Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
Liked This Beer
4.2 w/ 2,464 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,464 |  Reviews: 1,111
Photo of donkeyrunner
3.92/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

@ The Indie, Somerville MA.

Murky, mud color with ruby highlights--I think (it's dark in there). Arrived with a thin head that never really left, just formed a collar from which little foam vessels dispersed and reattached like ancient Greek trading ships navigating through the Mediterranean Sea. How's that for obscure.

Smells like floating through a hop forest down a malt candy river. Lots of pine and citrus hops, booze, and sweet, fruity, caramel malt. Made me think of Anchor Man when Rebecca Corningstone says "take me to pleasure town."

Taste is citrus infused, ridiculously decadent fudge and caramel. Has a boozey, mint aftertaste that is identical to Binaca breath spray--I hate that stuff.

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Photo of jampics2
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Beer Engine. 12oz or so in a snifter.

A reddish brown liquid with a thick tan head sits infront of me. Looks great!

Smell is wonderful. Nice citrus hops remind me of grapefruit, oranges, and pineapple. Also some nice hints of the sweet barley that lies below.

Taste is great as well. Nice baked bread, caramel, and toffee. Figs and some toasted malt. Then an attack of the bitterness with huge citrus flavors and a resinous bitter element that sticks around.

Mouthfeel is good. This was creamy and smooth!

Drinkability was graded on a curve as this is obviously a huge beer. But it went down easy and was a very enjoyable barleywine that will only get better in time.

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

Pours a hazy brownish red color with a yellow stained head. Slight spotty lace upon the glass. Nose is full of citrus hops similar to grapefruit. Nice amount of malt sweetness filling out the rest of the aroma. Taste is better hoppy citrus like grapefruit upfront with ample malt sweetness to back it. Finishes bitter and quite boozy both in warmth and in taste. Medium to heavy feel with this beast and low amount of carbonation. Pretty good overall. Nice fresh hop and alcohol kick. Some time spent in the cellar would have worked some magic for this beer im sure.

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Photo of generalnotsew
3.94/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark hazel brown with an enormous tan frothy head.

S: Sweet biscuity chocolate malts. This is not anywhere near hop forward like Old Guardian and Bigfoot. Sadly that is what I love about those 2.

T: Hmmm. Hops are present but not nearly to my liking. Sweet, woody and earthy malts dominate the palate here with a bitter hop aftertaste. Still very enjoyable though.

M: Very nice mouthfeel. Very rich and smooth with carbonation that is not overdone.

D: Must say it is an easy drinking brew despite missing out on my hop fixation.

I am sorry but I love the hoppiness of Old Guardian and especially Bigfoot. This just does not compare. However not comparing it has it's own place as a pretty good brew. It just isn't going to be my go to barleywine.

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Photo of ale1
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another great barley wine/ale
can't contribute much more than previous reviewer, served cool medium head ,good hops/malt nose with malt finish , like the Talon barley wine, top shelf barley wine style.
Other that fall in this category that are quite good seirra nevada big foot ale

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.45/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A-hazy reddish copper color liquid with a thick tan colored head. Solid retention linger for quite some time and leaving a very nice lacing on the side of my glass

S-the nose is pretty big and quite balanced. Brown sugar and toasted biscuit are balanced by a strong hop presence. Citric hops of pineapple and a touch of bitter grapefruit

T-this is quite big in taste. Some sweet burnt caramel and bready malts lead off. Big resignous pine hops take over only to let a slight bit of citric and herbal hops come in towards the finish. Bitterness galore at the very back on what seems like a big malt DIPA.

M-this has a full body, it is thick and syrupy, almost chewy. It is very smooth and creamy, slick on the back of the throat, with a fair amount of carbonation really backing up a thick mouthfeel.

D-this is big and delicious. Very bitter and piney so hard to drink it fast and repetitive. Definitely looks like an interesting beer to cellar as it would definitely change over the years

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer looks great. Clear and deep blood ruby red with a gorgeous cap of khaki suds. Big head for a high ABV brew, always a nice thing to look at.

If I didn't pour this one myself I'd swear that someone has cut and dropped fresh pineapple into my beer. Big citrus hops and loads of malty goodness. The nose screams amazing potential.

The taste fizzles out drastically. More bitter then any actual flavor keeps the real character of this beer from shining through. I also find what bold malts make it through the astringency to be overly caramelized and too sweet for my taste. Gone are the awesome pineapple and citrus only to be replaced by stale old canned fruit flavors. A record disappointment from the nose.

However the taste isn't so bad to stop me from enjoying this beer. I actually like the bitterness and appreciate it's potency. Although I wish there were more character to the palate I find it to be a strong bodied, appropriately carbonated, easy drinking brew and that's something to be proud of with anything over 10%. After a grand start and a disappointing middle Old Ruffian finishes strong and is worth a look.

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Photo of ManVersusBeer
3.83/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great Divide Bomber into a Great Divide, Great Minds Drink Alike Goblet. Amber orange tint with a creamy reddish head that sits atop the beer as I drink. Leaves solid lace around the glass.
Smells a lot of malt and caramel with an alcohol aroma present. There is a bit fruity molasses and date hints.
Tastes malty with sweet resin. Bit of bread and caramel flavors with a definite date sugar taste and bam! hop pine with apple/pear tartness in the back end. Alcohol is present, but smooth.
Carbonation is minimal and malty as it warms, but alcohol bite makes sure that this doesn't go down too fast. It is still easy drinking with stickiness lingering on the palate. Mmm...good.

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Photo of glid02
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Aroma's in Athens, GA. As evidenced by my bottle review I was curious to see how it stacked up.

Pours a hazy caramel-copper color with a one-finger yellowish-tinged head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with good amounts of herbal and leafy hop aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though a bit more complex. Caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined by toasty and bready flavors. Midway through the sip good amounts of leafy, pine, and herbal hop flavors join in along with hints of milk chocolate. The hop flavors take over more toward the end of the sip before ending with a solid bitterness.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a thicker than average mouthfeel with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall the beer I had on-tap seemed to pop a lot more than the bottle and held a good deal more complexity. Be sure to give this one another fair shot if you weren't terribly impressed the first time around.

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Photo of cratez
4.49/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

650ml bomber shared with friends. 2008 bottle.

Pours a murky mahogany hue with dark ruby edges and a thick ring of cream coloured head.

Smell and taste are burnt caramel, biscuit, phenolic and woody aromas, roasted barley, sweet and sticky pale malts, berry-like fruitiness, and a big punch of herbal and citrusy American hops. Substantial bitterness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is lush and full-bodied with an assertive hop bitterness that clings to the palate. Alcohol warms the insides but is not apparent in the flavour.

A bold and delicious barleywine that was well received by the entire group.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I got this from TRT in PA. Poured into a snifter. Pours a slightly hazy ruby color with a thick off white color heading. Lacing and heading stay intact until about the last quarter of it then turns flat.

Smell is fruity at first. Then a heavy malty - apple aroma kicks in nd then is immediatley put to rest by the overwhelming tropical fruit aroma.

Taste is ridiculously malted almost to the point where it turns sour.The bitter hops slowly take place. First numbing the teeth then leaving a heavy linger on the palate. Also finishes very warm in the belly with that same lingering hoppiness.

Very heavy in the mouth if that makes sense.Excellent bubbliness on the tongue and again a helluva linger of hops.

Drink is a bit much for a good sessionable beer but is an excellent tasting beer. Superb.

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Photo of BlackBearForge
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber dated December 10, 2009

Old Ruffian pours a dark coppery amber, clear with ruby highlights, a big creamy off white head and loads of nice lacing.

Big hops and big caramel malts come through in the aroma.

The flavor is big and deep, full of huge citrusy hops, buttered toast, caramels, toffee, a bit of pine, grapefruit zest, orange and ripe preserved figs and a bit of honey. Bitterness is quite prominent but well backed by a big malt sweetness. The finish is long and ends bitter while the alcohol is well hidden in the flavor but noticed in a pleasant warming in the mouth.

Mouthfeel is full, creamy carbonation and silky smooth on the finish.

Great Divide makes wonderful beers and Old Ruffian is no exception. Great fresh but I can only imagine what it's like aged, this is perhaps my favorite Barleywine now!

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Photo of darklordlager
3.71/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark ruby colour, with an abundant medium-tan head exuding a dark orange hue. Shows great retention too.

S: Sweet citrusy hops paired dark fruit. Some grainy two-row can be detected underneath the monstrous caramel as well.

T: Lots of caramel malt, some dark fruit and citrusy hops up front and in the middle, receding into a pleasant cleansing hop bitterness. Sweet caramel malt stays in the finish as well.

M: Medium carbonation, slightly syrupy mouthfeel. A bit creamy.

D: A good American Barleywine for sure--not the most complex, but very smooth.

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

Poured an amber-brown almost copper color with ample tan head that dissipated quickly to a crown. Very balanced aromas with the malts and alcohol leading the way and a bit of a hoppy citrus following. Malty backbone in the flavor that follows with the piney hops and alcohol. Chewey medium bodied feel with a bit of crispness and definite alcohol warming. Everything is as it should be with a great balance, relatively smooth feel and a nice warm finish.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.29/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Really pretty looking beer. Lots of head that never really goes away. Lots of lacing too. Its a semi-hazy ruby red colored beer. Basically the same shade of red thats on the label. Quite nice lookin stuff.

S- Kinda faint. But there are big malts and big hops. Floral and fruity hops. Really nice caramel notes from the malts.

T- Wow really nice, especially after it has been sitting in my snifter for a while. Starts out malty sweet. Caramel and dark fruits like cherries and berries. Then the hops come in. They are mostly citrusy and juicy. There is a slight bit of spice from the alcohol. There is a lot of complexity in this beer.

M- Light carbonation. Fairly big and chewy. Goes down really smooth.

D- Not HUGE on alcohol but its still there. Its warming, as a good barleywine should be. At $5.99 this beer is one hell of a deal. That certainly helps the drinkability here.

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Photo of oceanman
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blood orange color and a creamy off-white head.

Big nose, but very balanced between malt, hop, and alcohol. A bit of fruit and pine forest.

Powerful bitterness spread evenly across the palate, softened by a reasonable amount of sweetness. Tasty, but the bitterness obscures some of the complexity that I know is lurking in this beer. Still, outstanding as a different kind of hop fix.

Velvety, and even a bit sticky, but kept lively by the carbonation and bitterness.

About as fun and easy to drink as a barleywine gets. I'm sure this is a completely different beer in a few years.

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Photo of billab914
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish head snifter. Pours a dark amber, slightly brown color with a thin bubbly white covering on top. It has a very nice head on it compared to other similar strength Barley wines, and it left excellent lacing as well.

Aroma big on both malt and hops. There is a good amount of caramel and toffee coming from the malts, which is very appealing. The taste is malty as well with a lot of caramel malt. It has a pretty strong bitterness from the hops that helps balance it out.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side and slightly creamy, the carbonation is relatively low giving it a very nice mouthfeel for the style. Drinkability is good considering the abv %, and I really enjoyed this on a cold winter night. This is a very nicely made and delicious straight forward Barley wine. It was very tasty but it also scored major points with me in the look and mouthfeel categories especially.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Vintage picked up at Capones. Poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Probably the best looking barleywine I've come across. Beautiful thick and foamy head that rebuilds with each swirl of the glass. Nice, deep brownish amber. Very dark with not much light getting through. Not much lacing going on.

S: Although near 3 years old, the hops are very present here. I can only imagine how hoppy this barleywine is when fresh. Has a sweet alcohol aroma and is quite malty and complex. Caramel and molasses are noticed. Also very nice citrusy hops, and a touch of floral hops. Alcohol presence seems to have subsided.

T: Very hop forward barleywine, bitterness seems to take most of the palate. The sweetness of the malts hit the tip of the tongue as the back of the tongue is hit by bitter hops. Has an oaky/smokey flavor that I don't know what to attribute to. Each sip seems to provide different flavors, very interesting. Haven't experienced a BW like this that hits you first with sweetness and finishes with a roasty bitterness.

M: Expected this to be a bit thinner, since its a hop forward BW. Just an inch thin. I feel that if this beer was a touch thicker, the balance between malts and hops would be smoother. Since its swirls around the mouth so easy, the bitterness surrounds the palate.

D: A very drinkable barleywine, but the bitterness makes it a slow drinker. Have a feeling I won't be through this over the course of this hockey game on tonight.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. From a 22oz. bomber.

A - Pours a gorgeous dark red with a nice .5 inch head that recedes pretty quick and leaves a nice thin film.

S - Sweet alcoholic esters with some fresh resiny piney hops. There is also a nice caramel and candy sugar malt backbone. Very complex nose which

T - Very sweet and malty. Caramel and some hints of honey. A nice hop pine finish that is faint but is solid and present. A nice dry finish with an alcoholic warmth. This is a very good beer and I personally enjoy a more balanced Barleywine. This one is a bit on the sweet malty side. Still a good offering. The beer goes well with spicy food IMO.

M - Very creamy and smooth an absolute delight.

D - Not so high because of ABV and flavor intensity. Great beer though.

Edit: As this beer warms it becomes so much more complex and delicious. A very strong beer but at the same time so delicious. There are some buttery and nutty hints that develop as it warms that go so well with the sweetness and dry hop bitterness. Great offering by GD.

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

Poured into a snifter.

4.5 A: Clear dark amber color. Two fingers of super creamy beige head with good retention and tons of lacing.

4.5 S: Tons of caramel malts make a sweet toffee aroma. Candied fruits with plenty of plum, prune, raisin, and dates. Hops are citrusy with emphasis on orange and a touch of pine as well. Big, bold, and wonderful.

4.0 T: Surprisingly bitter, which I fully welcome. Many a barleywine are cloying messes, but not this one. Bitter backbone is accompanied by citrusy and piney hop flavor. Crystal malts are very present, but are dominated by the bitterness to an extent. Still, this is a very fine barleywine with dark fruits making an appearance.

4.0 M: Heavy medium body. Good carbonation. Pretty creamy and except for a touch too much of bitterness, pretty smooth.

4.0 D: A good American style barleywine. Definitely worth a occasional glass.

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Photo of smulkowski
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on Dec 09 2009

A - Poured into brandy snifter. Two finger head, dissipating quickly to a swirl on the top. Thick, dextrinous lacing. Reddish chestnut, glowing amber under light.

S - Intriguing hop profile, with bitter orange peel most forward and a slight pine twang. Sweet malt with spiciness - a twinge of cola and tobacco. Lovely, and somewhat hard to pin down.

T - Grapefruit phasing to caramel, heavy vague fruits, shifting to an astringent finish. Very nice, especially for a three month old American Barleywine. This ought to mature very nicely.

M - Dextrinous, thick and sweet, without being tacky or cloying. Astringent finish pushes me to sip more.

D - Excellent for the age.

Overall/intangibles: My first from Great Divide. Lovely. I look forward to sampling this when it has some age on it.

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Photo of Jdecarol
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What a surprise this beer was. Vintage December 2009 but it didn't taste harsh at all.

At first I thought I had a bad bottle because of how hazy it poured. Until I noticed it was just very hazy and not suspended yeast/bacteria floating in the beer.

Smells like caramel malts, butter bread and some sweet sweet toffee with citrus hops.

Taste is very very sweet and smooth but balanced by the hops. 90IBU? I can't taste them, it's that balanced and I wish I had another bomber or two of it. I would love to have an 08 or 07 of this bottle.

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Photo of sitarist
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber, brewed Dec-08-09

A- Pours a inviting deep amber. The head looks like the head on a root-beer, khaki/tan in color, about an inch, fades quick, lots of lacing.

S- Maybe the best smelling beer Ive come across. It smells like you are at a fruit stand in a pine forest. Lots of ripe fruits(sweet apple,pear,pineapple,etc), citrus(grapefruit), pine, some caramel also.

T- Lots of dark malt sweetness and hop bitterness together; strong and well balanced leaning on the bitter side. At first you taste dark roasted caramel/toffee,nutty,toasted marshmallows, it quickly turns to bitter citrus hops, coca leaf, leaves you with a coffee liquor aftertaste.

M- Its astringent and dry which quickly robs you of its flavors. Ill see how that changes after some time in the cellar.

D- Its cold, windy and snowing here tonight. This is the perfect beer for the occasion. Warming and intoxicating just as it was meant to be.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first barleywine! 2007 bottle (old label). Exploded upon opening. Fun. Pours red, great big off-white creamy head. Leaves great lacing, would've gotten a 5 if the head had retained a little better. Smell is huge caramel, pine. Taste is also huge, complex and all over the place. It blasts you with caramel and candy sweetness, with pine, citrus, booze, and some dark fruit coming into play more and more as the beer goes down. For a beer with some age this thing still has some major hops that really go to work on the palate. If I had to compare this to another style I'd probably go with a strong ale. Mouthfeel is good and creamy, although drinkability suffers. It was definitely tough to finish the bomber, the mad amount of hops/booze/sweetness are rough to get down after some time. Overall an excellent, hefty, complex brew. I'd like to try it fresh sometime.

***more notes 8/10/11***

Opened a 2008 bottle for a friend's 21st birthday. Taste is excellent, tastes very stellar and fresh for a 2 1/2 year old brew. Huge caramel and toffee malts, piny hops and dark fruit strangle the palate. Not alot of heat for the abv. Really a great beer all around and one of my favorite barleywines for sure. I'd love to try a bottle 5+ years old and see how that holds up.

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Photo of h00dak
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I have no idea what to expect when i open this beer. I have been very curious about the barley wine style ever since I first heard it existed. Now I finally have my chance.

Poured dark brown, almost opaque when held up to the light. No head even with aggressive pour.

Smell is very hoppy and citrusy and also a tinge of alcohol in the nose too.

The feel is sharp at first, but then smooth, very little carbonation.

Taste is amazing. Rich and robust. Hops and malt balanced very well. Starts with a malty sweetness, something akin to brown sugar and coffee and then hoppy bitterness kicks in. Not what I was expecting at all. Very drying at the end.

I would highly recommend this for the adventurous beer drinker. High alcohol, full flavor, very complex but not for the weak at heart.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90.8% out of 100 with 2,464 ratings
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