Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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2,097 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,097
Reviews: 1,049
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 224
Gots: 311 | 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:
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: 2,097 | Reviews: 1,049 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AmorousAngel
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark reddish brown with a small, fluffy tan head. Started out cloudy, but quickly became very clear. Persistent lacing left behind in the glass.

Distinct hoppy aroma. Alcohol very evident in the smell. Fruity undertones.

Taste is dominated by the hops and alcohol. Like the smell, the taste has an undercurrent of fruit. There is also an unexpected sweetness mingled with the hops.

Very smooth and medium-bodied. Noticeable alcohol after burn.

Very easy to drink. I am going to try aging the second bottle that I have for a few months to see if it gets even better.

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

a - deep red color, very hazy, large tan head with great retention, very good lacing as well

s - caramel maltiness dominates with notes of hops and alcohol

t - hop bitterness up front with lots of sweet maltiness in the middle, alcohol and bitterness dominate the long finish

m - fair amount of carbonation, medium-bodied, coats the mouth very well

d - great beer, but one bomber is plenty for me, the alcohol is definitely present in both taste and effect, but it definitely keeps me interested until the end of the bottle

Very impressed with this brew; it definitely lived up to its billing. Another wonderful beer from the folks at GD. My favorite American barleywine to date.

Photo of Dizzy
3.2/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours hazy reddish brown with a tan head. It retains the head really well for the amount of alcohol in this one. Aroma is citrusy hops, fruits, tons of sweet malt and alcohol. Taste is dominated by the hops and the alcohol, and unfortunatly the malts and a lot of the complexity are overshadowed by the hops. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous. This beer isn't bad, but I don't really understand why it is rated so high. At almost $6 for a bottle, I probably won't buy it again but I don't regret trying it. Might be good to split the 22 oz bottle with someone.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Daalamar: Poured a burgundy color ale with a small off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma of sweet caramel malt with some noticeable bitter hops. Taste is a well enough balanced mix between sweet caramel malt and bitter hops. Body is above average but could have been more full and alcohol was well hidden which is great. Overall, this was quite enjoyable and would love to have more in order to aged some of it.

Photo of CWiggins
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this bottle at Sam's in Durham for $4.99 (22oz). This wasn't a whim; I wanted to try the highest scoring barleywine on this website. My wife and I are fans of the style, so I thought going to the top would be worth it.

Pouring this beer into a tall glass, one can't help but be struck by the intensely dark red color. The lightly straw-headed head seems to last forever; I've now sat with this beer for 20 minutes and it hasn't changed a bit.

The smell reminds me of clean laundry! It has a crisp, bright aroma that seems to cleanse the nose and give one a slightly antiseptic feeling.

The taste is not what I expected. Many of the barleywines I've tried were nicely sweet; this one was less sweet but big with caramel and nutty flavors. The sweetness was subdued. Alcohol was definitely present during the finish, giving the mouth a delightfully dry sensation. This is after your mouth has been filled with a huge, sticky, almost chewy texture. I love that!

We'll be drinking this again. Thanks to BeerAdvocate reviewers for recommending this beer.

Photo of peabody
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark reddish amber color with 1/2 finger of the off-white suds. Slight lacing here.
I smell fruits and spices and a little alcohol here. Mabey a hint of hops or malt come through. My nose is not as trained as some here.
It has a very warm fruity taste with a little hop bitterness. There is a sweetness that lingers in the mouth and taste of banana or pear.
I really like this barley wine stuff. It is my first time with a barley wine so I am biased on this revue.
I could drink mabey a couple of bottles but would be too intoxicated to even attempt opening the third.

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

Pours a deep, slightly hazed mahogany with a slick, creamy tan head that retains pretty well. Thin strings of lace cling to the glass although with its strength it tends to leave more of a clear slick residue on the glass with each swirl. Rich, heavy toasted caramel and toffee aroma; sticky floral and herbal hops and a dark fruity character smooths things out. Alcohol clings to everything yet is quite mellow overall...in other words I wouldn't call it "boozy". The smell makes a smooth transition to flavor - thick, sweet maltiness blends effortlessly with a gritty dark citrus, floral, and pine hoppiness. Fantastic balance. Alcohol warms the throat. Mouthfeel is full and round...very smooth and luxurious with a bitterness that lingers a while.

This is an intense barleywine as I expected, but it never became overwhelming in any way. Its a sipper for sure due to its sheer amplitude, but its supurb balance and mouthfeel make it suprisingly drinkable for what it is.

A huge and most excellent barleywine.

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

Deep purple mahogany disperses a little light through under the creamy froathy head. 1/8th inch retention keeps in ring form. When I smell this, barley wine certainly comes to mind. Full sticky sweetness, floral and juicy citric hop, sugary dark fruits, berry soaked intoxication, and sweet dense caramel, toffee malts. Taste is initially sweet followed by a vast hop explosion, some bitter acidity and warming alcohol, blended into a thick bready, caramely malt. A wide array of hop flavors take their toll....citrus, pine, floral, etc. Quite an experience. Mouthfeel is semi resiny, viscous, slick and smooth all in one. Drinkability is as it should be. Take your time and savor it.

Great barley wine.

Photo of Golden2wenty1
3/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Round 7 of a marathon 8 round American Barley Wine-off with expatsteve. Starting to feel the weight of these big beers. This is the highest-rated of the bunch, let's see how it stacks up against direct comparison to some of its peers.

Pour: darkish amber, nice clarity with a finger of khaki head and little to no lacing.

Nose: PINE HOPS! Yeesh. Then a hearty dose of booze vapor, with citrus and caramel malt trying to balance.

Taste: Intensely bitter/piney hops, grapefruit, menthol-vapor booze with caramel malt struggling for attention.

Feel: medium-heavy body and smooth carbonation but hops and booze burn all the way down the esophagus.

Drinkability/Overall: Really disappointed in the harshness of the hopping and booze in this one. I'm all for a hop bomb but this seems more of a hops and vodka tonic than a beer brewed with MALT. This was frankly a little hard to finish. Not a drain pour, but more work than drinking a beer should be. Hard to see how this is rated so much higher than works of complexity and balance like Old Foghorn or Old Crustacean.

Photo of expatsteve
3.1/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Split a bomber with Golden2wenty1 during a barleywine session.

Appearance: Copper/orange amber, pours a 1/2 inch head. Lingers with heavy suds over. Low/medium viscosity, and low/medium visibility.

Aroma: Big burst of grapefruit, banana and hints of toffee. Not much development, but impressive nonetheless.

Taste: Banana burst initially, but this is quickly replaced by overwhelming pine resin across the entire palate. I can't help feeling that this renders the beer one-dimensional, and that it flattens out most of the malt development (honey and orange notes can never compete with the hops). The alcohol is particularly well-hidden.

Mouthfeel: The hops overpower the low carbonation, and leave this dry and unbalanced.

Drinkability: While this is no doubt a winner with hopheads, I reacted to this beer the way my cats react to having medicine pushed down their throat. When compared to masterfully hopped American barleywines like Old Crustacean, or even more balanced efforts like Bigfoot, this beer seems excessively one-dimensional (I acknowledge that this was probably their aim, and gave this a 3 for taste rather than a lower mark - I adjusted drinkability to reflect my assessment of this beer against the style). Nearly no malt or fruit developments in this one, and the heady and thick quality of other barleywines is altogether lacking. One for the hopheads, though more like a double IPA than a barleywine.

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

Deep redish amber in color, not quite see through. Giant, sticky, oily, toffee colored head that left great, chunky lacing the whole way down. Rich toasty malt aroma, with some sweet fruity notes, and a bit of a perfumey hops smell. The taste is initially of rich syrupy malt, but that give way almost immediately to a fruity dry apple cider flavor, then a strong but balanced floral and a bit resinous hop flavor. The malt shines bright in the finish, deep malt flavor, not bitter roasted, but chocolaty and fruity, plum and dark cherry. Good sticky mouthfeel, but tart enough from the hops. Alcohol is hidden fairly well, drinkable for a barley wine. This beer deserves its great reputation.

Photo of Drew966
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Old Ruffian Barley Wine pours a hazy dark copper color with an off white head from a brown twenty two ounce bottle. The aroma is outstanding, I get fruit, malt and hops in the nose. Taste is equally good, really nice malt flavors, caramel, toffee, fruit and good hop bite in the finish to balance it out. If you like American style barley wine, you should absolutely be hoarding this beer. Highly recommended.

Photo of surfadelic23
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Boy, I'm glad I bought two 22 oz. bombers of this brew! I can save the one and let it age a bit and as this is a big beer, it will be even better I'm thinking!
This brew pours a dark ruby red which is just a bit hazy in my chalice glass.. A big thick heads hangs around for quite some time.
This has a nice sweet candy/malt smell to it and maybe just a hint of hoppy fun.
There is a slightly heavy and somewhat slick mouthfeel to this beasty.
It tastes wonderful, very sweet to me with hints of spice and an underlying hop back. Oh and alcohol,. there's lots of alcohol flavor which is to be expected.
This one is dinged a bit on drinkability because of the big ABV. I just couldn't imagine polishing off a few these watching a game...
I had this with some veal cutlets I'd simmered in another dark ale with garlic, pepper, paprika, and a lil dash of curry. It complimented the meal nicely!

Photo of ultralarry2006
4.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber. Left a beige two finger head, that receded after awhile to a long lasting surface skim, and it left good spotty lacing here and there. Body was a deep red copper amber. This is a beautiful looking ale.

Smell - Floral and caramel, seemingly perfectly balanced. Hint of the high abv. Mouthwatering.

Taste - Like the smell. Floral, pine, citrus. Caramel and toast. A perfectly balanced ale between the hops and malt. It is bitterly refreshing ( hops ) and sweetly satisfying ( malt ) at the same time. Moreover, this is a BIG beer, and not overbearing, but instead entirely tasty and mouthwatering. The alcohol here is almost entirely hidden.

Mouthfeel - full, smooth, low carbonation, and a lot of hop oil slickness. Also, leaves your mouth watering after you've finished it ( as well as before, from the smell ).

Drinkability - this is very good, and it goes down very easy. The high abv is very well hidden. I should lower drinkability because its high abv should limit sessionability, but I'm not going to, so one should go ahead and have the next serving ( a 22 oz. bomber, that is ), but exercise all due caution ( no driving, not if you have to go to work early, etc. ) .

Photo of jamie2dope
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I;ve never been a huge fan of the Americn Barleywine style....more of a fan of the English interpretations, but since this was rated so highly, I felt compelled to pick up a bomber. Anyway, it pours a beautiful orange/red color. very tropical looking...great heading in there also. Smell is very sweet with plenty of malty sugar, some chocolate, and plenty of fruit ranging from dark to light. It is a very juicy smell, but above all the alcohol permeates to make the drinker know that this beer is not messing around, definetly strong. Taste was ful of complexities, with molasses, candy sungar, medicinal flavors, more fruit, and a bitterness that shows up right at the end. It is certainly a heavy bodied beer for the style, which makes it a beer that seems to be meant for sipping and savoring. With regard to drinkability, althoigh I really appreciate this beer, I found myself struggling to finish with the heavy alcohol and aggressive hops...perhaps cause it is not one of my favorite styles. There is a reason that they call this beer the Ruffian, and that is because it is just that; A beer that will warm you, make you cringe and in the end give you one hell of a buzz. I'm very glad that I got this beer, certainly one that widens horizens with how a beer should taste. In the end I reccomend it, it seems like a beer that would be nice on its own, but even better with some kind of rich dessert.

Photo of lpayette
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle

The apperance is definitely exceptional. A nice hue of red mohagany. Big frothy, frothy head with plenty of brussels lace to go around (the whole glass).

The smell is sweet, citrusy and malty. Caramel, strawberry, flowery hop notes, rose hips, and alcohol come through most clearly. It's pretty amazing overall.

The strawberry-like notes come through in the taste as well. Alcohol is pretty up front. Big hop taste in the ending remnants. Big on malts and hops. Caramel and grapefruit-like flavors meld together nicely.

Smooth and refined. Tingling alcohol sensation in the aftertaste.

More aging might cure the mouthfeel and drinkability factors by mellowing out the extreme alcohol aftertaste. I'd probably give it a lower score on drinkability if it weren't for the amazing tastes that kept me coming back for more.

Photo of hoppymeal
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark copper to ruddy in color with a tight tan head. Aroma is big, strongest smell is the hops, a citrusy sweetness, a little on the vitamin C / orange smarty side, some pineyness in the background of the hop smell as well. Behind the hops are the rich sugary caramel and malt aromas. The citrus hops keep it refreshing and finish with a pine bitterness, all the while the malt sweetness is there in the back balancing the hops and adding to the richness and the mouthfeel. Good size body, a little slickness but mainly creamy and smooth with a little bite at the end from the alcohol and a slight drying from the hops. Alcohol is very well hidden. Highly enjoyed.

Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

The pour gives me a thick syrupy cloudy brown brew that at first appears that it isn't going to form a head. At the last minute a thick yellow foam appears that blooms into a respectable tan head before it disappears and fades to a sticky ring in the glass. The beer itself is a cloudy reddish brown.

Smell is sweet and spicy with a strong hop and black pepper aroma. The spices are cinnamon and ginger with a sharp lemon aroma to it.

Taste is sweet and surprisingly mild flavor at the start, tea and some toffee. Fairly quickly the hops assert themselves here and this beer becomes both spicy and hoppy. Mellow toffee and citrus flavors dominate this beer. The sensation of cinnamon and ginger with a bit of lemon continues till the end. After you acclimate to the hop bitterness this become a quite mellow beer.

Mouthfeel is good and decidedly on the syrup side.

Pretty good drinkability but this is decidedly a big and hoppy beer. A good sipping beer but this is decidedly a connoisseur beer that would turn off your average non-enthusiast beer chugger.

Photo of skizziks
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. The pour gives it a big 3" creamy tan head with thick lacing over a very hazy deep copper body.

Aroma is rich and complex. Spicy with caramel, toffee, cinnamon, some citric and floral hops along with some phenolics and rubbing alcohol.

Flavor is bitter right from the start quickly followed with loads of brown sugar and caramel. Herbal hops mix with the phenols to create a very Ricola cough drop flavor in the finish. A little odd, but not bad. The Ricola is accompanied by warming alcohol, more lingering spice, and plenty of hop bitter.

Mouthfeel is full and sticky, coating the mouth with just enough bitterness to keep it from being cloying.

A very hop forward barleywine, and a little heavy with the darker malts, but a very interesting and enjoyable beer none the less.

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

A - it poured a nice copper color with a little bit of head, that laces nicely.

S - There is a strong malt aroma that slightly covers a little bit of grapefruit hops.

T - The malt taste is very dominant, caramely witha little bit of toasted flavor. The hops are well hidden but they are there.

M - Nice and light. Not to strong of body but an excellent mouthfeel.

D - For the style this is right on key. There isnt tomany ways, if any to improve this.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a large snifter)

A- This beer has a copper-red color with a hint of brown. The clear body shows the very strong carbonation of bubbles and the head on top is a yellowish-white head that last and last through the beer.

S- The smell of grassy hops and a faint caramel malt note has a hint of dark toffee in the background.

T- the taste of all big green pine hops has a slight grassy note with a hop bitterness that sticks on the tongue for days. There is a sharp alcohol bite that really accentuates the hop bitterness. After my mouth gets numb from the hops there is a soft note of caramel malt in the background that starts to come through.

M- The mouthfeel is medium with a slight watery texture and an alcohol warmth in the finish.

D- This is a DIPA with some alcohol and sweet malt in the background. I like to see more complexity of malt flavors in barley wines regardless of how big the hops are. I don't think this would age well because once the hops settle down there isn't much complexity in the malt to shine, but only time will tell.

Photo of dbalsock
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Deep ruby/purple with loads of head and a slight lacing. So appetizing.

Smell: I pick up rose, sweet grapefuit, some other not so sweet flowers, alcohol and a hint of cheetos.

Taste: The alcohol is fairly noticeable in the taste, as are the rose and grapefruit. The malts add a wonderful nutty characteristic that balance the taste out a little.

Mouthfeel: A very hoppy bitter aftertaste with intense alcohol make this not so appealing.

Drinkability: I find this harder to down than most barleywines. It is very intense in both malts and hops, but unlike other brews, they don't seem to balance.

Photo of hoffman
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Another impressive offering from Great Divide. This one dances around the fringes of the perfect beer for me. The ruby red/mahogany color with the frothy tan/beige head is very appealing the translucent color, when held up to light, lets you see some small bubbles rising to the surface. The smell is pronounced at a cool temp and unlocks even more as the beer warms. A very malty base covers up much of the hop aroma, a toasty molasses, sweet raisen and plum mixture fills the boquet. The taste is very nice. The malty base is well represented up front. That nice dark fruit flavor shines through. A nice middle points to some almost faint grassy notes and then you are hit with a semi-dry and bold hop finish. The finish is impecible. The alchohol in this one is completely masked untill it warms you all the way down. The mouhfeel on this one is impecible. Perfect in my mind. Very smooth and creamy, unbelievably balanced, my example of how beers should feel on the cheek. Ultimately a very very good beer drinkable through and through. Do these guys make anything that isn't great?

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

Awesome amber red color, off-white head that leaves a nice ring around the glass and good lacing. Caramel, plum, floral and piney hops in the smell. Taste loads you up with caramel and dark fruit and then then the hops kick in and take charge with flavors of pineaple and maybe even orange hidden in there as well, finishes with a taste of pine. Full body, seems to be perfect carbonation. I'm glad to drink this one. This bottle was still young so some of the flavors were separated, I have a bottle I'm saving to try after the flavors start to blend.

Photo of Naerhu
3.2/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - deep dark brown body, with a tight off white head.
S - Grapefruit peel, old flowers and alcohol.
T - The initial malt flavors are entirely over run by the hoppy bitterness. Unbelievably long bitterness. Dark, over-ripe, burned fruit.
M - Extremely heavy and syrupy. It took me over an hour to just drink a third of the bottle.
D - Really this was just too much. Too much alcohol, too much bitterness, too heavy. Its really just over the top. The name tags this beer pretty well becaus it is quite rough. It should be Old Rough-ian.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,097 ratings.