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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.

1,075 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,075
Hads: 2,302
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 8.98%
Wants: 258
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: 2,302
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)

Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.16/5  rDev -1.7%
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. (315 characters)

Photo of sunkistxsudafed
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
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. (965 characters)

Photo of johnnybgood1999
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
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. (480 characters)

Photo of PeterParker
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
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. (797 characters)

Photo of DrMalt
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
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. (449 characters)

Photo of ale1
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
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 (282 characters)

Photo of KCHopHead
4/5  rDev -5.4%
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. (420 characters)

Photo of oceanman
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
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. (585 characters)

Photo of Zundo
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
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. (492 characters)

Photo of BelgianAleSlut
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
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. (966 characters)

Photo of greg202stewart
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
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. (482 characters)

Photo of Dhren1979
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
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!! (541 characters)

Photo of thetachibro
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
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. (401 characters)

Photo of ScarletLady
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
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'. (392 characters)

Photo of jamex
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a RR belgian glass. Bottle states brewed in Jan '10.

Pours a nice mahogany with nice, lasting head. Complex smell consisting of a strong malt presence with hints of fig, leather, caramel and whiskey. (odd, but if you've ever bought that weird malt stuff to help your cats with hairballs, it exhibits that smell as well).

A very malty and molasses like taste with a bitterness that strikes you in the corners of your mouth. More dark fruit taste.

Lasting taste that is sweet and bitter; fig, caramel and wood.

This guy is not that drinkable and definitely a sipper. I couldn't imagine having a second one of these, not that it was designed for that goal. Like most American barleywines, this one is thick, meaty and full of flavor. (746 characters)

Photo of etaggie09
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance was much better this time around. Looked the same, but had a larger head with greater retention. Much better lacing too. Aroma was wonderful, as usual. This time I noticed apple and a bit of cranberry in addition to the tangerine and spice. The flavor, mouthfeel, and drinkability remain flawless. This is my favorite beer- period. (342 characters)

Photo of chuckd123
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoyed one of these on tap at the Dirty Truth tonight for the first time.

A- Color was a dark copper with a moderately thick head and lacing that lasts nicely.

S- You can almost taste the flavor when you take a whiff of the thing -- very fruity & citrusy.

T- Very nice blend of hops, malt and caramel flavor along with a mild alcohol sting. Very little bitterness, but at 10% abv, this is one to take your time with.

M- Mouthfeel was on the thick and creamy side, almost a brandy feel to it. One to sip and enjoy not pound like it's prom night.

D- Drinkability hampered only by it being a 10% brew. I wouldn't plan on more than 2 of these in a sitting, and plan on a good hour per.

If you like barleywines, this is definitely one to try. Great Divide continues to impress. (786 characters)

Photo of montecristo2
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. This particular bottle was from a two year old batch.

Pours a dark reddish/brown in the glass. A thick two fingered head. Good lacing.

Big aroma of caramel with slight hoppy smells of pine and candied citrus.

Sweet tasting-rich flavors of caramel and slight dark fruits. Sugary and delicious.

A perfect mouthfeel, perhaps due to the aging. Smooth, balanced, perfect.

Very drinkable for a barleywine, but I love barleywines so that may not be a good indicator! I shared this bottle with friends, but could totally put down one alone if I were already home in front of the fire.

Cheers! (638 characters)

Photo of BassAssassin
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

--2006 Vintage--

A: Hazy reddish brown. Tan head that dissipates quickly.

S: First whiff is very spicy. Obviously from both the hops and the alcohol. Strong malt aromas of fruit and caramel are also very apparent.

T: Big, bold malt and hop flavors. Caramel and spice are perfectly intertwined. The alcohol adds a bit of heat to each sip. Malt and hop flavors are very well balanced for an American barley wine. Excellent representation of the style.

M: Full bodied and smooth. Thick on the tongue, but not cloying at all. Well done.

D: Very drinkable for its size. However, at 10% ABV this is a sipping brew for sure. Perfect for the winter months. (663 characters)

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

A: Murky brownish red with a 1/2-inch tan head. Lots of lacing throughout,

S: Cold, bright hop flavor with a slight sweet maltiness. With some time, the hops simmer down and it almost smells like a big ESB. I guess that's essentially what a Barley Wine is though.

T: First sips carry an overwhelming hop flavor. Tons of bittering hops around the back of the mouth. I think it will balance out nicely with some warmth. So, after 45 minutes, a nutty sour bread flavor comes around with a strong caramel back. The bitter swallow mellows, but not by much. The bottle says 90 IBUs. I can taste them all, which is weird considering the amount of malt this thing probably has in it.

M: Chewy mouth feel that leaves a syrupy mess on my lips. Nice.

D: Excellent beer, but nothing I could do more than one of, especially when I'm drinking 22oz bombers. Would pair nicely with a big sloppy rack of ribs. (905 characters)

Photo of Wegbier
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I can only guess this beer is rounding 10months but I dont see a date on it,
a- The appearance of this beer spoils in every way, it leaves sticky shelves so i know where i am, the creamy head is stubborn and thick with a sort of cascade and a light ceiling all the way through the pint covering a copper red thick liquid with medium average lasting carbonation

s- enjoyable but not amazing smell of biscuits sweet alcohol and medium dark fruit.

t- similarly honey cinnamon biscuit with a light amount of plum dancing with the lightest of happy esters in a little pool of caramel. hoppy up front as described and bitter

palate- a medium lightly oiled silky body. the bitterness of this beer doesnt give up reaches down into your throat and scratches around without letting go, this guy is stubborn, indeed very well balanced even when i dont find all that i want

d- low, i think barleywines are fun but this one is rough throughout the whole trip.

I look for Great Divide beers with happy thoughts but i dont need to drink this one again- no sir (1,049 characters)

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