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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

2,117 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,117
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 227
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
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Ratings: 2,117 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gavage
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear deep burgandy color with a two finger head that lasted quite a while, which usually doesn't happen with a barleywine.Some moderate lacing developed during the session.

Smell: caramel candy,alcohol, and strong bitterness are easily detectable.

Taste: tons of caramel and fruit sweetness nicely balanced with a strong pine bitterness, and wrapped in a soft layer of alcohol. This is surprising hoppy but it works well. Alcohol becomes more noticeable as it warms.

Mouthfeel: mostly smooth with a bit of light crispness at the start. The flavors last long into the aftertaste. Heavy bodied.

Drinkabililty: for a barleywine, quite good but it will sneek up on you. Slow sipper, but when the bottle was gone I could have had another glass. Simply a must buy.

Photo of jaxon53
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

came across a couple of 22 oz. bottles for the first time yesterday. served in an Ommegang three philosophers chalice , slightly chilled. poured a nice darkish brown with a thick but short head. wonderful aroma of oak, hops, with a nice shot of alcohol. tasted of caramel with slight oak with a hoppy,and well hidden alcohol finish dispite the abv. this barley wine was surprisingly drinkable with no burn, and a very complex flavor.

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

22 ounce bottle. Pale and murky off-brown, fused thick corral head. Sticky lacing, which included a sheet of sediment pasted to the bottom of the glass. Invigorating aroma of juicy hops, grapefruit, dark plums and tingly alcohol. Sweet lip numbing hops; loaded flavorings—oak and brown sugar combined with toffee and cherries noted up front; the palate is left with juicy grapefruit hops. The body is full and fulfilling; hop bitterness settles down nicely; sweet malts and anise, traces of alcohol are blended into the mixture. Massive flavoring that brings it's A game. A first class hopped-up Barley Wine that will put others to shame. Superb.

Photo of CortexBomb
3.02/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Pous out hazy, burnt orangeish brown into my snifter with a slight, white ring of carbonation on top. The smell on this is fairly typical for American style barley wine, hoppy, with aplomb. That hoppiness also seems to have a sugary, brown sugar like sweet edge to it.

Taste starts out aggressively hoppy, back of the tongue, top of the mouth, they're all tingling from the hops which lend a strongly piney flavour. The pine is subdued by sweetness, though not much...the sweetness is definitely present throughout though...sugary. The alcohol is also definitely present. Abrasive to my palatte, like most American Barley Wines....not as harsh as Rogue's Old Crusty, but still up there. There might be some interesting flavours in here, waiting to come out with some aging, but unaged the hops absolutely destroy everything else this beer is trying to do, and one has to look for the other things in the taste.

The mouth on a beer with this much hops has to be doing something seriously wrong to not get a good score, and Great Divide does not disappoint...a lot of tingles last long after the swallow, which is a sign of a great mouth. The drinkability on this is harsh though, it is a very aggressive beer, and it is not something that is easy to put down.

Overall, I think Great Divide is catering to someone other than me with this beer. These American style Barley Wines seem to offer such a large amount of hops that anything else they're trying to do is lost in the explosion.

Photo of phisig137
3.91/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip. Shows a nice looking ruby/brown color, and a one finger head that is the thickest I've ever seen. Looks like merangue, sticks around forever, and leaves blankets of lacing down the sides of the glass.

The aroma is not the hop explosion that I was expecting, but rather balanced citrusy and grassy hops, with caramel malt sweetness in the background.

The flavor is rather balanced it seems at first, but as soon as you swallow a wave of hop bitterness and flavor wash over your tongue. Further sipping brings out the hops, and they only amplify as the beer warms to room temp, from the cellar temp it was poured at. Slightly astringent, but not unpleasantly so. After the first glass the alcohol becomes quite apparent and warming.

This beer definitely coats you mouth, thick creamy oil slick, almost like a milkshake. Silky smooth, but heavy. This is not a beer you can take a swig of, small sips are the only way to go here.

I dock a few points for drinkablity due to the harsh alcohol flavor after 1/2 a glass. I think after a couple years in the cellar, that this would be much higher. In the end, it's a fantastic brew, and at only $6.29 for a bomber, quite a deal in my opinion.

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

Poured from a bonber into a pub-style pint glass, deep reddish brown with a thick (and I mean *thick*) reddish-tan head. The head is so thick, in fact, you can spoon it out like a root beer float. It lasts and leaves beautiful lacing behind.

The smell is malt and hops. Enough malt and hop aroma to cover up the smell of my downstairs neighbor's cooking (tonight it smelled like sausage and potatoes, until I opened this bad boy up).

The flavor is a sweet, sweet maltiness with a hop and alcohol bite that comes up at the end. The flavor hangs out a bit longer than a lot of beers and could be considered cloying, if it weren't so tasty to start with. The hops and alcohol taste stays behind, lingering like a hot pepper does.

Mouthfeel is good; very "round." It fills the entire space made available to it. In other words, you'll know it was there.

Drinkability. Well, it's very tasty and it seems to be refreshing. However, I still have a third to go, and I'm durn well lit up. Someone before me said this'll either put you to sleep or put you in a straightjacket. I'd have to concur. Definately a "one and done" beer. That said, I'm getting some more to lay in for one and done occasions.

Very nice, indeed.

Photo of russpowell
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours dark caramel with a huge 2" plus tan frothy head. Crazy lacing & head retnetion

Smell; Sweet malt, piney hops, alcohol & fruticake

Taste: Huge fruitty malts, piney hops & oaky wooden taste. dryness and alcohol on the finish

MF Chewy & well balanced. More like a port or maderia (sp)

Not too too drinkable, this is just too much!

If you want big beer, can't beat this. Great when you are ready to take a snooze or get a straight jacket on...yummy

Photo of bearrunner44
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber.

Appearance- Opaque, burnt sienna color. Pillowy cream-colored head. Thick streaks of lace coat the sides of the glass.

Smell- Sweet, honey-like aroma. Soft, flowery hop scents in the back. The hops, along with the large alcoholic presence, provide a lightly floral counterpoint to the malt profile. Elixir-like.

Taste- This beer is all about deception. It lulls you in with it's sweet, pleasing aroma. Then, it pounds you over the head in a big, hoppy, alcoholic fashion. The malt is smooth and somewhat buttery, but it quickly submits to the hops. The hop flavor is tight and herbal; it really clings to the back of the throat. The alcohol tingles and numbs the tongue, but the taste is still somewhat subdued for a beer with 10.20% ABV. It mostly shows up in the finish, where the alcoholic burn mixes with the herbal hop flavors. The sweetness of the malt lends a little smoothness to the finish.

Mouthfeel- Big-bodied, yet smooth.

Verdict- Yowza. They really shouldn't sell this in bombers; by the time you get to the end, your taste buds are numbed to oblivion by the hops and (especially) the alcohol. Satisfying.

Photo of Tupperwolf
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
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'.

Photo of VoodooBrew
4.32/5  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.

Photo of Byeast
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of nortmand
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of ashleyshalyn
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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!

Photo of thetachibro
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Photo of jnelson54
4.34/5  rDev +3.1%
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

Photo of ScarletLady
3.92/5  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'.

Photo of blitz134
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.87/5  rDev +15.7%
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.

Photo of RedHaze
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

Photo of Erdinger2003
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Photo of Riggo
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of cMonkey
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
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...

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Photo of beertastegood
4.27/5  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.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,117 ratings.