Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,071 Reviews
THE BROS
99
world-class

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Reviews: 1,071
Hads: 2,283
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 254
Gots: 382 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,071 | Hads: 2,283
Photo of Zodijackyl
4.54/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz brown bottle, no freshness date. Pours a dark reddish brown, cloudy with no head. Aroma is bready and sweet, lots of sweet malt, and some citrus hops and fruit to balance it out.

Taste is first a sweet barley with somewhat tannic yeast in the background, followed by a mouthful of some fruity and citrus hops. The hops and fruit flavors balance out the malt quite well, but the taste is still very characteristic of a strong barley wine. Aftertaste is an astringent and tannic wine-like yeast feel combined with the presence of tangy hops. Mouthfeel is very smooth with mild carbonation and quite a bit of yeast flavor, contrasting with the very strong taste.

Very smooth and drinkable for a strong barley wine, very savory with a pleasant aftertaste. (760 characters)

Photo of yeastsipper
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nice copper color with big fluffy head. A very good looking beer.

Smell is of sweet malt which is overshadowed by a bitter and citrus - some lemon, lime and grapefruit aromas.

Taste is much the same. Great balance, yet big, bold flavors. The beer is alternately sweet and bitter. Hops play a huge role, but there is always a malt backbone. As the beer warms, the alcohol becomes very evident.

This is a great beer. Tons of bold flavor. A huge alcohol kick as well. Seek this out.... (485 characters)

Photo of Kudashov
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2005 bottle ~ thanks Dan ~ . There are no markings or dates on the bottle . Dan told me that it is a 2005 though . When poured into my Spaten beer mug it has a a huge 2 finger head . The head had the smallest bubbles and it look like vanillla ice cream . Dark ruby / brown color is very inviting . The head has reduced and there is nice lacing with the head no at one finger . The Smell is of raisins , dates and figs . It is sweet tasting but slick too . 2/3 through this bottle and the heat is feeling good . I am a fan of Hog Heaven, Olde School & Killer Penguin but this might be my fav . (592 characters)

Photo of boston2bburg
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky fig color with a couple fingers of creamy khaki head that leaves strong layers of lacing down the snifter. It hangs around in a clump at one side and a ring around the glass.

Caramel malts hit the nose first, then dark chocolate, toffee, and roasted malts. The fruit talked about on the label begins to shine with warmth - mostly of the dark variety like fig and prune. Some earthy hops round things out.

Flavor is far more bitter than the nose lets on, a great swath of which expands across all corners of the palate with the first sip. Again, these hops are earthy and woody, developing some floral and slight grapefruit character as it warms. Caramel and chocolate are still prevalent all along. Five degrees or so of warmth makes all the difference. With the second pour out of the bomber, you're now drinking a vanilla caramel praline ice cream cone with chocolate sauce, albeit still with a bitter backbone, but more subdued.

The mouthfeel is massive and robust, and the hop bitterness is relentless. I'd recommend cellaring this one for a while. Alcohol only shows up both in nose and on tongue towards the final 20% of the beer, but it's so full-bodied, it's one and done per sitting for this one. It's a great version of the style but a bit too bitter for me at least at this age. (1,306 characters)

Photo of wescj
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter.

Color is a very deep ruby red, and the body is so clear it almost shines. Very thick head, and lace is pretty good for a barly wine.

Aroma is very prominant, and should be a benchmark for the style. The hops are all orange and pine, the malts are sweet and caramel.

I don't know if I've ever had a better barly wine. There are some good dark fruits and a nice presense of alcohol. Some hops and malts as in the nose, and the sweetness is exactly what it should be.

Mouthfeel is perfect, and this one's fairly drinkable, if there is such a thing for huge barly wines. Excellent, all around. (628 characters)

Photo of Stonebreaker
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This is perhaps the reddest barleywine I've seen, a hypnotizing vampirish red. The head is healthy along with the lacing, no doubt a product of a hefty hop addition.

Smell: Again the strongest hop aroma on a barleywine that I've had, mixed with that particular, not quite caramel, signature barleywine smell I know and love.

Taste and Mouthfeel: A creamy, hoppy, warming creation, very similar to a dogfish head 90 min. IPA with an extra helping of the hops or perhaps simply an earlier addition to the boil. A wee bit of chocolate and caramel in the front smooth and creamy on the palate and a hop wallop in the back. Very good.

Drinkability: I have to be in the mood for lots of hops, not to mention barleywine. The IBU's, alcohol, and price on this one make it an occasional sipping brew, but nonetheless a treat. (831 characters)

Photo of humulus
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: reddish, chocolate with a beige head.

S: malt, chocolate, syrup, leather, red berries and dark fruits.

T: very well balanced. Dried fruit, chocolate, pomerans, orange zest, bit of oak, bitterness that is very well balanced against the fruity chocolate sweetness.

M: creamy, smooth, elegant.

O: World class. This is incredibly good. Just a shame I only got one bottle and it's out of stock in Sweden.

Drank from snifter. (431 characters)

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

Pours a murky brown color with an off white soapy head. It has an aroma of citrus, pine, and tons of caramel. Sweet caramel taste with some citrus notes on the bitter, pine finish. A very tasty barleywine. I love the mix of hops in this brew. May consider aging one. (266 characters)

Photo of goethean
4.9/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Two conflicting impluses I feel.

One: 6.99 for a beer?! what a rip off!

Two: oh, this is so, so good.

My personal standard for a balanced barleywine is Anchor Old Foghorn. What we have before us here is a bigger, badder, meaner, darker, more complex Old Foghorn. Updated for the 21st century, you might say.

Duvel glass. Massively malty nose. Great big flavor profile from tiny sips, big burnt English toffee sweetness and an immediate streak of bitter flavor hops that blends right into the mouth-coating Chinook finish. Really a strongly, almost irritatingly hoppy aftertaste. We're in IIPA territory here.

I marked it down on the drinkability because a 22 oz bottle is like 5 servings. Also, you should be a fan of big big beers in order to enjoy this one. (765 characters)

Photo of wd40
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown appearance with lots of sediment, making it very cloudy. Interestingly herbal aroma with sweet maple syrup undertones. Very bitter hoppy flavor. Herbal hops left lots of hops. Linger bitterness hurts drinkability a little, but still great. Were the finish a little drier, I think the overall taste and drinkability would be enhanced. Still a good brew, and worth having. (381 characters)

Photo of SeattleBeerBlog
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- An off white head that seems to last forever, gently going down to a finger, pours a dark ruby red, and very clear.

S- Complex might be an understatement, a Little woody/piney, with some nice hops, a bit of alcohol and some sweet cherry or prunes. Yum.

T- Super Smooth, zero rough edges, very well rounded for a barley wine, upfront flavors of dark carmel, wood, rich chocolate, and a good amount of grapefruit bitterness. Also some Alcohol as well.

M- Great carbonation level, nothing spectacular here

D- Overall a great barley wine, definitely a sipper but if you are a fan of Barley wines you must try this beer. (622 characters)

Photo of Acoke
3.67/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle Poured into a tulip glass.

A- Two fingers worth of head. Gorgeous blood orange caramel color. Great looking beer

S- Lots of hops up front with a sweet caramel background.

T- Huge hop presence with substantial bitterness. Definitely taste the alcohol in it. Not getting much other flavors out of this, maybe just a tiny hint of caramel.

M- Smooth beer but a little light on the tongue. Every sip I was trying to make an assessment, but the flavors(or lack there of) vanished before I could get a grip on it.

O- Good beer, just not what I was expecting. Kinda new to Barley wines so I may be off on this one but I'm told this is better with age. (662 characters)

Photo of ryantho00
3.79/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass....pours to a deep ruby/amber/orange color that leaves a nice 1.5 finger and great lacing.

This beer has a weird smell to me, kind of like a very earthy smell, which doesn't appeal to me at all, but the taste fixes all of that.

I have to say, this is only the second barleywine I've had, but from beginning to end, this is great. It has a full bodied, chewy mouthfeel that gives way to a slightly fruity, apple and grapey taste, that is killed off instantly with a hoppy bitterness that is then killed with an almost toasted taste. It has a smoothness throughout and a subtle sweetness underneath the entire beer. Very smooth and good balance through the whole drink. I do taste hops in the aftertaste and a nice alcohol warming that isn't overpowering at all.

I wouldn't be able to drink this all night but it is very flavorful and smooth with a nice complexity that is quite enjoyable. (929 characters)

Photo of misinformed
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottled 12/29/09. Pint glass.

A- Nice deep, cherry brown beer poured with 1" light tan head that quickly receded to a dusting. Last glass was hazy with a bit of sediment. No lacing.

S- Not particularly strong. The first scent I get is hops. Piney and bitter citrus. Some faint fruity sweetness and caramel malts. Traces of alcohol as it warms.

T- Starts off with a mellow caramel malt sweetness followed by a strong dose of bitter citrus and faintly pine hops. Long bitter finish. Some alcohol present as well.

M- Medium bodied, slightly syrupy but smooth still smooth. Subtle alcohol warmth is present in the back of my throat.

D- Hmmm. I didn't really taste any of the "subtle fruit aromas" the label mentions, but it was a darn good barleywine. Good warmth. Nice caramel sweetness followed the strong bitter hops and long finish. Balance leans towards hops for sure. The caramel and bitter citrus hoppiness worked for me, but I tend to prefer a slightly fruiter barleywine. I would drink this again though. (1,021 characters)

Photo of gueuzer
3.26/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery

App- A reddish brown with a clinging lace. Quite nice.

S- Strong bittering hops with a sticky bun notes in the back. A little booze burn.

Ta- Upfront hops. Very bitter. The sweet caramel malt back it up but not quite enough to balance out.

Ov- Border between a double IPA and barley wine. Need to tone down the hops to let everything play out a bit more. (381 characters)

Photo of jkendrick
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very nice and clear amber color with a thick light tan head. Light is visible through this. In fact, the clarity is such that you can read through the glass. The head recedes moderately fast, but seems to hang around quite a bit longer than most barleywines. Thick, clumpy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

Aroma: Floral with a some caramel maltiness. It is sweet in the nose though and the alcohol isn't obvious.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, medium-bodied with mild carbonation.

Taste: Wow, very hoppy for a barleywine. The malty sweetness is there, but doesn't quite have enough to balance out the bitter. The alcohol is very present in the finish and after the swallow. Flavors are caramel and some pine, but it is tough to distinguish much over the intense bitterness and heavy alcohol.

Overall impression: Overall, this is just too bitter for me, especially for the style. I love hops, but want to taste the flavors not just the crushing bitterness. About halfway through I pulled out some almonds and that pairing really helped. This is a young bottle, just over a month old. I really think this would be better served after aging. (1,155 characters)

Photo of DRyan
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful ruby red with moderate white / light tan head that sticks around for a while and has thick lacing
S: Malts dominate but there is some hop note to the nose as well, smells sweet
T: Not as overpowering as some Barleywines, good strong malt characteristics very nicely balanced with a strong hop addition. Not overly sweet, not overly bitter. The high ABV is very well hidden.
M: Lightly carbonated, with a velvety mouthfeel
D: For a barleywine, very drinkable. The alcohol in this one could easily sneak up on you with how easy it is to drink. (563 characters)

Photo of tcfishler
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Medium brown with a reddish tint. Tan head of good size for the ABV. Expressive aromas of piney hops and caramel malts. In the mouth it's not too heavy, nor too sweet, with a strong suggestion of piney/grassy hops. Despite this, it's not really bitter tasting. Alcohol is masked quite well. Wonderful balance and attractive flavors. By far the best barleywine I've had. (369 characters)

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

Poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appeared a very pretty, dark brown with reddish ruby highlights when held to the light.

Smell was wild. A ton of aroma, a lot of hops, and malt, with a strong presence of alcohol.

Taste is crazy! Its almost over load. Lots of hops, with a nice malt flavor, some spice comes out and well, especially in the finish. Hints of caramel, pine, and an almost fruity taste. Very enjoyable.

Drinkable in small amounts. Its got some kick!

Very good beer, will be getting some and cellering it to see what time does to it. (553 characters)

Photo of ManVersusBeer
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great Divide Bomber into a Great Divide, Great Minds Drink Alike Goblet. Amber orange tint with a creamy reddish head that sits atop the beer as I drink. Leaves solid lace around the glass.
Smells a lot of malt and caramel with an alcohol aroma present. There is a bit fruity molasses and date hints.
Tastes malty with sweet resin. Bit of bread and caramel flavors with a definite date sugar taste and bam! hop pine with apple/pear tartness in the back end. Alcohol is present, but smooth.
Carbonation is minimal and malty as it warms, but alcohol bite makes sure that this doesn't go down too fast. It is still easy drinking with stickiness lingering on the palate. Mmm...good. (678 characters)

Photo of DIPAbrewer
4.64/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle it cascaded into a goblet throwing up a huge brown head. The foam subsided eventually but left a layer of foam floating to the end.

The aroma was amazing. Resiny sweet citrus with light caramel notes. Much better hop aroma than many other barleywines, at least for a hophead like me.

The flavor was outrageous and abundant. Sweet dark malts and perfectly balanced fruity hop bitterness. Instantly it became a favorite.

The full bodied ale has a thinner mouth feel than some others but it still packs a punch. You can tell the alcohol is there but the great flavors compel you towards another sip.

Quite drinkable considering its strength.

I would definitely recommend this beer. After trying it with some traditional sharp cheddar I bought several more to cellar for awhile. (807 characters)

Photo of redmagik99
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured copper, smallish head but it stuck around for quite a while. The smell really blew me away when I opened the bottle. It was just gushing with fruity hops. Taste is full of those two with plenty of toasty malt. Hops definitely prevail though. Sharp taste of alcohol that lingers with the hops long after the sip has ended. A tad caramel, maybe some raisens too. This one hits the belly like a bomb so I dont know how many I could drink, tasty as it is. A year would definitely do this brew some good to relax the alcohol. I'm still kind of skeptical about aging hoppy beers because I don't want to lose any of the hop flavor, but this one has more than enough to compensate. If you have this one I'd recommend laying it down for a year as difficult as it may be. Old Ruffian reminds me a lot of Great Divide's DIPA except with a bigger malt backbone and a much more prominent alcohol taste. It rivals Bigfoot and Hair of the Dog's Fred as one of the best hoppy barleywines. You won't be disappointed, especially with age. (1,027 characters)

Photo of Jazzcrop
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tastes are caramelized sugar, some spice, curds, ice cream sprinkles, hops, oxidation, pills, bourbon, funk, grass, malt, bitterness, potatoes and age. Smells are aged amber, hops, sweet malt, oats, wood, breakfast cereal, paper, cigarettes and paint. (251 characters)

Photo of MarkBlackout
4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Good lord what a great beer!

Old Ruffian rivals Duvel in terms of the pour: A voluminous, pockmarked, frothy head tops this rich amber brew. I am impressed right off the bat.

The nose and flavor follow suit, this almost resembles (to me) a really strong Wee Heavy. The malt character is similar. Hops balance it all out beautifully. The slightly syrupy mouthfeel and high alcohol detract little from the overall drinkability (and enjoyability) of this great beer. Thank you to all who have reviewed this beer (thus giving it the high rating that demanded my attention!). I've had other Great Divide bombers and really enjoyed the Yeti, but was underwhelmed by the Hercules. This takes the cake! (701 characters)

Photo of bwyker
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle (that had been sitting in the cellar for about a month) into a chalice.

A: A clean, golden orange color. About a 1/2” head with great retention.

S: Very floral hop aromas jump out immediately, along with sweet caramel malts. Smell is incredibly enticing.

T: A moderate, stinging hop bitterness all the way through, with a sweet caramel malty backbone. What is expected from the smell is what you get. Very tasty!

MF: Coating of hop marinade left after the pucker. Can feel it in your teeth. Lasting hop finish.

D: Every sip just adds to the flavor. IBUs are low enough for near universal appeal, yet hopheads will be in love. I want another! (688 characters)

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 1,071 ratings.