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

2,244 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,244
Reviews: 1,085
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.74%
Wants: 246
Gots: 368 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,244 | Reviews: 1,085
Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a snifter at Great Divide's tap room in high altitude Denver, Colorado. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a two finger head of good cream, fair thickness, and decent retention. Colour is a dark nontransparent ruby.

Sm: Toasted malts, caramel, pleasant cream, and light cherry fruit ester hops. A mild strength aroma.

T: Toasted caramelized malt comprises the backbone, with cream on the open and climax, alcohol (especially in the third act), and hints of cherry esters. Well balanced, with the alcohol generating a pleasant welcome warmth. Nicely built, with due complexity. Quite lovely all around, with depth and unobtrusive hops.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A bit too thick. Pleasant cream. Suits the flavours well.

Dr: Quite drinkable for the ABV, which is hidden well considering how high it is. I'd have this beer again. A nice barleywine from Great Divide.

This would likely age well. I'd like to try it with a few years on it out of a bottle.

Photo of alpinebryant
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark Caramel brown color with a small light tan head that quicklyi settles to just lacing.

Smell of sweet caramel, brown malts, bitter hops and some malty sweetness.

Taste very similar to aroma, planty of sweetness to go around, easily confounded with bittering hops and brown malt. There is a slight astringency there and a little too much bitterness for my liking. All around decent, not my favorite barleywine. Slightly light on the mouthfeel for a 10.2% abv, and good carbonation. Vanilla cookie flavors from sugar caramelization.

Worth a try

Photo of Vdubb86
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass

This beer pours a murky reddish brown with a decent beige head that fades to lace on the surface. This beer smells of brandy bourbon, clove, cherry, and candied oranges. The flavor is of a cheaper whiskey. There is malty, gingery, peppery flavor that is rather on the low key side. The mouthfeel is rather destructive on the tongue, the astringent nature of this beer is a little off-putting, but it's still smooth as far as the viscosity is concerned. It's a fairly good drinking beer, but not the top of my list of beers I'd seek out too often.

Photo of sisuspeed
3.66/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, clear, burnt red with a decent white head that leaves beautiful lacing. Great head for a 10% barleywine.

Fruits, molasses, cherry syrup, apples and sliced pears on the nose. Even with a year on it, this beer still has a good helping of grassy/spicy hops in the aroma.

Tipping back the glass reveals a wave of wood and oak upfront, followed with a good amount of hop bitterness. The hops are fairly abrasive and piney, but start to mellow just a bit as your tongue adjusts. A touch of cardboard seems to come through at times making me wonder if the cap was fastened securely while this was aging in the cellar. Very faint fruit comes through, but does become a bit stronger as the beer reaches room temp. Overall, I found the flavor to be mostly bitter and woody with a touch of cardboard. Some vanilla and sweetness can be found, but in general this was a bit rough.

Mouthfeel is smooth and bitter. Lower carbonation, but good for the style. The body could maybe be a bit thicker, but not bad.

Drinkability is about average. The high ABV and muddled bitterness/wood flavors made this a somewhat harsh sipper. Maybe more time will help this out, or maybe my bottle was somewhat oxidized. If this is how Old Ruffian is supposed to taste, then I would take a Bigfoot over this any day.

Photo of DIM
3.66/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

Photo of Acoke
3.67/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

Photo of codysjb
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of jkendrick
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of jasonjlewis
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of kmeves
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of JoePat
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of capeannbass36
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of crayphish
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of doppelmeup
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of tlazaroff
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of mcallister
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

Photo of darklordlager
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

Photo of Cresant
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

Photo of Wegbier
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
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

Photo of StoutFox
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

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

Photo of jbphoto88
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
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.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,244 ratings.