Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

2,459 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

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Ratings: 2,459 |  Reviews: 1,109
Photo of nickthegun12
4.42/5  rDev +5%
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 -0.7%
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 +5.2%
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 -1%
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 -5%
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 -14%
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 +3.8%
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 -19.2%
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 +6.9%
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 -12.1%
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 -5%
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%
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 +2.9%
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 -10%
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 nova009
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber bottled on 12/08/2009 into a snifter

A- pours a bright ruby red, a one finger fluffy tan head that slowly dissipates, retains pretty well, fantastic lacing

S- citrus hops hit the nose first, somewhat floral, slightly malty with caramel being the most prominent, fruit notes are mixed in as well, a lot sweeter smelling than i expected, wish it would have been hoppier

T- i may not have gotten the hops in the smell but i definitely got a hit of them on the first sip, creamy and somewhat mellow turns into a punch of bitter hops, the fruit notes are present but seem to be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the caramel notes, somewhat nutty and grassy as well, the bitterness is pretty lingering, a little boozy on the finish

M- pretty full body feel to it, smooth and creamy coating the entire palate, the booze kind of bites the mouth, medium carbonation, dry finish with lasting bitterness

D- not a bad barleywine, i think the balance was off a little but not enough to make a major impact, solid beer but im not sure if i would pick this up again

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Photo of paulozanello
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a translucent dark copper color with red tones when looked against the light. Huge and creamy 2 finger head, light brown, with some good retention and amazing lacing.

Aroma is a delicious blend of caramel malt, toffee, piney, citric and floral hops. Could be a little stronger.

Taste starts malty with loads of caramel, toffee, tootsie roll and it is soon complemented by hoppy flavors such as citric fruits and floral. The bitter notes appear more toward the end of the sip.

Wow, great mouthfeel. This beer is silky and smooth with medium carbonation. No alcohol detectable in the palate. Body is on the lighter side of heavy. Warming sensation in the back of the throat after each sip.

Overall, as far as american barleywines go, this one is one of the top examples. Despite having fairly detectable hoppy notes the malt is still the main player here, although it is not overly sweet . It is just a damn tasty beer that you should definitely try.

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Photo of hardy008
3.38/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Copper color with a 1 - 2 finger light tan head, with good retention and lacing. The aroma has pine hops and caramel malt. Seems to be a pretty even balance between hop and malt aroma.

The taste of this beer has a pretty even balance between pine hops and caramel malt. I believe the best Barleywines have more malt, and fewer hops, which is only my preference for Barleywines.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation, hoppy and oily. This is a decent beer, but is too hoppy for a Barleywine.

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Photo of Luk13
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Beautiful dark mahogany pour with a long lasting layer of off-white foam. Aroma is quite hoppy (pine), with strong burnt caramel notes, some fruity notes too. Taste is super bitter, lots of hop bite, alcohol and caramel. Palate is full bodied, thick texture with long warm finish. Well done sipper.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz dusty bottle with old label from New Jersey into two Duvel snifters, split with oglmcdgl

Into the glass, Ruffian comes out a pretty dark shade of brown with some lighter shades towards the sides. A nice thick head of tan foam with retention, slight stick.

This is a str8 up American Barleywine with the hop scent OR gives off. Even with over a year of age the piney hops still are bright. Under that, brilliant caramel malt, toffee, plum, dark fruit and more hops. Smells like a older winner.

Old Ruffian is much more complex in taste than smell, it's very misleading. The hops reign supreme, Piney and even citrusy, I cant imagine what this was fresh. Caramel, Toffee, plum, dark fruit, chocolate, alcohol slightly, these all integrate with grace.

Feel is above medium, sticky, coating, and pretty well carbed. Alcohol seeps on the tounge a bit, thats the only downfall but thats something a few years can handle.

I drank half the bottle and wanted more. Very drinkable now with age, but young could pose luppilin threshold. Im going to pick up some more dusty bottles for aging.

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Photo of mckeowbc
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - One of the prettiest beers I've ever seen. Clear, ruby colored, ample, white foamy head, lots of lacing. Just about perfect in every way.
S - Smell is malty sweet, with a bit of estery alcohols, and some hop fruitiness.
T - Taste is big like a barlyewine should be. The volume on everything is turned up a bit. There's a lot of malt there, sweetness especially in the finish, but there's also a good amount of hops going on, but they basically act as an undertone to the malt. Really balanced, what I'd expect out of a good barleywine.
M - Mouthfeel is full, heavy, a bit viscous. Not sticky or syrupy, but definitely not light.
D - Too big for me to drink a lot of. Really a wonderful beer, but it's a normal beer turned to 11. I can only deal with so much of that volume before I need a break.

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Photo of tewaris
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Ruffian brewed by Great Divide Brewing Co. tops Beeradvocate's list of American Barleywines at the moment. At 10.2 % ABV and 85-90 IBUs, this is quite a beer. I bought a bottle about 2 years ago that's at least 3 years old now because Great Divide changed their labels by the August of 2008 and this one has an older label, and no dates. One of the more accessible beers, I had no trouble getting a recent bottle for this tasting.

22 oz. bombers: 2007 winter or older (minimum, and most likely 3 years old) poured into a 25 oz. snifter and 2010 winter release (bottled 11/08/2010) poured into a Duvel tulip.

The older version was noticeably darker and hazier than the better looking newer one. Both poured amber-brown with different degrees of clarity but both had huge light brown heads and excellent, excellent lacing. Sticky lace decorated the glasses while chunks of foam floated on the surface, hiding garnet highlights beneath them. Some legs could be noticed when the heads subsided.

It's amazing that the older one still had hops in its aroma! And lots of sweet caramel and fruity goodness. Figs came up with warmth, and the aroma was overall quite rich and complex. On the other hand the newer one was bigger on hops and sharpness of alcohol, but that's pretty much about it, especially in comparison to older.

Both tasted equally bitter on palate with older one displaying less aggressiveness at the beginning, and letting the sweetness come through while the new one turned everything in its path bitter, up to the back of the throat. Older was mellow and flavorful, but none was exceptional. The fruitiness didn't shine in either but was present in both, obviously stronger in the older while hop flavor, specifically citrus rind notes, stronger in the newer.

Carbonation was spot on, no doubt. And the older hadn't lost any. Even though the older one seemed sweeter, it tasted more attenuated. Both finished quite clean and drinkability was good FWIW. Alcohol didn't interfere but I don't find much to look forward to. Maybe I don't like American Barleywines all that much, but in the end, this is definitely a well done beer.

Old: 4, 4.5, 4, 4, 4
New: 5, 4, 4, 4, 4

Scores in the review are averages.

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Photo of haazer
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A bomber all to myself, poured into a pint glass.

A- Beer is a filtered cherry skin color. Tiny bubbles with a litle bit of carbonation. Large khaki colored head on the beer, very chunky. Where the head drops down there is lacing left on the sides of the glass. Good retention on the head as it takes some time to settle.

S- Nice hop aroma up front. Very floral and grapefruity. Caramel malt blends very nicely with complex fruit scents. Fruit reminds me of cherry and grape, with some banana. Barley is evident. Booze aroma however is not here. Last smells are sweetness and candied sugar.

T- "Seemingly mellow at the start...it quickly becomes aggressive with its hop flavors and huge hop bitterness". Well, they're not kidding. Fruity tastes are up front in the flavor, cherry and raisin and just sweet enough. Midway through the palatte the caramel malt and barley flavors make their presence with some nuttiness, but they then give way to the BIG hop bitterness at the end. Great bitterness ends the flavors with grapefruit, grass, and a little sourness. Long lasting bitterness left in the mouth afterwards.

M- Very smooth at the beginning on the mouth. Medium to full bodied beer. The heat from the booze really hit me on the first sip, but it mellows very nicely about halfway down the pint. The mouthfeel ends on a bittering, somewhat dry lasting finish.

D- This pretty much meets my definition of quaffable. I'm making this bomber dissapear rather quickly I must say. The abv gives you some serious heat at first, but the flavor and smoothness as this mellows out makes me take gulps instead of sips. I give it a 4.5 only because of the initial heat and the abv I'm sure I'll be feeling when the bomber is done.

I've been wanting to try this for some months now and had planned to buy a case of it if I could in my area. It had to be special ordered and was 90$ for 12 of these bad boys. A little much for a case in my book so I opted out but I'll definitely be picking singles up whenever I can find them. Can see why this is highly rated.

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Photo of chriswilkes33
3.08/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had a pour of '08 ruffian in a snifter

Appearance: pours a dark amber with a thin quickly dissipating white head
Aroma: biting alcohol and caramel/toffee one would expect from a monster barleywine
Taste: toffee, sweet (a little too sweet) and alcohol up front. Harsh swallow with lingering warmth
Mouthfeel: thick but not terribly

Overall: good slow drinking beer, nothing super exciting taking place in this beer.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle split with onix1agr and poured into yet again my trusty old friend the duvel tulip.

A- a hard pour yields a small cap of dense tannish head that settles quickly leaving a gossamer film on top and a thin ring around the edge. Muddy brown orange in color.

S- chocolate covered raisins and dates with caramel and toffee. A earthy spice and some slight booze. Mostly its about the raisinets and its awesome.

T- brandy soaked chocolate covered raisins with more dried fruits, caramel, toffee, dark bread. There a nice amount of hop bite still and you get a little grapefruit and spice.

M- on the fuller side of body but not thick or chewy maybe a bit of stickiness. Carb is a few steps less then medium but does a good job of keeping thing up. A bit of heat on the palate with some warming but its nice.

D- for a big barley wine this is exceptionally drinkable. You can toss this back but you don't want to since its so damn good. The beer develops more with each sip and the ride it takes you on kicks ass.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
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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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,459 ratings.
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