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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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2,173 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,173
Reviews: 1,067
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 236
Gots: 333 | 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: 2,173 | Reviews: 1,067
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.

Photo of yodaseo
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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

Photo of JayQue
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of MiguelMandingo
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of rallison
4.61/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

Drinkability is insanely good for the alcohol.

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

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.8/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz bomber, served in a pint glass.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of treehugger02010
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

Photo of OKCNittany
3.18/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle

A: Poured a hazy reddish brown with a 3/4 in light tan head that stayed awhile. Heavy lacing all over the glass.

S: Light aroma of sweet caramel and grapefruity hops.

T: Sweet for just a sec than bitter hops come through. Pretty good balance considering how hoppy this is (not that I'm complaining about the hoppiness). Unfortunately, the alcohol taste is so overwhelming it diminishes everything I like about it. I know this style calls for a high abv, but in this case it interferes too much with an otherwise good flavor.

M: Creamy mouthfeel - thick with light carbonation - halfway between beer and motor oil. Finishes with a nasty alcohol burn. Maybe I should have poured it into a shot glass.

D: Considering the reputation, I almost feel apologetic for not loving this - but while there's lots to like, the alcohol taste is too much to let me get through more than 1. It's a sipper only - and the first of Great Divide's big beers I don't love.

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

22oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a deep red-brown. Two finger off white head drops to a ring and leaves nice sticky lace.

Smell is sweet candy and alcohol. Some notes of pineapple as well.

Taste starts out with some sweet caramel malt and citrusy jam. Finishes with a punch of hop bitterness.

Thick but not syrupy at all.

Overall, wow! The best barleywine I've had to date. Combines all the things I look for in this style and melds them beautifully.

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

22oz bottle served in a shaker pint.

Poured into my glass with a nice big head. Tinges of red in an very light tan/brown. Wonderful odor with hints of the hops and malts to come. Nice bready malt taste with just enough hops top balance it out. Strong alcohol and bitterness on the finish. The entire beer was remarkably balanced for the style and actually left me thinking about another. For this I give this a higher than normal than drinkability for the style.

Photo of atsprings
4.83/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter a nice brown with a great frothy head that left wonderful lacing. The aroma is of malts and dried fruits with just a slight bit of hops. The taste was very well balanced with the malts and hops dancing in great harmony, neither overpowering the other, very savorable and it only gets better as it warms. The beer is slightly heavy but the alcohol is well hidden. This is certainly my favorite Barley Wine, enjoyable in the Winter or Summer, it doesn't matter.

Photo of Patrick999
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a snifter, deep brown, great head for a barleywine, actually tries to replenish itself a little after each sip.

S - Suitably heady, with a spiky rum raisin emphasis over a malted milk underpinning.

T, M - Very little sweetness to be had...the hops win out here. A flash of sweetness, then mega hop sticky bitterness in the finish. You're gonna get your hop fix here, that's certain. Alcohol? It's very easy to tell you're drinking a huge beer, but actual alcohol taste is masked very well. I don't even feel much warming...this almost tastes refreshing, believe it or not. Some stickiness from the hops; this sits very well in the mouth.

D - Really easy to sip on this one. Another winner from Great Divide.

Photo of letsgopens
4.73/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been looking forward to trying this barley wine for a long time, and it certainly did not disappoint. It pours a very cloudy, woody brown with a nice tan head and decent lace.

The aroma is surprisingly malty with some good light fruit: orange, cider, and some graininess.

Sweet malt, honey, caramel, citrus, apple, some roasty nuttiness, some characteristics that I wasn't expecting from this selection but were very welcomed. Exceptional, Buttery toffee, yet maintains its fruitiness.

The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety with a reasonable clean finish due to good natural carbonation. Really awesome. One of, if not the best, barley wines out there.

Photo of flexabull
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly cloudy bright amber color with a nice white head on top.

Aromas are of whiskey, sweet fruits, nuts, and a hint of hops. Nose is a bit subtle, but the aromas are very nice.

Taste is clean and crisp up front. Lots of creamy malt flavors, and a general soft smoothness in the middle. Finish is a bit bitter and mineral like from the hops, in addition to some alcohol and boozy flavors. The bitterness really lingers after you swallow.

Mouthfeel is very nice, supple, smooth and creamy.

Drinkability is good. This is a nice beer. I like a little more punch from an American Style Barley Wine, but this is a still a solid example of the style.

I got this bottle from mikesgroove months ago. Thanks again Mike.

Photo of tpd975
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this bomber up from my beer guy who was not aware of the quality of this one.

A: Clear golden amber in color, with nice head and lacing.

S: Pure Sweetness and Hops baby, I think I'm gonna like this one.

T: This is a big beer, let me rethink that, NO this is a HUGE beer. It has a nice mix of hops brillance and malt sweetness. You can taste the alcohol in this one, but it's not overbearing.

M: This one is full bodied and smooth. The oil from the hops helps it to go down nicely.

D: This is a one and done beer. More than one bottle of this bad boy and you would be sloppy drunk. But the one bottle puts me in a very very happy place.

Overall: A great Barleywine by Avery, and quite possibly the best I have ever had. It has the perfect mixture of malty sweetness and citrus hops. Every sips leaves you yearning for more. The entire bottle went down so smooth and nice, yet when I got to the bottom I realized I had just consumed a bad boy of a beer. This one was followed by 10 hours of wonderful sleep. This is another one worth seeking out. Great beer by Avery. Will put a few in the cellar to see how they fare.

Photo of Atron67
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a 750 ml bottle,

poured a foamy off white head that stuck well, and left good lacing. had a amber with red tones
This beer seriously smells so delicious my mouth salivates at every whiff of it. a strong smell of hops, has a slightly malty smell as well, a little brown sugar, something reminding me of fruit, but i cant place it exactly,
has a bready start which smoothly changes into a slightly tart fruit and molasses. a slight alcohol bite meets at the same time as the heavy hops notices in the smell. It is delicious.

Has a nice solid body, a medium carbonation although by the end of the 750 ml bottle, had warmed significantly as well as most of its carbonation and was still amazing. I could drink alot, although ide prolly fall over after not too many due to the alcohol

A great beer

Photo of soupyman10
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

UPDATE - 10/16/08 - 4/4.5/4.5/4.5/4: Grabbed another bottle of this, aged for a solid year. Delicious beer. Crazy sweet candy and cookies to start, that slowly moves into a huge hopfest as the beer warms up. Syrupy throughout. Very good beer, one of those barley wines just a hick-up left of a double IPA. No alcohol presence whatsoever. Very, very good (although doesn't quite reach the levels of the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot).

6/01/07 - 4.5/4/4.5/4/4: Pours a perfect two fingers of white frothy head, with intense lacing. Clear amber beer that looks great. Nose is strong and spicy, a little breadiness. Taste is great. Dried fruit up front, molasses, brown sugar maltiness, a little alcohol in the middle. Breadiness shows up in the end, just before a good hop kick. Feel is good, medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall a really great beer, high ABV but flavor's so great I don't really care (I'd drink a bunch, until I couldn't stand).

Photo of mattd017
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass

Pours a deep reddish brown with a thick creamy off-white head that won't quit. Smells of piney hops, caramel malts. Tastes of... piney hops hit you up front, in the middle, and leave a lasting impression. Chocolatey malts creep in towards the end, then are covered with more hop. Alcohol bite is there, but covered well with this well blended brew. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, just this side of a cream stout, with sharper carbonation. Very good example of this style of beer, possibly the best I've tried

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

Pours out a dark ruby with a creamy head and great lacing. Nose- piney hops with a hint of malty sweetness. Taste- piney hops slam the senses, with a rich malt base that follows. This baby is hop overload to the senses- thick and chewy mouthfeel. Freaking awesome! This is the american barleywine- huge hops, but with a great malt base- not cloying at all and with just enough of a booze bite to make you take notice that isn't a session beer. There's a lot of great barleywines out there that I haven't tried- but I doubt there's many that beat this.

Photo of grub
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

quarterly tasting party may 16/07 with northyorksammy, Derek, and me (grub). everyone threw in a few bottles and we had an interesting mix of beer. i contributed this one.

22oz bottle purchased in december 2005. i've actually brought this one to our last 4 or 5 tastings, but we never seem to get around to it. the age has done good things for this one.

pours deep red-brown with a huge fluffy tan head. drops very slow and leaves tons of chunky lace. this one was so sticky i was having trouble rinsing the lace off afterwards!

aroma is excellent. i could sit and smell this one all night. loads of caramel. bit of alcohol. big biscuit malt. bit of resiny pine hops.

taste is great. big bread and biscuit malt again. lots of caramel, without being the least bit buttery. light alcohol. hint of grapefruit. resiny pine hops. hint of cattyness, but i think i really only picked it out after derek mentioned it. medium bitterness level. just a hint of orange. to me this is pretty damn close to perfection.

mouthfeel is great. medium-low carbonation level works great. nice big body.

drinkability is excellent. well balanced and very enjoyable. this one was definitely a treat and i'm quite glad that i kept it around this long. definitely a different experience from a fresh barleywine, and as much as i like them fresh a couple years turns them into liquid gold in my tastes.

Photo of kirok1999
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper, thick and rich with a dark white lasting head. Lacing is massive and thick.
Smell jumps out of the pint glass and slaps my nose around with sweetness, fruits are raisins, plums, cherries and an aromatic hop bitterness that is well balanced.
The taste is so smooth and creamy, kind of reminds me of Double Bastard. The malt sweetness dominates in the front with the hops leaving a bitter after, citrus and pine. This brew is thick and rich with a luscious mouthfeel and is really easy to drink. There's a slight metallic twang in the middle, perhaps the hops need a year or so to mellow that out.

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

This beer poured clear amber with a monster head. The aroma is malty and caramel with a slight hint of fruitiness. The taste is strong of hops, but the malt is perceptible in the background. The mouthfeel is full and the alcohol is noticeable – along with the carbonation. This is a delicious beer that is quite intense. This intensity might drop it a bit on the drinkablity scale, but I still highly recommend it!

Photo of prototypic
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a transparent dark copper to amber color. It's got a nice one and a half finger head, which stuck with it for a while. Pretty thick coat of lace down the mug.

Smell: Very complex. Caramel and toffee malts blended with citrus (mix of grapefruit, mango, and orange). Hops are strong as well. Hints of vanilla and a light nutty aroma are lingering in the shadows.

Taste: Wow. Citrus tastes are immediately noticeable and provide a nice sweet taste. Hops kick in. It's nice and bitter, especially when coupled with the grapefruit taste. It's pretty well balanced though. Caramel and toffee malt flavors are brilliant.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied. Has a bit of a syrupy feel. It's pretty easy to drink, but I wouldn't have more than one. I'd like more, but the abv is high. Overall, this is an excellent. Clearly one of the best barleywines I've tried.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,173 ratings.