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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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2,117 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,117
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 227
Gots: 310 | FT: 15
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: 2,117 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of barefootbrewer
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured clear amber with a monster head. The aroma is malty and caramel with a slight hint of fruitiness. The taste is strong of hops, but the malt is perceptible in the background. The mouthfeel is full and the alcohol is noticeable – along with the carbonation. This is a delicious beer that is quite intense. This intensity might drop it a bit on the drinkablity scale, but I still highly recommend it!

Photo of leedorham
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of heysuz
4.25/5  rDev +1%

Photo of McNazz
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of webmanspidey
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a chalice. Dark brown with the perfect amount of fizzy head. This looks perfect. Smell is a nice combination of sweet honey, hops, grain, molassses/syrup. Taste is bitingly bitter at first but heavy and malty. There is a strong alcohol content but it is very smooth and drinkable, not having any problem with it. Thick and creamy mouthfeel.

This is a really great beer. I'm going to seek it out again. It is actually not as bitter and extreme as others in the style I've had but it is probably one of the best.

Photo of Backer2004
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can find this anytime at our local Organic Marketplace, not sure why though. Pours very typicaly, orange brown, very thin lacing and carbonation, nothing too exciting . . . then, Bam, wow that smells amazing, lots of fruits (plums and figs especially). Right away this is some powerful stuff, very warming in the throat. Doesn't make Bigfoot status with taste yet, but another review of this aged should help it. Though cold at first, flavors definitely come out. Could age a bit, but with it being fresh it's still some outstanding stuff.

Photo of tewaris
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Ruffian brewed by Great Divide Brewing Co. tops Beeradvocate's list of American Barleywines at the moment. At 10.2 % ABV and 85-90 IBUs, this is quite a beer. I bought a bottle about 2 years ago that's at least 3 years old now because Great Divide changed their labels by the August of 2008 and this one has an older label, and no dates. One of the more accessible beers, I had no trouble getting a recent bottle for this tasting.

22 oz. bombers: 2007 winter or older (minimum, and most likely 3 years old) poured into a 25 oz. snifter and 2010 winter release (bottled 11/08/2010) poured into a Duvel tulip.

The older version was noticeably darker and hazier than the better looking newer one. Both poured amber-brown with different degrees of clarity but both had huge light brown heads and excellent, excellent lacing. Sticky lace decorated the glasses while chunks of foam floated on the surface, hiding garnet highlights beneath them. Some legs could be noticed when the heads subsided.

It's amazing that the older one still had hops in its aroma! And lots of sweet caramel and fruity goodness. Figs came up with warmth, and the aroma was overall quite rich and complex. On the other hand the newer one was bigger on hops and sharpness of alcohol, but that's pretty much about it, especially in comparison to older.

Both tasted equally bitter on palate with older one displaying less aggressiveness at the beginning, and letting the sweetness come through while the new one turned everything in its path bitter, up to the back of the throat. Older was mellow and flavorful, but none was exceptional. The fruitiness didn't shine in either but was present in both, obviously stronger in the older while hop flavor, specifically citrus rind notes, stronger in the newer.

Carbonation was spot on, no doubt. And the older hadn't lost any. Even though the older one seemed sweeter, it tasted more attenuated. Both finished quite clean and drinkability was good FWIW. Alcohol didn't interfere but I don't find much to look forward to. Maybe I don't like American Barleywines all that much, but in the end, this is definitely a well done beer.

Old: 4, 4.5, 4, 4, 4
New: 5, 4, 4, 4, 4

Scores in the review are averages.

Photo of jnardone235
4.25/5  rDev +1%

Photo of aubuc1
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bomber in to a goblet.

Pours a hazy ruby deep brown with a steady, creamy and lacing offwhite head.

The smell of grapefruit and oranges mixed with pine and bicuit malt.

Taste is strong hops initially, then a bitter lightly chocolate like malt with biscuit very present.

Dry, sort of chalky finish on a creamy mouthfeel.

The alcohol is initially in the taste, but seems to fade as the sip and taste take effect.

Photo of everetends
3.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle I picked up from Green's about 4 or 5 months ago. My lady has been getting into Barleywines lately, which is awesome. When we were looking around for some good BWs, I realized that I had never had an Old Ruffian. Wierd, huh? Well, today is the day. Served up in a snifter.

A: Once I pop the cap, interestingly enough a bit of foam builds up almost immediately in the bottle. I take this as a warning and pour slowly, little did I know this was not necessary. Had to get a little mre aggressive at about halfway through the pour to build the finger and a half of off white/cream colored head that builds. After a few minutes that fall to about a finger or so of very long lasting foamy goodness. Foam is pretty tight. Has some really nice coating and sheeting on the glass, but it does slowly slide back into the top cap. Now on to the body. The body is a very nice lighter caramel brow with a really nice orangish/red hue pouring through. Actually when held to the light, the color doesn't change much at all, which is very interesting and something I don't see too often. Actually can't see through to the other side, although light gets through. You can also see a slow carbonation activity in here. Very . . . very nice.

S: Smell is nice. Getting some honey and floral aromas coming out first and foremost. Those smells are soaked in an alcohol, almost bourbon like aroma. Getting more hops than I expected, but reading the bottle I should have been aware. Little bit of floral and a good amount of citrus. Nice meaty orange and touch of lemon zest. Behind that is a really nice infusion of what appears to be pine and caramel. That combination is very aromatic and quite beautiful.

T: From the nose, I was expecting more of a boozy flavor to come through but it is pretty tame (which is a good thing). First and foremost you get the hops. Citrus first off with some orange and lemon. Behind that, you get that pine. Nice and resiny. Caramel malts come through along with some nuttiness coming out, but this is more hop forward. Little bit of honey and spice on the backend. There is a touch of booziness but it isn't as high as in the nose, and it doesn't have that bourbon presence in the flavor (which may be a bad thing). Still, very tasty.

M: Full bodied and creamy. Yes, has a rich creaminess. Carbonation is light to medium, throwing in just a touch of fizz to lighten it a bit. ABV is medium. Just enough heat on the throat and belly to warm you, but not enough to burn you out. Shocking since it sits over 10%. Aftertaste is a bit of honey and pine.

D: Very good beer if you ask me. I don't know if it absolutely crushes other American Barleywines out there. Still it is up there and is quite enjoyable. As the drinking experience goes on, getting through the bomber (my lady wasn't into this one due to the hops presence) was a bit of a chore. This beer does tend to wiegh heavir and heavier as the experience goes on. Still its damn good in the other arenas.

Photo of minterro
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of AlaskanYoung
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of mixed_master7
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of DenverHopHead
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle with a bottled on date of 12/12/13; into a pint glass.
Appearance - crimson in color with a thick, cream colored head! Nice mild carbonation and lacing is superb!
Smell - fruity hops in the nose, with some sweet cereal malts!
Taste - powerful beer with loads of flavor! Excellent arrangement of bitter hops, calming malts and warming alcohol!
Feel - complex, flavorful brew and not as heavy as I initially suspected!
Overall - I don't usually seek out barley wines, but this one will open my eyes to the style!

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

Pour a hazy amber color. Big foamy head with very decent retention.

Smell is of sweet malt/bread and hops. Slightly floral slightly citric.

Taste is both big sweetness and hoppiness right up front. Brew could pass for a DIPA. Carmel malt taste and some fruitiness completment the big hoppiness well.

Very smooth but full bodied. Slight oily feel. Hops help finish somewhat dry.

Good brew for the start it up or shut it down. Delicious.

Photo of alexsergio
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of Dave1999
4.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a ruby red with a big foamy white head, looks fantastic an't wait to taste it.

The smell is sweet and malty, with a huge does of grassy, earthy hops. The smell is so rich and powerful.

The taste is sweet and malty, finished with a good level of bitterness. Perfectly balanced and delicious.

The mouthfeel is smooth with low carbonation.

Overall this may be my new favourite beer, perfectly balanced and delicious. The sweetness and bitterness are bang on, and drink great. The abv is very well hidden as well.

Photo of mmcnaughton
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter glass. No freshness or bottling date to be found, so I can't be sure how old the bottle is. The label is the older style; still, this is a beer that should age well for quite some time, and the label change is rather recent. Most likely a 2008 bottling. The last bottle in-stock at Vineyard Wine and Beverage in Evans, GA for $5.99, the best price I could find locally.

Pours a deep reddish hue, leaning a bit into the brown territory though not quite making it. A bit hazy, middling between translucency and opacity. Shows off a full two fingers of rich, creamy light beige foam, receding slowly to a thin cap and leaving thick, nearly sheet-like rings of lace along the walls of the glass.

Aroma hints at a bit of age: rich, sweet caramel malts with notes of dark, dried fruits, mostly figs. Hop notes are apparent, but it is here that the age seems to show, with earthy hop notes and some mustiness evident of oxidation.

Rich, full-bodied and chewy, with a very light carbonation. Malts play heavily on the palate, with a hefty caramel sweetness up front, sliding easily into fruity esters of dark fruits, with notes of fig and prune. The middle fills in with a bold balancing of hops, bitter and earthy, with just a hint of resin, and drying things out to lead into a dry, bittersweet finish with a lingering maltiness with some smoky notes and earthy hop notes.

Wonderfully complex and delicious, this makes a perfect dessert and nightcap, or just a nicely balanced, big beer for any lover of malt or hops. Could easily age for at least a few years; I'd love to sample a fresher version as well as one cellared a while longer. Quite easy-drinking, though heavy on the head at such a hefty 10.2% ABV. As I poured more into my snifter after the initial half-glass, I thought I had consumed half the bottle already; I was quite mistaken, and as I poured the final two-thirds I realized my error. A bomber goes down quite easily, though my full stomach and heavy head are now regretting that ease. It's a pleasant regret, though. No worries.

Photo of brownbeer
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 5-15-07

A- Amber with a thick, frothy tan head with good retention.

S- Rich doughy, caramel malt with a pretty big spicy hop presence still.

T&M- Full bodied malt sweetness up front and rounds out to a balanced finish. The fruity hop flavor and bitterness comes out more as it warms.

D- This beer ages very well and is a pleasure to drink. I'll definately be picking up more of this vintage for the cellar. Recommended.

Photo of OgreSanchez
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of cherche
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of Travisnin
4/5  rDev -5%

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.

Photo of drmcleod10
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,117 ratings.