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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

2,015 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,015
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 211
Gots: 291 | FT: 14
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
Ratings: 2,015 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a dense, three finger thick, tightly beaded amber-tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear deep reddish amber color (it is dark enough that you have to hold it up to the light to see through it), that viscously slows an ample carbonation that rises up slowly up fron the bottom. The aroma is sweet, almost sticky with a solid mix between malt and hops. Most of the aromatic notes are that of malt, expecially of the caramel variety: I get rich notes of toffee, caramel, hints of rich fruit like cherry, raisins and prunes. There is also a fair amount hop character, it is definitely in the background, but I get some lightly astringent herbal note as well as some citrus aromatics. The aroma is quite rich and satisfying, definitely appropriate for a cold evenings sampling.

The beer is quite thick and viscous with a creamy start to this beer. It then morphs to a sweet crystal malt driven beer that finishes with a strong, astringent, grippingly bitter finish. This beer is definitely a sipper, it is so thick and rich that you need to savor each sip. The astringent finish seems to also be derived from a hint of dark malt character that manifests itself as a bit of roast coffee. Other than the ample bitterness there seems to be a ton of flavor hops in this beer as well, it is just that the ample, thick, sweet malt character seems to drown out most of the hop character. The hop flavors that are in here remind me most of pine, but there are some herbal notes and some menthol like character here as well.

I don't know how I am going to finish a 22oz bottle of this, very slowly I guesss. It is just so rich and thick, but it is still enjoyable.

Gueuzedude, Jan 26, 2006
Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -5.2%

XmnwildX12, Dec 05, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a snifter at Great Divide's tap room in high altitude Denver, Colorado. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a two finger head of good cream, fair thickness, and decent retention. Colour is a dark nontransparent ruby.

Sm: Toasted malts, caramel, pleasant cream, and light cherry fruit ester hops. A mild strength aroma.

T: Toasted caramelized malt comprises the backbone, with cream on the open and climax, alcohol (especially in the third act), and hints of cherry esters. Well balanced, with the alcohol generating a pleasant welcome warmth. Nicely built, with due complexity. Quite lovely all around, with depth and unobtrusive hops.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A bit too thick. Pleasant cream. Suits the flavours well.

Dr: Quite drinkable for the ABV, which is hidden well considering how high it is. I'd have this beer again. A nice barleywine from Great Divide.

This would likely age well. I'd like to try it with a few years on it out of a bottle.

kojevergas, Jan 06, 2012
Photo of Halcyondays
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, bought at the Lone Hill Liquors, in Glendora, CA, poured into a Duvel tulip,

A: Pours a dark brown, quite clear when held up to the light, with a thick, 2-finger, white-tan head, which leaves great rings on concentric lacing, as the barleywine is drunk.

S: Smells of heavy malt, molasses and dark fruits, like figs and prunes.

T: The malt hits heavy at first, followed by some mellow, smooth alcohol notes that are not overdone, the hops are there, they are quite bitter and piney, but they are understated, even at 90 IBus, they work to perfectly balance the malt, probably the most balanced American barleywine that I have ever had.

M: Smooth, very smooth, mildly solventy, quite resiny, piney and chewy from the hops. It is also thick and full-bodied, as expected from a barleywine.

D: A great barleywine, drinkable even in the heart of summer, well balanced and smooth.

Halcyondays, Aug 21, 2007
Photo of GClarkage
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mid September 2005. Received via trade with Lostbearbrew.

Presentation- 22oz bomber with no visibile dating. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Murky Chestnut color. 3/4 inch head. Almost milkshake like in head appearance. Decent lacing.

Smell- Sweeter caramel scents. Hints of butterscotch and powdered sugar..

Taste- Not as in your face as Old Gaurdian. The hops are definitely present though. Nice sweet thickness too it. Plenty of dark fruits to go around. Mostly raisins and maybe some dates. Huge caramel background as well as some alcohol soaked cherry flavor. Brown sugar comes through as well.

Mouthfeel- Warming, a bit sryupy and super smooth. Very low carbonation. Thick as viscous.

Drinkability- One of the better BW's I have had. Not my favorite, but one I would have down the line again for sure. Good after dinner warmer.

GClarkage, Oct 01, 2005
Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear deep burgandy color with a two finger head that lasted quite a while, which usually doesn't happen with a barleywine.Some moderate lacing developed during the session.

Smell: caramel candy,alcohol, and strong bitterness are easily detectable.

Taste: tons of caramel and fruit sweetness nicely balanced with a strong pine bitterness, and wrapped in a soft layer of alcohol. This is surprising hoppy but it works well. Alcohol becomes more noticeable as it warms.

Mouthfeel: mostly smooth with a bit of light crispness at the start. The flavors last long into the aftertaste. Heavy bodied.

Drinkabililty: for a barleywine, quite good but it will sneek up on you. Slow sipper, but when the bottle was gone I could have had another glass. Simply a must buy.

Gavage, Mar 06, 2006
Photo of imperialking
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

imperialking, Jun 07, 2013
Photo of oriolesfan4
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

oriolesfan4, Jun 14, 2013
Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev -5.2%

InspectorBob, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of yourefragile
4/5  rDev -5.2%

yourefragile, Jan 19, 2013
Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -5.2%

weeare138, May 26, 2014
Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev -5.2%

orangesol, Nov 16, 2011
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in CA, at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, the only store I've come across these brews. Brought back to Sydney to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a gorgeous red-orange colour, burnished brightly and shining when held to light. Head forms in tiny cascades initially, but becomes large-bubbled froth as it settles, which is not that surprising for a beer of this gravity. Body looks heavy and thick. Overall, it's a very robust and intense looking brew. I'm looking forward to sampling it.

Ooh, yes. The nose is just right for an American Barleywine. Big on the hops, of course, but nicely balanced with a big sweetness of rich toffee malts, and a pleasant sweet/savoury nut character. Very faint hint of phenolic booze, but it merely mingles with the other big flavours. Pleasantly, it's not a beer that could be mistaken for an Imperial IPA, it's clearly meatier and sweeter. Lovely.

Oh yes, and the taste keeps this trend alive, Big American hop presence on the front, but mellowing beautifully into a rich, sumptuous and chewy body, full of malts and a whiff of fragrant boozy characters. Finish is long and languid, with some roasted characters coming through again with a slight drying hazelnut or almond character.

Feel is full and smooth and tremendously firm to support all the characteristics.

A damn fine Barleywine, surely one of the best there is. They've done a magnificent job making it big in every area, but keeping the balance right for the style. Big, boozy and sweet, with great body and bite.

Magnificent beer.

lacqueredmouse, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of stakem
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brownish red color with a yellow stained head. Slight spotty lace upon the glass. Nose is full of citrus hops similar to grapefruit. Nice amount of malt sweetness filling out the rest of the aroma. Taste is better hoppy citrus like grapefruit upfront with ample malt sweetness to back it. Finishes bitter and quite boozy both in warmth and in taste. Medium to heavy feel with this beast and low amount of carbonation. Pretty good overall. Nice fresh hop and alcohol kick. Some time spent in the cellar would have worked some magic for this beer im sure.

stakem, Mar 02, 2010
Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -5.2%

dbrauneis, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this barley wine doesn't stand up to Bigfoot in my mind. I just don't find the taste or aroma here as complex and engaging. There's some very nice, long-lasting bitterness, but the citrus hops flavors weren't that crisp and the malt seemed a somewhat bland fruity biscuit taste. I do give this one credit for going own easily, but I expect more flavor from a big, bad barley wine.

tempest, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

barleywinefiend, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of Billolick
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle, w/o vintage or any other info. Pours dark honey/amber, dark tan, fine head, leaving scattered and fine/wispy lacing. Malty nose, with a hint of earthy funk as it warms. Smooth. mellow and quite tasty Bwine. Plenty of smokey malts, hints of scotch and leather. Thoroughly pleasing sipper, fine night capper, went well with some aged chedder

Billolick, Sep 29, 2007
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer. Pours with a serious viscosity, but with very little head. The color is a light brown and a little murky. Thje smell is winey and complex with some serious alcohol and malt and a background of hops. The flavor is magnificently hoppy- serious bitterhops with a finish of warming alcohol and malt. Very thick and syrupy, but not at all sweet. Very drinkable for this alcohol level, especially due to its bitter rather than sweet profile. Really well done.

Georgiabeer, Dec 19, 2006
Photo of wrightst
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

wrightst, Jul 27, 2014
Photo of akorsak
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Revisiting an old favorite...

A: The ale is an amber orange color with a big 3-4 finger head that retains and laces nicely.

S: The ale is a well-balanced mix of malty sweetness and citrusy hops.

T: The ale has a strong hop character that hits up front. It is a citrusy grapefruit flavor that gives up hints of pineapple as well. The malts come in just after the bitterness, adding a bit of sweetness that mixes well with the hops. The overall taste is big and spicy.

M: Big spicy hops and strong malt sweetness. An excellent winter drink

D: A bomber or two is more than enough, but the flavor is strong with both hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness.

akorsak, Dec 25, 2006
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a large snifter)

A- This beer has a copper-red color with a hint of brown. The clear body shows the very strong carbonation of bubbles and the head on top is a yellowish-white head that last and last through the beer.

S- The smell of grassy hops and a faint caramel malt note has a hint of dark toffee in the background.

T- the taste of all big green pine hops has a slight grassy note with a hop bitterness that sticks on the tongue for days. There is a sharp alcohol bite that really accentuates the hop bitterness. After my mouth gets numb from the hops there is a soft note of caramel malt in the background that starts to come through.

M- The mouthfeel is medium with a slight watery texture and an alcohol warmth in the finish.

D- This is a DIPA with some alcohol and sweet malt in the background. I like to see more complexity of malt flavors in barley wines regardless of how big the hops are. I don't think this would age well because once the hops settle down there isn't much complexity in the malt to shine, but only time will tell.

rhoadsrage, Jun 12, 2006
Photo of DoubleJ
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I'm feeling cold tonight, so you know what that means...bring out the barleywine! The 22 ounce bottle, bottled on December 29, 2009, shall provide plenty of joy for the rest of the night. On to the beer:

A finger and a half worth of head lay on top this crimson colored beer. The head goes down slowly, giving a little lacing to stick.
Despite being only days shy of its first birthday, I can still smell some magic in the hops. Their tea-like aromas mixed with drippings of caramel are a great change of pace from the usual over resiny American barleywine.

For an American barleywine, it's rather sweet, but it still has some American character to it. The malt wastes no time greeting your palate with heavy carmelized malts and burnt sugar. Then suddenly some resin and tea leaf notes crop up. Gentle breezes of pine and pineapple add further complexity to this magnicifent beer. Speaking of magnificent, that mouthfeel is meaty and smooth; full bodied/grab your palate by the horns, all while the 10.2% ABV is buried like treasure.

I expected Old Ruffian to be good. I didn't expect it to be this good, considering that I am not as keen of American-style barleywines. Simply a magnificent beer to sip on throughout the night, and a slice of caramel cheesecake that the label recommends as a food pairing sounds dank.

DoubleJ, Dec 27, 2010
Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

The pour gives me a thick syrupy cloudy brown brew that at first appears that it isn't going to form a head. At the last minute a thick yellow foam appears that blooms into a respectable tan head before it disappears and fades to a sticky ring in the glass. The beer itself is a cloudy reddish brown.

Smell is sweet and spicy with a strong hop and black pepper aroma. The spices are cinnamon and ginger with a sharp lemon aroma to it.

Taste is sweet and surprisingly mild flavor at the start, tea and some toffee. Fairly quickly the hops assert themselves here and this beer becomes both spicy and hoppy. Mellow toffee and citrus flavors dominate this beer. The sensation of cinnamon and ginger with a bit of lemon continues till the end. After you acclimate to the hop bitterness this become a quite mellow beer.

Mouthfeel is good and decidedly on the syrup side.

Pretty good drinkability but this is decidedly a big and hoppy beer. A good sipping beer but this is decidedly a connoisseur beer that would turn off your average non-enthusiast beer chugger.

Zorro, Jun 23, 2006
Photo of jdhilt
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a two-finger light tan head, that barely fades and leaves a ton of lace. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is a floral hop. Starts with a semi-sweet-slightly sour raisin flavor but smooth, finish is warming but some bitterness. $6.30 for a 22oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

jdhilt, May 23, 2005
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,015 ratings.