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Old Ruffian | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old RuffianOld Ruffian
BA SCORE
4.2/5
Exceptional
2,494 Ratings
Old RuffianOld Ruffian
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
greatdivide.com

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.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#2,271
Reviews:
1,120
Ratings:
2,494
pDev:
10%
 
 
Wants:
299
Gots:
449
Trade:
17
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,494 |  Reviews: 1,120
Reviews by NorthSideSean:
Photo of NorthSideSean
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%

More User Reviews:
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.

 694 characters

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.

 1,188 characters

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!

 1,487 characters

Photo of Beaver13
3.94/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Pours a deep copper-red with a huge long lasting orange-brown head that laces the glass.

Its aroma is piney hops, caramel/toffee malt with some fruity figs, anise and smokey alcohol.

The flavor is sweet caramel and figs initially followed by some anise and a big hop bitterness that lingers in the aftertaste. The alcohol is very noticeable and warming, but not overwhelming. The more I drink, the more I like it - it becomes smoother and better balanced. It is medium to full bodied, creamy and slightly syrupy.

Overall a big, bitter barley wine that really kicks your butt! Yet it's not overbearing and is easy to drink. I think this would age very well. It's pretty well balanced as it is, but I think some aging would smooth it out even more.

 769 characters

Photo of BillRoth
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of IBUnit63
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep caramel apple/cider color - unfiltered look. Thin, light head but the stuff still looks very appetizing. Strong, caramel/alcoholic aroma with nice hint of hops. Hops come out in spades on the mouth - very nice bitterness blends nicely with alcoholic malt and sweetness. Powerful, flowery hop finish.Drinks like a beer sundae with hop syrup - warm and soothing. Good to drink very slowly to savor it all. Great stuff.

 421 characters

Photo of bismarksays
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of HattedClassic
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer pours an off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves some very noticeable lacing. The beer itself is a clear ruby with hints of purple. The beer is very clear and see through. The beer has a strong notes of barley with lighter dark fruit notes that resemble raisin with a slight hint of alcohol. The beer taste is slightly different. The barley notes are weaker than the dark fruit notes. Also, the beer has a slight strawberry tartiness. The dark fruit notes are raisin with a bit of plum. The beer is heavy-bodied with a smooth feel and biting carbonation. Overall, a fantastic barleywine and worth drinking.

 625 characters

Photo of bleeps
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of sukwonee
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of adamcarlson28
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of Ilovelampandbeer
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of SpaethJam
4.06/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of CRJMellor
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a reallly "alive" red/amber color with some highlights of gold. Well-carbonated and a dense tan head appears after settling down on the pour. Tremendous sized bubbles in the head nad the ecru colored nectar forms an interesting ring around the glass.
Aroma of sweet caramel malt and a strangely earthy and sweet aroma, can't quite but my finger on it.
Falvors of caramel and toffee shine through a barrage of sweet and flowery bitterness. Pleasant if you like BW's but very aggressive. Sort of reminds me of Founder's Devil Dacer with just a little bit less going than that brew.
Mouthfeel is literally bittwersweet. Very sweet, almost orange like undertones on the list as the sweet fruits fade away into a new round of hop bittering.
Drikability is enormously high. Classic West Coast BW.
Sweet, toaste and roasted job is to bring Sak's up to the most fascinated by.

 884 characters

Photo of Doomcifer
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of claspada
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated Jan 07 2010.

Pours a hazy tawny, rustic mahogany with a substantial creamy, fluffy off-white head that leaves some nice sticky/soapy lacing on the sides of the chalice.

Aromas begin quite heavy on the caramel and dark fruity malts, as you might anticipate from being aged for 2 years plus. Second pass I get a light citrus and pine hop presence which still remains, which makes me think this was a hop bomb fresh. As it warms I get more complex maltiness highlighted by brown sugar, toffee and figs/dates. A decent amount of toasted breadiness is present throughout with no real booze or heat to speak of.

The tastes directly follow the nose with big toffee, dark caramel and brown sugar maltiness. You then get a light but substantial enough bitterness on the back end, enough that I can pick out the pine and light blood orange hop flavors. Toasted bready and the dark fruit flavors are once again present, no alcohol whatsoever. More bitter than I expected still but not too much so for the style. Fresh this may have been too bitter for the style, but aged here it is at a perfect level.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a surprisingly medium level of carbonation. The slight extra bit of carbonation helps this from being too sweet, which is important because barleywines can become too sweet with this much age on them. Finish is lightly sweet but more so lightly bitter.

Overall this is one of the best American Barleywines out there. Not quite up to the level of the Alaskan Barleywine which I consider the top, but really close. Really nice flavor profile, pine/citrus bitterness to complement the sweet caramel/toffee maltiness. Just a great showing overall. (This beer once again helps to prove my theory that American Barleywines peak at 2 years of age, so I will continue to follow that practice of waiting until that maturity date to sample going forward and recommend all to do the same for maximum enjoyment.) Definitely a must try for fans of the style and another high quality brew from Great Divide.

 2,048 characters

Photo of Klgkenny
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a refridgerated bomber into a room temp pint glass:

A passive pour produces a light head which quickly dissipates leaving a creamy ring around the perimeter of the glass. The beer is a light honey color; translucent. Really beautiful.

Smells like...sweet malt with a hint of caramel and hops. Once again, beautiful.

Taste mirrors the smell. Something sweet, sweeter than malt, the sweet malt, followed by a hint of caramel before a well balanced wave of hops. Very tasty. No real taste of alcohol, especially for a %10.2 abv.

A medium thick mouthfeel washes around the mouth leaving a coating of hops lingering on the tongue.

This is dangerously drinkable for a barleywine. The only hint that it is high in alcohol is the delayed warming sensation in my belly. I really like this, and I will seek it out again.

 827 characters

Photo of barczar
3.98/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled January 2015. Got away from me in the cellar.

Aroma is boozy, with specialty malt fruitiness, deep notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruit in the form of prunes, plums, and dates, with plenty of floral hop notes.

Flavor is specialty malt fruity at the forefront. Hop flavoring has faded, with just a hint of citrus underlying a fairly sweet, caramelly malt character that becomes bitter, grassy, and earthy as it carries into the finish. The aftertaste is earthy and fairly bitter and lingers. Bitter bite overwhelms.

 529 characters

Photo of johnnyboy76
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of Hopstout
4.56/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of anewlanguage
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of SteveB24
3.83/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12oz. bottle.

A: Pours a deep clear ruby amber with an inch and a half of off-white head. Solid retention and leaves behind some nice lacing.

S: Aromas of caramel malt, barley, fermented yeast, and red licorice initially. Then dark fruits, citrus, fig, and earthy hops. Also a noticeable alcohol note.

T: A very hop forward barleywine. Earthy hops, and caramel malts up front, then red licorice, citrus, and peppercorn. Finishes with flavors of caramel, sweet bready malts, and a pine/earth like hop spiciness.

M: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Dry astringent aftertaste with a alcohol warmth.

O: A very pleasant American Barleywine, I like the hop forward take they did but I feel like it is slightly overrated. A very pleasant and drinkable brew that I will buy again but I feel this would be better after cellaring for a year or two.

 878 characters

Photo of Rastacouere
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Strong beige head, 1-inch of remarkable sticky foam doesn’t care whether it’s a 10+% barleywine or not. The color is a rich deep copper. Rich caramel malt aroma (GD seems to be fond of that), an obvious american barleywine from the first sniff. Overwhelming piney and earthy Chinook reminiscent hops contribute a dryness that goes a bit far. Mellower floral and citrus fruits indicate the fact that probably more than one hop variety comes into the blend. Quite harsh hoppiness really, that’s not my favorite type, that’s for sure. The earthy malts are there to offer a match, but fall in front of the abrasive piney sweat drops, simply too agressive for simple bready and considerably powerful toastiness. A bit too much. Full airy body, very strong carbonation. Clean, but rough and hard to tame, you’d better be in the mood. To me in the same ballpark than bigfoot though with very different ingredients.

 912 characters

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