Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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2,246 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,246
Reviews: 1,086
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.74%
Wants: 246
Gots: 370 | 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: 2,246 | Reviews: 1,086
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Old Ruffian pours out a bright orange/amber with a 1/2" head of off-white foam that drops quickly to a cap, then a ring, for the duration of the drink. Good lacing.
The aroma of this brew is outstanding. There are nice hops up front and then a candy sweet smell hits the nose. Caramelized butter. Reminiscent of the smell of pecan pralines or "leche quemada" being made. Nice, nice smells!
The thing that struck me from the first sip was the complete balance of this beer. The hops and malt are both up-front but neither steals the show. The hops have a slight citrus tang (mild orange peel flavor) as the beer enters then a slightly sweet taste complemented by some fruitiness towards mid-mouth. The beer finishes up with a nice long, bitter, complex finish. All the flavors are blended together perfectly. Superb barleywine!
The mouthfeel seems semi-thick and chewy with some tongue-tingling hops and carbonation.
The beers' drinkability is out of this world, especially for being 10+%! Nice liquor-like warming effect. Complex, wonderful beer very worthy of its ratings. Highly recommended!!

Photo of Sephiroth
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a dark brown, complimented heavily by a deep, burnt orange color. There is a solid quarter inch of foam despite a gentle pour and the ABV. The smell is of sweet malt, followed by heavy hops. The taste follows the smell, consisting of caramel malt followed by piney, citrus infused hops. The mouthfeel is nice, with proper carbonation. I find the drinkability of this beer to be strangely low for me. I can usually drink big beers all night, but one bomber is enough of this in one night for me.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.82/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22 ounce Bomber, my bottle looks exactly like the one in the BA Database. No strength or freshness listed, but it proudly states that this one is 85-90 IBU’s.

Appearance: Lovely soft luscious pour into the glass goblet. A rusty sunset red mixes with a dark russet brown body. Fabulous refraction when back lit reveals a rainbow of scarlet reds and rocky browns with some dark oranges on occasion. Thick resilient tan colored head leaves a vanilla lacing that sticks well to the glass sides. Light swirls exhibit the finely dissolved carbonation which supports the ½” head throughout. Top drawer sexy looks.

Nose: Lots of floral hops, toasted malts, caramel and soft Devon toffee set against a rather heavy alcohol soaked malt backdrop. Thick juicy hop odors as they travel up the nostrils, deeply inhaled, the alcohol vapors warm the nasal cavity…..oh this one is a beauty…..I could drink this just by inhaling it.

Taste: A little too sweet in the start for me, but this is short lived, a mere blip and well worth putting up with because what follows is a fantastic hop-burp inducing Barley Wine bomb. Scorching hop-laden caramel toasties fill the middle, whilst the finish has a middling anise skid-mark on the tongue and some mild liquorice teeth tingling astringently. Super hop bite, the acidic tones blend well with the caramel malts and balance nicely, but make no mistake, this one has a hoppy-jalopy character that is very attractive.

Mouthfeel: Big ass bold and punching at times! Deciduous green hop oils slide and coat the tongue whilst the acidic hope bite pulls the cheeks, all the while the large alcohol kick warms the gullet and leaves an anise trail down the throat.

Drinkability: I know it’s above 10% but I still don’t care, an alcoholic hop buzz simmers as the end of the Bomber, the whole bottle was utterly quaffable and dangerously addictive once the lingering hop kick decayed and the alcohol warmth rescinded to a cool finish. F**king Dangerous.

Overall: An utterly fine example of a “hop-forward Barley Wine Style Ale” (as the label describes this one). Actually, this is a bloody great example.

Superb and well worth seeking out if you get chance. Highly Recommended!

Thanks to the Old Ruffian for the Big Huge Barley Wine……erm, I mean, oh heck….I guess this is 10.20%!!

Photo of mntlover
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful deep red with a big tanish head that rises up like a big thunderhead. Lasts for a while and deposits lots of sticky lace.

Aroma is rich caramel malt that is lightly sweet deep intense hop aromas fruity citrus in nature. Nice smelling beer that keeps on smelling the hops don't give up on this one.

Taste is wow a big barley wine dose of malt that is soon assaulted by huge amount of hops. Citrus flavors are all over the place mingle with the caramel malt and coat your tounge with bitterness. Malt makes a feeble attempt to hold on and meekly survives. A prime example of a great style.

Mouthfeel is big a full bodied beerwith lots of malt covered with bushels of hops.

Drinkability is great this is what a Barley Wine should be. Hope I can get someone local to get some of this.

Photo of allengarvin
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a deep, dark mahogany with a very solid head of yellowish foam. Nose is full of wheat-bread malt aroma and spicy hop scent. First taste, one is hit by a huge amount of malt character, full of toffee and caramel, and sweet fruit, like gently caramalized orange. Hop bitterness quickly becomes apparent, balancing but not eliminating the malt, and in fact, despite the high IBU's, it finishes on the sweet side. Alcohol is noticible at the end, and quite warming after a few sips. Full bodied but not "heavy", it has a soft, creamy texture.

Very nice! Great Divide, after making fairly uninteresting beers for several years, has lately come out with one after another really supurb "Big" beers. This is one of their best.

Photo of merlin48
3.85/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle pours a clear copperish mahogany body with a tightly knit beige head that rises two to three fingers in height. Excellent head retention and delicate chains of island lace are left on the tulip glass.

Aroma is enticing, featuring succulent fruit aromas and notes of caramel, just as the label proclaims. Pink grapefruit and orange provide a sweet fruit bouquet that is outstanding, and there is an assertive caramel maltiness just behind.

Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied. Hops make their grand entrance here, with some resin and oiliness that give a significant hops bite.

Taste is creamy and coating, with assertive bitter hops. Pine and grapefruit rind lead an overwhelming hops bitterness. Some notes of orange and caramel try to emerge, but are viciously beaten aside by the hops. Slight burn of alcohol is noticable, but not distracting. This one's heat comes from the hops, and it intensifies as it reaches room temperature. Some barleywine malt syrupiness is present, but any sweetness is negated by the massive hops bitterness. Finish is dry, hop bitter, and hot.

This one is quite a hop monster, overly warm and burning for my tastes. Appearance and aroma are excellent, but taste is skewed toward an out of control hops assault.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass clear deep amber with an off-white head which rose tall and fell extremely slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was strong with fruits, most notably pineapple. The aroma contained a strong malt complexity of caramel and fruitiness along with hop presence which had a citrus component and an earthy presence.

The flavor was malty with dark caramel leading the path and hop bittering lighting the way. The malty was sweet and inviting initially on the palate and almost immediately those flavors changed to citrusy bittering that was the balance of the beer.

The finish was just dry with malty presence and caramel lasting long into the aftertaste and bittering with low levels of citrus as well. The body was full and the carbonation was well achieved. The beer contained a good presence of alcohol but never became overpowering. The alcohol was restrained throughout and left only a slight warming after consumption.

22 ounce bottle purchased at Green's in Atlanta, GA.

Photo of Goldorak
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark cola brown with reddish hues when looked through the light. Barely a crown of lace.

Smell: Quite interesting...Catty, for one thing. I have an uncle that worked in a Mink farm, and it smelled just like that. Is this from the Chinook hops? Beyond that first whiff that sort of took me aback at first, some mild passionfruit, pineapple and even lychee started to poke at my nose.

Taste: The first sip felt like putting a burlap sack full of hop pellets in a super-duper press, squeezing out that single drop of pure alpha acid right on your tongue. 90 IBUs it says on the label, I would have guessed more. It mellowed out somewhat as my sample went down my gullet and the malt actually started to show up on the radar, making the mouthfeel firm, but not intolerable.

Photo of Dogbrick
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky orangish-brown color with a thick beige head that retains the shape of where the beer was poured through. Thick, clingy lacing. Sweet aroma of malt and fruit. Rich body, and the first sip literally gave me the chills it is so tart. Lots of citrus and hops up front. The caramel and malt catches up pretty quickly though, making for a pretty enjoyable brew. The finish is citrusy with some pine. Overall I liked this one after the initial shock wore off.

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

Big thanx to prAna for this one!
I am sampling a 22 oz bomber at room temp in a snifter.
The beer pours a clear chestnut color with garnet tints and a large beige fluffy 3 cm head that foams up easily and fades slowly leaving large windowpane latticework.
Aroma is a mix of brown sugar maltiness and toffee mixing perfectly with citrusy hops of grapefruit and orange.
First sip reveals a very smooth body with almost non-existent carbonation.
Flavor starts toffee sweet with some berry fruitiness and then rolls quickly to a bitter piney hop bite on the finish. Some booziness hits at the end too. The finish dries my mouth substantially and keeps me thirsting for more. Glad I have a 2nd bottle of this little treat!
QUite nice but a bit of a sipper!

Photo of jdhilt
3.86/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

Photo of WesWes
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy cream colored head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a warm, rich malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a nice floral hop aroma. The taste is great also. It has a very smooth, rich malty flavor that goes down slow and easy and finishes with a warm, bitter hop taste. It is one of the smoothest barley wines I've tried. The mouthfeel is awesome. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a great beer. It has tremendous flavor and aroma; a fine drinker.

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.72/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have become very fond of this style, and Great Divide's version of barley wine is outstanding. All of the elements you would want in a powerful brew. Hops takes a slight nod over malt, with a bit of a prickly dryness in the finish. The malts come back enough to call it a draw in the end. The ABV isn't discernable in the taste, but I was a bit dizzy after finishing the bomber. This one is in the same league as the Bigfoot and Old Crusty as the best BW's I've had to this point. I love this brewery!

Photo of gimmehead
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish brown with some bright copper highlights, with a gigantic bubbly off-white head and positively glass coating lace. I don't know if I've ever looked upon a finer presentation than this beer in an oversized snifter. If I could paint a still it would sell for thousands. Huge floral and citric hops in the nose- especially grapefruit- with some fruity esters and sweet malts lying subtly underneath. Taste is predominantly bitter grapefruit hops. In fact, it's a little tough to get past the bitterness and pick out any other flavors, maybe just a bare hint of sugary sweetness. Very hop dominant, no balance at all. Very bitter lingering finish with an alcohol blast. This baby is full bodied and downright mouthcoating. I don't think I'll be able to tatse anything else for hours.

Photo of markman
4.88/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old Ruffian Barleywine:

Quite possibly the perfect barleywine…big-time hops, wicked-large bodied, and de-freakin’-liceous. Beautiful deep crystal-clear garnet pour under a head as thick a whipped cream. As hoppy as this is (85-90 IBU), somehow it manages to drive home a caramelly malt presence that is out of this world…possibly my favorite of the style to date, near perfection in an American Barelywine; maybe it’s my mood, but maybe, just maybe, this is the perfect nightcap…and at 22oz, good-night bro.


Photo of granger10
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a deep copper color, dark orange around the sides, with a medium sized super sticky white head. Very nice.

Aroma is really piney, juicy hops, there's a medicinal element. Alcohol esters are there but blend nicely with the hops. Caramelized dates are there along with toffee, butterscotch, and a sweet honey bread note. Great complex aroma.

Taste has dry malty notes upfront no real residual sugars are noted. Then a syrup texture takes the palate and brings some bitter hops in with it. Citric flavors become more prevalent. Soon, I'm eating whole grapefruits. A nice brandyish note comes into the mix. Acidity builds into the finish. Finish lingers with a dry alcohol warming feel.

The body is medium and every flavor in this beer lets itself be known yet does not overtake any other flavor. The dry malts, the sweet sugars, the bitter hops, the flavor hops, the alcohol esters, they all have their place here. This is simply a great barleywine, one I need to get many more of.

Photo of axisjones
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Popped the top and suds spilled all over. This bottle is as effervescent as I have ever seen a barley wine.

Easily one of the most gorgeous beers I have ever seen. In the glass it is a deep ruby, dark as a bloody night but with much clarity. The head is massive. I haven't gotten this much head from a girl, let alone another beer. I will be spoiled for life. A tan rocky head stays on this beer and lacing wholeheartedly all the way down. AMAZING.

Big aroma, but not too big. The big one here is the alcohol. Thick malt aroma with a fruit filled toffee kick. Very nice.

Can I get an AMEN!? The taste is completely complex and satisfying on all levels. Rich toffee and caramel. Fruity and alcoholic. And big as hell. For a beer this flavorful, it is very smooth. I usually don't like too much of an alcohol taste, but in this beer it works well. The hops definitely kicking, but this beer is not about the hops. They create a pefect balance to the malts. This is a supremely flavorful, balanced and delicious brew.

Mouthfeel? Thick, juicy, oily, smooth as baby's ass. The carbonation is just prickly enough.

This is too drinkable, meaning I am avoiding standing right now. For such a powerful beer, it slides down like velvet and begs the drinker to let loose.

I am a man who appreciates barley wine. I am a man who has tried over 30 in a single day. And this beer is a clear contender for top stop. Hell yes. Thanks for the bomber Monk, your taste is impeccable.

Photo of CRJMellor
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a reallly "alive" red/amber color with some highlights of gold. Well-carbonated and a dense tan head appears after settling down on the pour. Tremendous sized bubbles in the head nad the ecru colored nectar forms an interesting ring around the glass.
Aroma of sweet caramel malt and a strangely earthy and sweet aroma, can't quite but my finger on it.
Falvors of caramel and toffee shine through a barrage of sweet and flowery bitterness. Pleasant if you like BW's but very aggressive. Sort of reminds me of Founder's Devil Dacer with just a little bit less going than that brew.
Mouthfeel is literally bittwersweet. Very sweet, almost orange like undertones on the list as the sweet fruits fade away into a new round of hop bittering.
Drikability is enormously high. Classic West Coast BW.
Sweet, toaste and roasted job is to bring Sak's up to the most fascinated by.

Photo of Truh
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Visited the milk bar after a bit of the ultra-violence with this one on 5/4/2005. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

Mercury bead coating, very tight to start, with a fair amount of stick, not laughable. Thick orange, almost red, hue with a lot of haze but still a generous amount of go speed racer action discernible. Fruity malt big on nose with frankenberry sweetness and some mossy earthiness; hop presence can’t be ignored. Sweaty malt turns over an almost chocolate/toffee flavor and then a seething warmth flows down the core of the tongue and into the throat; hoppy raspberry juice mixes with the malt and a candy cane sugariness.

Slightly overpowering at first, with a lot going on, this one grew on me exponentially.

Photo of clvand0
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a ruby color with a moderate head that has great retention and leaves a little lacing on the sides of the glass. It has a very strong hop aroma of pine. Not much citrus hop. The flavor is much more subdued in the hop profile than I expected, but the hops do add a certain spice to the flavor. Nice caramel malt presence. The alcohol is apparent, but not over the top. The body is fairly thick and the drinkability is brought down a bit by the alcohol presence.

Photo of kmpitz2
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew pours a deep amber color to ruby color with a 2 finger head that sticks around very well. The nose is nice deep caramel with a spicey and piney hop as well. I really like it. Just a slight whaff of alcohol is there. The flavor is very nice as well. It starts with a huge caramel malt base that moves to this beautiful spicey and piney hop with just a bit of alcohol to accentuate the spice. The bitterness hangs on just a little on the finish, keeping me with the memory of what I just drank. It is really smooth and tasty. The feel is thick with a moderate carbonation. This is a very drinkable brew. It drinks very smooth. I think I have a new favorite barleywine.

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

This brew pours a rusty copper color and yields a nice dense head which sticks around with a vengeance. The smell is quite good. Strong hop and alcohol aroma followed with toffee and mild fruit tinges are evident. Simply put, olfactory overload.

The taste is exquisite. Not so much astringent as it is just full of hop flavor. Not as extreme as other barley wine styles I've tried, but definitely no slouch either. Chocolate, fruit, hops, toffee - this brew has a great synergy between all the ingredients. Each constituent part is in perfect balance so that all flavors can be experienced. A very well crafted brew. Very well received on the palate. Not to acidic or bitter, just right. In my opinion this is a medium bodied barley wine. Nothing is sacrificed on taste and finish though. No compromises in this brew. No sir. If you are a fan of the barley wine this is a must. Cheers.

Photo of MrSeth
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brown color with red highlights. 1/2" foam has a rare staying power and lots of thin clingy lacing.

When first poured, a strong smell of hops comes at you.. this mellows over time and starts to remind me of orange and strawberry aromas.

Heavy bodied, coating with sweet and a little bit sticky malt flavor. A fullness like light rye bread, rich [but not overpowering] grain character. The hops come full on at the end, and do a u-turn to bring bitterness right back to the tip of your tongue. Great performance in flavor and mouthfeel.

In the broadest sense Great Divide Brewing Co. has kept to the american barley wine style with Old Ruffian. But it has alot of charisma not always given to ABWs.. this one is a pleasure to drink.

Photo of AlexJ
4.97/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As I pop the cap of this long awaited bottle, Old Ruffian climbs out and reveals himself to be deep garnet, crimson-hued brown wearing a tightly knit cap of beige. As his head slowly fades in to a thin veil, spiderweb lacing is left as a memory.

Old Ruffian charges out of my chalice with an assault of complex aromatics. He leads the onslaught with sweet caramel and scorched brown sugar, creamy creme brule', dark pit fruit, and a generous helping of pine-drenched and citrus hops to provide excellent balance of aromas. There is a warming hint of his strength.

He explodes on your palate, stirring your senses to the point of dizziness. Carmelized malt flavors of molasses, toffee, and sweet fruits lead the way. There is a well-developed oaky, vanilla creaminess that adds a level of dryness. The creamy malt goodness is quickly sizzled off your tongue with a well-planned attack of MASSIVE hop bitterness. A complex blend of grapefruit, candied orange-peel, pine sap, and marijuana hop tones further his ferocity. There are so many levels of flavors to figure out here.

The Ruffian's body is huge and chunky. The mouthfeel is epic and luxurious. Ruffian takes control of your tastebuds with a very long, hoppy finish that has hints of malty sweetness to it.

Ruffian is victorious in battle, vanquishing all those who oppose him. He takes no prisoners and could stand right beside Double Bastard, Old Guardian, and even Old Marley. The Ruffian's young age is obvious and he will settle down and get wiser with age. He is tremendously complex in character, and his aquantaince should be sought by all. After all, it only costs 5 bucks to meet him, with a full 22 ounces of complex perfection.

Photo of Rastacouere
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Strong beige head, 1-inch of remarkable sticky foam doesn’t care whether it’s a 10+% barleywine or not. The color is a rich deep copper. Rich caramel malt aroma (GD seems to be fond of that), an obvious american barleywine from the first sniff. Overwhelming piney and earthy Chinook reminiscent hops contribute a dryness that goes a bit far. Mellower floral and citrus fruits indicate the fact that probably more than one hop variety comes into the blend. Quite harsh hoppiness really, that’s not my favorite type, that’s for sure. The earthy malts are there to offer a match, but fall in front of the abrasive piney sweat drops, simply too agressive for simple bready and considerably powerful toastiness. A bit too much. Full airy body, very strong carbonation. Clean, but rough and hard to tame, you’d better be in the mood. To me in the same ballpark than bigfoot though with very different ingredients.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,246 ratings.