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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: 2,299
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 259
Gots: 384 | 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: 2,299
Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours hazy deep orange with a medium large off-white head with a fast dissipation, little lacings.

S: Oaky notes together with rich sweet syrupy malt. Lots of dark dried fruits - rasins and figs. Floral, fruity hops.

T: Molasses, syrupy sweet rich caramell malt. Piney and citric notes from the floral hops balanced with a healty dose of bitter hops. Dark dried fruits - mostly raisins.

M: Long rich aftertaste with sweet bitterness. Body is full and carbonation is moderate.

D: A very nice American Barleywine that possibly could benefit from a couple of years in my beer-cellar - otherwise - a nice product. (620 characters)

Photo of Gobzilla
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured brown with ruby highlights that had a nice finger of head and did left some bubblt lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma was quite hoppy with malts and caramel notes popping up alongside apple, slight citrus, and pine notes as well. Well this barelywine is really hoppy but rich in flavor from the caramel but it did have slight apple, citrus, pine, grassy, boozy, and sweet malts accents. The brew was medium to full in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, hoppy, slight boozy, and rich finish. It drank pretty good considering the ABV and hop punch but this type of character in a barelywine doesn't really tickle my pickle. (656 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 DrJay
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
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. (599 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark brown color with a tan colored head. The aroma is absolutely loaded with malt, dark fruits, caramel and hops. The taste starts out smooth and malty, and the finish is dominated by a lingering hop bitterness that packs quite a bite and hangs around long after the sip is over. The predominately malty nose is deceiving, as the taste packs quite a punch from the hops. Overall, this is another solid American Barleywine that does not lack in flavor or character. "Extreme beer" at it's finest. Recommended. (556 characters)

Photo of Viggo
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
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! (365 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
4.79/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle(room temp) a gorgeous ruby red-brown with a sizeable head that dissipated after about 10 minutes into a fine layer with lacing.

The smell that came from this brew is awesome! I note fruit, hops, and sweet caramel malt that has me spending more time with my nose in the glass than a person oughta shoulda. ;^)

And....the promise from the smell does NOT fail to tranfer itself to the taste in big bold fashion. The sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops just works so darn well together that I literally have to pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming. Then, add the fruity tones(hard to say which is dominant. Grapefruit, plum, other?) to the mix and here, imho, is a Barley Wine Style Ale that sets the standard by which all others should be judged. And I'm a BIG fan of SN Bigfoot

Btw, the +10% abv doesn't even come into play as far as the taste goes and that's *another* testament to how great this brew really is.

Life is good. :^) (994 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.87/5  rDev +15.1%
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. (1,094 characters)

Photo of Haybeerman
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brown color with ruby highlights. Poured a 3 finger rocky yellowish head that dissipated fairly quickly. Inconsisnten lacing.

S: Very with citrus, grapefruit and apple. Piney hops follow along with caramel/roasted malts.

T: Very hoppy beginnings; pine and grapefruit. Sweet caramel malts and fruity esters come to bear in the middle that hoild on slightly to aq big bitter finsish. Warming alcohol.

M: Light body (almost thin). Ample carbonatrionouthfeel.

D: The abv's a bit high, but interesting enough drink. I've not had a lot of barley wines, but this ones the best I've had. (586 characters)

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
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! (666 characters)

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The color is a dark ruby with a large, light brown head. Aroma is packed with hop smells, citrusy and piney hops duke it out for domination. An underlying rich malt is noted underneath the thick hop smell. Taste is equally hoppy, with a long hoppy finish. A rich underlying malt body is also a treat to taste. Dark fruit flavor is also in the mix, with just a hint of alcohol (I'm really surprised this is 10.4%). Anyway, this beer is a hop head's dream and another one of those beers that can get you in trouble with it's deceptive lack of alcohol flavor. (556 characters)

Photo of Brad007
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 version (before the label change)

Pours a medium reddish color with a thick two-finger head into my glass.

Aroma is strong with a hint of raisin and sweet malt in the nose. Grassy hops show in the nose as well. Seems very appealing and to the style.

Taste is strong with alcohol showing up front, giving way to grassy hops and raisin/sweet malt. Alcohol warmth coats the throat. Hops aren't too strong.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering hops, alcohol and raisin. Alcohol is still strong even with nearly two years on this beer (unless I'm wrong?).

Again, a very nice barleywine that could use more aging to it. Strong, hoppy and has a lot of cellaring potential. Check it out. (683 characters)

Photo of scruffwhor
3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- A cognac and brandy amber/honey hue with sa few bubbles moving to the top when the barley wine is colder. Some mild head, about one finger of eggshell white. Solid ring of foam though.

Smell- A thick mix of Pacific Northwest hops and alcohol hit the nose. Some more spice Christmas spices like cinnamon hit the nostrils as well.

Taste- Plenty of mild malts fermented to bring out a strong alcocolic tang to give the drinker a feeling of Winter in the Summertime. This beer is perfect by a fire while Mother Nature unloads a foot of snow on your front lawn.

This tasted like a young barley wine. But I did by another bottle for aging and will review when I have aged one. (694 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, unfortunately the date on the label is smudged but I think it says it was bottled sometime in November 2010. I've had the bottle for at least a year so I think that's the correct bottling date. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a dark reddish/amber color with about a half inch light tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The brew smells like dark fruit (prunes, raisins), brown sugar, pine hops, caramel malt and some sherry. For the most part it tastes just like the aroma, but there's also a slight bitter taste that I don't care for. It doesn't seem like a hoppy bitter flavor, there just seems something a little bit off about it. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit chewy and has good carbonation. Overall I think it's a good enough brew. I'll have to try this again in the future, maybe a fresher (or older) bottle will be better. (870 characters)

Photo of glid02
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
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. (1,084 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bomber received in trade with iguenard - 2010 edition

Appearance - Hazy brown colour with a good size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some really good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, leather, anise, caramel/butterscotch

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, butterscotch/caramel, and raisins. There is also some anise, cherry, and a decent amount of hops.

Overall - Wow, holding up incredibly well. This tastes fantastic! Wish I had a few more bottles from 2010 (or from any year) (647 characters)

Photo of claspada
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated Jan 07 2010.

Pours a hazy tawny, rustic mahogany with a substantial creamy, fluffy off-white head that leaves some nice sticky/soapy lacing on the sides of the chalice.

Aromas begin quite heavy on the caramel and dark fruity malts, as you might anticipate from being aged for 2 years plus. Second pass I get a light citrus and pine hop presence which still remains, which makes me think this was a hop bomb fresh. As it warms I get more complex maltiness highlighted by brown sugar, toffee and figs/dates. A decent amount of toasted breadiness is present throughout with no real booze or heat to speak of.

The tastes directly follow the nose with big toffee, dark caramel and brown sugar maltiness. You then get a light but substantial enough bitterness on the back end, enough that I can pick out the pine and light blood orange hop flavors. Toasted bready and the dark fruit flavors are once again present, no alcohol whatsoever. More bitter than I expected still but not too much so for the style. Fresh this may have been too bitter for the style, but aged here it is at a perfect level.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a surprisingly medium level of carbonation. The slight extra bit of carbonation helps this from being too sweet, which is important because barleywines can become too sweet with this much age on them. Finish is lightly sweet but more so lightly bitter.

Overall this is one of the best American Barleywines out there. Not quite up to the level of the Alaskan Barleywine which I consider the top, but really close. Really nice flavor profile, pine/citrus bitterness to complement the sweet caramel/toffee maltiness. Just a great showing overall. (This beer once again helps to prove my theory that American Barleywines peak at 2 years of age, so I will continue to follow that practice of waiting until that maturity date to sample going forward and recommend all to do the same for maximum enjoyment.) Definitely a must try for fans of the style and another high quality brew from Great Divide. (2,048 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4.79/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer disembarks the 22-ounce brown bottle a smoggy rusty-red with a Brobdingnagian light tan frothy head that after it deliquesces, the lace forms a sticky sheet that seals tightly to the glass. Nose is hop floral with hints of fusel alcohol, sweet malt backs it up, start is delightfully sweet and the malt profile significant and the top middling in feel to the palate. Finish is emphatic in its acidity and the hops robust in their spiciness, very dry aftertaste that lingers long on the taste buds, and the high ABV leaves a nice warming sensation, a top notch Barley Wine in my humble opinion. (602 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 VeganUndead
4.19/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First time trying it having a 2012, 6 months old, next to a 2010. A sipper with only a few months on it, still has a significant hop profile, but once the IBU's diminish over time this stuff goes down real easy. Grab a few bottles and hide them for a few years. Great brew, cheers! (281 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into a Rochefort glass.

This beer is a muddy brown color that is not entirely appealing. The head is a very light tan with little retention or lacing.

The aroma has a little malts on the front with a very "off" hopish flavor. Its hops but one that is very unique almost tarry.

The taste is also tarry, piney with a lots of hops.

The feel is heavy but drinkability is done.

Overall this is ok, but nothing super special. (458 characters)

Photo of avalon07
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a coppery color and a thick, cloudy consistency. There was about a half inch of foamy, long-lasting head and some good lacing.

S: Strong smell of hops, caramel and other elements. Very robust.

T: Like the smell, the flavor packs a punch. A large amount of hops, along with malt, caramel and a piney aspect. Very complex.

M: A large amount of carbonation and a smooth finish. Very full-bodied.

D: While I've found I can't drink that many barleywine beers in one sitting, this is a still a good example of one. It has an unusual (for the style) flavor, but is still eminently drinkable. (634 characters)

Photo of THECPJ
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes 1/22/2011

A: malty, sweet, caramel, and much hoppier than expected for a barley wine

Ap: reddish-brown with maybe ½ finger head

B/T: mild carbonation, medium body

Af: not very easily drinkable, dry with hints of citrus and pine hops, quite unusual

O: not my preferred style of beer, glad to try it, but probably wouldn't have it again.

Cheers!
The CPJ (379 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, cap says $5.89...i feel like i bought this in south bend, which means pre 8/1/05, been in the cellar fridge since

appearance: pours a rusty deep crimson colour into my chalice, foamy beige head, that leaves a heavy lace around the rim... a fine looking specimen indeed

smell: very rich and inviting...the first thing that hits my nose is a very heavy aroma of super-sweet caramel malt, very bready, big hop profile comes next...heavy citrus-grapefruit/orange, lots of other strong dark fruit coming through such as apple and grape. alcohol noticeable but not abrasive

taste: very tasty and very smooth...sweet and thick caramel-apple malt dominates the tongue, sweet and bready, very syrupy, twisted citrus hops with a strong pine sap presence, potent dark fruit, hop bitterness, alcohol present, caramel, toffee, a solid malt driven barleywine

mouthfeel: very smooth and creamy, slight alcohol burn, hop bitterness

drinkability: about right for the style (983 characters)

Photo of ccrida
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber that I've cellared for only a few months poured into my Piraat snifter, Old Ruffian is a bright clear ruby with a khaki, large bubbled head that quickly settles to a tight skim, leaving fairly thick lace.

Smell is very rich, slightly sour caramel maltiness with loads of fruit, figs and black cherries, as well as a healthy dose of alcohol and a bit of NW hops.

Taste is also rich but very balanced and smooth for a hoppy American BW, with a strong piny hop presence and a dry, lingering finish. Paired very nicely with one of my all time favorite cigars, a Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real maduro, equally smooth and spicy.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with a lighter body, almost cask like.

Drinkability is high. I poured my first glass and was quickly interrupted, taking a good hour before I could really get back into it. Served at cellar temp, it only got better as I let it sit, warm and open up...what was at first an annoyance turned out to be my good fortune, as it's too tasty a BW for me to have otherwise let sit that long! (1,050 characters)

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