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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,106 | Ratings: 2,455
Photo of MJSFS
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle dated 1/28/16 into a DFH snifter L: deep red with 2 fingers of cream colored fluffy head and tons of lacing A: sweet brown sugar mixed with piney notes T: very hop forward with a slight caramel sweetness too much alcohol followed by a bitter pine aftertaste M: smooth and creamy O: this is too hot fresh, age might help the alcohol subside a bit. However, it's very fine representation of an American barleywine, but for my money SN Bigfoot is better

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Cool red and light brown appearance, full inch of off white head to it. Aroma was a lot of caramel and alcohol.

Taste was a real rich and mellow but not mild flavor excursion with plenty of caramel. A little bit of hopping, straddles the American and English barleywine genre, but leans American. One of the more reliable, consistent types of top tier base barleywines out there.

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Photo of Qbdoo
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark copper color with minimal head. Really have to throw the beer into the glass to get one. A ripe fruit aroma. Taste is similar but with caramel sweetness and a strong hop bite. Flavors get a lot more complex and appetizing as the beer warms. So much so that I really didn't like it at first but once it got very warm, my feelings changed quite a bit. Don't store in the fridge!

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Photo of Hopped_head
4.93/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Damn, I love a good, hoppy-barleywine! This really hit the spot with it's robust caramel/toffee notes, pungent stone fruit flavored and subtle yet powerful hop-profile.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

bottled on 12/12/13, purchased in late August 2015. kept in a 42 degree mini fridge until i consumed it just now.

pours a dark auburn with some orange/brown tones to it (which i guess is Auburn but it's an off color). it's dark but not completely brown, like a dark clay color. thick head as well.

smell is sweet, maybe some caramel malt and fruit hops.

taste is pretty good. some heavy malt caramel taste followed by hop bitterness. some earthy hops at that. has a boozy tinge to it as well. goes down easy, isn't too thick and certainly isn't thin.

overall i really like this. it's my first barleywine and i wasn't sure what to expect but i like this. it has nice hoppiness to it but is clearly not a dIPA. it's full of malt but is balanced by big sweetness and earthy hops. will certainly be trying more barleywines in the future.

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Photo of Labeorphile
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyed this beer. I'm not a big hop fan, in the sense of IPAs, but this hoppy barleywine is highly enjoyable. Pours with a relatively thick head, hazy brown color. The aroma is enticing. I'm not well versed enough to pick out all the scents, but I'm immediately impressed. The taste follows the nose and is a complex flavor with a nice thick mouthfeel. I highly recommend.

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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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Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
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.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a beautiful dark reddish brown color with a big tan head with good retention and lacing. This is what a beer should look like!

Aroma of sweet caramel malts, dark fruits, and alcohol. Fig, cherry, and a splash of grapefruit are most notable.

The taste follows the nose. Caramel malts and dark fruits dominate the first sip. A good deal of bitterness provides a nice bite on the finish. Very sweet. Aged cherry. Some earthy flavors and bready malts pair well with the warmth from the alcohol. As with many Barley Wines, the beer really transforms as it warms.

Full bodied with low carbonation. 10.2% ABV is well hidden, which results in a beer that can and will sneak up on you. As drinkable as you'll find at this ABV.

Overall, a very well done Barley Wine. Not overwhelming in any aspect, but solid on all fronts.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a polished dark wood color under a 1" thick off-white head which leaves good lace. Aroma is dominated by caramel, toasted malts, and somewhat fruity. Taste follows smell with a hoppy bitterness. Good balance. Slightly boozy.

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Photo of Hootie159
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep amber color. Nice fruity, toffee smell. Beer is as described. A hoppy barleywine. A lot of bitterness from the hops which doesn't pair as well as I'd like with thr sweet malts. Very light carbonation.

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Photo of OldRickSputin
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm typically not a huge fan of GDBC beers. This Ruffian, however, is something special. It's well worth the price and after drinking 8 bottles in the last few weeks, I'm very tempted to fork'over the $$ for the BA Ruffian.

L: Amber, with a good head and perfect lacing for the style.

S: A great mix of sweet fruit, toffee and a niceboozy after tone.

T: almost the opposite of the aroma. It starts off a bit bitter and boozy and finishes sweet.

F: I really like that this doesn't have a dry feel with a a bunch of carbonation.

O: Well done, Great Divide...well done.

And bonus points for actually stamping the bottling date on the bottles!!!

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Photo of larryarms847
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly murky rusty red brown with a light orange huge and thin wisp of off-white foam.

Pine, citrus, caramel, and resin.

A sweet caramel flavor quickly turns into an aggressively bitter citrus and pine forward hoppy bitterness.

Heavy-bodied, light carbonation, semi-chewy, bitter, resinous.

Overall, a mighty fine example of the Americanized barley wine style.

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Photo of GOBLIN
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pretty good. Nothing to really separate this from many of the other American barleywines around. Maybe just a little bit more easy drinking than say Bigfoot and the like. Nice and hoppy with the usual aromas and flavors of oak, leather and vanilla.

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Photo of CHickman
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 1/29/2015: Pours very dark brown which almost looks blood red with sediment floating around in it which had a creamy 2 finger light tan head that was full of bubbles and faded slowly, leaving good foamy spotty lacing. The more this beer went down the better the lacing got, with it coating the sides and sticking like a sheet of foam that leaves rings as it goes down.

Smells of fruity candy, orange peel, citrus hops and tropical fruit like mango, pineapple, starfruit and papaya up front, followed by caramel, toffee, brown sugar, grains and piney hops. The nose is sweet overall with the balance shifting from a blast of hops up front to more sweet and candied sugar-like as it trails off with sweet malt.

Tastes of sweet/dank wet citrus hops and a mix of fruit up front that includes orange, mango, starfruit, rotting pear, pineapple and some cherry, followed by caramel, brown sugar, graham cracker and rum soaked biscuit or wet grains like the mash from moonshine which carried some hefty booze. The sweetness borders on cloying, but the piney hops and light spices pull it back to the right side of good taste. A lot more bready yeast notes in the flavor, with wet cardboard and wheat bread crust mixing with the fruity sweetness. Caramel malts come on strong at the end and then wash away with more citrus fruit and leave an almost dry finish that resembles a very malty brew like a Scotch ale. A meal in a glass.

Mouthfeel is heavy and thick, with average carbonation, a grainy feel and aftertaste that trails off on the sweet side showing hops and booze before the grains/malts take it over again as it fades.

Overall a very nice barleywine that packs a punch with the ABV aggressive and always present, but it has enough malt and hop balance as well as malt and hop complexities to make it quite enjoyable. This bottle was only 4 months old and I suspect would have gotten better with age, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.91/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Clear super deep orange with some red touches. Amber is probably a better descriptor. Long lasting sticky off white head.

Big sweet hoppy nose.

Pretty thick and syrupy. Taste is heavy sweet malt and candied orange hop.

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Photo of stompilator
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A - Poured a deep, dark red, with a thick, light head.

S - Dark fruit and cherries, wet hops, buttery caramel.

T - Heavy, toasty maltiness up front, notes of berries and dark fruit hanging in the background. An almost oak-y flavor kind of hangs around, with citrus-y, wild hops gently fading in off of the earthy flavors before it. The hops eventually settle in and fade out with the rest of the flavors, leaving a bittersweet (more bitter than sweet) end to this brew.

M - Full-bodied and velvety, just a wee bit of carbonation.

O - Quite possibly the best hop flavor in any barleywine I've had. Delicious.

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Photo of atr2605
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-pours a beautiful red amber with a tan fluffy head with excellent retention that clings to the glass
S-piney and citrus hops, fruity toffee and caramel
T-aggressive bitterness mixes with the sweet toffee caramel flavors and a resiny finish
M-medium-full bodied
O-big and bold brew, a very hoppy barley wine which I think helps hide some of the booze.

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Photo of BenwayPHD
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark red, almost brown. The aroma is very nice with this one. It's mostly sweet malt. Figs, caramel, toffee, a slight booze smell, with an earthy hop background like lavender and sagebrush. The flavor is much more bitter than the nose. The malty sweetness is present, but there is a very strong resiny bitterness that slowly takes over the flavor. The mouthfeel is nice but slightly thin for such a big beer. It's very good.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Fresh 12oz bottle served in a wine glass. Bottle was dated 01/2015.

Appearance: deep red copper with a light brown head

Nose: toffee, caramel, hops and malty sweetness

Taste: strawberries, aggressive warming alcohol and hops character, fruity, caramel, toffee, malty sweetness, full bodies and delicious with nice carbonation, light enough to not leve your mouth coated.

Overall: has the body and hot alcohols that make this beer a cellar candidate. Delicious.

Cellar review:
Same bottling as above reviewed 8/12/16. Served at higher than cellar Temps in a snifter.

Poured thinner than the original. Deep copper with a tan head. Crystal clear beer. Smells of caramel hop candy. Taste follows. Slight bitterness left after 1.5 years. Sweet and sticky. Delicious.

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Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a dark ruby color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of fruits, malts. Taste is hops, caramel, light fruits, bitter at the finish. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer.

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Photo of 57md
3.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brownish copper in color. Malty, bready and sweet. Nice blend of hops on the finish. However, this offering did not quite have the body I'm looking for in a barleywine.

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Photo of daledeee
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I have heard of this one so I bought it off name recognition. Poured it into a chalice and got really nice head and lacing with an auburn body that is dark but clear. Nose is hoppy and malty. Taste at first was full of caramel and hops. As the beer aired out, it because less so but a nice hop edge with great carbonation and a great creamy mouthfeel. This would be a good beer to keep around. A very fine example of a barleywine.

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Photo of dmgeng
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been wanting to try this for a while but there have been too many others to catch my palate until now.

A - Beautiful dark ruby color. Clear with a rocky white head and good lacing. Looks like a Dr. Pepper but with body.

S - Sweet hop character that is fruity almost like blueberries. Big rich malt character right beside the fruitiness. Under the richness there is some herbal hops along with some light alcohol and caramel in the background.

T - The taste also has that almost blueberry but so much malt on the front end. The sweetness is thick and robust but after the sweet malt the caramel and fruits really drive it home. On the finish there is some of the more zest, floral, and herbaceous hops to help balance the sweet malt and raisin character. There is a hop bitterness that attempts to compliment the sweetness but is still a malt bomb on the finish.

M - High to medium mouth-feel with medium carbonation. It is definitely a barley wine with that sweet, richness that is always there with the style but this one is not as balanced as some that I've had in the past.

Overall, a delicious beer but I would definitely classify this under the English Barley Wine with the sweet malt, rich fruit, and herbal hops instead of the American hops and more balance that you find in an American BW. I did really enjoy the rich sweetness but I know that it could be a turn-off for many and could be more complex overall. If you like fruit cake then this is the beer for you!

Glass- Snifter

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Photo of Houser
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

i love the deep amber color on this, but thought it was a bit too hoppy...has that hoppy sweetness, which is still good, but wanted more from this classic. ends up tasting like an old dipa. again, good, just not great.

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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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