Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,071 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

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Reviews: 1,071
Hads: 2,283
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 254
Gots: 382 | FT: 19
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
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Reviews: 1,071 | Hads: 2,283
Photo of DIM
3.66/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a: Copper colored with no haze. A vigorous pour produces a massive long lasting white head.

s: Sugary grapefruit hops leap out at me. Not subtle but not bad either. The alcohol is a bit to noticeable.

t: The taste is just as the smell would suggest. The citric hops are sticky and delicious. The sweetness and alcohol, however, are both too pronounced.

m: The carbonation is lively and the viscosity is almost spot on.

d: This is a very good example of my favorite style. I've had a few better however. (506 characters)

Photo of Acoke
3.67/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle Poured into a tulip glass.

A- Two fingers worth of head. Gorgeous blood orange caramel color. Great looking beer

S- Lots of hops up front with a sweet caramel background.

T- Huge hop presence with substantial bitterness. Definitely taste the alcohol in it. Not getting much other flavors out of this, maybe just a tiny hint of caramel.

M- Smooth beer but a little light on the tongue. Every sip I was trying to make an assessment, but the flavors(or lack there of) vanished before I could get a grip on it.

O- Good beer, just not what I was expecting. Kinda new to Barley wines so I may be off on this one but I'm told this is better with age. (662 characters)

Photo of codysjb
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into my Duval tulip, date on the bomber was Dec. 10th, 2009. (Had on November 30th and Dec 1st, 2011)
A: Pours a watery brown, like dark tea or other similar watery brown substances. Had various layers of dark and lighter due to there being a lot of brewer’s yeast that came out when poured. Virtually no head.
S: like coffee or toffee (or toffee flavored coffee). Nothing really special, some caramel notes and what I think is coffee.
T: Strong, sugary, nothing extra special.
M: Balanced, and some caramel notes which complement the taste quite nicely.
O: Meh, okay certainly a decent beer to try. I’m not that into barley wines in general so it’s not really surprising that I’m not hopping all over this, but it’s decent. Really balance and doesn’t taste bad, just average. B- to B range. (825 characters)

Photo of jkendrick
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very nice and clear amber color with a thick light tan head. Light is visible through this. In fact, the clarity is such that you can read through the glass. The head recedes moderately fast, but seems to hang around quite a bit longer than most barleywines. Thick, clumpy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

Aroma: Floral with a some caramel maltiness. It is sweet in the nose though and the alcohol isn't obvious.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, medium-bodied with mild carbonation.

Taste: Wow, very hoppy for a barleywine. The malty sweetness is there, but doesn't quite have enough to balance out the bitter. The alcohol is very present in the finish and after the swallow. Flavors are caramel and some pine, but it is tough to distinguish much over the intense bitterness and heavy alcohol.

Overall impression: Overall, this is just too bitter for me, especially for the style. I love hops, but want to taste the flavors not just the crushing bitterness. About halfway through I pulled out some almonds and that pairing really helped. This is a young bottle, just over a month old. I really think this would be better served after aging. (1,155 characters)

Photo of jasonjlewis
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer has a full red appearance with good head and retention

The smell is of apple phenol with caramel malts and a slight banana phenol.

Taste is of thick caramel malts. Sweetness comes out up front with a nice hop bitterness to follow. A little too astringent and boozy

Mouthfeel is too astringent, but it clings fairly well.

This beer just needs to get rid of the astrigency. Once those get under control, this will be a great beer. (442 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle obtained via trade with LuckySevens82. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 1 1/4" of dense tan head over the deeply orangey amber brew. Head just sits there, and lacing is nice. Aroma is sweetly of malts, with tinges of fruit, hops, and alcohol. Taste begins with smooth sweet grains, then the hops, fruitiness, and alcohol all hit at once. Kind of overpowers the palate, and then departs with a strong alcohol flavor. Mouthfeel and drinkability are not bad for the style, but it is certainly an acquired taste, even compared to others in the style. (602 characters)

Photo of kmeves
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber/copper with a small beige head that lasts and also leaves nice lacing. Aroma is moderately sweet with caramel, toffee, grapefruit, pine, raisin and bread. Flavor is caramel, grapefruit, pine, pineapple and light chocolate. Full bodied, very creamy texture. Light alcohol burn in the finish. This beer would improve with age no doubt. (348 characters)

Photo of JoePat
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep redish amber color with an off white head.
It smells of sweet caramel with some piney/citrusy hop undertones.
The flavor is a palate destroying bitter with the piney/citrusy hops staning out the most. A fruity maltiness comes next rounding out the flavor on your now destroyed palate.
The mouth feel is a sweet light syrup feeling with a slight dryness at the end.
Drinkability is not too bad for a barley wine but it is still a barley wine. (464 characters)

Photo of capeannbass36
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- 22 oz. bottle dated Dec. 22-2009
Hard pour into a pint glass. Hazy, amber. 1/2 inch honeycomb head that slowly melted away. Decent lacing throughout.

S- Sweet fruit, malt.

T- Starts sweet and malty, finishes hoppy and bitter. Strangely different than other barley wines that I have tried.

M- Smooth. Decent carbonation. Slight burn on the swallow.

O- Not bad, but too hoppy for my taste.
Tried again in January 2012. 2009 bottle. Slightly bitter and dry aftertaste. I love barleywines, but this is lacking a "wow" factor for me. (535 characters)

Photo of crayphish
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Old Ruffian poured a murky ruby color. A dense foamy head lingers stubbornly and leaves a fair amount of lace. Smell is sweet and a bit sour. Notes of caramel and fruit. Taste is sweet malts, some sour fruits, and hops. An alcohol flavor lie under it all. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, that is cleaned up by the hops presence. I found this barley wine to be a drinkable representation of its kind. (401 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Let the Hallowe'en mini-tasting begin! This offering pours a seemingly cloudy amber-brown topped by a finger of light tan froth. The nose comprises biscuits, orange peel, rye bread, milk chocolate, toffee, and a light bunch o' flowers. The taste pummels the tongue with a strong citrus-hop-based bitterness, with leather, figs, rubber, light cocoa, tobacco, spinach stems, and a vodka-like character all aiding and abetting in this assault. It's all a bit much, frankly. The body is pretty hefty, with a light carbonation and a fairly chewy feel. Overall, this is a beast that must be sipped carefully, lest the fury truly be unleashed. Again, I feel everything is a bit overdone, making the experience a bit less than really enjoyable. (822 characters)

Photo of doppelmeup
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
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. (650 characters)

Photo of tlazaroff
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark mahogany color with a crisp off-white head. Lacing sticks to the side of the glass like it was painted on.
S: This beer has a nice, upfront floral hop aroma with subtle caramel notes.
T: Complex taste here. I get slight citrus upfront with a very nice, palatable middle, and a caramel finish. This beer noticeably changes flavors in each sip. It goes from being hoppy and bitter to malty and sweet. Amazing!
M: This is more carbonated than I would expect for a barley wine, but it doesn't detract from the experience. This is a full-bodied beer and it isn't afraid to show itself off.
D: Mediocre drinkability like all other barley wines. (646 characters)

Photo of mcallister
3.71/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

what an enormous frothy head with terrific lacing. Not much more you can ask for in this department. Nose is what you would expect of a barley wine; hoppy, caramel, with fruity barley. Very smooth but with decent hop character. Very bold in your face type beer. Not one of my favorite barley wines but would definitely drink one again. Very soon if possible. (358 characters)

Photo of darklordlager
3.71/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark ruby colour, with an abundant medium-tan head exuding a dark orange hue. Shows great retention too.

S: Sweet citrusy hops paired dark fruit. Some grainy two-row can be detected underneath the monstrous caramel as well.

T: Lots of caramel malt, some dark fruit and citrusy hops up front and in the middle, receding into a pleasant cleansing hop bitterness. Sweet caramel malt stays in the finish as well.

M: Medium carbonation, slightly syrupy mouthfeel. A bit creamy.

D: A good American Barleywine for sure--not the most complex, but very smooth. (567 characters)

Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a dark ruby color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of fruits, malts. Taste is hops, caramel, light fruits, bitter at the finish. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer. (234 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this barley wine doesn't stand up to Bigfoot in my mind. I just don't find the taste or aroma here as complex and engaging. There's some very nice, long-lasting bitterness, but the citrus hops flavors weren't that crisp and the malt seemed a somewhat bland fruity biscuit taste. I do give this one credit for going own easily, but I expect more flavor from a big, bad barley wine. (418 characters)

Photo of Cresant
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this 22 oz. brown bottle into a Chimay glass. No date, but I have had this one about a year. The body was murky, brown/red leather. The head remained throughout.

Smell was sweet and fruity. grainy malts.

Taste was fruity with a mellow, subtle bitterness. Ultimately pretty balanced after some initial mood swings. Not my favorite style but I would like to try this one fresh too.

Mouthfeel was smooth and pretty full bodied. Medium carbonation. (454 characters)

Photo of Wegbier
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I can only guess this beer is rounding 10months but I dont see a date on it,
a- The appearance of this beer spoils in every way, it leaves sticky shelves so i know where i am, the creamy head is stubborn and thick with a sort of cascade and a light ceiling all the way through the pint covering a copper red thick liquid with medium average lasting carbonation

s- enjoyable but not amazing smell of biscuits sweet alcohol and medium dark fruit.

t- similarly honey cinnamon biscuit with a light amount of plum dancing with the lightest of happy esters in a little pool of caramel. hoppy up front as described and bitter

palate- a medium lightly oiled silky body. the bitterness of this beer doesnt give up reaches down into your throat and scratches around without letting go, this guy is stubborn, indeed very well balanced even when i dont find all that i want

d- low, i think barleywines are fun but this one is rough throughout the whole trip.

I look for Great Divide beers with happy thoughts but i dont need to drink this one again- no sir (1,049 characters)

Photo of StoutFox
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

Enjoyed at brewery on tap
Appearance: Brown with a redish tint, uniform body, white head
Aroma: Dark fruits, carmaly, a bit of sweet hops
Taste: A bit to hoppy for my taste, the hops tend to overpower the other flavors of the the beer
Complexity: heavy, and boozy
Overall: Worth the try but not my favorite Barleywine, would be nice to try after a couple of years in the celler (380 characters)

Photo of jbphoto88
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer looks great. Clear and deep blood ruby red with a gorgeous cap of khaki suds. Big head for a high ABV brew, always a nice thing to look at.

If I didn't pour this one myself I'd swear that someone has cut and dropped fresh pineapple into my beer. Big citrus hops and loads of malty goodness. The nose screams amazing potential.

The taste fizzles out drastically. More bitter then any actual flavor keeps the real character of this beer from shining through. I also find what bold malts make it through the astringency to be overly caramelized and too sweet for my taste. Gone are the awesome pineapple and citrus only to be replaced by stale old canned fruit flavors. A record disappointment from the nose.

However the taste isn't so bad to stop me from enjoying this beer. I actually like the bitterness and appreciate it's potency. Although I wish there were more character to the palate I find it to be a strong bodied, appropriately carbonated, easy drinking brew and that's something to be proud of with anything over 10%. After a grand start and a disappointing middle Old Ruffian finishes strong and is worth a look. (1,135 characters)

Photo of jamex
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a RR belgian glass. Bottle states brewed in Jan '10.

Pours a nice mahogany with nice, lasting head. Complex smell consisting of a strong malt presence with hints of fig, leather, caramel and whiskey. (odd, but if you've ever bought that weird malt stuff to help your cats with hairballs, it exhibits that smell as well).

A very malty and molasses like taste with a bitterness that strikes you in the corners of your mouth. More dark fruit taste.

Lasting taste that is sweet and bitter; fig, caramel and wood.

This guy is not that drinkable and definitely a sipper. I couldn't imagine having a second one of these, not that it was designed for that goal. Like most American barleywines, this one is thick, meaty and full of flavor. (746 characters)

Photo of Rastacouere
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Strong beige head, 1-inch of remarkable sticky foam doesn’t care whether it’s a 10+% barleywine or not. The color is a rich deep copper. Rich caramel malt aroma (GD seems to be fond of that), an obvious american barleywine from the first sniff. Overwhelming piney and earthy Chinook reminiscent hops contribute a dryness that goes a bit far. Mellower floral and citrus fruits indicate the fact that probably more than one hop variety comes into the blend. Quite harsh hoppiness really, that’s not my favorite type, that’s for sure. The earthy malts are there to offer a match, but fall in front of the abrasive piney sweat drops, simply too agressive for simple bready and considerably powerful toastiness. A bit too much. Full airy body, very strong carbonation. Clean, but rough and hard to tame, you’d better be in the mood. To me in the same ballpark than bigfoot though with very different ingredients. (912 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Bottled 12/2/11, so it is basically un-aged, but I'm going to give it a try.

Appearance: rich amber hue with the tiniest touch of haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam with a hint of orange infused. Nice!

Smell: big sweet malt with a light fruitiness and a bit of that strong-ale prickliness. Good!

Taste: big malt and big alcohol. Sweet with some caramel notes with a bite of both bitterness and alcohol. The hops themselves don't come through very strongly other than in bitterness. Frankly, it's a bit over-alcoholic; the flavor doesn't stand up to the octane.

Mouthfeel: big body with a great carbonation and a great silkiness. Pretty awesome.

Overall: there's just too much strength here for the flavor profile. The flavor is good, but even for a barleywine it's got too much alcohol. (842 characters)

Photo of Phelps
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle opened at a recent barleywine tasting. This is a 2009 bottle, aged for more than a year.

Pours a mostly clear apple cider color with a creamy one-finger head of khaki. It recedes very slowly, leaving thick sheets and a thin, fuzzy top layer that doesn't look like it wants to leave.

The aroma is robust and fairly sweet. Lime peel, lemon juice, a bit of OJ, candy sugar, lightly toasted bread. Good balance of sweet and toasted.

Big bottom. Talk about mud flaps, this beer's got 'em. The flavor comes in waves -- sweet, then dry, then sweet again. Orange peel and oak at the start, grapefruit, caramel and honey at the finish. Some bitterness builds on the back sides of tongue between sips.

This feels lovely. Some low, soft carbonation massages the tongue while the plush, silky body moves about. It's only slightly fizzy, and the alcohol warmth noticeable as numbness on tongue and warmth in the chest.

Old Ruffian wasn't the best barleywine at the tasting, but it certainly wasn't the worst. In my experience, age does wonders for this brew, and three years seems to be its peak. (1,114 characters)

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,071 ratings.