1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,118 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,118
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 228
Gots: 310 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,118 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BillyB
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful, cloudy burnt copper/orange with ruby highlights and a tan head.

Aroma's are fantastic! Sweet, rich, malts balanced with citrusy, piney hops and strong alcohol.

Taste is just as great. Dried citrus fruits; mandarin orange, apricot, a hint of dark fruits such raisins and plum. The citrus fruit marries with the hoppiness as the darker fruit taste blends with the sweet rich maltiness. Also caramel, toffee.

Mouthfeel is thick and full. Wonderful alcohol warmth.

Photo of macster
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from bomber to snifter a slightly murky orange-burgundy color with a thick, dense beige head which shows superb durability. Heavy, almost continuous sheets of lacing coat the glass as it drains. Beautiful rich aromas of grapefruit and pine needles are apparent, backed by notes of caramel, malt, toasted bread and butterscotch. Mouthfeel is full, creamy and slightly syrupy with a perfect level of carbonation. Initial taste shows hints of caramel candy, crystal malt, brown sugar and toffee sweetness. However this quickly transforms into a very assertive and muscular hop presence with flavors of fresh cut grapefruit, pine and citrus rind along with an ample ethanol kick to amplify the whole experience. If you’re a fan of huge, hoppy BW’s (i.e. Bigfoot) you’ll love this baby. Great stuff!!

Photo of Osiris9588
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. Pours a murky, amber color with ruddy and orange overtones. The off-white head is extremely creamy, showing great retention and leaves behind a sticky web of lacing with bubbles of varying size. A stiff cap puffs up in the center and remains until you sip it.

The aroma offers a blast of dried fruit--apricots, tangerine, plum, and raisin, as well as other fruity notes--all with toasty malt, barley, and yeast--and some chocolate and caramel. The flavor is a blend of the aforementioned ingredients, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, and a flame up of warming alcohol.

The mouth is full and very complex, warm with ample carbonation and balance. It's remarkably drinkable for a barley wine--wondeful to sip for the duration of a cold winter's night. One of the best of the style that I have had.

Photo of gonzo138
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a deep brownish red color, has a low cream colored head that retains decently and laces very well

S- a complete balance as far as smell goes, rich chocolatey malt sweetness balanced with a just a strong citric hoppy aroma, alcohol smell is present towards bottom of glass

T- just as balanced as the smell is, rich chocolatey fruity malt sweetness, strong hoppy bite on the finish

M- low/moderate carbonation, full heavy body, very sticky mouthfeel, taste lingers in mouth for quite a while

D- a good barleywine is not too drinkable, you can sip it for a while, but you dont need more than one, an excellent beer, would buy/drink/recomend any day

Photo of aforbes10
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

well, ive had this bottle for a couple of months and i was going to wait a year to drink it but all the reviews suggest that it doesnt really need to age very much and that its basically good to go right away. so here goes...

pours a deep majestic red like liquid mahogany. densely packed, short head. syrupy looking lacing hugs the glass. massive hops nose with more than a hint of ethanol. obviously a lot of malt in the nose too. not exactly how i think of a barleywine smelling....more like a super malty double IPA. But hey, wow, the taste is something else. this IS a good beer. initially there's a very bitter hoppy taste with little hints of breadiness and fruitiness and the malt really just acting as a kind of delivery system for tons of hops. Then, as it warms and your mouth becomes acclimated to it, there's some orange zest and maybe even some grapefruit that becomes more noticeable. by the end it really is like a good well aged barleywine...nice and sweet and fruity and great. The mouthfeel is appropriately thick and syrupy. its overall not terrifically well balanced, but i wonder if it should be? Lastly, its maybe a bit too much to drink a whole bomber in one sitting....i did, of course, and i kind of regret it because its one of those beer that i know will give me a swirly feeling in the morning (it did). but, yeah, ill buy some more.

Photo of EStreet20
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Label on the bottle describes this as an "aggresive, hop-forward barleywine." Sounds right up my alley.

22 ounce bomber poured into a snifter glass.

A - A simply gorgeous, nearly opaque red color crowned by a plentiful tan head that sits just over the top of the glass and stays. Laces nicely, a great looking brew.

S - The hops definitely do push forward but there is a beautifully sweet, butterscotch/caramel smell that I'm picking up. Very inviting.

T - A great, nearly perfect mix of sweetness and hop kick. Some excellent fruity flavors covered by some nice caramel sweetness to start with a hop rush shortly thereafter. Through the finish a great balance is struck.

M - An excellent, full mouth coating feel suits the style itself, and this particular interpretation, very well.

D - What an easy drinking barleywine. Complex and excellent flavors with the alcohol completely hidden. Amazingly drinkable.

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

Bomber into brandy snifter.

Cloudy dark dull ruby red. Fizzy tan colored head which settles to a thick rim along the glass. Sticky stringy lacing. A firm pour lends a solid thick head, most of it develops after the pour is finished.

Very sweet dried fruit flavors mixed with strong leafy yeast. Hints of malts seem to make their way through the hops. Warming alcohol notes.

Full bodied and thick chewy malty taste starts off, then a strong spicy and piney hop kick follows. Dry finish from the strong hops and high %ABV (10.2%). A little bit of sweetness is mixed in between the malts and the hops. Light fruity flavors make their way in the mix. The alcohol is somewhat hidden until the finish.

Superb brew from the guys at Great Divide. The hops dominated, but there was still some malt presence to keep it balanced. The alcohol is detectable but not overpowering. Almost seems like a Double IPA, although it's thicker and the malts show themselves a little more. If you like hops, this is the Barley Wine for you. I would definitely repeat this one.

Photo of danielocean03
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cloudy reddish auburn color with a deep reddish hue. Appearance is reminiscent of mulled apple cider. Full two fingered huge light brown head that slowly fell away to a thick ring of sticky lace that coats the glass. Aroma is grassy hops and sweet, caramel and toffee, resinous hop oil, grapefruit and other citrusy notes. Taste is best described as it is on the bottle, being "hop forward", huge hoppy bite up front quickly leads off to sweet maltiness and then a warmth of sugary alcohol that leads to the moderately bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is smooth and syrupy, moderate to full bodied with lower levels of carbonation. Drinkability is excellent, this brew hardly hints toward it's 10% abv and is a wonderful balancing act of bitter and sweet makes this a great example of a hopped up barleywine. With a little aging, this brew could easily smooth out around the rougher hoppy bitter edges and be even better. Well crafted and smooth, highly recommend purchasing, would try again.

Photo of beerceller99
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy rust - copper color with a one finger head ; nice lacing.
Whiskyish, vanilla smell with ripe pit fruits and bitter hops.
Medium - heavy body with a smooth mouthfeel.
Great taste is of ripe pit fruits, sweet malts followed by a cloying alcohol hop bitterness to finish.
One of my favorite American style Barleywines.

Photo of czechsaaz
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very rich malty aroma, caramel with big doses of brown sugar smell. Then there's also a pretty substantial citrus hop component. Some dark ripe fruit fermentation comes through too. Pretty well balanced between the aroma components but none has a lot of depth.

Very nice ruby colored and lear. There's a thick tan head that lasts and leaves substantial lacing. Slow rising carbonation throughout the glass. I can't find anything to nitpick on the appearance, it screams,"Drink me."

Fist sip is very hop bitter with lots of citrus hop flavor. But a lot of malt component comes though on the back end to balance it out. There's a lot of fruit character from the yeast, like cherries and ripe plums. It's definitely more on the hop dominant side than malt but not so much that it's out of ballance. Lots of darker crystal malt flavors in there too. Some citrus hop flavor too.

Very full bodied with pretty aggressive carbonation level for a barleywine. It sort of scrubs some of the flavor away.

A very good beer fresh and I bought some to age. I think with a little more refinement of the hops this will be even better. Right now it's on the hoppy end of where I like a barleywine.

Photo of
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber. Poured a crystal clear, copper color with ruby highlights. A large tan head formed, somewhat surprising given ABV. Aroma was caramel and fruits, with a little bit of hops (grapefruit), some yeast/bread, and alcohol. First sip, and BANG, the hops come out of hiding -- citrus, primarily grapefruit. This is nicely balanced by sweet malt, which came aross to me as maple syrup, melon, and other hard to specify fruit flavors. The alcohol comes through fairly strongly, but this works well to moderate both the sweetness and the bitterness. This is a fairly heavy beer, with light carbonation, a drying sensation, and plenty of alcohol warming. This was excellent, easily the best barley wine I have had, and, although not a huge fan of the style, one of the best beers I have had to date. My guess is that some age would treat this well, and that it would pair nicely with some sharp cheddar.

Photo of doppelmeup
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

There is no doubt that this is a quality barley wine, but it's not really my style. Had a bomber that I bought in March and was finally trying.

Very pretty pour. Amber, redish color poured into a snifter glass. Surprising amount of head for a barleywine.

Aromas of hops, sweet malts, toffee, brown sugar, as I would expect from a barleywine.

Strong hoppy. bitter flavor is the first thing you notice with this brew. Appropriate for the style, but not my favorte. Tasted some malts and definite hop flavor.

Overall, a quality brew but not my favorite style. Recommended if you like hoppy barleywines.

Mouthfeel is fine for a barleywine.

Photo of Toddv29424
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly translucent brown color with moderate head. Smell is of slight hops and very little else. Taste is huge. The whole mouthfeel is dominating, and wonderful. Most of the taste is an enormous mixture of hops and malts. There is also a wonderful hop aftertaste.

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

22 oz bomber poured into a delerium tulip.

Pours with an engine oil thickness and cloudy copper color. The beer is visibly thick as it appears at first as if there won't be much head, but then the tiny bubbles slowly gather and slowly make their way to the top of the glass to create a nice 2-finger tan head. The side of the glass opposite the side I'm drinking from is almost a uniform sheet of shite tiny bubbles.

The smell of this is almost all malt to me. Tons of caramel malt and some spiciness that I can't quite tell if it's the alcohol or hops. I think it's alcohol.

The taste is great. The nice big caramel malt backbone is there throughout and a nice hop bitterness makes itself known quickly and lasting into the aftertaste. It never is too hoppy because there's just so much malt in there to balance it out. After I'm well into my first glass I begin to think that there is a taste in here that's something like burnt chocolate chip cookies.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and creamy with a spicy alcohol sensation. Carbonation is held down in the thickness of the brew, but it's not lightly carbonated. It's perfectly carbonated in my opinion.

One of the best barley wines I've had. I am really impressed by this brewery. They need to get distribution on the east coast. I got this from liquid solutions. Highly drinkable although you'll feel it.

Photo of Neehan
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

Pours a thick and slightly hazy amber with a head that is thin but doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon. A delicious aroma of powerful citrusy fruits mixed with some caramel. The taste is sweet, but for only a brief moment before blasting you with bitter hops that will stay with you for quite some time. The mouthfeel is exceptional-- thick, chewy, syrupy, andincredibly smooth. A beer meant for sipping and not neccessarily in huge quantities. I'll be getting another to age.

Photo of scruffwhor
3.5/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- A cognac and brandy amber/honey hue with sa few bubbles moving to the top when the barley wine is colder. Some mild head, about one finger of eggshell white. Solid ring of foam though.

Smell- A thick mix of Pacific Northwest hops and alcohol hit the nose. Some more spice Christmas spices like cinnamon hit the nostrils as well.

Taste- Plenty of mild malts fermented to bring out a strong alcocolic tang to give the drinker a feeling of Winter in the Summertime. This beer is perfect by a fire while Mother Nature unloads a foot of snow on your front lawn.

This tasted like a young barley wine. But I did by another bottle for aging and will review when I have aged one.

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

WHAT a fine drinker this one turned out to be! Just top notch in all aspects.

Excellent pour, started clear mahogany with a pillowy tan head. By the end of the bomber, with some swirling, it turned ruddy brown, yum.

Overwhelming chocolate, caramel and malt in the aroma, and nice undertones of pine, I mean it actually smells rich.

Beautiful blend of sweet malt to start, a piney hop kick to finish. A lingering hop taste stays with you for several minutes, with each sip.

Rich and robust, thick and chewy. The abv hides behind the bushes, ready to pull you down if one partakes a little to fast. I did get this last year, so the year of aging could have really helped. Gotta get a few more bombers this year.

Photo of cbl2
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

8/29/2006 $6.99 22 oz. 10.20% No best by date, though this is a winter release, so I'm assuming it was brewed late 2005, early 2006.


Pours a murky brown with speckles of orange, relatively still with no head whatsoever.


Deeply sweet with intense ripe dark fruit. Bursting with malt, some subtle notes of smoke, but none of the hops that are promised by the label mentioning 85-90 IBU's.


Silky smooth and intensely sweet at first with ripe plum and fig flavors followed by just a hint of smoke and then an intense pine presence. Finish is viscous and chewy with notes of ginger snap cookies. Very complex and highly drinkable, with the alcohol only appearing at the end. One of, if not the best Barley Wines I've ever had.

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.88/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This magnificant barley wine pours cherry red with mahogany glints. The creamy tan head never dissappears and leaves the glass coated in sheets and intricate webs of lace. When I popped the cap I immediately smelled some piney hops. This is always a good sign. Thick, fresh layers of hop citrus and pine invite me to keep smelling this beer. Caramel and English biscuits are also all over the nose. The taste is a rich explosion of hops and malts. This is a hop dominated Barleywine that borders on DIPA territory. The initial pungent piney bitterness is immediately counterveiled by a big toasty caramel malt character and hints of over-ripe dark fruit. Bitterness builds as the beer warms and increase the pine resin character. The finish is bitter without any harshness and a bit of malt biscuit. The mouthfeel is thick and fullbodied with a fine, light carbonation and mouthcoating hop resins.

The is a stellar barleywine. Its one of the best beers Ive ever tasted. So well balanced, yet so hoppy. A rich amalgamation of intense flavors. If you dont try this, your life is incomplete.

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

Ah. Ha ha. After the DIPA that I mistook for a BW... This is more like it! Looks like a BW - maybe a bit high on the head, but it's a nice dark tan with tight little bubbles. Good lasting power, there. Sure, it smells like hops - but it smells like BW hops. None of that fruity, citrusy stuff here. Ah, and it tastes like a BW. Rich, sweet, caramel, malt complexity, bitter. Nice and thick. Oh, yeah! It's a good thing winter is here again and we can go back to drinking the heavy stuff day in and day out! And, hmm. Really, a nice head on that - it's still there 5 minutes later. Year, way more like a BW! Man, I just love these guys - it's always about making great beers - like this one. Somewhere, in there, it's about having a good balance of ingredients. Yes, this is very sweet and very full bodied - but the bitterness is balanced with that just so. It's the case with all of their brews - great balance. What a talent! They should be giving classes to other brewers on restraint - on blending things just so!

Photo of HoustonTX
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark mahogony in color. Murky appearance, with a small white head, that maintains with a great deal of retention. Lacing is also extremely sticky. The smell has a strong piney hopiness about it, with light undertones of caramel.

Now that my mouth is salvating, it's time to break into the taste. Wow, first taste was incredibly pleasant. Upfront has a nice piney/grapefruit hop bitterness, very direct and straight to the point. Balancing caramel malt comes into play half way through. Closely followed by another hop burp this time with resounding amounts of florals thrown into the mix. Very resinous, and slightly leafy. Finishes a hint rough, with a large alcohol warming sensation. Mouthfeel is creamy, rich, and semi-dry. Drinkability is average, due to the high abv.

Last thoughts... This is an outrageous take on a Barleywine, and one that will leave a long lasting impression. I especially enjoyed the consistant hopiness, which continued throughout every sip. It doesn't necessarily represent the average run-of-the-mill Barleywine, but instead takes it up a notch. This is one incredible beer, and one that everyone should try.

Photo of AmorousAngel
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
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
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
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
3.25/5  rDev -22.8%
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
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,118 ratings.