its acidity and the hops robust in their spiciness, very dry aftertaste that lingers long on the taste buds, and the high ABV leaves a nice warming sensation, a top notch Barley Wine in my humble opinion.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2005 22:39:51 | More by Gusler
Photo of ypsifly


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz with no dates into an imperial pint.

Deep ruby/amber with a two finger head of rocky tan that hangs around until it settles to a thick foam. Lots of lacing.

Smells of piney hops with some citric notes and some malt underneath. The aromas are strong, but a lot more balanced than others in this style.

The malts are much more apparant upon tasting. There's some nice exchanges between the malty backbone and strong hop highlights. Has a certain juiciness to it. Nice long finish that has no alcohol....is the abv really that high? Outstanding.

The medium carbonation lends itself to a mouthfeel that wakes up every nook and cranny of my mouth, yet its not an assault like other BWs. As far as drinkability, this one rivals some belgians with the same abv. In other words, this is downright dangerous. Tastes so damn good one could get too wasted too fast.

I've always claimed Bigfoot as my favorite BW. After tasting this fine brew, that is now in question.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2005 05:32:57 | More by ypsifly
Photo of Opiadic


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to find this beer aged for 2 years (friend at the local liquor store hooked me up). Possibly the best beer I've ever had. Great balance, thick, cloudy, guy at the store said it has probably gained a # or 2 from aging. I can't decipher all the subtle flavors and put them to words like everyone else here, I'll just say that it tastes very good, very complex. I've only tried a couple barleywines, i've tried the sierra nevada Bigfoot, and Young's Old Nick. This beer makes them seem diluted and immature. I wish I could get all my "big" beers aged like this. I'll have to try it unaged to compare.

First review for me! (lurking for a long time though)

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2008 02:23:39 | More by Opiadic
Photo of sacrelicio


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured cold into a classic pint glass. Pours like whole milk. Wow.

The color is pure caramel that allows ruby red orange when held up to the light. Wow.

After allowing it to warm up a bit, I take a long whiff. Intitial notes are of intense bitter, fruity and spicy hops. Earthy, malty undertones follow and meld with the hop edge perfectly.

Each sip is wildly complex, showcasing spicy, zingy fruity hops. Very bitter but still approachable. Vegetal notes like carrots, radishes and celery are also present midpalate. The finish is long and warming.

Mouthfeel is, like orbitalr0x noted, spot on. Full and creamy, almost like oil. Delicious.

Drinkability is fantastic, but only for a barleywine. A definate buttkicker.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2005 03:55:48 | More by sacrelicio
Photo of axisjones


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Popped the top and suds spilled all over. This bottle is as effervescent as I have ever seen a barley wine.

Easily one of the most gorgeous beers I have ever seen. In the glass it is a deep ruby, dark as a bloody night but with much clarity. The head is massive. I haven't gotten this much head from a girl, let alone another beer. I will be spoiled for life. A tan rocky head stays on this beer and lacing wholeheartedly all the way down. AMAZING.

Big aroma, but not too big. The big one here is the alcohol. Thick malt aroma with a fruit filled toffee kick. Very nice.

Can I get an AMEN!? The taste is completely complex and satisfying on all levels. Rich toffee and caramel. Fruity and alcoholic. And big as hell. For a beer this flavorful, it is very smooth. I usually don't like too much of an alcohol taste, but in this beer it works well. The hops definitely kicking, but this beer is not about the hops. They create a pefect balance to the malts. This is a supremely flavorful, balanced and delicious brew.

Mouthfeel? Thick, juicy, oily, smooth as baby's ass. The carbonation is just prickly enough.

This is too drinkable, meaning I am avoiding standing right now. For such a powerful beer, it slides down like velvet and begs the drinker to let loose.

I am a man who appreciates barley wine. I am a man who has tried over 30 in a single day. And this beer is a clear contender for top stop. Hell yes. Thanks for the bomber Monk, your taste is impeccable.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2005 06:54:43 | More by axisjones
Photo of EStreet20

New Jersey

4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Label on the bottle describes this as an "aggresive, hop-forward barleywine." Sounds right up my alley.

22 ounce bomber poured into a snifter glass.

A - A simply gorgeous, nearly opaque red color crowned by a plentiful tan head that sits just over the top of the glass and stays. Laces nicely, a great looking brew.

S - The hops definitely do push forward but there is a beautifully sweet, butterscotch/caramel smell that I'm picking up. Very inviting.

T - A great, nearly perfect mix of sweetness and hop kick. Some excellent fruity flavors covered by some nice caramel sweetness to start with a hop rush shortly thereafter. Through the finish a great balance is struck.

M - An excellent, full mouth coating feel suits the style itself, and this particular interpretation, very well.

D - What an easy drinking barleywine. Complex and excellent flavors with the alcohol completely hidden. Amazingly drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2006 04:50:25 | More by EStreet20
Photo of Bitterbill


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle(room temp) a gorgeous ruby red-brown with a sizeable head that dissipated after about 10 minutes into a fine layer with lacing.

The smell that came from this brew is awesome! I note fruit, hops, and sweet caramel malt that has me spending more time with my nose in the glass than a person oughta shoulda. ;^)

And....the promise from the smell does NOT fail to tranfer itself to the taste in big bold fashion. The sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops just works so darn well together that I literally have to pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming. Then, add the fruity tones(hard to say which is dominant. Grapefruit, plum, other?) to the mix and here, imho, is a Barley Wine Style Ale that sets the standard by which all others should be judged. And I'm a BIG fan of SN Bigfoot

Btw, the +10% abv doesn't even come into play as far as the taste goes and that's *another* testament to how great this brew really is.

Life is good. :^)

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2005 20:37:29 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of sweetbrew82


4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. into a tulip/ no freshness date

P: Honey-golden brown from the bottle, and crimson-infused deep amber in the glass. Light tan head is thick & creamy with medium bubbles on top and showed great retention. Finally sinks to halo with a thin film in the middle that never disappeared. Left thick chunks of lace all over the glass upon retreat.

A: Smells grrreat! Citrusy & piney hops like grapefruit, oranges, and lemon drizzled with pine sap. Toasted malts and caramel as well.

T: Sweet start with toasted bready malts, caramel and lots of tropical fruit like melon, pineapple, & peaches. Hops are fashionably late and bring some intense bitterness to balance things out with pine, grapefruit & orange flavors. They're more fresh & leafy than dank & resinous. Deliciously creamy caramel is abound throughout, and the alcohol is masterfully masked.

M & D: The mouthfeel of Old Ruffian is incredible! It's full-bodied, thick & chewy, rich & creamy, and velvety smooth. Thus, the drinkability is superb, even though the 10.2% ABV is viscious.

Notes: This just automatically catapulted itself to the top shelf of my all-time favorites list. It's absolutely incredible! Flavors are mind-blowing, mouthfeel is perfect, and the ethanol is undetectable. Sorry Bigfoot, but this is probably the best Barleywine I've had! Highly recommended


Serving type: bottle

02-04-2009 04:14:22 | More by sweetbrew82
Photo of cokes


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Translucent rust under a fat stack of buttery foam.
Nose of burnt pink grapefruit, pineapples, pipe scrapings, wet tin, spruce, and old mufflers.
Begins with toasted brown sugar and maple maltiness that unfolds into blueberries and roasted hazelnuts smeared with mango jam over buttered, cinnamon-crusted rye bread. Equally grainy and fruity, turning now towards smoked pineapple as the hops hit. Gooey with resin balls, pine pitch, and grapefruit pulp, and drier with rusted metal and grass. That's all been done before. But what stands this apart is the bombastic cinnamon-sprinkled cedar explosion when it hits the entrance to the esophagus. It's a magnificent, memorable finish, and one that will have sensation-seekers downing bottle after bottle.
The mouthfeel too is divide with a thickness, coaxed out of a syrupy frumpiness by a finely beaded trickle that makes this daintily mouth-encompassing, but not overburdening. It's like 2% milk on a thirsty Sunday morning.

Grade A+ American Barleywine. No question. Give this a year's rest? Valedictorian.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2005 07:08:45 | More by cokes
Photo of GeoffRizzo


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 ounce bottle. Pale and murky off-brown, fused thick corral head. Sticky lacing, which included a sheet of sediment pasted to the bottom of the glass. Invigorating aroma of juicy hops, grapefruit, dark plums and tingly alcohol. Sweet lip numbing hops; loaded flavorings—oak and brown sugar combined with toffee and cherries noted up front; the palate is left with juicy grapefruit hops. The body is full and fulfilling; hop bitterness settles down nicely; sweet malts and anise, traces of alcohol are blended into the mixture. Massive flavoring that brings it's A game. A first class hopped-up Barley Wine that will put others to shame. Superb.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2006 01:53:22 | More by GeoffRizzo
Photo of wescj


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter.

Color is a very deep ruby red, and the body is so clear it almost shines. Very thick head, and lace is pretty good for a barly wine.

Aroma is very prominant, and should be a benchmark for the style. The hops are all orange and pine, the malts are sweet and caramel.

I don't know if I've ever had a better barly wine. There are some good dark fruits and a nice presense of alcohol. Some hops and malts as in the nose, and the sweetness is exactly what it should be.

Mouthfeel is perfect, and this one's fairly drinkable, if there is such a thing for huge barly wines. Excellent, all around.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2009 03:54:22 | More by wescj
Photo of DavidST


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip, bottled on 12 - 5 - 12. This pours a brownish color with a massive lace leaving tan head. The smells are of toasted malts, caramel and a nice little bit of pine hops and dark fruit. The feel is thick. The taste is pretty good, a load of bitter hops, nuts, caramel and toasted malts, excellent. I'm glad I bought this today, I was looking for the 12 Bigfoot, but this is a fine alternative.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2012 05:29:04 | More by DavidST
Photo of acrawf6


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

No freshness date, but roughly 5 months old

Pours out a dark ruby amber, pretty clear when put up to light, but the beer's color really blocks a good amount of light out. Nice tan head and great head retention. great lacing

Smell. Heavy earthy hops, heavy and creamy. Nice smalll caramel sweetness, and a piney hoppiness. Has a small lemon aroma to it as well.

Taste. It's quite similar to the taste. Seems very earthy with the hops (85-90 IBUs-says the bottle). But i get a great maltiness that really balances this- very malty and roasty. Small lemon tartness with the hops, goes good with the caramel sweetness. Aftertaste is warming with alcohol and slightly peppery.

Mouthfeel. Is great. Very creamy, full body. Nice amount of carbonation and great balance. Very nice

Overall this one is oh, so good. Very heavy on the hops, but still very, very drinkable (could be the age wearing on the hops). I love the amount of malt flavor i get in this. It doesnt rip my tongue clean of tastebuds after drinking, like others in its style. So complex, simply great.

Serving type: bottle

04-11-2006 01:09:09 | More by acrawf6
Photo of bonsreeb85


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Off white head forms from a hard our into my snifter and sits on top of a murky brown/tawny colored body with black cherry highlights when backlit.

The nose gives way to a huge wave of citrus hops backed by booze saturated fruits and caramel.

Every thing I look for in taste is present. after the initial rush of candy-like sweetness, the hops cling tight and never let go. finishes boozey and bitter.

Big body on this bad boy(thats a lot of Bs). slick and smoothh with a moderate to low amount of C02.

Possibly the best example of an American BW that I've tried. I'm thankful this is a local treasure.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2010 01:49:37 | More by bonsreeb85
Photo of surprenant1138


4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber/orange color with a finger of quickly fading cream colored head. Good retention of lacing. Aroma is of hops, caramel, raisins, bread, caramel. Very sweet smelling. The taste is pretty much the smell with a bit of citrusy hops and slightly bitter. Sticky, medium bodied mouthfeel. This is my #1 barleywine style ale. I love it.This beer ages very very well. A two or three year old bottle is fantastice. All of the flavors become incredibly bold.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2011 22:42:02 | More by surprenant1138
Photo of ommegangpbr

New York

4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Take Great Divide's Hercules, bump up the booze content and the malt content a little bit and you have Old Ruffian. Perhaps this is what happens to Hercules when he lets himself go... not as good looking but packs just as much punch. This is the old, experienced warrior that knows where and how to hit you. Very rich and tasty. Definately a hopped up barelywine. Reminds me a bit of Double Bastard in certain respects but I think I enjoy this more. This isnt as pretty as pretty can be... hazy and unshaven as it is... but who cares?
Not too far from perfect as far as the style goes.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2006 06:51:15 | More by ommegangpbr
Photo of Prospero


4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

05-05-2012 04:02:05 | More by Prospero
Photo of rwilde


4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

09-23-2012 17:05:21 | More by rwilde
Photo of dc55110


4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

08-23-2012 20:15:04 | More by dc55110
Photo of Zachb4au


4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

03-16-2012 18:42:55 | More by Zachb4au
Photo of ABokononist

New York

4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

07-16-2012 19:14:58 | More by ABokononist
Photo of aleslover


4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

01-29-2012 00:16:59 | More by aleslover
Photo of Jeremy_Zim


4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

11-30-2013 02:02:35 | More by Jeremy_Zim
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,953 ratings.