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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.

1,989 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,989
Reviews: 1,038
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 210
Gots: 280 | 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: 1,989 | Reviews: 1,038 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwc215


4.03/5  rDev -4.5%

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.

11-03-2007 14:24:54 | More by jwc215
Photo of jdubjacket


4.38/5  rDev +3.8%

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.

10-27-2007 02:05:13 | More by jdubjacket
Photo of TheodorHerzl


4.88/5  rDev +15.6%

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.

10-25-2007 00:40:57 | More by TheodorHerzl
Photo of Poser


4.72/5  rDev +11.8%

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.

10-23-2007 01:22:19 | More by Poser
Photo of umustdrink


4.93/5  rDev +16.8%

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.

10-22-2007 05:08:24 | More by umustdrink
Photo of geexploitation


4.58/5  rDev +8.5%

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.

10-22-2007 02:46:03 | More by geexploitation
Photo of jakon


4.68/5  rDev +10.9%

22oz bottle purchased for $6.70 on 10-17-7 at Tanasbourne Haggen.

Pours a deep caramel color with a robust head that will sneak up on you if you're not careful. The foam collapses on itself leaving behind rings of sticky lacing. The aroma is huge with sweet malts and fruity hops. Marshmallow, caramel, pineapple, ripe banana, brown sugar and just a generally pleasant and inviting overall aroma. The hops really show up more in the taste. Ample bitterness balances out all that luscious malt character. There is no holding back with this brew. In a word, decadent. One of my 3 favorite barleywines to date. I'd recommend picking up at least a case of this and drinking a few now, and saving the rest for a year and beyond.

10-20-2007 06:02:39 | More by jakon
Photo of DIPAbrewer


4.65/5  rDev +10.2%

Poured from a 22 oz bottle it cascaded into a goblet throwing up a huge brown head. The foam subsided eventually but left a layer of foam floating to the end.

The aroma was amazing. Resiny sweet citrus with light caramel notes. Much better hop aroma than many other barleywines, at least for a hophead like me.

The flavor was outrageous and abundant. Sweet dark malts and perfectly balanced fruity hop bitterness. Instantly it became a favorite.

The full bodied ale has a thinner mouth feel than some others but it still packs a punch. You can tell the alcohol is there but the great flavors compel you towards another sip.

Quite drinkable considering its strength.

I would definitely recommend this beer. After trying it with some traditional sharp cheddar I bought several more to cellar for awhile.

10-20-2007 03:47:26 | More by DIPAbrewer
Photo of BigJTrucker


4.43/5  rDev +5%

Review from notes taken earlier this week.

Pours a hazy brown/amber color. Tan head settles to a decent layer of foam, nice lacing. Aroma at first makes me think of a big ipa/dipa, but there is some malty caramel sweetness hiding amongst it. The malty flavor comes out even more clearly in the taste, with the hops fading to not much more than a back role. Very well balanced flavor. Mouthfeel is very smooth, finishes slightly dry. Surprisingly drinkable for such a big barleywine, Well done GD, and another solid reason why American Barleywine is my favorite stlye.

10-19-2007 07:57:52 | More by BigJTrucker
Photo of yelterdow

New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev -4.5%

What a nice way to close a Monday evening... served at just over fridge temperature in an imperial pint glass, I've got a solid hour ahead of me to sample this gorilla.

Appearance- This pours a fiery sunset orange, clear with just a hint of subtle haze. The head is a monstrous, fat four fingers that billows from beneath and doesn't *ever* go away. Five minutes later I'm still staring at a gargantuan beer... and the lacing is incredible. Clingy and sticky, this foam clearly has some abandonment issues. Two thumbs way the f**k up.

Smell- I'm not sure how even the most learned, renowned expert would be able to differentiate this nose from a DIPA, but one thing's for sure... it's juicy, saturated, and sweet like a fresh squeezed grapefruit. There's definitely some malt and alcohol buried in there, but the hops are the main attraction.

Taste- OK, now it's clear... where the aroma could've been mistaken with the nose of a big IPA, it wouldn't ever happen on the tongue's watch. Clearly a beautifully structured barleywine, the balance here is nothing short of exquisite. Upon entry into the mouth, there's the lush, malty caramel sweetness that preps the palate for something unexpected... almost immediately, the hops burst with their green, sudden attack and finish with a huge and everlasting bitterness. The wickedly deceiving strength soon kicks in, and the obligatory hop burps take their hold.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- A beer with balls of plutonium requires care in drinking it. This is *extremely* difficult to get a mouthful, explore its potential, and then swallow it... it's way too extreme for me personally. The texture is light and pleasantly prickly, leaning more towards thin than slick. But without a hunk of sharp cheddar or a friend to share this with, it's unimaginably rough to finish. This bomber is going to have to go to its grave with its pants still on... I love this beer, but don't expect it to play nice in the sandbox.

10-16-2007 03:06:11 | More by yelterdow
Photo of jasonjlewis


3.65/5  rDev -13.5%

This beer has a full red appearance with good head and retention

The smell is of apple phenol with caramel malts and a slight banana phenol.

Taste is of thick caramel malts. Sweetness comes out up front with a nice hop bitterness to follow. A little too astringent and boozy

Mouthfeel is too astringent, but it clings fairly well.

This beer just needs to get rid of the astrigency. Once those get under control, this will be a great beer.

10-15-2007 03:10:02 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of DavidSeanNJ

New Jersey

4.6/5  rDev +9%

22 oz bomber.

Ladies and gentlemen...this is what a barley wine should look, taste, smell, feel, and drink like.

A- A dark brown color- lots of reds, tans, and even some cinnamon colored shades. a big fluffy head shows once it is poured. Some lacing, although less than expected.

S- Smell was of sweet caramel, fruits, brown sugar, hops.

T- Taste was absolutely ridiculous- perfect amount of hops, sweet caramel, dried fruits, some nuts, nutmeg, alcohol- choc full o flavor.

M- Mouthfeel was sticky and rich, bold, oily, warm.

D- For such a HUGE abv, this one drinks like a champ. I kept pouring until I realized I had nothing left. This barley wine is THAT good- but then again, I'm a fan of the hoppy barley wines.

Very, very, very recommended.

At 6.99 a bomber, this is steal.

10-02-2007 22:19:59 | More by DavidSeanNJ
Photo of Billolick

New York

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%

Bomber bottle, w/o vintage or any other info. Pours dark honey/amber, dark tan, fine head, leaving scattered and fine/wispy lacing. Malty nose, with a hint of earthy funk as it warms. Smooth. mellow and quite tasty Bwine. Plenty of smokey malts, hints of scotch and leather. Thoroughly pleasing sipper, fine night capper, went well with some aged chedder

09-29-2007 02:46:01 | More by Billolick
Photo of RedChrome


4.65/5  rDev +10.2%

A deep copper color with minor ruby hues. Half inch off white head took about three minutes to drop. Slightly above average amount of carbonation rising slowly. Huge sticky lace on sides.

A huge hops aroma powered right off the top. Strong roasted almond presence with a light caramel aroma. Alcohol is clearly there, but seems balanced.

Strong taste on all sides. Hops and malts lend nicely for sweet and tart tea and fruit flavors. Citrus hint to an alcohol undertone. Very great balance with delicious flavors.

Nice and thick feeling on the mouth surfaces. Carbonation is downplayed, but shifts the beer around.

A very high quality choice. Great with a nice sharp cheddar cheese. Cheers to the boys at Great Divide. Anyone can appreciate something of this flavor as long as it doesn't overwhelm.

09-08-2007 05:00:18 | More by RedChrome
Photo of TheSarge


4.72/5  rDev +11.8%

This brew has nearly freaked out my palate. The taste is so intense, and so full in body that this is no way a boring brew.

This has a khaki two finger thick head, with the body being ultra hazy and orangish amber in color. The head sticks around for a good while and forms into sticky clumps.

Aromas are of caramel and toffee for the sweet side. As for the hop side, there are grassy, piny, and lemony aromas.

The taste is tart with the hop bitterness, but sweet toffee and toasted biscut at the same time.

This is very warming to the palate and very full in body.

08-22-2007 16:28:17 | More by TheSarge
Photo of Halcyondays


4.18/5  rDev -0.9%

22 oz. bomber, bought at the Lone Hill Liquors, in Glendora, CA, poured into a Duvel tulip,

A: Pours a dark brown, quite clear when held up to the light, with a thick, 2-finger, white-tan head, which leaves great rings on concentric lacing, as the barleywine is drunk.

S: Smells of heavy malt, molasses and dark fruits, like figs and prunes.

T: The malt hits heavy at first, followed by some mellow, smooth alcohol notes that are not overdone, the hops are there, they are quite bitter and piney, but they are understated, even at 90 IBus, they work to perfectly balance the malt, probably the most balanced American barleywine that I have ever had.

M: Smooth, very smooth, mildly solventy, quite resiny, piney and chewy from the hops. It is also thick and full-bodied, as expected from a barleywine.

D: A great barleywine, drinkable even in the heart of summer, well balanced and smooth.

08-21-2007 05:34:54 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of BeardedSquash


4.15/5  rDev -1.7%

A: Murky brownish red with a 1/2-inch tan head. Lots of lacing throughout,

S: Cold, bright hop flavor with a slight sweet maltiness. With some time, the hops simmer down and it almost smells like a big ESB. I guess that's essentially what a Barley Wine is though.

T: First sips carry an overwhelming hop flavor. Tons of bittering hops around the back of the mouth. I think it will balance out nicely with some warmth. So, after 45 minutes, a nutty sour bread flavor comes around with a strong caramel back. The bitter swallow mellows, but not by much. The bottle says 90 IBUs. I can taste them all, which is weird considering the amount of malt this thing probably has in it.

M: Chewy mouth feel that leaves a syrupy mess on my lips. Nice.

D: Excellent beer, but nothing I could do more than one of, especially when I'm drinking 22oz bombers. Would pair nicely with a big sloppy rack of ribs.

08-15-2007 01:50:39 | More by BeardedSquash
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy

New Hampshire

3.78/5  rDev -10.4%

Bomber>Fat wine glass

AP: Deep, clear brown-tinted amber color body with a 2" bubbly and thick mocha colored head that displays long and impressivly sticky legs.

Nose: Caramalized grapefruit sweetness, tropical fruits, greeen, veggie hops with deep roasty and oak-wood edge and a slight jamaica-rum-like heat tingle.

flavor: Burnt caramel sweet malt at first with some slight chocolate notes is quickly dominated by an intense, whiskey-ish heat that bites down hard and allows the ultra bitter, dry, leafy hop that finishes rather harsh. The 10.2% ABV is very presnt and the bitter-edge throws of the balance.

Feel: Full body, heady feel, sticky on the lips after a while. The finish is a dry bitterness.

DA: Th 10.2 % ABV feels more like 15% and the bitter, harsh edge makes it not as easy to finish.

08-14-2007 09:30:05 | More by GratefulBeerGuy
Photo of yodaseo


4.45/5  rDev +5.5%

poured a hazy dark brown the same color as the label. the head rose slowly from the depths of the trapped carbonation and left hazy lace that stuck the the glass and refused to go away. the head finally settled into a nice foamy mattress but the overwhelming smell of the citrus mixed with heavy malt continued to fill my nostrils. the first sip revealed all the tang and sweetness of the initial smell but also a flash of bitterness that was most welcome and refreshing. the sweet and almost syrupy concoction left a wonderfully dry aftertaste in my mouth. definitely the best american barleywine i've ever tasted (leagues beyond harpoon or even the alesmith). for a 10.2% the alcohol is masked well underneath the tangy citrus, but a hint of it catches the very edge of the palate and warms you up just to remind you how heavy it really is. i'm not a big fan of barleywines, but i am a huge fan of this beer.

08-10-2007 13:53:28 | More by yodaseo
Photo of JayQue


4.7/5  rDev +11.4%

WOW!!! A great tasting American Barleywine with an initial blast of hops bitterness and an equally strong, caramel tinged maltiness follow up. You could say "balanced" here but both the hops and the maltiness are strong "in your face" flavors. Pours a cloudy reddish color. An agressive pour gives you a big tannish head that dissipates to a small, "hang in there" head. Lacing is huge, thick ladder down the glass. The taste is a nice transition from strong hops bitterness to a somewhat sweet, but not cloying caramel/malt taste. There is no alcohol taste. Mouthfeel is rich and halfway through the bomber, the maltiness becomes predominant over the hops. Drinkability is very good. Anything more than the bomber would result in degraded/abnormal/not full mission capable performance, but I would never pass up 22 oz of this elixer. A really fine beer!!!

08-09-2007 00:31:23 | More by JayQue
Photo of MiguelMandingo


4.6/5  rDev +9%

This is the first beer in quite some time that left me speechless after the first sip. All I could say was "Damn". This beer is truly phenomenal.

Poured part of a 22oz. bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance - It poured out a cloudy deep ruby color and produced a solid 1 finger foamy head. The head dissipated into a thin foam coating across the top of the brew. There is a ton of lacing left behind the longer I drink. Over time, as it came to room temperature, the cloudiness disappeared and the brew became transparent.

Smell - I mainly smell caramel and toffee-like malts, and citrusy hops. I also detect notes of pineapple. The scent of alcohol becomes more apparent as the beer warms.

Taste - This beer starts off sweet. I initially taste buttery caramel, toffee-like malts that are slightly roasty, honey, and some fruit that I can't distinguish. Then, it has a HUGE, dry citrusy hop finish. I can detect the slightest amount of alcohol as it warms. The alcohol is hidden amazingly well for a beer this strong.

Mouthfeel - Medium thickness just shy of being syrupy. It has a very small warming sensation from the alcohol. Small carbonation level that is near perfect for a beer like this. Goes down amazingly smooth.

Drinkability - For a beer this strong, the drinkability is flawless. Period. I would happily have a second bomber. I would be pretty trashed, but I would be happy.

This beer is now a mainstay in my beer rotation, and it should be a part of your's. Try it.

08-03-2007 05:39:13 | More by MiguelMandingo
Photo of rallison


4.65/5  rDev +10.2%

Pours a beautiful copper brown with the best head on a barleywine I have ever seen - 1 finger thick and ridiculously creamy. Don't know how they do it, but it is beautiful. Tons of lacing as well.

Smells of caramel malts followed by some earthy hops and a touch of alcohol.

Taste is delicious. Initially, lots of caramel toffee sweetness, but immediately balanced by a delicious helping of earthy, somewhat piny hops. Alcohol is slightly present, but really not noticeable. Maybe even a touch od dark fruits here too. Everything is perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel is excellent - rich and creamy, but yet somehow light and delicate too - never even approaches being heavy.

Drinkability is insanely good for the alcohol.

Highly recommended. This might replace Bigfoot as my favorite BW. It is so flavorful, but so easy to drink a pint of (or a bomber of...).

08-02-2007 05:59:03 | More by rallison
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.83/5  rDev +14.5%

22 oz bomber, served in a pint glass.

A - clear, deep amber color with a light tan head that stayed for the entire glass (I didn't sip the first glass), leaving a clump of head and a whole bunch of lacing.

S - sweet malty aroma with a faint smell of hops, it is a very pleasant smell.

T - delicious tasting barley wine, extremely well balanced sweetness of malt along with a snappy hop finish. ABV is totally un-detecable in taste.

M - medium bodied, lightly carbonated, enjoyable treat for the palate.

D - kick back wherever you are and enjoy this barley wine, drink this brew slowly, the alcohol is in there, even if you can't taste it.

08-02-2007 01:11:01 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of treehugger02010


3.9/5  rDev -7.6%

I bought this bottle at Total Wine and more in Tampa, Fl and poured it into two pint glasses.
Appearance: I poured a creamy or cloudy (I couldn't make up my mind so let's say a cleamy) brown body with orange tones. A nice large tan head that was a couple of fingers with tight retention and thick lacing from the millions of tiny bubbles.
Smell: Very sweet aroma with lots of citrusy hops and a bit heavy with the malt.
Taste: Very malty up front, giving me the shivers at first and then a very strong wave of tang from the hops. The malts were a bit roasty which suprised me, but not entirely unwelcomed.
Mouthfeel: Right down the middle of the road, if becomes crisper with the first few warming degrees, but then smooths out.
Drinkability: Pretty good.
Don't drink and review.

07-31-2007 20:31:01 | More by treehugger02010
Photo of crayphish


3.68/5  rDev -12.8%

The Old Ruffian poured a murky ruby color. A dense foamy head lingers stubbornly and leaves a fair amount of lace. Smell is sweet and a bit sour. Notes of caramel and fruit. Taste is sweet malts, some sour fruits, and hops. An alcohol flavor lie under it all. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, that is cleaned up by the hops presence. I found this barley wine to be a drinkable representation of its kind.

07-28-2007 04:48:06 | More by crayphish
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,989 ratings.