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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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2,141 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,141
Reviews: 1,060
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 237
Gots: 321 | 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: 2,141 | Reviews: 1,060 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mikecharley
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz Bomber into an oversized wine glass.

Pours a deep copper color, with a small 1 finger head. On the bottle it is described as a hop forward Barley Wine. They weren't lying. The hops explode out of the glass as soon as I begin to bring it up for a taste. Lots of bittering hops. Very sweet malt taste to balance nicely. Only downfall was that it really was a tongue bruiser, can only think of drinking one of these in a sitting. Other than that, a great brew.

Photo of Stonebreaker
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This is perhaps the reddest barleywine I've seen, a hypnotizing vampirish red. The head is healthy along with the lacing, no doubt a product of a hefty hop addition.

Smell: Again the strongest hop aroma on a barleywine that I've had, mixed with that particular, not quite caramel, signature barleywine smell I know and love.

Taste and Mouthfeel: A creamy, hoppy, warming creation, very similar to a dogfish head 90 min. IPA with an extra helping of the hops or perhaps simply an earlier addition to the boil. A wee bit of chocolate and caramel in the front smooth and creamy on the palate and a hop wallop in the back. Very good.

Drinkability: I have to be in the mood for lots of hops, not to mention barleywine. The IBU's, alcohol, and price on this one make it an occasional sipping brew, but nonetheless a treat.

Photo of johnnybgood1999
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this bomber at a Hy-Vee grocery store in St. Joseph MO. I really love this beer. I haven't had too many of this style, but this is the best one I've had yet. The drink starts out mild and then explodes with falvor, which is probably my favorite part of this beer. Malty sweetness up front. Alcohol makes itself known at the front of the mouthful, but mixes well. I can't place the type of hops that come out once the drink's good and in your mouth. They're great though.

Photo of craytonic
3.5/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz Bomber

Appearance: Large ea foam head; takes a while to subside. Nice lacing. Color is hazy burnt-umber orange and brown.

Smell: Citrus, harsh (excessive) hops, pine resin.

Taste: Over-hopped beer. Probably could have used some age. Some sweetness, but it is completely overpowered. Slight metallic twinge.

Mouthfeel: Good full body. Finish is astringent and bitter.

Drinkability: Over-hopped and over-hyped. Not for me.

Photo of bigkahunas4
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter.

Pours a cola color, with some minimal head. Nice sticky lacing. Nose is full, very resiny - very earthy - however, not really to my liking.

Taste is great however, beginning with some rich sour dough malts, with a big punch of smokiness. Hops come full force at the end, lots of grass with hints of pine. Mouthfeel is very dense on the tongue, and the hops really cling to the palette.

Certainly a sipper, and enjoyably warming. Not all of my favorite characteristics, but a solid flavor structure makes it enjoyable.

Photo of gford217
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a dark hazy orangish brown with a decent tan head that dissipates quickly to a ring leaving a little bit of lacing.

The aroma is a very well balanced combination of citrus hops, caramel malts and a little bit of booze. It all melds together well and leaves a slight alcohol burn in the nose.

The taste starts with a quick onslaught of citrus hops that gives way to the big caramel malt base. There is a sweeter molasses presence in the taste as well as the alcohol burn which lasts through the finish with some floral hoppy bitterness added into the mix.

The mouthfeel is smooth and a little sticky with modest carbonation.

This is one of the better examples of an American BW I've had and very drinkable for the style. Highly recommended.

Photo of jwinship83
4.01/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- perfect. beautiful ruby body with a solid two fingers of beige colored lasting sticky head. cant get any better than this

S- lots of fruit. cherries, figs, raisins, and plums. some alcohol, and hops

T- a large dose of citrus hops. very heavy of the fruit also. theres noticeable alcohol in here, but its expected with something this large

M- full bodied but not too thick and syrupy. the alcohol warms all the way down.

D- the high ABV makes this one a one and done type of beer. the taste and availability makes it so that its one ill revisit time and time again. check this one out if you havnt already!

Photo of Douglas88
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from College Liquors. Pours a rich amber/reddish-brown color with a large tan head. The aroma is quite powerful; loads of sweet malts, fruits and sweeter candies. The taste is also quite good; some initial warmth and noticeable alcohol, sweet caramel malts, candies, light hops in the finish combine with alcohol to produce a nice bitter and warm finish. A nice BW for sure.

Photo of Mauerhan
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

first off i am so excited to try this beer. i have heard nothing but great things.

pours a fantastic rich red/orange hue. a nice amount of frothy white head is produced. head retention is awesome. lacing is tops.

smell is great. i get a nice amount of sweetness. candied apples. rich malts.

taste=yes. only thing i can really think of at this point. very sweet for an american barley wine.

smooth drink. goes down easy. i will be drinking this at any chance available

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

Wow, this beer is really good. I wish I had two.

I'm looking at it right now -- a deep amber with good lacing and medium to little head.

Tasting it reveals the strong hoppy attack of a pale ale (maybe even an IPA) with the sweet malty backbone of a barleywine. I would never guess by taste that it's 10+% (although I might figure it out during the second glass).

It has a relatively light mouthfeel, although it's slightly sticky and clingy.

Delicious. I hope I can keep finding it around here.

Photo of aubuc1
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bomber in to a goblet.

Pours a hazy ruby deep brown with a steady, creamy and lacing offwhite head.

The smell of grapefruit and oranges mixed with pine and bicuit malt.

Taste is strong hops initially, then a bitter lightly chocolate like malt with biscuit very present.

Dry, sort of chalky finish on a creamy mouthfeel.

The alcohol is initially in the taste, but seems to fade as the sip and taste take effect.

Photo of Yesac
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Translucent dark rustic orange in color. Well defined medium head that laces the glass very evenly and a conservative layer that stays completely throughout.

S - Wow, not what I was expecting. This smells very close to an APA, nothing like the stereotyped barley wine smell. The smell is very subtle. It's sweet overall and I detect hints of citrus hops and sour yeast, malts as well.

T - Wow again, not what I was expecting. A unique take on a barley wine for sure. So complex.. where to begin. Sweet fruits are up front, dark rich roasted malts, and a slight hop bitter finish along with a warming tease of the 10.2% ABV which is well disguised.

M - Surprisingly medium/thin a slightly sticky feeling, but washes the palate nicely enticing you back for another sip.

D - Very high, the only thing holding me back from downing another bomber is the 10.2% ABV. The taste is very complex, and the mouthfeel is excellent.

Photo of danielharper
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First beer review while living in Kalamazoo!

Appearance: Dark orange, almost red. Some effervescence from bottom of glass. Thick head that dissipates quickly but leaves significant lacing. Very impressive head considering the abv on this one.

Smell: Strong hoppiness, intense sweet malts. Notes of caramel, a touch of corn. A very strong barleywine, enticing.

Taste: Crisp hops up front, very "hot" with alcohol. Very sweet caramel malts in the middle, with a dry but somehow refreshing finish. The hops and alcohol can be a bit overpowering, but overall this is an amazing example of a barleywine.

Mouthfeel: Thick, low carbonation, heavy on the hops. Coats the mouth admirably. Smooth and clean.

Drinkability: Considering the alcohol, an amazingly drinkable beer.

Photo of biegaman
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Potters clay colour with sepia toned topping. The mousse texture gives out much quicker than is desired, leaving but trace outlining to bound trims of metallic copper. Indirect to light, it is blended with equal parts cumin and nutmeg. With some brightness behind it, it warms with the light glisten of polished redwood.

The smell is a sticky, sweet, syrupy, concoction of both malt and hops. The late Mitch Hedberg said that "two in one is a bullshit term because two can't fit into one" - I now have to disagree. What I have in front of me has hops - which impart way over-ripened fruits and buckets of tree resin - and I also have sugar coated malts - roasted just enough to invoke ghost scents of smoke and ever-present dark caramel.

Each sip both scares and relaxes me equally the same, in that order. The taste is huge, and practically overwhelming for all intents and purposes. Decadently rich dark caramel is enhanced by the underlying spiciness of resin coated hops. The alcohol seems to wind up a big punch. The bitterness begins to weigh a ton...

...but then you swallow. You smack your tongue and lick your lips. Your chest unwinds. Your eyebrows might raise a little as you think 'wow, this is nice'. It is equally sweet and bitter. The alcohol turns out to be shy. Dark caramel succumbs to candy apples, rum soaked raisins, and chocolate covered nuts. You feel gratified with each sip. You feel a stronger man. And certainly more relaxed.

This is definitely not suitable for those recovering from surgery. Actually, yes, it is incredibly suitable for those recovering from surgery. Its over 10% is disguised by waves of fruity, decadently sweet scents and accompanied alongside by candied citrus and chocolate covered nuts. If you enjoy barleywines you'll have a tough time finding a better example than this. Trust me.

Photo of younger35
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received this brew from stopbarking many moons ago in a trade. This brew is from either '05 or '06. Drank from my Ithaca Excelsior tulip while watching Monday Night Football (Chargers vs. Jets).

Appearance- Pours a dark reddish brown with hints of a light pink around the edges where light penetrates. Really nice one finger head that slowly recedes leaving a thin cap, full collar and tons of sticky lacing.
Smell- Slightly sweet and fruity with more of a sharp citric hop bite than I was expecting. More cherries and apricots than plums and raisins but they're all there. The fruits seem to meld a bit as it warms to more of a earthy, piney scent but they remain dangerously assertive. Caramel malts add that aforementioned sweetness with hints of slightly kilned malts and whiffs of warm alcohol.
Taste- I know the couple years on this bottle have muted the hops a bit with the key word being "bit". They are still very sharp and are on the citric fruity side. Pineapple, grapefruit, oranges, mango and *insert delicious citrus* are in full force leaving a crazy bitterness that almost numbs. This isn't a one trick pony though. There is almost a candy like caramel goodness that seems to add just enough to sweetness to keep the hops semi in check. I don't think I've ever had a beer that is this sweet yet doesn't bother me in the least. Finishes with some alcohol that I actually am a bit surprised I can taste. After a couple years and the shear flavor explosion in this brew I'd think it would be more muted.
Mouthfeel- Very full and hearty with a big creamy feel and a slick oily finish. The carbonation is pretty light adding to the creaminess perception. Really nice.
Drinkability- Other than the fact that I think the alcohol is a bit more pronounced than it should be this is one hell of a brew. I've not had loads of Barley Wines in my day but in my head this is exactly what a American BW should taste like. Loads of American citrus goodness with a big hearty malt backbone. Great beer!

Photo of avalon07
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a coppery color and a thick, cloudy consistency. There was about a half inch of foamy, long-lasting head and some good lacing.

S: Strong smell of hops, caramel and other elements. Very robust.

T: Like the smell, the flavor packs a punch. A large amount of hops, along with malt, caramel and a piney aspect. Very complex.

M: A large amount of carbonation and a smooth finish. Very full-bodied.

D: While I've found I can't drink that many barleywine beers in one sitting, this is a still a good example of one. It has an unusual (for the style) flavor, but is still eminently drinkable.

Photo of chuckd123
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed one of these on tap at the Dirty Truth tonight for the first time.

A- Color was a dark copper with a moderately thick head and lacing that lasts nicely.

S- You can almost taste the flavor when you take a whiff of the thing -- very fruity & citrusy.

T- Very nice blend of hops, malt and caramel flavor along with a mild alcohol sting. Very little bitterness, but at 10% abv, this is one to take your time with.

M- Mouthfeel was on the thick and creamy side, almost a brandy feel to it. One to sip and enjoy not pound like it's prom night.

D- Drinkability hampered only by it being a 10% brew. I wouldn't plan on more than 2 of these in a sitting, and plan on a good hour per.

If you like barleywines, this is definitely one to try. Great Divide continues to impress.

Photo of PatronWizard
3.53/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Great minds drink alike. Bomber to glass...

Dark caramel, until you hold it up to the light, then it's medium dark caramel. Sports a decent head. Bubbles move oh so slow through the body. It's actually looking a little burgandy.

I smell apricots. Caramel. Is there another fruit similar to apricot, only darker? If so, I smell it too. Some other sweetness.

Wow, this ones got some hop bitterness right off the bat. Not huge but enough to make you say "wow, this ones got some hop bitterness right off the bat." I dare say the bitterness is prominent, with a little fruit flavor (black cherries?) way, way off to the side.

Rather thick stuff. Might be just a tad harsher than need be. Just a tad.

Definite sipper. 10.2% is all up in your mix.

Overall: I prefer Old Guardian, shoot me.

Photo of gmuller
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 Oz served in an oversized wine glass. That's the only glass I had that was big enough.

Appearance - Poured clear copper with a nice yellowish-tan head. thickish head.

Smell - Dangerously hoppy smell, a little intimidating actually. slightly malty and fruity as well.

Taste - mellow at first, then the hop bomb explodes. There is a lot of fruit and bourbon flavor then it tapers to a citrusy-grapefruit after taste.

Mouthfeel - Thinner than I'd expect, not unpleasant, but I was expecting something thicker.

Drinkability - Unlike many of the beers in this style, I COULD drink several in a night with no problem. Excellent hop/malt balance.

Very nice beer. One of the best Barleywines I've had. Loads of flavor, and much respect for the brewer.

Photo of goethean
4.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Two conflicting impluses I feel.

One: 6.99 for a beer?! what a rip off!

Two: oh, this is so, so good.

My personal standard for a balanced barleywine is Anchor Old Foghorn. What we have before us here is a bigger, badder, meaner, darker, more complex Old Foghorn. Updated for the 21st century, you might say.

Duvel glass. Massively malty nose. Great big flavor profile from tiny sips, big burnt English toffee sweetness and an immediate streak of bitter flavor hops that blends right into the mouth-coating Chinook finish. Really a strongly, almost irritatingly hoppy aftertaste. We're in IIPA territory here.

I marked it down on the drinkability because a 22 oz bottle is like 5 servings. Also, you should be a fan of big big beers in order to enjoy this one.

Photo of treyrab
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at Bocktown, Pittsburgh PA

A: Dark copper color with a slight half finger head that leaves a good bit of lacing. The beer is very clear with decent carbonation showing

S: The smell is very intense of alcohol, caramel malt sweetness, and a hop presence as well.

T: The thing that sets this apart from other similars of the style is the hops. There is the usual sweetness that comes from a barleywine, but the hops in the finish are something rare for the style and what makes this so good!

Overall, a great barleywine that I would love to enjoy again.

Photo of changeup45
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chalk up another winner for Great Divide! Pours a deep amber maybe even cherry or burgandy color. Nice thick khaki head, especially considering the alcohol content, which produced a bunch of sticky lacing all over the glass. Aroma is nice and hoppy with some citrus fruits. The flavor starts with sweet caramel malty notes. After that is the big grapefruit, tangy, hoppy blast. The aftertaste is grapefruit and a bit winey. Considering the abv here this is quite easy to drink and smooth. This is flat out an excellent brew. If you're a fan of the style I definitely recommend this!

Photo of Floydster
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle purchased from Liquid Solutions about a year ago for around seven dollars, split with my dad tonight during the Olympics, poured into my new Rubicon snifter

A-Ruby red color with some brown tint, 3/4 inch creamy light tan head, not much retention, some of the best lacing I have ever seen though
S-Caramel, booze, roasted malts, pine, grapefruit, molasses, other citrus, and toffee
T-Starts off with a big hop flavor, then some malt, followed by more hoppiness, taste is not as sweet as most barleywines and is actually quite dry, feels like an IPA before the hotness and sweet accents shine through, gets better as it warms and mellows out and molds more together, like the balance in this one
M-Dry, boozy, sticky, and somewhat sweet mouthfeel, full bodied, could use some more carbonation, taste lingers for several minutes and can be overly dry at times
D-Stuff is strong and the stomach feels the heaviness, although the alcohol is hidden quite nicely, hoppiness is mostly subtle but might not be when it is fresh, pretty smooth

I am a pretty big fan of barleywines and this is one of the highest rated ones so I was excited to try this, one of Great Divide's best for sure, will be buying more of this soon, honestly reminded the both of us a lot of Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot but richer and more complex, this has great aging potential being that the hops were still very lively at probably at least fourteen months old, recommended

Photo of Thunderball
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter glass. Dark amber color with a thin head that disappeared quite quickly. The smell was of a very promising citrus, pine,caramel and hop nature. From the start, you are hit with the hop presents. It comes on strong, and bitter, then mellows nicely with the finish. Nice grapefruit and caramel taste that lingers long enough for the next sip. Mouth feel is creamy with just the right fiz to keep it interesting. I have a growing respect for the products coming from the Great Divide brewing co.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Morton's in Sarasota, FL. Served at 53 degrees F (my grandparents have a wine cooler - nice). Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Hazy red brown-bodied beer with a tan head and average retention - perhaps good for the style - an average quantity of runny, streaky lacing, and slow, lazy, rolling carbonation.

Aroma: Huge fruits, detectable from a few feet away. Figs, apple skins, and red grapes waft forth from this pungent brew, but there's plenty more. Huge, prominent hop notes - pine needles, grapefruit, some orange zest - and lightly roasted to mildly toasted malts - caramel, toffee, and even some chocolate - round things off. Only the faintest hint lf alcohol as things warm. A very complex nose.

Taste: Lots of dark malts - the typical roasted coffee/chocolate combo, the same roasted caramel note that was in the nose - and piney juniper berry notes. Figs and raisins lend a fruity sweetness to a smooth, warming alcohol note. All this intermingles well with a pronounced, biting hop bitterness. Like a darker, more complex Bigfoot.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bubbled, but rough and uneven. Very chewy, thick, and syrupy. Slightly oily.

Drinkability: Felt this one after a while, and it is up there, but overall it's a very complex, drinkable brew with a lot of really great flavors and aromas - highly recommended.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,141 ratings.