Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

1,105 Reviews
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine

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.

Added by gbontrag on 11-28-2004

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Reviews: 1,105 | Ratings: 2,451
Photo of cameraman
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 22oz mug, a deep amber color that is slightly cloudy, with a 1/4 inch head, that laces down the mug slowly down the glass. The aroma comes with a floral and earthy onslaught, that is evident at a distance. As you get closer to the glass, the malt becomes more pronounced. The taste is excellent, starting with the sweet malt at the beginning and the mid-way the hops begin come forward and it gets stronger as it reaches the end of every taste. In the mouth, it be classified like a light-heavy weight in boxing. Heavy, but not overly heavy. It alao seems to be chewy towards the end. You have to drink this one slowly, the intense flavor and high alchol means this beer could knock you on your butt.

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Photo of JayQue
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

WOW!!! A great tasting American Barleywine with an initial blast of hops bitterness and an equally strong, caramel tinged maltiness follow up. You could say "balanced" here but both the hops and the maltiness are strong "in your face" flavors. Pours a cloudy reddish color. An agressive pour gives you a big tannish head that dissipates to a small, "hang in there" head. Lacing is huge, thick ladder down the glass. The taste is a nice transition from strong hops bitterness to a somewhat sweet, but not cloying caramel/malt taste. There is no alcohol taste. Mouthfeel is rich and halfway through the bomber, the maltiness becomes predominant over the hops. Drinkability is very good. Anything more than the bomber would result in degraded/abnormal/not full mission capable performance, but I would never pass up 22 oz of this elixer. A really fine beer!!!

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Photo of kagent777
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into my CCB snifter. This was bottled on Nov 8, 2010. I don't remember whether I traded for this one or got it while on my trip to Denver a year ago.

Appearance: A reddish brown that has a bit of haze and a wonderful whitish head that was one finger and settled to a film. Looks very nice. Gorgeous lacing all the way down.

Smell: Nothing smells better than a good barleywine. Rich malts with dried dark fruit, raisin and plum. I also get a bit of general bittering hops as well, subdued I am sure compared to what they were.

Taste: Really complex! I get rich nutty malts with those rich dark fruits, no sweetness goes into a long lasting bitter finish. I taste tobacco, leather notes, toffee, and caramel. The alcohol may be the bittering opposed to the residual hops, I am not sure. The alcohol is not solventy or hot, well hidden for such a big beer.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as I was imagining. Huge flavors, my tongue cannot hide from them. Low carbonation, that gives a really velvety mouthfeel.

Overall: As awesome BW. This is why barleywines are probably my favorite style. I am jelous for the people that can get this regularly, especially on tap. I am sad to say that I do not have an un-aged bottle to compare to, at 2 1/4 years old, this one is amazing.

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Photo of saintwarrick
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rusty red, very clear with a huge creamy sudsy white head like an IPA. If the look is like an IPA, the aroma clinches it: lots of piney hops in the smell like a pine forest or Christmas tree. Reminds a lot of the Bigfoot I had last year, or even a Dogfish Head brew. Taste is at first sweet like caramel and nougat dipped in whiskey, then a heavy bitterness takes over, piney hop oils that balance the brew. A wide range in the balance here, at first very sweet then hugely bitter.

A really drinkable and bitter barleywine that rivals Bigfoot in the hops department.

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Photo of Chaney
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At the present, this is ranked #9 in the top American Barleywine category. I remember when it was #1, but never mind that this is by far the most reviewed BW in the top ten by a margin of about 600. Speaks volumes, huh?

Bottled on Dec 10, 2011.

Poured into a Delirium Tremens tulip.

A: Poured a clear, ruby red color, with an amazingly dense off-white (mildly) head that had tremendous staying power. This kinda looks like Nugget Nectar.

S: I start to smell the fragrant hoppy air freshener before the cap was even fully popped. Sure this is hoppy, but based on the nose, I wouldn't consider this one to be a bomb in that direction at all... it's much too floral and candy-like for that. Good nose descriptor: Jolly Rancher.

T: Much more hoppy on the front than I would have imagined from the nose, with very compact sugar/licorice combo that I often ascribe to the great American BWs. Sweet, but the bitter elements wash over that. Pretty incredible.

M: Thick, and with a pixie stick dust-infused sugar bill that keeps pulling me back for more and more. The bitter elements really sizzle the palate in the way world-class DIPAs do, and the lacing was substantial.

O: I can't believe I only paid around $8 for this top-notch example of a very popular style. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this is one of the best brews that Great Divide makes... and that is really saying something!

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4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Old Ruffian pours out a bright orange/amber with a 1/2" head of off-white foam that drops quickly to a cap, then a ring, for the duration of the drink. Good lacing.
The aroma of this brew is outstanding. There are nice hops up front and then a candy sweet smell hits the nose. Caramelized butter. Reminiscent of the smell of pecan pralines or "leche quemada" being made. Nice, nice smells!
The thing that struck me from the first sip was the complete balance of this beer. The hops and malt are both up-front but neither steals the show. The hops have a slight citrus tang (mild orange peel flavor) as the beer enters then a slightly sweet taste complemented by some fruitiness towards mid-mouth. The beer finishes up with a nice long, bitter, complex finish. All the flavors are blended together perfectly. Superb barleywine!
The mouthfeel seems semi-thick and chewy with some tongue-tingling hops and carbonation.
The beers' drinkability is out of this world, especially for being 10+%! Nice liquor-like warming effect. Complex, wonderful beer very worthy of its ratings. Highly recommended!!

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Photo of aaronh
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice brown body with a rather long lasting head for a big beer. Aroma has a lot of sweetness complemented by a lot of pine. Flavor is strong on fresh malt notes, but the resinous pine dominates the finish. Mouthfeel is luxurious, perhaps just a bit too fatiguing towards the end of the bottle. After a bad first impression a several years ago with Great Divide, I've since been very pleased with all their offerings. This one is no exception.

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Photo of MrDerp
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Great dark amber coloring. Head leaves a light lace behind.
S - Caramel and hopps aroma
T - Taste starts and ends slightly hoppy. In between, is a bold caramel somewhat citrus-ish flavor. Very, very good.
M - Medium body, but stays with you. Seems to be more carbonated than others. Very good.

Overall a fantastic, great tasting beer. Its not extremely hoppy like you find with a lot of American Barleywines. Instead theres a great distinct flavoring between the hops. Very higly recommended. One of my favorites.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in January of 2015.
Pours a murky, maroon with a thin, creamy off-white head.
I can smell the wonderful mix of citrus hop and malt from a couple feet away. Candied mango and orange smell also.
Boy, the hop an malt combine very well for a wonderful mouth experience. The bitter hop is right up front, with many subtle fruits showing up along with citrus notes. This would include dark fruits of plum, cherry and dates. The malt bill in pleasant that expresses molasses as well. An alcohol bite lingers with slight resin. A wonderful Barleywine!

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Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: deep orange/copper. Clear. Thin head. Thin lacing.
Smell: sugars and fruity hops. Slightly alcoholic.
Taste: Caramel, fruity. Mango and citrus. Alcohol is there but not overpowering. Same with bittering hops.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Slightly sweet, yet has a dryness.
Overall: what an American Barley Wine should taste like.

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Photo of granger10
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a deep copper color, dark orange around the sides, with a medium sized super sticky white head. Very nice.

Aroma is really piney, juicy hops, there's a medicinal element. Alcohol esters are there but blend nicely with the hops. Caramelized dates are there along with toffee, butterscotch, and a sweet honey bread note. Great complex aroma.

Taste has dry malty notes upfront no real residual sugars are noted. Then a syrup texture takes the palate and brings some bitter hops in with it. Citric flavors become more prevalent. Soon, I'm eating whole grapefruits. A nice brandyish note comes into the mix. Acidity builds into the finish. Finish lingers with a dry alcohol warming feel.

The body is medium and every flavor in this beer lets itself be known yet does not overtake any other flavor. The dry malts, the sweet sugars, the bitter hops, the flavor hops, the alcohol esters, they all have their place here. This is simply a great barleywine, one I need to get many more of.

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Photo of 99bottles
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Into a tulip, this beer has a beautiful garnet body, clear and tranquil. A soft pour still conjures a head of 1.5" of dense tan foam. Retention is unreal, and sticky lace clings to the glass forever.

Smell: This has a wonderful smell, with everything that constitutes an exceptional barleywine. Maple candy, brown sugar, and a sharp bite of hops make this irresistable, and if sniffed too hard almost painful.

Taste: WHEW!!!! This is a big mutha of a beer. One sip and you realize that the malts are slick and heavier than 10-40W. As they swirl across the tongue, something else entirely takes over. Bitter hops. The bottle says they're up about 90 IBU. They are not joking. This is a bitter b-wine if I've ever had one. Almost saponic in its bitterness, this has grapefruit and flavors of oily citurs rinds. The malts are big, heavy, carmel, sugar, even some vanilla/oak. The hops are just as big, and make for one heck of a bruiser. Slight whiskey burn in the nostrils. This is really good, but not for the meek.

Mouthfeel: Slippery and hoppy. Thick. It's not kind to the tongue, but it's not supposed to be. This is an assertive beer, and I like that about it. Subjective? Perhaps, but try it and you'll see what all the fuss is about.

Drinkability: I really enjoy this beer, right now. Think of Old Horizontal that was fed adrenaline. It's really quite complex, once you can let the harsh hops and malt reshape your palette. I am willing to bet that this will soon be in the top 100 beers on this site, especially if left to age. Wow.

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

Old Ruffian - 10.2% I had this bomber at the Leon Pub whilst studying for finals. I actually saw someone purchase a LP shirt. Not remarkable in itself, except for the fact that he felt compelled to try it on before he left the bar.

Damn this beer looks good. No small head on this BW. It has a fairly big, bubbly light brown head on top of a spectacularly dark red body that is mostly transparent. Lacing, check. Excellent.

Tobacco, massive musty hop goodness, big malty sweetness. This beer has it all.

This beer doesn't quite reach 100 IBU, but it still manages to have an awesome tongue smashing bitterness. A massive malt character, but with an odd dryness. Fruit, booze, hops, and malt in one big melting pot of a beer. To say the bitterness lingers is a bit of an understatement.

It has a nice tongue enveloping mouthfeel; though the finish of this beer is somewhat grainy. I was expecting this beer to feel overly carbonated after seeing the head, but it was not the case.

Big and bold. This beer reminds me why I became an American craft beer fan. It has a take no prisoners flavor. To hell with subtlety when you can be brash.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old Ruff is an enticingly deep-chestnut hued bier, with touches of garnet as well. It's a clear bier, with extremely fine carbonation heading topside, though it is few and far between. The head which tops things off starts at about 1/4" after a hard pour, then fades to a thin, covering layer of tan, creamy, compact little bubbles. Lacing is exquisite, too, as the pattern left in the glass is A-1! Aroma is easily evident, with malty notes oozing out of the goblet and into the surrounding atmosphere. Also has strong indicators of a large hop presence. Body is well above medium, and it is an exceedingly smooth, velvet-like bier. Nothing rough in this Ruff.

Caramel and toffee aspects are first evident in the heavy load of malt which hits the palate. Sweetness glides across the tongue and down the hatch. But the malt is matched in its strength by all those IBUs. Citrussy notes coat the mouth, and hide in all the nooks and crannies, allowing Ruffians hop-liciousness to linger long and hard. And this is a 10.20% abv bier? Where's it hiding? I don't feel it, and that could get scary! This is a wonderful offering from Great Divide!!


overall: 4.6
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 5 | drinkability: 5


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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.

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

Pours a ruddy chestnut color with a tall, brown foamy head that lasts forever. Aroma is sweet and grassy, fruity like honeysuckle, macerated raisins or prunes. The aroma follows me as the glass is moved around. Sticky lacing all the way down the sides.

Taste is thick and sweet malt and a hop-load of bitterness at the same time. Up front, I get the sweet fruity bits of plum or dark grapes; on the back of the palate is the puckering bitterness of floral hops and orange rind that lounges around through the aftertaste. Sweet and bitter sides alternate throughout, fighting for my attention. Balance? Bah, more like an ongoing struggle, critical to the success of a good adventure/thriller/buddy-cop movie.

Mouthfeel is medium and smooth without being thick or oily. Barely a trace of alcohol in the flavors, despite the ABV, and it certainly warms me up quickly. I'm tempted to age a few bottles but I'm afraid it would lose a lot of its hoppy aggressiveness. An excellent American-style barleywine.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours out a deep crimson, though clear, coloration, and has an enormous head, huge, cocoa-colored, long-standing, lovely...and, would you believe, the bottleneck bubbled over, with bubbles after the pour! Tres amusant! Leaves considerable, and attractive, lacing, as it diminishes, as well...very much appreciated!
Aroma: huge, rich, full of flavor, a jar full of toffee with butterscotch dipped in for fun, with chocolate cherries on the side, and a snit of brandy waiting in the rafters...
Taste: big, bad, and booze-tastic! Huge, rich, and full, utterly dripping in dark fruits, caramel, toffee, and so much character that pretenders tremble in it's wake ...seriously, this is a true contender amongst the ranks of fine American barleywines...not too huge in Abv, an overwhelming fruity/hoppy characteristic. Damnably tasty...I must take another sip...dastardly delicious...yet nearly thick with flavor, ...yum, the intensity of flavor does not detract from the overall deliciousness...big, rich, and mighty...a damned good barleywine!
I've got to stick some away for a rainy day, that's for sure!

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to rajendra82 for this anticipated brew.
Pours a dark ruby/brown color with very little light passing through.
1/4 finger of creamy tan head w/ clingy lace.
Stong aromas filled w/ floral hops, raisins, caramelized malts, vanilla and rum...one of the best smelling bw's to date.
Taste is an explosion of hops...the most intensely hopped up barleywine I have tried...yes, Big Foot included.
Lovely malt flavors as well, but the hops are what rule here. Served close to room temperature, this beer is pretty darn sweet. But it is a bittersweet, making this barleywine truly enjoyable/drinkable...even at 10.2%
Mouthfeel is a tad thin for its style...one of just a few things keeping this one from perfection.

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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.

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Photo of wr3ck00n
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled early December 2012, poured 11.30.13.

Poured a lovely rosey copper with a nice thick head. Very pretty lacing as I sip. Pleasantly sweet nose, malty with hints of caramel and maybe toffee. Taste follows right in line with the smell, just stronger. Nice and rich, bold even, but manages to do so without feeling the slightest bit heavy. Smooth and filling in the mouth, warms as it goes down. ..Everything I love about a barley wine, personally. I will note that I pulled it out to sit a good 30-40 minutes before I poured it, and I don't think it would have been nearly as good right out the fridge. Sipping slowly, it's only gotten better as it warms. Overall, this one is going straight to the top of my list. Great Divide has yet to disappoint me, and this is no exception. Wonderful brew.

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Photo of TrippnFiasco
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Caramel color head, about one finger. Begins to get smaller after a minute or so, but small amount lingers for 3ish minutes, with small ring remaining for the entire glass.

S: Smells like intense hops, but a fruity sweetness keeps it from smelling totally like an IPA. Hoppy, fruity, caramely. Very well balanced.

T: Delicious! Tastes like an IPA with a caramely-sweetness, although not as fruity as the aroma first impressed. Slight alcohol bite, but not overpowering. VERY well balanced.

M: Medium-Heavy bodied, slight creaminess

D: Very drinkable, could have one entire bottle over an evening, or split between two after/with dessert

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Photo of Kvlterbm
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle to snifter. Bottled on November 8, 2010.

A: Pours a clear, dark amber that borders on red with one finger of foamy white head. Head disappears pretty quickly, but it leaves some nice lacing along the sides of the glass. A perfect looking barleywine.

S: Big, sweet caramel malt notes at the front of the nose. Some toffee from the malt, and a fig/raisin dark fruit aroma. There's a definite citrus and pine smell from the hops as well. Very faint hint of booziness.

T: Follows the nose very well. Big caramel malt sweetness and some fruit notes, followed by huge hop flavor. Pine and citrus, and some tropical fruit sweetness as well. The label says 90 IBUs, and you'll definitely taste that bitterness. The hop bitterness blends well with a toffee that'll linger on your palate once the bitterness fades. The alcohol is very well masked. You'll definitely feel it as you work your way through the bottle, but there's no boozy taste to it whatsoever.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, light carbonation. Great for a barleywine.

D: Definitely a sipper at 10.2%. The alcohol's extremely well-hidden, so you'll feel it much more than you taste it.

A fantastic barleywine. Great fresh, and should be just as good, if not better with some age. I'll definitely be drinking more, as well as aging a few bottles.

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Photo of ericj551
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Old Ruffian Barleywine pours a clear deep copper red with beautiful lacing that follows the beer down the glass. The aroma is rich with sweet caramel malts and tons of dark fruity esters. There is a bit of citrusy hops and bitterness. The first flavor that hits my tongue is a preview of citrusy, grapefruity hops, followed by rich sweet caramel and toffee malt. The huge sweetness is balanced by a rounded bitterness and more grapefruit hops. The bitterness lingers in the aftertaste and almost completely hides the alcohol. This has to be the easiest drinking barleywine I've had, it's really smooth and delicious.

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Photo of wolfinthemirror
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dated Jan. 07 2010, poured from a 22oz. bomber into a tulip glass. Deep mahogany color with a nice fingers worth of an off white head that dissipates and dissolves into a ring. the alcohol forms a clear film on the inside of the glass.

In the nose I get honey drenched hops. It exudes a nectary sweetness. There might be some citrus there, and a faint scent of booze.

WOW. This tastes brilliant. very rich, I get the caramel malts and other sweet amenities enveloped in an excellent crust of the hops. The complexity of this beer almost reminds me of a pie in that way, while the sweetness is the gooey filling on the inside, it's all housed by the hops. Perfectly balanced. As the beer warms, the alcohol begins to reveal itself more. Also, something about the taste really reminds me of the nectar from honeysuckle flowers.

This absolutely just coats the mouth, and is smooth like butter. low carbonation, medium-full bodied . almost seems milky and i'm left with warming from the alcohol.

Despite the ABV being 10.2% on this beer, it is extremely drinkable due to the rich taste. I'll finish this bomber probably over the course of an hour.

I had very high expectations for this beer and have cherished the bottle for a few months since I bought it. I've lookd forward to trying this for a very long time, and it was well worth the wait.

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Photo of rye726
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from private nitro tap into a goblet at 45F. Aged about one year.

Nice thick and creamy ¾" tan head. Cloudy but glowing orange-brown hue.

Smells of Mexican sweet bread covered in fresh honey and caramel. The sweetness really comes out as this brew ages. There are also aromas of citrus fruits and piney hops. This is a drink you can taste just by the aroma.

What a well-balanced barley wine. The sweet flavors blend perfectly with the heavy yet well balanced hops.

Lightly carbonated creamy body fits this beer very well. The fruity characteristics of this beer allow it to go well with most dishes, especially fine poultry and fish. This is one of the finest American barley wines around and I would highly recommend giving it a try.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,451 ratings.
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