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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

1,955 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,955
Reviews: 1,037
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 205
Gots: 276 | 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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,955 | Reviews: 1,037 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BigD44
BigD44

New Mexico

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-18-2011 19:23:53 | More by BigD44
Photo of PopnLoads
PopnLoads

Illinois

5/5  rDev +18.5%

01-02-2014 03:06:24 | More by PopnLoads
Photo of thirtyfourtwenty
thirtyfourtwenty

Colorado

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-17-2013 04:07:04 | More by thirtyfourtwenty
Photo of photomike
photomike

California

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-14-2011 18:28:44 | More by photomike
Photo of RudnicsMEB
RudnicsMEB

Colorado

5/5  rDev +18.5%

02-21-2013 02:36:29 | More by RudnicsMEB
Photo of Sinewave
Sinewave

Texas

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-18-2011 20:55:55 | More by Sinewave
Photo of Gehrig
Gehrig

Illinois

5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A ruffian by definition is a rogue, a knave, a tyrant and bully, alluding to one uncultured and uncouth. After imbibing this incredible beverage, part of me can understand the name, for its effects, not to mention its collective and overwhelming genius, have left me dumbstruck, nearly bullied from the high ABV (10.2%) and sheer complexity of this monstrosity. Yet to me, the true genius of this beer transcends the moniker. I don't mean to quibble over semantics. I came neither to bury nor to rename Old Ruffian, but to praise it in all its glory. This, fellow drinkers, is a five-star beer if I've ever had one.

Two and one-half fingers of light tan froth top a somewhat cloudy brown body with amber highlights. The lacing on the glass is so thick, the Yankees pint glass is reminiscent of a winter decorated window, one adorned with snow, only tan. As if that weren't impressive enough, the head on this gem persists throughout. It is quite simply one of the greatest presentations I've seen from a beer.

The nose is very impressive, full of citrus hops and caramel, sugary sweetness. I wasn't inclined to give the smell a five at first, but the smell genuinely improves as the beer warms, emitting a floral hop aroma that is arresting. I just cannot speak enough about the taste, which alternates between sticky, sweet, and smooth one the one hand, and head-slap bitter and aggressive on the other. Heavy-handed citrusy hops, represented by orange, grapefruit, and lemon, wrestle with sweet, sugary, caramely, and toffee on the other. Both win, as does the drinker. The harmonic convergence is something to behold.

Not necessarily a sipper, this is still one to watch because the high ABV certainly does kick in, especially around the second half. Nonetheless, I cannot accurately characterize this beer as a "ruffian," unless it is in homage to the amazing thoroughbred horse bearing the same name. It is a big and burly, but also smooth and complex, beer that is without question one of the very finest I've ever had. Best in show for barleywines, Old Ruffian will likely never leave my personal top ten across styles. I cannot believe that I found a beer from Great Divide that I enjoy even more than the great beast Yeti. Yet here comes Old Ruffian down the stretch. Remarkable.

A sight to behold and enjoy. Truly outstanding.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2008 05:34:33 | More by Gehrig
Photo of JxExM
JxExM

New York

5/5  rDev +18.5%

04-28-2012 02:03:08 | More by JxExM
Photo of 69davis
69davis

New Jersey

5/5  rDev +18.5%

11-28-2011 19:09:34 | More by 69davis
Photo of Rochefort10nh
Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +18.5%

11-18-2011 19:52:04 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of Bakker
Bakker

Illinois

5/5  rDev +18.5%

01-19-2013 16:10:47 | More by Bakker
Photo of jtrockchalk
jtrockchalk

Missouri

5/5  rDev +18.5%

11-19-2011 16:46:16 | More by jtrockchalk
Photo of joelBfrasier
joelBfrasier

Colorado

5/5  rDev +18.5%

11-25-2011 16:06:17 | More by joelBfrasier
Photo of rab53
rab53

Washington

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-01-2011 06:29:21 | More by rab53
Photo of thedoer
thedoer

New Jersey

5/5  rDev +18.5%

11-25-2011 16:20:46 | More by thedoer
Photo of calinalu
calinalu

California

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-16-2011 03:53:55 | More by calinalu
Photo of Dudeletter
Dudeletter

Georgia

4.98/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The final beer we tasted, which was my wife’s favorite, was the Old Ruffian by Great Divide, an American style Barleywine. I want to emphasize here two things. First, we ate palate foods, but ate similar food while drinking (the cheese plate) and secondly, we drank these over time, I was not drunk on the floor giggling. This beer surprised me, though. The flavor popped, but was well balanced. The alcohol led to high sweetness, but this was balanced by the hops. I immediately tasted it and loved it, but was concerned that my wife would find it too hoppy, not at all, she loved it and I did as well. This beer is phenomenal and one of my favorite American Barleywines.

www.dudeletter.com/?p=937
www.dudeletter.com/?p=937

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2012 15:40:18 | More by Dudeletter
Photo of Thickfreakness
Thickfreakness

New York

4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Poured into a tulip glass... an almost three finger head of orange/khaki cream sits a top a ruby/mahogany brew. Absoluetely stunning to look at! The lacing is sticky as honey, and all the way to the top of the glass!!! Looks like cobwebs of beautiful!

S- Caramel, honey, pineapple, orange peel, lemon zest, brown sugar, dried figs, pine and marshmallow. Sweet, but not overly done! Hints of maple and dried cherries come into the nose with the alcohol. Absolutely perfect!

T- The hop kick and sweet caramel malts blend perfectly! Dried fruits blend with bitter citrus, dark brown sugar melds with the piney/lemon notes! Touches of amber honey, maple syrup and orange zest! This is unreal... and keeps getting better as it warms up!

M- Caramel/lemon pancakes with maple syrup! Really coats the tongue and stays!!! I believe this is the perfect blend of bitter and sweet! Well done Great Divide!!! Well done indeed! The bitter and sweet just keep blending together to give me one of the tastiest brews I've ever had!

O- Gotta be one of the all time greats!!! Ya'll gotta try this one! Perfect balance of citrusy/piney brightness, with a ton of sweet caramel malt to carry it thru! 10.2% abv... but you'd never know it! Complete and perfect!
I'm off to buy a few more bottles tomorrow!!! Damn!!!

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2011 23:35:46 | More by Thickfreakness
Photo of benito
benito

Oregon

4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drinking GD Old Ruffian has become a pre-xmas tradition for me...this year, I had saved a bottle from 2005 to enjoy. Though the flavors have mellowed some, this bottle still shows all the qualities that set this barley wine apart: great balance of flavors, a rich, malty body, and a dangerously high level of drinkability.

It's a reddish brown with a fizzy head and a bouquet of stewed fruit, hops, cinnamon, and candy cane. Flavors that stand out are cherry and prune, matched toward the back of the palate with a piney hop finish. It's the smooth transition from sweet to bitter, heavy body (just-right syrupy), and snappy finish that make this a great beer.

Colorado craft brewers make some fine barley wines, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. It might even be the best barley wine in the US. A must try.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2006 00:18:19 | More by benito
Photo of AlexJ
AlexJ

North Carolina

4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As I pop the cap of this long awaited bottle, Old Ruffian climbs out and reveals himself to be deep garnet, crimson-hued brown wearing a tightly knit cap of beige. As his head slowly fades in to a thin veil, spiderweb lacing is left as a memory.

Old Ruffian charges out of my chalice with an assault of complex aromatics. He leads the onslaught with sweet caramel and scorched brown sugar, creamy creme brule', dark pit fruit, and a generous helping of pine-drenched and citrus hops to provide excellent balance of aromas. There is a warming hint of his strength.

He explodes on your palate, stirring your senses to the point of dizziness. Carmelized malt flavors of molasses, toffee, and sweet fruits lead the way. There is a well-developed oaky, vanilla creaminess that adds a level of dryness. The creamy malt goodness is quickly sizzled off your tongue with a well-planned attack of MASSIVE hop bitterness. A complex blend of grapefruit, candied orange-peel, pine sap, and marijuana hop tones further his ferocity. There are so many levels of flavors to figure out here.

The Ruffian's body is huge and chunky. The mouthfeel is epic and luxurious. Ruffian takes control of your tastebuds with a very long, hoppy finish that has hints of malty sweetness to it.

Ruffian is victorious in battle, vanquishing all those who oppose him. He takes no prisoners and could stand right beside Double Bastard, Old Guardian, and even Old Marley. The Ruffian's young age is obvious and he will settle down and get wiser with age. He is tremendously complex in character, and his aquantaince should be sought by all. After all, it only costs 5 bucks to meet him, with a full 22 ounces of complex perfection.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2005 21:47:32 | More by AlexJ
Photo of smerrell
smerrell

Pennsylvania

4.95/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A well balanced beer, this barley-wine has a great malt presence with a nice bitter hoppiness. The roasted malt taste is reminiscent of cola or root beer, and nicely conceals the alcohol. the hops are a good accompaniment that don't overwhelm. I was expecting more sweetness, but am impressed with this beer. I'll need to pick a few bottles up for aging.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2012 00:42:24 | More by smerrell
Photo of GIVEMEBACKMYSON
GIVEMEBACKMYSON

Alaska

4.95/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A thick billowing head seems to create its own self out of the murky brown depths of my 25 oz. glass. And it doesn't show any signs of dissipation. Eventually it collapses a bit around the rim but in the center of the glass, a round foam pillow stands stoic.

Initially I smell canned pears, then peaches. But actually it's a bit more tropical than that. I've pinpointed it: mangoes. This smells like paradise.

Then I take a sip. And I go from the tropics to being knocked in the teeth. WHAM!! "Hop-forward barleywine" it says on the label. True enough, albeit a slight understatement. All hopped up, bitter and blissful. One punch and I'm reeling. Time to get my bearings.

Round 2- It's warmed up a bit now. Still there is 3/8" of head, and also that 2 1/2" diameter circle of dense foam in the center. A little warmth releases more flavors. Candied currant, rhubarb, rusty metal, alcohol, cream-of-wheat hot cereal, pineapple, pinesap, and pine needles. Resinous as hell, through and through.

Round 3: 1 hour, 15 minutes later and still there is 1/4" of head. Foam coats the sides of my big ass glass. Alcohol is more warming now. Quite so. Very pine sapped and sticky resiny at this point. I said it before, but I mean it now. This is absolutely fierce. Sticky, sweet, boozy, carbonated and jagged, and smooth all at the same time. Tough S.O.B., this Old Ruffian. I didn't get K.O.'d, but instead, the old standing 8 count. Felt lucky to be alive, though. Congratulations, Great Divide.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2005 19:08:15 | More by GIVEMEBACKMYSON
Photo of umustdrink
umustdrink

Minnesota

4.93/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Last years bottle into my delerium tulip

A - Medium reddish brown color. Head is light brown and fades to an eighth inch BUT is easily agitated to become big and fluffy, fading very slowly. Good amount of small bits and strips of lacing.

S - BIG smell of sweet caramel, candi sugar, toasty malt, coffee, raisins and cherries. A wee bit of alcohol too.

T - The taste starts out with a fruity hoppy bitterness then toasty coffee malts. Lightly sweet dark fruit flavors come in along with some chocolatey creaminess. Finish is very creamy, a little hoppy and a little sweet with some darker malts.

M - Creamy and borderline thick. Light carbonation.

D - Wonderfully complex. Not overwhelmingly sweet like some barleywines. Smooth and rich.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2007 05:08:24 | More by umustdrink
Photo of zoso493
zoso493

North Carolina

4.9/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber that was bottled on 12/29/2009 into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, deep, dark and hazy burnt garnet color that lights up to a radiant amber when held up to the light. The beer is crowned by a massive three-finger, offwhite head that has very good retention and leaves only trace amounts of lacing on the glass.

Smell: This a wonderful- and interesting-smelling barleywine, in my opinion. A huge plume of hops meets your nose first, followed by some hot, port-like alcohol. The hops make this brew smell like thick, resinous pine sap. There is also a big caramel-malt profile which is accented by some delictable brandy-soaked fruit. This is a hugely complex and powerful nose.

Taste: Smoothness is the name of the game for Old Ruffian. After the smell, you might be expecting to get blasted by the immensity of the flavors, but Old Ruffian manages to tie all the tastes together wonderfully. The hops don't play quite as central a role as in other barleywines (Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for example) but they are ever-present in the background, providing a bitter, piney and even floral counter to the huge malts.

The caramel malts are absolutely massively incorporated into this tremendous beverage. How can a brewer make this much flavorful goodness work this beautifully in a beer? It's easy to overlook just how good this beer is because of how smoothly and magnificently the tastes are blended together. In addition to the enormous caramel malts are the brandy-soaked fruits, which are a treat on their own.

Mouthfeel: Perfect. Old Ruffian is the perfectly "weighted" barleywine. The thickness of the beer is sensationally thick and appropriate to the style. Despite being so hugely flavorful and powerful, the beer just slides off your palate. The carbonation works to wick any residual flavors that might work to cloy at your palate, while still allowing the beer to retain just the right amount of body.

Drinkability: For being 10.5% alcohol, this is a very drinkable beer. Pure ethanol is very difficult to come across in the taste, but it does have some liquer-like qualities to it. Thus, even though the alcohol is not directly involved in the taste, it does have some of the "hotness" that's characteristic of alcohol. I feel ashamed to criticize an aspect of this beer, but this is what keeps it from attaining the perfect score.

Overall, this is a beautiful, beautiful beer. My criteria for a truly great beer are simply as follows: how bold and complex is a brew and how well smoothly are the flavors therein tied together. Well, Old Ruffian is brazenly bold, massively complex and effortlessly smooth. I can't compliment the brewers at Great Divide enough for this, because my eloquence cannot fairly and accurately describe how insanely great this beer is.

Serving type: bottle

03-10-2010 01:40:12 | More by zoso493
Photo of TastyTaste
TastyTaste

Minnesota

4.9/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Schell tulip, with a gigantic off-white head that fades into a rocky, very uneven head. Body is a dark maroon/purple color. Holy hops in the nose. Smells more like a DIPA than a barley wine, with just an outrageous hop aroma. Taste is that of an DIPA, also. Outrageous hops dominate the flavor, with strong maltiness in the background. I would suggest that Great Divide sell this as a Triple IPA (only compared to their DIPA) and forget about a barleywine distinction. Do I like the beer? Yes. Do I think it represents the style very accurately? No. But I like it and I will give a beer that I like this much high marks anyways.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2005 03:01:51 | More by TastyTaste
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,955 ratings.