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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.

2,009 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,009
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 212
Gots: 288 | FT: 13
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
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Ratings: 2,009 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Tupperwolf
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pouring from an unmarked bomber into my new Stone Old Guardian barleywine glass - I maintain that this is one of the best looking glasses on the market, period. The shape is distinctive, unique, classy, and bold all at the same time. The presentation may be a key element, but damn if this beer doesn't look appealing.. It seems to sit there on the table and stare back at me with prying eyes, dark brown-amber with a thin sugar cookie wafer of yellowish head that leaves behind a clingy wall of lacing.

I go in expecting steamed-vegetable barleywine malts and am rewarded in kind, then splashed suddenly by an oily bath of hops. The overall scent is rich, honeyed, butterscotch tones on top of a bomb of sweet, citrusy hops and grassy, bittersweet apple malts. Smoke... hell, there's some smoke in there, too.

Each sip carries in a bittersweet cruise of smoky-fruity-citruisy-bitter-indescribable flavor. There's lots going on here, and I'd love to buy another bottle to age for the next 2-3 years, though it's amazing as is. There's a ton going on in the malts, with vegetables, oats, caramel, smoke... then it's backed up by the most hops I've encountered so far in a BW, a fantastic wrestling match of grapefruit hops that are pure OIL. I'd hate for those hops to fade in the aging process, though.... Damn.... I really enjoyed Great Divide's Hercules, and they took their awesome hopping to this beer, too. Yum yum.

The mouthfeel is awesome - it's carbonated extremely finely, so each sip is like a fluffy puff that swirls over your tongue, then simmers away in the swallow and becomes oily, oily with hops - you get the best of both worlds, soft, enjoyable carbonation and oily hop bomb.

I'm SO tempted to boost a lot of these ratings up to 5.0, but I just can't help but imagine that things will change and improve with age... Seriously, though, this is one of the best barleywines I've had so far, and easily the most enjoyable. If I had to rename this, it'd be Great Divide 'Atlas Triple IPA'.

Tupperwolf, Feb 22, 2006
Photo of VoodooBrew
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rule of thumb: if it's from Great Divide and it comes in a 22 oz. bomber, it's probably a fabulous beer.

Old Ruffian opens up with a dose of sweet malt that is followed immediately by a strong bitterness. Aromas of malt, cedar, and grass meander up from the generous head atop this orange-copper colored brew. By virtue of its sheer size, the malt is slightly palate-coating, but really what impresses upon the drinker is the complex, rugged, craggy nature of this BW, while the malt, hops, and alcohol all intermingle. A very good BW.

VoodooBrew, Feb 22, 2006
Photo of Byeast
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle is a 1 pint 6 oz biggie with a menacing mountain top on the label. Poured out a thick, murky auburn with a small but thick head. Seems to be more dark in the middle than the top and bottom of the glass with some carbonation rising. Taken to the nose , big , sweet , fruity aromas , some caramel , tinge of hop,and spirit like alcohol. Taste is a massively complex mix of sweet fruit , malty and sweet bread like flavors, warming alcohol, with pleasantly bitter hops to balance. Finish is alcoholic and hoppy , so damn tasty! Mouthfeel is nicely viscous and chewy. This Barley Wine is alot more drinkable than i thought it would be at 10.20% ABV. I am extremely impressed! I am going to stock up on these babies.

Byeast, Feb 21, 2006
Photo of nortmand
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep amber, almost brown, with a meringue-like off white head. Great lacing.

Caramel cinnamon nose with a hint of chocolate. This is alongside a huge citrusy hop presence.

Sweet up front, by mid-tongue and assaulting array of hop bitters rears its wonderfully ugly head. Pine resin mixes with keylime citrus. Great until the back of the tongue, where a strange soapy metallic flavor dominates. Possible slight oxidation.

Silky, almost creamy full body. Carbonation is tastefully done. Huge alcohol burn for at least a minute in the center of the chest, but despite this, very drinkable on this 8 degree F Michigan night.

nortmand, Feb 19, 2006
Photo of ashleyshalyn
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz brown bottle poured into a snifter

A: Reddish Mahogany with low head, but still had good head retention

S: Rich Pine and Hop with Caramel nesting in the background

T: Starts of with fruity floral malt and honey with a soapy hop in the middle. Finishes out with an amazing warming alcohol and lingering malt.

M: Mild carbonation full body. Very smooth and warm!

D: I will go back to this one again and again. By far one of the best barleywines that I have come across. It is very complex, yet familiar and comforting. We drank this when the temperature in Orlando was a record low and let me tell you… this really warmed us up!

ashleyshalyn, Feb 16, 2006
Photo of thetachibro
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy dark copper with a beautiful off pearl 2in foamy head that goes no where. Lots of carbination feeding it constantly. Smells midly of hops with some sweet malts a nice balance. Taste initially is somewhat sweet and a little fruity. You also get somewhat of a hop punch as well. Very creamy and full bodied in the mouth. A heavy hitter that isn't for the light hearted and still very tasty.

thetachibro, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of jnelson54
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a great big beer. Bigger than bigfoot by a step.
Big hoppy aroma
At first sweet malt then sharp hops
very big mouthfeel caramel and sweet
clean finish very good barley wine and I love my baryley wine
if you are a miller time kinda person this isnt year beer but if you are a beer drinker cheers to you

jnelson54, Feb 14, 2006
Photo of ScarletLady
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a lovely caramel color. Cloudy and unfiltered looking with a normal head and light lacing. the nose was quite hoppy and i detected a hint of coffee. The taste was great, lighter than what I expected. At first I was struck by slightly sweet, and noticed the alcohol. I loved the bitter finish that stays with you, really stick to the tongue. Overall I really liked it, definitely 'big'.

ScarletLady, Feb 13, 2006
Photo of blitz134
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear garnet colored with lots of carbonation bubbles rising to the surface to support a cloud-like tan head that never goes away. Amazing head for a 10.2% abv beer. Sticky lacing all around the glass. Now if only everyone could pull this off. Gorgeous beer, really dont know what else I could ask for.

Aroma is amazingly strong. Sweetness dominates this hefty brew. Thick syrup caramel with dark ripe fruits and some citrus, tangerine hop overtones. Some toffee works its way in as well.

Flavor has the toffee coming back in initially and then syrupy pine and citrus hops come through. Sweetness is the key to the flavor, brown sugar, raisins and ripe plums. Alcohol doesn't try to hide itself at all but blends in nicely.

Nice mouthfeel. Full bodied and almost oily. Sticks to the tongue and refuses to leave.

Drinkability is good. A super complex beer that works well together. Alcohol is strong making this a definate sipper. I've been holding off on having this for just that reason, its a lot of beer for one person. My stomach is definatly warm right now.

blitz134, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of Wasatch
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark brown in color, some carbonation, nice head which sticks around for a while, very nice sticky lacing afterwards.

S - Scents of sweet malts, hops, and caramel.

T - The taste is pretty sweet and hoppy, there's a little bitterness in the finish. Also a hint of alcohol.

M - Medium body. A very nice well rounded brew.

D - Very drinkable. This is a nice offering from GD, would buy again, and recommend to others.

Wasatch, Feb 11, 2006
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance looks deep cloudy amber maroon murkiness cream colored thick head leaves ample evenly dispersed lacing. Aroma is full of overly ripened deep fruit tones hardcore layers of pince scented hop overtones tart citrus notes as well complex aromatics with a hint of vanilla and slightly burnt caramelized residual sugars. Taste comes on at first a dark hop syrup pine cone and citrus hop mix big malt backbone carrying malty caramel tones withy a touch of vanilla and oakiness even though I know this wasn't aged in a barrel I'm still picking up some of those characteristics along with the classic over ripened vinous alcohol bursts. Mouthfeel is very thick full bodied b-wine carbonation is ample has trouble flowing through the big body of this brew sticky oily resinous layers. Drinkability is still easy to enjoy despite the massiveness and complexities this ale has to offer enjoy with friends damn good.

WVbeergeek, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of RedHaze
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brownish ruby color with a one finger dark tan head that slowly fades to a soapy cap and ring tht leaves behind nice webs of lacing.

Smell; dark cherries, vanilla, note of toffee and spicy hops. There's a nice malt presence in the aroma as well.

Taste; initially sweet caramel malts, toffee and vanilla, followed by slightly sour cherries and raisins. There's a good amount of piney hop bitterness present as well as bit of citrus. The alcohol makes an appearance in the finish, but is not overwhelming, especially considering the high abv. Mouthfeel is full bodied, and really creamy. This is my favorite barley that I've had so far.

RedHaze, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a small head with a conrete lacing. Dark golden brown with a cloudy appeareance. Piney super hops is the only thing I can smell at first. It has caramel and banana undertones. Taste is very bitter and very sweet with piney hops and caramel and banana undertones. Mouthfeel is watery, but smooth, and a little carbonated. It also has a slight coffee undertone.

Erdinger2003, Feb 06, 2006
Photo of Riggo
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pour yields a somewhat turbid chestnut brown / red color with a soft, creamy tan head; a little reminiscent of espresso crema. Excellent lacing.
Smell is fruity (apricots, apples, orange candy) mixed with caramel and toffee.
In the mouth, definitely sweet and viscous, but simultaneously sharp, bitter. Again, orange candy and oily cedar, perhaps lemon rind and caramel. Fruity and woody, lightened by a bright hop bite. Mouthfeel is silky, luscious.
Finish is fruity with a dry citric hop fade-out.

Extremely well-balanced it seems to me for a barleywine. Both big sweetness and big dry-ness are there but with such harmony. Still, it's rich; the alchohol is evident. Very well done.

Riggo, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of cMonkey
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Found this at a local bar, and had not previously heard of Great Divide brewing, so I had no idea what to expect.

The beer was presented to me with a pilsner style glass, so aromas and head were more difficult to determine. However, I was not expecting such a dark brew. The aroma was full, and very malty.

One taste and I knew I found a new brewery to seek out. The taste was full, complex, and very good, with only a slight sting of the alcohol content at the end.

Drinking the entire bottle was highly enjoyable, and I did not tire of its taste. Of course, after just one 22oz bottle of this 10.2% barley wine, I can only faintly remember the last drops...

cMonkey, Jan 28, 2006
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a dense, three finger thick, tightly beaded amber-tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear deep reddish amber color (it is dark enough that you have to hold it up to the light to see through it), that viscously slows an ample carbonation that rises up slowly up fron the bottom. The aroma is sweet, almost sticky with a solid mix between malt and hops. Most of the aromatic notes are that of malt, expecially of the caramel variety: I get rich notes of toffee, caramel, hints of rich fruit like cherry, raisins and prunes. There is also a fair amount hop character, it is definitely in the background, but I get some lightly astringent herbal note as well as some citrus aromatics. The aroma is quite rich and satisfying, definitely appropriate for a cold evenings sampling.

The beer is quite thick and viscous with a creamy start to this beer. It then morphs to a sweet crystal malt driven beer that finishes with a strong, astringent, grippingly bitter finish. This beer is definitely a sipper, it is so thick and rich that you need to savor each sip. The astringent finish seems to also be derived from a hint of dark malt character that manifests itself as a bit of roast coffee. Other than the ample bitterness there seems to be a ton of flavor hops in this beer as well, it is just that the ample, thick, sweet malt character seems to drown out most of the hop character. The hop flavors that are in here remind me most of pine, but there are some herbal notes and some menthol like character here as well.

I don't know how I am going to finish a 22oz bottle of this, very slowly I guesss. It is just so rich and thick, but it is still enjoyable.

Gueuzedude, Jan 26, 2006
Photo of beertastegood
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Time to revisit this beer again, since I loved it so much last time.

Pours a deep, deep reddish-amber color with a small frothy tan head. Aromas of plums, raisins, caramel, and alcohol, overlaid with a spicy hop smell.

Taste: Hops bite at first, followed by a big malty punch of Munich-type sweetness, with alcohol-soaked plums and raisins prominent. Finishes sweet and thick yet spicy with hop flavor, like a good barleywine should.

Medium carbonation, thick body (of course). Drinkability is obviously not that of a session beer, but as barleywines go, this one is quite easy to drink, with none of the nasty fusel alcohols that can be found in the lesser versions of this style.

This beer is just as good as it was when I tried it last.

beertastegood, Jan 26, 2006
Photo of Mitchster
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, paid $4.99 in Boulder, CO. 90 IBU's, 10.2% ABV.

Pours out to a cloudy dark amber, forming a tall, sticky, rocky, creamy head with amazing retention and beautiful chunky lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. The aroma is fruity with plenty of apple and grapefruit esters, vanilla and rum-soaked dark fruits touched by a drizzle of kiwi and piney, resinous assertive hops. The mouthfeel is slick and oily with a dense body. The taste is as expected for a beer of this style. It reminds me alot of Third Coast Olde Ale with it's pungent hop variety and assertiveness balanced by a huge sticky amber malt body. The bitterness is strong and resinous. Quite warming but not boozy. Everlasting aftertaste of burnt pine, leather, and fresh pipe tobacco.

Shit. I just noticed that these guys are only a few blocks away from Avery BC. I'll have to stop by there when I'm in Boulder next time. Make that a trio with Left Hand BC. Mmmm. At any rate, quite the standout big bad barleywine, this one is. Thoroughly enjoyable. I'd buy it again. Recommended!

Mitchster, Jan 25, 2006
Photo of jakester
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. 2005 version.

Pours a very cloudy dark red with a nice one finger head of beige colored foam. The head drops to a 1/4" coating, and lacing actually coats the whole glass in thick foam. Nice.

Aroma is strong fruits like rum soaked raisins and dates, dark cherries, and pears, very floral hops. very dark caramel candy, and alcohol.

Flavor is really huge caramel malt, and dark fruits like above. Hop bitterness is high, and works well with this beer. Mouth just explodes with flavor. Distinct dark rum soaked fruits. Alcohol warmth is right there, but not overwhelming. Sweetness is high, but not cloying. Aftertaste is huge, sweet, bitter, and warm.

Mouthfeel is actually pretty smooth and creamy, with a tongue curling bitterness and a warm throat. Lips stick together from sweetness. Mouthfeel is absolutely HUGE! Finish is bitter and sticky.

IMO, it's tough to rate the drinkability of a beer like this. It's really delicious, very well made, leans toward the hoppy side, everything I love in a barleywine. Big hop bitterness, big hop flavor, huge caramel malt character and huge alcohol. Very good stuff.

jakester, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of ommegangpbr
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Take Great Divide's Hercules, bump up the booze content and the malt content a little bit and you have Old Ruffian. Perhaps this is what happens to Hercules when he lets himself go... not as good looking but packs just as much punch. This is the old, experienced warrior that knows where and how to hit you. Very rich and tasty. Definately a hopped up barelywine. Reminds me a bit of Double Bastard in certain respects but I think I enjoy this more. This isnt as pretty as pretty can be... hazy and unshaven as it is... but who cares?
Not too far from perfect as far as the style goes.

ommegangpbr, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a dark brown with some orange and red highlights. A mag-lite to the side caused my tulip glass to light up like a giant red LED. Weird. The head didn’t stick around too long and collapsed into a slight film.

Smelled of candy brown sugar, caramel, tootsie roll and bits of chocolate all magnificently blended into a superb earthy hop character. Very nice.

Tasted of big sticky sweet caramel and molasses malts with a huge hop kicker. I also distinctly picked up some red liquorish. This one is a definite candidate for aging.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with a gentle big mouthful of carbonation.

Very tasty!

DarkerTheBetter, Jan 17, 2006
Photo of nlmartin
4.83/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed 20 ounce wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a very lovely amber / rubyesques coloration. The head was a thick creamy off white ruby tinged beauty almost three fingers high. Loads and loads of lacing left behind on the glass.

Smell: The beer has a marvelous caramel / vanilla smell. This beer had alot of hop goodness about it. The beer has a good malt character about it.

Taste: This beer has a malty sweetness that gives way to a hop oilyness about it. There is a nice fruity cherry dipped in rum sort of taste. This combines with a piney hoppy goodness.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer has a full bodied mouthfeel. The beer has small tight carbonation. Just a well balanced barley wine. Dam this beer is good.

nlmartin, Jan 17, 2006
Photo of scooter231
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy reddish color with some tan head. Smell is way chocolately at first sniff- followed by whiffs of vanilla and a smoky bitterness. Taste is craaazy- very powerful, the first sip is. Coffee and bitter, roasted hops things going on... Bastard, anyone? Espresso fills the background with a chewy bready quality that gives the whole thing body, texture, and character. Also some caramel hints. A bitter, tasty, thing. Mouthfeel is chewy, creamy, thick. Makes me lick my teeth. Very drinkable for a barley wine- alcohol is present, but not so much that you're constantly thinking about it, so it sneaks up on you and kicks you in the ass pretty easily. A tasty, tasty thing.

scooter231, Jan 17, 2006
Photo of Terp96
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2005.

This is a fantastic brew. Pours a dark amber with a one and a half finger head that never quits.

Smell is very balanced. Sweet and malty but with a nice floral hop aroma as well. All packed into one.

Taste is exceptional. Very complex and very balanced. The malt backbone is heavy letting you know that this is indeed a barleywine but it has an exceptional hop presence as well. Again, very balanced.

Mouthfeel is equally strong. Syrupy sweet but with a substantial drying on the back end. Perhaps the most balanced beer I have ever had.

Drinkability is great too. This is not something you can say about a lot of barleywines. It is not too heavy in any aspect. It is perfectly balanced and doesn't tire you from anything.

Old Ruffian lives up to its billing and is worth getting your hands on.

Terp96, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of Lnedrive14
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with some ruby highlights.

Huge head for a barleywine. Great lacing too.

Kinda hard to pull individual smells and tastes out of this one. Hops, fruits, malts, and some caramel are all in there. A fairly complex brew with lots going on in each sip. Kind of like Indian food, in that you know there is a ton that goes into it, but it all fuses into one giant, tasty mess.

Mouthfeel is good. Alcohol hits a bit too hard, I think. That's why I really docked the drinkability here. I liked the fact that the sweetness didnt come out too strong, but I felt that a bomber was a bit too much.

All in all a great brew, however.

Lnedrive14, Jan 14, 2006
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,009 ratings.