Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

1,106 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: 1,106 | Ratings: 2,455
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber>Fat wine glass

AP: Deep, clear brown-tinted amber color body with a 2" bubbly and thick mocha colored head that displays long and impressivly sticky legs.

Nose: Caramalized grapefruit sweetness, tropical fruits, greeen, veggie hops with deep roasty and oak-wood edge and a slight jamaica-rum-like heat tingle.

flavor: Burnt caramel sweet malt at first with some slight chocolate notes is quickly dominated by an intense, whiskey-ish heat that bites down hard and allows the ultra bitter, dry, leafy hop that finishes rather harsh. The 10.2% ABV is very presnt and the bitter-edge throws of the balance.

Feel: Full body, heady feel, sticky on the lips after a while. The finish is a dry bitterness.

DA: Th 10.2 % ABV feels more like 15% and the bitter, harsh edge makes it not as easy to finish.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Daalamar: Poured a burgundy color ale with a small off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma of sweet caramel malt with some noticeable bitter hops. Taste is a well enough balanced mix between sweet caramel malt and bitter hops. Body is above average but could have been more full and alcohol was well hidden which is great. Overall, this was quite enjoyable and would love to have more in order to aged some of it.

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Photo of crewfan16
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from a bomber to a pint glass.

a- poured a dark red/orange color. cream colored head didnt rise up much and left quickly.

s- sweet caramely malts, lots of oily piney musty smell. something nutty and perhaps brown sugar. maybe a bit of raisin even.

t-lots of hoppy bitterness. grapefruit and pineapple citrus. tons of caramel and malt to back it up though. finishes extremely bitter and dry.

m- as it warms, the booze really starts to come out, but never gets too overpowering. initially feels a bit oily on my tounge, but finishes very bitter and dry.

overall, I enjoyed this brew. I am not as familiar as some with barley wine in general, but this one was tasty. almost feels like a malty DIPA. its definately a sipper, but another solid brew from the great divide.

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Photo of skizziks
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. The pour gives it a big 3" creamy tan head with thick lacing over a very hazy deep copper body.

Aroma is rich and complex. Spicy with caramel, toffee, cinnamon, some citric and floral hops along with some phenolics and rubbing alcohol.

Flavor is bitter right from the start quickly followed with loads of brown sugar and caramel. Herbal hops mix with the phenols to create a very Ricola cough drop flavor in the finish. A little odd, but not bad. The Ricola is accompanied by warming alcohol, more lingering spice, and plenty of hop bitter.

Mouthfeel is full and sticky, coating the mouth with just enough bitterness to keep it from being cloying.

A very hop forward barleywine, and a little heavy with the darker malts, but a very interesting and enjoyable beer none the less.

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Photo of rwmiscik
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This i a good barley wine. It pours a dark brown color and smells of booze and noble hops. I think i will be buying another bottle of this for the cellar because with a year or two on the bottle it would a really great barley wine. But even fresh it a great example of the style.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.81/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ever since I fell in love with Great Divide, I desperately wanted to try their barleywine. Thankfully, there was a store that wasn’t sold out in Indianapolis come five months or so after it was released – only place in town where I found a bottle. Lucky me – cheers!

Brewed a little over eight months before the date of this tasting (“BOTTLED ON: DEC 02 2011”).

A: A truly gorgeous beer, especially in the body: it’s a wondrously-bright and powerful red, exposing rich color from the glass at every angle. The head is none too forgettable, too, forming slow enough to make me almost overfill my glass. Its chunky foam texture marks a truly thick beer, settling so very slowly that it leaves silky, light tan lacing everywhere.

S: Extremely potent malt scents: bubblegum, fresh-cut red apples, and the leafy sweetness of dark grains. Has quite a bit of fig character underneath, too, while also boasting moderate tones of walnut and black cherry. Finishes with a familiar touch of toffee and port, as the style goes. Unfortunately, though, it is a little medicinal on the back end. Could be the age, but it’s out of place and unsatisfying; its stale scent greatly diminishes what could be a wonderful nose. Also, with all the talk of hops on the label, you’d expect some shred of bitterness in the nose (even after eight months). No can do, apparently…

T: Damn, these guys got the slow burn of a high-alcohol beer just right. Flavors of dark fruits and subtly-sweet malts come in first, opening the palate to a cascade of raisin, apple chutney, chocolate-toffee, and grainy bread. Slowly, then, with a transitional smoky taste, come those hops: spicy and herbal, lemony with hints of mango. In a moment’s time, the predominantly light hops fall into darkness, bringing the bitters more into the territory of resins and slick alcohol. The palate is rounded out by nutty, woody tastes, with chopped walnut, oak, and smooth Scotch flavors in the aftertaste – though some prickly hop oils end up lingering.

M: This beer is easy to finish quickly: it has a slight viscosity to it, but the hop presence lends a ton of lightness to the palate, drawing attention away from the thicker textures of the body. Barrel-aged might be too much for this beer; this is just right.

O: One of those rare beers where I liked the taste, but was just alright with the nose. Maybe that says something about the age of the beer; looking into the bottom of the bottle, I can see that this beer was not bottle-conditioned. It’s a possibility, so I’ll be looking out for fresh bottles this December.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review from notes 1/22/11. Thanks to THECPJ for sharing. 2010 vintage.

A: Hazy reddish/dark amber in color in color. Half finger of head forms with good retention. Decent foamy lace down the sides.

S: Quite hoppy! Some citrus aroma along with a good bit of malt - caramel and bread. Also get a good bit of alcohol on the nose as well.

T: Taste is similar to aroma. Get a ton of caramel and some toffee. The bread flavor is sweet and there is also a grass/citrus hop flavor.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, I liked the flavor profile, it is very complex, especially for a barleywine. My problem was how present the alcohol was. It was a struggle to drink this one, I look forward to having one with some age on it.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, unfortunately the date on the label is smudged but I think it says it was bottled sometime in November 2010. I've had the bottle for at least a year so I think that's the correct bottling date. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a dark reddish/amber color with about a half inch light tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The brew smells like dark fruit (prunes, raisins), brown sugar, pine hops, caramel malt and some sherry. For the most part it tastes just like the aroma, but there's also a slight bitter taste that I don't care for. It doesn't seem like a hoppy bitter flavor, there just seems something a little bit off about it. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit chewy and has good carbonation. Overall I think it's a good enough brew. I'll have to try this again in the future, maybe a fresher (or older) bottle will be better.

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Photo of peabody
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark reddish amber color with 1/2 finger of the off-white suds. Slight lacing here.
I smell fruits and spices and a little alcohol here. Mabey a hint of hops or malt come through. My nose is not as trained as some here.
It has a very warm fruity taste with a little hop bitterness. There is a sweetness that lingers in the mouth and taste of banana or pear.
I really like this barley wine stuff. It is my first time with a barley wine so I am biased on this revue.
I could drink mabey a couple of bottles but would be too intoxicated to even attempt opening the third.

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Photo of brdc
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large capped bottle, bottled 2007.

Coming from Stone, and expecting this to be a hopbomb, I have aged it for nearly three years. Poured into a snifter, it shows a glowing golden-red beer, with a very thin, short lasting off white head. Gorgeous color, would be amazing with a nicer head.
The aroma is better balanced than the flavor, sweet caramel maltiness, bread notes, grassy hoppiness. Both malts and hops come nicely out of the glass, strong and pleasant.
On the palate it feels pleasant, somewhat below full bodied. Good carbonation.
Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, this is still overhopped. The grassy and fruity hops come out on the top, overwhelming everything else on its way. The caramel is a vague recollection from the aroma.
For a major hophead, a nice barleywine. In my case, the second bottle will sleep in the cellar for about 6 years.

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Photo of THECPJ
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes 1/22/2011

A: malty, sweet, caramel, and much hoppier than expected for a barley wine

Ap: reddish-brown with maybe ½ finger head

B/T: mild carbonation, medium body

Af: not very easily drinkable, dry with hints of citrus and pine hops, quite unusual

O: not my preferred style of beer, glad to try it, but probably wouldn't have it again.


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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is a rich mahogany brown, nice and clear. It pours with a nice thick tan head. Aroma is fairly strong and malty, definitely inviting. Flavor has a pretty fierce alcohol bite, but once you get past that it is pleasant, smooth, malty with caramel and fruit hints. Definitely a beer to be sipped and savored.

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Photo of cvm4
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled Date: December 2, 2011

A - Pours deep amber in color, hazy and has a one finger light tan head.

S - Vanilla, caramel, bready malts and light pine hops.

T - Starts off with a bit of a sweet tooth... Caramel, vanilla & toffee. The pine/earthy hops are there in the beginning and come on stronger through the end to leave a bitter taste. There's a lingering "off" taste that I can't figure out.

M - Medium bodied and carbonation. About the right body for the style.

O - This is a good barelywine but no where near a 94 or a 100, IMO.

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Photo of Jules11788
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark, deep, orange-red color; one finger-width head, slight retention, super sticky lacing. Overall beautiful color.

S: Very, very slight smell of malts, toffee, and figs. Not much in the smell department.

T: Starts with a nice charred wood bitterness that opens up as it hits the middle of the tongue, revealing oaky bitter hops and some sweet bready malts, with a good helping of booze. Finishes with some spicy, earthy hops that linger.

M: Medium thickness; lightly carbonated; pretty boozy and sharp on the tongue. As it warms it mellows out A LOT and becomes buttery and smooth.

O: This is a great Barleywine that needs some time in the cellar to become and exceptional Barleywine

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Photo of ryantho00
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass....pours to a deep ruby/amber/orange color that leaves a nice 1.5 finger and great lacing.

This beer has a weird smell to me, kind of like a very earthy smell, which doesn't appeal to me at all, but the taste fixes all of that.

I have to say, this is only the second barleywine I've had, but from beginning to end, this is great. It has a full bodied, chewy mouthfeel that gives way to a slightly fruity, apple and grapey taste, that is killed off instantly with a hoppy bitterness that is then killed with an almost toasted taste. It has a smoothness throughout and a subtle sweetness underneath the entire beer. Very smooth and good balance through the whole drink. I do taste hops in the aftertaste and a nice alcohol warming that isn't overpowering at all.

I wouldn't be able to drink this all night but it is very flavorful and smooth with a nice complexity that is quite enjoyable.

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Photo of hopsbreath
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was aged just over 1 year. The high 11% alcohol content allowed it to age nicely. It was still quite sharp and slightly astringent but good for the style. The heat may have mellowed more if it had sat back another year. Very sweet and syrupy. I identified toffee, caramel, and other sugary candies in the taste. Very nice and worth checking out.

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Photo of Brad007
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 version (before the label change)

Pours a medium reddish color with a thick two-finger head into my glass.

Aroma is strong with a hint of raisin and sweet malt in the nose. Grassy hops show in the nose as well. Seems very appealing and to the style.

Taste is strong with alcohol showing up front, giving way to grassy hops and raisin/sweet malt. Alcohol warmth coats the throat. Hops aren't too strong.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering hops, alcohol and raisin. Alcohol is still strong even with nearly two years on this beer (unless I'm wrong?).

Again, a very nice barleywine that could use more aging to it. Strong, hoppy and has a lot of cellaring potential. Check it out.

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm going to guess this is from 2008 or so. It is the old style label and has been sitting in my cellar for a few years now.

A - Hazy, ruddy brown in color with a nice foam cap sitting on top. Head is a good two fingers after a gentle pour and settles to about an inch of solid foam. Carbonation has held up real well in this one.

S - Sweet malts and a bit of caramel initially. Some fruity notes come through as well with a touch of citrus fruit. As the beer warms I get some floral aromas as well. Sweetness carries throughout.

T - Sweet malts and a sharp bitterness full of citrus notes. Despite a few years on it the hoppiness has certainly help up. The tastes are a bit disjointed but they are still good. They just dont meld very well. Caramel and a little burnt sugar come through in the finish. Alcohol is certainly noticeable but not overwhelming.

M - Medium bodied with an oily feel to it. Carbonation is present but not overdone.

O - A classic American bwine. Hops are still a big player despite the years and the malt backbone is pretty solid. Booze is there but not too overdone for 10+%.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into my snifter

Pours a light caramel brown like color, when held to the light it has a light ruby accent to it. Huge three finger off-white which is slightly on the tan side, truly magnificent. The head was very foamy and thick leaving soapy lacing stuck to my glass.

Malted barley, wheat, grains, spices, bread like, brown sugar, caramel, bitterness hops, and slight alcohol. Smells delicious!!!

Up front hoppy bitterness with some spices showing up and then it gives way into the sweet caramel malts. Leaves a tad bitter dry taste in the end.

Medium bodied with very good amounts of carbonation tickling my tongue.

Its been a while since I tried a new style and thought I should give barley wines a try. So as my first barley wine ever, I thought it was good. This is a little to boozy for me though to drink more then one. I definitely will seek out other barley wines and compare.

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Photo of Docer
3.76/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

WooHoo.. grabbed a bottle at beaumont market in NE Portland... bottled in Jan. of '09.

- Nice very slightly cloudy browny brown of an ale... slightly heavy pour left a great tan creamy head that lasts... mega lacing.. looks good!

- Sweet caramel malt scent... bittering hop... candy and ester.. and alcohol.

- Super sweet caramel candy wine with a bit of a bitter tongue and bite... but compliments it well and balances the whole lot.. tad strong in alcohol.. but it too is masked quite a bit by the bitter/sour balance. Quite nice and unique.

- Bit tart and dry.. chewy.. overall decent feel.

- Drinkable, but not as much as some other American Barleywines... but its OK. Slightly warming and sour.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.76/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, no bottling date, but for barleywines it doesn't really matter.

A- Brown, copper, muddy looking. Eggshell white head, perhaps tapioca pudding color. Very attractive.

S- Malt sweetness, slightly boozy, but very faint.

T- Hops and malts are blended very well. Thick and rich with enough hop bite to cut through the serious malts. Very good, refined, clean barleywine.

M- Pretty good. Not overpowering or overbearing, this is pretty smooth and sippable. This is one of the tamer mouthfeels of any barleywine I've had, and is a testament to the well-crafted beer that this is.

D- Moderate to moderately high. You only want one, but it's a joy to drink and goes down incredibly easy considering the ABV. A quality brew. Do not hesitate to seek this one out. Very well put-together.

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Photo of StoutFox
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Enjoyed at brewery on tap
Appearance: Brown with a redish tint, uniform body, white head
Aroma: Dark fruits, carmaly, a bit of sweet hops
Taste: A bit to hoppy for my taste, the hops tend to overpower the other flavors of the the beer
Complexity: heavy, and boozy
Overall: Worth the try but not my favorite Barleywine, would be nice to try after a couple of years in the celler

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer looks great. Clear and deep blood ruby red with a gorgeous cap of khaki suds. Big head for a high ABV brew, always a nice thing to look at.

If I didn't pour this one myself I'd swear that someone has cut and dropped fresh pineapple into my beer. Big citrus hops and loads of malty goodness. The nose screams amazing potential.

The taste fizzles out drastically. More bitter then any actual flavor keeps the real character of this beer from shining through. I also find what bold malts make it through the astringency to be overly caramelized and too sweet for my taste. Gone are the awesome pineapple and citrus only to be replaced by stale old canned fruit flavors. A record disappointment from the nose.

However the taste isn't so bad to stop me from enjoying this beer. I actually like the bitterness and appreciate it's potency. Although I wish there were more character to the palate I find it to be a strong bodied, appropriately carbonated, easy drinking brew and that's something to be proud of with anything over 10%. After a grand start and a disappointing middle Old Ruffian finishes strong and is worth a look.

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Photo of jamex
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a RR belgian glass. Bottle states brewed in Jan '10.

Pours a nice mahogany with nice, lasting head. Complex smell consisting of a strong malt presence with hints of fig, leather, caramel and whiskey. (odd, but if you've ever bought that weird malt stuff to help your cats with hairballs, it exhibits that smell as well).

A very malty and molasses like taste with a bitterness that strikes you in the corners of your mouth. More dark fruit taste.

Lasting taste that is sweet and bitter; fig, caramel and wood.

This guy is not that drinkable and definitely a sipper. I couldn't imagine having a second one of these, not that it was designed for that goal. Like most American barleywines, this one is thick, meaty and full of flavor.

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Photo of kbwalters
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on Jan 29th, 2015, consumed on April 7th. Poured cold into a tulip glass.
Look = 4.25 Clearish amber color with red highlights and 2.5 fingers of off white head that fades to a cap. Good retention and lace.
Aroma = 3.5 Caramel and toffee malt notes in the nose, highlighted with hoppy citrus and pine notes.
Taste = 3.75 Caramel and toffee maltiness, balanced somewhat with hoppy pine and orange peel, moderate bitterness on the finish and mild boozy taste.
Feel = 4.0 Thick and full bodied, sticky and resiny feel like a syrup with low to medium carbonation.
Drinkability = 3.5 Thick and boozy, big barleywine with lower drinkability.
Overall = 3.775 Disappointing score for a well respected American style barleywine. It didn’t come together for me.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,455 ratings.
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