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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,976 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,976
Reviews: 1,038
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 207
Gots: 278 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Old Ruffian is a hefty, hop-forward Barley Wine. Seemingly mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness, it quickly becomes aggressive with its bold hop flavors and huge hop bitterness. Ultimately, the big body, succulent sweetness and massive hop character come together to work wonders on your palate.

(Beer added by: gbontrag on 11-28-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,976 | Reviews: 1,038 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TexIndy


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

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a Duvel tulip. Bottled on date of 12/10/09 on bottom right of label. It was a rich burgundy color with carb streams from the etching only. It had a large two finger off-white head that slowly dissipated into a foam cap and thick collar. Good sticky lace.

The aroma was excellent and best of the AmBW's that I've had so far. Heavy on hops with grapefruit, pine and c-hops but also a good deal of pineapple, brown sugar and caramel. Well balanced. The taste was also well balanced between hops and malt. The sweet of the malt starts it off then the hops rapidly kick in for a nice smooth hop finish. Very well done. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with good carbonation and slightly dry finish.

Overall, an excellent beer and the best AmBW that I've had. Smooth and easy to drink with good hops that are well balanced by the malt. You feel the ABV at then end a bit but never smell it or taste. Most highly recommend. Worthy of the T100 rank. Rotation - avail here in TX in bottle and tap at FS/GM. I've had at the brewery on tap and finally got around to reviewing it. Should have done sooner as this will earn a spot in the occasional rotation.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2010 02:54:28 | More by TexIndy
Photo of Pahn

New York

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip. No bottled on date to be found.

Appearance: 1/2 inch bone white head dissipates steadily into a small bubbly pile of foam. Decent lacing and wine-like legs. Color is a very warm and dark orange, reddish and brownish. Opaque from haze.

Smell: Deep brown sugar and caramel, fresh bread, and some less pronounced notes creeping in the background (I think I got some apple and grassiness hiding alongside the bread and sugar).

Taste: First sip: smooth, juicy start with a strong and bready taste of brown sugar and caramel, then a pleasant explosion of hop bitterness. Hot alcohol finish. This is a perfectly balanced, classic American barley wine; big malt, big hops, deep and complex caramel/candy flavor profile, some hot alcohol, with nothing overshadowing anything else.

The beginning of each sip has the mildest of hop bitterness and a slight prickle of carbonation on the top of the tongue. Then the full, bready and sweet malt flavors bloom, then comes a bomb of not-just-bitter-but-flavorful hops which proceed to dance back and forth with the malt until the alcohol heat shuts down the dance leaving a pleasant warmth with some sweet malt breadiness sticking around for the aftertaste. Perfect.

Mouthfeel: Juicy then creamy, punchy hops and subdued carbonation, then boozy heat and an ever so slightly chewy finish. On a personal note, for me, this beer has the perfect carbonation; a bit player in the taste and feel--not at all soda-like, but just enough to punch up the experience.

Drinkability: While this beer doesn't hide its ABV, it's so well-balanced and delicious that the only impediment to drinkability is simple drunkenness; it's not too heavy, nor too sweet, nor too bitter, nor too anything. Plainly not to be pounded, but no reason not to sip multiple bottles over a long period of time.


This beer speaks for itself. All I'll say in summary is that if you even remotely like American barley wines and haven't tried it, do so. If I had to suggest 1 beer to introduce someone to American barley wine, it would be this one.

Another amazing offering by Great Divide (their Hibernation has been my go-to beer for the last month or so). If I lived in Denver, I'd be a fixture in their tap room.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2010 02:09:01 | More by Pahn
Photo of sweemzander


4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. No bottled date found.

(A)- Pours a cloudy brown, yet red mahogany color that produced a solid tan to off-yellow head with good retention. Left some bits of lacing behind as it dissipated.

(S)- Deep & rich fruits of figs, raisins, and cherries with toasted toffee, caramel, and honey. Bits of cinnamon biscuits. Finishes very dry & woody.

(T)- Wow! Ridiculously dry! It totally dried out my entire mouth with bittering woody hops, but immediately morphs into an array of complexities: Under-ripe cherries, figs, raisins, and toasted toffee, yet with a still constant underlying dryness throughout.

(M)- A great carbonation level with an overall good balance. Just massively dry. A relatively good alcohol integration with only a minor warmth as it went down.

(D)- This barleywine means serious buisness! Pretty massive on all levels, yet by no means overpowering. This is an excellent example of the style!
I would definitely share this with a friend though, because this bottle kicked my ass once I finished it! This beer could age for many many more years considering how it is at this stage. I just wish I knew how old this one actually is; its still got tons of power behind.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2010 03:49:11 | More by sweemzander
Photo of drtth


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

Poured into a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. The 2007 version in a 22 oz bottle.

Appearance: As poured the beer is a lightly hazy caramel brown color with a 2" light tan head that soon recedes to a ring around the glass and an island of foam in the middle of a thin layer over the surface. The foam clings to the glass and sipping leaves behind patches and rings of foam and lots of tiny speckles. Even towards the end of the beer there are still sticky sheets of foam on the sides of the glass and sipping leaves behind scattered speckles of lacing.

Smell: The aroma is full of caramel and toffee from the malt backbone, along with pine and traces of grapefruit from the hops, even two years after bottling. As the beer warms the hop character recedes into the background and becomes harder to detect.

Taste: The flavors include the things predicted from the nose--caramel, grapefruit zest, and pine, but there is more. There is a fruity character in here that reminds me a bit of cherries. There is no really presence of the alcohol except for its warming effects. As the beer warms the flavors from the hops become more subdued as the malt becomes more assertive. Lots of complexities in this flavor.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is full bodied and sticky but with a soft silky feeling and moderate persistent carbonation that tickles the tongue and mouth. The long finish begins with caramel almost, but not quite, dominating the hops. Then the toffee flavored sweetness of the backbone fades more rapidly than the grapefruit and pine resin bitterness of the hops. That bitterness is forward for a while and then simply fades off into a dryness that cries out for another sip.

Drinkability: This is a first rate American style Barleywine and I hate to come to the end of it. This one is dangerously drinkable at its high ABV. I'm sure I'll be having this one again and I'm already mentally adding it to my shopping list.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2010 02:32:55 | More by drtth
Photo of Blitzstyle


4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a my new DFH glass. Color is a muddeled brownish color, with a small big bubble head and some good sticky lace.

Smelled of heavy citrus and pine hops but a big caramell sweetness that provides great balance in the scent. Alcohol is present but minor.

A great mixing of bitterness and sweetness. Cirtus hops that have a really strong front taste, but a pine like finish to them. Caramell sweetness dominates the finish of the beer. Alcohol is well hidden in here but is detectable.

Sweet aftertaste medium heavy body, thick and creamy. Has a bit of a warming feeling to it. Really nice balance to the beer alcohol is well hidden very drinkable barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2009 01:09:52 | More by Blitzstyle
Photo of cyraxx


4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - In a word, beautiful. A rocky off-white rocky head sits atop a lovely ruby-red body. One of the prettiest beers I've had the pleasure of drinking.

S - Sweet and hops. The citrus hops seem to dominate but there is a definite caramel malt sweetness underneath.

T - Hop overload upfront that lingers on the back of the tongue as the caramel/fruitiness comes through.

M - I like my barleywines to have some body, so I was hoping that they'd be able to give me something in the terms of their Yeti. Not as thick as I'd like, but definitely has something to it. You know you're drinking a barleywine.

D - Fairly drinkable for the style, but as it warms up the alcohol becomes more prevalent and cuts down the drinkability a bit for me.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2009 02:41:35 | More by cyraxx
Photo of Rayek


4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at the Great Divide Tap Room in a snifter.

A: Deep copper, with nice clarity and mild carbonation. A frothy cream cap has decent retention and leaves lots of lace.

S: Heavy on the hops, with a lot of citrus, pine and even a touch of anise. Malts are there with aromas of toffee and toasted bread. Alcohol adds a bit of a tingle.

T: The bittersweet toffee starts things out, but is quickly replaced by a rush of bitterness. Pine is the predominant theme, but grapefruit and pepper are at work as well. Alcohol adds a nice warmth, but is otherwise well masked.

M: The slightly thick body is lighter than I was expecting. Carbonation feels right on.

D: This is a very nice barleywine. My sample was fresh from the 2009 vintage. It felt like it could stand some aging to even out the rough edges, but was quite nice given its youth. I'll revisit this one again.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2009 03:33:57 | More by Rayek
Photo of bonkers

New Jersey

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

I poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. It pours a deep caramel, with a big sticky white head. The aroma was hop forward with multiple layers of alternating sweetness and floral notes. The flavor was complex. Big sweet caramel notes are paired well with big piney/ citrus to create a perfectly balanced beer. The alcohol is perfectly hidden until the finish, leaving a warming taste in the back of the throat. The beer is a well made, full bodied sipper. Perhaps the best barleywine I have had.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2009 17:43:04 | More by bonkers
Photo of bsp77


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

This is the Jan '09 release, so about a year old.

Serving glass: Poured from bomber into Snifter.

Appearance: Dark reddish-orange with thin tan head and some spotty lacing.

Smell: Big Barleywine malt smell (caramel, plum, butterscotch) with citrus and pepper bitterness creeping in and overtaking everything else. Strong alcohol aroma as it warms.

Taste: Slightly sweet upfront with caramel, butterscotch, figs, plum and other dark fruit. Then it turns nasty (in a good way), with a very spicy and slightly citrusy bitterness that is almost overwhelming. Almost.

Feel: Low carbonation, thick and creamy body, warming, mouth wrenchingly bone dry finish.

Drinkability: Similar to Bigfoot, but maybe a notch better. Great Barleywine, but still a little hard to drink too much of it.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2009 13:48:42 | More by bsp77
Photo of Tone


3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, amber/copper color. 1/2 inch head of a pale tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, dark citrus, and caramel. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol (strong), slight roasted malt, citrus, slight hop, and sweet malt background. Overall, a strong alcohol characteristic, but good body.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 06:24:30 | More by Tone
Photo of jhammel01

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark dark ruby red into glass mug with a great sticky thick head. The head sticks around forever. Its a bit off white and very dense. Tons of lacing..

Smells of ALCOHOL! tons of it...also a bit of hoppiness that seems the most prominent. Some caramel and citrus from the hops as well.

The taste up front is bittering hops. Not much other than the bitterness of the hops, not oily but alot of some citrus, almost "soapy". Also heavy amounts of malt. Tastes like roasted malts to be honest. A good mix of two bittering things.

The mouthfeel is tingly, a bit thick-full bodied. Its very good.

Definitely, a great beer for a cold night. I'm enjoying this one quite a bit.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2009 03:21:19 | More by jhammel01
Photo of luchris80


3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting Notes: Stored in wine fridge and served in a snifter

Aroma: Prominent hop nose with a slight hint of caramelly malt. A bit of dark fruit aroma present (prune, raisin, etc). Some noticeable alcohol.

Appearance: Copper to brown in color with a slight hint of red. Solid, off-white head with fairly quick dissipation. Good clarity - bubbles can be seen rising.

Flavor: Fairly strong and lingering bitterness. The alcohol is not quite as strong as aroma implies. Tiny bit of malt (caramel) flavor. Long, but pleasant finish with good hoppy bitterness. The higher alcohol content is well balanced with the hop flavor(s).

Mouthfeel: Smooth and velvety on the palate. Alcohol warmth is present, but not excessive.

Overall Impressions: This is the first barleywine that I can recall having. Really a very enjoyable drinking experience that gets even better as the beer warms towards room temperature. The good hop bitterness is typical of the American Barleywine style (from what I have read). I would certainly (buy and) drink again.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2009 19:13:49 | More by luchris80
Photo of THORN


4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1 Pint 6 Fl. Oz. poured into pint glass. Served 50-55 F.
A: Dirt red brown. No apparent CO2 bubbles. Pours 1/2 inch thick yellow slightly brown head, retains a good amount. Leaves thick bubbly lace.
S: Citrus filled fruity hops, caramel, and I can smell it from a far.
T: Bitterness is accompanied with by citrus and fruit. Toasted malts balance hop presence. Alcohol presence is welcoming.
M: Great on tongue, sweeping warmth, and it is complete from front to back.
D: Super hoppy, super malty, and appreciable alcohol content. Everything blends well and makes for a great Barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2009 04:29:19 | More by THORN
Photo of NittanyBeerFan


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

A: Dark brown murky appearance that produces a rich ruby color when held up to light. Thin head with fairly good retention. Lacing comes in a delicate pattern with little gobs of bubbles.

S: Sweet, malty, and an aroma of piney hops. Not even a hint of alcohol heat after one year in the cellar.

T: Sticky malts and resinous piney hops. The initial flavor is sweet with notes of toffee malts. Fruity notes of dates and other dark fruits. Finish has a hint of residual hop bitterness among rich caramel malt.

M/D: Smoothly textured with a sticky malty finish. Far less heavy than the style and alcohol content lead on. Very drinkable, but the alcohol catches up quickly.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2009 01:51:20 | More by NittanyBeerFan
Photo of jrallen34


3.28/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into a Rochefort glass.

This beer is a muddy brown color that is not entirely appealing. The head is a very light tan with little retention or lacing.

The aroma has a little malts on the front with a very "off" hopish flavor. Its hops but one that is very unique almost tarry.

The taste is also tarry, piney with a lots of hops.

The feel is heavy but drinkability is done.

Overall this is ok, but nothing super special.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2009 23:50:00 | More by jrallen34
Photo of mjl21


4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Comes in at 10.2% and 85-90 IBUs. Unsure of when it was bottled, but it does have the old artwork that is on BA.

A-Pours an opaque brown. It has a one finger tan head that dissolves into a nice layer. Leaves some decent lace.

S-Lots and lots of caramael and toffee. Smells like a big barleywine. There is some faded citrus hops that pop out. Guessing this bottle has been in the cooler for awhile.

T-Caramel, toffee, and chocolate start it out. There is grapefruit in the middle. It finishes with some booze, grapefruit bitterness, and sweet caramel. It gets more citrusy as it warms.

M-It is thick and oily. I found it to be a touch too carbonated.

D-A good drinking barleywine. This one definitely ages well.

Always a good bw that I have never taken the time to review. Need to track down a fresh bottle to see how the hops play out.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2009 18:21:58 | More by mjl21
Photo of wnh


4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Unknown vintage, estimated Spring/Summer 2007. Old label design.

Pours a deep, orange-tinted mahogany with a large-ish but fleeting dark cream head, frothy around the edges.

Rich and intense nose, with aromas of leafy, slightly citric hops, candied orange, toffee, sweet caramel, and a host of other notes proving difficult to parse.

Hoppier on the palate than the nose seems to indicate. Sweet malt (toffee? caramel?) on the entry, quickly making way for resinous, bitter hops. Oily, but mildly drying. Alcohol is present and warming, but not boozy. Sweet on the whole, but seems to come more into balance as the beer warms, with toasted malt and earthy hops counteracting the sweet toffee and caramel and candied citrus flavors.

Medium to full in body, and relatively firm. Low-ish carbonation, making for a rich mouthfeel.

An excellent barleywine, and at over two years of age it still has plenty of room to grow.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2009 23:20:12 | More by wnh
Photo of jjanega08


4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= Pours a hazy amber brownish color not bad looking at all with a huge three finger head on it thats an off white color that has some pretty decent retention. The lacing is really nice and sticky as well.
S= Like any good barleywine it's got a nice chocolaty sweet malty nose to it. really a nice grainy smell to it as well. some coffee notes in it and maybe a slight hop presence that leads me to believe this is over a year old.
T= Still has a good amount of hop presence to it which is great. I notice all the same little bits I got in the smell. Nice chocolate and coffee notes but what really comes out the most is the solid grain flavor. There's no alcohol present at all but you still know your drinking something with a higher ABV because the intense flavor.
M= Smooth and slick would be two words I could sum this up with.
D= Great. A really nice barleywine. I wanna find one of these fresh now. With age on it which this one obviously had due to the dust on it before I bought it and the small amount of hops. Really nice and delicious.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2009 05:04:06 | More by jjanega08
Photo of northaustin


4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 up in this! woot woot!

poured into a schnifter. pours a hazy and consistent reddish/purpleish with a finger of even white head that hangs around for a bit and leaves a stringy, strong lacing.

this smells like a barleywine should!! big sweetness that mixes perfectly with a strong alchohol presence and some fruity floral notes. i love it.

taste: a mellow sweetness with a strong note of alchohol in the end.

this beer is not very sessionable as it is very strong. but for a bad ass barleywine the price is right. cant wait to try a fresh one to compare the two.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2009 06:03:02 | More by northaustin
Photo of brownbeer


4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 5-15-07

A- Amber with a thick, frothy tan head with good retention.

S- Rich doughy, caramel malt with a pretty big spicy hop presence still.

T&M- Full bodied malt sweetness up front and rounds out to a balanced finish. The fruity hop flavor and bitterness comes out more as it warms.

D- This beer ages very well and is a pleasure to drink. I'll definately be picking up more of this vintage for the cellar. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2009 02:25:30 | More by brownbeer
Photo of Mistofminn


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

22 oz bomber bottled in 2008 picked up from Zipps. I'm pretty sure this is the same bottle I've seen on the shelves for months, so I'm not expecting the best.

Pours a nice red amber/copper color with a two finger tan head with great retention. Leaves sheets of lacing down the entire glass.

The smell lets you know this bottle is nearly a year old. Despite having a year to reek havoc, there is still a small hop presence here. The dominant character in this is definitely the malts. Caramel malts are strong and up front the way they should be in a Barleywine. Good stuff.

The taste is much like the smell. Dominated by a strong caramel malt backbone with the slightest earthy hops coming in right at the end. Huge caramel flavors are doing laps in my mouth, this is intense, and very tasty!

Mouthfeel is thick and rich! Alcohol is out in full force, but there is so much flavor going on you forget about it. Drinkability is great.

This is a fantastic Barleywine. I definitely need to put a couple of these down for a little while to see how they improve with age!

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2009 05:41:53 | More by Mistofminn
Photo of Fweezle


4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a beautiful clear copper with a dense cream head. Even after a year of age this beers had tons of piney bitterness (though no citrus) hops and a wonderful "husky" malt profile. Bready and biscuity with a perfect hop bite. Wonderful.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2009 13:33:46 | More by Fweezle
Photo of smuttanator


4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First off, this beer looks gorgeous. It has a perfect caramel color and pours with as perfect a head as I've ever seen. Taste-wise this beer is well balanced with a nice hoppy and malty feel. I wish the taste was more complex, but all in all its a solid example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2009 02:35:27 | More by smuttanator
Photo of matty


3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber colored beer with a rapidly fading head.Aroma is dominated by caramel malts.Taste is caramel,malts,hops,dark fruits and alcohol on the very end.This is a very good beer that was worth the 7.99 I paid for 22 oz.Like all the beers I have had from this brewery I recommend and would purchase again.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2009 13:25:41 | More by matty
Photo of KCHopHead


4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I read some of the reviews and I agree with most so I am not going to repeat. What I will say is that this is a prime example of an American Barleywine. There is nothing to offensive about but nothing that stands out from other American Barleywines. It is a sweet, hoppy, heavy sipper that hides 10% very well. I rated every category at a 4.0 just because nothing stood out to me, but all categories were a good example.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2009 03:52:49 | More by KCHopHead
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,976 ratings.