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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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2,171 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,171
Reviews: 1,066
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 236
Gots: 332 | FT: 19
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: 2,171 | Reviews: 1,066
Photo of DIM
3.66/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

Photo of NCBeernut
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

Photo of irishkyle21
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

Photo of KodyBrannon
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of rye726
4.63/5  rDev +10%
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.

Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Photo of jdubjacket
4.37/5  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.

Photo of TheodorHerzl
4.87/5  rDev +15.7%
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.

Photo of Poser
4.72/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of umustdrink
4.92/5  rDev +16.9%
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.

Photo of geexploitation
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

Photo of jakon
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of DIPAbrewer
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of BigJTrucker
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of yelterdow
4.01/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of jasonjlewis
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of RedChrome
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of TheSarge
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of BeardedSquash
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,171 ratings.