Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

2,456 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: 2,456 |  Reviews: 1,106
Photo of Fenris244
3.95/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thick creamy 2 finger head, good retention, leaves a thin lace as the beer gets consumed, amberish brown in color, more on the red amber side than the brown side though.

Bubble gum like aroma of all things at first, kinda juicy fruit like in aroma, cherry and dark fruit aromas are also present.

Right of the bat the hop character is peasant, not overpowering though, cherry and raisin flavors as well as a molasses like note, the alcohol is there but pretty well masked, the flavors overall are pretty well balanced.

Heavy in body and certainly a sipping beer, it's the kind of beer that a bomber in a night would be enough. That said I'm a happy man with this brew

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Photo of grittybrews
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle, opened 02/2011.

Poured a vivid ruby-amber into a tulip with a thin slick of off-white head. Bold, complex aroma of caramel, sugar cookie, vanilla, grapefruit, and pine.

Moderate carbonation and a thick, creamy mouthfeel. Sweet caramel up front balanced by a rich, biscuity backbone. Elements of cherries and fruit lead into a wonderfully biting, bitter finish. Slight alcohol warmth on the finish, but that's about it!

This brew was complex, well-balanced, and very drinkable for the style. Haven't tried an aged version, but I look forward to buying several more for both the fridge and the cellar.

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Photo of chumba526
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle that was from 2007 (I think it could have been a 2008 also though).

It pours a full-bodied deep brown color with about an inch of a dark tan head.

It smells initially sweet. I get a strong toffee and caramel like smell. There is also a very mild bit of a citrus orange smell.

It tastes much like it smells I get a strong toffee like flavor and a bit of a caramel like flavor. There is also a bit of sweet bread like flavor and a bit of a grassy and citrus like flavor. It is sweet but at the same time it is smooth and multi-dimensional.

The carbonation is moderate low. The mouthfeel is somewhat thick.

The drinkability is not bad. But this is a heavy rich beer so one or two glasses is all that I would want of it.

Overall a pretty good barley wine that aged nicely.

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Photo of Dhren1979
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage: 2010

Serving Type: 22oz Bomber poured in to a tulip glass.

A:Pours a rich amber color that is tansparent with no haze. Carbonation is observed and the head is quite substantial.

S: Bitter hops with sweet caramel malts. Aromas of fruit is also detected.

T: Smooth caramel malts, The bitterness of the hops go well with the sweet fruity tastes that are present.

M: Clean, crisp and smooth. Medium body brew with decent amount of carbonation.

D: This is a great example of the Barlywine style! I must go out and get more to age!!

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Photo of Aiptasia
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Holy crap! This is an excellent, "in your face" style of barleywine. Kudos to Great Divide for coming up with a brew that isn't as sweet as it's European counterparts. Definitely for anyone that's a fan of medium to strong bodied beer fans!

A: Poured into a 22 oz. plastic beverage mug (hey, it was clean). Poured a humongous head, at least 3" (and yes, I was careful in the pouring) and the lacing was tenacious. Clinged foam throughout drinking. OMG!

S: Smelled of hops and sweet barley notes. Very pungent and smacked of imminent enjoyment on the tasting. Pine, alcohol and magic.

T: Initially, very hopsy. Floral bouquet explodes on the pallete. Mid, nice hops semi-dry sweet with the alcohol curbing nicely on the tonge. Finish is semi-wet with definite hops aftertones and the alcohol content, while well balanced, kicks ass.

M: Very nice and luxurious on the tongue. Intitial hops on each draught fades into alcohol dryness with only a slight residual.

D: Because of the alcohol content, gets over on you very quickly. Be prepared, very prepared. You don't want more than two of these in any one sitting. Pair it with breads to absorb some of the alcohol. I'm completely "f'ed" up, be warned.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a auburn brown body with decent head retention and lace ring on top of a thick, malty aroma: bready, dry, roasted, sweet, caramel - all in there. Hints of herbal hop bitterness as well. A filling heavy body that is balanced as I pick up a bready, dry malt base along with some caramel sweetness and there is also a decent patch of herbal hop bitterness. Minor sweet fruit flavors and a crisp finish thanks to a barely poking out ABV - a dangerous sipper as it is strong and boozy but real easy to drink and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Bottling date or freshness, not mentioned. Perhaps... like good cheese or wine.. it shall give forth it's gift later. But for now, the goods gotta be coming pronto so give it up, let's see what you got!

Out of the bottle Ruffian pours an easy four fingers of faint tan bubbles. Bubbles on head fall at a small pace but are all very uniform in size. Body is a great dark orange getting into a very nice red color. The body is opaque in character. Once excellent looking beer with real good lace.

Bouquet is, a faint stemmed fruit into sour cherry territory without the sourness but not even the sweetness. Malt chew sensation on the nose interestingly, borders between malt backbone and kreik territory, very fascinating. Dry spices of brown and a great earthy dirt quality.

Taste... DENSE!! big dense malt and a giant hop faint fruitness not of citrus but a some sort of combination red fruit, I am thinking borderline pomegranate. Hop lime bitterness really kicks in and with some rough wood tree bark notes. Gets into doughy territory but not quite. Very fascinating. Abv masked somewhat but not totally. A real kriek borderline Belgian lambic territory. Good stuff.

THis brewery never stops to leave me impressed. Like many others it just surprises me with every concoction they come up with.

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Photo of TheSaboteur
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a tulip.

The appearance is a masterpiece. A glowing ruby that gives quick rises to a marshmallow-beige, three-finger head. Nice sticky lacing makes lemur like rings around my glass.

The aroma is huge. Caramel sweet maltiness, candied fruit, pine and citrus, cherries and butterscotch. Personally, a touch too sweet if I had my drothers.

This looks and smells like a big, bad mutha...and it taste like one too. Damn...rich caramel, deep, sweet fruitiness, and a pine/ slightly herbal finish...plus some booziness that is expected (and welcomed by this guy).

IMO, this is where this beer truly shines...it's like liquid velvet dancing on my tongue (and I mean that in a very, very good way). Silky, creamy, chewy...perfect.

I enjoy this beer. I really do. At the end of the day, a 12 oz bottle would be best, I think (or somebody to share with). About 16 oz through the bottle and it's just getting a bit too sweet for me...it's been there for a few ounces, actually. This is a fine example of an American Barleywine that should be tried.

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Photo of jdb8507
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The smell- incredible. At first, very sweet smelling- hints of pineapple. The taste is a 180...malty and strong taste with a coffee taste at the end.

A very complex beer. I taste/smell trying to figure out more and more things.

Maybe not my favorite style of beer, but I can certainly recognize this as being an amazing beer.

For such a strong beer, it finishes very abruptly, leaving you with just a tad of malt.

I wish the bitterness was cut with something a bit softer/sweeter, but not overwhelming.

Overall, incredible.

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Photo of CourteManche
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 22oz bottle into a snifter.

A -- Murky, cloudy, dark brownish color. Some apparent sediment. Looks like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Minimal, fingernail's-width head, but retains well. Minimal lacing. Slight carbonation.

S -- Malts. Fruits. Sweet coffee / caramel toffee. Subdued hops. No heat.

T -- Wow, taste deviates from the nose - Fun! Even more fruits on a foundation of well-balanced malts and hops. Complex. Cherries. Hints of butterscotch, bitter hops and some heat on the finish. Bit of a linger.

M -- Medium-bodied, syrupy. Not much carbonation. Burps smell good.

D -- Complex and fun. Big beer, high ABV. Might be hard to come by.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on Dec 29, 2009...

Poured from a 650ml into a Canada pint glass...

A - Pours mahogany with a two finger tan head. Good amount of head retention and lacing to be had here...

S - Pick up a good amount of hoppy notes. Also pick up caramel, citrus fruits, and a faint scent of alcohol...

T - Sweet caramel malts are the first to make an appereance. Grapefruit and pineapple follow. Ends on bitter hop note with some pine lingering in the after taste. Pick up a little heat in the finish as it start to warms, but nothing that is over the top, or distracting from the balance of the other flavors...

M - Nice and thick with mild to medium amount of carbonation...

D - A little hoppy for my tastes, but still a solid brew. Definitely not something that is going to be my rotation, but something I could see myself drinking again if the situation was right...


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Photo of jault52
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter from a bomber.

Very pretty dark amber with a bubbly head that quickly recedes. Great lacing.

Sweet malty smell, with some hops coming through.

Tastes just like it smells, with the hop bitterness coming through at the end. Very good.

I like this one. Another great effort by Great Divide, they can do no wrong.

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Photo of Pellinore1
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very nice reddish amber, producing about a finger of white head. This eventually fades to some lacing.

The aroma is malty, caramel sweetness, balanced by citrus hops.

The hops are big in this barleywine, and they serve well to balance out the sweet malt. I taste caramel, fruit, and some spiciness, then a long bitter finish. There is a lot going on here, but it all works well together.

This is smooth and full on the tongue, and just a bit sticky.

The ABV is very well hidden, making this quite a drinkable barleywine.

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Photo of nataku00
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap poured into a snifter. Beer is a dark amber, mostly clear, with a thing soapy off white head on the pour. Not too much head rebuilds after swirling, just at the surface really, leaving very light lacing that slides back into the beer. Some light carbonation visible through the beer, slowly ascending from the bottom of the glass.

Nose has a strong citrus hops, grapefruit peel mostly, with some of the bitter pith as well. Dark caramel sweetness tries to balance the hops, some biscuit malts as well.

Citrus and a strong malty backbone plays well together on the tongue. Bitter citrus peel hops upfront, mellowing into the malty sweetness, caramelized sugar and sugar cookies come to mind. Lingering citrus hops on the tongue and back of the throat helps to remind you what you're drinking as alcohol warmth keeps you to small sips.

Medium bodied, bordering on syrupy if not for faint carbonation trying its hardest to lighten things up. Alcohol isn't present on the tongue, but the warmth in your throat reminds you that you're drinking a very big beer.

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Photo of rawfish
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Two and a half finger, beige seafoam head that recedes slowly. Pours a beautiful amber red hue. A gem.

S: Big malt notes on the front, caramel, toffee and sweet dark fruit like bread pudding. Patchy citrus hops and a whiff of alcohol on the backend.

T & M: Exceptionally smooth, with none of the alcoholic bite. Matches the nose perfectly on both fronts, sweet malt a toasted raisin bread combined with light caramel. Sweetness permeates the front with a big hop kick at the finish which sticks for a while with lasting bitterness. Leaves a dry feeling that ranges from soapy to refreshing depending on where it is felt.

D: This much alcohol should not be so drinkable, exceptionally smooth sipper, the flavor masks the booze so well.

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Photo of aasher
2.46/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This bottle was 2010 vintage. This beer poured a burnt amber in color with a one finger soapy looking off white head. The aromas were off. There were some dark fruits and a whole lot of malt. I think that this was possibly consumed a little too fresh and needed time to figure itself out. The flavors too were a mess. It was far too sweet and had a lot of molasses and candied sugars going on. The hops were still present but there was an onslaught of malt. This didn't really relate to any American Barleywines I've enjoyed in the past. It wasn't very good at all and left behind a bitter aftertaste. Like all of Great Divides beers it had the dry and sudsy mouthfeel, feeling like you had coated the inside of your mouth with soap. This has got to be one of the least enjoyable barleywines I've tired. I'd be willing to give an older bottle a try, but this '10 was just not my kind of barleywine.

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Photo of obrike
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a bomber from Spec's in Round Rock, 2/7/11.

Beautiful burnt amber color, gave it a hard pour...nice fluffy off-white head that lasted a few minutes then faded, leaving a sticky lacing as a drank.

Delicious smelling brew...spicy, hoppy, dark fruits. I like the smell better than the Bigfoot i had the other night.

Very tasty...reminds me of a DIPA...uber hoppy, resiny.

More carbonation in this than in the Bigfoot in my opinion,...a very dry, sweet finish.

Big beer...very big...but oh so good. One in a sitting is just fine. I'll certainly be getting this one again.

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

This barley wine has a nice clean finish that makes it very drinkable. The aroma was very fresh, making it quite enticing! The color of Old Ruffian was cloudy and light reddish-brown, but wasn't thick in mouth-feel. Overall, I was very impressed with the product and cannot wait to try more beer in the Great Divide family.

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.48/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage poured into standard pint.

A- Pours a blood orange with a finger worth of head. The head leaves a nice cap on the beer and leaves good, soapy lacing on the side of the glass.

S- Pretty hoppy for the style, with some malts in there as well. I pick up some black cherries, currants and caramel. Just a hint of alcohol peaks through.

T- Like the nose, very hoppy on the forefront. There is also a little soapiness going on as well which is a little off putting. The malt is pretty well hidden but there are decent notes of brown sugar and caramel.

M- Medium bodied with some good bitter notes. A little dry on the finish and a little lighter than what I expected.

D- I think this is a little too hoppy for my liking. Not bad flavor wise but there is just something missing from this one.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.57/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle. Poured into a tasting glass an amber orange color with a slight tan head. Swirling creates a nice little head and allows the aromas to waft a little more. Both citrus and pine emanate from this brew along with some sweet smelling notes. This, to me, is a very hop forward BW and the citrus and pine notes jump upfront followed by a transition to a malty backbone. Medium mouthfeel. Finishes with a lingering bitterness. As it warms I get some medical type notes in the flavor.

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Photo of LittleDon
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep red and clear, light carbonation. Fluffy khaki colored head with good retention. Aroma of apples and some licorice. Starts off with a bit of carbonation tingle. The middle to end is truly interesting. It starts with a brief malty molasses-like sweetness. This is followed by a slow and long hop punch, with bittersweet molasses counter punches. The licorice shows up again in the finish. This is all followed by a warming alcohol sensation after the finish.

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Photo of iheartIPA
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Dark; nearly red. A short lived head, laces very nicely. Head reappears after every sip. A very pretty beer all-around.

I smell dark fruit. Raisin, fig. A bit of citrus and caramel is there as well.

Hoppy bitterness from jumpstreet. While I appreciate this, I can see this being overbearing for some. The fruit that I smelled is also upfront. It sticks around as the malt and booze kick in. There is a good amount of heat, but not as much as anticipated from 90 IBUs. Ends with a nice balance of sweet caramel, hop and alcohol. Complex but controlled.

Great mouthfeel. Sharp carbination lasts and lasts. While this is not an overly "sticky" beer, it certainly leaves a pleasing sweet residue on the tongue and roof.

This is a sipper for sure. You won't be knocking this down; nor should you. Every sip is worth the time and attention.

Loving the barley wine style. Will certainly seek this ale out again.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy dark amber color with a tight, off-white head that leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Smells of citrus and piny hops with some fruit backing.

Tastes of the fairly big hops and fruit. Hops are characterized by citrus, pine and some grassy notes as well. Malts have a caramel sweetness with some bread. Some fruits come through with the sweetness and add depth to the malts. Overall, a very well done barleywine.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

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Photo of Kvlterbm
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle to snifter. Bottled on November 8, 2010.

A: Pours a clear, dark amber that borders on red with one finger of foamy white head. Head disappears pretty quickly, but it leaves some nice lacing along the sides of the glass. A perfect looking barleywine.

S: Big, sweet caramel malt notes at the front of the nose. Some toffee from the malt, and a fig/raisin dark fruit aroma. There's a definite citrus and pine smell from the hops as well. Very faint hint of booziness.

T: Follows the nose very well. Big caramel malt sweetness and some fruit notes, followed by huge hop flavor. Pine and citrus, and some tropical fruit sweetness as well. The label says 90 IBUs, and you'll definitely taste that bitterness. The hop bitterness blends well with a toffee that'll linger on your palate once the bitterness fades. The alcohol is very well masked. You'll definitely feel it as you work your way through the bottle, but there's no boozy taste to it whatsoever.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, light carbonation. Great for a barleywine.

D: Definitely a sipper at 10.2%. The alcohol's extremely well-hidden, so you'll feel it much more than you taste it.

A fantastic barleywine. Great fresh, and should be just as good, if not better with some age. I'll definitely be drinking more, as well as aging a few bottles.

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

Had this on-tap and was served in an 11 oz glass.
Dark ruby red color with a nice one finger head. Looked pleasing to the eyes. Aroma was more on the malty side with hints of sweet fruity esters. Persistent film of a head that stayed.
Taste was a very nice blend of 'bittersweet symphony'. The sweetness upfront followed by a perfectly balanced bitter finish. The after-taste lingered for quite some time.
The alcohol is very well masked, but the 'kick' I felt from this barleywine was unlike any I have experienced so far.
Excellent lacing all along the insides of the glass.
All in all, this was one good barleywine. Great Divide keeps on impressing with their brews. Definitely worth trying, especially if you like barleywines.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,456 ratings.
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