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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.

2,141 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,141
Reviews: 1,060
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 237
Gots: 321 | 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: 2,141 | Reviews: 1,060 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of LJWalker
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of tjsmith910
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of basickness
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of mportnoy
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of J_Dub
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of wattershed
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of BjrogerS
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of JJChrist
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of PorterBoy14
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of Rempo
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of CityofBals
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of andjriz
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of TimH
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of ChrisMon02
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of AlaskanYoung
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of bullywee
3/5  rDev -28.7%

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 otto251068
3.02/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 1 pt 6 fl oz bottle into a Rochefort chalice. "Bottled on Nov 29, 2011" printed on the label, making this beer about seven months old.

Appearance: Pours an amber, reddish dark brown color. Transparent, clean, and no bubbles present. After the pour a lively tan head rises to a quarter inch, then fades. The remaining bubbles are small and dense, with a few larger bubbles lingering. All that is left after a few seconds is some wispy thin remnants and a ring hugging the glass.

Smell: Extremely malty right out front, very intense. Brown sugar, molasses, and dark caramel are there as well. The 10% ABV is fairly evident, and comes out strong in the aroma.

Taste: Burnt caramel up front, some charred oak as well. The 10.2% ABV is very present in the taste. Tons of bitterness on the back end, with soapy, piney hops lingering. The aftertaste is all bitterness and char.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and medium carbonation. Thick, chewy, and syrupy are a few words to describe the body. The carbonation level is just on the edge of being on the low side. The bubbles are a nice contrast to the heavy flavors.

Overall: A little too hop forward. It is really hard to distinguish any other flavors besides the bitter hops, burnt flavors, and high alcohol. Otherwise mouthfeel, appearance, and smell all fit in with the style. Fairly hard to finish this one, not easily drinkable.

Photo of Wadsey
3.02/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Old Ruffian

Bottled sometime in 2008. Poured in a DFH signature glass. 

A: Deep amber to amber brown with an above-average frothy head. Good clarity but moderate lacing. 

S: Big caramel presence joined by tea-like or herbal  hops. A touch of fruit and a note of oxidation. Really, this is a very standard profile for an aged American Barleywine. 

T: Sweet caramel malt on front of palate, which is annihilated by a steely bitterness that thoroughly dominates tasting experience. Alcohol is noticeable but not unduly so.  Long, long bitter finish. 

M:  Body is a little light for style and carbonation is too high for style. Moderately warming. 

D: Old Ruffian drinks relatively easily despite its over-the-top IBUs. The problem is that it tastes like just about every other American Barleywine I've drank. I'm nipping this cellaring experiment in the bud. 

Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.03/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of kingcrowing
3.04/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottles on December 22, 2009. Big thanks to VTbobcat for picking this up for me in Mass!

Pours a very hazy mahogany brown with a small light brown head that quickly fades to nil. Nose is really quite hoppy given the age, very sweet and floral, it's got the same bready yeast note as Yeti. Booze is not noticeable.

Hmm, it almost seems like there's a tinge of vinegar to this. It's not overt and it's not sour, it may be more of an iron taste but it is a bit odd. It might also be the alcohol that is giving it this flavor. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with good carbonation for the style.

Have to take off points for drinkability because of he acidity. I'll re-review my other bottle in 6-12 months and see if it's gone away.

Photo of chriswilkes33
3.08/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had a pour of '08 ruffian in a snifter

Appearance: pours a dark amber with a thin quickly dissipating white head
Aroma: biting alcohol and caramel/toffee one would expect from a monster barleywine
Taste: toffee, sweet (a little too sweet) and alcohol up front. Harsh swallow with lingering warmth
Mouthfeel: thick but not terribly

Overall: good slow drinking beer, nothing super exciting taking place in this beer.

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.09/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a hazy, deep amber color with a decent amount of lingering head.

S: Aroma is potent with flaky pastry, plum, yeast, sour peaches, and feet. I was a little confused by the feet smell, but I think it must have come from the foil around the bottle rim. I hope so anyway.

T/M: Taste is immediately vibrant: caramel quickly giving way to dark fruits, floral hops and a tangy bitterness in the finish. There’s a lingering warm booziness after a bit, a little offputting. The texture is very thick, almost chewy.

The flavors contrast pretty vehemently, but everything is very good, with the exception of the strong alcohol aftertaste. It really would have been nice had they been able to mask that more, but I like it. This barley wine’s for you, Springfield.

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

I am a relative newbie to Barley wine and this is the first hop intensive barley wine I've tried. I am not a fan of heavily hopped beers. It strikes me that hop fans are like the folks that like hot peppers. Somehow, somebody has equated hops and hot peppers with balls. Hops lend a very valuable adjunct to beer, but are not more or less than a particular spice is to a Belgium brew. 70% of this brew is balanced sweet, with fruit tones. The heavy dose of hops is far too powerful and distracts from the barley wine nature. It may be perfect for some but to me it is an undeserved bow to the unorthodox, West Coast fad of single, double, triple and God forbid quadriple hopheads. Think of hops as a spice that is to be used to create highlights in taste. For those who truly love overdoses of hops, I say "God Bless". Hopping up an intrinsic sweet beer steals the very nature of the beer in my opnion.This beer is definately deserving of a try and honest appraisal, but this boy sees much more potential if the hops were muted. Sadly, in my opinion, when it comes to barley wine, hops should be a subtle reverberation, not a sledge hammer. Under this department store suit, there lies a handsome wardrobe.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,141 ratings.