Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,097 | Ratings: 2,423
Photo of wethorseblanket
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

 230 characters

Photo of Hootie159
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

 206 characters

Photo of OldRickSputin
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
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!!!

 652 characters

Photo of larryarms847
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

 374 characters

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.

 250 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

 1,954 characters

Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

 220 characters

Photo of stompilator
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

 656 characters

Photo of atr2605
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

 352 characters

Photo of BenwayPHD
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 439 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.43/5  rDev +5%
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.

 769 characters

Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

 234 characters

Photo of 57md
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

 171 characters

Photo of daledeee
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

 436 characters

Photo of dmgeng
4/5  rDev -5.2%
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

 1,500 characters

Photo of Houser
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

 220 characters

Photo of gibgink
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12-20-2012, poured 4-6-15. Even after 2+ years, the bitterness on this is still strong. I normally get a raisin sweetness from a barleywine, but the prevalent bitter notes made it more like honey. Very well made, but as it warmed, the bitterness became too strong for my palate.

 289 characters

Photo of drdiesel9483
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look - hazy auburn color with a great tan head
Smell - sweet malty, pine, leather, some citrus, strong boozy and grainy
Taste - all the same things I said about the smell but also pretty bitter
Fell - full body creamy smooth
Overall - great Barleywine

 252 characters

Photo of MartyMaltose
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very satisfying barleywine on the cusp of, but just missing, perfection. Color, sweetness, and heat are awesome. I agree with comments about excessively bitter finish though. Available in 4-packs of 12 oz bottles, which is a huge plus for me...I hate that barleywines are so often reserved for special-markup bombers. Will definitely purchase at least twice/year if available.

 376 characters

Photo of monkeybeerbelly
3.54/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

could not really enjoy this one. very surprised. the bitterness did not seem to be balanced by the malt sweetness making this one bitter mess. very disapointed by this one. i love great divides other offerings but this one was definately not for me. ill stick to collette for now

 281 characters

Photo of superspak
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 12/19/2012. Pours slightly hazy deep ruby red/copper color with a 2 finger dense and rocky light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, orange peel, light pine, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, raisin, plum, leather, herbal, floral, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of citrus hops and dark/bready malt notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, raisin, plum, leather, grapefruit, tangerine, orange peel, pine, herbal, floral, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate pine/citrus rind bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, raisin, plum, leather, grapefruit, tangerine, orange peel, pine, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of citrus/pine hops and dark/bready malt flavors; with a fantastic malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding American barleywine at this age. All around awesome complexity and balance of citrus/pine hops and dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. Nearly perfectly balanced between hop and malt flavors right now. A highly enjoyable offering.

 1,665 characters

Photo of MadCat
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours a nice dark amber red color with a short tan head and some good lacing

Smell: Pine and resin hops, a strong malt backbone with caramel and dark fruits

Taste: More pine and resin hops up front with hints of citrus, very high bitterness backed up by a solid malt backbone comprised of caramel and dark fruits, with some residual sweetness

Feel: Full body and low carbonation

Overall: Fairly good. Curious to see what aging does to this since it is a fairly hoppy barleywine.

 489 characters

Photo of CowsandBeer
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz slightly chilled bottle poured into a Farnam House brewing snifter. Bottled on January 29, 2015 per the bottle label.

Appearance: Pours a thick finger of khaki head with a sudsy consistency atop a reddish hued body. The body is clear but dense with good head retention for the abv/style.

Aroma: Rich deep malts of toasted grains, raisins, caramel, toffee and an almost bubblegum sweetness. Strong piney and earthy hops with a warming alcohol bite at end. A bold and robust nose that is actually quite inviting.

Taste: Strong earthy hops up front leading into a toffee malt backbone with a fruity sweetness and an alcoholic bite. Long bitter finish which brings to mind all kinds of high alpha acid hops. A big burly ride of malts and hops that just bites so well.

Mf: A very dry and coarse feel from the hops. Full velvety body with a wine like warmth. Total fireplace beer.

Overall: Might be my favorite in the style of American Barleywines. Very rich and almost tongue bruising with its aggressive hopping and alcohol warmth but you can’t help but keep coming back for more. More refined and cohesive than Bigfoot. Having had a three year old bottle I can say it only gets better, can’t wait to try the barrel aged version. Highly recommended you pick up a four pack this winter, three bottles for now and one for later.

Edit: When paired with Rosemary crackers and an aged English Cheddar it's all fruity, rosey alcohol. Sip, sip, sip.

 1,474 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle shared with a friend, tulip glass.

The hop-forward character set this apart. It smells and tastes fruity with caramel malty sweets. The bitterness keeps the sugar and booze in check. Nice hoppy finish.

 216 characters

Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: deep orange/copper. Clear. Thin head. Thin lacing.
Smell: sugars and fruity hops. Slightly alcoholic.
Taste: Caramel, fruity. Mango and citrus. Alcohol is there but not overpowering. Same with bittering hops.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Slightly sweet, yet has a dryness.
Overall: what an American Barley Wine should taste like.

 374 characters

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,423 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!