Old Ruffian
Great Divide Brewing Company

Old RuffianOld Ruffian
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Barleywine - American
Ranked #15
Ranked #1,524
4.22 | pDev: 9.95%
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Old RuffianOld Ruffian
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 1,127 | Ratings: 2,510 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

1 pint 6 fl. oz. bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. ABV is 10.2%. Dark orange to brown colour, hazy. Big and lasting pale orange to beige head. The sweetish aroma has notes of pine, ripe fruits, raisins and molasses. Full and warming mouthfeel. Rich flavour with loads of malty sweetness, notes of raisins, caramel, molasses and udefined fruit, while the high IBU makes itself known towards the end, through a substantial and resinous hoppy bitterness.

Mar 20, 2021
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MesaDan from Minnesota

4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nov, '20 bottle aged since 1/28/16: Good nose of sweet dark fruit; Amber hue with tan head & good lace; medium mouthfeel w/ smooth effervescent carbonation; taste is bitter raisins and dank fig/date; dry quenching finish that retains bitter bark notes. For me, I would like to see a bit better balance with sweet to bitter, but my review reflects what the brewery says about their beer.

Nov 18, 2020
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stevoj from Idaho

4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Barley wine bottle share on 1/31. Poured a crimson/ruby red w/ a thin soap like head. Aroma of hops, fairly astringent. The palate was smooth and slickly The flavor was bitter hops followed by sweet citrus and malts..Incredibly good and tasty.

Jul 19, 2020
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Nass from Florida

4.06/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2016

I like most of their yeti imperial stout variants so let's see how their barley wine goes & hopefully the 90 IBU's have mellowed out . The pour is umber brown color into the snifter glass. On the taste i'm getting some hops but they have mellowed out somewhat, some dark cherry, black currant, malts, caramel, pine, & burnt sugar. It's a really good Barleywine & it leave a nice lacing around the glass but I still favor Yeti variants. cheers! A-

Jan 10, 2020
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Peach63 from New York

4.94/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours dark amber to brown. 1/2 inch yellowish tan head. Thick lacing. Moderate carbonation.

Aroma of roasted & caramel malts, oak, molasses, toffee.

Tastes is sweet and bitter. Rye, oak, toffee, vanilla, molasses, dates, whiskey.

Full bodied, creamy mouthfeel, very rich.

One of the best barley wines I've had so far.

Oct 04, 2019
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Samlover55 from New York

4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into perfect pint
Bottled on 1/29/15
Pours a dark brown with cream colored head
Aroma of sweet rich malt, candied hops
Taste follows real mellow, with the just the right amount of hops
Smooth creamy feel, no hint of the alcohol
Overall it aged really well, this was a superb barleywine

Jul 28, 2019
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Viaduck from California

4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Chestnut brown with a modest head. Very pretty aroma, caramel covered malt with a hint of hops. Taste is salty bitter & very little of the sweetness promised by its aroma. Complex flavor, hoppy, pine, resin, raisin, malted barley, molasses & a strong pepper finish. Silky smooth & fairly thick, not much alcohol flavor but plenty of numbing effect. Fun to drink & delicious!

Jul 19, 2019
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harrypowers from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle dated Jan 2016 bought in 2019. This was a well aged bottle ! And it aged well.

A great sipping beer with a sweet start and a big bitter hoppy finish. The high alcohol level is well hidden.

Mar 12, 2019
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Roguer from Georgia

4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear caramel ale, topped with a cream-colored, firm head. Good production, and excellent retention. An absolutely beautiful ale.

Nose is fairly subdued, but you can certainly discern the hop presence.

On the palate, this brew is impressively bitter, with waves of pine, caramel, resin, earth, pepper, and a touch of citrus. This is exactly what an American Barleywine is supposed to represent: hoppy caramel malt soup at it's best.

Jan 30, 2019
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: It pours medium brown with reddish hues. The head is light brown. Head retention is excellent.

Smell: Strong malty notes the feature caramel and toffee. It also has some raisin and bready background notes.

Taste: It has a strong malty flavor highlighted by caramel and toffee. There are some orange and citrus elements supporting the malt presentation. There are also some floral elements. Alcohol is noticeable, but very smooth.

Feel: It is full bodied with a bittersweet finish. Alcohol warming is very pleasant and smooth.

Overall, this is a good balance between the malt and the hops with the malt being a little more forward.

Dec 30, 2018
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GratefulFC from Arizona

4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pours a cloudy dark copper color. Smell is caramel, vanilla, raisin. Taste is hops, malt, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, plum, raisin. Slight fruit. Says it was bottled on January 29, 2015. Ages well. This is an outstanding beer.

Nov 19, 2018
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jkblr from Indiana

4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottled 2/1/16 (2 years ago today) poured into a snifter at fridge temp 10.2% ABV. The beer pours medium brown in color with orange & red highlights. The head is mocha colored and offers some lacing and a nice residual cap. The aroma is burnt sugar, a last bit of fading piney hops and rich malt. The taste is more burnt sugar, with substantial hop bitterness, that mellows into piney, malty heat on the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, adequately carbonated and mostly dry. Overall, very good American barleywine. I prefer the more subtle English style but this is very nice at this age. It was purchased warm 5 months ago, so it's treatment could have been better.

Feb 01, 2018
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HorseheadsHophead from New York

4.56/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Comes in a slightly hazy, but mostly translucent and transparent dark amber, almost brown color. The head produced is massive, much bigger than expected, and beige. Retention is very long, and sheets of lacing are left.

The aroma is massive dark fruits; cherry, plum, raisin, date, fig; molasses, tobacco, beef jerky, licorice, gingerbread, pumpernickel bread, orange marmalade, candied orange and grapefruit peels, pine needles, black tea.

The palate follows, huge amounts of cherry, date, fig, prune, and raisin balanced against molasses, toffee, licorice, star anise, and tobacco. There's a huge malt backbone of pumpernickel bread, toastiness, nuttiness, caramel, and fruity, light-roast coffee. The finish brings more spice, such as cinnamon, clove, and star anise; along with fennel, and pine sap. The aftertaste is intensely bitter, pine sap with clove/fennel spice, as well as lingering dried grapefruit peel.

The mouthfeel is medium-full instead of full-bodied, but what it lacks in chewiness or creaminess it makes up for sheer oiliness; with a brisk carbonation that movies it dangerously fast across the palate. It's slick and oozing without being heavy. An awesome greasy bready sensation, with bitter and balancing finish.

Overall, this is a great barleywine. It's nineteen months old, so the hop flavors have faded and oxidation has increased the dark fruits, I'm sure, but, reviewed for what it is, I like this a lot. An excellent sipper for cold nights!

Dec 05, 2017
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(12 oz bottle, 10.2% abv, bottled on: Jan 18 2016, purchased dusty 4-pack this past weekend... poured into my Chouffe tulip)

L: rather clear, burnt-sienna-red liquid... puts up a tall stand of tan foam that recedes slowly... leaves quite a bit of lace, but foam thins out to a messy collar

S: med-dark caramel, hint of fig; caramelized grainy bread crust, almost pretzel-like... not really any bold 'hoppy' qualities left; alcohol is pretty mellow... overall decent potency

T: beefy caramel jerky and heavily dark-bready malty; mummified, grapefruity hops that play nicely with notes of sultana from the malt/booze; still quite a punchy, powerful, herbal bitterness that lingers long, exposing little residual sweetness; mellow spice in aftertaste... very much an American profile for the style

F: kinda plumpy plush and foamy - no real curvy definition in its body... low-volume heat in the finish... thin, soft blanket of residual gummy resins left behind... wish it had a little more snap-off in the finish, but this otherwise feels cozy and comforting - great for its age

O: pretty much what I look for in an American barleywine - reminds me a bit of Victory Old Ho, in this state... glad this seemed to have held up very well, not knowing what conditions in which this had been kept at the store (bought this at a store I hadn't been to in maybe as much as 5 years) - probably ought to go back and by the last 4-pack... shame if they are discontinuing this

Nov 14, 2017
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Holderness from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tasted with 2.5 years of age on this one

L -- Pours a very dark filtered amber with a two-finger light tan head produced with aerated pour. Surprisingly good retention and lacing given the ABV and age
S -- Molasses, barley, oats, brown sugar, maple, booze, dark fruit, and caramel
T -- Good amount of molasses/caramel tasting malts. Decent tea-like hop bitterness in the background, alongside bourbon, berry, and grass
F -- Big mouthfeel, medium- carb. Fairly silky with a long-lasting, bitter finish
O -- An excellent candidate for aging. The hops mellow wonderfully and continue to complement the malt character


Sep 10, 2017
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Lone_Freighter from Vermont

4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The appearance was an dark amber to light brown color with a one finger white foamy head that dissipated within less than a minute. A light film of lacing spider webs into the beer. The smell holds a nice bittersweet combination of sweet citrus hops running into a sticky yet somewhat toasty caramel malts. Light tropical fruits also display themselves delicately. The taste was bittersweet, taking the sweet citrus hops and running them into the toasted caramel malts. A sweet sticky citrus to malty aftertaste leads into a sticky finish. On the palate, this one sat about a medium on the body with a decent sipping quality about it. The carbonation seemed good for the style and for me. The bitterness is about a medium. Overall, what a wonderful American barleywine. Everything fits right, I would definitely have this again.

Jun 18, 2017
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EmeraldMist from Maryland

3.55/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Look - Pours a hazy deep amber color with ruby along the edges, a thin cap of off white foam, no lacing.
Aroma - Hop forward, pine needle, resinous, cherry, light alcohol.
Taste - Candied fruit up front, cherry and sweet raisin, hops come in with huge bitterness, leafy and pine hop notes, the finish is sugary, bitter and has notes of caramel.
Feel - Sticky at first, fine carbonation quickly dries things out, creamy on the finish, alcohol has little warmth.

Overall - A very in your face barley wine. Tastes like an imperial IPA crossed with a barley wine at times.

Jun 10, 2017
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ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

3.45/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Medium wood tan color, silk lacing. Aroma has some dry grain, wood and hop. Chewy caramel malt, leather, but ends with a big hop bite. Just a tad too much for my liking. Otherwise solid.

May 29, 2017
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DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Been meaning to try this ever since they put it in 12 oz bottles still paid the premium at almost 4 bucks a single. Pours a very hazy amber brown with a 1/4 inch of opaque colored head that settles to a very smooth ring. Smell is excellent very malty with some brown sugar and toffee rounded with some dark fruits and some herbal hops twang. No ethanol in the nose. Taste is a bit more hoppier than I expected with some herbal cone bitterness in the front and finish. Some caramel and fig flavors but this is a bitter aggressive ale through and through that uses it to cover the ABV nicely. Drinks medium to heavy still more of a sipper but still an enjoyable ale.

Overall a Barleywine for hop heads this ale is good and I would like to try it again with age since Hibernation ale with 2-3 years on it is subline and that beer is full of hop cone!

Apr 11, 2017
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Soulbill from Iowa

4.76/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Excellent barley wine. I love hops, but its not hop-forward, and the hoppiness of this one sneaks up on me. It starts kind of sweet and mellow, and then the alcohol content, complex but full flavor, and hop content start kicking in. I think it pours better into a mug than a pint bottle. Well-named beer and totally enjoyable from first to last taste. One is not enough, three is too many.

Mar 23, 2017
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky rustic bronze color with a finger of khaki head on top. Lacing is strewn about tightly at the start of the glass, but disappears as the beer warms. Aroma is features barleywine-esque notes of raisins, fig, and caramel with an underlying hop profile that contorts the aroma and gives it a distinct American fingerprint. Hop notes include herbal and resin. Flavor profile opens with a smooth, sugary sweet induction of raisins, fig, and caramel before the hops take precedence in form of herbal and resin notes. The resin hop notes stick all the way to the toffee finish. Together the resin and toffee form a sort of bittersweet ending. Mouth feel has a medium thickness with a filling, sort of grainy texture. Overall, while certainly a barleywine style with all its malty goodness, the hop presence could make this a little polarizing for some. It keeps each sip interesting as the malts and hops work to reverse the work of each other.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

Mar 05, 2017
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This beer pours a brownish ruby with an average head. The aroma is rich with pine and resin, brown sugar, nougat, and almonds. The flavor offers up loads of pine and resin, with caramel and brown sugar, and a huge dose of bitterness, with a finish of bitter citrus pith and chocolate. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and rich. Overall this is a superb beer - so rich in malt, yet so bitter and piney as well. A really great beer for my tastes.

Feb 25, 2017
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darktronica from Indiana

4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've enjoyed several bottles over the years, though this one happens to be from December 2012. While Old Ruffian is known to age well, I'm trying to rate more according to how I would score a bottle around a year old, more like what someone is likely to encounter in the shop. For the record, I would recommend drinking around 2-3 years of age; at just over 4 years old, this bottle is starting to show more signs of oxidation that push around the smoothed-out hop character.

Jan 26, 2017
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mothmanscott from Georgia

4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy dark orange but soon becomes clear amber. Produces a small, half finger, surprisingly lasting (though down to a ring & some floaters for much of its life), variously bubbled, beige head that leaves some patchy lacing. Alcohol prominent even for this high ABV style, but Oh, what nice barley wine it is! Aroma boozy, piney hops & sweet malt tones of toffee & caramel. Taste is big piney hops up front giving way to a middle that is heavy caramel malts & biscuity with maybe a touch of honey & a finish that brings back an overlay of the resinous hops with alcohol detectable throughout the sip. Big alcohol & bitter aftertaste that grows for a brief time & then lingers. Complex. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy bodied with low-moderate carbonation, warming, chewy, syrupy & sticky.

Jan 22, 2017
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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Ruffian pours a dark purplish color with a big lacing head. Big dry fruity aroma, with hints of earthy. Very full flavors, dry fruit and lots of earth, with a kick of bitterness near the end. Good body and feel, with a big kick of flavors. Overall, a powerful and tasty barley wine.

Dec 28, 2016
Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 2510 ratings