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Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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2,006 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,006
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 211
Gots: 287 | 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: 2,006 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of maxpower
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

22 oz. bomber pours hazy glowing amber-orange with a thick creamy off-white head that leaves a nice lace in my glass. Sharp hoppy aroma of grapefruit and pine, resinous sticky pine and grapefruit flavors , has a full thick, sticky and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that finishes with a lingering bitterness, has a good malt balance. Alcohol very well hidden, I can't believe how drinkable this is.

maxpower, Apr 09, 2005
Photo of dgallina
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%

Pours translucent mahogany with red edges, a thin film of foam, and light lace. Smells strongly hopped up front, with touches of sweet malt and fruit and an undercoat of alcohol. Well-executed interplay of sweet caramel malts, light fruit, and piney hops in the mouth. The hops ultimately win out, leaving a long and bitter finish that's slightly fruity and herbal nevertheless. Sticky and chewy in the mouth, with light carbonation.

A pretty nice hop-forward west coast barley wine. Nicely balanced hops and malts throughout.

dgallina, Apr 09, 2005
Photo of ADR
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%

Darker cinnamon brown color, some haze but decent light transmission. Almost orange big head of 1/2 an inch and with good retention. Creamy thick laces with good coverage. Aroma is fairly easy-going, malty with a raisin bran impression. Fairly full mouthfeel, coating and thickish, carbonation fine in texture and lasting to the close. For its hop load, this is fairly balanced. Starts out with a cherry fruitiness, some rum-soaked pound cake and caramel and the hop counterpoint comes off as piney and resiny but doesn't quite have the throat tickle or backed-up plumbing heavy aftertaste I can get from many higher alcohol North American Barleywines. The malt and texture work well here. A really good beer.

ADR, Apr 08, 2005
Photo of Southernbrew
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%

Pours a very dark crimson with a very nice sized head. Nice lacing down the glass.

Plenty of hops in the nose, some butterscotch and sweetness to be found as well.

Full body, fairly smooth. Plenty of bitter hops blend with dark fruits and some butterscotch sweetness. Suggestions of pine com through in the end and a sweet red-wine like flavor come in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden in the taste, but the feeling shows up as the bomber drains.

A very fine barleywine, very Old Horizontal like, but just my opinion. Nice to have Great Divide in Georgia. This will have a regular place in my fridge come winter.

Southernbrew, Apr 05, 2005
Photo of bnuttz
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%

This barley wine pours a dark rusty copper color. It is somewhat cloudy and thick with a yellowish tan head about the size of a finger. The smell is somewhat of caramel, but mainly dominated by citric hops. This beer is aggresively hopped, but still well balanced. The fruity sweet malt backbone balances the 90 IBUs of PNW hops that occupy this brew. The alcohol makes sure to give you a little boot in the end. This beer is sticky sweet on the mouth but not at all cloying. Damn drinkable for a 10% which makes it very dangerous. If I want a hoppy barley wine I'll shoot for this. Bigfoot who?

bnuttz, Apr 01, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%

Very nice deep orange color-almost a coppery red. Nice hop aroma with an underlying caramel sweetness. Flavor can only be described as "wow"! Huge hop flavor. Citrusy and very floral. Theres a wonderful caramel sweetness that is just great. The balance between the sweetness and the hop explosion is perfect. It gets better and more enjoyable the more you consume. The label says "...mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness...ultimately the big body,succulent sweetness and massive hop character come together to work wonders on your palate." Really an amazing thing I cant get enough. Perfect body-velvety smooth and not a trace of alcohol hashness @ 10.2%.

A freakin great beer. I honestly think I have found a new "favorite" barleywine. As a huge Bigfoot fan Id like to see the 2 of these wrestle it out. Shit-theres no point in my # 2 fav Old Foghorn even showing up. Really a great all around experience. Got this in Florida I need to find it closer to home.GET SOME. In fact-GET A LOT!!!

lackenhauser, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of beveragecaptain
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%

22 ounce bomber. This beer pours a hazy dark red with a huge head that won't quit. Rich malty aroma, but also more hop aroma than most barley wines. Sweet caramel flavor at first. The malt flavor is very complex, at different times tasting of grains, fruit, and brandy. Then the hops come in, fruity at first, but then harsh and very bitter. This beer leaves an extremely bitter taste in my mouth. Full mouthfeel. More drinkable than I would expect from such a beer.Very nice.

beveragecaptain, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of Gusler
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%

The beer disembarks the 22-ounce brown bottle a smoggy rusty-red with a Brobdingnagian light tan frothy head that after it deliquesces, the lace forms a sticky sheet that seals tightly to the glass. Nose is hop floral with hints of fusel alcohol, sweet malt backs it up, start is delightfully sweet and the malt profile significant and the top middling in feel to the palate. Finish is emphatic in its acidity and the hops robust in their spiciness, very dry aftertaste that lingers long on the taste buds, and the high ABV leaves a nice warming sensation, a top notch Barley Wine in my humble opinion.

Gusler, Mar 29, 2005
Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%

Bomber. Pours a clear brick red, with a big thick tan head. Aroma is woody, hoppy, fruity, with a hint of alcohol. Flavor is heavy with sharp hops, but balanced nicely with carmel malt sweetness. Hops linger on the palate as the sticky sweet malt fades. This is a nice barleywine, and one that will age rather well.

vladtheimpaler, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of ypsifly
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%

Poured from a 22oz with no dates into an imperial pint.

Deep ruby/amber with a two finger head of rocky tan that hangs around until it settles to a thick foam. Lots of lacing.

Smells of piney hops with some citric notes and some malt underneath. The aromas are strong, but a lot more balanced than others in this style.

The malts are much more apparant upon tasting. There's some nice exchanges between the malty backbone and strong hop highlights. Has a certain juiciness to it. Nice long finish that has no alcohol....is the abv really that high? Outstanding.

The medium carbonation lends itself to a mouthfeel that wakes up every nook and cranny of my mouth, yet its not an assault like other BWs. As far as drinkability, this one rivals some belgians with the same abv. In other words, this is downright dangerous. Tastes so damn good one could get too wasted too fast.

I've always claimed Bigfoot as my favorite BW. After tasting this fine brew, that is now in question.

ypsifly, Mar 22, 2005
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%

Pours a ruddy chestnut color with a tall, brown foamy head that lasts forever. Aroma is sweet and grassy, fruity like honeysuckle, macerated raisins or prunes. The aroma follows me as the glass is moved around. Sticky lacing all the way down the sides.

Taste is thick and sweet malt and a hop-load of bitterness at the same time. Up front, I get the sweet fruity bits of plum or dark grapes; on the back of the palate is the puckering bitterness of floral hops and orange rind that lounges around through the aftertaste. Sweet and bitter sides alternate throughout, fighting for my attention. Balance? Bah, more like an ongoing struggle, critical to the success of a good adventure/thriller/buddy-cop movie.

Mouthfeel is medium and smooth without being thick or oily. Barely a trace of alcohol in the flavors, despite the ABV, and it certainly warms me up quickly. I'm tempted to age a few bottles but I'm afraid it would lose a lot of its hoppy aggressiveness. An excellent American-style barleywine.

assurbanipaul, Mar 20, 2005
Photo of rajendra82
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%

The brown 22 oz. bomber yielded a chestnut red beer topped with a two finger beige head that lingered on, and left clumpy webs of lace. The look was classic barley wine, and the smell was as well. Hop aroma was piney, citric, bold, and refreshing. The malts were difficult to detect via the nose, but not so via the tongue. The initial taste was mellow and sweet revealing wave after wave of dried fruits like raisins, figs, and apricots. The hop assault followed shortly afterward with grapefruit, black pepper, and an assertive bitterness. Sticky coating on the tongue long after each sip was finished. And sip is about the best way you could enjoy this complex and powerful beer. A barleywine that is all together at the time of release. I suppose aging will only make things better still.

rajendra82, Mar 20, 2005
Photo of tavernjef
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%

Husky hazen, darkened burnt orange edges with a rusty brown centering color and one immensely bubbled and compactly built inch high head of softly foamed dark ivory. It sits and sits and sits before finally subsiding to a thickly set skim of milky ivory froth and big bubbled peaks. Lacing coats the glass much like a fine morning frost.

Aroma is quite juicy with a largely present display of caramel all the while a leafy woodish hoppyness fully escapes, persists, and evolves, over and beyond the caramels' capabilities. Mirroring a Stone Old Guardian and Double Bastard-type nose with just a bit less malt but still has all the hops. Quite....nice...Hints of grapefruit and tangerine zip and pop to the surface as it warms along with some peculiar tin-ish notes.

Taste is a hop laden twisted treat of sweet pine, parching grapefruit in the middle, caramel drenched biscuits balance out a fair portion of its body along the way, yet leafy/woody and dry in all parts, finishing strong with scorched bits of pineapple and tangerine. Somehow always dry, leafy, and resin coated; powdery and charred cedar is left on the lips. A majorly charred/roasted sense caps off the end with a bit of hopified pulpy heat mixing with a smoldering hop spice of cinnamon, vanilla bean, wood, and roastafied malts. Great hop profile here with leafy wood, scorched fruits, drying stuff, parching stuff, roasty stuff, and an evenly leveled bitterness that seems to never end! What a "Ruffian" of a hop ride this stuff is, wow!

Feel is quite hoppy and thick, above a medium body that builds as it sits with a bit more smoothness then you'd think, yet trys very hard to conquer over the dry, charring woody hops, but never quite makes it there. Oh it trys and trys and trys, but those hops dominate with a mighty heavy-handedness. The hops are nearly overbearing as far as its overall consumption is concerned, yet calls to those who conjure up the Hop Gods to satisfy a quick urge. This is no quick urge though, the 22oz bomber stares at you, daring you to continue to empty its contents 'til you no longer can tell time.
Mercy me this is historic hop potion. Old Ruffian can ruff me up any Ol' time!

tavernjef, Mar 18, 2005
Photo of HardTarget
4.43/5  rDev +5%

Brown bomber doesn’t have a date or abv, but gives IBUs as 85-90 (wow). After reviewed, paired with a nice extra sharp white cheddar which worked well.
Aroma: Dark sweet malt with a good hop spike. Malt has dark fruit smells, hops is mostly pine. Has an ‘Old Foghorn’ quality. More grapefruit smells come out as it warms in my little Kovingshoeven goblet (would that be a goblette?)
Appearance: Brown glass which shows clarity only with a strong back light. It poured with a good light brown head that dropped to a light cover and left impressive lace given the alcohol level of this puppy.
Flavor: Man, what an assault on the taste buds! That’s rich! Strong pine resin hops on a mountain of brown sugared malt. If the smell was Old Foghorn, the taste is closer to an Arrogant Bastard! A bit heavy handed in the hop dose as it covers up a lot of the malt flavors leaving only a sugary background flavor. No alcohol noted but came out as a slight astringent bitter deeper in the glass. At first (a little cold) it’s not a complex taste, just raw hops and sugary malt, but high quality in both areas. As it warms, a bit more comes out, wood/cedar aspects, rum soaked fruit, fresh grapefruit, hints of toffee.
Mouthfeel: Heavy body that demands a chew. A bit syrupy; has me cleaning it out of my teeth and gums.
Overall Impression: Man, Great Divide is going big with these. I don’t think there is an “over the top” point for a barley wine, but this approaches it. It’s a bit sweet, very strong, commands respect and small sips; classic AMERICAN barley wine. Drinkability has to be measured in “would I get another bottle” more than “cann I tink ‘nother un?” I’m interested in how this baby is going to age; it should hit its prime in a couple years, but nothing wrong with this fresh sample.

HardTarget, Mar 14, 2005
Photo of LuckySevens82
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%

22oz bomber inaugurating my Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine glass.
Pours a deep mahogany with a very nice, dense cream colored head. Excellent lacing.
Smell is caramel, toasted malts, ripe fruits (peaches, pears, and some apple), a little hoppy citrus character, and quite a bit of alcohol (one note about this though: while it is definitely noticeable, it is not overwhelming, and by no means solvent in character).
Taste is similar to aroma. Lots of caramel, a very good fruity character, some toastiness to the malt, and just a hint of alcohol. One noticeable difference is the amount of hops. This is an extremely hoppy Barley Wine. I wasn't expecting it to be as such from the smell, but I was pleasantly surprised when tasting.
There is quite a nice balance in this beer. While it might be a tad bit to hoppy, the malt balances everything out quite well.
I have another bottle of this cellaring at the moment, and I have a feeling that this beer would benefit from some aging to mellow the hop character a bit, melding the flavors even more. The alcohol in this one, while present, doesn't feel like 10+%, although it does sneak up on you a bit at the end.
Overall, a very good Barley Wine, and something that, assuming that I can find it, I will probably stock quite often.

LuckySevens82, Mar 13, 2005
Photo of kosmoraios
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%

This robust ale pours a mahogany color into my oversized goblet, with an off-white head that tenaciously clings to the walls of the glass. Aroma is strong citrussy hops, grapefruit, lemon, pine. A waft of toffee-like sweetness in the nose.

Taste is amazing. This ale is so incredibly complex it defies description. Very strong, astringent hops up front with great bitterness are balanced with the caramel-sweet malts, but the hops win in the end. Strong citrus flavor, but also raisins, melon, freshly cut wood, and astringent tangyness that can only be the alcohol, lurking like a beast under the surface.

Mouthfeel is stout and chewy with ample carbonation. A bit oily. The alcohol is evident. Not so drinkable, as 1 750ml bottle was a challenge to finish.

An excellent barleywine, a prime example of the style.

kosmoraios, Mar 09, 2005
Photo of hobbes2112
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

22 oz. bomber

Pours a beautiful garnet color with a thick huge off-white head. Long retention (2+ min halflife) and tons of lacing. This is a really good looking beer.

Aroma is a lot more hops than I am use to in barley wines, and that is a good thing. The label boasted 85-90 IBUs and with this hop content in the nose if backing that statement up! Big brandy and pine notes with some obvious alcohol too.

Taste is like a barley wine "kicked up a notch" on the hop scale. I was worried that a lot of the sweet malty and fruity flavors would get lost in the hops but that was not the case. In fact I think this might be a perfect blend of the hop and malt worlds. Oh, and this perfect blend just kicked you in the mouth! What a knockout!

This beer is one of the tops for me, I am going to go pick a bunch more of these up and pack them away for a rainy day.

hobbes2112, Mar 03, 2005
Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%

Poured amber/copper with off-white frothy head.

Toffee, maple syrup, buttery caramel at first in the nose, then pine, grapefruit.

Big time hops start off the show, pine and grapefruit again. Smooth, full body. Huge malts in balance with the hops. Nice sweetness, never over the top with the alcohol flavors. Great carbonation for the style.

I'm really impressed with this barley wine. Seems like most examples of the style seem to emphasize either hops or malt and miss the mark. Old Ruffian roughs your ass up in a very cool way, with a 2 sledgehammer attack. Make that 3 with the high ABV.
This beer is both balanced and massive. My favorite barley wine.

Shultzerdugen, Mar 03, 2005
Photo of 99bottles
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%

Appearance: Into a tulip, this beer has a beautiful garnet body, clear and tranquil. A soft pour still conjures a head of 1.5" of dense tan foam. Retention is unreal, and sticky lace clings to the glass forever.

Smell: This has a wonderful smell, with everything that constitutes an exceptional barleywine. Maple candy, brown sugar, and a sharp bite of hops make this irresistable, and if sniffed too hard almost painful.

Taste: WHEW!!!! This is a big mutha of a beer. One sip and you realize that the malts are slick and heavier than 10-40W. As they swirl across the tongue, something else entirely takes over. Bitter hops. The bottle says they're up about 90 IBU. They are not joking. This is a bitter b-wine if I've ever had one. Almost saponic in its bitterness, this has grapefruit and flavors of oily citurs rinds. The malts are big, heavy, carmel, sugar, even some vanilla/oak. The hops are just as big, and make for one heck of a bruiser. Slight whiskey burn in the nostrils. This is really good, but not for the meek.

Mouthfeel: Slippery and hoppy. Thick. It's not kind to the tongue, but it's not supposed to be. This is an assertive beer, and I like that about it. Subjective? Perhaps, but try it and you'll see what all the fuss is about.

Drinkability: I really enjoy this beer, right now. Think of Old Horizontal that was fed adrenaline. It's really quite complex, once you can let the harsh hops and malt reshape your palette. I am willing to bet that this will soon be in the top 100 beers on this site, especially if left to age. Wow.

99bottles, Feb 28, 2005
Photo of mikeys01
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%

Pours out an amazingly clear reddish amber color, with a moderate eggshell colored head. Aroma is syrupy sweet with tropical fruity hops and a mouthwatering mix of caramel and vanilla. Flavor is way more hoppy than expected, resinous pine and tongue stripping bitterness assaulting you with abandon. As your tongue begins to recover from the onslaught, the malt begins to take hold, revealing a hearty depth of sweet caramel malt tinged with boozey pear and a hint of vanilla and spice. Raw hop bitterness returns in the finish, this barleywine is huge in the hop department but has enough malty complexity to prop it up and keep it from being unbalanced. Body if full but not too thick, becoming more drinkable as it warms, a bomber of this stuff is dangerous. Very tasty stuff, thanks to MJR for this bottle!

mikeys01, Feb 27, 2005
Photo of ZAP
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

This is a heavy hitter...not sure where the rating will shake out but it has to be in my top 5-to-10 overall for BW's...

Pours a burnt orange color...big pillowy tan head...Nose is sweet, sugar soaked pinneaple...some plums...pears in syrup out of the can..deeper in a little more caramel...

Taste is initially sweet fruits..rum...good dose of maltiness but what a kick in the ass at the finish..big bittering on the finish...piney hops..

Begins like Old Ho but finishes more like Big Foot....this one is legit..still prefer Old Ho to this but this is upper tier stuff...

ZAP, Feb 25, 2005
4.95/5  rDev +17.3%

A thick billowing head seems to create its own self out of the murky brown depths of my 25 oz. glass. And it doesn't show any signs of dissipation. Eventually it collapses a bit around the rim but in the center of the glass, a round foam pillow stands stoic.

Initially I smell canned pears, then peaches. But actually it's a bit more tropical than that. I've pinpointed it: mangoes. This smells like paradise.

Then I take a sip. And I go from the tropics to being knocked in the teeth. WHAM!! "Hop-forward barleywine" it says on the label. True enough, albeit a slight understatement. All hopped up, bitter and blissful. One punch and I'm reeling. Time to get my bearings.

Round 2- It's warmed up a bit now. Still there is 3/8" of head, and also that 2 1/2" diameter circle of dense foam in the center. A little warmth releases more flavors. Candied currant, rhubarb, rusty metal, alcohol, cream-of-wheat hot cereal, pineapple, pinesap, and pine needles. Resinous as hell, through and through.

Round 3: 1 hour, 15 minutes later and still there is 1/4" of head. Foam coats the sides of my big ass glass. Alcohol is more warming now. Quite so. Very pine sapped and sticky resiny at this point. I said it before, but I mean it now. This is absolutely fierce. Sticky, sweet, boozy, carbonated and jagged, and smooth all at the same time. Tough S.O.B., this Old Ruffian. I didn't get K.O.'d, but instead, the old standing 8 count. Felt lucky to be alive, though. Congratulations, Great Divide.

Photo of TastyTaste
4.9/5  rDev +16.1%

Poured into a Schell tulip, with a gigantic off-white head that fades into a rocky, very uneven head. Body is a dark maroon/purple color. Holy hops in the nose. Smells more like a DIPA than a barley wine, with just an outrageous hop aroma. Taste is that of an DIPA, also. Outrageous hops dominate the flavor, with strong maltiness in the background. I would suggest that Great Divide sell this as a Triple IPA (only compared to their DIPA) and forget about a barleywine distinction. Do I like the beer? Yes. Do I think it represents the style very accurately? No. But I like it and I will give a beer that I like this much high marks anyways.

TastyTaste, Feb 10, 2005
Photo of Bighuge
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%

Rustic looking auburn/burgandy blend. A slight creamy cigarette stained beige head recedes to a collar quickly. And this collar leaves some adequate lacing for a barleywine. This beer's aroma has caramel and nougat oozing out of every pore...with every pore being comprised of hop resin. My kind of aroma. The flavor profile is everything I look for in a barleywine. Deep blanket of caramel, toffee, nougat and fruit tones. But this blanket doesn't completely cover up the hop tones...no, it merely shades them. Those pine cone, resinous, rind-like qualities are present. But not in a Big Huge way in which you might find them in a DIPA. The bitterness is pretty clean, but very evident. Even though this barleywine is checking in close to 100 IBUs, this is a malt driven Barleywine, which really hits home with me. The alcohol is noticeable, but definitely not overbearing and quite fitting in the context of this beer. Mouthfeel is quite agreeable. A slight prick of CO2 is felt and the body is about medium-full. This is an excellent, excellent barleywine. One of the absolute best I've had.

Bighuge, Feb 09, 2005
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%

Pours out a deep crimson, though clear, coloration, and has an enormous head, huge, cocoa-colored, long-standing, lovely...and, would you believe, the bottleneck bubbled over, with bubbles after the pour! Tres amusant! Leaves considerable, and attractive, lacing, as it diminishes, as well...very much appreciated!
Aroma: huge, rich, full of flavor, a jar full of toffee with butterscotch dipped in for fun, with chocolate cherries on the side, and a snit of brandy waiting in the rafters...
Taste: big, bad, and booze-tastic! Huge, rich, and full, utterly dripping in dark fruits, caramel, toffee, and so much character that pretenders tremble in it's wake ...seriously, this is a true contender amongst the ranks of fine American barleywines...not too huge in Abv, an overwhelming fruity/hoppy characteristic. Damnably tasty...I must take another sip...dastardly delicious...yet nearly thick with flavor, ...yum, the intensity of flavor does not detract from the overall deliciousness...big, rich, and mighty...a damned good barleywine!
I've got to stick some away for a rainy day, that's for sure!

feloniousmonk, Feb 03, 2005
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,006 ratings.