1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

1,952 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,952
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,952 | Reviews: 1,037 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of basickness
basickness

Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -28.9%

06-08-2014 15:53:23 | More by basickness
Photo of mportnoy
mportnoy

Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -28.9%

08-14-2013 04:00:40 | More by mportnoy
Photo of J_Dub
J_Dub

Texas

3/5  rDev -28.9%

04-23-2013 16:10:57 | More by J_Dub
Photo of wattershed
wattershed

California

3/5  rDev -28.9%

11-16-2011 20:44:45 | More by wattershed
Photo of BjrogerS
BjrogerS

North Carolina

3/5  rDev -28.9%

06-22-2014 03:59:27 | More by BjrogerS
Photo of JJChrist
JJChrist

Maine

3/5  rDev -28.9%

06-15-2014 15:13:31 | More by JJChrist
Photo of PorterBoy14
PorterBoy14

New York

3/5  rDev -28.9%

08-28-2012 13:50:40 | More by PorterBoy14
Photo of Rempo
Rempo

Indiana

3/5  rDev -28.9%

11-19-2011 16:40:19 | More by Rempo
Photo of CityofBals
CityofBals

Illinois

3/5  rDev -28.9%

09-12-2013 19:35:31 | More by CityofBals
Photo of andjriz
andjriz

Georgia

3/5  rDev -28.9%

04-18-2012 19:24:58 | More by andjriz
Photo of TimH
TimH


3/5  rDev -28.9%

05-19-2012 17:54:20 | More by TimH
Photo of ChrisMon02
ChrisMon02

Ohio

3/5  rDev -28.9%

01-29-2013 23:30:50 | More by ChrisMon02
Photo of AlaskanYoung
AlaskanYoung

Arkansas

3/5  rDev -28.9%

12-03-2013 11:57:16 | More by AlaskanYoung
Photo of bullywee
bullywee

North Carolina

3/5  rDev -28.9%

02-16-2012 11:33:48 | More by bullywee
Photo of Cameroon
Cameroon

Pennsylvania

3.03/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I am a relative newbie to Barley wine and this is the first hop intensive barley wine I've tried. I am not a fan of heavily hopped beers. It strikes me that hop fans are like the folks that like hot peppers. Somehow, somebody has equated hops and hot peppers with balls. Hops lend a very valuable adjunct to beer, but are not more or less than a particular spice is to a Belgium brew. 70% of this brew is balanced sweet, with fruit tones. The heavy dose of hops is far too powerful and distracts from the barley wine nature. It may be perfect for some but to me it is an undeserved bow to the unorthodox, West Coast fad of single, double, triple and God forbid quadriple hopheads. Think of hops as a spice that is to be used to create highlights in taste. For those who truly love overdoses of hops, I say "God Bless". Hopping up an intrinsic sweet beer steals the very nature of the beer in my opnion.This beer is definately deserving of a try and honest appraisal, but this boy sees much more potential if the hops were muted. Sadly, in my opinion, when it comes to barley wine, hops should be a subtle reverberation, not a sledge hammer. Under this department store suit, there lies a handsome wardrobe.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2007 01:39:35 | More by Cameroon
Photo of heygeebee
heygeebee

Australia

3.03/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on [illegible] 2010

Pours a wonderful hazy deep gold/copper. One finger head stays. Good lace.

Aromas of hops, toffee, malts.

Taste is a let down. One dimensional and thin, hop driven with little malt to support. Alcohol burn. Astringent. Bitter. Skunked.

Mouthfeel good, medium to full bodied, low carbonation.

Overall, not a good example. Given 2010 bottling, even more of a let down.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2012 10:46:10 | More by heygeebee
Photo of chriswilkes33
chriswilkes33

Texas

3.05/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had a pour of '08 ruffian in a snifter

Appearance: pours a dark amber with a thin quickly dissipating white head
Aroma: biting alcohol and caramel/toffee one would expect from a monster barleywine
Taste: toffee, sweet (a little too sweet) and alcohol up front. Harsh swallow with lingering warmth
Mouthfeel: thick but not terribly

Overall: good slow drinking beer, nothing super exciting taking place in this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2011 23:27:07 | More by chriswilkes33
Photo of 1whiskey
1whiskey

Oregon

3.1/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass. Pours out a cloudy reddish-amber with a thick apricot colored head.

Aroma is a mix of sweet fruit and floral combination, caramel, grapefruit, and brown sugar. Oddly enough, I also smell tea (fuggles?).

Taste is...sweet. Really, really, sugary, syrupy sweet. If ever the phrase "malt bomb" applied to a beer, this is it. More fruit & floral notes are present, and again the tea-like bitterness it struggling to be found amongst all the sugar. Alcohol is clearly evident. In some respects, this reminds me of booze-soaked fruitcake.

Mouthfeel is syrupy thick, with some creamy carbonation present. Drinkabilty? I'm in no hurry to have a second one. I may not be able to finish the bottle. Way too much sugar for me. Those with a sweet tooth may love this, though.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2007 08:47:15 | More by 1whiskey
Photo of expatsteve
expatsteve

Wisconsin

3.1/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Split a bomber with Golden2wenty1 during a barleywine session.

Appearance: Copper/orange amber, pours a 1/2 inch head. Lingers with heavy suds over. Low/medium viscosity, and low/medium visibility.

Aroma: Big burst of grapefruit, banana and hints of toffee. Not much development, but impressive nonetheless.

Taste: Banana burst initially, but this is quickly replaced by overwhelming pine resin across the entire palate. I can't help feeling that this renders the beer one-dimensional, and that it flattens out most of the malt development (honey and orange notes can never compete with the hops). The alcohol is particularly well-hidden.

Mouthfeel: The hops overpower the low carbonation, and leave this dry and unbalanced.

Drinkability: While this is no doubt a winner with hopheads, I reacted to this beer the way my cats react to having medicine pushed down their throat. When compared to masterfully hopped American barleywines like Old Crustacean, or even more balanced efforts like Bigfoot, this beer seems excessively one-dimensional (I acknowledge that this was probably their aim, and gave this a 3 for taste rather than a lower mark - I adjusted drinkability to reflect my assessment of this beer against the style). Nearly no malt or fruit developments in this one, and the heady and thick quality of other barleywines is altogether lacking. One for the hopheads, though more like a double IPA than a barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2006 03:01:57 | More by expatsteve
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
TheBeerAlmanac

Kentucky

3.1/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a hazy, deep amber color with a decent amount of lingering head.

S: Aroma is potent with flaky pastry, plum, yeast, sour peaches, and feet. I was a little confused by the feet smell, but I think it must have come from the foil around the bottle rim. I hope so anyway.

T/M: Taste is immediately vibrant: caramel quickly giving way to dark fruits, floral hops and a tangy bitterness in the finish. There’s a lingering warm booziness after a bit, a little offputting. The texture is very thick, almost chewy.

The flavors contrast pretty vehemently, but everything is very good, with the exception of the strong alcohol aftertaste. It really would have been nice had they been able to mask that more, but I like it. This barley wine’s for you, Springfield.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2011 02:57:02 | More by TheBeerAlmanac
Photo of cproioi
cproioi

Ohio

3.1/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Alright this is the first time I've ever had a Barley Wine so here we go. From a bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Nice reddish-brown color with a little haze in it. Poured a two finger head that was tan in color and disipated at a moderate rate.

S: First smell is extremely hoppy. Also with a backing of sweetness sneaks up.

T: nice bitter start but with a caramel sweetness that follows very quickly. I would prefer to have the bitterness stay around a little longer.

M: Very syrupy and very sugary.

D: I don't find this to be an easy thing to drink. Not that it's bad or anything it's just not really appealing to my taste so we shall see what happens with this bottle and what other barley wines I buy next.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2006 03:17:19 | More by cproioi
Photo of Jimmys
Jimmys

Pennsylvania

3.11/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

bomber into tulip. bottled on: DEC 20 2012.

A: a very hazy deep ruby hued brew. head is frothy and slightly off-white. great retention and boatloads of lacing.

S: a good deal of oxidation hits me right off the bat. a little challenging for me to work around. halfway through the bottle im starting to work through the oxidation and get some caramel, malty aroma. sweet caramel apples.

T: similar to the nose, a lot of oxidation on this thing. bitterness is there, but there is enough sweetness to keep it in check and from being overwhelming. a little bit of booze, but pretty calm, which is what I would expect after almost a year of being in bottle. I don't know if I would say there is much hop flavor left in this thing. definitely some caramel graininess. lingers as well.

M: really creamy, smooth mouthfeel. I am enjoying the carb being so mellow on this big of a beer.

D: I bought this at my local Wegman's and figured it was pretty fresh when I saw them on the shelf. after I got home is when I realized how old it actually was. I thought to myself, "hey maybe I get a aged gem, some of these reviews seem to incline that way!" im afraid I was dead wrong as oxidation has really taken this down a notch for me. as oxidation can work with most barleywine's, this particular one just has too many hops (as most American's do) to come back from. however, I would love to try this fresh.

If you are only going to read one line of this review, buy and drink fresh. DO NOT AGE.

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2013 02:44:21 | More by Jimmys
Photo of njmoons
njmoons

New Jersey

3.13/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Excellent base, hopping overwhelmed the beer for my taste

A: Deep dark red. Looked good

S: Sweet and heavy fruits plum cherry. Malty and hoppy

T: The initial taste was very complex sweet fruits and malty. Hop bitterness and citrus hop flavors take over quickly and overwhelm the complexity and flavor of the beer. Beer finishes clean and crisp for a big beer. I think of would be a great beer, if a bit more balanced.

M: Thick and heavy, but not cloying. Nice

D: The citrus hop character reduces the drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2011 08:09:40 | More by njmoons
Photo of david18
david18

New York

3.13/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A good barleywine but not the best. Great Divide is usually very aggressive with hops but not with this. American Barleywine is distinguished by its bitterness combine with malty strength and, although this has the latter it certainly lacks in the former. It's worth trying but Great Divide makes a number of better ales including its Hercules and Hybernation Ales.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2009 21:16:50 | More by david18
Photo of OKCNittany
OKCNittany

Oklahoma

3.13/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle

A: Poured a hazy reddish brown with a 3/4 in light tan head that stayed awhile. Heavy lacing all over the glass.

S: Light aroma of sweet caramel and grapefruity hops.

T: Sweet for just a sec than bitter hops come through. Pretty good balance considering how hoppy this is (not that I'm complaining about the hoppiness). Unfortunately, the alcohol taste is so overwhelming it diminishes everything I like about it. I know this style calls for a high abv, but in this case it interferes too much with an otherwise good flavor.

M: Creamy mouthfeel - thick with light carbonation - halfway between beer and motor oil. Finishes with a nasty alcohol burn. Maybe I should have poured it into a shot glass.

D: Considering the reputation, I almost feel apologetic for not loving this - but while there's lots to like, the alcohol taste is too much to let me get through more than 1. It's a sipper only - and the first of Great Divide's big beers I don't love.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2007 22:20:08 | More by OKCNittany
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,952 ratings.