Old Ruffian Barley Wine - Great Divide Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

2,246 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,246
Reviews: 1,086
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.74%
Wants: 246
Gots: 369 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,246 | Reviews: 1,086
Photo of gueuzer
3.26/5  rDev -22.6%
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.

Photo of jkendrick
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of DRyan
4.36/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Photo of tcfishler
4.25/5  rDev +1%
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.

Photo of buffettfan
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of ManVersusBeer
3.83/5  rDev -9%
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.

Photo of DIPAbrewer
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

Photo of redmagik99
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

Photo of Jazzcrop
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

Photo of MarkBlackout
4.83/5  rDev +14.7%
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!

Photo of bwyker
5/5  rDev +18.8%
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!

Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bomber. Pours a clear brick red, with a big thick tan head. Aroma is woody, hoppy, fruity, with a hint of alcohol. Flavor is heavy with sharp hops, but balanced nicely with carmel malt sweetness. Hops linger on the palate as the sticky sweet malt fades. This is a nice barleywine, and one that will age rather well.

Photo of sunkistxsudafed
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

found these for a steal (3 bombers for $10 at Kelly's liquor here in town). bottled on 12/22/09. a shop simply trying to move back stock. Why i love economics.

A- deep rich mahogany. with an off-white head, a pour yeilds about a finger and half of head.

S- brown sugars, burnt sugars, carmel, toffee, and hop. this is already an amazing beer.

T- wow. deep caramel and toffee malts meld perfectly with a strong american hop profile. The aggressive hop along with smooth malts really make this a balanced beer.

M- a good thick hearty mouthfeel from this, more carbonation than others on here seem to have described. it's a good thing, i tend to like hoppy beers to be be more carbonated than malty beers. this carbonation and thinckness balances this beer so well.

O- this is a fantastic beer. both a good representation and take on one of my favorite styles. a session beer? no way, but with this beer being so cheap in area at the moment, i might have to try.

Photo of johnnybgood1999
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this bomber at a Hy-Vee grocery store in St. Joseph MO. I really love this beer. I haven't had too many of this style, but this is the best one I've had yet. The drink starts out mild and then explodes with falvor, which is probably my favorite part of this beer. Malty sweetness up front. Alcohol makes itself known at the front of the mouthful, but mixes well. I can't place the type of hops that come out once the drink's good and in your mouth. They're great though.

Photo of PeterParker
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, dark red with a formidable head. Tight bubbles with substantial lacing.

Woody, earthiness. A good amount of grapefruity hops accompany the malt. Actually smells like a cross between an IPA and a barleywine. Interesting.

Wow. Really surprising and nice. The bottle said it was a hoppy barleywine but I didn't believe it. But it's true. This is a first for me. Some malt is up front, still pretty woody, but not fruity as some other barleywines. Hops hit soon after, bitter grapefruit with other citrus notes. Very well balanced. Aftertaste is rich hops, like a fortified IPA. One of a kind in my eyes.

Lower carbonation and pretty smooth for the ABV.

Overall I really like this one. I didn't think hoppy barleywines existed until now. Definitely will seek this out for the future.

Photo of DrMalt
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber

Appearance: Color is deep amber with red hues. Good head that lasts & nice lacing.

Smell: Citrus, piney resin, floral.

Taste: Agressively hopped barleywine. Some malty sweetness.Slight metallic twinge.

Mouthfeel: Very full bodied.Creamy but full of bitterness.

Drinkability: Just what I was hoping for- a hopped up American Barleywine.This is an excellent rendition of the style with a bit more on the IBU's but that is what I like.

Photo of ale1
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another great barley wine/ale
can't contribute much more than previous reviewer, served cool medium head ,good hops/malt nose with malt finish , like the Talon barley wine, top shelf barley wine style.
Other that fall in this category that are quite good seirra nevada big foot ale

Photo of KCHopHead
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I read some of the reviews and I agree with most so I am not going to repeat. What I will say is that this is a prime example of an American Barleywine. There is nothing to offensive about but nothing that stands out from other American Barleywines. It is a sweet, hoppy, heavy sipper that hides 10% very well. I rated every category at a 4.0 just because nothing stood out to me, but all categories were a good example.

Photo of oceanman
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blood orange color and a creamy off-white head.

Big nose, but very balanced between malt, hop, and alcohol. A bit of fruit and pine forest.

Powerful bitterness spread evenly across the palate, softened by a reasonable amount of sweetness. Tasty, but the bitterness obscures some of the complexity that I know is lurking in this beer. Still, outstanding as a different kind of hop fix.

Velvety, and even a bit sticky, but kept lively by the carbonation and bitterness.

About as fun and easy to drink as a barleywine gets. I'm sure this is a completely different beer in a few years.

Photo of Zundo
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A reddish leather brown body with a one-finger tan head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: Strong presence of oak and caramel, apple, figs, alcohol

Taste: Malty at first, a bit bitter later when the hops take hold, grapefruit aftertaste, caramel, figs and cherries. There is an alcohol twinge present.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, yet sticky, well carbonated with a medium-heavy body.

Drinkability: For how much flavor, alcohol and bitterness this contains, it is pretty easy to drink.

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

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a goblet.
Nice dark reddish brown color that produced a small head and some lacing. Smell is very sweet but has some notes of hops - one of those beers you want to smell as well as drink. Taste is very good until the unexpected hops come in. I wasn't sure heavy hopping was part of the barley-wine style. I read the bottle and then realized it was the intention. The initial taste starts heavy on the sweet and then the hop bitterness comes in to erase it. At first this was sort of a turn off because it wasn't expected. As I drank through the bottle it didn't bother me as much.

Alcohol starts to work immediately on me and produces the warm throat and belly. I appreciate the warming effects of the barley-wine very much. Mouthfeel was just about perfect for me. Each sip seemed to expand and fill the mouth with it sweetness. Drinkability was good, but not as good as some other barley-wines I've had.

Highly recommended.

Photo of greg202stewart
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a dark coppery red the reveals a big head upon pouring. The smell is of roasted malts, caramel and really has a fantastic aroma that is out of this world and hard for me to pinpoint. The taste is strong and has an exceptional roasted flavor with a bite that is tempered by the caramel and sugar sweetness. Although this beer is strong it is very drinkable any time of the year. I just wish next time it makes a little longer than a week in my beer cellar to let it age.

Photo of Dhren1979
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage: 2010

Serving Type: 22oz Bomber poured in to a tulip glass.

A:Pours a rich amber color that is tansparent with no haze. Carbonation is observed and the head is quite substantial.

S: Bitter hops with sweet caramel malts. Aromas of fruit is also detected.

T: Smooth caramel malts, The bitterness of the hops go well with the sweet fruity tastes that are present.

M: Clean, crisp and smooth. Medium body brew with decent amount of carbonation.

D: This is a great example of the Barlywine style! I must go out and get more to age!!

Photo of thetachibro
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy dark copper with a beautiful off pearl 2in foamy head that goes no where. Lots of carbination feeding it constantly. Smells midly of hops with some sweet malts a nice balance. Taste initially is somewhat sweet and a little fruity. You also get somewhat of a hop punch as well. Very creamy and full bodied in the mouth. A heavy hitter that isn't for the light hearted and still very tasty.

Photo of ScarletLady
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a lovely caramel color. Cloudy and unfiltered looking with a normal head and light lacing. the nose was quite hoppy and i detected a hint of coffee. The taste was great, lighter than what I expected. At first I was struck by slightly sweet, and noticed the alcohol. I loved the bitter finish that stays with you, really stick to the tongue. Overall I really liked it, definitely 'big'.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 2,246 ratings.