Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,076 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,076
Hads: 2,333
Avg: 4.22
pDev: 14.45%
Wants: 273
Gots: 405 | FT: 21
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,076 | Hads: 2,333
Photo of jdhilt
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

 323 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

 567 characters

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.72/5  rDev +11.8%
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!

 503 characters

Photo of gimmehead
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

 793 characters

Photo of markman
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
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.


 529 characters

Photo of granger10
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

 1,005 characters

Photo of axisjones
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

 1,484 characters

Photo of CRJMellor
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

 884 characters

Photo of Truh
4.05/5  rDev -4%
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.

 753 characters

Photo of clvand0
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

 476 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

 676 characters

Photo of sinistermadman
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 888 characters

Photo of MrSeth
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

 749 characters

Photo of AlexJ
4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
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.

 1,709 characters

Photo of Rastacouere
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

 912 characters

Photo of OldSock
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Dark ruby brown, with a thin off white head that sinks quickly but stays around for the duration of the beer. A small amount of patchy lacing sticks to my snifter as well.

Smell – Big citrus hops with a slight alcohol burn. This is certainly a barley wine in the Bigfoot tradition.

Taste – Major hops punch drowns out everything else on the first sip, even the big 10% abv. The bitterness is not overpowering like I feel Bigfoot to be, but the hop flavor is spectacular. However, there is a solid bitter aftertaste that lingers just a little too long for my liking. There are caramel undertones, but they are minor compared to the rest of the flavors.

Mouthfeel – Nice full body, low levels of carbonation. Right in line for the style.

Drinkability – At more than 10% alcohol and on the order of 85 ibu, this is a sipping beer… that said it’s a really good barley wine and who is going to have more than one bomber of this at a sitting anyway. It’s a little too much hop for my taste, but its probably the best hoppy barley wine I’ve had.

 1,072 characters

Photo of carln26
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured a hazy medium brown with orange/cranberry highlights topped by a thick tan head that receded quickly into the glass. The nose has a lot of hop in it. Dominated by a hop flower and grapefruit scent. It’s very close in nature to the aroma of the double IPA, but there is a little more malt. The finish has some of the malt, a hint of dates and a mild whisky note. The taste has a definite whisky flavor. I mean this in a good way. Almost bourbon like. The malt sweetness blends nicely with he citrus character of the hops to produce a complex flavor. Many Barleywines tend to overpower. This one comes on easy, and delivers a nice warming as it goes. A slick mouth feel lends to a high drinakbility. This is a new favorite.

 734 characters

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

Pours a deep mahogany with a dense tan head. lots of thick lace. Smells of hops, tangerine, grapefruit and smoky malt.

Taste is surprisingly hoppy and citrusy. Bitter hops permeate the rich malt. Big carame-like malt. Big body with a sweet and lightly sticky finish. Very long hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste. Pretty drinkable. I like a hoppy barleywine but this one might have been too much. Might need some age to take that edge off. Still, a stellar and tasty barleywine.

 480 characters

Photo of warriorsoul
4.64/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to rajendra82 for this anticipated brew.
Pours a dark ruby/brown color with very little light passing through.
1/4 finger of creamy tan head w/ clingy lace.
Stong aromas filled w/ floral hops, raisins, caramelized malts, vanilla and rum...one of the best smelling bw's to date.
Taste is an explosion of hops...the most intensely hopped up barleywine I have tried...yes, Big Foot included.
Lovely malt flavors as well, but the hops are what rule here. Served close to room temperature, this beer is pretty darn sweet. But it is a bittersweet, making this barleywine truly enjoyable/drinkable...even at 10.2%
Mouthfeel is a tad thin for its style...one of just a few things keeping this one from perfection.

 718 characters

Photo of BierReise
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber. Clear deep amber with a thick clinging head. Super huge hop aroma, fruity, floral, citrus, pine. Some bread like aromas and a touch of alcohol. Similar to Hog Heaven but even hoppier bordering an Imperial IPA. Body is full and smooth. Slightly dry in the finish. Flavor is dominated by bittering hops but you can tell there’s a ton of malt here. Hopheads will really like this one and this may be even better if layed down for awhile as with Bigfoot which can be really hoppy when young but more BW like as it ages. I Recommend this one. Great Divide Rocks!!

 572 characters

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

22 oz. bomber pours hazy glowing amber-orange with a thick creamy off-white head that leaves a nice lace in my glass. Sharp hoppy aroma of grapefruit and pine, resinous sticky pine and grapefruit flavors , has a full thick, sticky and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that finishes with a lingering bitterness, has a good malt balance. Alcohol very well hidden, I can't believe how drinkable this is.

 393 characters

Photo of dgallina
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours translucent mahogany with red edges, a thin film of foam, and light lace. Smells strongly hopped up front, with touches of sweet malt and fruit and an undercoat of alcohol. Well-executed interplay of sweet caramel malts, light fruit, and piney hops in the mouth. The hops ultimately win out, leaving a long and bitter finish that's slightly fruity and herbal nevertheless. Sticky and chewy in the mouth, with light carbonation.

A pretty nice hop-forward west coast barley wine. Nicely balanced hops and malts throughout.

 529 characters

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

Darker cinnamon brown color, some haze but decent light transmission. Almost orange big head of 1/2 an inch and with good retention. Creamy thick laces with good coverage. Aroma is fairly easy-going, malty with a raisin bran impression. Fairly full mouthfeel, coating and thickish, carbonation fine in texture and lasting to the close. For its hop load, this is fairly balanced. Starts out with a cherry fruitiness, some rum-soaked pound cake and caramel and the hop counterpoint comes off as piney and resiny but doesn't quite have the throat tickle or backed-up plumbing heavy aftertaste I can get from many higher alcohol North American Barleywines. The malt and texture work well here. A really good beer.

 709 characters

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

Pours a very dark crimson with a very nice sized head. Nice lacing down the glass.

Plenty of hops in the nose, some butterscotch and sweetness to be found as well.

Full body, fairly smooth. Plenty of bitter hops blend with dark fruits and some butterscotch sweetness. Suggestions of pine com through in the end and a sweet red-wine like flavor come in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden in the taste, but the feeling shows up as the bomber drains.

A very fine barleywine, very Old Horizontal like, but just my opinion. Nice to have Great Divide in Georgia. This will have a regular place in my fridge come winter.

 622 characters

Photo of bnuttz
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This barley wine pours a dark rusty copper color. It is somewhat cloudy and thick with a yellowish tan head about the size of a finger. The smell is somewhat of caramel, but mainly dominated by citric hops. This beer is aggresively hopped, but still well balanced. The fruity sweet malt backbone balances the 90 IBUs of PNW hops that occupy this brew. The alcohol makes sure to give you a little boot in the end. This beer is sticky sweet on the mouth but not at all cloying. Damn drinkable for a 10% which makes it very dangerous. If I want a hoppy barley wine I'll shoot for this. Bigfoot who?

 595 characters

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,076 ratings.