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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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1,097 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: 1,097 | Ratings: 2,423
Photo of kbwalters
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
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 Rastacouere
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Strong beige head, 1-inch of remarkable sticky foam doesn’t care whether it’s a 10+% barleywine or not. The color is a rich deep copper. Rich caramel malt aroma (GD seems to be fond of that), an obvious american barleywine from the first sniff. Overwhelming piney and earthy Chinook reminiscent hops contribute a dryness that goes a bit far. Mellower floral and citrus fruits indicate the fact that probably more than one hop variety comes into the blend. Quite harsh hoppiness really, that’s not my favorite type, that’s for sure. The earthy malts are there to offer a match, but fall in front of the abrasive piney sweat drops, simply too agressive for simple bready and considerably powerful toastiness. A bit too much. Full airy body, very strong carbonation. Clean, but rough and hard to tame, you’d better be in the mood. To me in the same ballpark than bigfoot though with very different ingredients.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Bottled 12/2/11, so it is basically un-aged, but I'm going to give it a try.

Appearance: rich amber hue with the tiniest touch of haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam with a hint of orange infused. Nice!

Smell: big sweet malt with a light fruitiness and a bit of that strong-ale prickliness. Good!

Taste: big malt and big alcohol. Sweet with some caramel notes with a bite of both bitterness and alcohol. The hops themselves don't come through very strongly other than in bitterness. Frankly, it's a bit over-alcoholic; the flavor doesn't stand up to the octane.

Mouthfeel: big body with a great carbonation and a great silkiness. Pretty awesome.

Overall: there's just too much strength here for the flavor profile. The flavor is good, but even for a barleywine it's got too much alcohol.

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Photo of Phelps
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle opened at a recent barleywine tasting. This is a 2009 bottle, aged for more than a year.

Pours a mostly clear apple cider color with a creamy one-finger head of khaki. It recedes very slowly, leaving thick sheets and a thin, fuzzy top layer that doesn't look like it wants to leave.

The aroma is robust and fairly sweet. Lime peel, lemon juice, a bit of OJ, candy sugar, lightly toasted bread. Good balance of sweet and toasted.

Big bottom. Talk about mud flaps, this beer's got 'em. The flavor comes in waves -- sweet, then dry, then sweet again. Orange peel and oak at the start, grapefruit, caramel and honey at the finish. Some bitterness builds on the back sides of tongue between sips.

This feels lovely. Some low, soft carbonation massages the tongue while the plush, silky body moves about. It's only slightly fizzy, and the alcohol warmth noticeable as numbness on tongue and warmth in the chest.

Old Ruffian wasn't the best barleywine at the tasting, but it certainly wasn't the worst. In my experience, age does wonders for this brew, and three years seems to be its peak.

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Photo of ptykozoon
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours auburn with a lightly dirty brown head.

Smell is hops up front. Rich caramel and maple syrup, a bit of cherries.

Taste is the nose. All these different forms of sugar work well together. Personally not a fan of hops so I'll review this one again with some age on it, I imagine it should taste brilliant..

Excellent mouthfeel, smooth, rich and heavy. Hops attack and refresh the finish.

Great barleywine which deserves to be be aged.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one pours out a very hazy copper color, with a beautiful tan/off-white, sticky head that clings to the glass, leaving all kinds of lacing. This one is just beautiful - other than the haze. I can forgive the haziness a bit for the other wonderful aspects. The smell is full of sweet malts, darker crystals, maybe a bit of chocolate, a great caramelly sweetness, with just a bit of piney, citrusy hops in the background. A very pleasant aroma that invites you to drink. The taste gives an intense bitterness along with an initial alcohol burn. Though there is quite a bit of malty balance. There is a distinct breadiness, backed by crystal malts with a bit of a chocolatey back. I also detect some citrus peel, with that piney feeling, not much in terms of resiny qualties, though. There's a hint of golden raisins. Overall a great flavor, but not the best I've had in the style. The mouthfeel is nice, good carbonation levels, a nice kind of chewy feel, but there's a hint of thinness at some points. The alcohols hits you, even with a bit of age, and the bitterness persists. The drinkability is nice. Definitely good to the last drop, but it starts to hit hard quickly. Worth a shot to all.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a snifter.

A- Pours a cloudy, murky tan-brown, sort of has an apple cider complexion, except a little darker. Gives off a solid 3 fingers width of head that dissipates over consumption.

S- Nice aroma of caramel, malts, honey, and some hops. Wish it was a little more distinct or pungent than it actually was.

T- From beginning to midway through it was pretty enjoyable. Had a nice caramel, dark fruit flavor with a great malt back bone. Just when I thought the taste would go up a notch as it finished, the bitter hop oils killed it all. All the taste I enjoyed and expected to savor as the beer went down were erased with one foul swoop.

M- Medium bodied with some carbonation. The viscosity wasn't as thick as I would have hoped and the beer finished with a much dryer mouth feel than I cared for.

D- As the beer reached room temperature, the hops infusion became less intense and made the beer much more drinkable. The 10% will kick your ass.

Overall, please take this review with a grain of salt. I love hops and I love barleywines. However, after many attempts, I just don't seem to be a big fan of mixing the two together. I bet this one would be awesome if it were layed down for a few years.

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Photo of abrand
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber split with friend

Pours copper/orange color with a huge off white head. Some retention. Aromas of sugar, sweet malts, some hops, and fruits come through as it warms. Taste is lots of sugar and malts, typical for the style. Some earthy tones are noticed but not much more going on than the sugar. Mouthfeel is sticky and medium bodied. Overall this is a decent barley wine. Not exactly my style just too much sugar but good tasting.

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Photo of Docer
3.76/5  rDev -10.9%
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 -10.9%
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 hopsbreath
3.78/5  rDev -10.4%
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 -10.4%
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 -10.4%
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 -10.4%
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 cvm4
3.79/5  rDev -10.2%
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 -10.2%
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 -10.2%
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 mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -10%
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 -10%
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 -10%
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 -10%
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 -10%
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 -10%
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 BarryMFBurton
3.81/5  rDev -9.7%
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 GOBLIN
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
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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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,423 ratings.
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