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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,885 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1885
Reviews: 1031
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.69%

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
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Ratings: 1,885 | Reviews: 1,031 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of dcloeren


4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Split this bomber with my brother.

This beer looks amazing! Poured a clean and crisp ruby red with 2 fingers of creamy roasted marshmellow head. Got some sticky spotty lacing.

Sweet carmalized dark fruit with a bountiful amount of citrus/tropical fruit hops. Makes for a very sweet and inviting barleywine.

Taste follows the nose. Excellent carmel malt, dark fruits, pineapple, grapefruit and orange zest hops. Amazingly delicious.

Full in body with an abundant amount of carbonation. Extremely sticky and a little numbing on the tongue. This brew hides the alcohol extremely well in the smell and taste but cant hide the tongue numbing alcohol and it is VERY welcomed! Semi dry hop aftertaste. Smooth as all get out! Perfection if there ever was such as thing.

Overall, this is the best Barleywine that I have had to date. Everything about this beer is amazing. Great nose, great taste, excellent mouthfeel... I have to find some more of these. Definitely pick up a bottle if you come across. Well worth it!

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2012 01:08:38 | More by dcloeren
Photo of Brenden


4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A big, thick, fat tan head 2+ fingers tall sits heavily on a bright burnt orange brew and leaves lacing in sticky, heavy deposits pretty well down my glass.
Dark fruits pop from the aroma along with sweet and bready malts and a very American hops presence that provides mostly citrus and a bit of pine. I also detect a very interesting (but not bad) slightly metallic doppelbock-like molasses sweetness. It seems there's good complexity, and quite a lot comes out, but the powerful sweetness tames some of what's underneath.
The flavor opens up, offering a mix of dark fruits and citrus, sweet bready and caramel malts, and floral hops bitterness. The hops bouquet is powerful but exceptionally balanced with the malts and complemented by sweetness, a bit of softness, a light herbal dryness, a very tame spiciness, and a more orange than lemon citrus flavor. I imagine this is as hoppy as a barleywine could be without heavily sacrificing balance and crushing any other nuanaced flavors. This is phenomenally brewed and showcases the major difference between American and English barleywines. As Americans go, this is it. The alcohol somehow staved off unitl the finish for a big 10%+, where it comes out and manages to avoid an overly ethanolic taint.
This is a big, bold beer, nicely thick with a sharp crispness. Body, depth, smoothness and crispness are all here.
This is possibly the quintessential Barleywine in the American style.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2012 20:02:56 | More by Brenden
Photo of BB1313


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on Dec. 12, 2011. Bomber poured into a snifter. Pours a transparent copper red, great white fluffy head and nice sticky lacing and retention; great color and good looking brew. Hoppy nose full of fruity hops, blended with caramel malts. Lots of orange peel and lemon zest in the mix. Tastes really good, lots of hops giving it a nice bitterness. Sharp and bold. The caramel malts definitely give it a nice sweeteness. I'm also picking up on subtle fig/raisin notes. Mouthfeel is very nice, smoooth, creamy, well carbonated. Alchohol is unnoticeable and it's extremely easy to drink at 10.2% abv.. dangerously drinkable.

This is a hoppy barleywine.. almost reminded me of a DIPA, but it stays true to style and is very very tasty. Recommended..

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2012 01:30:14 | More by BB1313
Photo of smerrell


4.95/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A well balanced beer, this barley-wine has a great malt presence with a nice bitter hoppiness. The roasted malt taste is reminiscent of cola or root beer, and nicely conceals the alcohol. the hops are a good accompaniment that don't overwhelm. I was expecting more sweetness, but am impressed with this beer. I'll need to pick a few bottles up for aging.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2012 00:42:24 | More by smerrell
Photo of jneiswender


4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beige head which is very thick. The body is brown garnet in color. The smell is very malty with a floral and cake aroma. Smells lead into the flavor with a juicy fruit, pine taste and a middle sip alcohol burn. This beer really takes you on a journey. Medium and slick mouthfeel. Just a classic representation of the style and a very worthy beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2012 03:26:46 | More by jneiswender
Photo of Acoke


3.63/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle Poured into a tulip glass.

A- Two fingers worth of head. Gorgeous blood orange caramel color. Great looking beer

S- Lots of hops up front with a sweet caramel background.

T- Huge hop presence with substantial bitterness. Definitely taste the alcohol in it. Not getting much other flavors out of this, maybe just a tiny hint of caramel.

M- Smooth beer but a little light on the tongue. Every sip I was trying to make an assessment, but the flavors(or lack there of) vanished before I could get a grip on it.

O- Good beer, just not what I was expecting. Kinda new to Barley wines so I may be off on this one but I'm told this is better with age.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2012 01:16:55 | More by Acoke
Photo of tjkinate


4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think the new batch is still a little green.

1+ fingered, creamy, khaki colored head that displayed decent retention and eventually settled to a thin soapy film atop this amber colored completely transparent brew. The scent was pretty boozy, hop profile was fairly strong, had to check what style of beer I was drinking and make sure it wasn't an IPA. As the beverage warmed the scent calmed and allowed toffee notes and dark fruits to poke through. The tasting followed the scent exactly. Overall I still enjoyed this beer, but really think I will go out and grab another bottle or two for enjoyment a few months down the road once the flavors have had more time to settle down and blend together.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2012 21:20:23 | More by tjkinate
Photo of Bierguy5


4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle, 10.2% abv. I can't make out the date on the label. Cloudy, copper color. Tan head holds pretty well for a few minutes, finally fading to a thin ring.

Nose has some caramel, and ripe fruit. Grapefruit hop notes and a bit of pine. A bit of a sherry-like note. Even with the hop presence, there is a great amount of fruit here.

A good amount of caramel, without a lot of sweetness. Great ripe fruit, with an almost wine-like feel. Good amount of hop bitterness, without being harsh. I would imagine this would be an outstanding beer to age.

Medium body, with adequate carbonation. Alcohol is hidden very well. This is a very enjoyable, well made barleywine. I can't believe it took me this long to review it.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2012 01:51:51 | More by Bierguy5
Photo of Fermenticusrex


3.55/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting note great divide old ruffian american barley wine
22oz bottle poured into pub pint glass
Aroma sweet malt, citrus, cut grass
Appearance beautiful ruby red nice fluffy white head, lacing clings all the way down
Flavor sweet malt, alcohol heat, tangerines and other citrus, very bitter almost astringent
Mouthfeel/Drinkability nicely carbed a little thin one or two of these a night
Overall a very good example of the style, have two more of these i'm going to cellar

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2012 23:55:23 | More by Fermenticusrex
Photo of Chaney

District of Columbia

4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At the present, this is ranked #9 in the top American Barleywine category. I remember when it was #1, but never mind that this is by far the most reviewed BW in the top ten by a margin of about 600. Speaks volumes, huh?

Bottled on Dec 10, 2011.

Poured into a Delirium Tremens tulip.

A: Poured a clear, ruby red color, with an amazingly dense off-white (mildly) head that had tremendous staying power. This kinda looks like Nugget Nectar.

S: I start to smell the fragrant hoppy air freshener before the cap was even fully popped. Sure this is hoppy, but based on the nose, I wouldn't consider this one to be a bomb in that direction at all... it's much too floral and candy-like for that. Good nose descriptor: Jolly Rancher.

T: Much more hoppy on the front than I would have imagined from the nose, with very compact sugar/licorice combo that I often ascribe to the great American BWs. Sweet, but the bitter elements wash over that. Pretty incredible.

M: Thick, and with a pixie stick dust-infused sugar bill that keeps pulling me back for more and more. The bitter elements really sizzle the palate in the way world-class DIPAs do, and the lacing was substantial.

O: I can't believe I only paid around $8 for this top-notch example of a very popular style. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this is one of the best brews that Great Divide makes... and that is really saying something!

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2012 21:20:24 | More by Chaney
Photo of YouSkeete


4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep red with an amber hue. Two finger thick light tan head. Nice lacing along the edges.

S: Bananas, apple cider, ciabatta bread, creamy malt, dark rum. Smokey aromas and darker fruits follow through. Balanced yeast and hops.

T/M: Sweet caramel malts, bananas and apples with a kick of alcohol on the first taste. Rolling flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and oak wood. A Balanced overall body with flavors of wheat bread, yeast, hops, and creamy sweet malts. Grapes and raspberries along with some other spices make their way through to the taste. The abrasiveness of dark rum follows through into the aftertaste, which also tastes of apples and caramel. Rich, creamy, boozy mouthfeel. Mild carbonation, medium body.

D: Rich and complex. So many great things to say about this. A near perfect barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2012 01:26:31 | More by YouSkeete
Photo of RuckusDu


4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle to NB Globe

A - Strong pour reveals two finger light tan head. Sticks around for a bit. Body is deep amber and copper color. Looks good. Very strong lacing

S - Simply amazing. I want to drink it through my nose. Great sweet scents like caramel, prunes, a little raspberry...ok a lot of raspberry.

T - Starts off with harsh hops. Not what I was expecting after such a sweet aroma. Some alcohol is there. Mellows out a little with warmth, but not my favorite BW.

M - Great carbonation with moderate body. Fits this beer well. Fairly dry on the finish.

O - started off so well and then a little disappointed with the flavor. Still a nice beer but not tops for me.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2012 22:26:17 | More by RuckusDu
Photo of LiquidAmber


4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage in a Ommegang flute. Pours a deep red-orange amber. Thin persistent very light tan head fine and medium bubble head and light lacing. Aroma of spicy caramel malt, dark fruit, herbal hops and a hint of oxidation. Piney hops and sweet malt dominate the flavor with dark dried fruit and a light fruit or fruit esters component and light citrus. Nice medium mouth feel with some creaminess. The alcohol is still hot, but the pleasant combination of flavors keeps this tasty. A prototypical well made American barley wine. Tasted side by side with a 2009 in a Nostradamus flute. The 2009 has mellowed very nicely. A thicker, finer head with massive lacing. Aroma is more subdued, but still has the sweet malt, dark fruit and a hint of hops. Flavor is caramel malt, dark fruit and a hint of citrus, nicely integrated. Flavors have mellowed over time, but have combined very nicely. Body is incredibly heavy bodied and creamy. This has aged beautifully and is delicious.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2012 05:15:40 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of Stigs


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle bated 12/09

served in a chalice

A - pours with a hort-lived layer of sudsy, light tan foam, settling to a thin ring and few floating patches of bubbles. the beer is a beautiful, clear, ruby grapefruit color.

S - classic american barleywine scents: robust caramel malts, tobacco, notes of dark fruits, vanilla and rum, abundant booze, oxidized hops.

T - bold sweet caramel, dark fruits, biting alcohol, and hop bitterness all battle each other for the top billing. definite this beauty within chaos, as each flavor plays off another. hops are slightly grapefruit forward, the years have not completely devoid them of taste. alcohol cleans it all up with a hint of rum and tobacco.

M - medium body yet on the chewy side, lifted slightly by moderate tight carbonation. welcome and warming alcohol heat clean up most of the (good) mess itself. lingering hop bitterness. perfect.

O - a stellar beer, great fresh or with some years on it. this one even at the "awkward" 2-3 year mark for a barleywine still delivers. mental note, get more of this, enjoy a few now and lay some down for the future.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2012 04:06:29 | More by Stigs
Photo of mfavoino


3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap on 1/19/12.

Appearance: Deep amber and crimson color with a fluffy white head that coated the sides of the glass.

Smell: Hop forward piney aroma with a scent of alcohol.

Taste: Piney hops hit me and dissipated with the balance of bready malt flavors. Lots going on here with some spicy flavors. Alcohol is clearly present as it goes down all the way to my stomach.

Mouthfeel: Well-carbonated and relativey heavy mouthfeel to it. This is a big beer.

Overall: Great hop forward barleywine that is definitey a big beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2012 19:47:52 | More by mfavoino
Photo of kylehay2004


4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-19-2012 02:50:08 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of Drinkerofales


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 11-8-10, aged one year plus.

Poured a murky red-brown with orange and gold highlights. A huge tan head left behind plenty of lacing.

Smell is citrusy, caramel malt, boozy, fruity.

Taste is hop fruity, plum skin, sweet. Big and bold, with a bitter fruit hop aftertaste.

Feel is smooth and creamy, a medium full body. A touch of booze reminds you of the power of the beer.

My 2nd barley wine, and very nice, a power house of flavor and experience.


Serving type: bottle

01-15-2012 06:22:22 | More by Drinkerofales
Photo of thecheapies


4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper-colored with nice fizz streams. Bubbly head had settled in lumps. Heavy lace.

Aroma: big caramel malts meet piney hops. Rummy, raisiny, honey buns. Fantastic.

Big zesty pine hop in the front and back. Toffee and fig newtons. Honey, sweet bread, milky caramel, chocolate-covered raisins. This one's fresh with big boy hop overload. There's the a resinous character and a coffee and cream backdrop. Sweeter finish. Any closer to the Old Ale side of a barleywine and I would have scored taste a 5.0.

Immensely lush and creamy. Great carbonation evident. Almost perfect.

An incredible barleywine. Among the tops in the books.

Serving type: on-tap

01-15-2012 01:15:08 | More by thecheapies
Photo of projectflam86


4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

A- Pours a murky orange/red color with a thick slightly off white head that leaves fantastic lacing. A bit more clarity and this would easily be a 4.5, but as it is a 4 will have to do.

S- Wow, this one is potent. Huge brash wave of sweet malt and dank pine hops. Some candied fruits, citrus, caramel, pine resin, and alcohol...lots of alcohol.

T- Very similar to the nose, this is one monster American Barleywine. All bitterness and pine hops initially with a lingering citrus undertone. The finish is all sweetness with loads of caramel and crystal malt leading the way with a massive amount of booze.

M- Big and bold with good carbonation. A tad hot from the alcohol, but some age would probably take the edge off.

O- Exactly what I was hoping for in an American Barleywine from a good brewery. Very tasty stuff...have to grab a few more bottles now!

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2012 22:03:44 | More by projectflam86
Photo of Kinsman


3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big foamy head with a pleasantly sticky lace sits nicely on top of a slightly hazed reddish copper color.

Big malty sweet aroma upfront before the citrusy and slightly herbal hop notes come in. Faint hint of alcohol in the background.

Well-hopped with some citrus fruitiness and good bitterness. Matched up with a strong malty backbone that gives of plenty of biscuity bread character and a healthy dose of caramel. Finishes a bit boozy.

Heavy mouthfeel with a creamy texture that helps it go down so well. Overall, Old Ruffian presents you with an excellent American Barleywine thats adds a little boost on a cold winters evening.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2012 00:46:13 | More by Kinsman
Photo of pjs234


4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage poured into my Dogfish signature glass. Very happy to have found this, as Great Divide pulled out of our state last year.

The appearance is a very murky orange and its almost brown in the middle of the glass. Very little light is getting through this. The initial pour resulted in almost a full finger of head. There is also decent lacing as the head subsides.

The smell is good. Even being a year old, I smell a fair amount of hops. Also, the malts are noticeable as well.

The taste is very nice. Starts off with a bready/malty flavor. Maybe a touch of caramel. Then the hops come forward. I was kind of surprised by the hop kick on the back end of the sip. It ends a little bitter and a little spicy at the same time.

The mouth feel is smooth. Good amount of carbonation.

Would love to try this side by side with a fresh one, but alas, I will need to leave the state to find one.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2012 03:43:23 | More by pjs234
Photo of kojevergas


3.68/5  rDev -13%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2012 00:31:41 | More by kojevergas
Photo of Spadoof


4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Name: Old Ruffian
Brewery: The Great Divide
Bottled on: 12/02/11
Purchasing Date: 12/31/11
Purchased From: 101 Bottles (Kent, Ohio) [$8.99 a bottle]

Origin: 22oz bottle
Serving Glass: 22oz Snifter
Serving Temp: 60F

Appearance: 2" Fluffy white head. Beautiful ruby red body.

Smell: Sweet caramel malt backbone. Chocolate covered fruit (Figs, Dates, etc.), herbal hops. Sweet, sticky and mouthwatering.

Taste: Fruity, boozy and quite intense (yet balanced). Citral and piney hops make an appearance. Citrus peel, dark fruit, caramel and boozy finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and sticky. Medium amount of carbonation.

Overall: Fantastic, probably my favorite barleywine so far! Be careful though, at 10.20%, it is easy to go overboard with a bomber.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2012 03:08:42 | More by Spadoof
Photo of Bookseeb


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a rusty hazy copper color supporting a thick off white head that dissapates slowly leaving a sticky clingy lace. Smell of thick caramel, light chocolate and some darker fruits. taste is as stated hefty and hoppy having the big citrus grapefruit thats grainy with the caramel in the big malt backbone. Mouthfeel is full and chewy with a good amount of carbonation. Not as rich as some, but then again it does express it's hefty and hoppy and still a good example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2012 03:32:17 | More by Bookseeb
Photo of lovindahops

New York

4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's Jan 1st so a pumped up barley wine will hedge against suseptible sadness to come from the cowboys game

A- can you say perfect ruby hue with a cutless red color richoscheing off the glass

S- fruit and caramel syrup are overly impressive on this brew. Some earthy components arise making this a balanced brew with different characteristics participating

T- amazing caramel flavors melding with earthy flavors completely coexist with hearty flavors of Maley earthiness. The brew is intense and hearty

M- thick and syrupy and full and very much bold with flavor

O- great hearty barleywine that is poisotioned as full of caramel flavor and musty earth aromas. Great brew

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2012 03:52:28 | More by lovindahops
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,885 ratings.