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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: 2,297
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 258
Gots: 383 | 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: 2,297
Photo of CowsandBeer
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz slightly chilled bottle poured into a Farnam House brewing snifter. Bottled on January 29, 2015 per the bottle label.

Appearance: Pours a thick finger of khaki head with a sudsy consistency atop a reddish hued body. The body is clear but dense with good head retention for the abv/style.

Aroma: Rich deep malts of toasted grains, raisins, caramel, toffee and an almost bubblegum sweetness. Strong piney and earthy hops with a warming alcohol bite at end. A bold and robust nose that is actually quite inviting.

Taste: Strong earthy hops up front leading into a toffee malt backbone with a fruity sweetness and an alcoholic bite. Long bitter finish which brings to mind all kinds of high alpha acid hops. A big burly ride of malts and hops that just bites so well.

Mf: A very dry and coarse feel from the hops. Full velvety body with a wine like warmth. Total fireplace beer.

Overall: Might be my favorite in the style of American Barleywines. Very rich and almost tongue bruising with its aggressive hopping and alcohol warmth but you can’t help but keep coming back for more. More refined and cohesive than Bigfoot. Having had a three year old bottle I can say it only gets better, can’t wait to try the barrel aged version. Highly recommended you pick up a four pack this winter, three bottles for now and one for later.

Edit: When paired with Rosemary crackers and an aged English Cheddar it's all fruity, rosey alcohol. Sip, sip, sip. (1,474 characters)

Photo of NiceTaps
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle shared with a friend, tulip glass.

The hop-forward character set this apart. It smells and tastes fruity with caramel malty sweets. The bitterness keeps the sugar and booze in check. Nice hoppy finish. (216 characters)

Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle.
Appearance: deep orange/copper. Clear. Thin head. Thin lacing.
Smell: sugars and fruity hops. Slightly alcoholic.
Taste: Caramel, fruity. Mango and citrus. Alcohol is there but not overpowering. Same with bittering hops.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Slightly sweet, yet has a dryness.
Overall: what an American Barley Wine should taste like. (374 characters)

Photo of Thirstygoat
4.19/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 12/05/11
Off white head settles gradually leaving lots of lacing. A bit murky bronze color.
Mostly a malt smell with a bit of hops.
Much of the 90 IBU remain especially on the back of the mouth. Much sugar, candy barleywine taste AND also the malt,
Active in the mouth, a bit of sizzle?
If you like American style BW, yes you must try this. (351 characters)

Photo of SamN
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 vintage, served in a snifter.

Old Ruffian is a cloudy, ruby color with more head than expected from a two year old 10 abv barleywine.

Smell is an intense mix of sweeter bready malts and candied fruits. Honey, sticky ganja buds, dark rum, dates, Hawaiian bread...the aroma is sweet and malty with just a hint of the hops former glory.

Hops are more prevelant in the taste, with a nice nice caramel notes upfront and plenty of sugary sweetness, lots of malt complexity. Hops gradually open up in the finish leaving a huge bitter stickness on the palette. Mouth feel is luscious and thick with plenty of carbonation left in the bottle.

Overall, not as blown away by this as others, but its still a solid Barleywine and worthy of Great Divide's reputation. Just not a game changer for me. (796 characters)

Photo of Will_cigars-n-brews
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly cloudy dark ale on the pour, nice aroma, but very malty.
First taste is an expected high ABV beer, big malt, sweet, nice caramel taste, but coats the mouth...a lot. What I will call a very typical barley wine but in a good way. Just solid. (248 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 orcrist_cleaver
4.76/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A: Ruddy, nectarine red. Nectar hazy. Just off white lofty head. Clings to glass as it dissipates with look of sea foam.

S: I get a lot of resin, like walking thru an evergreen forest. Mossy earth and citrus; that's the bright. Toffee malt, rum raisin cake, pineapple, berry jam, thyme, good leather. Alcohol that can over-dominate if you get the wrong whiff, otherwise near perfect.

M: Near gel like chewiness. Very fun, velvety soft. Light and flirtatious carbonation. Good residual warmth. Tasted thinner as it warms/consumed with food.

T: Boozy and alcoholic, perfect drink fireside. Very aggressive hop bitterness noticed next. Pine, orange peel, oak wood, hint of coffee, tangerine sours. Brandy soaked fruits, light sweetness of honey+ woodsiness of maple. I like the bitter and booze. Bitterness is actually perfect for style; taste it with a clean palate else all you'll get is booze. (898 characters)

Photo of GregJ
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Think white head slowly dissipates. Very pleasant aroma, sweet floral and malty. Initially sweetness is quickly overcome by very strong malty and happy flavor. Very dry mouth finish. Excellent early wine beer. The extra hoppiness and heavy malt does an excellent job of masking the high (10.2%) alcohol content. Very good barley wine. (334 characters)

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

A lightly hopped nose with touches of spice and alcohol faintly suggestive of bourbon. Pours brilliant chestnut with a ½” foam cap that surprisingly provides intricate lace. The palate combines big malt, big alcohol and big hops with dried fruit, caramel, faint vanilla, alcohol and a balancing, sustaining bitterness that provides a lingering bitter aftertaste. A very creamy big beer just a shade less than chewy. (418 characters)

Photo of Jaysauras
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%

A: Fantastic. Pours a wonderful dark amber color with a decent amount of head. An aggressive pour could cause an overflow no doubt. A very crisp looking beer when poured into a tulip glass.

S: Smells strong, but not in a bad way. Like the smell of a good, not cheap whiskey. The hops are big up front but there is also a piney and floral aroma that follows it. Definitely get a feel for the sweetness as well.

T: As if the smell and look weren't good enough, the taste backs it up. It's deceptively strong for what it brings to the table. Very sweet with a lot of fig and grape flavors going on. Again, the alcohol is masked so well in this it's hard to believe it's a 10+.

M: Very robust and what you would expect from a high alcohol barleywine. Little bit of carbonation but not too much. It fits well with the overall feel of the beer of it being big in presence but light in some of the things that can take away from good barleywines.

O: I am a lover of the Barleywine and Old Ale style, and GD hasn't disappointed here. A tremendous Barley wine to try if you have never gotten into the style. It's big in a lot of ways but subtle in just as many important ways. Tremendous beer. (1,188 characters)

Photo of Bear1964
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Mason Jar, beautiful color and a creamy off white head. Aroma of hops and dark fruits hits the nose..things get heavy here and I couldn't get much else, no matter because the taste is awesome and although hop forward it has some levels of depth with the overall flavor which covers the ABV very well. The mouthfeel is heavy at first sip and changes on the tongue to medium..almost light and then finishing a solid medium..the tongue takes a journey here but it should with a good Barley Wine Style Ale! Overall a very solid and enjoyable brew..glad I picked it up and would grab it again...Great Divide Brewing Co turns out some nice stuff. (673 characters)

Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

Look: Dark brown boarderline red body, off-white lacing. Smell: Assorted berries, cherries, citrus, toasted bread, caramel, chocolate notes, slight booze. Taste: Pitted fruits, berries, cocoa, caramel sweetness, slight pine and citrus rind, earthy pungency, a very nice leafy tobacco bitterness that compliments the malt sweetness. Feel: Medium, smooth body. soft carbonation.

Overall: Not as hop forward as the label details, yet it doesn’t lack hops either. This is more balanced than Big Foot. Enough of that gibberish, everything in this is delicious. The booze is more present in the aroma than in the taste. This is recommended. (638 characters)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage 2011.

A: yeast dregs were poured in my glass, so it stays pretty cloudy. Beautiful brown color with shades of ruby and Siena. Beige head retains at about a half inch. lacing is spotty.

S: Big bready sweetness up front. Bread pudding. Crust and toast. Runny caramel. Berry juice esters. Cherry and ripe, sweet raspberry. Some wet paper oxidation, which is fine. Fading hops still bring earthy pine and bark.

T: Toasty, crusty. Scones. Caramel. Fruity esters of cherry and raspberry. Prune juice. Perhaps suggestions of apricot and marmalade, though I think it's coming from hops. Hops also add earthy flavors of pine and bark. Modestly strong bitterness to balance all the malt. Long finish of scone, crust, and earthy hops.

M: Big thick body. Creamy and smooth. Weighty but not heavy or syrupy. Gentle supporting carbonation.

O: A classically done American Barleywine. All around solid. One of a handful to look to as a measuring stick for the style. The age on this one has rounded it out beautifully. (1,051 characters)

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: ruby red with orangish hints to it. very strong clarity, a finger plus of a tannish head thats leaves behind a strong lacing.

Smell: lots of hop resin. covering up caramel and toffee sweetness. some alcohol. grassy, herbal and resiny hops.

Taste: opens with some caramel and slightly darker sweets. some strong breadiness. back end is flooded with hops, grass, citrus, resin and mostly herbal. alcohol astringency plays a strong role in it.

Mouthfeel: heavy and bitter. sweetness is there but nothing compared to the bitterness.

Overall: pretty good and tasty for a young barley wine. good sweetness, a bit too much astringency and herbalness though. (668 characters)

Photo of Kuaff
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

In a small pint glass, close to cellar temperature.

Really looks flawless. It's a beautiful shade of garnet with a frothy three-finger beige head that just won't die down. The perpetually remaining cap of foam leaves loads of lacing on the glass.

It smells of leather, oak, cherries, strawberries, caramel, and pine. And a hint of citrus.

Tastes like pine resin, citrus rinds, and more caramel and cherries... There's a warm finish like toasted bread, with lingering piney hop astringency and terrific leathury smokiness.

The feel is full, lazily carbonated, and a little sticky.

This barleywine really strikes a chord with me. Rough with harsh hoppiness around the edges, and mightily malty underneath. (708 characters)

Photo of ilikebeer03
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bomber 12/19/12 poured into a snifter.

A: pours a deep ruby red color, with a nice, thick finger of foam. the the head recedes, a nice lacing is left as well as a good ring around the glass and traces in the middle. Above average head retention.

S: hops, dark fruits, sweet malt, breadiness. plum.

T: this is delicious. I'm not a huge fan of barely wines, but this is delicious. Not overly sweet, but not hopped to the point of being an IPA called a barely wine. I get dark fruits with a good hop presence. tropical fruits in the hops mesh well with the sweetness from the barely wine. slight resinous taste from the hops, primarily in the finish. This is incredible. Alcohol is very well masked. You never taste a drop of the alcohol heat. It sneaks up on you.

M: mouthfeel is thick, and nicely coats the mouth. resinous, fruity, sweetness lingers on the palate.

O: this is probably my favorite barely wine to date. incredible! (939 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Appearance – The beer pours a deep crimson red color with a tiny head of fizzy, just off white foam. The brew looks thick even upon pouring sloshing in the snifter and sticking to the sides of the glass. The tiny head that was present upon pouring fades very fast leaving just some foam islands on the surface of the brew and a trace of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – A big and boozy but quite pleasant and warming aroma is in this one. The rum-boozy bourbon smell is one of the heaviest, but is complemented by lots of big sweet aromas as well. Caramel is the heaviest of the sweet, but there is also a good deal of toffee and plenty of dark fruits with it consisting of cherry, raisin, plum and fig. With these aromas are some decent showings of a cocoa smell as well as a little bit of an earthy and herbal hop aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a thick and bready flavor with some hints of a more roasted malt nature and a good dose of caramel sweetness. Along with the caramel are some flavors of dark fruit, consisting of the fruits that were detected in the nose; cherry, raisin, plum and fig. As the flavor advances the caramel transitions to a more buttery toffee flavor with the fruit flavors remaining rather constant. The bready flavors seem to dwindle ever so slightly but still remain a dominant taste in the profile. Around the middle of the flavor profile the booze starts to become noticeable. It is light at first having a more neutral boozy flavor. Along the same time some hop flavors begin coming to the tongue as well. The hop are mainly of a grapefruit flavor at first, but as the taste advances toward the end, other hops of an earthy and herbal nature join the flavor profile as well. Along with the increase in the hop, the boozy taste takes on more rum like qualities and gets quite a bit more potent toward the end. The newly augmented rum alcohol flavor, when mixed with the rest of the flavors, ends up leaving a nice warming and thick bready and somewhat more hoppy flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer thick and chewy with a carbonation level that is rather low. The feel is just about perfect for the style as it really soaks the tongue in all the boozy, bready, dark fruit, hopped and roasted flavors of the brew making them really stand out in a sea of big flavors. Well done.

Overall – This is a fantastic barleywine!!! Many are either too sweet or just a pure pack of burning booze. This one is fantastically balanced and drinkable with great flavor, feel and aroma. I would recommend. (2,616 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The color was a tawny Dark copper with a cloudy body and a bit of thinness. The foam head was thick and dense.

The nose was filled with chocolate and fudge brownie sweetness. The malt was obvious barley but there was a wine like air, hence barleywine.

The flavor is clean and at first very simple. It tastes like barleywine but as you delve further strong caramel flavor comes on. Even further still I was catching sweet dried dark fruit like prune, raisin and crabapple. It finished with fudge and brownie.

The feel is smooth but a little thinner than I anticipated, with low carbonated feel and a bit of alcohol sensation.

This is a solid and quite delicious barleywine that starts simple but opens up to be a relatively complex experience. (746 characters)

Photo of cjgiant
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Found an odd-labeled bottle and looked it up, and apparently instead of being new, it's an old label. From my limited research the bottle is circa 2008 or so. I was going to try it anyhow, but became more intrigued by the age factor.

A: dark ruby and clear (as clear as a darker beer can be, I guess). Edge and lacing is decent, quite nice if it is aged as presumed
S: heavy on the dark fruit, raisin mainly, maybe some fig. Also grape notes as one might get from wine. Minor amount of alcohol noted
T: follows the nose pretty well, but adding in a hops dryness (it is listed at 85 IBU). There is also a woodiness present, even though it isn't touted as having to do with a barrel (aging). Stronger on the dark fruit, but not sweet at all. Taste also includes stronger hints of alcohol.
M: dry hops pervades the end, muting the dark fruit into a bourbon-like taste. Even though the carbonation was present in the head, it didn't make a presence in the feel

O: more hoppy and less sweet than I expected from a barley wine. The tastes did seem more mellow than I can imagine them being at one point (especially considering what I've seen from Great Divide). I'll have to have a newer batch to compare.

Review of Dec-2013 bottle:
A: little lighter than I saw from 2008, but I had that in a darker bar
S: maybe a little more bitter than previously noted
T/M/O: about online with my rating, although I think the hops is a little more forward. I kinda expected this in a fresher batch.

Updated with January 2015 bottle: little less hoppy, smoother and a little more full, adding to overall enjoyment, upped from 4.16 to 4.38. (1,623 characters)

Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled date: Dec. 20, 2012. Thanks, local liquor store.

A slight boozy smell to this one, which I'm sure has been balanced by the year and a half it's been aging on my local store's shelf. I love that I can taste the hops, almost as if there's an oak-aged IPA hiding in here. Delicious! I'm looking forward to killing this bomber! (333 characters)

Photo of TheSixthRing
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on date of 12/13/13

Appearance - Pours a dark, relatively clear ruby brown with a finger's worth of sandstone colored head. Fair retention, resulting in a thin layer of surface suds. Fair lacing around the glass, with good stick.

Smell - Huge caramel in the nose, offset by some earthy, woody and leafy tea-like aroma. Hints of citrus once it warms.

Taste - Caramel and burnt toffee make up the bulk of the malt base, while hints of wood and earth lurk below. A solid punch of grapefruit pith comes crashing in mid-taste to give this a beautiful, bittersweet finish. The bitterness builds, sip after sip, and a resultant ruby red grapefruit character becomes the predominant flavor, while caramel hangs around the edges.

Mouthfeel - Full in body with fair carbonation. Lightly syrupy. Smooth at first, but gets a little rougher with the passage of time.

Overall - One of those barleywines that might be best while fresh, because the hop profile is a thing of beauty, though I wouldn't mind scoring a bottle at some point in the future just to see how well it ages. Gets a bit sweeter as it warms, and frankly I better loved the layered complexity it showed when first opened, but it's a hell of a barelywine all the same. (1,234 characters)

Photo of draheim
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (bottled December 2011) into a tulip. Pours a murky amber w/ an eggshell head, sticky lacing.

Aroma is caramel malt, toffee, rum-soaked figs, nuts & raisins.

Taste follows nose. Rich buttery caramel malt, chewy dried fruit, brown sugar, toffee, warming alcohol. A floral, bitter hop bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel is sticky, chewy, full-bodied. Lingering finish.

Overall a nice American barleywine that has improved and mellowed with age. Rich, complex but not complicated; tasty. (495 characters)

Photo of craftbeersweden
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark, mahognyred, clear beer with a two finger high, beige, creamy, flyffy head.

Nose: Caramel malt, toffee, dried fruit, black pepper, red berries, vanilla and orange.

Taste: Orange peel, sweet caramel, herbs, dark fruit, apricot, syrup, raisin and hops.

Mouthfeel: Complex body with small but tingling carbonation and a great bitterness from all the hops. Long after you swallow the beer you feel the bitternes growing in your mouth. Really good!

10.2 % ABV that's well hidden in the bitterness and hoppy taste.
This is absolutely one of my favorite barely wine. (570 characters)

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Deep dark transparent amber with a brown tint to it. The off-white head that rose to maybe 1/4" at best settles nice and even after a sip....very good looking brew.

Smell: Honestly I have been going back and forth with this and it at the very least to me comes off bland. Could definitely be more potent, you smell the alcohol and like a wood note to it but drops before you place your glass down.

Taste: Complex, most barleywines in general dont have a such strong bitterness to it....this one is deep floral in taste but with wood undertones. Has almost a sweet feel to it, to the inexperienced might feel like a mellow DIPA. Malty as it gets, wow.

Mouth: Definitely feels medium to heavy with a gentle stickiness to it. It doesn't overwhelm you like some other brews to the point comes off easy and very well paired with food.

Overall: Great barleywine, I recently bought six bottles of one of my top three barlewyines and would have it tomorrow to compare. Drink up and enjoy, Salud! (1,036 characters)

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