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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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2,008 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,008
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 212
Gots: 288 | FT: 13
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
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Ratings: 2,008 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CB2maltygoodness
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

CB2maltygoodness, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of mverity
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Nice creamy head, and gorgeous deep amber brown hue. Aroma is malty goodness and brown sugar. Taste also wonderful, sweet, fruity, toasty, hoppy, and a touch earthy. Smooth, it coats the tongue in a rich caramel feeling. This had about 6 months on it, which took down a bit of the holiness, in a very good way.

mverity, Jun 02, 2013
Photo of Crimsontider22
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Crimsontider22, Jul 13, 2014
Photo of Williaar
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Williaar, Mar 22, 2014
Photo of LittleDon
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep red and clear, light carbonation. Fluffy khaki colored head with good retention. Aroma of apples and some licorice. Starts off with a bit of carbonation tingle. The middle to end is truly interesting. It starts with a brief malty molasses-like sweetness. This is followed by a slow and long hop punch, with bittersweet molasses counter punches. The licorice shows up again in the finish. This is all followed by a warming alcohol sensation after the finish.

LittleDon, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of gshak
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As I continue to wind down my cellar collection, this one caught my eye: a 2010 vintage of Old Ruffian. Was hoping to cellar it for another 2 years, but what the heck, it's been a while since I enjoyed a solid American barley wine. Let's see how this one has held up in all these years.

A - A non-vigorous pour into my Chimay chalice produced about a half-inch width of head that dissipated quickly leaving minimal lacing. Reddish amber in color. This may not be the prettiest pour, but for a beer at over 10% ABV, it is acceptable. 3.5/5

S - Oh yes, brings back memories of the first time I had this beer back in 2011. Loads and loads of sweet caramel, toffee with an earthy, citrusy, perfumey hop kick. Smells almost like a hoppy, imperial red ale. 4.5/5

T - I can already tell from the smell, that this one is going to be one heck of beer. And the taste doesn't disappoint. Taste follows the nose - it is like a concoction of sweet caramel blended in with orange/grapefruit rind. Initial blast of sweetness, immediately checked by the bitterness from the hops (oh yes, the hops haven't died down yet in this one). The sweetness hits the tip and sides of the tongue, while the bitterness holds center stage in the middle of the tongue. The after-taste of grapefruit zest lingers, bringing back the memories of summer 2011 when a buddy and I shared a bottle on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The taste has everything one would expect from a bold American barleywine. This one does not pull any punches back. 4.5/5

M - Oh so lush and full. The middling carbonation plays oh so perfectly with the beer. The flavors pop open on your palate. It is not sticky or chewy, but makes its presence felt every moment. 4.5/5

O - For reasons beyond a review, this beer to me remains a personal favorite. The folks at Great Divide sure know how to create a great, cellarable brew. Between this and their Yeti offerings, I may safely say, they have quenched this reviewer's cravings for a masterfully crafted american barleywine and imperial stout. 4.5/5

gshak, Dec 30, 2013
Photo of matty
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber colored beer with a rapidly fading head.Aroma is dominated by caramel malts.Taste is caramel,malts,hops,dark fruits and alcohol on the very end.This is a very good beer that was worth the 7.99 I paid for 22 oz.Like all the beers I have had from this brewery I recommend and would purchase again.

matty, Oct 27, 2009
Photo of elec
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

elec, May 28, 2012
Photo of ChadQuest
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter paired with 4 personally selected wisconson cheeses and crackers.

A-Amber colored with a lingering finger of head. nice lacing.

S-tropical fruit,caramel apple, and kettle moraine pine forest.

T- strong hops over a smooth caramel backbone that holds it all together. The hop/malt war is balanced perfectly for an american barleywine. Alcohol is hidden well.

M- Creamy and smooth, not quite syrupy but thicker and slick.

D- Drinkable for a 10% american barley wine thanks to how smooth and creamy the mouthfeel is, but very filling.

Awesome American Barley wine that sets the standard for me. To other Barley wines, good luck.

ChadQuest, Jan 25, 2010
Photo of mdwalsh
2.65/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Brown and copper, red when held up the the light. Great, creamy textured, light tan three finger head that is holding well with some active carbonation. Maybe a little haze, but it's hard to tell with the darkness of the brew.

S: Real thick malt character, slightly complex. Only sign of hops is a slight earthy/floralness, but not anything suggesting oncoming bitterness.

T: Is thin and bitter. It tastes like an artificial burnt coffee flavor. Terrible. All roast, no malt. More hop smell comes out with the combined olfactory-taste bud combination. A little alcohol warmth.

M: As I said, thin and watery. I'm having trouble keeping it in my mouth for too long though, so who knows.

D: Terrible, I am not looking forward to finishing this whole bomber.

mdwalsh, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of dtx00
4/5  rDev -5.2%

dtx00, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of CreightonSM
4/5  rDev -5.2%

CreightonSM, Apr 28, 2013
Photo of kylemckinnis
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

kylemckinnis, Jul 07, 2013
Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.44/5  rDev +5.2%
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!

MakeMineADoubleJack, Apr 22, 2014
Photo of Kinsman
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big foamy head with a pleasantly sticky lace sits nicely on top of a slightly hazed reddish copper color.

Big malty sweet aroma upfront before the citrusy and slightly herbal hop notes come in. Faint hint of alcohol in the background.

Well-hopped with some citrus fruitiness and good bitterness. Matched up with a strong malty backbone that gives of plenty of biscuity bread character and a healthy dose of caramel. Finishes a bit boozy.

Heavy mouthfeel with a creamy texture that helps it go down so well. Overall, Old Ruffian presents you with an excellent American Barleywine thats adds a little boost on a cold winters evening.

Kinsman, Jan 09, 2012
Photo of bmurray10
4/5  rDev -5.2%

bmurray10, Apr 22, 2013
Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 ounce bottle. Pale and murky off-brown, fused thick corral head. Sticky lacing, which included a sheet of sediment pasted to the bottom of the glass. Invigorating aroma of juicy hops, grapefruit, dark plums and tingly alcohol. Sweet lip numbing hops; loaded flavorings—oak and brown sugar combined with toffee and cherries noted up front; the palate is left with juicy grapefruit hops. The body is full and fulfilling; hop bitterness settles down nicely; sweet malts and anise, traces of alcohol are blended into the mixture. Massive flavoring that brings it's A game. A first class hopped-up Barley Wine that will put others to shame. Superb.

GeoffRizzo, Mar 05, 2006
Photo of JEdmund
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark orange/rust color; thick head, about an
inch and ¾; suds level out to a creamy pillow, leaving
rings of foam on glass after each swig; head reduces to
a light layer after a few minutes and drinks.

Smells floral and sweet, but not overly hoppy like I expected for an American style

Taste & Mouthfeel
Immediate zing with initial taste; strong flavor all the
way through, lasting after swallowing; hefty body and extremely pleasing texture; aftertaste reveals the high alcohol content; very powerful flavors with a lot of bite; toasted malts, honey, and toffee show up--very unique; nose begins to burn after each swallow; had a hard time putting my finger on the hoppy side of it...I know they're there, but they just taste a bit different (probably because of all the malt dominating the experience)

Twenty-two oz. in one sitting was way too much for me; it's definitely a sipper. At first the alcohol presence sort of added to the enormity of the beer, but then it just became too hot towards the end. It's certainly an assertive and full-flavored barley wine--easily the strongest I've ever tried.

***2007 Vintage Tasting - January 2013***
Really good looking color and appearance. I was expecting it to be muddy looking, given its age, but it looked fine. First sip reveals carbonation is alive and well and that the flavor has resisted oxidation. Second sip reveals that this beer has aged nicely! Very nicely. One of the better vintages I’ve had the pleasure of trying. Big malt notes of leather, tobacco, chocolate, sugar. It’s very smooth and sweet, though not cloying. Body is still pretty full. It’s a real pleasure to drink! Very surprised at how well this one held up in the cellar. Will have to do it again!

JEdmund, Mar 28, 2008
Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- A nice opaque maroon-brown with small sandy head. Laces nicely and sticks around. Great dark color on this, would be a higher rating if it didn't foam over when I opened the bottle.

S- Some bready, caramel malt. Nice citrusy hops in there too.

T- Sweet malt that's almost syrupy but not too sweet. Moves into a big hop punch with bitterness that balances out the sweetness in the malt. Hops are more herbal or leafy, but there a citrus touch to it (lemon zest?). Finishes with roasted malts on the end--toasted bread, hint of coffee. Definitely a little alcohol in there. A little dry on the finish. Good stuff.

M- A little over-carbonated for me. Prickly with an almost astringent finish.

D- The carbonation helps out here, actually--keeps it moving. Very tasty with many robust flavors. Worth seeking out.

LordAdmNelson, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of damienblack
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours like an apple cider would, a pale mapley brown that turns to a light amber when all the beer is poured. Huge head, frothy, foamy, great lacing. The smell is what gets me, though. Huge hophead aroma, it smells like a DIPA, not a barleywine. Piney and soapy, little bit of malt but it really cant get through.

To my uncultured taste buds, this is closer to a malty DIPA than a barleywine. By far, on the hoppier side rather than the maltier side. The malty sweetness is there, just buried under a layer of pleasent hop bity. Very piny on the back palate, while the sweetness lingers a bit on the front palate. A little bit leathery. I'm not the biggest fan of hoppy beers, but this is working for me. I'd rather a hoppy barlywine than a malty DIPA, if that makes sense. Pretty creamy and smooth for something. A little bit boozey, but I think the hop bitterness also enhances the alcohol effect, if it weren't so hoppy it would hide it very well. This is definitely a sipper for me, but quite pleasant. I can see why it gets the respose it does.

damienblack, Mar 05, 2009
Photo of sisuspeed
3.63/5  rDev -14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, clear, burnt red with a decent white head that leaves beautiful lacing. Great head for a 10% barleywine.

Fruits, molasses, cherry syrup, apples and sliced pears on the nose. Even with a year on it, this beer still has a good helping of grassy/spicy hops in the aroma.

Tipping back the glass reveals a wave of wood and oak upfront, followed with a good amount of hop bitterness. The hops are fairly abrasive and piney, but start to mellow just a bit as your tongue adjusts. A touch of cardboard seems to come through at times making me wonder if the cap was fastened securely while this was aging in the cellar. Very faint fruit comes through, but does become a bit stronger as the beer reaches room temp. Overall, I found the flavor to be mostly bitter and woody with a touch of cardboard. Some vanilla and sweetness can be found, but in general this was a bit rough.

Mouthfeel is smooth and bitter. Lower carbonation, but good for the style. The body could maybe be a bit thicker, but not bad.

Drinkability is about average. The high ABV and muddled bitterness/wood flavors made this a somewhat harsh sipper. Maybe more time will help this out, or maybe my bottle was somewhat oxidized. If this is how Old Ruffian is supposed to taste, then I would take a Bigfoot over this any day.

sisuspeed, Sep 08, 2010
Photo of Michaeldmanley
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Michaeldmanley, May 06, 2013
Photo of megahurts4
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Great Divide Old Ruffian

Appearance: deep red, small head, and good lacing.

Smell: fine barley wine and a malty yeast.

Taste: dense sweet barley, mild hops, and a faint toffee.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy.

This is rich and dense. The flavors are quite robust and not overly heavy. It is fairly smooth and very pleasant. Great Divide has become one of my top breweries.

megahurts4, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of perrymarcus
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter glass.

pours a deep amber tone with ruby red highlights... yields a solid finger and a half of a khaki colored head; solid retention and beautiful walls of lacing. pretty damn impressive presentation.

nose is led by sweet malts, followed by notes of citrus and a bit of pine.

flavor follows the nose to a T. caramel, bready maltiness with a strong ensuing citrus/pine presence - huge hops showing, even for an american barleywine - carrying through to a hoppy bitterness in the finish... very well-hidden 10.2% ABV.

nice full-bodied mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. dangerously drinkable for such a big beer. while i prefer the english counterpart of the style, this is great rendition of the american version.

perrymarcus, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Snifter.

A: Very dark red, finger of creamy off-white head.

S: Strong overripe dark fruits (figs, dates, raisins), and lots of underlying booze.

T: It certainly leans toward the fruity side with bitter raisin flavor sticking out.

M: The body is pretty thick with average carbonation.

O: It is a good barleywine along the lines of Old Horizontal and Third Coast Old Ale.

bucklemyshoe, Feb 08, 2012
Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,008 ratings.