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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

2,033 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,033
Reviews: 1,040
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 215
Gots: 296 | 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:  Usefulness | Recent | 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: 2,033 | Reviews: 1,040 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Sammy, Oct 27, 2005
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -5.2%

t0rin0, Oct 08, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/8/10.

Pours a slightly hazy honey-brown with a 2 inch foamy bone color head that settles to an island of foam. Random thick clumps of lace stick to the sides of the glass on the drink down. Smell is of sweet malt, brown sugar, caramel, and some citrus zest and pine hops. Alcohol aromas come out as the beer warms. Taste is of sweet malt, slight brown sugar, and some zesty herbal and pine hop flavors. A slightly assertive hop bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine that has some strong hop aromas and flavors even after being bottled almost a year ago.

UCLABrewN84, Oct 04, 2011
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -5.2%

djrn2, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -5.2%

zestar, May 31, 2014
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -5.2%

spycow, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a tawny, rustic mahogany with a creamy off-white head.

S: Lots of alcohol heat followed up by sweet malts, caramel, some hops, and some more alcohol.

T: Again, lots of alcohol atop some sweet malt and same fading--though still present--hops. Some woodiness creeps in as well.

M: Fairly thick without too much carbonation and a whole lot of alcohol kick.

D: Not too drinkable given the high octane character of the beer. Maybe if I'd waited a little bit longer the alcohol would have mellowed out, or had it a bit earlier and allowed the hops to mask some of the alcohol.

Thorpe429, Sep 27, 2009
Photo of nmann08
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

nmann08, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very hazy amber brown in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high beige head that gradually died down but never completely faded away.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of caramel malts in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of malty sweetness and caramel but this is well balanced by a light to moderate amount of bitterness from the hops, which help to prevent the malts from becoming sticky or having cloying sweetness. There are also some notes of pine resin, oak and vanilla flavors (only some faint hints of alcohol are noticeable).
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is some warming from the alcohol.
O: This barleywine is quite easy to drink considering its strength because any traces of alcohol are well hidden from the taste. It is also very well balanced between the malts and hops.

metter98, Dec 04, 2012
Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Texasfan549, Feb 13, 2012
Photo of brentk56
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Beautiful specimen - pours a cloudy amber color with a robust head that persists exceptionally well and leaves sheets of lace as if it were a stout on nitro

Smell: Sweet caramel and golden delicious apples; could a toffee apple smell any better?

Taste: Starts with a sweet caramel flavor that tastes more and more like a toffee apple just before the hops arrive at mid-palate; after the swallow, a blast of piney bitterness balances out the sweetness that lingers on the tip of the tongue; grainy tobacco aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, almost syrupy, with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Among the very best examples of the American Barleywine style

brentk56, Jan 20, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.9/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Warmly glowing tawny with an infusion of candied cherry. I don't know if I've ever seen a larger or more spectacular looking head on a barleywine. The color is equal parts pastel orange and golden beige, a beautiful complement to the beer on which it sits. I love its rich, thick, marshmallow-like creaminess and the fact that it leaves more lace than any beer with an ABV higher than 10% has a right to.

Old Ruffian's nose defines the American barleywine style for me. It's so hugely powerful that one doesn't need to get within a foot of the glass to appreciate its wonderousness. Even a passing sniff causes melted caramel, candied citrus fruit and pine sap to enter the nose and impact the brain's olfactory center with megaton force. I'm not kidding, I haven't smelled a more explosively aromatic beer in a long, long time.

I wondered if this Great Divide offering could possibly live up to the Top 100 Beers hype. One glorious mouthful is all it took to tell me that Old Ruffian is the single best version of the style that has ever crossed my lips. Like the nose, this is exactly what I expect when I pop the cap on an American barleywine... and what I've almost never gotten. Make that never gotten. Until now.

It's tempting to think that any old brewer could recreate the magic that's in every drop of this magical elixir simply by dumping massive quantities of caramel malt and American hops into the kettle. Obviously that isn't true because only the brewers at Great Divide have managed to do it this well. My hat is off to them, as much for this beer as for the rest of the big beer they grace us with.

The caramel malt backbone is huger than huge and is easily the equal of the roasted malt backbones on the biggest Russian Imperial Stouts. Torrents of sticky, melted caramel flow across my tongue with each upending of the glass. If you have a beer sweet tooth (it's okay to admit it), then Old Ruffian will do you right. There's something else present, though, that keeps the sweetness at bay and keeps it from gumming up the works. And that is...

... a barrage of citric hoppiness that is greater than anything I've tasted in a beer of this style, no matter the age. My best guess is that this bomber is at least a year old. When fresh it must have been a masochist's delight, but then most hopheads have something of a masochistic streak anyway. Massively bitter hops of the candied grapefruit, orange and pineapple variety sink in and never really fade after the swallow. Maybe a little, but then it's time for another mouthful.

The glass couldn't possibly be more covered with lace than it is at present. I have no choice but to bump the appearance score a half point. While alcohol is clearly noted, there's so much maltiness and so much hoppiness running interference that I don't mind a bit. In fact, it gives the beer a certain raw power that further adds to its appeal. You want 'over the top', you've got it.

I can't begin to adequately describe the luxuriousness of the mouthfeel. Partly because I've run out of synonyms for f***ing amazing and partly because the ABV has begun to blanket my brain with a fantastic fog that is making the imaginative use of adjectives increasingly difficult. Simply put, it's hard for me to conceive of a more full, more velvety smooth, more heavily silky mouthfeel than the one that has been provided.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine is the American barleywine of my dreams. It does everything I want a beer of this style to do and then some. Every other brewer in America had better stay up nights if they hope to match the brilliance of Great Divide when it comes to this particular offering. This is the new gold standard as far as I'm concerned and is one of the best beers ever created.

BuckeyeNation, Jan 31, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A treat for all of the senses. Great Divide does it again. Aromas of molassas and hops jump out of the bottle even before the pour. The beer boldly plops into the glass with a dark ruby glow and a tan-yellow head that rises through the durration of the glass. Continues to release aromas of ripe and dehydrated dark fruits with cherries, plumbs, dates, figs... and big-time hop balance. Tastes very sweet and bold with the same fruits as in aroma. Throw in brown sugar, liqorice, raisons, U.S. hops for ultimate hop spiciness, boquet, and flavor. Hops rise up to keep the malts from becoming cloying or undrinkable. Alcohol flavors and feel comes on imediately and never dies, but never becomes too hot or too fusal. No flaws in this beer; if there were, they would become lost in the abundance of flavor. Finishes sweet, yeasty, and alcoholic. Though it's easy to be put in the top 100, it's similar to many other great big beers.

BEERchitect, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

kjkinsey, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Daalamar: Poured a burgundy color ale with a small off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma of sweet caramel malt with some noticeable bitter hops. Taste is a well enough balanced mix between sweet caramel malt and bitter hops. Body is above average but could have been more full and alcohol was well hidden which is great. Overall, this was quite enjoyable and would love to have more in order to aged some of it.

Phyl21ca, Aug 15, 2006
Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -5.2%

GRG1313, Feb 09, 2013
Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, hazy brownish, copper with a huge creamy head that just stayed and stayed and stayed. Smell was incredibly hopped and fruity. Overwhelming citrus all over, wonderful on the nose. Taste is wooo, strong, this one grabs you. Incredible bitterness, and the alcohol will warm you on the way down. Very dry finish. Did I mention hops?!?! Wow, a great sipping beer(power to you if you can do anything else) Perfect for a cold winter night, this was a treat I will be sure to return too.

mikesgroove, Nov 23, 2006
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%

ygtbsm94, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -5.2%

jaydoc, Oct 26, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jeff for this vintage bottle (2008 or 2009, can't remember).

A: The beer pours a very hazy amber color with about a finger's worth of off-white/khaki colored head.

S: Quite heavy on the caramel, as you might anticipate, with a surprisingly strong citrus aroma. I get a lot of oranges out of the beer along with some brown sugar, toffee, and molasses. A decent amount of bread, and no real booze to speak of.

T: Really sweet and pleasant overall. Toffee, caramel, and brown sugar provide a really nice sweetness. Some candied orange peel flavor adds a bit of citrus and bitterness. A touch of bread on the back end and a little bit of bitterness lingers on the finish.

M: The body is medium to full with a low-medium level of carbonation.

D: Damn, that was good. I'm glad I can now go down to any decent beer store and buy this.

womencantsail, Feb 04, 2011
Photo of kylehay2004
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Single finger head with some lacing on a clear amber and crimson n body. Strong malty aroma with fruity notes. Flavor has a strong cinnonmon note up front, also is spicey malty flavor. Too boozy for my taste though. Pine hops seep through too. Medium body and moderate carbonation. A lIttle too boozy for my taste but otherwise a good member of the genre.

kylehay2004, Jan 19, 2012
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.18/5  rDev -24.6%
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.

ChainGangGuy, Nov 04, 2005
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of oberon
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first carack at this bad boy its nice to see it here in Greensboro,pours a deep amber with a creamy like head that leaves a nice amount of lace behind as it slowly settles.Big fruit in the aroma upfront along with some raisin and caramel very vibrant in color and aroma it really jumps out at ya.Like the aroma the flavors of this are very fruity up front very ripe peaches and brown suger,there is a real hop presence even more as it warms in the finish keeping it balanced.Wow this is a dangerous brew intense and flavorful this is one I'll be grabbing alot of now that its local.

oberon, Sep 23, 2005
Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

JAHMUR, Nov 20, 2011
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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,033 ratings.