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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,971 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,971
Reviews: 1,038
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 206
Gots: 278 | FT: 12
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,971 | Reviews: 1,038 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hawksfan82
hawksfan82

Kansas

3.6/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is my first barleywine, so take that into consideration.

Poured from a bomber, good size head that dissapated into a ring, leaving some really good cloudly lacing on the glass. Beer is a gorgeous amber/ruby color. Very very nice beer to look at.

Smell got a little better as it warmed up. You get the floral hops and a little sweet alcohol alcohol, nothing to write home about.

Taste is definately on the hoppy side, but it goes back and forth with a hint of sweetness and a very noticeable alcohol in the middle and in the finish. It might be too much for some, but I like brews that don't try to completely hide the alcohol and let it just work with the beer. This does that pretty well.

Mouthfeel is a little on the heavier side. Not extremely heavy, but more than you would think with the color of the brew...I like it though.

Drinkability isn't too high right now, maybe cuz it's my first barleywine, and I'm just trying to figure it out right what it's trying to do. I imagine my opinion will change by the end of the bottle. I'll make sure to have some food with it next time. Either way, I think a bomber of this at a time will probably be my limit.

Thanks to Lukas Liqour for picking this out for me.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2007 03:35:14 | More by hawksfan82
Photo of bort11
bort11

Missouri

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber poured into a tulip wine glass. Off white fluffy head stands a finger thick drops down to a sticky lace. An absolutely gorgeous lace ring sticks to the glass and stays there to the end. Color is a beautiful ruby red.
Smell is not very pronounced. Notes of hops and some caramel malts. Taste really comes through though. The first sip, when held on the tongue, has a brief flash of fruitiness. The hops then comes through in the finish. The hops are very mellow, not trying to stab you in the tongue. Slightly smokey.
Mouthfeel is a little thin, but that's OK. Still very smooth.
What a great sipper. Now that this is available local I can stock up and see how it ages.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2007 03:09:26 | More by bort11
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a copper/burgandy color with a pillowy, tan/caramel, one-finger head. Left a thick heavy lace.

S - It smelled of hops, fruit and malt.

T - It tasted of nut and caramel and some subtle hops. The malt flavor is understated and there is an oat-like flavor. Also, the alcohol presence is there.

M - It was warm and bready. A heavy-bodied beer.

D - Good flavor but possibly too heavy and too much alcohol taste.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2007 04:36:56 | More by zeff80
Photo of YankChef
YankChef

Louisiana

4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into an oversized wine glass

Appearance: Deep, Deep amber with a somewhat short off-white head that sticks to the glass in spite of the large diameter of the glass

Smell: leather, oak and hops. Smells also of brown sugar and dried fruit.

Taste: WOW, this beer is extremely complex with many levels of flavor. A slight smokiness at first with flavor of leather and oak. Vanilla and bitter orange peel. Extremely hoppy as will with the bitterness of hops coming through strong in the middle and leaving a dryness in the mouth.

Overall: THis is one of the best barley wines out there, the best according to this site although at the end of the day it is a matter of personal preference. Still, one of the most complex beers i have ever tasted. If you spot it at your local beer spot pick it up and give it a shot

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2007 05:08:12 | More by YankChef
Photo of Phatz
Phatz

Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

pulled from the fridge and allowed to warm significantly.
served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous solid redwood brown color, almost opaque wit a huge 3 finger head in my snifter glass. The lacing sticks to the rounded walls of the snifter. In a snifter I generally expect less lacing than in pint glass (all else equal) simply due to shape, but this is an impressive beer.

Smell: Floral hops galore. Sharp and citric with a nutty toffee malt underbelly. There alcohol does not hide here, and when paired with the bold bitter nose is give the beer some alpha acid resinous solvent like attribute that is then mixed with caramel syrup that has toffee and pine nut flavors as well. Very nice.

Taste: This beer has a beautiful balance form bold bitter hops to great sweet smooth fruit and bread flavors. It starts with a nip of grapefruit followed immediately by an onslaught of sweet caramel and pancake syrup bread like flavors that just as quickly wash underneath a bold pint grapefruit flavor that is then met with a rich fruity grape like base and a vinous alcohol attribute and it finishes smooth and balanced. The aftertaste is bold and bitter but as the bitter hops fade some residual sugars seem to seep back out into play. Magnificent.

Mouthfeel: Oh my God the mouthfeel is perfect. I was afraid I let this warm a bit too long but the truth is, it couldn't have been more right on. Smooth, full, creamy, rich, fluffy with plenty of carbonation and loads of flavors on the cheek. It has sugar crystals poking and hop crystals pulling at the taste buds and the cheeks. It is a pleasure to swish around the mouth and a great joy to drink. MMM mmm MMM Phatz is happy.

Drinkability: Many bombers of a 10.2% ABV Barley Wine get re-corked in my home for the next evening. I finished this one alone and loved every second of it. I won’t be doing much more tonight… well … maybe going to bed early with a smile on my face =).

Hope this is helpful.
Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2007 06:19:36 | More by Phatz
Photo of Suds
Suds

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’d been wanting to try this barleywine for a long time. It pours a deep brown color, with notably orange highlights. The head is substantial by barleywine standards, and the overall appearance is solidly good. The aroma is a mix of barley, intense malt, strong yeast, and alcohol. There’s a bit of boozy fruit smells mixed in as well. In the taste department, the brew is nicely balanced, but the hops are a central component of the flavor. It’s a little rustic, and certainly warming. Wonderful malt character. This is a solidly good barleywine. Full body, nice drinkability. Well done.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2007 00:02:59 | More by Suds
Photo of RevDru
RevDru

New Mexico

4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep golden amber with light carbonation and a thin head of foam.

S - Fruity and oaky. Fresh berries, cherries, and just a bit herbal.

T - Rich, with notes of licorice, oak, tobacco, and leather. Reminiscent of a good bourbon. Fruit notes are sweet, but light.

M - A bit thick, but very smooth and mildly creamy.

D - High ABV is definitely present, but not overpowering. This would be a great dessert beer.

Serving type: on-tap

03-21-2007 20:12:55 | More by RevDru
Photo of dgfair
dgfair

North Carolina

4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 edition. 22 oz. bottle poured into snifter.

A - Light brown with a reddish hue, a little viscous in the appearance, but looks nice nonetheless. Big head leaves lacing all over the glass and hangs around on top very nicely for a barleywine.

S - Caramel, toffee, malt, and hops up front. A little bit of an earthy sweetness, maybe a very subdued pine or maple syrup.

T - Solid piney hop presence with a very nice balance of sweet malt. A touch of caramel and a little bit of a pastry-like goodness. Strong hops throughout, but never overpowering enough to take away from the great complexities of this beer.

M - Creamy, tingly and perfectly full. Finishes a tad dry allowing the hops to linger on a clean feeling palate. Nice.

D - A great sipper that is such a good sipper that it will become a drinker if you're not careful. I would certainly love to have more of these in the future.

Overall, this beer reminds me of Bigfoot, but a tad smoother. Exceptional American barley wine. On par with Yeti as one of Great Divide's best offerings.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2007 04:05:34 | More by dgfair
Photo of John_M
John_M

Oregon

3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2005 version of this beer at the Hard Liver Festival at Browers.

Considering that this beer supposedly had two years of aging under its belt, you'd never guess it. The color had not lightened at all, and the beer was still very fresh and hoppy (the hoppiest barleywine I tried at this festival). The beer was still quite sweet, but the hoppiness definitely kept if from getting too cloying or tiring to drink. Gorgeous lacing and great head retention, the beer only got better as it sat in the glass.

This was a very good beer that I think would only benefit from a few more years of aging. Hops need to become better integrated, but this is still a very good barleywine.

Third place finish I believe at the Hard Liver festival.

Serving type: on-tap

03-18-2007 19:20:08 | More by John_M
Photo of guitarmage
guitarmage

Oregon

4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A very cloudy dark copper, the beer is lighter at the top of the glass, a modest off white lacing sits on top, a few bubbles in the glass.

Smell: A meaty sweetness, caramel, raisins, brown sugar. Hops take a backseat in the aroma, mild alcohol.

Taste: Big alcohol sweetness, brown sugar and raisins, a hint of orange citrus, big and malty, gives way to alcohol warmth in the nose and an even dry leafy hoppiness.

Mouthfeel: Big full body, milky with light carobnation, this beer is very thick. The finish leaves the palate very dry, however.

Drinkability: A big, sweet, barleywine. My nose is stuffed from hop irritation, so I might be missing some subtleties here. This is a good barleywine though, very clean and nice but complex.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2007 07:41:51 | More by guitarmage
Photo of jjayjaye
jjayjaye

New York

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a translucent caramel color with ruby hues and a full finger orange tinted light tan head. There is visible carbonation and as the head fades small eruptive pools adorn the surface. Reasonable lacing can be observed.

The aroma is immediate but not overbearingly a piny hop with a balanced sweet caramel earthen malt character.

The mouth feel is a medium heavy body with smooth and creamy textures accented by high hoppy notes. The complexity is imaginative and noteworthy.

This beverage's flavor is a keystone to the style in my mind. An interesting citrus flavor relaxed by a malted earthy component.

You can tell that it's a heavier product, but the 10.2% isn't like a liquor. Quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2007 18:13:04 | More by jjayjaye
Photo of pweis909
pweis909

Wisconsin

4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is my first American barley wine. Frankly, I approached this with trepidation, having seen one of the Brother's reviews for it. I knew I was in for a blast of bitter.

Immediately after cracking the bottle I thought I smelled piney hops, maybe Chinook? I poured the beer, which was brownish amber, and mostly opaque. It had a huge tan head, with considerable lasting power, that ultimately left plenty of lace as I drained the brew.

After that first whiff of hops, I really didn't notice more hop aroma. But there was lot's of fruit aromas: pineapple and coconut. Plus carmel and chocolate. No kidding. The smell left me with the impression that I was going to be drinking a pina colada carmel fudge shake.

And that's where the tropical fantasy came to an end, because when I first tasted it, it was ALL bitter. Kind of harsh. The bottle does say 80-90 ibus. But even as I swallowed, I could smell those fruity aromas calling me back for another sip. The big alcohol content may have contributed some to the harshness - I felt an alcohol burning sensation during the finish.

I nursed this 21 ouncer over a 2 hour period, and after about an hour, my tastebuds adjusted to the bitterness, and the carmelly malts became more prominent.

As for adjusting to the alcohol, well, let's just say this is one to enjoy in the comfort of your home. While I hogged this baby up for myself, I'd prefer to share it, because of the strength.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2007 19:30:33 | More by pweis909
Photo of Enola
Enola

North Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

*Well I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer*

8:30 in the morning is *not* too early for a beer like this, is it?
Anyways, The beer pours a cloudy rusty brownish red. But there is a creamy head atop and good lacing. The smell is sweet hops. The taste is sweet hops at first fading to a bitter lasting aftertaste. A little sweeter than I would prefer with the style. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. The abv does not provide a bite that would detract from the brew. A nice easy drinking brew that is sure to warm you up on a cold day.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2007 14:02:39 | More by Enola
Photo of Cameroon
Cameroon

Pennsylvania

3.03/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I am a relative newbie to Barley wine and this is the first hop intensive barley wine I've tried. I am not a fan of heavily hopped beers. It strikes me that hop fans are like the folks that like hot peppers. Somehow, somebody has equated hops and hot peppers with balls. Hops lend a very valuable adjunct to beer, but are not more or less than a particular spice is to a Belgium brew. 70% of this brew is balanced sweet, with fruit tones. The heavy dose of hops is far too powerful and distracts from the barley wine nature. It may be perfect for some but to me it is an undeserved bow to the unorthodox, West Coast fad of single, double, triple and God forbid quadriple hopheads. Think of hops as a spice that is to be used to create highlights in taste. For those who truly love overdoses of hops, I say "God Bless". Hopping up an intrinsic sweet beer steals the very nature of the beer in my opnion.This beer is definately deserving of a try and honest appraisal, but this boy sees much more potential if the hops were muted. Sadly, in my opinion, when it comes to barley wine, hops should be a subtle reverberation, not a sledge hammer. Under this department store suit, there lies a handsome wardrobe.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2007 01:39:35 | More by Cameroon
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

2.9/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

2006 GABF Gold Medal batch on cask at the Falling Rock for barleywine month. The color was dark red with a fluffy head. The smell was floral, hoppy, and so alluring. This beer's smell really builds up the anticipation as far as the taste. The taste did not disappoint. Mmmm, hops, caramel, toffee, goodness. This was one of the best beers I have had in a long time. Now I have to grab some bottles for the cellar.

update 1/26/2013 bottle

Had to revisit this because I couldn't believe how high I rated this, that 2006 cask must have been ill. This bottle looked beautiful when I poured it into the glass so I did not change that score. The smell was vegetal. The flavor was harsh alcohol and a hint of broccoli, meh. Shit is actually pretty wack for $8, fuck that.

Serving type: cask

02-13-2007 17:41:54 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of tatterdash
tatterdash

Ontario (Canada)

4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split this with chunkylover53 at Cafe Volo... A wise choice!

Pours a beautiful hazy red brown with a big rocky yellowish head, a classic-looking American Barleywine, excellent lacing as well. Smell was a huge chocolate/hop blast, could smell it from a long distance away and I am a better person because of it. Taste was HUGE and chocolatey, almost chocolate mint from the huge hops. Mouthfeel was full and thick thick thick, a little too cloying though to be perfect. Sooo goood... I love this brewery's products so far.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2007 01:21:56 | More by tatterdash
Photo of asabreed
asabreed

New York

4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a Thomas Hardy snifter.

Appearance: Great dark hazy amber hues to this thick brew, with a bunch of spotty lacing toward the top of the glass, and a thick head with some slight orange and red making an appearance in all the whiteness. The warmer this gets, and with subsequent pours, the more the retention's doing great things.

Smell: Definitely a lot of hops, whether it's the first colder pour or one of the later warmer ones. Also balanced with some heavy sweetness and ripe fruit-on-the-ground-for-a-few-days pungency, though with the hops the balance works extremely well so as not to appear too fruity or sugary. Along with some roasted malts, some dark and thick chocolate, smoke, woodiness, bread crust, and earthiness, this rounds out a very intriguing and aromatically visceral brew.

Taste: Initial fruity sweetness with some strawberry, starfruit, and tropical immediately curbed by the bitterness and floral nature of the hops, where the flowery quality really balances when meshed with the malt. Also some slight coffee grounds, rich chocolate, and earthiness with an extremely long finish that sticks to every part of the mouth and dissipates at a very slow rate.

Mouthfeel: Extremely rich with enough carbonation to make this feel like silk overall. Easily a perfect score from me on this.

Drinkability: Great Divide continues to be top notch for me, and one that I will continue to return to. A perfect winter brew with lots of sipping and enjoying potential, especially if it's only one person with the bomber. Ideally this would be best with a friend or two I think, but it was just me during this go, and I imagine a few years in the cellar would do even more wonderful things for its potential.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2007 22:17:55 | More by asabreed
Photo of 1whiskey
1whiskey

Oregon

3.1/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass. Pours out a cloudy reddish-amber with a thick apricot colored head.

Aroma is a mix of sweet fruit and floral combination, caramel, grapefruit, and brown sugar. Oddly enough, I also smell tea (fuggles?).

Taste is...sweet. Really, really, sugary, syrupy sweet. If ever the phrase "malt bomb" applied to a beer, this is it. More fruit & floral notes are present, and again the tea-like bitterness it struggling to be found amongst all the sugar. Alcohol is clearly evident. In some respects, this reminds me of booze-soaked fruitcake.

Mouthfeel is syrupy thick, with some creamy carbonation present. Drinkabilty? I'm in no hurry to have a second one. I may not be able to finish the bottle. Way too much sugar for me. Those with a sweet tooth may love this, though.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2007 08:47:15 | More by 1whiskey
Photo of Celt44
Celt44

New York

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass - my first Barley Wine ever - here goes..
Appearance - a cloudy brown/amber. Small head lasts throughout - minimal lacing. Nice looking beer.
Aroma - Overwhelming malt - probably the most maltiest aroma I've experienced. Hops and hints of fruit - plums maybe.
Taste - Strong hops - malt character jumps out. Plums are still coming to mind here.
Mouthfeel is smooth.
Overall an excellent beer. All kinds of taste burst forth from this excellent choice from Great Divide. Great brewery..

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2007 01:45:30 | More by Celt44
Photo of schusterbauer
schusterbauer

Michigan

4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

pours a deep, dusty red, bordering on brown. cloudy with a small off-white head. appearance somehow reminds me of organic cherry juice (not to say that they're identical by any means). smell is of confection. fermented cherries, toffee, cooking/burning caramel. when first poured, hops and malt are the primary flavors perceived. as the beer warms though, a dazzling array of flavors is revealed. cherry, burning wood, charcoal, toffee, (toffee cooked on the grill!), lemon zest, oranges... i might drink this at room temp next time. thick and creamy in the mouth, but rugged and challenging. an experience, to say the least. i drank this over approximately 3 hours at the end of the evening, and i'll probably start even earlier next time. drinkability is only really hindered by the huge bottle -- it's a commitment.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2007 14:22:35 | More by schusterbauer
Photo of demcorhip
demcorhip

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed this one with chonyr and raider during a barleywine session. Had this one later in the evening and may have been starting to experience barleywine burnout, when i have this one again if my opinion differs ill revisit this review.

Appearance
A deep reddish tinted amber ale. Slight tan coloured head formed on the pour of this very mildly carbonated brew.

Aroma
Lots to smell here underneath the bitter citric hop blast. Caramel, tobacco, leather, and dark fruits (date, plum, black cherry).

Taste
Even the rich malts in this one with their flavours of toffee, leather, tobacco, and nuances of dark fruit can't quite stand up to the huge bitter hop blast, with its resinous, lingering and tongue stripping flavours of grapefuit and pine.

Mouthfeel
Perhaps this one should be labelled a hop wine, definately more emphasis on the big, bitter and resinous hops than the barley. A full bodied beer, almost syrupy with its low level of carbonation.

Drinkability
This beer is not for the faint of heart. Its huge malt bill is buried underneath an even huger bitter hop blast. This barleywine is for the hopheads. Stay away if you arent a fan of hugely hopped IPAs and DIPAs. A good sipper on a cold winters night, but too big for easy session fare. I will have this one again, after all im still sitting on a bomber in my cabinet. May be better suited to starting off a night of drinking as opposed to finishing one.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2007 16:46:29 | More by demcorhip
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.9/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Warmly glowing tawny with an infusion of candied cherry. I don't know if I've ever seen a larger or more spectacular looking head on a barleywine. The color is equal parts pastel orange and golden beige, a beautiful complement to the beer on which it sits. I love its rich, thick, marshmallow-like creaminess and the fact that it leaves more lace than any beer with an ABV higher than 10% has a right to.

Old Ruffian's nose defines the American barleywine style for me. It's so hugely powerful that one doesn't need to get within a foot of the glass to appreciate its wonderousness. Even a passing sniff causes melted caramel, candied citrus fruit and pine sap to enter the nose and impact the brain's olfactory center with megaton force. I'm not kidding, I haven't smelled a more explosively aromatic beer in a long, long time.

I wondered if this Great Divide offering could possibly live up to the Top 100 Beers hype. One glorious mouthful is all it took to tell me that Old Ruffian is the single best version of the style that has ever crossed my lips. Like the nose, this is exactly what I expect when I pop the cap on an American barleywine... and what I've almost never gotten. Make that never gotten. Until now.

It's tempting to think that any old brewer could recreate the magic that's in every drop of this magical elixir simply by dumping massive quantities of caramel malt and American hops into the kettle. Obviously that isn't true because only the brewers at Great Divide have managed to do it this well. My hat is off to them, as much for this beer as for the rest of the big beer they grace us with.

The caramel malt backbone is huger than huge and is easily the equal of the roasted malt backbones on the biggest Russian Imperial Stouts. Torrents of sticky, melted caramel flow across my tongue with each upending of the glass. If you have a beer sweet tooth (it's okay to admit it), then Old Ruffian will do you right. There's something else present, though, that keeps the sweetness at bay and keeps it from gumming up the works. And that is...

... a barrage of citric hoppiness that is greater than anything I've tasted in a beer of this style, no matter the age. My best guess is that this bomber is at least a year old. When fresh it must have been a masochist's delight, but then most hopheads have something of a masochistic streak anyway. Massively bitter hops of the candied grapefruit, orange and pineapple variety sink in and never really fade after the swallow. Maybe a little, but then it's time for another mouthful.

The glass couldn't possibly be more covered with lace than it is at present. I have no choice but to bump the appearance score a half point. While alcohol is clearly noted, there's so much maltiness and so much hoppiness running interference that I don't mind a bit. In fact, it gives the beer a certain raw power that further adds to its appeal. You want 'over the top', you've got it.

I can't begin to adequately describe the luxuriousness of the mouthfeel. Partly because I've run out of synonyms for f***ing amazing and partly because the ABV has begun to blanket my brain with a fantastic fog that is making the imaginative use of adjectives increasingly difficult. Simply put, it's hard for me to conceive of a more full, more velvety smooth, more heavily silky mouthfeel than the one that has been provided.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine is the American barleywine of my dreams. It does everything I want a beer of this style to do and then some. Every other brewer in America had better stay up nights if they hope to match the brilliance of Great Divide when it comes to this particular offering. This is the new gold standard as far as I'm concerned and is one of the best beers ever created.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2007 23:16:56 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of Mdog
Mdog

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this bottle in the basement for a while and there's no date on the bottle. I believe this is either a 2005 or early 2006 though.

Appearance: Cloudy reddish-brown with a big head and nice lacing.

Smell: Sweet candy, ripe fruits, a little alcohol.

Taste: Sweet raisins and caramel/toffee malt, with a touch of resiny bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, a little coating.

Drinkability: Very tasty and reasonably priced. A little strong to have more than one bomber at a sitting.

I wish that Great Divide dated their bottles. This was a tasty treat with a little age on it. It definitely did not have the hoppy sting of fresh barleywine but still was not overly sweet. Very good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2007 18:01:29 | More by Mdog
Photo of RonfromJersey
RonfromJersey

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Barleywine weather has finally arrived.

A beer greatly affected by lighting. On my desk it looked brown, when held to the desk lamp orange, the floor lamp red, and the monitor I'll say middle aged penny. Looked good at all times though. Two fingers of soft bone china colored froth topped the glass.

Aroma features an abundance of baked goods with a strong yeasty note. Further back are some Christmasy cookies and some mixed fruits.

Kicks off surprisingly hoppy. Not surprising in the hoppiness so much as how the hops completley dominate. I'm accustomed to barleywines starting sweet but this starts off at balanced and moves from there. Earthy hops are front and center, with some juicy citrus circling. Surprisingly, the malt punches its way through for a big bow at the swallow (seems like my tongue is backwards) and then there is a charming warming glow in the aftertaste. As the bottle continues, the malt becomes more and more assertive, and fruitiness becomes more pronounced, making for a more balanced, and more traditional barleywine, a good thing, in my humble opinion. So definitely let this warm up toward room temperature.

Good mouthfeel - flows well, not overly syrupy. Drinkability is good for such a good beer, but make sure to tread cafefully.

At least at first, a different sort of barleywine, but very nice to curl up with in front of the fire on a cold winter night.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2007 05:41:24 | More by RonfromJersey
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brentk56

North Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Beautiful specimen - pours a cloudy amber color with a robust head that persists exceptionally well and leaves sheets of lace as if it were a stout on nitro

Smell: Sweet caramel and golden delicious apples; could a toffee apple smell any better?

Taste: Starts with a sweet caramel flavor that tastes more and more like a toffee apple just before the hops arrive at mid-palate; after the swallow, a blast of piney bitterness balances out the sweetness that lingers on the tip of the tongue; grainy tobacco aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, almost syrupy, with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Among the very best examples of the American Barleywine style

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2007 00:36:12 | More by brentk56
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,971 ratings.