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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,135 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,135
Reviews: 1,060
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 237
Gots: 315 | 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: 2,135 | Reviews: 1,060 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pweis909
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

Photo of Enola
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of Cameroon
3.1/5  rDev -26.4%
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.

Photo of ArrogantB
2.92/5  rDev -30.6%
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.

Photo of tatterdash
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

Photo of asabreed
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

Photo of 1whiskey
3.13/5  rDev -25.7%
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.

Photo of Celt44
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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..

Photo of schusterbauer
4.42/5  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.

Photo of demcorhip
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.9/5  rDev +16.4%
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.

Photo of Mdog
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.32/5  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.

Photo of brentk56
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
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

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

Enjoyed this beer! Sat down with a bottle and a pilsner glass to try out this fine brew. Got it via trade!!! Not sure the year on this one. the label looks like it's been around for at least a year. Barleywines really need a year somewhere on the label!

A - Reddish orange, nice off white head that slowly receeds.

S - Rich swirling malts - toffee, caramel, ripe fruit with a good hops citric pop.

T - first sip - yup, malts. second sip, yup hops. third... Very nice combination of flavors similar to the smell but with a layered effect that comes accross wonderful in the taste.

M - Full bodied, definite warming effect.

D - on bomber was plenty. Oh so easy to drink for such a bold beer.

If only I could get this at my local store. I'd take care of the missing year issue and have a new addition to the beer cellar. As is I have a couple more from trades that I will savor over this winter!

Photo of KyleVick4
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber

A: Pours a clear ruby red with a massive head and wonderful lacing. Looks like a superbly brewed beer.

S: Wow, I can smell this beer without bringing it to my nose. When I do, I catch thick citrusy hoppiness with a sweet malt smell. Virtually no alcohol smell for 10% I am impressed. Rich bisuit malt can already be smelled and the caramel is present as well.

T: Mmmmm this is a thick chewy heavy heavenly beer. Lots of bisuit malt up front with caramel in the background. Normally that order is reversed but Im a huge fan of biscuit so naturally this works out well for me. Hints of chocolate malt come through as it warms. The hopiness is nicely done and does not overpower the heavy malt flavors. Damn I hate to do it, but this may be worthy one of the few 5 taste ratings I will ever give out...

M: As I stated earlier, it is very thick and chewy. Which is expected for this style of beer. The carbonation is right on par and the feel is warming to the taste buds. What I like about the feel is it is not creamy like other 'barleywines' its thick heavy and rich.

D: For a barleywine I have been continuously sipping this bad boy, the beer does seem to whisper to me while I am typing, which may be a good thing. Or a terrible thing...

Photo of BlindPig
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- about a 1/4" cream tan head on a cloudy amber brown body. There is a bit of lacing covering the top and sticks to side of glass.
S- Big alcohol with caramel malts. Hops come in strong also. A light roasted aroma is behind it all. Bit of yeast too. Maybe a bit grassy mixed with citrus hops.
T- Toffee malts. Bit bigger on the caramel side. The hops kind of help balance it out but the malts are winning by just a bit. The bitterness cuts through it all though. The alcohol leaves a tingle on the tongue and very lightly warms up the back of your throat. There is a little bit of a bread to it also. The bitterness is pretty big and lingers on the tongue for a very long time. Also in the aftertaste there is a light caramel malt flavor and a bit of toffee too. It has a nice complexity to it. The more I drink of this the more I love it. I wish I could give it a 4.75-4.99 on the taste I just don't think it's a perfect 5.
M- Medium to full body but smooth with low carbonation. Not cloggy at all and I think just the perfect body. Not to big but not to thin. Has just a silky feel to it.
D- It is very good. I wouldn't say it's better than some of the Old Guardians but is better than some of the years. I would love to taste this after a few years. I think it would age very nicely.

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

Medium brown with a reddish tint. Tan head of good size for the ABV. Expressive aromas of piney hops and caramel malts. In the mouth it's not too heavy, nor too sweet, with a strong suggestion of piney/grassy hops. Despite this, it's not really bitter tasting. Alcohol is masked quite well. Wonderful balance and attractive flavors. By far the best barleywine I've had.

Photo of mrasskicktastic
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A - Teas colored cloudy brew with a small head with short life and copious streaks of lacing.

S - Caramel, vanilla, pine, bourbon, molasses, oak, toffee and alcohol. Fantastic aroma. What an American barleywine is meant to smell like!

T - A bit of a sweet maltiness that quickly shifts to an intense crisp pine flavor. The aftertaste is a powerful pine bitterness with some faint grassy notes and a lot of lingering sweet molasses malt underneath. A pleasant barleywine for certain.

M - Thick with minute bubbles that tingle the tounge and gums, but i wouldn't say it feels highly carbonated. There is a bit of a film left in the mouth fromt he beer being so thick, so the refreshment is about neutral.

D - Good. I will have this again. One of the best barleywines I have had the pleasure of tasting, great work Great Divide!

Photo of Backer2004
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can find this anytime at our local Organic Marketplace, not sure why though. Pours very typicaly, orange brown, very thin lacing and carbonation, nothing too exciting . . . then, Bam, wow that smells amazing, lots of fruits (plums and figs especially). Right away this is some powerful stuff, very warming in the throat. Doesn't make Bigfoot status with taste yet, but another review of this aged should help it. Though cold at first, flavors definitely come out. Could age a bit, but with it being fresh it's still some outstanding stuff.

Photo of mentor
2.85/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a strong two finger yellow-tan frothy head over a gorgeous copper rust liquid. Some fine particulates in the beer. Smells wicked pine and some lemon meat. Oxidized sour and caramel malty way beneath.

Tastes creamy, alcohol bite (slightly rough), woody hop dry and bitter. Uhmmm...I'm not impressed. Vegetal. Piney and sharp hops. Rubbing alcohol makes an unpleasant appearance in the aftertaste. Malt is failing under it all. Orange hops and fruity esters (light fruits, such as pear) are present but really overwhelmed.

Thick mouthfeel with a creamy character. Mild carbonation is amplified by the alcohol sting on the tastebuds.

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

Revisiting an old favorite...

A: The ale is an amber orange color with a big 3-4 finger head that retains and laces nicely.

S: The ale is a well-balanced mix of malty sweetness and citrusy hops.

T: The ale has a strong hop character that hits up front. It is a citrusy grapefruit flavor that gives up hints of pineapple as well. The malts come in just after the bitterness, adding a bit of sweetness that mixes well with the hops. The overall taste is big and spicy.

M: Big spicy hops and strong malt sweetness. An excellent winter drink

D: A bomber or two is more than enough, but the flavor is strong with both hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness.

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

Pours a translucent carmel headless

Carmel, sweet, malt. Yummy. Dont get the hops as mentioned. Cant smell the ABV, but I can sense it :).

Sweet into hops. Wow. Lots of flavor, not mesing around. Alcohol present, might want to mask it some. Full bodied.

Little syrupy, staring to really enjoy this about the style. Little biting at the end, but overall sits well in the mouth.

Being an east coaster, Im starting to love Great Divide. Everything seems to be very full bodied. This beeris very drinkable and Im not sure what I would pass up of beers I have had to date for a Great Divide.

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

A very vibrant off reddish/amber pour from a bomber bottle. 2 finger head that seemed to ooze aroma.
Aroma: I smell hops, some roasted malt, berries and alcohol, among other things.
This is a hop loaded barley wine. some herbs up front along with a touch of malt. the piney/citrus hops dominate this brew. some soft fruits like berries and plums are available, but not too widespread.
Crisp taste nips the alcohol in the bud, warming but not burning.
I could drink this one all night, and be completely smashed. Great beer.

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

It pours a hazy, gradated reddish amber, sunny at the edges. Two fingers of light tan head scoops slowly downward. Fangs of lacing nibble the inside of the glass.

In the aroma, there's toothy sweet malt with caramel, toffee, and grainy fruitiness of raisins and dates. A dusting of light citrus hops dances gingerly about an airy does of alcohol.

Upon sipping, a succulent malt sweetness boasts caramel and melon and berry and dark cherry. The hops push more firmly here with a mild but poignant pairing of dry citrus and resiny pine. The alcohol is warm and assertive. The malt revisits with a residual biscuit malt sweetness that dries to a substantial, crisp bitterness. It's a densely tasty and comfortably pushy barleywine.

Full bodied, the thick, syrupy malt is kept from cloying by a very dry buzz on the palate.

I think barleywines are why the temperature drops in winter. OK, maybe not, but this one is a good justification, and it makes the cold a whole lot more bearable, if not fun. And the ABV, big and bold and almost brash, kicks the warmth into another gear. This one's a complete package: a full, drinkable, muscular beer that works any time of year, but sips mighty fine in front of a fire, and that's winter to me.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,135 ratings.