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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
2,470 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,470 |  Reviews: 1,113
Photo of colforbin73
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

nice sweet barley wine here with a decent little hop finish. bottled january 2010, opened about 10 minutes ago.

pours a nice syrupy brown, foams up a little on the pour but the overall carbonation is moderate as you would expect. it says "hoppy" on the label but i am not getting a ton of hops in the nose -- perhaps this is because it is 15+ months old? -- but there are lovely malt aromas that kick up -- priming your palate for the rich brew.

the taste is mellow and sweet with decent bitterness -- malty and a bit of prunes and dried fruit. i find the drink a little on the rough side as the sweet malts compete with the really high ABV... the hops bring pine resins and oil to the party... the beer leaves a nice coating in the mouth as you swallow and a pleasant after taste.

i would like to try their barrel aged version of this powerful brew -- this one is a decent sipper, but i wouldn't go out of my way for it again.

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Photo of Wadsey
3.02/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Old Ruffian

Bottled sometime in 2008. Poured in a DFH signature glass. 

A: Deep amber to amber brown with an above-average frothy head. Good clarity but moderate lacing. 

S: Big caramel presence joined by tea-like or herbal  hops. A touch of fruit and a note of oxidation. Really, this is a very standard profile for an aged American Barleywine. 

T: Sweet caramel malt on front of palate, which is annihilated by a steely bitterness that thoroughly dominates tasting experience. Alcohol is noticeable but not unduly so.  Long, long bitter finish. 

M:  Body is a little light for style and carbonation is too high for style. Moderately warming. 

D: Old Ruffian drinks relatively easily despite its over-the-top IBUs. The problem is that it tastes like just about every other American Barleywine I've drank. I'm nipping this cellaring experiment in the bud. 

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Photo of Florida9
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Hazy orange-brown in color. Forms a thin film of whitish head.

S: Tea. Toffee. Sweet herbal character, much like a Riccola.

T: Pungent herbal flavor. Peppery. Caramel. A nice balance between sweet and dry. Mildly bitter on the finish.

M: Medium in body, but feels a bit thin. Very quick, clean finish.

O: A solid barleywine that offers a up a good dose of moderation and balance.

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Photo of zrab11
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a amber orange color with nice 1 finger off white head

S- Has Smeet toffee and coffee notes coming from it. Wit some hints of pine and booze

T- Has a nice taste to it. The booze really comes though but not too much and the pine and carmel i smelled tastes really nice together

M-Medium Bodied with good carbonation

D- Overall this is a great Barleywine. Glad my local pub has this on tap everyday. Will get this beer again and again. Lots of flavor and refreshing

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Photo of csiewert
3.97/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a ruby amber color with a finger of off white head with a bit of lacing and some decent retention. The aroma is strong with caramel and cherry notes. The taste starts malty, then becOmes sweet with caramel and fig notes. The mouthfeel is nice and balanced but finishes slightly bitter. Overall a decent barleywine.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a chestnut/ruby red color with not much of a head.

S: Very, very malty upfront with a hint of piny hops.

T: This is definitely a good representation of the style. Not my favorite barleywine out there, but it's definitely a good one. I got a lot of caramel malt with some nice pine hop bitterness and a bit of biscuit on the finish.

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Photo of surprenant1138
4.77/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber/orange color with a finger of quickly fading cream colored head. Good retention of lacing. Aroma is of hops, caramel, raisins, bread, caramel. Very sweet smelling. The taste is pretty much the smell with a bit of citrusy hops and slightly bitter. Sticky, medium bodied mouthfeel. This is my #1 barleywine style ale. I love it.This beer ages very very well. A two or three year old bottle is fantastice. All of the flavors become incredibly bold.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.68/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- 22 oz. bottle dated Dec. 22-2009
Hard pour into a pint glass. Hazy, amber. 1/2 inch honeycomb head that slowly melted away. Decent lacing throughout.

S- Sweet fruit, malt.

T- Starts sweet and malty, finishes hoppy and bitter. Strangely different than other barley wines that I have tried.

M- Smooth. Decent carbonation. Slight burn on the swallow.

O- Not bad, but too hoppy for my taste.
Tried again in January 2012. 2009 bottle. Slightly bitter and dry aftertaste. I love barleywines, but this is lacking a "wow" factor for me.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, dated Jan 07 2010.

hazy dark amber color with orange highlights. 1/2" cream colored head, good lacing and retention. aroma is a great balance of caramely sweetness and hops. same with the taste. big bold flavors, yet not over the top.

no alcohol taste, smooth mouthfeel, a bit sticky of an aftertaste. fairly thick.

overall, a solid barleywine. a year old seems to be a good age for this brew.

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Photo of titosupertramp
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No bottle date present, old cap, old label so this should be a 2008 or earlier.

A: Pours an orangish amber with a finger of off white head. Lots of a sticky lacing and good carbonation.

S: Smells very sweet. Toffee, caramel, raisins, bready, citrus and pine hops.

T: Follows the nose to a tee. Still a decent amount of alcohol present which is a bit surprising. Sweet, hoppy and boozy is the general theme here.

M: A little on the thick side. Leaves a coating behind with a good aftertaste and a little bite.

O: Pretty drinkable, but certainly glad I was able to split this with a couple of buddies. I would pick this up again without a doubt.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasing US barley wine, matching style expectations with dexterity.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle with a black top foil. Recurrent retro, elaborate and somewhat fifties label design around the current Great Divide design with the silhouette of a character (the old ruffian) pulling up a fist over a burgundy background. Short descriptive narrative noting the main ingredients, and intent of the ale. Displays and almost illegible date of bottling (Nov ?? 2010??), recommended food pairings, and 10.2 Alc. by Vol. Poured into a snifter.

A - Clear deep amber-crimson pour, nice 1/2" creamy head, medium retention, fair surface memory and lacing.

S - Nose is fruity, soft, distant caramel and grapefruit.. A bit too tamed. As it warms deeper notes of caramel, and a touch of hops emerge.

T - Softly fruity and malty early on, with a growing hoppy edge that never takes full seat. Expected caramel maltiness, touches of grapefruit, sugar, dash of resin... Faint boozy touch.

M - Medium body with soft carbonation, and a nice syrupy smoothness in the finish. Alcohol very well integrated...

O - Range is not too assertive but flows rather nicely with a good rhythm.

Notes: Good US barley wine, nothing I would crave for (I'm sensing that without some age, cask serving, and/or some barrel aging I might not be too big a fan of the style.) but a nice quality brew in any case.

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Photo of nickthegun12
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottled on dec. 2 2009....and opened on mar. 25 2011....wow...this was worth the wait!!...

the appearance is a little darker than i am accustomed to...almost the color of a porter....nice fading head...and not really much lacing..

smells like carnation condensed canned millk!....sweet smell....smells like a good barley wine....

the taste is thick can't taste any heat....and taste sweet....with not really much hop presence..

the feel is very dry much like a good barley wine should be

overall one of the best barley wines that i've ever had the privileged of tasting!

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Photo of alkemy
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Out of the bomber...

A - Clear deep amber/brown with a touch of ruby. Three fingers of rich cream colored head faded to a quarter inch or so, but this remained for quite some time.

S - There's some floral hops mixing with a bit of grapefruit, but this thing really smells like a malt bomb. Lots of toffee, doughy bread, and some spiciness. I do get a hint of pine lingering.

T - Pine and hops, for that matter, are much more prevalent once this hits your mouth. It's also a touch hot with alcohol. Taste is a much more balance than the super malty scent. Toffee and caramel hit in the middle and pine lingers on your tongue after the swallow.

M - Creamy and luxurious. The bite is done through alcohol rather than carbonation.

D - Pretty drinkable at first, but the sweetness and alcohol really wear on you after a while. Very good, but a bomber is plenty.

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Photo of dragonWhale
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007-2010 vertical for the grand Drink the $hit out of My Cellar Before I Move to the East Coast Celebratory Barley Wine Tasting and Drag Show.
It was very interesting to see how the age affected this beer. All were very similar in profile with hops obviously more faded in the 07 and 08.
Red and gloriously clear with caramel head. The 07 and 08 had big candy fruit (dates) and caramel presence with a little citrus hop. The 09's aroma was very well integrated, the booze still detectable, caramel big and citrus hops prevalent. The 10 was not quite there, big alcohol and hops with a caramel sweetness.
The 07 and 08 had slight raisiny notes as well. Exceptionally drinkable, apart from the 10, which obviously still needed some time to get itself together. Really exciting to sip on this vertical.

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Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split a 22oz bottle; poured into a tulip pint.

A: Deep woody red and a two finger white head.

S: Sweet caramel and sticky, citruscy hops with a bit of heat.

T: Deliciously sweet, but not cloying. The hops are big and present, but not overbearing. Alcohol is present, but not heat.

D: This is very smooth for its size. The alcohol is smooth and contained. Mouthfeel is syrupy and slick. I finished the entire bottle and could have more.

Overall: A wonderful barleywine. This is an excellent example of the style. Drinkable, extremely flavourful and classy.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up from my local store after eyeing it for a while. Bottled December 2009.

Appearance - Pours a ruddy orange color with about a finger of tan fluffy head that dissipates somewhat fast leaving slight lacing.

Smell - Oily citrusy hops, pine, lots of toffee, dark fruits such as plums and raisins.

Taste - Similar to the aroma but more potent. A hint of alcohol up front is noticeable first. Then comes citrus, pine, and hops. A massive bready and toffee backbone comes in and stays the rest of the sip.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, lower carbonation.

Drinkability - A good Barlywine, however, a bit harsher than expected. Warming of the throat and alcohol in the taste surprised me seeing as this is over a year old already from the bottling date. Good, but there are other barlywine's I'd rather have.

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Photo of Tropicalslip
3.62/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a nice big head,color is beautiful dark amber red, translucent and clean. Head is slightly off white and sticks to the glass. Carbonation bubbles went directly into the head when poured, minimal action afterwards. Maybe a little to cold probably about 40 when poured, letting it warm. Mild fruit notes in smell, mild sense of alcohol to come.

First mouthful warming fruits and sweetness coming through, definitive hoppiness lingering.
Second mouthful, richness lingers of malts and sweetness, bitternes hangs in the top of my mouth and doesn't let go. I like that the malty sweetness is not overwhelming and the hoppy finish sticks around.

Noticing that definitive hoppiness lingering and malty sweetness disapates fast.

Following taste refreshes fruits and with patience, before next sip bitterness returns and maintains at a pleasant level.

I like it when a barley wines sweet maltiness clings to my pallet a bit more, I like would like more of a stronger barley sweetness to linger, and cling to my buds.

Definitively good American Barley Wine style, but for me let's kick it into a higher gear.

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Photo of drpdaddy
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks warbird07 for this one. Bottled in 2008 poured into snifter. Appearance is a murky amber/ruby color with a fair amount of head with residual lacing. Smells of raisins, candied fruits, caramel with a touch of heat warming the nostrils, just like a good barleywine should smell like. The taste accompanies the smell quite nicely nice sweet, candied fruits, caramel with a hop bitterness at the end(surprising for three years of age). The mouthfeel is quite nice, full body, moderate carbonation, it does finish a touch dry. Drinkablility is pretty good, there is a lot going on with this beer but it didn't preclude me from finishing the bomber.

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Photo of yourchoice
3.4/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Catching up on some notes from the last couple weeks...

A - Muddy brownish red, like stained mahogany. Very little light tan head, quckly dissipating.

S - Raisins, sweet cranberries...very raisiny and sweet.

T - Not detecting it in the smell, I was surprised to find it a little smokey, but still very sweet. Still raisins and figs. Pronounced alcohol (not a "hidden" 10 ABV).

M - Little carbonation, good body.

O - I can't honestly say I was longing for my next sip. I'll have to revisit in the future to see if I may have missed something or my palate was off...

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Photo of dizknee24
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome older bottle with the mountain still on it.

A amber with white head

S Malty and mellow alcohol aroma

T Considering the age, the alcohol has mellowed quite a bit from the 2010 bottles. definite sweetness is apparent.

M not bad

D wish i had more....

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Photo of tlazaroff
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark mahogany color with a crisp off-white head. Lacing sticks to the side of the glass like it was painted on.
S: This beer has a nice, upfront floral hop aroma with subtle caramel notes.
T: Complex taste here. I get slight citrus upfront with a very nice, palatable middle, and a caramel finish. This beer noticeably changes flavors in each sip. It goes from being hoppy and bitter to malty and sweet. Amazing!
M: This is more carbonated than I would expect for a barley wine, but it doesn't detract from the experience. This is a full-bodied beer and it isn't afraid to show itself off.
D: Mediocre drinkability like all other barley wines.

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Photo of SkunkWorks
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a Southampton Imperial Russian Stout release day snifter. I'm not sure how to date this bottle but the label is not the same as the one on BeerAdvocate. I know I bought it in November and its been in my cellar since then.

My arts n' crafts side is going to appreciate the bottle cap saying "Great minds drink alike." Thanks, Great Divide. I'm happy to finally be getting around to having one of your beers.

Look: brownish, amber colored body. I gave it an aggressive pour into my snifter and am rewarded with a very thin, less than one finger's worth, of head. The head is tan, slightly yellow, retains for maybe a minute, and is gone before I can really figure out what color it is. There's no lacing left behind at all.

Smell: piney hops, huge aroma of alcohol, and a bit of caramel malt. The most pronounced aroma is the alcohol, with hints of hops and malt in the background.

Taste: huge alcohol taste, making this almost like a liquor. Caramel malt and a big piney, slightly citric hoppiness pops out a little bit more than it does in the aroma and I am thankful for that. There's also a slight medicinal taste in there as well. This might be the booziest beer I've had to date.

Feel: full bodied, a little syrupy, not a whole lot of carbonation. The alcohol is incredibly forward and I get an alcohol burn from the tip of my tongue to the back of my mouth.

Drink: definitely a sipper, and though I haven't had a whole lot of barleywines yet, this seems appropriate for the style.

Overall, I'm still not quite enamored by barleywines and this was good but I'm not sure if I will be getting this again. I might need to get this a bit fresher, when the hops are more pronounced, going by other reviews. Certainly worth a try though, based on reputation alone at least. Cheers!

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Photo of theboozecruise
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into an imperial pint glass... it's a copper color, clear with a large off-white head. Pretty decent looking beer.

The aroma is boozy and malty, with hints of molasses and caramel.

The flavor is insanely rich... boozy as well but so strong with the caramel and molasses flavors... it's a little overwhelming, but so delicious. Like a food that has so much flavor it's hard to concentrate on just one. It's tasty and exciting.

I like this one... not sure if it's going to be an A+ beer but it's an A at the worst.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: Gorgeous deep red with a big fat creamy head. Beautiful.
smell: Hoppy bite, dark fruit with a strong caramel balance.
taste: Wow, this one works baby. Full disclosure...my unrefined palate prefers a sweet English, but this guy is nice and balanced. It has a year on it so the hop edge is reduced from the young bottle i sampled this time last year. This is an American I can enjoy.
She is going down fast and easy. Nice.

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Photo of ryantho00
3.79/5  rDev -9.8%
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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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 2,470 ratings
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