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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.

2,008 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,008
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 212
Gots: 288 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

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

(Beer added by: gbontrag on 11-28-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,008 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Ryanbob
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is a nice amber with a nice head that lingers on the glass. The smell is great: sweet and syrupy with some floral smells included. The taste is initially syrupy sweet with a burn that lingers. There are some toasted and coffee flavors, as well as a fair amount of hoppy brightness. The initial tastes wane to reveal the alchohol, which is significant at 10.2 ABV. This is a very nice barleywine, something great for a celebration or a cold night, but not something I would drink all the time. Drinkability is limited. While this is a delicious beer, after one bottle I would be ready to move to something lighter or quit drinking for the night.

Ryanbob, Jan 04, 2008
Photo of aaronh
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice brown body with a rather long lasting head for a big beer. Aroma has a lot of sweetness complemented by a lot of pine. Flavor is strong on fresh malt notes, but the resinous pine dominates the finish. Mouthfeel is luxurious, perhaps just a bit too fatiguing towards the end of the bottle. After a bad first impression a several years ago with Great Divide, I've since been very pleased with all their offerings. This one is no exception.

aaronh, Jan 04, 2008
Photo of brewcrew76
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Reddish brown with a thin tan head and just a little lacing.

S - Caramel, nuts and piney hops.

T - Lots of caramel and bready malt balanced with bitterness and piney hops.

M - Medium to full body and creamy with low carbonation.

D - Well balanced with well hidden abv.

brewcrew76, Jan 02, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First off, this one pours beautifully I think. A robust and slightly cloudy red with a strong hint of brown. Two finger head. Smell is powerfully sweet. My first taste was so thick with alcohol that I thought I was heading for a major disappointment. But after that initial draw, the alcohol seemed less in your face...err...mouth, though it was still strong through the remainder.

RblWthACoz, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of bosco7
4.72/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in snifter. Pours dark brown with a thick and chewy looking off-white head. Amazing retention.

Big ass malt aromas dominate with orange, cedar, almond, and leather notes behind. Highly aromatic.

Wow. Lots of sweet caramel and toffee upfront. The malt flavors are complex beyond words. Earthy leather, a hint chocolate, and hops are definitely in there making their presence known towards the end of the sip. Orange and cedar are the dominant flavors in the finish. Some alcohol in the back as well. Bitterness is aggressive. Warming. NICE.

Proper chewy, viscous, and silky mouthfeel.

This is a proper American Barleywine, it's up there on my list of favorites with SN Bigfoot. Love this beer. Highly recommended.

bosco7, Dec 24, 2007
Photo of redmagik99
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured copper, smallish head but it stuck around for quite a while. The smell really blew me away when I opened the bottle. It was just gushing with fruity hops. Taste is full of those two with plenty of toasty malt. Hops definitely prevail though. Sharp taste of alcohol that lingers with the hops long after the sip has ended. A tad caramel, maybe some raisens too. This one hits the belly like a bomb so I dont know how many I could drink, tasty as it is. A year would definitely do this brew some good to relax the alcohol. I'm still kind of skeptical about aging hoppy beers because I don't want to lose any of the hop flavor, but this one has more than enough to compensate. If you have this one I'd recommend laying it down for a year as difficult as it may be. Old Ruffian reminds me a lot of Great Divide's DIPA except with a bigger malt backbone and a much more prominent alcohol taste. It rivals Bigfoot and Hair of the Dog's Fred as one of the best hoppy barleywines. You won't be disappointed, especially with age.

redmagik99, Dec 19, 2007
Photo of MarkSCCOT
3.45/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Wow, I really hope I got a bad bottle or that with aging the other bottle I bought will change in character

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber (no discernable bottle dating) into a snifter.

A. Pours a crystal clear ice tea color with a healthy 2 finger head that slowly settles. Classic lacing.

S. Heavy malt booziness with a following of floral hops. Some toffee and just a hint of dark fruits.

T. The hops are up front and overwhelming. I sense there is a complicated backbone to this that the hops are steamrolling over.

M. Alcohol warmness with a thick finish.

D. If this hop profile were in an IPA or DIPA I would be impressed. However, the hops are a bit one dimensional and the backbone is screaming to get out. Hard to finish.

This will be a cellaring beer for me. Will re-review in 24 months.

MarkSCCOT, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of marksto
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, and from this particular bottle has very high cloudiness. Thin, off-white head with medium retention. Big aroma displays an intermingling of fruity esters, alcohol, and big hop. Flavor starts with a big, juicy malt explosion - carmel, fruit, and raisins; followed by distinct hop bitterness and flavor. Overall flavor gains depth and intensity and it sits and warms.

A very good barleywine and excellent example of the american version of the style.

marksto, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of irishevans
3.45/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

looks much like sockeye red, and the nose to match. i'm 100% expecting an IPA. flowery mildly hoppy taste with a good bite on the finish, and a crisp mouthfeel. this is also very "downable", if you will, extremely easy to drink. everything I want out of an IPA, not what I expect from a barley wine. but being what it is, it is good. so if you want an IPA with a lot of a.b.v. this is it.

irishevans, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

When the top pops, this brew has the instant smell of fresh hops. It pours thick but not soupy, little to no head, reddish amber, deep red. tranparent as hell for a barley wine. I may sound bias because i much prefer english style. The nose is of hops, hops, and more hops. The first sip has a great mouthfell, but is instantly hoppy as hell. Typical of American microbrews this tastes like a thick version of an imperial IPA. Even has similar colors, without the cloudiness. The finish is quite bitey and the 80 ( guess ) IBUs show up. A slight sweetness does linger on the lips but does not show up to much in the taste. A good barley wine for hopheads. A good summer barleywine, much like that of hog heaven by avery. I think this would age fairly well and maybe lose some abrasiveness in the hop flavors. I would put it away for like two years.

AKBelgianBeast, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of stephens101
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dirty brown into a tulip. Nice fluffy two finger tan head with adequate retention and spotty lacing left behind. Smells of big citrus hops, caramel, raisins and some furtive alcohol in the background. Tastes sweet with a good balance of hops that aren't as huge as the smell would have you think, mixed in with malts and ends with some alcohol heat at the top. Has a piny aftertaste. Being my first Barleywine Style Ale, I would have to say I'm a little surprised that it isn't as complex as I was anticipating, and that is not to say I don't greatly enjoy this beer. I will age my next one for a bit longer. All in all I am very satisfied with this brew and will return to the style, coming back to this one after I've tried a few others.

stephens101, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of BMoney575
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 12-13-07

Pours a fantastic deep red color, with a huge, foamy tan head, that settles to a think, craggy layer.

Smell is very strong and fruity, big alcohol, and big hops.

Taste is huge. Tons of roasty malt, and gigantic fruity hops. Super smooth and bitter on the finish, with a definite hint of coffee.

Mouthfeel is very good, slick and creamy without building too much.

Drinkability is surprisingly good, super sweet, but well balanced.

Overall, a monster of a beer. Thicker and meatier than other barleywines, it coats you throat with bitterness and sets your mind at ease.

BMoney575, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of DIM
3.65/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a: Copper colored with no haze. A vigorous pour produces a massive long lasting white head.

s: Sugary grapefruit hops leap out at me. Not subtle but not bad either. The alcohol is a bit to noticeable.

t: The taste is just as the smell would suggest. The citric hops are sticky and delicious. The sweetness and alcohol, however, are both too pronounced.

m: The carbonation is lively and the viscosity is almost spot on.

d: This is a very good example of my favorite style. I've had a few better however.

DIM, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of NCBeernut
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very hazy orange with red hues. Two finger head eventually recedes to a thin layer, leaving little lacing. Fruity hop aroma. A little maltiness comes out a little as it warms. The alcohol is not prevalent, but tingles the nose a little bit. Thick and juicy. Alcohol is well covered. I always have trouble describing the barley wine taste but this is definitely a winner. I could not drink anymore after this 750 bottle. Pretty heavy.

NCBeernut, Dec 05, 2007
Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this barley wine doesn't stand up to Bigfoot in my mind. I just don't find the taste or aroma here as complex and engaging. There's some very nice, long-lasting bitterness, but the citrus hops flavors weren't that crisp and the malt seemed a somewhat bland fruity biscuit taste. I do give this one credit for going own easily, but I expect more flavor from a big, bad barley wine.

tempest, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of irishkyle21
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Old Ruffian starts off with a creamy toffee colored head that slowly comes to rest leaving behind a intricate web of lacing above the murky copper red color.

The nose and taste reminds me of an ice cold Bud... NOT!! ( I know I'm a loser). Full of sweet caramel malt, piny resiny hops, raisins as well as other fruits and just the faintest trace of alcohol.

A hugely flavourful barley wine. Very well balanced between an onslaught of hops and malt. Notes of caramel, citrus, grapefruit the finishes bitter and warming. This is one beer that I will never pass up and if anyone does they are damned to hell for doing so.

irishkyle21, Nov 20, 2007
Photo of KodyBrannon
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured this bottle into my texas longhorn Pub glass. Forgot how hoppy the barleywines really were. The bitterness is not all that bad, but does stick out right at first. The overall citrus taste does stick out throught this beer. The mouth feel is light witha good head and constant lacing. I would drink this beer over and over agian. I really enjoy these barleywines.

KodyBrannon, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of wagenvolks
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into a chalice.

Pours an attractive ruby-red / copper body with a thick khaki head that quickly recedes, leaving lacing in its wake. Quite a good head for a 10.2% ABV. The aroma is appealing, with resinous, floral hops, as well as caramel malts and lots of fruit. Some alcohol peeks through, but it takes a backseat to the dominant hop presence.

The flavor is delicious: big caramel candies, sweet malts, tons of resinous hops, citrus, sherry, and a warm alcohol note. The mouthfeel is near-perfect in its carbonation level, and quite crisp and refreshing for a barleywine. The bitterness definately makes for a sharp, astringent finish, but it's not too overpowering. Nevertheless, this is not a beer for beginners. The high ABV warms the cheeks and stomach, and its drinkability is a bit limited...but not by much, considering the complexity and amazing flavors.

wagenvolks, Nov 15, 2007
Photo of rye726
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from private nitro tap into a goblet at 45F. Aged about one year.

Nice thick and creamy ¾" tan head. Cloudy but glowing orange-brown hue.

Smells of Mexican sweet bread covered in fresh honey and caramel. The sweetness really comes out as this brew ages. There are also aromas of citrus fruits and piney hops. This is a drink you can taste just by the aroma.

What a well-balanced barley wine. The sweet flavors blend perfectly with the heavy yet well balanced hops.

Lightly carbonated creamy body fits this beer very well. The fruity characteristics of this beer allow it to go well with most dishes, especially fine poultry and fish. This is one of the finest American barley wines around and I would highly recommend giving it a try.

rye726, Nov 04, 2007
Photo of jwc215
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazed caramel-colored with a towering off-white head that grows then slowly descends to a lasting cover, leaving lacing on the glass. Awesome head-retention for abv and style.

The smell is of citric fruitiness and caramel. Cherry-like fruitiness enters as it warms. Wonderfully aromatic.

The taste is hoppy for the style - certainly American there. Aggressively citric, though caramelish sweetness does come through to balance it out. There is a slight metallic tinge. The alcohol is warming in the finish.

Full-bodied, leaning towards syrupy. It is smooth for the alcohol presence, though it is a sipper for sure. It's a good one - strong hop presence, but balanced enough - though not quite as stellar as I expected. This one has been aging for a year. I'll try it again this winter to see if it is even better fresh.

jwc215, Nov 03, 2007
Photo of jdubjacket
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yet another reason why Great Divide is becoming one of my favorite breweries in America.

Poured this out of a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a deep, rich brown/mahogany color with a decent head and some lacing on the glass.

Smell is very sweet - which is probably the alcohol.

Taste, along with smell, is somewhat sweet. The alcohol is very pronounced but adds a sweet taste to the beer. Aftertaste is fairly bitter.

Overall, this is an exceptional brew. I certainly am glad I picked a couple up.

jdubjacket, Oct 27, 2007
Photo of TheodorHerzl
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a beautiful deep mahogany. A non-aggressive pour reveals a huge tan head that lasted throughout the entire beer with very big rings of lace all over the glass.

The nose on this beer is an achievement. Floral hops, oily hops, and then some more hops hits your nose with a deep aroma of toasted malt and caramel. The nose on this beer is by far the best of any beer I have yet reviewed.

Big flavors of bready malt hit your palate with caramel and candied fruit sweetness just before a hop wallop takes command of your taste buds. No part of your mouth is left without tastes of pine, grapefruit, malty backbone, and warming alcohol. Each drink becomes better than the last drink. The beer provides the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness, but challenges the palate every single step of the way.

Even at 10.2% the drinkability is so high on this beer. I finished my bomber and wanted another one. ing.

TheodorHerzl, Oct 25, 2007
Photo of Poser
4.72/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with excellent lacing and retention. Caramel aroma up front but with hints of some bitter. Goes down smooth and creamy. Caramel and wheat flavors are very pronounced up front. Finishes with a powerful, hoppy finish. Leaves a alcohol/hop stringiness that makes you want to take another sip immediately. When I started the glass I thought the the finish was too powerful, but now I think it was just perfect. It's still pretty rough (flavor and the 10.2%) so I have to give a small cut to the drinkability. Probably my favorite barleywine, though. I always pick one up when I'm out of state.

Poser, Oct 23, 2007
Photo of umustdrink
4.93/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Last years bottle into my delerium tulip

A - Medium reddish brown color. Head is light brown and fades to an eighth inch BUT is easily agitated to become big and fluffy, fading very slowly. Good amount of small bits and strips of lacing.

S - BIG smell of sweet caramel, candi sugar, toasty malt, coffee, raisins and cherries. A wee bit of alcohol too.

T - The taste starts out with a fruity hoppy bitterness then toasty coffee malts. Lightly sweet dark fruit flavors come in along with some chocolatey creaminess. Finish is very creamy, a little hoppy and a little sweet with some darker malts.

M - Creamy and borderline thick. Light carbonation.

D - Wonderfully complex. Not overwhelmingly sweet like some barleywines. Smooth and rich.

umustdrink, Oct 22, 2007
Photo of geexploitation
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a ruby tinge, deep and dark amber with a bit of clarity. The head is the color of yellow cream and very sticky. The aroma is pure American barley wine. Rough, minty hops with some fruity esters (berries) and burnt honey. On the palate, raw alcohol first off, then deep bitterness and sweet caramel malt/treaclish goodness, followed by a return of hot, medicinal bitterness and a very active finish that clings to all parts of the mouth. Mouthfeel is, as expected, heavy and quite hot with both alcohol and hop oils, although the malts are unexpectedly smooth. Overall, this has the standard repertoire of flavors for an American barleywine, but the execution is off the charts. Everything is seamless and smoother than most of the barleywines out there. Excellent stuff, and one of the best American barleywines I've had.

geexploitation, Oct 22, 2007
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,008 ratings.