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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

1,075 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,075
Hads: 2,302
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 258
Gots: 384 | FT: 21
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,075 | Hads: 2,302
Photo of OKCNittany
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle

A: Poured a hazy reddish brown with a 3/4 in light tan head that stayed awhile. Heavy lacing all over the glass.

S: Light aroma of sweet caramel and grapefruity hops.

T: Sweet for just a sec than bitter hops come through. Pretty good balance considering how hoppy this is (not that I'm complaining about the hoppiness). Unfortunately, the alcohol taste is so overwhelming it diminishes everything I like about it. I know this style calls for a high abv, but in this case it interferes too much with an otherwise good flavor.

M: Creamy mouthfeel - thick with light carbonation - halfway between beer and motor oil. Finishes with a nasty alcohol burn. Maybe I should have poured it into a shot glass.

D: Considering the reputation, I almost feel apologetic for not loving this - but while there's lots to like, the alcohol taste is too much to let me get through more than 1. It's a sipper only - and the first of Great Divide's big beers I don't love. (978 characters)

Photo of njmoons
3.2/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Excellent base, hopping overwhelmed the beer for my taste

A: Deep dark red. Looked good

S: Sweet and heavy fruits plum cherry. Malty and hoppy

T: The initial taste was very complex sweet fruits and malty. Hop bitterness and citrus hop flavors take over quickly and overwhelm the complexity and flavor of the beer. Beer finishes clean and crisp for a big beer. I think of would be a great beer, if a bit more balanced.

M: Thick and heavy, but not cloying. Nice

D: The citrus hop character reduces the drinkability. (518 characters)

Photo of Naerhu
3.2/5  rDev -24.3%
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. (540 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.21/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A gorgeously intense brown/amber color with a tremendously dense tan head that lasts and lasts and lasts.

Smell: Very intense piney hops blended with burnt caramel and punctuated by a spicy alcohol aroma.

Taste: Starts with an explosion of hoppiness, followed by a quick burst of sickly sweetness. Much of the maltiness is lost when the dryness and bitterness takes over. The level of hops is what I have a problem with. It seems overhopped and overbitter for a potentially smooth brew that you could just soak in for a while.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, but a little too oily and syrupy for me.

Drinkability: Quite the Hop Monster, here, and one I lost the battle with. My senses are left singed. "Hop-forward" is an understatement. While others seem to really love this one, I'd prefer something a little more "malt-forward" without being so cloyingly sweet. (874 characters)

Photo of harrymel
3.23/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$8 for 22oz @ Huck's in Spokane, WA
Poured to NB tulip.

A: Ale pours a dark mahogany with red edges. Mildly transparent around edges. Light caramel, thin cap over the ale. Can agitate bubbles to thicker head, but less so as temperature increases.

S: Caramel, toffee, mint, pine, earthy hops. Still a small hint of alcohol. Standard lineup of a BW.

T: Bitter. Pine, astringent. Sweetness from alcohol present, too much bite on back of palate. Finishes with a hair of nougat, but not enough to help balance out the mass of early wort hops on this one.

M: Medium to heavy ale with medium to low carbonation. A bit sharp with high ABV.

D: This is absolutely a big beer, in GDBC's nature. Although this beer is decent, and I imagine fantastic with two years under it's belt, I cannot call it great. Worth a try, worth a purchase to age a couple. Beyond that, mediocre as far as BW's go. (886 characters)

Photo of afksports
3.23/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I'm an amateur, and given that the bros give this an A, I feel compelled not to rip this. Primarily because it seems I'd stand alone. That said, I just don't like it. I'm drinking it on tap right now at Ginger Man in midtown NYC (2009, they said they aged it).

It looks great in my snifter, and if that were the only assessment this would be a winner. The nice head to begin the pour sits at about a finger above the the red orange hue with lacing throughout. It smells of pine, some hops and citrus.

The taste starts off strong with malt and sweetness. In the middle it exhibits something toasty, maybe a little fruity. In the end there's a soap hoppy bitterness (more soap than hop) that sticks on your tongue. I'll give it props for lasting, and it sure seems complex, but I don't have to like it. In fact, I want to wipe my tongue and mouth off. The finish reminds me of the end of my GD BelgIca pours. Maybe it's something in the Colorado water. I'll have to ask Coors!

For that reason, drinkability is low for me, although if this is your thing, it's a truly smooth brew for the abv and the category. As for me and Great Divide, I think I'll stick to my Yeti. (1,168 characters)

Photo of Dizzy
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
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. (557 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into a Rochefort glass.

This beer is a muddy brown color that is not entirely appealing. The head is a very light tan with little retention or lacing.

The aroma has a little malts on the front with a very "off" hopish flavor. Its hops but one that is very unique almost tarry.

The taste is also tarry, piney with a lots of hops.

The feel is heavy but drinkability is done.

Overall this is ok, but nothing super special. (458 characters)

Photo of gueuzer
3.26/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery

App- A reddish brown with a clinging lace. Quite nice.

S- Strong bittering hops with a sticky bun notes in the back. A little booze burn.

Ta- Upfront hops. Very bitter. The sweet caramel malt back it up but not quite enough to balance out.

Ov- Border between a double IPA and barley wine. Need to tone down the hops to let everything play out a bit more. (381 characters)

Photo of UpToMeBeer
3.29/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I do not get the hpye over this beer. Pours nicely with a mohagany/copper color and healthy head that retains nicely.

The smell is ordinary at best. Nothing pronounced.

The taste is alcohol-heavy with little else to offer... too much grassy-ness and no trace of what you hope for in a barley-wine. As it warms, a hint of caramel comes out, but it's too little, too late. The best thing is the mouthfeel: this is a full-bodied, nearly sticky beer. (450 characters)

Photo of deanhead
3.35/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice amber color, highly alcoholic nose

The taste is bitter almost sour...maybe acid aldehyde. I want to have faith in this beer, and hope it's not infected. Finishes with a taste like acetone.

Very dank and hoppy. Slightly thin to medium body. Would have expected more body from a beer this big. The malt flavor is somewhat overpowering.

It's drinkable, but either needs some time, or a different bottle then one I drank.

I did enjoy this beer despite the bottle itself being suspect. (490 characters)

Photo of hardy008
3.38/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Copper color with a 1 - 2 finger light tan head, with good retention and lacing. The aroma has pine hops and caramel malt. Seems to be a pretty even balance between hop and malt aroma.

The taste of this beer has a pretty even balance between pine hops and caramel malt. I believe the best Barleywines have more malt, and fewer hops, which is only my preference for Barleywines.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation, hoppy and oily. This is a decent beer, but is too hoppy for a Barleywine. (488 characters)

Photo of chilly460
3.4/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Copper/orange amber, pours a one finger tan head. Nice capped head the entire beer.

S: Big grapefruit and banana dominate. Some strong toffee malt in there too.

T: Here we go again, I admit I'm not a barleywine fan and this one does the "usual" to me for the style. Initial sweet banana taste, almost overly sweet...then the sudden and unpleasant shift to a pure pine resin bitterness. Just not my cup of tea, don't like the balance.

M: Chewy comes to mind, thick and goopy, one of the first beers I've had that I thought may have had too much body.

D: Can't put it any other way, struggled through half a bomber here. Just couldn't get over the harshness of the flavors, both sweet and hoppy. It's clear now I'm not going to like any barleywines, but found this one among the worst I've tried. (805 characters)

Photo of yourchoice
3.4/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Catching up on some notes from the last couple weeks...

A - Muddy brownish red, like stained mahogany. Very little light tan head, quckly dissipating.

S - Raisins, sweet cranberries...very raisiny and sweet.

T - Not detecting it in the smell, I was surprised to find it a little smokey, but still very sweet. Still raisins and figs. Pronounced alcohol (not a "hidden" 10 ABV).

M - Little carbonation, good body.

O - I can't honestly say I was longing for my next sip. I'll have to revisit in the future to see if I may have missed something or my palate was off... (569 characters)

Photo of GehenHerzog
3.4/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 2009 Vintage 22oz bomber, purchased from Brawley's (Charlotte) poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter.

A- Pours a a red to burnt red color with almost no head. .

S- Smells of dark fruits, caramel and a extremely small hint of hops. Not much here other than the dark fruit.

T- Again...Dark fruits, caramel and and earth hops (again, not much hops present). It is slightly bitter but the dark fruits really shine.

M- Medium bodied with almost no carbonation.

D- This is a strong beer. You can tell this beer is strong and it burns going down.

I'll end this by saying I am not a big barleywine fan but I was definitely not a fan of this beer. It was too strong for me and the flavors didn't suit my palate. (713 characters)

Photo of tjthresh
3.42/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber. Pour a beautiful clear garnet/mahogany red. A creamy whipped head forms that lasts the entire pint. Notes of caramel/toffee, cooked brown sugar, and ton of hops rush right to the nose. You can taste all 90 IBUs in the beer. Almost to a fault. There is an alcohol burn that I can do without also. There is some big hop flavor with enough malt sweetness to keep this beer from crossing into the Imperial IPA catagory. Quite full bodied and mouthfilling. Everything clings to your tounge for a while. I think it might hang on too long. Old Ruffian is worth the 6 buck I paid for it. I just think it might be a bit too over the top. (642 characters)

Photo of champ103
3.42/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a hazy deep orange/reddish color. At first pour, a large white head forms, but recedes to a ring and leaves some sticky and patchy lace.
S: This is great. Hops and malt are balanced perfectly. Fruity citrus aromas (lemon, grapefruit, lime) with sweet candy malt aromas. A lot is going on in the nose.
T: The flavor seems a bit muted. Plenty of hop bitterness and malt flavors to balance out, but not as rounded as the nose. Almost a cloying sweetness. Not that it is bad by any means, just not a knock out.
M/D: Creamy, smooth, and well carbonated. Lots of alcohol, and the sweetness makes this a sipping beer. One is more than plenty.

A good American barlywine that I enjoy. Nothing outstanding, but a well balanced beer. Something I would recommend to lovers of the style. (784 characters)

Photo of jeffthecheff
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Nice dark copper color, very cloudy. Great sticky lacing.

Smell is very caramelly, thick hops and strong fruits.

Bitter taste comes through the most, along with syrupy like toffee and caramel.

Mouthfeel on this is great. Swirl this over your tongue for a bit and it literally nubs your tongue. Very thick all around from body to resiny hop bitterness.

Drinkability on this is tough. I'd imagine finishing a bomber by yourself would be pretty difficult. It's certainly a sipper. (481 characters)

Photo of popery
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes, 10/28/10. ~11 month old bottle. This beer could use some more time. Right now, it’s sticky, kinda boozy and harsh. There are some nice caramel notes lurking in there, but it’s just not all that enjoyable right now. Aroma is caramel malt and citric hops. Sweet sugar cane, apricots and an acetone/metal note also show up. The taste is sweet leading to harsh. Lots of caramel malt flavor is packed into this beer. Mouthfeel is fairly sticky. Appearance is a darkened amber with an off-white to beige head. At any rate, I imagine a vintage bottle would get higher marks. Also, I’m sorta down on barleywines, right now, so I’ll give this one another try in the future. (684 characters)

Photo of irishevans
3.47/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

looks much like sockeye red, and the nose to match. i'm 100% expecting an IPA. flowery mildly hoppy taste with a good bite on the finish, and a crisp mouthfeel. this is also very "downable", if you will, extremely easy to drink. everything I want out of an IPA, not what I expect from a barley wine. but being what it is, it is good. so if you want an IPA with a lot of a.b.v. this is it. (388 characters)

Photo of Wisconsinality
3.48/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage poured into standard pint.

A- Pours a blood orange with a finger worth of head. The head leaves a nice cap on the beer and leaves good, soapy lacing on the side of the glass.

S- Pretty hoppy for the style, with some malts in there as well. I pick up some black cherries, currants and caramel. Just a hint of alcohol peaks through.

T- Like the nose, very hoppy on the forefront. There is also a little soapiness going on as well which is a little off putting. The malt is pretty well hidden but there are decent notes of brown sugar and caramel.

M- Medium bodied with some good bitter notes. A little dry on the finish and a little lighter than what I expected.

D- I think this is a little too hoppy for my liking. Not bad flavor wise but there is just something missing from this one. (803 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a tawny, rustic mahogany with a creamy off-white head.

S: Lots of alcohol heat followed up by sweet malts, caramel, some hops, and some more alcohol.

T: Again, lots of alcohol atop some sweet malt and same fading--though still present--hops. Some woodiness creeps in as well.

M: Fairly thick without too much carbonation and a whole lot of alcohol kick.

D: Not too drinkable given the high octane character of the beer. Maybe if I'd waited a little bit longer the alcohol would have mellowed out, or had it a bit earlier and allowed the hops to mask some of the alcohol. (584 characters)

Photo of MarkSCCOT
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Wow, I really hope I got a bad bottle or that with aging the other bottle I bought will change in character

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber (no discernable bottle dating) into a snifter.

A. Pours a crystal clear ice tea color with a healthy 2 finger head that slowly settles. Classic lacing.

S. Heavy malt booziness with a following of floral hops. Some toffee and just a hint of dark fruits.

T. The hops are up front and overwhelming. I sense there is a complicated backbone to this that the hops are steamrolling over.

M. Alcohol warmness with a thick finish.

D. If this hop profile were in an IPA or DIPA I would be impressed. However, the hops are a bit one dimensional and the backbone is screaming to get out. Hard to finish.

This will be a cellaring beer for me. Will re-review in 24 months. (804 characters)

Photo of scruffwhor
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
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. (694 characters)

Photo of craytonic
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz Bomber

Appearance: Large ea foam head; takes a while to subside. Nice lacing. Color is hazy burnt-umber orange and brown.

Smell: Citrus, harsh (excessive) hops, pine resin.

Taste: Over-hopped beer. Probably could have used some age. Some sweetness, but it is completely overpowered. Slight metallic twinge.

Mouthfeel: Good full body. Finish is astringent and bitter.

Drinkability: Over-hopped and over-hyped. Not for me. (430 characters)

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,075 ratings.