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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
2,464 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,464 |  Reviews: 1,111
Photo of niner9
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of bwyker
5/5  rDev +19%
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 BigD44
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of PopnLoads
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of photomike
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of RudnicsMEB
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Sinewave
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Gehrig
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A ruffian by definition is a rogue, a knave, a tyrant and bully, alluding to one uncultured and uncouth. After imbibing this incredible beverage, part of me can understand the name, for its effects, not to mention its collective and overwhelming genius, have left me dumbstruck, nearly bullied from the high ABV (10.2%) and sheer complexity of this monstrosity. Yet to me, the true genius of this beer transcends the moniker. I don't mean to quibble over semantics. I came neither to bury nor to rename Old Ruffian, but to praise it in all its glory. This, fellow drinkers, is a five-star beer if I've ever had one.

Two and one-half fingers of light tan froth top a somewhat cloudy brown body with amber highlights. The lacing on the glass is so thick, the Yankees pint glass is reminiscent of a winter decorated window, one adorned with snow, only tan. As if that weren't impressive enough, the head on this gem persists throughout. It is quite simply one of the greatest presentations I've seen from a beer.

The nose is very impressive, full of citrus hops and caramel, sugary sweetness. I wasn't inclined to give the smell a five at first, but the smell genuinely improves as the beer warms, emitting a floral hop aroma that is arresting. I just cannot speak enough about the taste, which alternates between sticky, sweet, and smooth one the one hand, and head-slap bitter and aggressive on the other. Heavy-handed citrusy hops, represented by orange, grapefruit, and lemon, wrestle with sweet, sugary, caramely, and toffee on the other. Both win, as does the drinker. The harmonic convergence is something to behold.

Not necessarily a sipper, this is still one to watch because the high ABV certainly does kick in, especially around the second half. Nonetheless, I cannot accurately characterize this beer as a "ruffian," unless it is in homage to the amazing thoroughbred horse bearing the same name. It is a big and burly, but also smooth and complex, beer that is without question one of the very finest I've ever had. Best in show for barleywines, Old Ruffian will likely never leave my personal top ten across styles. I cannot believe that I found a beer from Great Divide that I enjoy even more than the great beast Yeti. Yet here comes Old Ruffian down the stretch. Remarkable.

A sight to behold and enjoy. Truly outstanding.

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Photo of JxExM
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of 69davis
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Bakker
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of jtrockchalk
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of joelBfrasier
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of rab53
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Buttstallion
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of thedoer
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of calinalu
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Dudeletter
4.97/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The final beer we tasted, which was my wife’s favorite, was the Old Ruffian by Great Divide, an American style Barleywine. I want to emphasize here two things. First, we ate palate foods, but ate similar food while drinking (the cheese plate) and secondly, we drank these over time, I was not drunk on the floor giggling. This beer surprised me, though. The flavor popped, but was well balanced. The alcohol led to high sweetness, but this was balanced by the hops. I immediately tasted it and loved it, but was concerned that my wife would find it too hoppy, not at all, she loved it and I did as well. This beer is phenomenal and one of my favorite American Barleywines.


 728 characters

Photo of Thickfreakness
4.97/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Poured into a tulip glass... an almost three finger head of orange/khaki cream sits a top a ruby/mahogany brew. Absoluetely stunning to look at! The lacing is sticky as honey, and all the way to the top of the glass!!! Looks like cobwebs of beautiful!

S- Caramel, honey, pineapple, orange peel, lemon zest, brown sugar, dried figs, pine and marshmallow. Sweet, but not overly done! Hints of maple and dried cherries come into the nose with the alcohol. Absolutely perfect!

T- The hop kick and sweet caramel malts blend perfectly! Dried fruits blend with bitter citrus, dark brown sugar melds with the piney/lemon notes! Touches of amber honey, maple syrup and orange zest! This is unreal... and keeps getting better as it warms up!

M- Caramel/lemon pancakes with maple syrup! Really coats the tongue and stays!!! I believe this is the perfect blend of bitter and sweet! Well done Great Divide!!! Well done indeed! The bitter and sweet just keep blending together to give me one of the tastiest brews I've ever had!

O- Gotta be one of the all time greats!!! Ya'll gotta try this one! Perfect balance of citrusy/piney brightness, with a ton of sweet caramel malt to carry it thru! 10.2% abv... but you'd never know it! Complete and perfect!
I'm off to buy a few more bottles tomorrow!!! Damn!!!

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Photo of benito
4.97/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drinking GD Old Ruffian has become a pre-xmas tradition for me...this year, I had saved a bottle from 2005 to enjoy. Though the flavors have mellowed some, this bottle still shows all the qualities that set this barley wine apart: great balance of flavors, a rich, malty body, and a dangerously high level of drinkability.

It's a reddish brown with a fizzy head and a bouquet of stewed fruit, hops, cinnamon, and candy cane. Flavors that stand out are cherry and prune, matched toward the back of the palate with a piney hop finish. It's the smooth transition from sweet to bitter, heavy body (just-right syrupy), and snappy finish that make this a great beer.

Colorado craft brewers make some fine barley wines, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. It might even be the best barley wine in the US. A must try.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.97/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As I pop the cap of this long awaited bottle, Old Ruffian climbs out and reveals himself to be deep garnet, crimson-hued brown wearing a tightly knit cap of beige. As his head slowly fades in to a thin veil, spiderweb lacing is left as a memory.

Old Ruffian charges out of my chalice with an assault of complex aromatics. He leads the onslaught with sweet caramel and scorched brown sugar, creamy creme brule', dark pit fruit, and a generous helping of pine-drenched and citrus hops to provide excellent balance of aromas. There is a warming hint of his strength.

He explodes on your palate, stirring your senses to the point of dizziness. Carmelized malt flavors of molasses, toffee, and sweet fruits lead the way. There is a well-developed oaky, vanilla creaminess that adds a level of dryness. The creamy malt goodness is quickly sizzled off your tongue with a well-planned attack of MASSIVE hop bitterness. A complex blend of grapefruit, candied orange-peel, pine sap, and marijuana hop tones further his ferocity. There are so many levels of flavors to figure out here.

The Ruffian's body is huge and chunky. The mouthfeel is epic and luxurious. Ruffian takes control of your tastebuds with a very long, hoppy finish that has hints of malty sweetness to it.

Ruffian is victorious in battle, vanquishing all those who oppose him. He takes no prisoners and could stand right beside Double Bastard, Old Guardian, and even Old Marley. The Ruffian's young age is obvious and he will settle down and get wiser with age. He is tremendously complex in character, and his aquantaince should be sought by all. After all, it only costs 5 bucks to meet him, with a full 22 ounces of complex perfection.

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Photo of smerrell
4.95/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A well balanced beer, this barley-wine has a great malt presence with a nice bitter hoppiness. The roasted malt taste is reminiscent of cola or root beer, and nicely conceals the alcohol. the hops are a good accompaniment that don't overwhelm. I was expecting more sweetness, but am impressed with this beer. I'll need to pick a few bottles up for aging.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 2,464 ratings
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