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Old Ruffian | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old RuffianOld Ruffian
2,494 Ratings
Old RuffianOld Ruffian

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

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.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,494 |  Reviews: 1,120
Reviews by BeerForMuscle:
Photo of BeerForMuscle
4/5  rDev -4.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of HorseheadsHophead
4.56/5  rDev +8.6%
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!

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Photo of Jaysauras
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%

A: Fantastic. Pours a wonderful dark amber color with a decent amount of head. An aggressive pour could cause an overflow no doubt. A very crisp looking beer when poured into a tulip glass.

S: Smells strong, but not in a bad way. Like the smell of a good, not cheap whiskey. The hops are big up front but there is also a piney and floral aroma that follows it. Definitely get a feel for the sweetness as well.

T: As if the smell and look weren't good enough, the taste backs it up. It's deceptively strong for what it brings to the table. Very sweet with a lot of fig and grape flavors going on. Again, the alcohol is masked so well in this it's hard to believe it's a 10+.

M: Very robust and what you would expect from a high alcohol barleywine. Little bit of carbonation but not too much. It fits well with the overall feel of the beer of it being big in presence but light in some of the things that can take away from good barleywines.

O: I am a lover of the Barleywine and Old Ale style, and GD hasn't disappointed here. A tremendous Barley wine to try if you have never gotten into the style. It's big in a lot of ways but subtle in just as many important ways. Tremendous beer.

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Photo of EMV
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had on-tap at Champs in State College, Poured into a goblet.

L: Pours a deep clear amber-reddish color. 2 fingers of thick creamy off-white head. Lovely lacing.

S: Caramel and sweets, newly baked bread, citrusy hops, and brown sugar.

T/F: Malty and rich up front.. caramel and brown sugar vie for prominence.. faint spiciness, and then the floral and citrus hops kick you in the other direction on the backswing. Sticky and thick... warming and complex. Just so much to think about with this on the tongue.

O: A delicious American style Barleywine.. hoppy, malty, boozy... it's like your crazy ex. Complicated and needy and will take you places you didn't quite know you could go.

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Photo of oberon
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first carack at this bad boy its nice to see it here in Greensboro,pours a deep amber with a creamy like head that leaves a nice amount of lace behind as it slowly settles.Big fruit in the aroma upfront along with some raisin and caramel very vibrant in color and aroma it really jumps out at ya.Like the aroma the flavors of this are very fruity up front very ripe peaches and brown suger,there is a real hop presence even more as it warms in the finish keeping it balanced.Wow this is a dangerous brew intense and flavorful this is one I'll be grabbing alot of now that its local.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - When I started softly pouring this I saw that it was flat so I worked the pour a little more. Boy was I mistaken. The head came up a full inch and a half and almost overflowed my Chimay glass.

The body was a solid orangish-brown and just gorgeous. The afore-mentioned head was light brown and showed great retention, leaving tons of lacing as it slowly went down. I can't believe that this is a 10% ABW.

Smell - There's a good malty winey aroma here, but the hops really rule the roost. They are very complex and seem to favor pine resin, which is something for a BW. There are a lot of sugars in here, too.

Taste - Man, this has some big flavors. The hops are gigantic, almost like an ADIPA, but the malt flavors are so strong that it's somewhat balanced. The sugars are raw table and grapes. The wine is more cab than anything else. The ale just explodes with flavors.

Mouthfeel - This one is borderline full in the body but not quite. The body goes perfectly with the flavor profile. There's a slight sense of carbonation in the mouth. The show here though is the roller coaster that your tongue gets on with all of the dynamic flavors. You have big hops, chewy malts, and candy-sweet sugars all driving you wild. The huge dryness will have you lapping your lips.

Drinkability - I'd have to do a few side-by-sides to say that this is the best American Barley Wine that I've ever had, but it has to be in the running. It's such an easy drinker and just epitomizes the style as I've imagined it to be.

Update - I originally drank this in 2005 so thought I'd take another shot in 2010. This is an exceptional BW by any measure and certatinly represents the best of the best by any stretch of the imagination.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautiful rusty red with a golden halo around it poured from a bottle which had been cellared for nearly 9 months. Delectable dollup of beige cream on top. Wildly hoppy, even when cold. The hops intensify greatly as it warms. Body is full, syrupy. The viscosity is simply mind-blowing. Full…that’s an understatement. This beer is bloody explosive. Nose is diesel fuel, citrus fruit, mountain holly, juniper, sweet bread, mango. Taste is brown sugar, jam, rye bread, cinnamon, mango, earth, pineapple, and much, much more. How much more? Well, there are chocolates, melons, dates, grapefruit, figs, and caramels a plenty. The whole deal is great. Tremendous, depthful, balanced better than most if not all of the competitor and ever so complex. Strong and numbing as the alcohol is, the hops just kick starts your face back into believing that you could just drink and drink this brew all day. Minimal carbonation, (as expected). Filling MF. Rich and creamy. Drinkability is crazy good. This stuff is 10% yet I could guzzle it if I wished. A damn near perfect representation of the style.

 1,089 characters

Photo of t2grogan
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of boston2bburg
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

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Photo of Marklaker
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Gorgeous. A very pretty ruby color, with an extremely light khaki, almost white head. A medium hard pour yields a 2-finger head that leaves behind fluffy, pillow-y lacing. The head retention is impressive. This is one of the most attractive beers mine eyes have e'er gazed upon.

S: Heavy on caramel and brown sugar sweetness in my nose. I'm not positive how long ago this was bottled (I picked it up about 2 months ago) and maybe because of this, I am not getting much of a hop presence from the smell. I smell a slight hint of plum and pear mingling with the sweet candy smells.

T: There is a fine pine hop flavor in my mouth (especially on the tongue) that balances the sweetness almost perfectly. The lingering bitterness on my palate is downright IPA-ish, which shows that this beer is aggressively hopped, because the malt bill is huge, as well. Surprisingly, I am getting a lot pear flavor from this beer.

M: Phenomenal. The first word that comes to mind is velvety. Such a full feel that disperses over my palate and then becomes deliciously drying as the hops kick in.

D: As with many beers that are similarly big, I think this is a once in awhile treat. It is delicious and satisfying, but would be too much for both my palate and mind to have more than a bomber in a sitting. I would certainly have another, but not right now.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was picked up about 7 months ago so it's probably last years release; it kind of got forgotten about in my basement.

A: A medium copper with a red hue and excellent clarity. A persistent, light-tan head that is a quarter inch of compact foam and leave small patches of bubbles on the glass instead of lacing.

S: A strong, rich malty aroma with a moderately-strong caramel malt character and a moderately citrus hops aroma. There is a low fruit ester with a slight raisin character. Smooth, perfume alcohol aroma a a moderate level.

T: An intense malt flavor with bready and caramel malt flavors. The hops bitterness is at a moderately-strong level with a moderately-low citrus hops flavor. There is a modest amount of malt sweetness up front but the balance is strongly towards the bitter with the alcohol also countering the malt sweetness. The after taste is of caramel and hops bitterness.

M: A smooth and slightly cream medium-full bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The alcohol brings a moderate warmth that keeps on creeping all the to the belly.

O: Even with a year of age it's still a sipping beer but man is smooth. Normally I'd be more than happy to enjoy this in all of it's young, aggressive, hop forward glory but a little bit of age smooths the rough edges and tamps down the hops. This beer would pair well with a steak but I'll be matching it with a Reuben for tonight's dinner.

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Photo of brownbeer
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 5-15-07

A- Amber with a thick, frothy tan head with good retention.

S- Rich doughy, caramel malt with a pretty big spicy hop presence still.

T&M- Full bodied malt sweetness up front and rounds out to a balanced finish. The fruity hop flavor and bitterness comes out more as it warms.

D- This beer ages very well and is a pleasure to drink. I'll definately be picking up more of this vintage for the cellar. Recommended.

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Photo of npala86
4.85/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Tiernan
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

Photo of TimBeaulieu
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of SkiBum22
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a murky orange/red color with a thick slightly off white head that leaves some nice lacing.

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

T - Fruity, boozy and quite intense (yet balanced). Citral and piney hops make an appearance. Citrus peel, dark fruit, caramel and boozy finish.

M - Thick and syrupy and full and very much bold with flavor.

O - Another solid beer from Great Divide. This is my first time having this beer and I can tell that I'll like this one more with a few years on it.

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Photo of joemetric
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A. Copper with ruby highlights, good clarity, and nice foamy lacing.

S. Malt sweetness with a touch of caramel, fruit, and hops.

T. An assault of rich malts in front and an herbal citrus rind and warming finish

M. Lush and smooth with a perfect amount of carbonation.

O. One of the more flavorful barleywines I've had without being overwhelmingly sweet or thick. The hop character is a little off for me, I'd like to try one with a bit of age on it.

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Photo of skybluewater
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep rust color. Smell is huge, mostly pineapple and caramel. Pineapple and caramel come through in the taste as well. There's also a fair amount of hops present, although this isn't quite as bitter as a fresh Old Crusty. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden. Mouthfeel seems a thouch thin, but quite smooth.

Overall, this is a great barleywine, and a fabulous addition to the Great Divide family. To me, it tastes more like a Double IPA, but then, the good people at GD know more about beer than me, so I'll take their word for it. This is a great beer to warm body and soul on a below-zero evening here in the nation's icebox.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The Old Ruffian pours from the bottle a wickedly thick and syrupy dark reddish brown with a nice sticky khaki head that lingers on nicely. Aromas smack you in the face from the minute the brew is poured. Incredibly rich, big caramel malts hit upfront with mixed fruity notes all over with a touch of raisin. Resinous, piney, somewhat citric hops are in full force as well as puffs of alcohol. Simply a wonderful attack on the senses here and a good sign of things to come.

First sip brings starts with a massive thick caramel fruity maltiness that is fairly sweet. However...as the brew reaches the back of the tongue you're assaulted by a shockwave of piney, resinous hop bitterness that lingers on after each gulp. Raisins and dark fruits are well integrated as well as a faint bready flavor. This is definetly a hoppy barleywine but it remains quite nicely balanced throughout. A tasty treat.

Mouthfeel is freakin spot on. So full, big and creamy..it grabs on and does not let go...all the while being extremely drinkable at the same time. So tasty that it's hard for me to set my glass down. I wouldn't mind have another bomber on hand to cellar. A very nice barleywine that I wish I had access to locally, as I get the rest of the Great Divide line. Picked this up on a trip down to Kentucky.

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Photo of blitz134
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear garnet colored with lots of carbonation bubbles rising to the surface to support a cloud-like tan head that never goes away. Amazing head for a 10.2% abv beer. Sticky lacing all around the glass. Now if only everyone could pull this off. Gorgeous beer, really dont know what else I could ask for.

Aroma is amazingly strong. Sweetness dominates this hefty brew. Thick syrup caramel with dark ripe fruits and some citrus, tangerine hop overtones. Some toffee works its way in as well.

Flavor has the toffee coming back in initially and then syrupy pine and citrus hops come through. Sweetness is the key to the flavor, brown sugar, raisins and ripe plums. Alcohol doesn't try to hide itself at all but blends in nicely.

Nice mouthfeel. Full bodied and almost oily. Sticks to the tongue and refuses to leave.

Drinkability is good. A super complex beer that works well together. Alcohol is strong making this a definate sipper. I've been holding off on having this for just that reason, its a lot of beer for one person. My stomach is definatly warm right now.

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

Pours a translucent carmel headless

Carmel, sweet, malt. Yummy. Dont get the hops as mentioned. Cant smell the ABV, but I can sense it :).

Sweet into hops. Wow. Lots of flavor, not mesing around. Alcohol present, might want to mask it some. Full bodied.

Little syrupy, staring to really enjoy this about the style. Little biting at the end, but overall sits well in the mouth.

Being an east coaster, Im starting to love Great Divide. Everything seems to be very full bodied. This beeris very drinkable and Im not sure what I would pass up of beers I have had to date for a Great Divide.

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Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of dandaugherty1221
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Easily the best barley wine in my recent samplings, and quite possibly the best one I've ever had. This is an awesome beer. Served in aa snifter, the beer was a hazy amber color. It had a thick tan head with excellent retention and some great lacing. It had a caramel aroma with some fruit and a little bit of floral hops. The taste followed the aroma, and expanded on it. Sweet caramel to begin with, then the fruit, and a nice hops kick. A wonderful combination of the sweetness and the hops. I'll drink this beer anytime, anywhere.

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Old Ruffian from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 2,494 ratings