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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

2,173 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,173
Reviews: 1,067
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 237
Gots: 334 | FT: 19
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:
Beer added by: gbontrag on 11-28-2004

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,173 | Reviews: 1,067
Photo of womencantsail
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

Photo of largadeer
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Muddy, murky amber in color. The head on this brew is outstanding; it lasted for the entire hour that I sipped on the glass.

Smell: A huge blast of caramel followed by a bit of dried apricot and the faintest hint of alcohol. Citrus is present at first, but disappears as the beer warms.

Taste & mouthfeel: Sweet and rich; caramel sweetness is balanced by earthy, bitter hops. Thick and oily on the tongue. A bit of heat appears in the middle, but it's quickly replaced by a sharp resiny bitterness. This is an nicely balanced barleywine - the sugary sweetness never becomes cloying, and the presence of alcohol never overwhelms the more subtle flavors.

Photo of oberon
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.21/5  rDev -23.8%
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.

Photo of biboergosum
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle, late December 2012 production date, and another of this brewery's foil-ensconced offerings, one which I have had many opportunities in the past to purchase, but never at the beginning of a stateside trip, so, here we finally are, on a company venture to Denver.

This beer pours a hazy, dark bronzed amber hue, with a whole handful of puffy, rather bubbly off-white head, which leaves a decent array of cob-webbed lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of semi-sweet caramel and toffee malts, black raisins, thin, astringent black cherries, a bit of hollow licorice, leafy, weedy hops, and more than a hint or two of warming, slightly metallic alcohol. The taste is heady caramel malt, but not so much as to not acknowledge the musty, dank basement character therein, pungently restrained drupe and mixed berry fruit, middling anise notes, equally blended citrus, leafy, and earthy hops, and a hard to ignore edgy booziness.

The bubbles are generally well sublimated, the body a more than sturdy medium-heavy weight, mostly smooth, and even a tad creamy, with a certain boozy uplift. It finishes rather off-dry, the bready, biscuity caramel malt still loud and very proud, as are the now piney, citrusy hop esters, all in deference to the rising, plundering heat of a bursting at the seams ABV.

A pretty heady and uncompromising instance of the style, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose. Big caramel variances, bludgeoned hops up the yin-yang, and boozy orchard fruit notes to match. Good stuff, overall, I cannot deny, as all that sturm und drang seems to wash out well enough, in a self-flagellating sense of the term.

Photo of zeff80
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a copper/burgandy color with a pillowy, tan/caramel, one-finger head. Left a thick heavy lace.

S - It smelled of hops, fruit and malt.

T - It tasted of nut and caramel and some subtle hops. The malt flavor is understated and there is an oat-like flavor. Also, the alcohol presence is there.

M - It was warm and bready. A heavy-bodied beer.

D - Good flavor but possibly too heavy and too much alcohol taste.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Let the Hallowe'en mini-tasting begin! This offering pours a seemingly cloudy amber-brown topped by a finger of light tan froth. The nose comprises biscuits, orange peel, rye bread, milk chocolate, toffee, and a light bunch o' flowers. The taste pummels the tongue with a strong citrus-hop-based bitterness, with leather, figs, rubber, light cocoa, tobacco, spinach stems, and a vodka-like character all aiding and abetting in this assault. It's all a bit much, frankly. The body is pretty hefty, with a light carbonation and a fairly chewy feel. Overall, this is a beast that must be sipped carefully, lest the fury truly be unleashed. Again, I feel everything is a bit overdone, making the experience a bit less than really enjoyable.

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +1%

Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Two fingers of toffee brown head on a clear, reddish brown body. Good retention and lace.

S - Peppery, citrus hops with significant malt in the background. Notes of caramel, brown sugar, tobacco, and black pepper.

T - Thick, sugary malt with lots of spicy hop flavor up front. Bitterness peaks in the middle with emerging pine flavors. The pine lingers in the finish and becomes more resinous as the hop flavors combine with caramel and molasses malt character to create notes of tobacco and roasted red peppers.

M - Thick, chewy body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat sweet finish.

D - A thick, heavy, complex barleywine. The flavors come together to create a beer fits the style profile perfectly. The hops work very well with the malt and create a lot of complexity in the finish.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright coppery red color with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, floral hops, brown sugar, citrus and other fruits, plus a whiff of alcohol.

T: The taste is starts with a strong burst of hops bitterness despite this bottle having around two years on it. There's a hearty malt character that follows along with sweet flavors of caramel, fruit and brown sugar. There's little bit of an alcohol sting but that is expected from a barleywine and any beer with a 10.20% ABV. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, excellent representation of style, this is a very good stronger beer that worth either sipping on for a while or trying to pound down for as long as you can handle it.

Photo of mendvicdog
4.25/5  rDev +1%

Photo of Jason
4.49/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz brown bomber with no freshness date, blurb about the beer on the label.

A- Sea foam lace sticks to the glass well, good head retention as well. Completely hazed reddish amber color.

S- Portuguese sweet bread, caramel and a rough citric and herbal hop in the back.

T&M- Big lush mouth feel with a long drawn-out smoothness. Juicy palate of malt and hops. Suggestions of caramel drizzled shortbread and toasted whole wheat potato bread from the malt. Fruity middle with a one two punch of hop bitterness and hop flavor which are very expressive yet not overwhelming. The bitterness comes at the same time the warming alcohol leaves a numbing sting on the tongue. Finishes with a sweet maltiness and a long lingering hop character.

D- Wow! Perhaps one of the most balanced American Barley Wines I have ever had ... very easy to sip and the taste buds do not get bored of this one.

Photo of Kegatron
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Bottling date of 12/29/10 on the label. I got into this one in early March, so I was psyched to be able to get into a fairly fresh bottle of this.

Pours a beautiful looking crystal clear deep ruby, topped with 2 tight fingers of smooth off-white head. This retains with a near 1/2 finger of rich foam that throws a big frothy cascade of thick sticky lacing up on the sides of the glass. Those fresh American hops just seem to blow up in the nose, with peppery floral notes, pine, and herbal accents all being fairly strong here. Ripe tropical fruits spread out across the back, mingling with the bread and caramel of the malts to give this a deep juicy tang in the back of the nose.

The hops are equally aggressive in the taste, with a sharp bite of resinous pine and an intense deep spiciness. Those juicy citric notes really add some fruity sweetness to this as well. I'm pleased to find that the malt backbone is more than up to the taste as well, with a thick balancing backing of roasted graininess and sticky caramel sweetness. The hops remind me of who's in charge though, finishing this herbal and very spicy, while remnants of that fruity and maltt mixture coasting the mouth with a sticky tang. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a big hefty creaminess that intertwines with a much sharper carbonation up front. A deep oily slickness from the hops also adds a certain amount of slickness to the body and keeps all of those big flavors moving. The alcohol presence here is hefty and a does get a touch sharp towards the end of the each swallow but this remains nicely drinkable for the most part.
Very warming overall.

This seems to have gained a reputation as the benchmark for nationally available American Barleywines over the last several years and there's really no question why. The fresh hops here were just explosive yet this still remained balanced and drinkable for such a big beer. I definitely sensed a little more complexity to the malts and I'm interested in checking this out in a few years from now when those hops subside and some new flavors emerge. This was some great stuff and a go-to in the style for me.

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

First off, this one pours beautifully I think. A robust and slightly cloudy red with a strong hint of brown. Two finger head. Smell is powerfully sweet. My first taste was so thick with alcohol that I thought I was heading for a major disappointment. But after that initial draw, the alcohol seemed less in your face...err...mouth, though it was still strong through the remainder.

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jlindros
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had as part of the Central New England BA Meetup #2.

A: Light creamy white head fades as a slower but not too slow rate, over a hazy brownish kinda purple colored muddy looking liquid.

N: Sweet creamy malts hits quite a bit, very malty. Some hops and spicy hop characteristics. With that comes some brown sugar and molasses, and overall sweetness. A nice hop presence blended pretty well with a sweet malty tone.

T: Some sweet malts hit first, lots of chewy thick malts that is. Then comes some bitterness, with spicy hops and some chewy hop tastes. More chewy malts come in layers and add a touch of boozy taste. Some fruity flavors, dried figs, dates, raisins, and all dark dried fruits really. A slight creamy malt flavor. We compared it to an older one (no dates or vintages printed) but by the time it was purchased and look and taste if it we could tell it was older. The older one seemed to dull quite a bit on all accounts, and just meld to a consistent muddy sweet malty beverage.

M: Semi thick with decent carbonation.

F: Lingering bitterness which is pretty nice, and adds a slightly spicy hoppy bitter hop flavor. Some sweetness but still dries well, a strange description I know but its hard to really get the taste right. The maltiness lingers a bit with some added molasses flavor and dried fruits lingering. The bitterness comes through nicely at this point too. The booze doesn't seem @ 10%, but definitely seems more than 8% so hidden but not completely.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.87/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance looks deep cloudy amber maroon murkiness cream colored thick head leaves ample evenly dispersed lacing. Aroma is full of overly ripened deep fruit tones hardcore layers of pince scented hop overtones tart citrus notes as well complex aromatics with a hint of vanilla and slightly burnt caramelized residual sugars. Taste comes on at first a dark hop syrup pine cone and citrus hop mix big malt backbone carrying malty caramel tones withy a touch of vanilla and oakiness even though I know this wasn't aged in a barrel I'm still picking up some of those characteristics along with the classic over ripened vinous alcohol bursts. Mouthfeel is very thick full bodied b-wine carbonation is ample has trouble flowing through the big body of this brew sticky oily resinous layers. Drinkability is still easy to enjoy despite the massiveness and complexities this ale has to offer enjoy with friends damn good.

Photo of Slatetank
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured 3/4 of this bomber for myelf in two separate doses into my Samuel Smith half pint. octopus87 tasted the rest.

A - A deep copper w/ a dark amber hue at the base of the glass. The cap is smooth and is a shade of khaki. There are rocky crags in the head from a slightly more than easy pour ino the center of the glass. The bead is very fine and even as hazed as it is the carbonation is still visible rising to the head.

S - Sweet and malty scents w/ fruit soaked in brandy as the esters are strong, but smooth. The depth of pine aromas is vivid and like pinesap mixed w/ sweet grapefruit. The aroma is bountiful
w/hops and malt that carries a heavenly brown sugar and citrus aroma with each inhalation

M - A kaleidescope is presented as if my tongue had eyes. First toasted grain, then alcohol following with intense citrus and spice hop textures and woody dry notes w/ a perfrct level of carbonation to enhance the maltiness while the bitterness is blanced w/ an alcoholic heat that lingers

T - An amalgamation of hop citrus and dark fruit w/ woody resinous flavors and subtle sugary malt w/ hints of berry and a mellow burn of alcohol as a sidecar to the fresh green pine hop taste. The resinous and grapefruity bitter flavors have the cushion of big sturdy caramel, pale and sweet crystal malts w/ the alcohol letting you know it deserves the name 'Ruffian' and it finishes as fiery and vibrant as it starts. The flavor is as balanced as a 10.2% Barleywine from west of the Mississippi can be.

D - An example of how to brew an American Barleywine-and how to make a drinkable American Barleywine in the sense that it is a big boozy barleywine, but doesn't lack for the fresh hops and the malt is substantial enough to keeep the pace. This Barleywine doesn't come across as an alcohol bomb or have overly sweet residual malt flavors either-it finishes with the hops resonating as the style should.

Photo of russpowell
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours dark caramel with a huge 2" plus tan frothy head. Crazy lacing & head retnetion

Smell; Sweet malt, piney hops, alcohol & fruticake

Taste: Huge fruitty malts, piney hops & oaky wooden taste. dryness and alcohol on the finish

MF Chewy & well balanced. More like a port or maderia (sp)

Not too too drinkable, this is just too much!

If you want big beer, can't beat this. Great when you are ready to take a snooze or get a straight jacket on...yummy

Photo of MarkyMOD
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of DrunkinYogi
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours out a deep crimson, though clear, coloration, and has an enormous head, huge, cocoa-colored, long-standing, lovely...and, would you believe, the bottleneck bubbled over, with bubbles after the pour! Tres amusant! Leaves considerable, and attractive, lacing, as it diminishes, as well...very much appreciated!
Aroma: huge, rich, full of flavor, a jar full of toffee with butterscotch dipped in for fun, with chocolate cherries on the side, and a snit of brandy waiting in the rafters...
Taste: big, bad, and booze-tastic! Huge, rich, and full, utterly dripping in dark fruits, caramel, toffee, and so much character that pretenders tremble in it's wake ...seriously, this is a true contender amongst the ranks of fine American barleywines...not too huge in Abv, an overwhelming fruity/hoppy characteristic. Damnably tasty...I must take another sip...dastardly delicious...yet nearly thick with flavor, ...yum, the intensity of flavor does not detract from the overall deliciousness...big, rich, and mighty...a damned good barleywine!
I've got to stick some away for a rainy day, that's for sure!

Photo of drabmuh
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great minds drink alike.

Poured from a bottle dated Dec. 4, 2009, into a Stone Arrogant Bastard glass. Beer is brownish and hazy, forms a yellowish / brown head of small to medium bubbles. Head has some staying power but not really. Ends up broken and diffuse but leaves lacing on the glass.

The aroma is less than I expected but its fine. Caramel, a hint of hops, lots of malt.

Beer is well balanced. I can't drink a beer like this very quickly though. Full bodied, almost like I'm chewing it, a nice strong bitterness and a lot of malt character in the front. Caramel and a nice sweetness up front. Slightly bready overall great. I enjoyed it a lot.

Photo of mdfb79
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 11/28/10 notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter, bottled on date is 12/02/09.

a - Pours a murky reddish mahogany color with two inches of light tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, dark fruit, sweet fruty malts, toffee, and hints of pine hops.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, caramel malts, dark fruit, toffee malts, and a little bit of alcohol.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation, very smooth and easy going down.

d - A great barleywine. Lots of great caramel malts and dark fruits in the smell and taste and a nice feel for over 10% ABV. Would love to have again.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,173 ratings.