1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,976 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,976
Reviews: 1,038
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 207
Gots: 278 | FT: 12
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:
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 added by: gbontrag on 11-28-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Ruffian Barley Wine Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,976 | Reviews: 1,038 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mothman
mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2009 00:43:53 | More by mothman
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

3.65/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2005 02:30:07 | More by ppoitras
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB

Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2011 23:43:32 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2013 22:49:38 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of BillRoth
BillRoth

Maryland

4/5  rDev -5.2%

09-26-2013 00:48:19 | More by BillRoth
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Potters clay colour with sepia toned topping. The mousse texture gives out much quicker than is desired, leaving but trace outlining to bound trims of metallic copper. Indirect to light, it is blended with equal parts cumin and nutmeg. With some brightness behind it, it warms with the light glisten of polished redwood.

The smell is a sticky, sweet, syrupy, concoction of both malt and hops. The late Mitch Hedberg said that "two in one is a bullshit term because two can't fit into one" - I now have to disagree. What I have in front of me has hops - which impart way over-ripened fruits and buckets of tree resin - and I also have sugar coated malts - roasted just enough to invoke ghost scents of smoke and ever-present dark caramel.

Each sip both scares and relaxes me equally the same, in that order. The taste is huge, and practically overwhelming for all intents and purposes. Decadently rich dark caramel is enhanced by the underlying spiciness of resin coated hops. The alcohol seems to wind up a big punch. The bitterness begins to weigh a ton...

...but then you swallow. You smack your tongue and lick your lips. Your chest unwinds. Your eyebrows might raise a little as you think 'wow, this is nice'. It is equally sweet and bitter. The alcohol turns out to be shy. Dark caramel succumbs to candy apples, rum soaked raisins, and chocolate covered nuts. You feel gratified with each sip. You feel a stronger man. And certainly more relaxed.

This is definitely not suitable for those recovering from surgery. Actually, yes, it is incredibly suitable for those recovering from surgery. Its over 10% is disguised by waves of fruity, decadently sweet scents and accompanied alongside by candied citrus and chocolate covered nuts. If you enjoy barleywines you'll have a tough time finding a better example than this. Trust me.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2008 01:44:55 | More by biegaman
Photo of John_M
John_M

Oregon

3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2005 version of this beer at the Hard Liver Festival at Browers.

Considering that this beer supposedly had two years of aging under its belt, you'd never guess it. The color had not lightened at all, and the beer was still very fresh and hoppy (the hoppiest barleywine I tried at this festival). The beer was still quite sweet, but the hoppiness definitely kept if from getting too cloying or tiring to drink. Gorgeous lacing and great head retention, the beer only got better as it sat in the glass.

This was a very good beer that I think would only benefit from a few more years of aging. Hops need to become better integrated, but this is still a very good barleywine.

Third place finish I believe at the Hard Liver festival.

Serving type: on-tap

03-18-2007 19:20:08 | More by John_M
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating(but presumed to be Dec 2009 bottling). Pours fairly hazy brick red color with a nice 1 finger dense khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some pretty nice lacing on the glass. Aromas of huge caramel, raisin, biscuit, toast, molasses, honey, pine, grapefruit, earth, herbal, toffee, and light spiciness. Fantastic and well balanced aromas with big complexity. Taste of huge caramel, raisin, molasses, toast, biscuit, herbal, grapefruit, earth, and light pine resin spiciness. Minimal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, molasses, toast, raisin, biscuit, grapefruit, herbal, earth, and light spiciness on the finish for a while. Fantastic flavor balance and complexity; with no cloying sweetness at all. Medium carbonation and full bodied; with a nice creamy, slick, and thick mouthfeel. Quite smooth to sip on; with only an moderate alcohol warming present after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely fantastic barely wine with the age on it. The hoppy flavors smoothed out into perfect balance; with great complexity. Magnificent.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2012 02:13:20 | More by superspak
Photo of brandoman63
brandoman63

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

11-20-2011 04:08:06 | More by brandoman63
Photo of rab53
rab53

Washington

5/5  rDev +18.5%

12-01-2011 06:29:21 | More by rab53
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard

Colorado

4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very vibrant off reddish/amber pour from a bomber bottle. 2 finger head that seemed to ooze aroma.
Aroma: I smell hops, some roasted malt, berries and alcohol, among other things.
This is a hop loaded barley wine. some herbs up front along with a touch of malt. the piney/citrus hops dominate this brew. some soft fruits like berries and plums are available, but not too widespread.
Crisp taste nips the alcohol in the bud, warming but not burning.
I could drink this one all night, and be completely smashed. Great beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2006 19:08:08 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of beerthulhu
beerthulhu

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark cherry red color with a thin light beige head head.

S: Some citrus, dry pine on nose.

T: Nice sticky pine resin flavor, dry, with some oak cherry wood notes. Dry pine, alcohol is well hidden for 10.2 abv. Some floral bittering with citrus hints in the finish. Sweet caramel and toffee round out the mouthful for a creamy rich body. Good malt complexity and and woodiness.

M: Mouthful is sticky and dry with some caramel sweetness.

D: Very drinkable until you finish and alcohol hits you. Some alcohol bite upon warming.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2008 00:10:43 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Bottling date or freshness, not mentioned. Perhaps... like good cheese or wine.. it shall give forth it's gift later. But for now, the goods gotta be coming pronto so give it up, let's see what you got!

Out of the bottle Ruffian pours an easy four fingers of faint tan bubbles. Bubbles on head fall at a small pace but are all very uniform in size. Body is a great dark orange getting into a very nice red color. The body is opaque in character. Once excellent looking beer with real good lace.

Bouquet is, a faint stemmed fruit into sour cherry territory without the sourness but not even the sweetness. Malt chew sensation on the nose interestingly, borders between malt backbone and kreik territory, very fascinating. Dry spices of brown and a great earthy dirt quality.

Taste... DENSE!! big dense malt and a giant hop faint fruitness not of citrus but a some sort of combination red fruit, I am thinking borderline pomegranate. Hop lime bitterness really kicks in and with some rough wood tree bark notes. Gets into doughy territory but not quite. Very fascinating. Abv masked somewhat but not totally. A real kriek borderline Belgian lambic territory. Good stuff.

THis brewery never stops to leave me impressed. Like many others it just surprises me with every concoction they come up with.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2011 04:38:35 | More by smakawhat
Photo of Latarnik
Latarnik

New Jersey

4/5  rDev -5.2%

05-28-2014 22:21:07 | More by Latarnik
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear ruby red, medium off white head forms, lacing is nice. Smell is caramel, chocolate, floral and pine hops, alcohol, and some citrus, the hops are spectacular. Taste is toffee/chocolate/coffee malts with super piney and floral hop destruction, some alcohol is present. Mouthfeel is pretty thick, low carbonation, very excellent barleywine. Thanks DrJay!

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2005 22:05:52 | More by Viggo
Photo of mdaschaf
mdaschaf

Washington

3.8/5  rDev -10%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2011 00:32:38 | More by mdaschaf
Photo of Bighuge
Bighuge

Minnesota

4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Rustic looking auburn/burgandy blend. A slight creamy cigarette stained beige head recedes to a collar quickly. And this collar leaves some adequate lacing for a barleywine. This beer's aroma has caramel and nougat oozing out of every pore...with every pore being comprised of hop resin. My kind of aroma. The flavor profile is everything I look for in a barleywine. Deep blanket of caramel, toffee, nougat and fruit tones. But this blanket doesn't completely cover up the hop tones...no, it merely shades them. Those pine cone, resinous, rind-like qualities are present. But not in a Big Huge way in which you might find them in a DIPA. The bitterness is pretty clean, but very evident. Even though this barleywine is checking in close to 100 IBUs, this is a malt driven Barleywine, which really hits home with me. The alcohol is noticeable, but definitely not overbearing and quite fitting in the context of this beer. Mouthfeel is quite agreeable. A slight prick of CO2 is felt and the body is about medium-full. This is an excellent, excellent barleywine. One of the absolute best I've had.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2005 04:15:33 | More by Bighuge
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
Beerandraiderfan

Nevada

4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice scarlet appearance with good clarity and 1" head to it. Aroma was kinda muted, didn't take much away from it but caramel and a nice lack of alcohol given its strength.

Taste, pretty enjoyable, rich and smooth. Alcohol, as usual w/ great divide, is hidden extremely well. Decent hopping to it, but clearly a barleywine. Stays away from sweetness, delivers some vanilla and finishes dry. Really keeps the bitterness and alcohol so suppressed on the tongue. Cocoa powder?

One of the best and decently priced barleywines out there. With this and Bigfoot around, you have to wonder how someone can do better at such a price and wide availability. Dethrone Rarity!

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2011 22:19:48 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of DrJay
DrJay

Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mostly clear, deep red/brown with a hint of orange highlights. Dense tan head with great lacing and retention. Malty aroma with intense hoppiness, some pine, orange citrus, and faint alcohol. Piney hop bitterness is way out front, but is balanced well by caramel and toffee. Juicy orange kicks in midway, and it ends with nuts and warm alcohol. The finish is dry and bitter with a caramel/orange combination. Moderately low carbonation, perfect in conjunction with the creamy texture. Overall it's a bit dry, but balanced well with malty sweetness. This is an awesome barleywine, highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2005 02:48:33 | More by DrJay
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with a mountain of thick, foamy, cascading, brownish head that has amazing retention. The nose has a heavy citrusy hop aroma as well as a faint caramelly, malty aroma with hints of pineapple and birthday cake. The flavor is malty, bready, and caramelly up front with some faint dark fruit notes followed by an intense hop character. The hops offer citrus, grapefruit, and pineapple as well as some piny, earthy notes. The hops leave the bitterness of an IPA behind on the palate well after the swallow. The alcohol is present but it mostly adds warmth and a slight bite to the finish. The mouthfeel is warm, medium to full bodied, and very smooth.

This is a well built barleywine. This will also keep the DIPA vs. Barleywine conversation going. The flavor is fantastic and I bet some time will calm the hops and marry the flavors a little. The alcohol is buried and only really shows up in the finish and in the warmth of the mouthfeel. It's drinkabe. Maybe dangerously so. I would definitely have this again.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2012 03:38:19 | More by tdm168
Photo of Kelp
Kelp

New Hampshire

3.25/5  rDev -23%

01-23-2013 05:38:22 | More by Kelp
Photo of JohnGalt1
JohnGalt1

Idaho

4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 received from Redwood21 in the LNBA BIF... Thanks David... This bottle has been refrigerated ever since so I could drink it as fresh as possible. Poured into my New Belgium snifter.

3 finger head towered probably 1/2" out of the glass and left behind tons of lace... the brew is a very pretty reddish amber.

Very "American" in the nose... huge C-hops... citrus and resiny piney hops... enough caramel to be noticed but it's blown out of the water by the tidal wave of hoppiness.

Flavor is also very assertive big American... quite a bit of bitterness even for the style.. great maltiness and quite a bit of caramel.. lower fruity esters melt into a bunch of piney hops and back into long estery and fruity/bitter finish.

The body is on the full side... lush though with smooth carbonation.. very rich from front to back.

Really an epitome of what any brewery should really shoot for.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2009 06:57:06 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of sendbeer
sendbeer

Georgia

4/5  rDev -5.2%

04-08-2013 00:32:49 | More by sendbeer
Photo of glid02
glid02

Georgia

4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Aroma's in Athens, GA. As evidenced by my bottle review I was curious to see how it stacked up.

Pours a hazy caramel-copper color with a one-finger yellowish-tinged head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with good amounts of herbal and leafy hop aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though a bit more complex. Caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined by toasty and bready flavors. Midway through the sip good amounts of leafy, pine, and herbal hop flavors join in along with hints of milk chocolate. The hop flavors take over more toward the end of the sip before ending with a solid bitterness.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a thicker than average mouthfeel with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall the beer I had on-tap seemed to pop a lot more than the bottle and held a good deal more complexity. Be sure to give this one another fair shot if you weren't terribly impressed the first time around.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2010 20:10:43 | More by glid02
Photo of afsdan
afsdan

Colorado

4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

03-21-2014 03:08:48 | More by afsdan
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,976 ratings.