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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

1,089 Reviews
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Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

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.

Added by gbontrag on 11-28-2004

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,089 | Ratings: 2,392
Photo of mobrado
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have to agree with what seems to be the consensus around hear: Old Ruffian is a fine barleywine, but not quite as good as Bigfoot. Had this fresh and at exactly 2.5 yrs old and thought the older was slightly better, but not anywhere near "aged." It didn't even show the first signs of mellowing out. Seems like this could last for many, many more years and I would love to have one at, say, 6-10 years old. (Have the BBA version around that's ~1yr old and think I'll sit on that for a while.)

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Photo of dleigh
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Nice amber color. A fair amount of head that recedes quickly with minimal lacing. Smell of flowery, citrusy hops, with some honey sweetness coming through. Taste follows the nose: bitter, hoppy, but also sweet with some nutty or bready aftertaste. The hops definitely dominate this one, but I'm drinking a relatively fresh bottle, so I wonder how that will change with some aging. Nice amount of carbonation, but the mouthfeel is a little thinner than many barleywines. Hides the alcohol pretty well with just a tinge of warming in the throat. Overall: a pretty dang good hoppy barleywine, but emphasis on the "hoppy" in that sentence. I think it could do with a little more balance and sweetness.

Bottle dated February 1, 2016.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Mike at the Barleywine tasting.
Deep copper color off white head. Rich caramel and toffee with light pitted fruits and hints of floral earthy hop. Pretty tasty and I'm surprised I haven't rated this before.

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Photo of BIll_Currie
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

outstanding barleywine. smell was really fresh when I opened the bottle. Color was perfect. Taste was good. Not the best barleywine I've had but a really good one

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 1/29/15 into pint glass. Pours a hazy, translucent amber, with a light tan head. Initial impression is fairly innocuous: light caramel sweetness...but that quickly morphs into hoppy bitterness and a very dry finish. Medium-to-thick mouthfeel (just about perfect) and medium carbonation (perhaps a tad on the high side). Alcohol is pretty well hidden, but even at 14 months of age it's still noticeable and just a little ragged around the edges. Not what I'd call "smooth", but actually that adds to the character. This is quite a good barleywine - if you have to choose between this and SN Bigfoot, choose this.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass.

A: A clear burnt amber with a one-finger eggshell white head that lingered. Nice thick lacing.

S: Caramel, toffee and bready malts combine with citrus-y hops to produce that perfect American barleywine nose. Nice.

T: The taste is classic, too. A rush of malts, brown sugar and caramel followed by citrus hops that give it a bitter burn on the end.

M: Medium with medium to heavy carbonation. A real sipper with good friends.

O: This one could go toe to toe with SN's Bigfoot. I'll seek it out in the future. If you like American barleywines, take the Great Divide.

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Photo of EMV
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had on-tap at Champs in State College, Poured into a goblet.

L: Pours a deep clear amber-reddish color. 2 fingers of thick creamy off-white head. Lovely lacing.

S: Caramel and sweets, newly baked bread, citrusy hops, and brown sugar.

T/F: Malty and rich up front.. caramel and brown sugar vie for prominence.. faint spiciness, and then the floral and citrus hops kick you in the other direction on the backswing. Sticky and thick... warming and complex. Just so much to think about with this on the tongue.

O: A delicious American style Barleywine.. hoppy, malty, boozy... it's like your crazy ex. Complicated and needy and will take you places you didn't quite know you could go.

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Photo of MJSFS
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle dated 1/28/16 into a DFH snifter L: deep red with 2 fingers of cream colored fluffy head and tons of lacing A: sweet brown sugar mixed with piney notes T: very hop forward with a slight caramel sweetness too much alcohol followed by a bitter pine aftertaste M: smooth and creamy O: this is too hot fresh, age might help the alcohol subside a bit. However, it's very fine representation of an American barleywine, but for my money SN Bigfoot is better

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Cool red and light brown appearance, full inch of off white head to it. Aroma was a lot of caramel and alcohol.

Taste was a real rich and mellow but not mild flavor excursion with plenty of caramel. A little bit of hopping, straddles the American and English barleywine genre, but leans American. One of the more reliable, consistent types of top tier base barleywines out there.

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Photo of Qbdoo
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark copper color with minimal head. Really have to throw the beer into the glass to get one. A ripe fruit aroma. Taste is similar but with caramel sweetness and a strong hop bite. Flavors get a lot more complex and appetizing as the beer warms. So much so that I really didn't like it at first but once it got very warm, my feelings changed quite a bit. Don't store in the fridge!

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Photo of Hopped_head
4.93/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Damn, I love a good, hoppy-barleywine! This really hit the spot with it's robust caramel/toffee notes, pungent stone fruit flavored and subtle yet powerful hop-profile.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

bottled on 12/12/13, purchased in late August 2015. kept in a 42 degree mini fridge until i consumed it just now.

pours a dark auburn with some orange/brown tones to it (which i guess is Auburn but it's an off color). it's dark but not completely brown, like a dark clay color. thick head as well.

smell is sweet, maybe some caramel malt and fruit hops.

taste is pretty good. some heavy malt caramel taste followed by hop bitterness. some earthy hops at that. has a boozy tinge to it as well. goes down easy, isn't too thick and certainly isn't thin.

overall i really like this. it's my first barleywine and i wasn't sure what to expect but i like this. it has nice hoppiness to it but is clearly not a dIPA. it's full of malt but is balanced by big sweetness and earthy hops. will certainly be trying more barleywines in the future.

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Photo of Labeorphile
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyed this beer. I'm not a big hop fan, in the sense of IPAs, but this hoppy barleywine is highly enjoyable. Pours with a relatively thick head, hazy brown color. The aroma is enticing. I'm not well versed enough to pick out all the scents, but I'm immediately impressed. The taste follows the nose and is a complex flavor with a nice thick mouthfeel. I highly recommend.

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Photo of kbwalters
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on Jan 29th, 2015, consumed on April 7th. Poured cold into a tulip glass.
Look = 4.25 Clearish amber color with red highlights and 2.5 fingers of off white head that fades to a cap. Good retention and lace.
Aroma = 3.5 Caramel and toffee malt notes in the nose, highlighted with hoppy citrus and pine notes.
Taste = 3.75 Caramel and toffee maltiness, balanced somewhat with hoppy pine and orange peel, moderate bitterness on the finish and mild boozy taste.
Feel = 4.0 Thick and full bodied, sticky and resiny feel like a syrup with low to medium carbonation.
Drinkability = 3.5 Thick and boozy, big barleywine with lower drinkability.
Overall = 3.775 Disappointing score for a well respected American style barleywine. It didn’t come together for me.

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12oz. bottle.

A: Pours a deep clear ruby amber with an inch and a half of off-white head. Solid retention and leaves behind some nice lacing.

S: Aromas of caramel malt, barley, fermented yeast, and red licorice initially. Then dark fruits, citrus, fig, and earthy hops. Also a noticeable alcohol note.

T: A very hop forward barleywine. Earthy hops, and caramel malts up front, then red licorice, citrus, and peppercorn. Finishes with flavors of caramel, sweet bready malts, and a pine/earth like hop spiciness.

M: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Dry astringent aftertaste with a alcohol warmth.

O: A very pleasant American Barleywine, I like the hop forward take they did but I feel like it is slightly overrated. A very pleasant and drinkable brew that I will buy again but I feel this would be better after cellaring for a year or two.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a beautiful dark reddish brown color with a big tan head with good retention and lacing. This is what a beer should look like!

Aroma of sweet caramel malts, dark fruits, and alcohol. Fig, cherry, and a splash of grapefruit are most notable.

The taste follows the nose. Caramel malts and dark fruits dominate the first sip. A good deal of bitterness provides a nice bite on the finish. Very sweet. Aged cherry. Some earthy flavors and bready malts pair well with the warmth from the alcohol. As with many Barley Wines, the beer really transforms as it warms.

Full bodied with low carbonation. 10.2% ABV is well hidden, which results in a beer that can and will sneak up on you. As drinkable as you'll find at this ABV.

Overall, a very well done Barley Wine. Not overwhelming in any aspect, but solid on all fronts.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a polished dark wood color under a 1" thick off-white head which leaves good lace. Aroma is dominated by caramel, toasted malts, and somewhat fruity. Taste follows smell with a hoppy bitterness. Good balance. Slightly boozy.

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Photo of Hootie159
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep amber color. Nice fruity, toffee smell. Beer is as described. A hoppy barleywine. A lot of bitterness from the hops which doesn't pair as well as I'd like with thr sweet malts. Very light carbonation.

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Photo of OldRickSputin
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm typically not a huge fan of GDBC beers. This Ruffian, however, is something special. It's well worth the price and after drinking 8 bottles in the last few weeks, I'm very tempted to fork'over the $$ for the BA Ruffian.

L: Amber, with a good head and perfect lacing for the style.

S: A great mix of sweet fruit, toffee and a niceboozy after tone.

T: almost the opposite of the aroma. It starts off a bit bitter and boozy and finishes sweet.

F: I really like that this doesn't have a dry feel with a a bunch of carbonation.

O: Well done, Great Divide...well done.

And bonus points for actually stamping the bottling date on the bottles!!!

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Photo of larryarms847
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly murky rusty red brown with a light orange huge and thin wisp of off-white foam.

Pine, citrus, caramel, and resin.

A sweet caramel flavor quickly turns into an aggressively bitter citrus and pine forward hoppy bitterness.

Heavy-bodied, light carbonation, semi-chewy, bitter, resinous.

Overall, a mighty fine example of the Americanized barley wine style.

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Photo of GOBLIN
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pretty good. Nothing to really separate this from many of the other American barleywines around. Maybe just a little bit more easy drinking than say Bigfoot and the like. Nice and hoppy with the usual aromas and flavors of oak, leather and vanilla.

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Photo of CHickman
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 1/29/2015: Pours very dark brown which almost looks blood red with sediment floating around in it which had a creamy 2 finger light tan head that was full of bubbles and faded slowly, leaving good foamy spotty lacing. The more this beer went down the better the lacing got, with it coating the sides and sticking like a sheet of foam that leaves rings as it goes down.

Smells of fruity candy, orange peel, citrus hops and tropical fruit like mango, pineapple, starfruit and papaya up front, followed by caramel, toffee, brown sugar, grains and piney hops. The nose is sweet overall with the balance shifting from a blast of hops up front to more sweet and candied sugar-like as it trails off with sweet malt.

Tastes of sweet/dank wet citrus hops and a mix of fruit up front that includes orange, mango, starfruit, rotting pear, pineapple and some cherry, followed by caramel, brown sugar, graham cracker and rum soaked biscuit or wet grains like the mash from moonshine which carried some hefty booze. The sweetness borders on cloying, but the piney hops and light spices pull it back to the right side of good taste. A lot more bready yeast notes in the flavor, with wet cardboard and wheat bread crust mixing with the fruity sweetness. Caramel malts come on strong at the end and then wash away with more citrus fruit and leave an almost dry finish that resembles a very malty brew like a Scotch ale. A meal in a glass.

Mouthfeel is heavy and thick, with average carbonation, a grainy feel and aftertaste that trails off on the sweet side showing hops and booze before the grains/malts take it over again as it fades.

Overall a very nice barleywine that packs a punch with the ABV aggressive and always present, but it has enough malt and hop balance as well as malt and hop complexities to make it quite enjoyable. This bottle was only 4 months old and I suspect would have gotten better with age, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Clear super deep orange with some red touches. Amber is probably a better descriptor. Long lasting sticky off white head.

Big sweet hoppy nose.

Pretty thick and syrupy. Taste is heavy sweet malt and candied orange hop.

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Photo of stompilator
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A - Poured a deep, dark red, with a thick, light head.

S - Dark fruit and cherries, wet hops, buttery caramel.

T - Heavy, toasty maltiness up front, notes of berries and dark fruit hanging in the background. An almost oak-y flavor kind of hangs around, with citrus-y, wild hops gently fading in off of the earthy flavors before it. The hops eventually settle in and fade out with the rest of the flavors, leaving a bittersweet (more bitter than sweet) end to this brew.

M - Full-bodied and velvety, just a wee bit of carbonation.

O - Quite possibly the best hop flavor in any barleywine I've had. Delicious.

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Photo of atr2605
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-pours a beautiful red amber with a tan fluffy head with excellent retention that clings to the glass
S-piney and citrus hops, fruity toffee and caramel
T-aggressive bitterness mixes with the sweet toffee caramel flavors and a resiny finish
M-medium-full bodied
O-big and bold brew, a very hoppy barley wine which I think helps hide some of the booze.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,089 ratings.