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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,881 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1881
Reviews: 1030
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.69%

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
Ratings: 1,881 | Reviews: 1,030 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of barleywinefiend


3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage.
Poured a cloudy orange color with with a small white head. Nose is big hops, smells bitter even on this 2007 vintage. Taste has big hops citrus, pine, caramel background and booze. Mouthfeel is sticky, super bitter, citrus and boozy but not as hot as a fresh batch. Good.

Serving type: on-tap

04-25-2010 19:17:57 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of donkeyrunner


3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

@ The Indie, Somerville MA.

Murky, mud color with ruby highlights--I think (it's dark in there). Arrived with a thin head that never really left, just formed a collar from which little foam vessels dispersed and reattached like ancient Greek trading ships navigating through the Mediterranean Sea. How's that for obscure.

Smells like floating through a hop forest down a malt candy river. Lots of pine and citrus hops, booze, and sweet, fruity, caramel malt. Made me think of Anchor Man when Rebecca Corningstone says "take me to pleasure town."

Taste is citrus infused, ridiculously decadent fudge and caramel. Has a boozey, mint aftertaste that is identical to Binaca breath spray--I hate that stuff.

Serving type: on-tap

03-06-2010 15:15:06 | More by donkeyrunner
Photo of jampics2


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Beer Engine. 12oz or so in a snifter.

A reddish brown liquid with a thick tan head sits infront of me. Looks great!

Smell is wonderful. Nice citrus hops remind me of grapefruit, oranges, and pineapple. Also some nice hints of the sweet barley that lies below.

Taste is great as well. Nice baked bread, caramel, and toffee. Figs and some toasted malt. Then an attack of the bitterness with huge citrus flavors and a resinous bitter element that sticks around.

Mouthfeel is good. This was creamy and smooth!

Drinkability was graded on a curve as this is obviously a huge beer. But it went down easy and was a very enjoyable barleywine that will only get better in time.

Serving type: on-tap

03-02-2010 14:09:58 | More by jampics2
Photo of glid02


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Aroma's in Athens, GA. As evidenced by my bottle review I was curious to see how it stacked up.

Pours a hazy caramel-copper color with a one-finger yellowish-tinged head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with good amounts of herbal and leafy hop aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though a bit more complex. Caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined by toasty and bready flavors. Midway through the sip good amounts of leafy, pine, and herbal hop flavors join in along with hints of milk chocolate. The hop flavors take over more toward the end of the sip before ending with a solid bitterness.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a thicker than average mouthfeel with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall the beer I had on-tap seemed to pop a lot more than the bottle and held a good deal more complexity. Be sure to give this one another fair shot if you weren't terribly impressed the first time around.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2010 20:10:43 | More by glid02
Photo of zoso1967


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A very attractive amber mahogany color. The aroma is malty and sweet. I can detect a bit of alcohol and what smells like mandarin orange. I was quite taken aback by the flavor. Unlike other barley wines I have had, this one seems to have a bit more going on than just malt. It is a little boozy tasting with plenty of caramel and bready malt sweetness, but it also has a nice amount of citrus hop flavor. Full body for sure but it is so smooth. Definitely a sipper and not the kind of beer you would want to have more than one of in a sitting.

Serving type: on-tap

01-31-2010 17:18:10 | More by zoso1967
Photo of ATGHomebrewer


4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark copper, with tan head. about 2 fingers of carbonation

S: a nice profile. dominated by the sweetness of th e malts, but piney hop aroma is present as well.

T: very malty, with brown sugar as the lead. again, hops are noticable in the background. alcohol heat is present

M: sweet, full mouthfeel. carbonation seems approporiate.

D: aggressive with the sweet malts and alcohol. drinable, but only within reason.

Serving type: on-tap

01-30-2010 02:30:13 | More by ATGHomebrewer
Photo of Lunch


4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, MD (01/11/10). Served in a 12oz. snifter at a slighty colder than desired temperature, but allowed to warm just slightly.

A: Pours a slightly hazy dark copper with a reddish hue. Capped off with a 1.5 finger off-white head with nice retention and lacing.

S: Strong hop presence up from with nice citrus and piney tones. A strong sweet caramel malt helps to round out this American Barleywine with notes of toffee.

T: Intensely rich flavor with pine and citrus hops hitting the palate first and quickly engulfed in a caramel/toffee malt. This is a big, yet well-balanced beer. The hops add a bit of bitterness and some grassy qualities into the finish.

M: Full-bodied and oily with creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation.

D: Very well-balanced, but still extremely intense. The 10.2% abv. is hidden quite well, but it is still there.

Overall I have had this beer several times from the bottle and I must say that this on-tap version is the way to drink the beer. The mouthfeel is much thicker and creamy as well as a more abundant hop profile. Don't get me wrong, you can't go wrong either way, but on-tap has the edge. Another great beverage from Great Divide. Recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

01-12-2010 15:23:47 | More by Lunch
Photo of sneth019


4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sooo good
Smooth Yet Soo complex
one of best barley-wines Ive had
so drinkable not overpowering
has a hint of pine and a nutty aftertaste
Great Lacing, stays while you drink
Gives great warming feeling
Great off the tap

Bought a bomber to age after I had it on tap....
Highly recommend

Serving type: on-tap

01-07-2010 06:15:08 | More by sneth019
Photo of Shango42


4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving type-on tap poured into snifter.

A-Dark amber color with off white head. Good retention with some lacing.

S-Caramel sweet, floral hops, smells like a DIPA.

T-At the beginning this has a lot of qualities that remind me of a DIPA. Wonderfull sharp hops but good sweet caramel. The malt and the hops duke it out but in the end the hops wins. Nevertheless,this is a great balance. As I drink the beer it becomes more barleywine and less DIPA with great depth. Perhaps it started too cold. The alcohol creeps in at the end, but the semi-bitter hops still stays.

M-Thick, good body that brings out the malt. Alcohol is there but not overpowering.

D-One of the best and most drinkable barleywines I've had. So balanced. What a fantastic beer!

Serving type: on-tap

08-04-2009 01:34:57 | More by Shango42
Photo of chuckd123


4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed one of these on tap at the Dirty Truth tonight for the first time.

A- Color was a dark copper with a moderately thick head and lacing that lasts nicely.

S- You can almost taste the flavor when you take a whiff of the thing -- very fruity & citrusy.

T- Very nice blend of hops, malt and caramel flavor along with a mild alcohol sting. Very little bitterness, but at 10% abv, this is one to take your time with.

M- Mouthfeel was on the thick and creamy side, almost a brandy feel to it. One to sip and enjoy not pound like it's prom night.

D- Drinkability hampered only by it being a 10% brew. I wouldn't plan on more than 2 of these in a sitting, and plan on a good hour per.

If you like barleywines, this is definitely one to try. Great Divide continues to impress.

Serving type: on-tap

09-25-2008 03:20:52 | More by chuckd123
Photo of sml505


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep amber with a nice light brown orange head. Nice lacing.

S - Complex nose with pine hops, malt caramel and alcohol.

T - Starts with caramel sweetness. Hops and alcohol flavors grow. Piney bitter finish.

O/ M - Warm alcohol flavor that is nicely balanced with strong hops and malt. Medium to heavy mouthfeel. A great beer!

Serving type: on-tap

05-25-2008 02:55:56 | More by sml505
Photo of blakesell


4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Beer pours an amber red with a creamy head one quarter of a finger high (likely due to the pour of the inexperienced barmaiden). Lacing doesn't stick to the sides but there are decent legs dripping down the sides.

Smell- Sweet with light and Munich malts, hops are strong and powerful. It's really hard to get a nose on this one, probably due to the cold temperature the kegs are kept at. Amarillo and light malts dominate.

Taste- Smooth, very hoppy. Amarillo and Simcoe making up the bulk, malts provide a very balanced backbone. Alcohol is sticky but still smooth. Hops are rediculous and wonderfully balanced. This is easily a DIPA, but also doubles as an American Barleywine.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, smooth, warming, highly carbonated, not astringent and medium full bodied.

Drinkability- Excellently deceptive barleywine and an excellent example of the American style.

Serving type: on-tap

05-06-2008 17:42:23 | More by blakesell
Photo of BretSikkink


4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tan head bubbling out of the snifter, topping a brown brew leaning strongly towards red. Retention and lacing turn out to be awesome.

The nose is great; strong and powerful, nice and clean. The caramel sweetness ramps up strongly the usual fruitiness, while the hops lay down a pine smack. Complex and attractive.

More of the same in the mouthfeel and flavor. Just about as good as it gets in the American barleywine category. Big bitter hopping, distinct malt backbone. Immovable object is the malt, unstoppable force is the hops. Creamy enough, absolutely beautiful once it hits the room temperature, minimal bitterness on the finish despite the huge hopping.

Still outstanding, I was excited to find it on tap. Keep this one in your rotation if you're A. into Barleywines and B. in G.D.B.C.'s distribution area.

Serving type: on-tap

04-16-2008 01:26:38 | More by BretSikkink
Photo of jasonjlewis


3.65/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer has a full red appearance with good head and retention

The smell is of apple phenol with caramel malts and a slight banana phenol.

Taste is of thick caramel malts. Sweetness comes out up front with a nice hop bitterness to follow. A little too astringent and boozy

Mouthfeel is too astringent, but it clings fairly well.

This beer just needs to get rid of the astrigency. Once those get under control, this will be a great beer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-15-2007 03:10:02 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of RevDru

New Mexico

4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep golden amber with light carbonation and a thin head of foam.

S - Fruity and oaky. Fresh berries, cherries, and just a bit herbal.

T - Rich, with notes of licorice, oak, tobacco, and leather. Reminiscent of a good bourbon. Fruit notes are sweet, but light.

M - A bit thick, but very smooth and mildly creamy.

D - High ABV is definitely present, but not overpowering. This would be a great dessert beer.

Serving type: on-tap

03-21-2007 20:12:55 | More by RevDru
Photo of johnmichaelsen


3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2005 version of this beer at the Hard Liver Festival at Browers.

Considering that this beer supposedly had two years of aging under its belt, you'd never guess it. The color had not lightened at all, and the beer was still very fresh and hoppy (the hoppiest barleywine I tried at this festival). The beer was still quite sweet, but the hoppiness definitely kept if from getting too cloying or tiring to drink. Gorgeous lacing and great head retention, the beer only got better as it sat in the glass.

This was a very good beer that I think would only benefit from a few more years of aging. Hops need to become better integrated, but this is still a very good barleywine.

Third place finish I believe at the Hard Liver festival.

Serving type: on-tap

03-18-2007 19:20:08 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of joedon


4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a bad-ass beer and a big surprize to find in B-More.

My waitron at Ale Mary's mentioned a barley wine so I asked for one after my lunch. Old Ruffian is what she brought me. I've had the bottled version and the tap beer seems quite a bit smoother and more mellow.

Huge beer with lots of hop and malt aroma. Good balanced in the flavor. Not so much hoppiness as a Bigfoot, but still big. Quite sweet but not overpoweringly so. I would consider it closer to a big English barleywine but that is kind of a semantic debate.

Mouthfeel and drinkablity both good for such a big beer. One pint is about all I could handle after three previous beers.

Serving type: on-tap

11-05-2006 23:11:00 | More by joedon
Photo of draheim


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (bottled December 2011) into a tulip. Pours a murky amber w/ an eggshell head, sticky lacing.

Aroma is caramel malt, toffee, rum-soaked figs, nuts & raisins.

Taste follows nose. Rich buttery caramel malt, chewy dried fruit, brown sugar, toffee, warming alcohol. A floral, bitter hop bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel is sticky, chewy, full-bodied. Lingering finish.

Overall a nice American barleywine that has improved and mellowed with age. Rich, complex but not complicated; tasty.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2014 04:49:40 | More by draheim
Photo of craftbeersweden


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark, mahognyred, clear beer with a two finger high, beige, creamy, flyffy head.

Nose: Caramel malt, toffee, dried fruit, black pepper, red berries, vanilla and orange.

Taste: Orange peel, sweet caramel, herbs, dark fruit, apricot, syrup, raisin and hops.

Mouthfeel: Complex body with small but tingling carbonation and a great bitterness from all the hops. Long after you swallow the beer you feel the bitternes growing in your mouth. Really good!

10.2 % ABV that's well hidden in the bitterness and hoppy taste.
This is absolutely one of my favorite barely wine.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2014 21:46:01 | More by craftbeersweden
Photo of BlurryVisi0n

New York

4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Deep dark transparent amber with a brown tint to it. The off-white head that rose to maybe 1/4" at best settles nice and even after a sip....very good looking brew.

Smell: Honestly I have been going back and forth with this and it at the very least to me comes off bland. Could definitely be more potent, you smell the alcohol and like a wood note to it but drops before you place your glass down.

Taste: Complex, most barleywines in general dont have a such strong bitterness to it....this one is deep floral in taste but with wood undertones. Has almost a sweet feel to it, to the inexperienced might feel like a mellow DIPA. Malty as it gets, wow.

Mouth: Definitely feels medium to heavy with a gentle stickiness to it. It doesn't overwhelm you like some other brews to the point comes off easy and very well paired with food.

Overall: Great barleywine, I recently bought six bottles of one of my top three barlewyines and would have it tomorrow to compare. Drink up and enjoy, Salud!

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2014 02:08:48 | More by BlurryVisi0n
Photo of Sludgeman

District of Columbia

4.56/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 12-13-13. Poured into a chalice.

A beautiful looking beer with an intense and complex aroma. A fairly balanced barley wine even though the nose may make you believe otherwise. 4.5

A – Poured a reddish brown to garnet with a one-finger tan head, nice lacing, alcohol legs evident. 4.25

S – Big malty sweetness, toffee, spicy, alcohol but not solventy, licorice. 5

T – Dark fruit, some herbal hoppiness, malty mild sweetness. 4.5

MF – Medium-heavy body, semi-dry finish with some bitterness lasting on the palate. Some slickness from the alcohol. 4.25

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2014 04:09:21 | More by Sludgeman
Photo of ThisWangsChung


4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle into a pint glass. Bottled on Dec. 20, 2012.

A: Pours a murky copper color. The head is a one finger off-white shade featuring decent retention and a soft, creamy texture. Some nice lacing is left on the glass. The haziness isn't exactly appealing visually, but will likely translate into a surprisingly easy drinking barleywine.

S: Upon first whiff, I get a lot of bready, vaguely caramel-forward malts, which is supplanted by some aged leafy hops. Of course, the trick here is to let it warm up - that way, the subtle fruit esters (like cherries and apricots) will come out and add a welcome dimension to the beer. I'm also getting some notes of chocolate, brown sugar, and tobacco. The more I let this sit, the more interesting it becomes. In other words, just like how a barleywine should be.

T: A wave of bitterness opens things up, and is quite fleeting off the palate. I'm getting a lot of tobacco flavor from this beer, which quickly develops into chocolaty, fruity, and caramel-y notes. These flavors are more whispered than shouted It has a somewhat dry, mineral water finish. There are really light hints of alcohol, slowly coming out the more it warms up - again, adding to the experience rather than detracting. Every flavor here is integrated and balanced to near perfection; I'll take that over something mindlessly complicated any day.

M: While it's not exactly light, it's shockingly crisp and dry on the finish. A lot of that has to do with how vibrant the carbonation is. I can tell it's a big, strong beer, but there's absolutely nothing to suggest it's 10.2%. It's definitely more drinkable than your run-of-the-mill DIPA, yet every bit as rich and decadent as a barleywine should be.

O: Oh man. This is a killer barleywine. Not only is it luxurious and complex, it's surprisingly drinkable and not overly sweet (which is a problem, even in good barleywines). Actually, I overstated it's drinkability...if only because I want to savor every last drop of it.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2014 21:45:31 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of HattedClassic


4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer pours an off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves some very noticeable lacing. The beer itself is a clear ruby with hints of purple. The beer is very clear and see through. The beer has a strong notes of barley with lighter dark fruit notes that resemble raisin with a slight hint of alcohol. The beer taste is slightly different. The barley notes are weaker than the dark fruit notes. Also, the beer has a slight strawberry tartiness. The dark fruit notes are raisin with a bit of plum. The beer is heavy-bodied with a smooth feel and biting carbonation. Overall, a fantastic barleywine and worth drinking.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2014 03:53:07 | More by HattedClassic
Photo of cjgiant

District of Columbia

4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Found an odd-labeled bottle and looked it up, and apparently instead of being new, it's an old label. From my limited research the bottle is circa 2008 or so. I was going to try it anyhow, but became more intrigued by the age factor.

A: dark ruby and clear (as clear as a darker beer can be, I guess). Edge and lacing is decent, quite nice if it is aged as presumed
S: heavy on the dark fruit, raisin mainly, maybe some fig. Also grape notes as one might get from wine. Minor amount of alcohol noted
T: follows the nose pretty well, but adding in a hops dryness (it is listed at 85 IBU). There is also a woodiness present, even though it isn't touted as having to do with a barrel (aging). Stronger on the dark fruit, but not sweet at all. Taste also includes stronger hints of alcohol.
M: dry hops pervades the end, muting the dark fruit into a bourbon-like taste. Even though the carbonation was present in the head, it didn't make a presence in the feel

O: more hoppy and less sweet than I expected from a barley wine. The tastes did seem more mellow than I can imagine them being at one point (especially considering what I've seen from Great Divide). I'll have to have a newer batch to compare.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2014 22:52:52 | More by cjgiant
Photo of PeterParker

New Jersey

4.19/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, dark red with a formidable head. Tight bubbles with substantial lacing.

Woody, earthiness. A good amount of grapefruity hops accompany the malt. Actually smells like a cross between an IPA and a barleywine. Interesting.

Wow. Really surprising and nice. The bottle said it was a hoppy barleywine but I didn't believe it. But it's true. This is a first for me. Some malt is up front, still pretty woody, but not fruity as some other barleywines. Hops hit soon after, bitter grapefruit with other citrus notes. Very well balanced. Aftertaste is rich hops, like a fortified IPA. One of a kind in my eyes.

Lower carbonation and pretty smooth for the ABV.

Overall I really like this one. I didn't think hoppy barleywines existed until now. Definitely will seek this out for the future.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2014 03:33:05 | More by PeterParker
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,881 ratings.