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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.

2,091 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,091
Reviews: 1,047
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 224
Gots: 306 | FT: 15
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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
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Ratings: 2,091 | Reviews: 1,047 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of birdsellam
1.5/5  rDev -64.5%

Photo of maximum12
1.95/5  rDev -53.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Popped open this bottle from the basement to share with the wife after a beautiful evening on the water bass fishing. Do I have a great life or what?

Looks like an unfiltered IPA, an orange tint to the beer that's not entirely clear, but not opaque. Smells like roughage; raw hops, wet fields, angry farmers.

The caramel is distant, weirdly the hops are still going strong, but the dominant taste is a steely, metallic funk coating the roof of my mouth - rather nasty. This horrid glut of whatever takes over whatever other good points there are & just makes it undrinkable.

I can't finish this. I'd say I rec'd a bad bottle, but the wife says "B-ish" so it's just that it disagrees with me - badly. I was looking forward to trying this. Huge disappointment.

Photo of Nat1975
2/5  rDev -52.6%

Photo of NeverSettle
2/5  rDev -52.6%

Photo of ajs4bd
2/5  rDev -52.6%

Photo of TheBlvckhvnd
2.4/5  rDev -43.1%

Photo of aasher
2.4/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This bottle was 2010 vintage. This beer poured a burnt amber in color with a one finger soapy looking off white head. The aromas were off. There were some dark fruits and a whole lot of malt. I think that this was possibly consumed a little too fresh and needed time to figure itself out. The flavors too were a mess. It was far too sweet and had a lot of molasses and candied sugars going on. The hops were still present but there was an onslaught of malt. This didn't really relate to any American Barleywines I've enjoyed in the past. It wasn't very good at all and left behind a bitter aftertaste. Like all of Great Divides beers it had the dry and sudsy mouthfeel, feeling like you had coated the inside of your mouth with soap. This has got to be one of the least enjoyable barleywines I've tired. I'd be willing to give an older bottle a try, but this '10 was just not my kind of barleywine.

Photo of moot2142
2.5/5  rDev -40.8%

Photo of tatums1984
2.5/5  rDev -40.8%

Photo of mdwalsh
2.65/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Brown and copper, red when held up the the light. Great, creamy textured, light tan three finger head that is holding well with some active carbonation. Maybe a little haze, but it's hard to tell with the darkness of the brew.

S: Real thick malt character, slightly complex. Only sign of hops is a slight earthy/floralness, but not anything suggesting oncoming bitterness.

T: Is thin and bitter. It tastes like an artificial burnt coffee flavor. Terrible. All roast, no malt. More hop smell comes out with the combined olfactory-taste bud combination. A little alcohol warmth.

M: As I said, thin and watery. I'm having trouble keeping it in my mouth for too long though, so who knows.

D: Terrible, I am not looking forward to finishing this whole bomber.

Photo of chippo33
2.75/5  rDev -34.8%

Photo of SteelersX
2.75/5  rDev -34.8%

Photo of Higravity
2.75/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Well this BW is not for me. Thick syrup of crystal malt with extra sugar added in. A nice red brown color and a good head, but I could tell from the color it was going to be syrupy. Smell was pretty damn fine and the best thing about this one. Full of hoppy pine and earthy digs, sharp distinct citrus that fold with the sweetness of berry fruit all of it sitting on top of a caramel and a hint of roastedness punched with alcohol. The taste was like a big hop bomb that someone had but too much sugar into like the kool-aid that kids will make when their Mom isn't watching. The beautiful floral hops are awash in the sugar and alcohol, the malt flavors are stunted by all the sweetness. Thank god I was sharing this with two other people.

Photo of Prufrock
2.75/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22 oz. bomber poured into a pilsner.

hazy light brown with an inch of tan head that takes an eternity to fall into puffy peaks, leaving rings of lacing.

tons of sweet, caramel malts in the aroma, but the hops are there as well with a touch of pine and citrus rind.

thick, syrupy mouthfeel. sweet with licorice at first, but then overwhelmed by a harsh, authoritative hop bitterness. it'd be hard to call this one drinkable, especially once the 10.2% kicks in. oddly enough, is too sweet and then too bitter, without really finding a balance.

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.78/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 12/13/2007 (Bottle aged ~2mo):

Pours a dark brown colored body, pretty clear, with a small diminishing head, off-white in color. Has a malty sugary sweet aroma. Molasses aroma, but sickly sweet. Hoppy sweet taste. Sugary & piney. Smoother as it warms up.

Photo of Philvillani
2.8/5  rDev -33.6%

Photo of mentor
2.8/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a strong two finger yellow-tan frothy head over a gorgeous copper rust liquid. Some fine particulates in the beer. Smells wicked pine and some lemon meat. Oxidized sour and caramel malty way beneath.

Tastes creamy, alcohol bite (slightly rough), woody hop dry and bitter. Uhmmm...I'm not impressed. Vegetal. Piney and sharp hops. Rubbing alcohol makes an unpleasant appearance in the aftertaste. Malt is failing under it all. Orange hops and fruity esters (light fruits, such as pear) are present but really overwhelmed.

Thick mouthfeel with a creamy character. Mild carbonation is amplified by the alcohol sting on the tastebuds.

Photo of nhindian
2.83/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

A - Pours a dark ruby color with orangish-brown highlights. A very bubbly, 2-fingered head quickly grows and makes the beer look like a snow-capped mountain. Retention is pretty good, as well as the lacing. It's a pretty beer, no doubt about it.

S - Much like Great Divide's Yeti series, this beer takes a previously established beer - in this case, a barleywine - and heavily hops it; it's only the American way! There's some slight citrus here in the form of oranges, but most of the hops are quite floral in nature. The caramel malts add a nice sweetness, and there is a little bit of chocolate as well. Unfortunately, I'm getting some alcohol solvency at the end.

T - The taste is similar to the nose but more amped up. The caramel is more caramelly, the toffee more toffeey, the hops more hoppy, and unfortunately again, the alcohol more alcoholy. The malts are a bit stronger here, almost dominating most of the flavor with the aforementioned notes and brown sugar and even some slight vanilla, but the hops bounce back with some floral and spicy characteristics. Here comes the bad part: The finish ends with a lot of alcohol taste that is very offputting. It's like chasing a good barleywine with a shot of cheap vodka. Or nailpolish. Hopefully some age would mellow this, but as it stands it's disappointing that it comes through so strongly.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately heavy-bodied with good carbonation. This feels fairly slick in the mouth and drinks smoothly until the alcohol burn. Lasting impressions are hop bitterness and alcohol with some lingering malts.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately low. The nose on this teases, and the flavor for the most part delivers, until the end where the train just derails. There's way too much alcohol in the finish to make this an easy-drinker. It's a shame, because the rest of the beer is actually pretty good. It's a tradeoff - age this beer to mellow the alcohol, but lose the hops; or keep the hops and chug nail polish. I'd take the former if I could do it again.

Photo of danieelol
2.85/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Adam @ Platinum

2010 Vintage.

Pours a lovely golden red with billowing head and great lacing.

Smell is pineapple hop and solvent. Also get qualities strongly reminiscent of Fullers Vintage/Golden Pride. Nutty notes a la Samichlaus.

Taste is underwhelming. Big dose of alcohol without any sweetness and with only faint malt.

Mouthfeel is thin and bone dry with minor alcohol burn.

Unfortunately this beer is very one note, too alcoholic and lacks any sweetness whatsoever, despite the fact it's supposed to be a barleywine. Dunno if this is a bad bottle or what.

Photo of ArrogantB
2.9/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

2006 GABF Gold Medal batch on cask at the Falling Rock for barleywine month. The color was dark red with a fluffy head. The smell was floral, hoppy, and so alluring. This beer's smell really builds up the anticipation as far as the taste. The taste did not disappoint. Mmmm, hops, caramel, toffee, goodness. This was one of the best beers I have had in a long time. Now I have to grab some bottles for the cellar.

update 1/26/2013 bottle

Had to revisit this because I couldn't believe how high I rated this, that 2006 cask must have been ill. This bottle looked beautiful when I poured it into the glass so I did not change that score. The smell was vegetal. The flavor was harsh alcohol and a hint of broccoli, meh. Shit is actually pretty wack for $8, fuck that.

Photo of CortexBomb
2.95/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Pous out hazy, burnt orangeish brown into my snifter with a slight, white ring of carbonation on top. The smell on this is fairly typical for American style barley wine, hoppy, with aplomb. That hoppiness also seems to have a sugary, brown sugar like sweet edge to it.

Taste starts out aggressively hoppy, back of the tongue, top of the mouth, they're all tingling from the hops which lend a strongly piney flavour. The pine is subdued by sweetness, though not much...the sweetness is definitely present throughout though...sugary. The alcohol is also definitely present. Abrasive to my palatte, like most American Barley Wines....not as harsh as Rogue's Old Crusty, but still up there. There might be some interesting flavours in here, waiting to come out with some aging, but unaged the hops absolutely destroy everything else this beer is trying to do, and one has to look for the other things in the taste.

The mouth on a beer with this much hops has to be doing something seriously wrong to not get a good score, and Great Divide does not disappoint...a lot of tingles last long after the swallow, which is a sign of a great mouth. The drinkability on this is harsh though, it is a very aggressive beer, and it is not something that is easy to put down.

Overall, I think Great Divide is catering to someone other than me with this beer. These American style Barley Wines seem to offer such a large amount of hops that anything else they're trying to do is lost in the explosion.

Photo of otto251068
2.95/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 1 pt 6 fl oz bottle into a Rochefort chalice. "Bottled on Nov 29, 2011" printed on the label, making this beer about seven months old.

Appearance: Pours an amber, reddish dark brown color. Transparent, clean, and no bubbles present. After the pour a lively tan head rises to a quarter inch, then fades. The remaining bubbles are small and dense, with a few larger bubbles lingering. All that is left after a few seconds is some wispy thin remnants and a ring hugging the glass.

Smell: Extremely malty right out front, very intense. Brown sugar, molasses, and dark caramel are there as well. The 10% ABV is fairly evident, and comes out strong in the aroma.

Taste: Burnt caramel up front, some charred oak as well. The 10.2% ABV is very present in the taste. Tons of bitterness on the back end, with soapy, piney hops lingering. The aftertaste is all bitterness and char.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and medium carbonation. Thick, chewy, and syrupy are a few words to describe the body. The carbonation level is just on the edge of being on the low side. The bubbles are a nice contrast to the heavy flavors.

Overall: A little too hop forward. It is really hard to distinguish any other flavors besides the bitter hops, burnt flavors, and high alcohol. Otherwise mouthfeel, appearance, and smell all fit in with the style. Fairly hard to finish this one, not easily drinkable.

Photo of Wadsey
2.95/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Old Ruffian

Bottled sometime in 2008. Poured in a DFH signature glass. 

A: Deep amber to amber brown with an above-average frothy head. Good clarity but moderate lacing. 

S: Big caramel presence joined by tea-like or herbal  hops. A touch of fruit and a note of oxidation. Really, this is a very standard profile for an aged American Barleywine. 

T: Sweet caramel malt on front of palate, which is annihilated by a steely bitterness that thoroughly dominates tasting experience. Alcohol is noticeable but not unduly so.  Long, long bitter finish. 

M:  Body is a little light for style and carbonation is too high for style. Moderately warming. 

D: Old Ruffian drinks relatively easily despite its over-the-top IBUs. The problem is that it tastes like just about every other American Barleywine I've drank. I'm nipping this cellaring experiment in the bud. 

Photo of kingcrowing
2.98/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottles on December 22, 2009. Big thanks to VTbobcat for picking this up for me in Mass!

Pours a very hazy mahogany brown with a small light brown head that quickly fades to nil. Nose is really quite hoppy given the age, very sweet and floral, it's got the same bready yeast note as Yeti. Booze is not noticeable.

Hmm, it almost seems like there's a tinge of vinegar to this. It's not overt and it's not sour, it may be more of an iron taste but it is a bit odd. It might also be the alcohol that is giving it this flavor. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with good carbonation for the style.

Have to take off points for drinkability because of he acidity. I'll re-review my other bottle in 6-12 months and see if it's gone away.

Photo of Golden2wenty1
3/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Round 7 of a marathon 8 round American Barley Wine-off with expatsteve. Starting to feel the weight of these big beers. This is the highest-rated of the bunch, let's see how it stacks up against direct comparison to some of its peers.

Pour: darkish amber, nice clarity with a finger of khaki head and little to no lacing.

Nose: PINE HOPS! Yeesh. Then a hearty dose of booze vapor, with citrus and caramel malt trying to balance.

Taste: Intensely bitter/piney hops, grapefruit, menthol-vapor booze with caramel malt struggling for attention.

Feel: medium-heavy body and smooth carbonation but hops and booze burn all the way down the esophagus.

Drinkability/Overall: Really disappointed in the harshness of the hopping and booze in this one. I'm all for a hop bomb but this seems more of a hops and vodka tonic than a beer brewed with MALT. This was frankly a little hard to finish. Not a drain pour, but more work than drinking a beer should be. Hard to see how this is rated so much higher than works of complexity and balance like Old Foghorn or Old Crustacean.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,091 ratings.