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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,075 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,075
Hads: 2,297
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 258
Gots: 382 | 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
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Reviews: 1,075 | Hads: 2,297
Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Red Amber color with a good amount of haze. Head is slightly tan in color with some good retention in terms of head and lacing

Smell - Sweet Caramel, Toffee, Sweetened Piney/Citrus Hops, Malts, Yeasts and some fruity notes which I can't quite put my finger on. It's got a very rich smell to it, without being too powerful

Taste - Initial sips show Strong Resiny Citrus Hops upfront followed by sweet caramel flavors and malts. After the first sips, the hops are more balanced out with the sweetened caramel and fruity notes.

Mouthfeel - Thick Bodied with a feeling of molasses. The carbonation is pretty mild and makes it a surprisingly creamy beer to drink. I like it!

Overall - It starts out strong in terms of hoppiness before balancing out into a nice sweet tasting barleywine. Pair that along with a creamy mouthfeel and you get a winning combination (898 characters)

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

A: pours a deep brown/reddish-orange color with a one inch off-white head that becomes thin lacing for the rest of the glass. Sticks nicely to the sides.

S: citrus, darker fruits, malty sweetness. Very pleasant smelling with a hop kick.

T: first comes raisin, then bitter hops, apple, brown sugar, and some malt. The malt takes a back seat to every other flavor in this, making it very tasty. Alcohol becomes more present as it warms, but does not significantly detract from the taste. The only downside to the taste is a slight nutty flavor I get.

M: medium carbonation and a medium-heavy body on this beer creates a crisp feeling along with the mouth-coating goodness of the barley. As it warms the alcohol feels warm and the body gets much thinner.

O: it's big, so sips are required for me. Excellent beer, especially at $6 for a 22 oz. I'll have to try this again to see if the nutty flavor is still there. (918 characters)

Photo of flashablecards
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First review!

Barley Wines are a guilty pleasure of mine. I love all beer (there's even a place for Bud Light in this world), but I would pass on most beers for a chance to try something new in the BW realm. Tonight I did just that.

Appearance: Admittedly, I give my judgement with Thomas Hardy as a foundation. A lot clearer and brighter than I would expect.. has the color of a brown ale. Not that I really care though.

Smell: Yup, smells like BW. I was afraid there would be too much emphasis on hops after reading the description on the bottle, but it's definitely not noticeable here.

Taste: What I would expect from a BW; slightly sweet, with notes of age and wine. The hops in definitely noticeable, but not so overpowering that it takes away from anything else too much.

Mouthfeel: Never did understand this category. On a scale of 1 to 3, 1 being "what did i just put in my mouth" and 3 being "I feel fancy", I'll give it a solid 2.2.

I love BWs, and if you like Tom Hardy with a little bit of hops and a relatively high ABV (10.2%, I want wondering why I was feeling so fuzzy) you'll definitely enjoy this one. (1,126 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Bottled 12/2/11, so it is basically un-aged, but I'm going to give it a try.

Appearance: rich amber hue with the tiniest touch of haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam with a hint of orange infused. Nice!

Smell: big sweet malt with a light fruitiness and a bit of that strong-ale prickliness. Good!

Taste: big malt and big alcohol. Sweet with some caramel notes with a bite of both bitterness and alcohol. The hops themselves don't come through very strongly other than in bitterness. Frankly, it's a bit over-alcoholic; the flavor doesn't stand up to the octane.

Mouthfeel: big body with a great carbonation and a great silkiness. Pretty awesome.

Overall: there's just too much strength here for the flavor profile. The flavor is good, but even for a barleywine it's got too much alcohol. (842 characters)

Photo of depechemode1983
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours out a beautiful clear mahogany color. There isn't much head retention but it leaves lots of sticky lacing. The color is amazing though almost like a light red wine.

S - Bittersweet grapefruit, sweet caramel, sour grapes and faint alcohol. Extremely aromatic. All the smells jump out.

T - Very sweet. Maybe a little too sweet. Could use a little more balance. Still you get the grapefruit rind bitterness in there and this time around sweet apples come into play. Finish is bitter and alcohol is surprisingly well hidden considering the abv.

M - Soft, oily/slick. Carbonation is low.

O - I love beers like this. This whole bomber is going to last a really long time. Worth the 8 dollars in my honest opinion. Its a little malt forward but if you like that sort of thing and are expecting it than your in for a treat. (829 characters)

Photo of diamondc
3.51/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on Dec 5 2011

A: A clear shade of crimson, fluffy tan head, lots of lacing.

S: Spicy ... cinnamon, woodsy, dark chocolate, pine. Nothing really leaps out.

T: Heavy on the pine hop flavors, tastes almost dirt-y, bit of a cotton candy aftertaste.

M: A bit medicinal, reminds me of cherry flavored cough syrup. A sipper.

O: A decent barleywine, not the best on the shelf. Still enjoyed it though. (410 characters)

Photo of jrenihan
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled December 2, 2011.

Pours a reddish brown, relatively light. A fairly large white head recedes slowly.

Smell contains caramel malt, diacetyl, and some hoppy scents with mild citrus- grapefruit. Malt also results in a bit of a bready smell. Some grape and plum scents as well, a bit like port, but not strong. Quite good.

Taste follows the nose. The dark fruit scents stick out first, accompanied by caramel and bready malt flavours. The hoppy flavours come in as well, resulting in a beer that is well balanced between bitter and sweet and has a bit of a citrus flavour, along with a grassy element. Good.

Moderate carbonation, full bodied, a bit of a chewy flavour. Alcohol is present but quite well hidden for the strength.

Overall, very good. Very enjoyable and great on a cold day. (798 characters)

Photo of DavidST
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip, bottled on 12 - 5 - 12. This pours a brownish color with a massive lace leaving tan head. The smells are of toasted malts, caramel and a nice little bit of pine hops and dark fruit. The feel is thick. The taste is pretty good, a load of bitter hops, nuts, caramel and toasted malts, excellent. I'm glad I bought this today, I was looking for the 12 Bigfoot, but this is a fine alternative. (429 characters)

Photo of danieelol
2.91/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Adam @ Platinum

2010 Vintage.

Pours a lovely golden red with billowing head and great lacing.

Smell is pineapple hop and solvent. Also get qualities strongly reminiscent of Fullers Vintage/Golden Pride. Nutty notes a la Samichlaus.

Taste is underwhelming. Big dose of alcohol without any sweetness and with only faint malt.

Mouthfeel is thin and bone dry with minor alcohol burn.

Unfortunately this beer is very one note, too alcoholic and lacks any sweetness whatsoever, despite the fact it's supposed to be a barleywine. Dunno if this is a bad bottle or what. (577 characters)

Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 1.5 inch copper and white head over a deep amber red color, the lacing clings to the glass and the head is well retained.

Nose: Caramel, figs, piney hops and hints of citrus with bits of vanilla, then the malts come through and finish with the slightest hint of cotton candy.

Taste: Grassy and earthy yet candied, very complex with some dark fruit notes. The hops come through strong and are followed by hearty caramel and aggressive malt.

Mouthfell: Creamy and flowing with good supportive carbonation yet bitter by the hops that come through.

Overall: A great barley wine, will age well resulting in more present darker fruits. (645 characters)

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

A - This beer pours a brilliant dark ruby color that has nice clarity. There is about two fingers of tan head resting on top. The head has great retention, and it leaves some scattered lace behind on the glass.

S - The nose has a good amount of toasted malts and caramel. There are some good dark fruit aromas like figs, plum, and apricot. There is some candied sugar and a nice hop presence. Some booziness is also here.

T - The taste follows the nose well. It starts off with the toasted caramel malt and dark fruit flavors. There is a nice piney hop presence that adds some bitterness and citrus as well. Also, there area some flavors of candied sugar and a bit of booziness. The finish leaves some lingering caramel malt, fruit, piney hops, and a touch of booziness behind on the palate.

M - This has a medium body and good carbonation. It goes down easy and has a nice smooth feel to it. There is a slight chewy quality to it. It has a nice amount of sweetness, as well as a piney hop bitterness that stands out more. Also, there is some alcohol warmth in the finish.

O - This has really good drinkability. It is smooth and full of flavor. Overall, It is a great beer, and it is a very nice example of an American Barleywine. The flavor is really nice and it has a good hop presence. Also, the alcohol is pretty well hidden for being 10.2%. I recommend trying it out. It is an excellent beer, and I would buy it again. The price point isn't bad either. (1,464 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, unfortunately the date on the label is smudged but I think it says it was bottled sometime in November 2010. I've had the bottle for at least a year so I think that's the correct bottling date. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a dark reddish/amber color with about a half inch light tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The brew smells like dark fruit (prunes, raisins), brown sugar, pine hops, caramel malt and some sherry. For the most part it tastes just like the aroma, but there's also a slight bitter taste that I don't care for. It doesn't seem like a hoppy bitter flavor, there just seems something a little bit off about it. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit chewy and has good carbonation. Overall I think it's a good enough brew. I'll have to try this again in the future, maybe a fresher (or older) bottle will be better. (870 characters)

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

22 oz foil-capped bomber, bottled on Dec 02 2011, served in a tapered pint glass. Beer is perfectly between red and brown. Crystal clear, though. Thick, dark foam. Aroma of sweet corn and barley malt.

Flavors go way way down. There's the edge of sweetness you expect, followed by a significant hop load which brings complexity and an unbelievable balance, before leaving he palate just on the bitter side of the balance. 90 IBUs? Oh my. I can believe it.

The beer is no thicker or heavier than you'd expect for the style and there's not nealry as much alcohol burn as there should be. Well done, Great Divide. (611 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber from either '05 or '06 poured into a medium-sized Duvel tulip. Big thanks to Matt for sharing this well-aged treat.

A: Clear ruby body with a 1/2" head of fine tan foam. Ok retention, spotty lace. Nice, especially considering its age.

S: Soft, delicate, yet rich aroma of toffee, raisin, plum, and some herbal hop notes. Balanced, rich, and lovely.

T: Big and sweet up front, with nice toffee and vanilla notes leading in to a bitter, boozy, toasty finish. Tastes like a great, old American Barleywine - which it is.

M: Slick medium body, low carbonation. Ok.

O: I can't believe it's taken me this long to try this beer; I've got a couple bottles in my own cellar, but have never gotten around to opening one. Given how tasty this was with at least 5 years on it, I won't be in any hurry to open my more recent bottles. I really hope Great Divide comes back to CT soon, as I'd like to set up a nice vertical of this stuff.

Cheers! (943 characters)

Photo of SkiBum22
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a murky orange/red color with a thick slightly off white head that leaves some nice lacing.

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

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

M - Thick and syrupy and full and very much bold with flavor.

O - Another solid beer from Great Divide. This is my first time having this beer and I can tell that I'll like this one more with a few years on it. (595 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Old Ruffian, bottle bought at Owasso Wine&Liquor in Oklahoma for $11.99 (then I come back to NYC and see it for $8.99!).

Bottled November 2010 and consumed on January 29 2012.

Appearance: Classic barleywine looks, amber-raisin looks, sherry-like. A solid finger of head that lasts and lot of foam. Great carbonation, retention and lacing.

Smell: Hoppy! Despite the age... funky too, stinky lake in a pig farm in Texas. Brown sugar, coconut shavings. Dirty raisin juice, stale cranberry juice.

Taste: Hops right away, dank and musty. I get a little vanilla and coconut... then toffee, Twix, lot of sugar. Some serious sweetness here! Booze, top-shelf liquor.

Mouthfeel: Full flavor, medium-to-full-body, well balanced. Not too dry or boozy. Smooth and nice, you can feel the age.

Overall: I love how drinkable this is. A farmer's beer, let me say, so "barnyard-y". The age adds interest to it and it is really balanced. Some hops and funk on the mix. Not the most outrageous barleywine in the world, but damn good! (1,025 characters)

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with a mountain of thick, foamy, cascading, brownish head that has amazing retention. The nose has a heavy citrusy hop aroma as well as a faint caramelly, malty aroma with hints of pineapple and birthday cake. The flavor is malty, bready, and caramelly up front with some faint dark fruit notes followed by an intense hop character. The hops offer citrus, grapefruit, and pineapple as well as some piny, earthy notes. The hops leave the bitterness of an IPA behind on the palate well after the swallow. The alcohol is present but it mostly adds warmth and a slight bite to the finish. The mouthfeel is warm, medium to full bodied, and very smooth.

This is a well built barleywine. This will also keep the DIPA vs. Barleywine conversation going. The flavor is fantastic and I bet some time will calm the hops and marry the flavors a little. The alcohol is buried and only really shows up in the finish and in the warmth of the mouthfeel. It's drinkabe. Maybe dangerously so. I would definitely have this again. (1,030 characters)

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

22 oz bottle. Snifter.

A: Very dark red, finger of creamy off-white head.

S: Strong overripe dark fruits (figs, dates, raisins), and lots of underlying booze.

T: It certainly leans toward the fruity side with bitter raisin flavor sticking out.

M: The body is pretty thick with average carbonation.

O: It is a good barleywine along the lines of Old Horizontal and Third Coast Old Ale. (388 characters)

Photo of zhanson88
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled Nov. 2010.

Appearance: Pours out a deep clear ruby color with 1/2" of off-white head. Head is very fizzy and doesn't last long, not surprising considering the ABV and style. Lacing and legs are decent.

Smell: Smells of sweet caramel, maybe a few dark fruits, and plenty of hops. A lot of citrus and pine hops are present.

Taste: Similar to the smell. Fairly malty up front with caramel, and a very hoppy finish. Still very hoppy after 1 year, I would be interested to see what 3-4 years does for it.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. A bit prickly. The beer definitely does drink to it's 10.2% mark, the alcohol is definitely noticeable. Overall, a pretty good barleywine. I tend to enjoy the malty barleywines more, so while I enjoyed this, I didn't love it. Still, have to recognize it for a solid beer of it's style. Would like to try one of these that's aged even more for comparison's sake. (938 characters)

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! (1,014 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
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. (1,438 characters)

Photo of BB1313
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
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.. (752 characters)

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. (354 characters)

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. (354 characters)

Photo of Acoke
3.67/5  rDev -13.2%
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. (662 characters)

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,075 ratings.