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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

2,173 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,173
Reviews: 1,067
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 237
Gots: 334 | 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: 2,173 | Reviews: 1,067
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 jwc215
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazed caramel-colored with a towering off-white head that grows then slowly descends to a lasting cover, leaving lacing on the glass. Awesome head-retention for abv and style.

The smell is of citric fruitiness and caramel. Cherry-like fruitiness enters as it warms. Wonderfully aromatic.

The taste is hoppy for the style - certainly American there. Aggressively citric, though caramelish sweetness does come through to balance it out. There is a slight metallic tinge. The alcohol is warming in the finish.

Full-bodied, leaning towards syrupy. It is smooth for the alcohol presence, though it is a sipper for sure. It's a good one - strong hop presence, but balanced enough - though not quite as stellar as I expected. This one has been aging for a year. I'll try it again this winter to see if it is even better fresh.

Photo of smcolw
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slight haze to the light ruby, dark amber color. Moderate and rocky chalk white head. Ring lace throughout.

Lots of caramel, sugary aroma. Some floral, but subtle, hop in the background.

Surprisingly strong hop flavor that really dominates the swallow and aftertaste. The malt is fleeting in the initial taste, but it shows very little of the sweetness that is present in the smell. The body is as expected--extremely full but without being syrupy. The aftertaste is all bitter hop. There is no evidence of the alcohol content...so beware.

This is a BIG beer--full of flavor, aroma and body. If the ABV is accurate, this is a very deceptive brew because there is no "feel" of alcohol content. With the level of hoppiness, this could also be categorized as a double (triple?) IPA.

Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of WesWes
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy cream colored head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a warm, rich malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a nice floral hop aroma. The taste is great also. It has a very smooth, rich malty flavor that goes down slow and easy and finishes with a warm, bitter hop taste. It is one of the smoothest barley wines I've tried. The mouthfeel is awesome. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a great beer. It has tremendous flavor and aroma; a fine drinker.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this bottle. I have tried it many times but this is the first time I have reviewed it.

Bottled 1/8/09 and drank 2/27/10.

Pours a hazy amber color with a large off-white head. The aroma is complex, with brown sugar, caramel and dark fruit. The flavor is brown sugar, hop bitterness, caramel, dark fruit and molasses. Medium, very smooth mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of imperialking
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of GClarkage
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mid September 2005. Received via trade with Lostbearbrew.

Presentation- 22oz bomber with no visibile dating. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Murky Chestnut color. 3/4 inch head. Almost milkshake like in head appearance. Decent lacing.

Smell- Sweeter caramel scents. Hints of butterscotch and powdered sugar..

Taste- Not as in your face as Old Gaurdian. The hops are definitely present though. Nice sweet thickness too it. Plenty of dark fruits to go around. Mostly raisins and maybe some dates. Huge caramel background as well as some alcohol soaked cherry flavor. Brown sugar comes through as well.

Mouthfeel- Warming, a bit sryupy and super smooth. Very low carbonation. Thick as viscous.

Drinkability- One of the better BW's I have had. Not my favorite, but one I would have down the line again for sure. Good after dinner warmer.

Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 12/19/2012. Pours slightly hazy deep ruby red/copper color with a 2 finger dense and rocky light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, orange peel, light pine, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, raisin, plum, leather, herbal, floral, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of citrus hops and dark/bready malt notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, raisin, plum, leather, grapefruit, tangerine, orange peel, pine, herbal, floral, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate pine/citrus rind bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, raisin, plum, leather, grapefruit, tangerine, orange peel, pine, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of citrus/pine hops and dark/bready malt flavors; with a fantastic malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding American barleywine at this age. All around awesome complexity and balance of citrus/pine hops and dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. Nearly perfectly balanced between hop and malt flavors right now. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a dense, three finger thick, tightly beaded amber-tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear deep reddish amber color (it is dark enough that you have to hold it up to the light to see through it), that viscously slows an ample carbonation that rises up slowly up fron the bottom. The aroma is sweet, almost sticky with a solid mix between malt and hops. Most of the aromatic notes are that of malt, expecially of the caramel variety: I get rich notes of toffee, caramel, hints of rich fruit like cherry, raisins and prunes. There is also a fair amount hop character, it is definitely in the background, but I get some lightly astringent herbal note as well as some citrus aromatics. The aroma is quite rich and satisfying, definitely appropriate for a cold evenings sampling.

The beer is quite thick and viscous with a creamy start to this beer. It then morphs to a sweet crystal malt driven beer that finishes with a strong, astringent, grippingly bitter finish. This beer is definitely a sipper, it is so thick and rich that you need to savor each sip. The astringent finish seems to also be derived from a hint of dark malt character that manifests itself as a bit of roast coffee. Other than the ample bitterness there seems to be a ton of flavor hops in this beer as well, it is just that the ample, thick, sweet malt character seems to drown out most of the hop character. The hop flavors that are in here remind me most of pine, but there are some herbal notes and some menthol like character here as well.

I don't know how I am going to finish a 22oz bottle of this, very slowly I guesss. It is just so rich and thick, but it is still enjoyable.

Photo of wrightst
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of Gavage
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear deep burgandy color with a two finger head that lasted quite a while, which usually doesn't happen with a barleywine.Some moderate lacing developed during the session.

Smell: caramel candy,alcohol, and strong bitterness are easily detectable.

Taste: tons of caramel and fruit sweetness nicely balanced with a strong pine bitterness, and wrapped in a soft layer of alcohol. This is surprising hoppy but it works well. Alcohol becomes more noticeable as it warms.

Mouthfeel: mostly smooth with a bit of light crispness at the start. The flavors last long into the aftertaste. Heavy bodied.

Drinkabililty: for a barleywine, quite good but it will sneek up on you. Slow sipper, but when the bottle was gone I could have had another glass. Simply a must buy.

Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of stakem
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brownish red color with a yellow stained head. Slight spotty lace upon the glass. Nose is full of citrus hops similar to grapefruit. Nice amount of malt sweetness filling out the rest of the aroma. Taste is better hoppy citrus like grapefruit upfront with ample malt sweetness to back it. Finishes bitter and quite boozy both in warmth and in taste. Medium to heavy feel with this beast and low amount of carbonation. Pretty good overall. Nice fresh hop and alcohol kick. Some time spent in the cellar would have worked some magic for this beer im sure.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, bought at the Lone Hill Liquors, in Glendora, CA, poured into a Duvel tulip,

A: Pours a dark brown, quite clear when held up to the light, with a thick, 2-finger, white-tan head, which leaves great rings on concentric lacing, as the barleywine is drunk.

S: Smells of heavy malt, molasses and dark fruits, like figs and prunes.

T: The malt hits heavy at first, followed by some mellow, smooth alcohol notes that are not overdone, the hops are there, they are quite bitter and piney, but they are understated, even at 90 IBus, they work to perfectly balance the malt, probably the most balanced American barleywine that I have ever had.

M: Smooth, very smooth, mildly solventy, quite resiny, piney and chewy from the hops. It is also thick and full-bodied, as expected from a barleywine.

D: A great barleywine, drinkable even in the heart of summer, well balanced and smooth.

Photo of mothman
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into one of my goblets.

Pours 1/2 finger of slight tan head. Not the best retention, but it does leave some splattered lace. Color is a burnt caramel ruby. Very hazed.

Aroma: big hop profile with a very sweet malt style represented. Also has some caramel with some fresh fruits.

Taste: Huge floral hop taste with a big amount of caramel malts. This is a big beer with a ton of flavor. A lot of fruits blend into the caramel.

Mouthfeel: Quite bitter and crisp. Full bodied with a good amount of carbonation. A little booze shows. Ends with a fruity hoppy aftertaste that is slightly dry.

Overall, not a bad barlywine but to me it is nothing too special. I'd easily drink it again, but nothing I would go crazy for. I think trying this fresh would be a fun experience.

Photo of dmorgan310
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of yourefragile
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review from notes 1/22/11. Thanks to THECPJ for sharing. 2010 vintage.

A: Hazy reddish/dark amber in color in color. Half finger of head forms with good retention. Decent foamy lace down the sides.

S: Quite hoppy! Some citrus aroma along with a good bit of malt - caramel and bread. Also get a good bit of alcohol on the nose as well.

T: Taste is similar to aroma. Get a ton of caramel and some toffee. The bread flavor is sweet and there is also a grass/citrus hop flavor.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, I liked the flavor profile, it is very complex, especially for a barleywine. My problem was how present the alcohol was. It was a struggle to drink this one, I look forward to having one with some age on it.

Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle, w/o vintage or any other info. Pours dark honey/amber, dark tan, fine head, leaving scattered and fine/wispy lacing. Malty nose, with a hint of earthy funk as it warms. Smooth. mellow and quite tasty Bwine. Plenty of smokey malts, hints of scotch and leather. Thoroughly pleasing sipper, fine night capper, went well with some aged chedder

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 BARFLYB
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz dusty bottle with old label from New Jersey into two Duvel snifters, split with oglmcdgl

Into the glass, Ruffian comes out a pretty dark shade of brown with some lighter shades towards the sides. A nice thick head of tan foam with retention, slight stick.

This is a str8 up American Barleywine with the hop scent OR gives off. Even with over a year of age the piney hops still are bright. Under that, brilliant caramel malt, toffee, plum, dark fruit and more hops. Smells like a older winner.

Old Ruffian is much more complex in taste than smell, it's very misleading. The hops reign supreme, Piney and even citrusy, I cant imagine what this was fresh. Caramel, Toffee, plum, dark fruit, chocolate, alcohol slightly, these all integrate with grace.

Feel is above medium, sticky, coating, and pretty well carbed. Alcohol seeps on the tounge a bit, thats the only downfall but thats something a few years can handle.

I drank half the bottle and wanted more. Very drinkable now with age, but young could pose luppilin threshold. Im going to pick up some more dusty bottles for aging.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great Divide : Old Ruffian

22oz bomber. 2012 Vintage
Pours a hazed dirty reddish shade. A few inches of dense creamy froth form, and it isn't going anywhere. Leaves behind a fair amount of lace.
Aroma of bread, caramel and over ripe cherry. Mild toasted aroma as well.
In the flavor, cherry like fruitiness , a bit of toast and strong clean alcohol. The hop presence is noteworthy; earth, citrus, roots and solidly bitter. Anise, caramel and toffee flavors work with the hop bitterness to counter the alcohol presence. Sweet flavors are big but then the hops dry the beer out in earthy fashion. The 10% abv is noticeable in the taste, but not a major distraction, actually it's quite nice.

Carbonation is low, hop bitterness does outlast the sticky sweetness, actually sticky in an earthy, resinous sense. Drying feel and has a elegant creamyness and very large indeed. This is a BBB big beautiful beer. A nice brew to sip upon, knowing full well I couldn't do it for long in public; bad things would happen. Definitely a classic American Barleywine.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,173 ratings.