Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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1,094 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: 1,094 | Ratings: 2,412
Photo of ThickNStout
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from Crabapple Bottle Shoppe (Alpharetta, GA). 8.99. Bottled 12/02/09. Served in a Southern Tier snifter. 

Pours deep hazy reddish brown with 2 fingers of manilla head. 

Smells of candy sugar, raisins, sweet biscuits and faint booze. 

Big sweet malty flavors. Fig, raisin, sugar, biscuits and booze. A bitter finish is the only hint of hops that may have once been present. Alcohol is strong but appropriate for the style. 

Feel is where this really shines. Lush full body with nice zest if carbonation. Coats the tongue with a sticky, resinous feel. Long sweet aftertaste. 

This has held up well for over 2 years. I've never had it fresh but I'll happily drink it again. A thick sweet malty treat. 

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Photo of Onenote81
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Went to a friend’s house and he pulled this one out of the fridge. Surprised I’ve never had this one before. Poured my allotment into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber with a thin beige head on top. Notes of herbs, hops, citrus, toffee. The mouth is creamy and smooth, slightly syrupy feel on the back end. Semi-sweet syrup, molasses, mild bittering hops, bitter citrus rind. Really a good beer. Definitely an evening sipper.

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Photo of heygeebee
3.13/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on [illegible] 2010

Pours a wonderful hazy deep gold/copper. One finger head stays. Good lace.

Aromas of hops, toffee, malts.

Taste is a let down. One dimensional and thin, hop driven with little malt to support. Alcohol burn. Astringent. Bitter. Skunked.

Mouthfeel good, medium to full bodied, low carbonation.

Overall, not a good example. Given 2010 bottling, even more of a let down.

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Photo of KajII
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

[Best served in a Snifter]

The pour was a clear dark mahogany red with a large (2-3 finger) light tan pillowy head that was mostly lasting, receding down to a large puddle and collar with excellent sheeting of lace.

The aroma was of a sweet toasted biscuit malt, pine hops and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of toffee, citrus (grapefruit), caramel and some dark fruit (plums and raisons).

The taste was sweet and rather malty with hints of toffee and dark fruit at first and then became slightly hoppy with a really nice bitter citrus note and a decent alcohol warming sensation at the end. The flavor hung around for a long while with a bitter sweet citrus flavor left to lie on the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was just below medium in body with a dry oily texture and a prickly carbonation.

Overall a sensationally tasting Barleywine with just the right blending of sweet malts and bitter hops...

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Photo of wvsabbath
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Tan/brown, ruby hue, 1/2 creamy, foamy head and lots of lacing.

Smell - Lots of fruits, grapefruit, orange, pear, grapefruit, pineapple, grapes, some sugars. Has everything, hops, malts, caramel, even some alcohol comes at the finsh, wow im ready to taste this!

Taste - Huge fruity bite with a mix of sugars and caramal malts. Plenty of sugars mixed with the fruits to make this very flavorful. Pineapple, grapefruit and orange hop kick add even more to this brew. Alcohol comes at the end to finish this off.

Mouthfeel - Thick, chewy and lots of flavor. Tounge gets the malt/hop kick with lots of sugars and a little booze. Palate gets more malt/hop kick with some added sugars, a nice bitterness mixed with sweetness. Afertaste is bold sugars, caramel malts and spices.

Overall - Really big, lots of flavors, and a big more hoppy then most. It takes you on a ride of flavors, malty, hoppy, sugary, bitter hoppy, alcoholish, yet balanced and fun to drink. Excellent example of a well done american barleywine. Great to enjoy fresh, would love to try aged, worthy a drink for sure.

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Photo of sjverla
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nose: Dark cherry and molasses. Deep, woodsy earthiness. Slightly solvent. Mild hints of vanilla. Overall I would have expected a it to be a little more pungent.

Appearance: Gorgeous ruby/mahogany. Vanilla skim of head grabs the glass.

Sweet and bitter. Hints of vanilla. Very woody - almost overpowering. No shortage on grains here.

Overall: Very good, but a little disappointing. It's complex, but doesn't seem to play well with itself. Some of the flavors just compete.

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Photo of BostonHops
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter glass.

pours a deep amber tone with ruby red highlights... yields a solid finger and a half of a khaki colored head; solid retention and beautiful walls of lacing. pretty damn impressive presentation.

nose is led by sweet malts, followed by notes of citrus and a bit of pine. flavor follows the nose to a T; even exceeds it. caramel, bready maltiness with a strong ensuing citrus/pine presence - huge hops showing, even for an american barleywine - carrying through to a hoppy bitterness in the finish... very well-hidden 10.2% ABV.

nice full-bodied mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. dangerously drinkable for such a big beer. while i prefer the english counterpart of the style, this is great rendition of the american version (which is growing on me).

originally reviewed: 01-09-2011

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Photo of Immortale25
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Florida Beer Co. tapered glass. Label says Bottled on: DEC 02 2011.

A- Pours a medium copper color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that does a good job retention-wise before slowly declining to an 1/8 inch head and leaving a full ring of lacing behind it.

S- Sweet malt nose upfront with notes of caramel. Hops linger in the back and are more herbal than grassy. Slight whiff of alcohol.

T- Intimidating bitterness along with powerful pangs of booze. Things mellow out in the finish but every sip is a plunge back into a not-so-pleasant intensity of flavor. The malt is still there but not as sweet and balanced as in the aroma. Sipping will definitely be the best approach. Once the palate finally reaches an equilibrium, things start to make sense. While the hops still are over-the-top, the alcohol burn subsides and the malt can begin to express itself adequately bringing with it a cereal graininess. Hints of oak and bourbon

M- Somewhat creamy with a full-ish body and medium carbonation.

O-Could be a bit better if the flavors didn't clash so much initially. Probably just needs more age.

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Photo of Gatch
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

A: Beautiful amber color with an off-white, fluffy head that fades quickly.

S: Sweet, toasted malt and faint hops. Some booze.

T: Boozy, hoppy, sugary, malty sweetness. Molasses and tasty American hops.

M: Smooth, sweet, delicious.

O: Fantastic American Barleywine.

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Photo of RickS95
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a reddish brown, looks like it should. Opaque, a thin brown head. Not a lot of retention, but leaves some sticky on the glass and a light colored ring around the perimeter.

Might be the best smelling barley wine I've hard. The resinous, piney, hoppy scent is there, but this time the fruit isn't citrus, but something much sweeter...some kind of berry.

The malt backbone is there, as it the overwhelming hoppy flavor, but surprisingly, it all starts with a sweet, fruitness.

It's sweet for a split second and then the bomb explodes bringing bitter and alcohol to the equation. It's tolerable for a barley wine, and quite pleasant.

While hard to drink in general, it's a gentle barley wine. The sweetness from the red fruit and the malt tempers the bitterness. Still hard to chug, but relatively easy to drink for the style.

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Photo of WillCarrera
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber, bottled in December 2011, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a hazy amber color, produces a finger of off-white head, decent retention, leaves some spotty lacing.

S- Powerful hop aroma, loads of citrus and orange, has a sweet caramelly aroma behind it, considerable booziness.

T- Extremely aggressive hoppiness, even five months out from bottling they don't seem to have faded much. Also sweet caramel malt, lots of booze, has a slightly hot finish with lots of hop bitterness.

M- Full-bodied, has a slick, oily feel, dry bitter finish with alcohol warmth.

O- I'm just not crazy about this one, the hops are pretty aggressive for the malt on this beer (don't get me wrong I love hops), and the booziness seems a bit harsh. Maybe it's just at an awkward age, but it seems unbalanced right now, I'll have to try a bottle a few years out.

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Photo of Arborescence
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber/ruby. Pours a massive, dense white head, with a slight hint of amber. Beautiful and persistent head, the beer behaves very nicely!

Aroma: Deep malt, nutty. Alcohol is present but not overwhelming. Yeast, dried fruit, a little bit of honey perhaps. Very delicate and complex.

Taste: Hoppier than the aroma would suggest, even bitter. The sweetness of the aroma is gone, but there is certainly heavy malt and some dried apricot. Alcohol quite strong in the aftertaste, warming. A tiny disappointment given the delicious appearance and aroma, but tasty enough.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied, lingers at the back of the throat; hop attack in the cheeks!

Overall: I feel that the beer is a bit too strong for its own good, but it's a good barley wine. Very rich on the hops. I would've preferred if the tender malt and sweetness that I got from the aroma would've been more present, but they're now overwhelmed by the strong hops. A good beer though, no doubt about it.

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. 22oz foiled and capped bottle poured into a pint glass, fridge temp. bottled 12 5 11.

pours a dark reddish orange color, bordering on copper. the slightest bit of haze. a thick light tan colored head with some great retention and really nice looking sticky lace.

initially in the aroma i get lots of big resiny hops. perfumey, pine resin, slightly woody with a bit of alcohol heat as well. a light candied caramel as it warms, but this smells more hop forward.

similar to the aroma. resiny, piney, woody hops, some deep candied caramel malt (more than the aroma suggested), a slight prune like dark fruit, slight booze. finishes with a big resiny bitterness. almost like a really malt forward DIPA.

big sticky body, but really not that big for a barleywine. carbonation feels spot on.

overall, this is a really solid american barleywine. exactly what it claims on the bottle "hefty and hoppy". similar to say bigfoot, but not quite as complex as doggie claws. this would be a nice one to age, exspecially because its so readily available.

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Photo of lnashsig
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

#BOTG number 20!

2009 Vintage, thanks to MDaschaf (Matt)! Thanks dude!

Poured from bottle into CBS snifter. Looks like dark brown rain water. Some decent head, still some carbonation present. Appearance of an English Barleywine. Smell- sweet molasses and caramel. Toffee, faint plastic in the background- but it doesn't detract too much. A great smelling beer, I am guessing that I am probably sniffing the remnants of the hops. Vanilla is also present. Taste- whoa. cocoa, roasted caramel/toffee, vanilla. This is mellow and delicous, and I am amazed at the surprising chocolate and creme brule taste profile. The hops have mellowed and the malt has developed a very nice complex profile. For the ABV, I get no booze at all. In fact, its scary how quick this can go down. I've had this beer fresh, and its abrasive and super hoppy. In fact, I didn't like it fresh. This is great though, I was glad to try it. Thanks again Matt!

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Photo of SawDog505
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 20 Duvel tulip glass, bottled 12/02/2011. Pours a ruby red, with a two inch off white head that leaves an amazing coting of lace. Smell is big carmel, brown sugar, pine hops, and some dark fruit. Taste is all of that, but larger with more pine and grapefruit hops then the nose would have you expect. Body is large, wonderful amount of carbonation, more lush than dry, and very drinkable for its large body and ABV. This is my new favorite non barrel aged Barleywine, wow is this is special.

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Photo of claspada
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated Jan 07 2010.

Pours a hazy tawny, rustic mahogany with a substantial creamy, fluffy off-white head that leaves some nice sticky/soapy lacing on the sides of the chalice.

Aromas begin quite heavy on the caramel and dark fruity malts, as you might anticipate from being aged for 2 years plus. Second pass I get a light citrus and pine hop presence which still remains, which makes me think this was a hop bomb fresh. As it warms I get more complex maltiness highlighted by brown sugar, toffee and figs/dates. A decent amount of toasted breadiness is present throughout with no real booze or heat to speak of.

The tastes directly follow the nose with big toffee, dark caramel and brown sugar maltiness. You then get a light but substantial enough bitterness on the back end, enough that I can pick out the pine and light blood orange hop flavors. Toasted bready and the dark fruit flavors are once again present, no alcohol whatsoever. More bitter than I expected still but not too much so for the style. Fresh this may have been too bitter for the style, but aged here it is at a perfect level.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a surprisingly medium level of carbonation. The slight extra bit of carbonation helps this from being too sweet, which is important because barleywines can become too sweet with this much age on them. Finish is lightly sweet but more so lightly bitter.

Overall this is one of the best American Barleywines out there. Not quite up to the level of the Alaskan Barleywine which I consider the top, but really close. Really nice flavor profile, pine/citrus bitterness to complement the sweet caramel/toffee maltiness. Just a great showing overall. (This beer once again helps to prove my theory that American Barleywines peak at 2 years of age, so I will continue to follow that practice of waiting until that maturity date to sample going forward and recommend all to do the same for maximum enjoyment.) Definitely a must try for fans of the style and another high quality brew from Great Divide.

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Photo of Jaycase
3.62/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: light mahogany. one finger head, thick lacing

s: caramel, fruity, hops.

t: hops with a booziness aspect. strong alcohol presence.

m: medium body, low carbonation. tad thin

o: alcohol is quite strong, a tad too much in my opinion. I prefer bigfoot over this one.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an off-beat barleywine thats pretty good, but in my opinion overrated on BA. pours a mostly clear amber color with a good fluffy white head. smells like fruity wood, maybe cherry or apple wood. plenty of hops in the nose as well, more than the style usually presents. there is also the smell of red/amber malts in this one, caramel and toffee sweetness. flavor is a compliment to the nose, very similar profile. long long bitter finish here, and a shocking alcohol burn. the feel is good, if a bit too boozed up, but theres good carbonation and a medium body on it. overall, its complexity and strength make it a nice barleywine, but im not as blown away as some other reviewers.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a 12 oz. snifter. Bottling date 5.12.11.

Look- Rosy amber-brown with three fingers of crackly-looking off-white head that settles slowly and leaves the glass coated with a dense layer of lace.

Smell- Bubblegum, green apple, and cedar are the first things to mind. The second take reveals hints of pineapple, tangerine, cinnamon raisin bread, and a bit of booze. Promising.

Taste- Resiny, fruity, and bready throughout. Quite tasty. Starts with a crisp citrusy bite that is quickly followed by a toffeelike malt. Finishes with brown sugar, raisin, and a bit of clove. Aftertaste is herbal and a little sweet, with a drawn-out spicy feel. Alcohol is very subdued. Well balanced, not as sweet as I was expecting.

Mouthfeel- Full body, light-to-medium carb. Slick feeling, dry finish. Chewy. Clean for the style, not cloying as many barleywines are. Drinkable for the style.

Overall- Pretty good, and reasonably priced. I would still pass in favor of Middle Ages Druid Fluid, if I could get it in my area. Still, it's a solid beer, and better than this year's Bigfoot. I'll definitely pick it up again at some point.

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Red Amber color with a good amount of haze. Head is slightly tan in color with some good retention in terms of head and lacing

Smell - Sweet Caramel, Toffee, Sweetened Piney/Citrus Hops, Malts, Yeasts and some fruity notes which I can't quite put my finger on. It's got a very rich smell to it, without being too powerful

Taste - Initial sips show Strong Resiny Citrus Hops upfront followed by sweet caramel flavors and malts. After the first sips, the hops are more balanced out with the sweetened caramel and fruity notes.

Mouthfeel - Thick Bodied with a feeling of molasses. The carbonation is pretty mild and makes it a surprisingly creamy beer to drink. I like it!

Overall - It starts out strong in terms of hoppiness before balancing out into a nice sweet tasting barleywine. Pair that along with a creamy mouthfeel and you get a winning combination

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Photo of Holland
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep brown/reddish-orange color with a one inch off-white head that becomes thin lacing for the rest of the glass. Sticks nicely to the sides.

S: citrus, darker fruits, malty sweetness. Very pleasant smelling with a hop kick.

T: first comes raisin, then bitter hops, apple, brown sugar, and some malt. The malt takes a back seat to every other flavor in this, making it very tasty. Alcohol becomes more present as it warms, but does not significantly detract from the taste. The only downside to the taste is a slight nutty flavor I get.

M: medium carbonation and a medium-heavy body on this beer creates a crisp feeling along with the mouth-coating goodness of the barley. As it warms the alcohol feels warm and the body gets much thinner.

O: it's big, so sips are required for me. Excellent beer, especially at $6 for a 22 oz. I'll have to try this again to see if the nutty flavor is still there.

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Photo of flashablecards
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First review!

Barley Wines are a guilty pleasure of mine. I love all beer (there's even a place for Bud Light in this world), but I would pass on most beers for a chance to try something new in the BW realm. Tonight I did just that.

Appearance: Admittedly, I give my judgement with Thomas Hardy as a foundation. A lot clearer and brighter than I would expect.. has the color of a brown ale. Not that I really care though.

Smell: Yup, smells like BW. I was afraid there would be too much emphasis on hops after reading the description on the bottle, but it's definitely not noticeable here.

Taste: What I would expect from a BW; slightly sweet, with notes of age and wine. The hops in definitely noticeable, but not so overpowering that it takes away from anything else too much.

Mouthfeel: Never did understand this category. On a scale of 1 to 3, 1 being "what did i just put in my mouth" and 3 being "I feel fancy", I'll give it a solid 2.2.

I love BWs, and if you like Tom Hardy with a little bit of hops and a relatively high ABV (10.2%, I want wondering why I was feeling so fuzzy) you'll definitely enjoy this one.

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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 depechemode1983
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours out a beautiful clear mahogany color. There isn't much head retention but it leaves lots of sticky lacing. The color is amazing though almost like a light red wine.

S - Bittersweet grapefruit, sweet caramel, sour grapes and faint alcohol. Extremely aromatic. All the smells jump out.

T - Very sweet. Maybe a little too sweet. Could use a little more balance. Still you get the grapefruit rind bitterness in there and this time around sweet apples come into play. Finish is bitter and alcohol is surprisingly well hidden considering the abv.

M - Soft, oily/slick. Carbonation is low.

O - I love beers like this. This whole bomber is going to last a really long time. Worth the 8 dollars in my honest opinion. Its a little malt forward but if you like that sort of thing and are expecting it than your in for a treat.

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Photo of diamondc
3.51/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on Dec 5 2011

A: A clear shade of crimson, fluffy tan head, lots of lacing.

S: Spicy ... cinnamon, woodsy, dark chocolate, pine. Nothing really leaps out.

T: Heavy on the pine hop flavors, tastes almost dirt-y, bit of a cotton candy aftertaste.

M: A bit medicinal, reminds me of cherry flavored cough syrup. A sipper.

O: A decent barleywine, not the best on the shelf. Still enjoyed it though.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,412 ratings.
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