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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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2,170 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,170
Reviews: 1,066
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 236
Gots: 332 | 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: 2,170 | Reviews: 1,066
Photo of gtermi
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: This beer pours a dark gold, with a very thin head.

S: There is a lot going on in this beer. I am picking up a lot of hops, some fruitiness, a bit of alcohol and atiny bit of sweetness.

T: The first drink I took, I picked up slight chocolate, some woodiness, a lot of hops and some caramel.

M: The beer leaves a weird coating and is relatively smooth. Has a nice crispness to it also.

Overall it hit the spot and was exactly what I expected. It is delicious and easy to drink. I am glad I grabbed the last bottle before it was gone.

Photo of jeranbrews
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very finely bubbled beige head. Thick and foamy like shaving cream. Strong lacing like sediment lines in a canyon. Loving it. Cloudy cedar brown body.

S - Sweet apricots and hoppy lemon peel. Dried figs and jujubees. Creamy buttered rum. So many great smells. Mellow caramel bourbon and sweetly scented pipe tobacco.

T - Initial tastes are quite hoppy. Better than many similar American Barleywines but not as sexy as some of it's English counterparts. Smell and taste don't quite match. Not even a tiny hint of the ABV. Totally hidden.

M - Smooth buttery and frothy. Like the last sip of a milkshake. Well done. If it wasn't so bitter it'd be a 5. Oh and the 10+ abv is invisible. You can't see feel hear or smell it.

D - Although hoppiness of this level is not unusual for American barleywine and they manage it well. I do feel it covers up a lot of the inherent complexity. Like printing Shakespeare on toilet paper, or listening to Mozart on an 8-track, or having silk bed sheets and wool pillow cases. You take something of the greatness away. You still see the greatness but it's muffled.

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

Pours into a ruby walnut hue. Head is on par for the style, and lacing is slightly above.

The aroma has bitter hops, spicy hops, a fair amount of peat, and liberal amounts of malt.

The taste is very smooth, yet considerably intense as well. After a year of age, it still drinks somewhat like a fresh barleywine. The IBUs seem to have dissipated a little, but the hops are still plenty to provide a foundation for the beer.

While the combination of malt and hops takes the initial taste and works nicely, the aftertaste plays on the hops by dropping off immense amounts of pine. Everything really comes together with this.

The body is beyond creamy, and has a medium full body. The finish is medium for dryness, and slightly sticky.

Drinkability is incredible and poor at the same time. It's something that I'm glad I shared, as the flavor would have been too much for me in the end. The alcohol was hidden quite well due to the excess of malt and hops. After a year, it still seems young, although I haven't had it enough to say whether it's best fresh or not.

Photo of chugalug06
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a brew I found on the shelves of one my local beer stores... It has the old style label, but no indication of date anywhere on the bottle... The brew was refrigerated, i would assume for the duration of it's life...???

A - Nice thick foamy cream colored head, it pours generously a top the outstanding looking brew. Beer is nice, dark, and clear amber color. Nice lacing too.

S - WOW! yum. Lots of huge caramel. Some great vanilla too.

T - GREAT BEER!!! Slight milk chocolate subtly runs down your throat. So smooth, there's faint hints of hops, which are all-but-gone... This is one piney-vanilla beer. Not a sugar bomb.

M - AMAZING! Zero bitterness and no heat... Carbonation was a little high, but that's a good problem to have for a brew of this vintage.

O - Highly recommended to age this one... I will be buying 2/year and sitting on both drink one after one year, and let the other rest for an unknown timeline... Great beer!

Photo of alexipa
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I heard great things and thought I should finally try this beer out tonight.

It's a dark brown with a surprisingly thick head. The head stuck around a while and contributed to its delicious caramel and hoppy scent.

The taste was much more than I had expected. Caramel came through as well as some malts and hops. This proved to be a more complex beer than I was prepared for; which was a great thing! I thoroughly enjoyed every sip as I devoured the bottle far too fast.

I'm now going to go search for this on tap... it was excellent!

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/8/10.

Pours a slightly hazy honey-brown with a 2 inch foamy bone color head that settles to an island of foam. Random thick clumps of lace stick to the sides of the glass on the drink down. Smell is of sweet malt, brown sugar, caramel, and some citrus zest and pine hops. Alcohol aromas come out as the beer warms. Taste is of sweet malt, slight brown sugar, and some zesty herbal and pine hop flavors. A slightly assertive hop bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine that has some strong hop aromas and flavors even after being bottled almost a year ago.

Photo of ckeegan04
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm going to guess this is from 2008 or so. It is the old style label and has been sitting in my cellar for a few years now.

A - Hazy, ruddy brown in color with a nice foam cap sitting on top. Head is a good two fingers after a gentle pour and settles to about an inch of solid foam. Carbonation has held up real well in this one.

S - Sweet malts and a bit of caramel initially. Some fruity notes come through as well with a touch of citrus fruit. As the beer warms I get some floral aromas as well. Sweetness carries throughout.

T - Sweet malts and a sharp bitterness full of citrus notes. Despite a few years on it the hoppiness has certainly help up. The tastes are a bit disjointed but they are still good. They just dont meld very well. Caramel and a little burnt sugar come through in the finish. Alcohol is certainly noticeable but not overwhelming.

M - Medium bodied with an oily feel to it. Carbonation is present but not overdone.

O - A classic American bwine. Hops are still a big player despite the years and the malt backbone is pretty solid. Booze is there but not too overdone for 10+%.

Photo of mulder1010
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought at Argonaut Liquors in November 2010, on a trip back home.
Poured into a Bruery Tulip

A-- Poured a deep, dark amber color with hints of orange here and there. More carbonated than I thought. Good one finger off white head that slowly went to film but left nice sticky lacing on sides of the glass.

S-- Burnt sugar, toffee, bits of rum and candied orange and grapefruit.

T-- Hop forward. Lots of pine, orange and grapefruit, with sweet malts as the backbone.

M-- More barley wine in the mouth. Rich, thick and sticky toffee taste with bread and hops to smooth things out. Hops have not faded yet so still close to a DIPA still but the barley wine qualities are there. Carbonation still a bit high and feel is heavy.

O-- Good American barley wine. I prefer the English style more but this is top notch. Alcohol is still there but was slowly turning into a big sticky mess that is worth having. Seriously worth cellaring to get the faded hop part.

Photo of gueuzer
3.26/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery

App- A reddish brown with a clinging lace. Quite nice.

S- Strong bittering hops with a sticky bun notes in the back. A little booze burn.

Ta- Upfront hops. Very bitter. The sweet caramel malt back it up but not quite enough to balance out.

Ov- Border between a double IPA and barley wine. Need to tone down the hops to let everything play out a bit more.

Photo of jmunsters
4.34/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a pair of snifters.

A- Moderate pour yields about a 2 finger head to a brilliant amber body. Dissipates very slowly, clinging to glass.

S- Immediately filled the room. Burnt sugar, molasses, caramel, rum. A really nice and heavy hop aroma.

T- Hops. Glorious candied hops. A molasses syrup wrapped around a solid set of hops with a nice boozey warmth to fill your stomach.

M- Thick and sticky mouth with a decent amount of carbonation. Fantastic sipping.

O- Top of the line barley wine.

Photo of Agold
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks like it was bottled April 2010, but the date is really hard to read. Appearance is nice. Light brown ruby color with a bit of head which leaves sparse lacing on the top of the beer and the side of the glass. Aroma is very citrus forward with some caramel and a bit of sweetness. As it warms there is some brown sugar that emerges in the aroma. The flavor is better. Very mellow with caramel, some orange and very little booziness with a bit of the . Very well done. Mouthfeel is properly heavy, and well carbonated. Not a very complex beer, but a well made straight forward barleywine. Very enjoyable beer. Could definitely stand up to some more aging to see if some different malt characteristics emerge.

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

found these for a steal (3 bombers for $10 at Kelly's liquor here in town). bottled on 12/22/09. a shop simply trying to move back stock. Why i love economics.

A- deep rich mahogany. with an off-white head, a pour yeilds about a finger and half of head.

S- brown sugars, burnt sugars, carmel, toffee, and hop. this is already an amazing beer.

T- wow. deep caramel and toffee malts meld perfectly with a strong american hop profile. The aggressive hop along with smooth malts really make this a balanced beer.

M- a good thick hearty mouthfeel from this, more carbonation than others on here seem to have described. it's a good thing, i tend to like hoppy beers to be be more carbonated than malty beers. this carbonation and thinckness balances this beer so well.

O- this is a fantastic beer. both a good representation and take on one of my favorite styles. a session beer? no way, but with this beer being so cheap in area at the moment, i might have to try.

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber pours sexy one finger of small suds headroom...

My nose is picking up garden vegetable, especially tomato paste. Some sweet pickles in the background as well... interesting

Hit in the face with hops and alcohol, nothing subtle about it. A solid pick with some strawberry and pine syrups

A bit resinous, a big beer, medium bodied lightly carbonated

Overall a good beer, stay away from room temperature as it loses it flavor

Photo of amphion1065
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber from 2008 or 2007, courtesy of Plenum's renowned cellar. Enjoyed from a Portsmouth tulip.

Pours is deep purple, almost a dark brown ruby. Held up to the light, it looks like a shade of plum. About a finger's worth of yellow-tinted head with large, loose bubbles sticks around for a little bit. Really no sediment to speak of.

The smell is wild. Apples, brandy, and brown sugar come through. Perhaps most surprising is the distinct aroma of hops. The malt backbone is huge, but the hops are definitely present. When warm, some phenol alcohol notes.

It took me a solid 90 minutes to work through this bottle. Over that time, I tasted the following: prunes; apples; plums; apricots; oranges and cherries. Seriously, this is a crazy mélange of fruits. Some molasses, too. This is pretty bitter in the finish - as the aroma indicated, the hops are not dead yet. No alcohol to speak off, though it is warm going down. Some sherry-like oxidation, though it's complimentary rather then distracting or damaging.

The mouthfeel would be impressive for a fresh barleywine, to say nothing of a 3 or 4 year old bottle. The carbonation keeps the flavors alive, but at the same time this is syrupy enough to handle the ABV.

I'm pretty sure I could have laid this down for another year or two with excellent results. I’d imagine the hops could mellow out for some time to come. This one has held up remarkably well, though I imagine much of that has to do with Doug taking great care of the bottle. A treat, and a testament to the fact that not just wales merit cellaring.

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

This beer pours a nice reddish orange color slightly hazy with 1-2 fingers of off white head produced from a vigorous pour. the smell is sweet toffee caramel, light hops earth spicey with a hint of booze in the finish. the flavor is sweet the toffee sweetness comes though and the hops are more faded, but this was about 1.5 years old. the mouthfeel is mdium to full bodied with god carbonation but not overly carbed and its smooth. overall a very very good barleywine.

Photo of Jules11788
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark, deep, orange-red color; one finger-width head, slight retention, super sticky lacing. Overall beautiful color.

S: Very, very slight smell of malts, toffee, and figs. Not much in the smell department.

T: Starts with a nice charred wood bitterness that opens up as it hits the middle of the tongue, revealing oaky bitter hops and some sweet bready malts, with a good helping of booze. Finishes with some spicy, earthy hops that linger.

M: Medium thickness; lightly carbonated; pretty boozy and sharp on the tongue. As it warms it mellows out A LOT and becomes buttery and smooth.

O: This is a great Barleywine that needs some time in the cellar to become and exceptional Barleywine

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

Bomber split with friend

Pours copper/orange color with a huge off white head. Some retention. Aromas of sugar, sweet malts, some hops, and fruits come through as it warms. Taste is lots of sugar and malts, typical for the style. Some earthy tones are noticed but not much more going on than the sugar. Mouthfeel is sticky and medium bodied. Overall this is a decent barley wine. Not exactly my style just too much sugar but good tasting.

Photo of crewfan16
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from a bomber to a pint glass.

a- poured a dark red/orange color. cream colored head didnt rise up much and left quickly.

s- sweet caramely malts, lots of oily piney musty smell. something nutty and perhaps brown sugar. maybe a bit of raisin even.

t-lots of hoppy bitterness. grapefruit and pineapple citrus. tons of caramel and malt to back it up though. finishes extremely bitter and dry.

m- as it warms, the booze really starts to come out, but never gets too overpowering. initially feels a bit oily on my tounge, but finishes very bitter and dry.

overall, I enjoyed this brew. I am not as familiar as some with barley wine in general, but this one was tasty. almost feels like a malty DIPA. its definately a sipper, but another solid brew from the great divide.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours a caramel amber with a hint of cherry. Two big fingers of manila foam, sticky walls all over the glass.

Aroma - pineapple and orange, a caramel figginess, very nice. At times, even suggestions of oranges and/or strawberries.

Taste - the first sip shows lots of bready, caramel sweetness and an odd touch of metal. After 20 months, the hops are still big but without the bite. Lots of good resiny pine, little if any push towards anything medicinal. Abv heat is evident but complementary to the big flavors of sweet grain and grapefruit rind. The finish is expectedly drying, warm, with some bitter residue hanging around for a good 15 seconds. No trace of the initial metallic flavor either. This is still hop-heavy, not quite as balanced as my ideal bw, but awfully good.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, pretty darn heavy too. Carbonation holding up quite well.

Drinkability - this is a good one for sharing, but still can be a big sipper. Just me and the cat still awake tonight, looks like Bogartski-ville for this one.

4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into tulip. 2010 vintage.

A: Pours a finger of light tan head, with good retention, it sinks into a frothy thin layer. The murky body is deep amber and has good level of slow carbonation.

S: Hops have gone completely, but leave a underlinging level of bitterness. Sweet malts impart a bubble gummy aroma. Medium level of intensity.

T/M: Big malt body, that has raisin and fig notes. The texture is creamy and the lingering finish is bitter and dry. Classic elementsof a great barley wine, a malted roasted kick paired with mellowed out hop bitterness. Chewy, but finishes silky.

O: Nice barley, good aroma and pleasant overall characte. Great beer to age, it has held on well.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber picked up from Consumer Beverage in Williamsville NY. This is my first brew from Great Divide, this one in particular came highly recommended by the staff, along with the Oak Aged Yeti.

Poured into a Duvel tulip, shared with a couple friends. A murky copper brown brew, slightly ruby when held to the light. About a half inch of head, good retention, foamy lacing patches. Nice looking for a barleywine.

Potent, inviting nose, which I could detect from about a foot away. Huge malt blast, a bit of booze, grape, caramel, sugar and bitter citrus hops.

A highly enjoyable barleywine, with a bold malty entry (notes of bread and caramel), grape, brandy and residual sugar, which quickly transitions to an earthy, slightly bitter and dry finish. Warming alcohol stays with you, quite pleasant. Since it's nearly impossible to get this beer in Ontario, I couldn't wait to try it; but were it more readily available, this would have been a real treat on a cold winter's day and thus I may have considered cellaring it. Slick, medium bodied, coats well, a slight boozy sensation on the tongue.

A nice brew, and a great introduction to Great Divide! A classic barleywine, fused with a bit of IPA characteristics, which was accessible and quite enjoyable. Considering the heat, a bomber was a bit much for me; certainly glad I shared it!

Photo of chocosushi
3.94/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage: 1/21/08

6oz->Duvel Tulip

A ~ Pours a deep opaque rust-brown with the creamiest of off-white heads. Grrrreat retention for such a high ABV beer.

S ~ Grapes, grapes & grapes. Bit of a cognac flavor going on with sliced apples. Smells rather fruity.

T ~ Completely different from the nose. Woody & rustic flavors reminiscent of sour mash. .Bark & Dark wheat toast with grape jam fades into wet grass. .Dates & Prunes are deep in the mix, with a Touch of molasses, tobacco & cocoa powder. Incredibly Hoppy, tree-sap finish.

M ~ Very heavy bittering on the finish. This fades as it warms up allowing sweet flavors to arise. Intensely dry-hopped.

D ~ Strong bodied beer with tons of flavor. Better at a touch below room temp for sipping. Aged very well.

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

Poured from a 650mL bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Bottled on 28 November 2010.

A: Respectable, creamy head. The beer is a dark brown-orange; translucent, coppery, and beautiful in the light. Good lacing.

S: Gentle, almost vegetal, hops. Caramel sugar and alcoholic malts. Tinge of citrus. Deep and pleasant.

T: So damn good. Big flavours full of moderately bitter hops that are overshadowed by bready, sugary, strong, assertive malts. Fruity with some spices thrown in? The endtaste is dry and aftertaste lingering. Not as good as I remember it on-tap, but still a great glass.

M: Thick, coating, playful, and just plain good. A bit spicy.

O: The perfect barleywine? Not too bitter, not to sweet, chock full of flavour, immense, lingering, and delicious. I love Great Divide, and only their Yeti series comes close to rivalling this beer. Highly recommended, worth seeking out, will be having again.

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

A: Thin, white head. Orangey-red amber. murky.

S: Hops, citrus, malts. Fruits and a little floral. Some alcohol.

T: Alcoholic. Very hoppy and citrusy. Sweet malts. Fruit. And some spice. Tasty.

M: Heavy and smooth with some carbonation and spice to give it a kick.

O: Delicious. I'm a fan. I'd have another and recommend it as well.

Photo of TheBrewo
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

We pour a reddish, tawny colored brew. It holds a caramel colored head of half a finger which recedes into a single layer of large sticky bubbles. These leave spots of lacing as they go. Heavy swirling produces a characteristic ring of bubbles around the edges of the glass, like a wall marking the borders of the liquid. There is a big haze to the beer with chunks of sediment floating about the glass. The carbonation appears standard, but the bubbles slowly rise through the thickness. The aroma is vibrant and rich, with a sturdy base being laid down by big and sweet caramel malts. They don’t seem roasty, but they have a deep character to them. This supports light buttery diacetyls and sugary strawberry. There is also a highly active hop presence lingering high over everything else to brush the back of the nose with its grapefruity glory. The booze is quite apparent, and becomes even more so with warmth. As we sip the mouth is met with heavy malts, buttery diacetyls, and a robust hop bitterness right from the start. The middle brings about a sugar sweetness of citrus, likely lent from the hop varietals. Bitterness of hops, however, remains, and takes on a bit of a soapy character. We ride this component through to the finale, where that strong bittering is cut further by an enhance sweetness of boozy fruit and a drying, chalky graininess. Additionally, the booze gives that strong peppery feel to clean the remaining flavors from the palate. The aftertaste breathes with bittering hops, a hint of caramel malts, and big spicy booze. The body is full and the carbonation is medium. There is nice froth lent by the persistent bubbles and the thickness, and there is a thick slurpability with each sip. The mouth is left dried by the hops, despite the initial creamy coating. The abv is strong but appropriate, and the beer drinks more slowly.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the rich aroma. None of the components seemed to outmuscle the other, with the nose ultimately striking a nice balance. The hops were there and unique with citrus for the style, while the malts were equally as unique, with their sweet caramel characteristics. As advertised there was a huge bittering aspect of this beer, as lent by the aromatic hops. While this did not act against the brew, by the end of the glass it became, debatably, a bit much, making the drinker sit back and really take his or her time.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,170 ratings.