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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

1,088 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: 1,088 | Ratings: 2,385
Photo of Derek
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruby brown, with plenty of head! Leaves a little lace.

S: Piney hops, caramel malts.

T: Piney hop flavour and bitterness is pleasant, and a little assertive, but it's not an assault on your taste buds like some of the hop bombs (Nothing like BigFoot or Old Crustacean, a nicer balance like Old Foghorn). Well rounded caramel malt flavour.

M: Not as heavy as one might expect. Nicely carbonated.

D: I think it's quite drinkable, and at this alcohol level, quite dangerous!

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Photo of cheers2beers
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a wiezen

Apearance: As I poured this brew lots of caramel looking cascadeing took place.The head is off-white and rocky with lots of staying power.Plenty of laceing to linger.The liquid is a deep burnt orange and hazelnut.

Aroma: The nose is piney,candied hops,and caramel. Minimal alcohol is present as this beast warms.

Taste: Huge burst of candied orange peel,caramel,brown sugar,pine needles,and a slight estery fruitiness. Like the nose, alcohol flavors bite my tongue and throat as the beer warms to room temperature.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy,silky and oily. Slighty tingley on the sides of my tongue ,probably due to the hops.

Drinkability: This brew is easily drinkable,but due to the high abv one bomber of this masterpiece makes this a non-session beer.But, I would for sure buy this again.One of my favorite barely wines.

Overall: Huge beer, huge aromas, huge flavors, huge mouthfeel,huge alcohol and a huge buzz!! Death by Barley Wine.YUUUUMMM!


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Photo of sacrelicio
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured cold into a classic pint glass. Pours like whole milk. Wow.

The color is pure caramel that allows ruby red orange when held up to the light. Wow.

After allowing it to warm up a bit, I take a long whiff. Intitial notes are of intense bitter, fruity and spicy hops. Earthy, malty undertones follow and meld with the hop edge perfectly.

Each sip is wildly complex, showcasing spicy, zingy fruity hops. Very bitter but still approachable. Vegetal notes like carrots, radishes and celery are also present midpalate. The finish is long and warming.

Mouthfeel is, like orbitalr0x noted, spot on. Full and creamy, almost like oil. Delicious.

Drinkability is fantastic, but only for a barleywine. A definate buttkicker.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.79/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle(room temp) a gorgeous ruby red-brown with a sizeable head that dissipated after about 10 minutes into a fine layer with lacing.

The smell that came from this brew is awesome! I note fruit, hops, and sweet caramel malt that has me spending more time with my nose in the glass than a person oughta shoulda. ;^)

And....the promise from the smell does NOT fail to tranfer itself to the taste in big bold fashion. The sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops just works so darn well together that I literally have to pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming. Then, add the fruity tones(hard to say which is dominant. Grapefruit, plum, other?) to the mix and here, imho, is a Barley Wine Style Ale that sets the standard by which all others should be judged. And I'm a BIG fan of SN Bigfoot

Btw, the +10% abv doesn't even come into play as far as the taste goes and that's *another* testament to how great this brew really is.

Life is good. :^)

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Photo of etaggie09
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance was much better this time around. Looked the same, but had a larger head with greater retention. Much better lacing too. Aroma was wonderful, as usual. This time I noticed apple and a bit of cranberry in addition to the tangerine and spice. The flavor, mouthfeel, and drinkability remain flawless. This is my favorite beer- period.

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Photo of deBeers
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fresh, complex, with a lovely off-white head. Strong hops and I'm picking up hints of caramel malts. Beautifully balanced and no doubt this would cellar a couple of years with grace.

To quote the bottle (I read it after the tasting)..."hefty hop-forward barleywine style ale...seemingly mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness. 85-90 IBU's.

Superb job! Seek this ale out and share it with your best friends...

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Photo of hero27
4.82/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber.

Possibly the best I've had in Great Divide's amazing bomber series.
90 IBUs..crazy, the bitterness seems much more subtle..the hops blend in so well with the massive malts that it tames the hop character down quite a bit. The enormity of this brew alone may be enough to intimidate even some BAs, but it's really one of the easiest drinking barleywines I've had. The flavors are full, rich, and complex without being overpowering. The piney & citrus hops are as present as ever, but they go in perfect harmony with the toffee & caramel malts.

Such a fantastic beer..and one of the best (if not THE best) barleywine I've had. Full bodied and very chewy mouthfeel..and still, the drinkability is insane....the bomber was gone before I knew it. If you're looking for the quintessential American Barleywine, look no further.

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Photo of budsboy
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown, cloudy, with a thick tan head. Some floaties bobbing around in there.

Cotton candy sweet aroma mixed with a big dose of hops and wiffs of alcohol, dark fruit.

Mellow at first with a burst of sugary fruit. Then a rush of hops that leaves the finish brutally bitter that lasts until morning. Alcohol is hidden and warming.

Full and silky in the mouth, little bit of oil left on the lips.

Big beer. Very big beer. Meant ot be sipped. This one will knock you into last week if you're not smart about it.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The Old Ruffian pours from the bottle a wickedly thick and syrupy dark reddish brown with a nice sticky khaki head that lingers on nicely. Aromas smack you in the face from the minute the brew is poured. Incredibly rich, big caramel malts hit upfront with mixed fruity notes all over with a touch of raisin. Resinous, piney, somewhat citric hops are in full force as well as puffs of alcohol. Simply a wonderful attack on the senses here and a good sign of things to come.

First sip brings starts with a massive thick caramel fruity maltiness that is fairly sweet. However...as the brew reaches the back of the tongue you're assaulted by a shockwave of piney, resinous hop bitterness that lingers on after each gulp. Raisins and dark fruits are well integrated as well as a faint bready flavor. This is definetly a hoppy barleywine but it remains quite nicely balanced throughout. A tasty treat.

Mouthfeel is freakin spot on. So full, big and creamy..it grabs on and does not let go...all the while being extremely drinkable at the same time. So tasty that it's hard for me to set my glass down. I wouldn't mind have another bomber on hand to cellar. A very nice barleywine that I wish I had access to locally, as I get the rest of the Great Divide line. Picked this up on a trip down to Kentucky.

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Photo of Viggo
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear ruby red, medium off white head forms, lacing is nice. Smell is caramel, chocolate, floral and pine hops, alcohol, and some citrus, the hops are spectacular. Taste is toffee/chocolate/coffee malts with super piney and floral hop destruction, some alcohol is present. Mouthfeel is pretty thick, low carbonation, very excellent barleywine. Thanks DrJay!

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a rusty amber into my designated barleywine chalice, a thick pillowy head of hopnose foam that slowly dies to a clingly, thick lace. I think I made up the word "hopnose." Aroma is extremely floral, dripping with oily green hops, peppermint and caramel. Yow. Alcohol mildly stings the nostrils.

Sticky, stickly sappy and sweet. Rich caramel maltiness underscores everything, as does a warming alcoholic bite. So pleasant. Cherry and sour apple flavors linger for a moment before the hops kick the imbiber square in the monacle. Finishes boozy and bitter, and the oily hop residue hangs on forever after each sip. Touches of carbonation throughout, the mild breakups of tingling yield a remarkably smooth bevvy. Yow again. A superb and superbly bitter (in a good, hops in your face!) kinda way. Hop-forward indeed. Thanks to BeerBeing for the hookup.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big ol' head for a barleywine. Impressive. Murky ambered ruby in color with one of the better laces i've seen, especially for style.

This beer is truly 'hop-forward' as the bottle proclaims with citrus (heavy on grapefruit and orange), cherries, grapes, and, oddly, catsup.

Taste is candy-sweet and politely smooth, with hop prickles here and there. Well balanced, and the sweet and bitter flavors complement each other so to make this extremely drinkable. Amazingly reminscent of Bigfoot.

I'd like to try this one super-duper fresh, as i'm not totally sure my bottle was just because of the subtlety and sheer drinkability of it. Valuewise, i'll have to stick with BF though, a barleywine I consider stronger in most every way.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.21/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A gorgeously intense brown/amber color with a tremendously dense tan head that lasts and lasts and lasts.

Smell: Very intense piney hops blended with burnt caramel and punctuated by a spicy alcohol aroma.

Taste: Starts with an explosion of hoppiness, followed by a quick burst of sickly sweetness. Much of the maltiness is lost when the dryness and bitterness takes over. The level of hops is what I have a problem with. It seems overhopped and overbitter for a potentially smooth brew that you could just soak in for a while.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, but a little too oily and syrupy for me.

Drinkability: Quite the Hop Monster, here, and one I lost the battle with. My senses are left singed. "Hop-forward" is an understatement. While others seem to really love this one, I'd prefer something a little more "malt-forward" without being so cloyingly sweet.

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Photo of orfeu
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a beautiful clear, crimson-ruby with a slight head that quickly diminishes to a collar. the nose is caramely malts with piney hops, toffee and chocolate dipped cherries, and a buzzing alcohol scent at the end. sweet malts introduce the taste but the rest is all about the bittering hops with a very slight mineral twinge at the finish. this beer is incredibly balanced. the mouthfeel is full and chewy. decent amount of sticky lacing, by the way. as far as drinkability goes, i think i'd go for bigfoot on a more regular basis, but this is definitely a masterful creation. would go perfectly with some sharp aged cheddar. wish i had some of that right now....

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A 22oz bottle of Barley Wine all to myself! Woo Hoo!!! It pours a hazy light orange color with a fourth inch of tan bubbles at first pour. The head manages to stick around for a while even though the beer is over 10%ABV. There is quite a bit of lacing left on the glass after drinking.

Aroma: Some citrusy hops noticeable at first pour. Some sweet and toasty malt are also detectable, but the hops rule the aroma while the beer is cold. Some spicy alcohol is noticeable as it warms a bit.

Taste: Assertive flavoring hops dominate the flavor at the onset of the profile. There are some plentiful malts in there also, but the hops pretty much dominate the flavor. While the malt is assertive, there is just enough reservation on the bittering hops to let the beer finish balanced. There is a bit of lingering bitterness from the hops, but the warmth and richness from the malt is a key player in the finish. There is a bit of a mineral taste to linger in the finish also.

Opinion: This is a great beer, and I really enjoy the reservation in the bittering hops. The beer is huge and flavorful, while having a very aggressive hop profile in the flavor. The finish is a bit closer to an English Barley Wine, but the flavor knocks it out of that style. The hops used are not my favorite, as there are some obvious high alpha American varieties used in here. This is still a very well crafted beer, and I imagine that it would benefit nicely from cellaring for a couple years.

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Photo of DrJay
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mostly clear, deep red/brown with a hint of orange highlights. Dense tan head with great lacing and retention. Malty aroma with intense hoppiness, some pine, orange citrus, and faint alcohol. Piney hop bitterness is way out front, but is balanced well by caramel and toffee. Juicy orange kicks in midway, and it ends with nuts and warm alcohol. The finish is dry and bitter with a caramel/orange combination. Moderately low carbonation, perfect in conjunction with the creamy texture. Overall it's a bit dry, but balanced well with malty sweetness. This is an awesome barleywine, highly recommended.

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

from the bottle. poured a deep copper with a bid tan head. aroma hops fruity, caramel, malts, alcohol, caramel. flavor malts, caramel, alcohol, fruits, citrus, grapefruit, pine, and hops. I am really getting into barley wines like the fullness of the mouthfeel and the higher than normal alcohol. this was a good beer

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Photo of klewis
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a mahoghany with a rapidly rising head (watch out!) with huge bubbles (still nice and thick though).

S: Aromas of cotton candy, lots of sweet malt, vanilla, and lots of other stuff that I can't even begin to describe. Slight alcoholic smell. Very complex, very good.

T: Hidden from me in the smell, the hops character comes to life here. Lots of hops presence from the minute it hit my lips to well after I swallowed, but not overpowering. Some sweetness to the taste too, but I can't quite figure out what it tastes like. It would be nice if the alcohol was better hidden, but for the style, its alcoholic character is appropriate.

M: This one poured with lots of bubbly fanfare, but it is not overcarbonated as expected. Very thick, heavy, and chewy.

D: Very heavy, potnet, and delicious. I wouldn't even think about drinking this beer everyday, but I'll definitely reach for this again when I'm up for a challenge or need to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment.

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Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Its a barley wine and its an IPA and its rounded off and balanced. The aroma is grapefruit from C hops. Its a nice drink, I have had worse barleywines, gives a pineapple, some sugary sweetness not cloying. Must put a bottle down for a couple of years. Big, big white head, lace.
Same rating 1.5 years later with good lace, malting, and fuller mouthfeel.
4.5 years later had a three-year aged and good orange taste.

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Photo of lou91
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No Vintage. A great looking beer poured into a tulip glass. Dark brown/amber color with a big rich head. It also smelled great with hops and malt balanced in a big way. This tastes like a vintage Bigfoot BW – Rich and maple syrup sweet with hints of caramel apples. Long dry-hopped bitterness leaves you wanting more. This is an excellent example of a balanced BW – easy to drink despite the overdone sweetness.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Well done once again brewers at Great Divide. A wonderful charismatic Barley Wine. Deep red in color, hazy un-filtration. Lacing literally reminds me of galaxy of stars from the lip of the glass all the way through. I rarely give "5"s, but this one earns it in the appearance category. Beer is absolutely loaded with hops. Says 85-90 on the IBU scale, they should put a 1 in front of those numbers. Also blast you with a bouquet of citrus fruits- orange, berries, and cherries.

Simply put an amazing beer. Loaded with alcohol, easy to put down. Get it!

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Photo of Bierman9
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old Ruff is an enticingly deep-chestnut hued bier, with touches of garnet as well. It's a clear bier, with extremely fine carbonation heading topside, though it is few and far between. The head which tops things off starts at about 1/4" after a hard pour, then fades to a thin, covering layer of tan, creamy, compact little bubbles. Lacing is exquisite, too, as the pattern left in the glass is A-1! Aroma is easily evident, with malty notes oozing out of the goblet and into the surrounding atmosphere. Also has strong indicators of a large hop presence. Body is well above medium, and it is an exceedingly smooth, velvet-like bier. Nothing rough in this Ruff.

Caramel and toffee aspects are first evident in the heavy load of malt which hits the palate. Sweetness glides across the tongue and down the hatch. But the malt is matched in its strength by all those IBUs. Citrussy notes coat the mouth, and hide in all the nooks and crannies, allowing Ruffians hop-liciousness to linger long and hard. And this is a 10.20% abv bier? Where's it hiding? I don't feel it, and that could get scary! This is a wonderful offering from Great Divide!!


overall: 4.6
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 5 | drinkability: 5


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Photo of Boto
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber: This one pours a cloudy brown color, with a fairly good amount of an almost tan head. The aroma is quite nice. A fairly potent wiff of caramel malts, with maybe a hint of pineapple, along with some other mixed fruits. You taste some sweetness, but it is up against some strong hops here. Caramel malts with hints of fruits, spiciness, and a somewhat thicker, silky mouthfeel. This would probably age very well, but it is quite good now!

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Photo of Oxymoron
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The more I try Great Divide beers, the more I am impressed. Old Ruffian pours a darker amber color with definite red hues. The beer is mostly murky and has a great head retention that remains throughout. Decent lacing but becomes nonexistent over time.

The smell is rich in sweet malt. A prolific aroma with great hints of plums and raisins. For the malt a stronger caramel hint comes to mind, but other tones are present as well. Such as butterscotch and dry cherry flavor.

The taste is warm. A sweet and very complex malt is noticeable. With strong tastes of brown sugar and molasses. The malt does really well backing up the hop aroma behind it. The hops are not overpowering and I am impressed on how well the compliment each other.

The mouthfeel is one of the drawbacks on this beer. I feel that the stronger phenols make it a "hot" beer taste. Understandably on its high ABV, but I would like this to be a little bit smoother. Although I bet if I were to age this a year or two, it would be outstanding

Overall a great barelywine. A little hot in the taste but a beer I would like to get more of.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a perfect looking Barley wine. A cloudy brown/maroon color with an extraordinary head; about 1 inch thick and stays for years it seems, leaving lacing all the way down the glass until the last sip. I can barely see through the glass.

Very fruity aroma. Raisins and pineapples with molasses and figs. Strong hop up front as well. A heavy yeast smell is also present. Terrific bouquet of fruits. Sweet and syrupy smell. Very complex.

There are a lot of hops in here but I absolutely love every last ounce of hops added to this baby. The hops dont overpower the wonderful fruity smell. The hops and malt are in perfect unison. The alcohol is present at first and warms as it goes down. Not too overpowering and quite good alcohol flavor. Molasses and brown sugar with caramel are the flavors up front. Citrus fruits, predominately grapefruit and a sweet syrupy flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth and damn near perfect. Plenty of malt in the backbone that makes this a smooth drinker.

My favorite barleywine I have access to. A great winter warmer beer that would be terrific on a cold rainy day. Hell, I could drink this any day of the year.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,088 ratings.