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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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2,117 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,117
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 227
Gots: 310 | FT: 15
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: 2,117 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Tballz420
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After a rich cascade action, a very sizable tan head floats above a clear, dark amber/brown body. Lace sticks all over the glass. Loads of malt on top of bitter hops in the nose. Very big flavor, loads of sweet malt trailed by a sharp bitter hop bite. The spicy alcohol can be detected, but it is well blended. Fairly wet mouth, but full bodied. At 10.2% this beer has some bite. Very nice barley, would like to see one of these aged for a couple years.

Photo of philbe311
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dense nearly opaque dark black cherry coloring... A tad bit of light leaks in through the top... Just the slightest amount of carbonation rises along the sides of the glass... Rich fingers worth of tan head displays moderate retention... Head ultimately fades to leave a full splotchy lacing which is exceedingly thicker around the edges of the glass... Some slight stickiness on the glass throughout the session...

S - Terrific aroma... Loads of fruit - cherries, plums, raisins... Sweet caramel... Some piney hop notes... Well balanced and quite inviting...

T - Similar to the nose, the palette is seduced by a wonderfully delicate mix of fruit and caramel... The hops come fully to life on the back end and remain dominant as part of the after taste... A slight booziness joins as part of the after taste that lingers for a while...

M - Terrifically mellow and well balanced... I want to say "delicate," but that seems unimaginable at 10.2% ABV... Perfect carbonation on the front end of the sip... Fills mouth fully... Slightly warming...

D - There aren't enough accolades to describe this epic offering from Great Divide... I'm continually impressed by Great Divide, and this is their best...

Photo of david18
3.11/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A good barleywine but not the best. Great Divide is usually very aggressive with hops but not with this. American Barleywine is distinguished by its bitterness combine with malty strength and, although this has the latter it certainly lacks in the former. It's worth trying but Great Divide makes a number of better ales including its Hercules and Hybernation Ales.

Photo of argock
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz brown bomber into a clear stemmed glass goblet. No freshness date. Purchased at Ancona's (Ridgefield, CT) for $6.19.

A: Orange-amber hue with 1-2 finger, beige head with very good retention and tons of lacing.

S: Hefty citrus and floral hops aromas mingle with lush, varied light and caramel malt aromas to produce a very well-rounded brew

T: A hops greater than malt barleywine, but a great example of the American Barleywine style for just that reason. Thick, rich light malt flavors set the scene for the complex orange, pine, and spicy hops flavors. One of the top American Barleywines.

M: Thick without feeling syrupy, medium-full body with a pleasant hoppy aftertaste.

D: A very drinkable, high ABV, American-styled Barleywine with strong hops and smooth but full mouthfeel. An exceptional version of the style. RIght on par with the brewery's other offerings -- formidable to say the least.

Photo of BirdFlu
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have no idea how old this bottle is which I am having my first taste of Old Ruffian from.. It may very well be years old as I have seen it on my main store's shelf for some time (and its the old design).. So I have no idea how fresh this was..
Pours a really nice amber-ruby color. Very red with an off-white head Smell is very sweet with a noticeable hop presence but its not super strong. Very hoppy taste with some sweetness underneath it. A candy-like, caramel sweetness, not malty. Reminiscent of SN Bigfoot, somewhat, with less sweetness. Very floral hops with maybe some grapefruit. Fairly tart. Mouth has a bit of acridity to it but has a nice body. Full but not heavy. Drink is definitely good, but not great. Acridity to the gflavor takes it down a bit, but I'm curious to see if this was a fresher bottle or not. Very American barleywine, walking the line of a sweet DIPA.

Photo of Docer
3.76/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

WooHoo.. grabbed a bottle at beaumont market in NE Portland... bottled in Jan. of '09.

- Nice very slightly cloudy browny brown of an ale... slightly heavy pour left a great tan creamy head that lasts... mega lacing.. looks good!

- Sweet caramel malt scent... bittering hop... candy and ester.. and alcohol.

- Super sweet caramel candy wine with a bit of a bitter tongue and bite... but compliments it well and balances the whole lot.. tad strong in alcohol.. but it too is masked quite a bit by the bitter/sour balance. Quite nice and unique.

- Bit tart and dry.. chewy.. overall decent feel.

- Drinkable, but not as much as some other American Barleywines... but its OK. Slightly warming and sour.

Photo of kmeves
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber/copper with a small beige head that lasts and also leaves nice lacing. Aroma is moderately sweet with caramel, toffee, grapefruit, pine, raisin and bread. Flavor is caramel, grapefruit, pine, pineapple and light chocolate. Full bodied, very creamy texture. Light alcohol burn in the finish. This beer would improve with age no doubt.

Photo of Sean9689
3.6/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bomber into Duvel tulip.

A - Rusty dark copper in color, tan head, a good amount of lacing left behind.

S - Sweet citrus, sugars, honey, and malt mixed with some alcohol.

T - More bitter then sweet. A good amount of hops in this one, that's for sure. A clean finish, I can feel some of the alcohol burn in my chest.

M - Medium bodied, good carbonation. As refreshing as an IPA, but still a sipper.

D - A good American Barleywine, but Behemoth is a better choice, in my opinion. Not a huge fan, so this will probably be my only experience with this beer.

Photo of TheMistler
4.11/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with an ample tan head that continues to build well after you've stopped pouring. Creamy, displaying pretty nice retention and nice spider-web lacing. That tops a nicely orange-amber caramel colored brew, a wee bit hazy.

Caramel and brown sugar to nose, sweet citrus. Biscuit. Cream. ABV evidences itself with a slight spice, which has a smokey hint to it.

Hoppier taste than nose. Maple, caramel sweetness up front quickly finds itself competing with hops. Tangy, roasted quality. Finishes sticky, mouth-smackingly dry. Herbal bitter aftertaste. Quite nice, well balanced.

Starts somewhat prickly, becoming very creamy. Not light bodied, of course, but lighter than one might expect. Medium. Goes down smooth, as a sipper.

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

Sampled this at an epic tasting hosted by EinWeizenbitte. Thanks a ton Todd!

Roughly six-month-old bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Huge, fluffy, tan-peach head surges up from a hazy, autumn red-brown body. Top-notch retention and tons of sticky lace. Consistent streams of carbonation feed the head throughout the session. Looks fantastic!

Smell: Tons of caramel and honey, with a solid dosage of hop resin to boot. Smells sweet and syrupy with a touch of pine in the back. Not too complex, but smooth and spot-on.

Taste: Maple syrup, wood, some butter and bready doughy malt, and, oh yeah, TONS of piney hops. I can't imagine what this would taste like fresh. Conversely, I'd love to taste one that's got a few years on it. A very, very, hop-forward barleywine. Yum. EDIT (06-07-09): drinking it fresh right now, and damn it is awesome!

Mouthfeel: Resinous, syrupy, and very warm. Medium carbonation. Pretty thick body. I think this one needs a little time to cool off. EDIT (06-07-09): Fuck that - totally hittin' the spot right now.

Drinkability: Again, a little time would do this one good. This was very bitter and very hot; very delicious, but very bitter and very hot. Can't wait to get my hands on a bottle or two of my own! EDIT (06-07-09): Just depends on the mood you're in. This is disappearing quick tonight!

Photo of evantwomey
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into a snifter.

Appearance is a deep amber, solid layer of foam on the pour which leaves spidery lacing all around the glass. A gentle swirl brings the head back with ease. So far so good. The aroma is a beautiful thing...a mix of earthy hops and candy-like malt. I'm picking up some other 'earthy' aromas- sort of reminds me of the way a damp cellar smells. Deep, smoky aromas in the background.

Taste up-front is sweet malt but instantly the hops rush into your mouth. These guys did a fantastic job getting tons of hop flavor into this beer, and just the right amount of bitterness to balance the malt. The finish is not overly bitter, rather, it's a clean, lingering bitterness that is darn refreshing.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Smooth, velvety, but lively with carbonation too.

For a Barleywine of >10% abv, this is a very drinkable beer. Neither the hops nor barley are cloying, perfectly balanced. Overall a righteous example of an American barleywine and this is instantly my new favorite of this style. Will definitely seek this out again.

Photo of yeastsipper
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nice copper color with big fluffy head. A very good looking beer.

Smell is of sweet malt which is overshadowed by a bitter and citrus - some lemon, lime and grapefruit aromas.

Taste is much the same. Great balance, yet big, bold flavors. The beer is alternately sweet and bitter. Hops play a huge role, but there is always a malt backbone. As the beer warms, the alcohol becomes very evident.

This is a great beer. Tons of bold flavor. A huge alcohol kick as well. Seek this out....

Photo of tr4nc3d
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into my snifter

Pours a light caramel brown like color, when held to the light it has a light ruby accent to it. Huge three finger off-white which is slightly on the tan side, truly magnificent. The head was very foamy and thick leaving soapy lacing stuck to my glass.

Malted barley, wheat, grains, spices, bread like, brown sugar, caramel, bitterness hops, and slight alcohol. Smells delicious!!!

Up front hoppy bitterness with some spices showing up and then it gives way into the sweet caramel malts. Leaves a tad bitter dry taste in the end.

Medium bodied with very good amounts of carbonation tickling my tongue.

Its been a while since I tried a new style and thought I should give barley wines a try. So as my first barley wine ever, I thought it was good. This is a little to boozy for me though to drink more then one. I definitely will seek out other barley wines and compare.

Photo of connecticutpoet
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at Julio's. Boy, I am sure reviewing a lot of Julio's samples today.

This beer was deep amber, clear, with a half finger head in my sample glass.

Aroma said malt bomb. Rich, strong malts, no trace of the mustiness that often accompanies a barleywine. Hints of hops, but malt was king.

Taste was definitely a malt masterpiece. Strong, rich, and firm malts with a hint of caramel. No trace of hops evident, but the alcohol was.

Mouthfeel was nothing but smoooth. This was one slick beer.

Watch out when you drink this one, it will go down faster than you may think. And it's got the power to lay you out.

Photo of gameface23
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A: Brownish amber pour with a tan head.

S: Aroma is caramel sweetness combined with hop tartness.

T: The flavor is similar to the aroma.

M: It has a great mouthfeel that is nice and thick.

D: A well rounded beer. It's definitely a sipper, but one that I enjoyed during the entirety of drinking it.

Photo of froghop
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a cloudy burnt auburn with a large foamy beige head, and great lacing.

smell is faint, some caramel, dark fruit, malt, alcohol, some hops, a touch of spice, and a touch of roastiness.

taste is thick and creamy, bitter, malty, burnt caramel, some spice, bitter in the end.

Photo of Brad007
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 version (before the label change)

Pours a medium reddish color with a thick two-finger head into my glass.

Aroma is strong with a hint of raisin and sweet malt in the nose. Grassy hops show in the nose as well. Seems very appealing and to the style.

Taste is strong with alcohol showing up front, giving way to grassy hops and raisin/sweet malt. Alcohol warmth coats the throat. Hops aren't too strong.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering hops, alcohol and raisin. Alcohol is still strong even with nearly two years on this beer (unless I'm wrong?).

Again, a very nice barleywine that could use more aging to it. Strong, hoppy and has a lot of cellaring potential. Check it out.

Photo of brow1901
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Old Ruffian BW poured into a tulip glass. Nice brown redish color with off white head that lasts for ever. Smells good, not much exceptional smells but I like the alcohol as the beer warms. Tastes a bit too sweet compared to other BW's but I love the hops in this beer much more pronounced than other BW's. The alcohol is there in the taste but not overwhelming, just warming. The beer is fairly drinkable, as it warms the alcohols comes out and it became harder for me to finish but overall a pretty drinkable brew.

Photo of amneziak
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: From Great Divide's new labels, Old Ruffian is probably the most beautiful looking Barleywine I've poured. It appears a clear deep ruby red color with a very nice amount of carbonation that forcefully makes its way up and out of the glass. There is also a substantial amount of light and frothy tan-colored head that is accompanied by an unyielding amount of lacing. The lacing as it slowly drags down the side of the glass has a sparkly (or sugary) effect. Very nice.

Smell: There is a really nice aroma of pungent hops paired with a heavy caramel backdrop here. There are also some other dark fruit components that make their way out of the glass. Additionally, I get quite a bit of oak quality though I know it has not been aged in oak. Finally, one of my favorite things about this beer is the amazing floral component that comes from the hops. When you can get floral elements in a beer it typically means great things are going to happen as it opens up.

Taste: Because this was recently bottled, I can tell you that there is a pretty strong alcohol presence in the taste. What can I say - I couldn't wait. But it just demolishes your mouth seconds before you start to really taste the other components. I will say, though, that even though there is still a heavy alcohol presence there is a load of goodness going on in this glass. Once it airs out a bit in the glass it becomes even more spectacular.

Mouthfeel: As with all good Barleywines I've had, Old Ruffian has tons of mouthfeel. There is the strong bitterness from the hops and the warm burn of the alcohol. It's also a little bit sweet, which does wonders for the heat. Overall this one is a tongue bruiser for sure.

Overall: I love Barleywines and I really love Great Divide. I've yet to have a less than stellar beer from them and this is no exception. Old Ruffian, along with the Oak-aged Yeti Imperial Stout and Hercules Double IPA, is one of the most dependable beers on the market. This bottle that I've enjoyed was still a bit young and fiery, but I can tell that the other one I have will taste ten times better next year. Come to think of it, I did see a couple bottles at the store with the old labels. Guess I should make my way back and buy them if they are still there because this one is a keeper.

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

A- Pours a translucent auburn hue with a 1.5 finger, creamy off white head.

S- Lots of caramel in the nose, raisins, figs, brown sugar and perhaps a bit of piney hops.

T- Taste is superbly balanced. Huge malt notes come through with lots of caramel, brown sugar and dark fruits followed by a nice piney hop bite to counter the malt.

M- Thick and creamy with medium to low carbonation.

D- I put off trading for this beer for a long time and ended up getting it as an extra. It is by far one of the best "easily available" beers i've ever had.

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

Poured red brown cloudy hue with large frothy head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Complex aroma of bread malt, citrus and alcohol. Full body with thick texture and flat carbonation. Complex flavor of sweet complex fruit and medium bittersweet alcohol bite finish of long duration.

Photo of wescj
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter.

Color is a very deep ruby red, and the body is so clear it almost shines. Very thick head, and lace is pretty good for a barly wine.

Aroma is very prominant, and should be a benchmark for the style. The hops are all orange and pine, the malts are sweet and caramel.

I don't know if I've ever had a better barly wine. There are some good dark fruits and a nice presense of alcohol. Some hops and malts as in the nose, and the sweetness is exactly what it should be.

Mouthfeel is perfect, and this one's fairly drinkable, if there is such a thing for huge barly wines. Excellent, all around.

Photo of callmemickey
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Standard dark copper body. Massive off-white head that quickly receded. Notable lacing.

S: Dank, resinous hops. Heaps of caramel malt goodness.

T: A terrific balance of hops and malts... unlike some double ipas that end up barleywine-ish... this is an american barleywine through and through... as in the nose, the hops are dank, heavy and seriously resinous... taking on a pine/forest like character... the caramel malts are ever present and tasty.... boozey indeed.

M: A little undercarbonated for my liking... but other wise nice... nice bite at the end.

D: Solid at 10+... a tad boozey to drink more than a bomber.

Photo of Reagan1984
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

John from Maloney's Pub (BA handle JohnRoss) in New Jersey recommended this excellent barleywine. While I've heard of it, I've never had the chance to enjoy one. Nice recommendation John!

Poured into a wine glass and was actually greeted with a bit more off white head then I had expected. Not much lacing and the head did vanish rather quickly. The color was a very deep copper. At first a tiny bit hazy.. (Chill haze?) then as it slowly warms it becomes very clear. Nice looking beer.

Aroma is of deep malts, slightly boozy and fruity. Some nice hop character to the aroma.

Flavor is huge and well balanced. Deep layers of malt and almost an almond flavor. Slight booze towards the end. But not too much. Some real nice fruit and hop notes. The bitterness is a pleasant balancing component.

Mouth feel is thick and big, but not cloying or sticky.

I found this to be quite drinkable. Although one to savor for quite a long time.

Excellent barleywine.

Photo of katan
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber into a goblet

A - Pours a dark copper color. Fairly opaque, but not really cloudy - just a thicker looking beer. Head formation is minimal, and and only leaves behind a film. A single bubble just won't go away.

S - A very strong hop fruitiness leads the way with some phenolic tones in there as well. Stings the nose just a little bit. I do find the more I smell it that some very sweet malt base is also present.

T - Starts off a bit sweet, but not extremely malt forward. Amazingly quick build of hops and bitterness. A stronger hop edge builds, but not where it overtakes the malt sweetness. Finishes with a caramel sweetness that quickly transitions to a bitter aftertaste.

M - Moderate body - amazingly light considering how much fermentable sugar had to go into this beer. Leaves a strong film on the tongue from all the alpha acids and the clinging sugars.

D - Considering this is a BW, its hard to call this very drinkable. The ABV is over the top of course, and the flavors are very potent. Not filling, which at least lends itself to be matched with a good session beer.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,117 ratings.