Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
Liked This Beer
4.2 w/ 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,464 |  Reviews: 1,111
Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle, w/o vintage or any other info. Pours dark honey/amber, dark tan, fine head, leaving scattered and fine/wispy lacing. Malty nose, with a hint of earthy funk as it warms. Smooth. mellow and quite tasty Bwine. Plenty of smokey malts, hints of scotch and leather. Thoroughly pleasing sipper, fine night capper, went well with some aged chedder

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark cherry red color with a thin light beige head head.

S: Some citrus, dry pine on nose.

T: Nice sticky pine resin flavor, dry, with some oak cherry wood notes. Dry pine, alcohol is well hidden for 10.2 abv. Some floral bittering with citrus hints in the finish. Sweet caramel and toffee round out the mouthful for a creamy rich body. Good malt complexity and and woodiness.

M: Mouthful is sticky and dry with some caramel sweetness.

D: Very drinkable until you finish and alcohol hits you. Some alcohol bite upon warming.

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Photo of nataku00
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap poured into a snifter. Beer is a dark amber, mostly clear, with a thing soapy off white head on the pour. Not too much head rebuilds after swirling, just at the surface really, leaving very light lacing that slides back into the beer. Some light carbonation visible through the beer, slowly ascending from the bottom of the glass.

Nose has a strong citrus hops, grapefruit peel mostly, with some of the bitter pith as well. Dark caramel sweetness tries to balance the hops, some biscuit malts as well.

Citrus and a strong malty backbone plays well together on the tongue. Bitter citrus peel hops upfront, mellowing into the malty sweetness, caramelized sugar and sugar cookies come to mind. Lingering citrus hops on the tongue and back of the throat helps to remind you what you're drinking as alcohol warmth keeps you to small sips.

Medium bodied, bordering on syrupy if not for faint carbonation trying its hardest to lighten things up. Alcohol isn't present on the tongue, but the warmth in your throat reminds you that you're drinking a very big beer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, hazy brownish, copper with a huge creamy head that just stayed and stayed and stayed. Smell was incredibly hopped and fruity. Overwhelming citrus all over, wonderful on the nose. Taste is wooo, strong, this one grabs you. Incredible bitterness, and the alcohol will warm you on the way down. Very dry finish. Did I mention hops?!?! Wow, a great sipping beer(power to you if you can do anything else) Perfect for a cold winter night, this was a treat I will be sure to return too.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a small head with a conrete lacing. Dark golden brown with a cloudy appeareance. Piney super hops is the only thing I can smell at first. It has caramel and banana undertones. Taste is very bitter and very sweet with piney hops and caramel and banana undertones. Mouthfeel is watery, but smooth, and a little carbonated. It also has a slight coffee undertone.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big thanx to prAna for this one!
I am sampling a 22 oz bomber at room temp in a snifter.
The beer pours a clear chestnut color with garnet tints and a large beige fluffy 3 cm head that foams up easily and fades slowly leaving large windowpane latticework.
Aroma is a mix of brown sugar maltiness and toffee mixing perfectly with citrusy hops of grapefruit and orange.
First sip reveals a very smooth body with almost non-existent carbonation.
Flavor starts toffee sweet with some berry fruitiness and then rolls quickly to a bitter piney hop bite on the finish. Some booziness hits at the end too. The finish dries my mouth substantially and keeps me thirsting for more. Glad I have a 2nd bottle of this little treat!
QUite nice but a bit of a sipper!

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Massive head, light brown color, very lasting – beer is a deeply translucent light brown/amber color – almost no carbonation – heavy head lace left behind

Strong hop bitter smell – sweet malt – little alcohol – nice blend of bitter/sweet

Massively strong taste – strong hop bitterness, with its citrus vibe – strong sweet malt – strong alcohol, almost like wine.

Thick – very present carbonation in the mouth, but light sting – alcohol presence

This is a really strong beer. Less than half a pint and my tongue has taken quite a beating. The heavy citrus taste associated with the hops (IPA level) is very present in smell, taste, aftertaste, and as it is burped back up minutes later. The meld of bitter and sweet is nice. I can’t drink it quickly, it is crazy.

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Photo of Damian
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 22 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Downtown Wine & Spirits, Somerville, MA

Poured a clear, glowing crimson-brown. The three-finger, sea foam-like head faded to a creamy froth and lasted throughout the drink. Multiple thick ridges of lacing stuck all around the glass.

The smell was rich, smooth and very sweet (almost candy-like). I could smell the sugars in the beer immediately after opening the bottle. Tons of caramel malts with hints of vanilla and warm bread.

Taste was flavorful and powerful. An equal portion of sweet malts and crisp hops was apparent initially before the citrusy hops, spices and huge alcohol kick became noticeable. The alcohol crescendoed on the rear of the palate and the biting, piney, grapefruit-like cascade hops became even more potent. At this point, the alcohol taste had almost brandy-like characteristics. Warm and pleasant alcohol warming in the back of the mouth and the throat. The lasting finish was intensely hoppy, super dry and puckering, with a noticeable amount of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel was lucious. Super creamy, full, rich and smooth. The beer felt like a creamy froth gliding along my palate.

Drinkability was rather difficult initially. However, as the beer warmed, it seemed to settle and smooth out. If one can manage the intense nature of both the hops and the alcohol, this becomes a terrific beer, perfect for sipping and savoring on a cold winter night.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22ounce bomber. No freshness date, but doesn't need one!!

Huge rocky off-white head over a clear red-amber body with apparent fine streams of carbonation. Sticky, thicky lacing. Head is fully lasting.

Smell of malt, cherry, clove, green apple, grapefruit and pine. There is clearly a lot to this thing!

Wow. What a taste. Malt presence is there, but it's at war with the hops! Chocolate goes best three out of five with pine; grapefruit is kicking the butts of the toasted malts. What complexity! Mmmm. Warming. The alcohol is evident but not overpowering on the palate. This is the way to have hops -- balanced with intense maltiness.

Really great mouthfeel. Nice and round, with the malt stickiness very evident, and the alcohol very warming. This feels good: swirl before swallowing.

The only drawback is the alcohol, which renders it less drinkable.

Overall, a great beer, and worthy of its many accolades. Never thought I'd be saying that about something with 90 IBU's, but the bitterness is so balanced by the malt sweetness that it's really fine and complex.

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Photo of GregSemenza
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bearrunner44
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber.

Appearance- Opaque, burnt sienna color. Pillowy cream-colored head. Thick streaks of lace coat the sides of the glass.

Smell- Sweet, honey-like aroma. Soft, flowery hop scents in the back. The hops, along with the large alcoholic presence, provide a lightly floral counterpoint to the malt profile. Elixir-like.

Taste- This beer is all about deception. It lulls you in with it's sweet, pleasing aroma. Then, it pounds you over the head in a big, hoppy, alcoholic fashion. The malt is smooth and somewhat buttery, but it quickly submits to the hops. The hop flavor is tight and herbal; it really clings to the back of the throat. The alcohol tingles and numbs the tongue, but the taste is still somewhat subdued for a beer with 10.20% ABV. It mostly shows up in the finish, where the alcoholic burn mixes with the herbal hop flavors. The sweetness of the malt lends a little smoothness to the finish.

Mouthfeel- Big-bodied, yet smooth.

Verdict- Yowza. They really shouldn't sell this in bombers; by the time you get to the end, your taste buds are numbed to oblivion by the hops and (especially) the alcohol. Satisfying.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage 2011.

A: yeast dregs were poured in my glass, so it stays pretty cloudy. Beautiful brown color with shades of ruby and Siena. Beige head retains at about a half inch. lacing is spotty.

S: Big bready sweetness up front. Bread pudding. Crust and toast. Runny caramel. Berry juice esters. Cherry and ripe, sweet raspberry. Some wet paper oxidation, which is fine. Fading hops still bring earthy pine and bark.

T: Toasty, crusty. Scones. Caramel. Fruity esters of cherry and raspberry. Prune juice. Perhaps suggestions of apricot and marmalade, though I think it's coming from hops. Hops also add earthy flavors of pine and bark. Modestly strong bitterness to balance all the malt. Long finish of scone, crust, and earthy hops.

M: Big thick body. Creamy and smooth. Weighty but not heavy or syrupy. Gentle supporting carbonation.

O: A classically done American Barleywine. All around solid. One of a handful to look to as a measuring stick for the style. The age on this one has rounded it out beautifully.

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Photo of Stillmakingnoise
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of hickmancase
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Total Wine poured into my Ommegang Chalice.

A: Three finger head on a hazy, reddish light-brown ale.

S: Hops singe the back of my nose.

T: Big, robust hop profile. Or, the hops and the malts have fused into one enormous beast. Or, the hops have beaten and submitted the malts and then stole their flavors to flaunt. Unique take on a barley wine.

M: Thick. Sticky bubbles.

D: Unique barley wine that I wouldn't mind having again.


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Photo of brewcrew76
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Reddish brown with a thin tan head and just a little lacing.

S - Caramel, nuts and piney hops.

T - Lots of caramel and bready malt balanced with bitterness and piney hops.

M - Medium to full body and creamy with low carbonation.

D - Well balanced with well hidden abv.

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Photo of ZAP
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a heavy hitter...not sure where the rating will shake out but it has to be in my top 5-to-10 overall for BW's...

Pours a burnt orange color...big pillowy tan head...Nose is sweet, sugar soaked pinneaple...some plums...pears in syrup out of the can..deeper in a little more caramel...

Taste is initially sweet fruits..rum...good dose of maltiness but what a kick in the ass at the finish..big bittering on the finish...piney hops..

Begins like Old Ho but finishes more like Big Foot....this one is legit..still prefer Old Ho to this but this is upper tier stuff...

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of mlazzaro
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dec 2011 Bottle. This is my first Old Ruffian aged out proper.
I purchased this just under two years ago. See how it holds up.

Thin white head over a hazed amber body. Tiny bubbles that lace the glass even though there is barely any head.

Smells like caramel and pine. -Pleasant. I honestly found younger versions of the beer to smell better. But that is expected.

On the sweet side. ABV and FG match up well. Bitterness is spot on. Hops bring the beer forward. Citrusy, Pine, Resin flavors.

Im always surprised at how little the ABV effect the mouthfeel of this beer. This is a highly drinkable barleywine. Hops come through even this one was cellared. Pine and citrus hops. Clearly American Hop choice(s).

I drank these all the time in collage. And a decade later I'm still happy to drink this beer. Cheers to the Brewers to hold up the standard for so long.

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Photo of KLReed
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of oceanman
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blood orange color and a creamy off-white head.

Big nose, but very balanced between malt, hop, and alcohol. A bit of fruit and pine forest.

Powerful bitterness spread evenly across the palate, softened by a reasonable amount of sweetness. Tasty, but the bitterness obscures some of the complexity that I know is lurking in this beer. Still, outstanding as a different kind of hop fix.

Velvety, and even a bit sticky, but kept lively by the carbonation and bitterness.

About as fun and easy to drink as a barleywine gets. I'm sure this is a completely different beer in a few years.

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle. 7 bucks from Beer Run in Charlottesville. This is a 12/09 bottle.

Appearance: Clear, dark ruby colored. Thick, frothy light tan colored head. Surprisingly good head retention. The big head leaves nice lacing.

Smell: Lots of hops. Sweet and citrusy. Pine resiny. Caramelly malt and brown sugar. Its pretty amazing to smell so much malt and so much hops at the same time. There's definitely alcohol here too.

Taste: Sweet up front, bitter in the back. Big caramel sweetness and sweet citrusy hops flavors followed by quite a bit of hoppy and alcoholic bitter bite on the back. After you swallow, sweetness washes over your tongue again. I think I will like this even better when it mellows.

Mouthfeel: This is a big mouthfeel, but it is different from many barleywines. It is very smooth and soft in the mouth. Not thick and syrupy, but like a big mouthful of cotton candy that melts away.

Drinkability: Well, this is a great barleywine. It smells and tastes great and feels insanely smooth and silky. Its also not too expensive. Delicious.

11/27/11- Another 12/09 bottle. Still surprisingly hoppy and bitter at two years. Rich and fruity. The last bottle can wait one more year.

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Photo of Philthe
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

One of my favorite American barley wines. carbonation is spot on, good hop profile and a great finish.

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Photo of msscott1973
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Two fingers of toffee brown head on a clear, reddish brown body. Good retention and lace.

S - Peppery, citrus hops with significant malt in the background. Notes of caramel, brown sugar, tobacco, and black pepper.

T - Thick, sugary malt with lots of spicy hop flavor up front. Bitterness peaks in the middle with emerging pine flavors. The pine lingers in the finish and becomes more resinous as the hop flavors combine with caramel and molasses malt character to create notes of tobacco and roasted red peppers.

M - Thick, chewy body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat sweet finish.

D - A thick, heavy, complex barleywine. The flavors come together to create a beer fits the style profile perfectly. The hops work very well with the malt and create a lot of complexity in the finish.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.29/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can find this anytime at our local Organic Marketplace, not sure why though. Pours very typicaly, orange brown, very thin lacing and carbonation, nothing too exciting . . . then, Bam, wow that smells amazing, lots of fruits (plums and figs especially). Right away this is some powerful stuff, very warming in the throat. Doesn't make Bigfoot status with taste yet, but another review of this aged should help it. Though cold at first, flavors definitely come out. Could age a bit, but with it being fresh it's still some outstanding stuff.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90.8% out of 100 with 2,464 ratings
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