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 Bunuelian
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BeerBuzzGuy
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of stompilator
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A - Poured a deep, dark red, with a thick, light head.

S - Dark fruit and cherries, wet hops, buttery caramel.

T - Heavy, toasty maltiness up front, notes of berries and dark fruit hanging in the background. An almost oak-y flavor kind of hangs around, with citrus-y, wild hops gently fading in off of the earthy flavors before it. The hops eventually settle in and fade out with the rest of the flavors, leaving a bittersweet (more bitter than sweet) end to this brew.

M - Full-bodied and velvety, just a wee bit of carbonation.

O - Quite possibly the best hop flavor in any barleywine I've had. Delicious.

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Photo of Lodisgrisen
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Deep dark transparent amber with a brown tint to it. The off-white head that rose to maybe 1/4" at best settles nice and even after a sip....very good looking brew.

Smell: Honestly I have been going back and forth with this and it at the very least to me comes off bland. Could definitely be more potent, you smell the alcohol and like a wood note to it but drops before you place your glass down.

Taste: Complex, most barleywines in general dont have a such strong bitterness to it....this one is deep floral in taste but with wood undertones. Has almost a sweet feel to it, to the inexperienced might feel like a mellow DIPA. Malty as it gets, wow.

Mouth: Definitely feels medium to heavy with a gentle stickiness to it. It doesn't overwhelm you like some other brews to the point comes off easy and very well paired with food.

Overall: Great barleywine, I recently bought six bottles of one of my top three barlewyines and would have it tomorrow to compare. Drink up and enjoy, Salud!

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
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 car2052
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle aged approx. 8 months into snifter.

A: Muddy red, plum. 1 in. Dark tan head.
S: Floral hops, pine resin, orange, Sweet dark malts, honey.
T: Initial hop bite followed by a sweet malt body. A little toasty, but not overwhelming. Alcohol helps bite through the sweetness. Hops linger on as the sweetness diminishes.
M: Medium/heavy.
O: Hops are still alive in this one, and a nice balance for the style.

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Photo of daledeee
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I have heard of this one so I bought it off name recognition. Poured it into a chalice and got really nice head and lacing with an auburn body that is dark but clear. Nose is hoppy and malty. Taste at first was full of caramel and hops. As the beer aired out, it because less so but a nice hop edge with great carbonation and a great creamy mouthfeel. This would be a good beer to keep around. A very fine example of a barleywine.

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Photo of Jazzcrop
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tastes are caramelized sugar, some spice, curds, ice cream sprinkles, hops, oxidation, pills, bourbon, funk, grass, malt, bitterness, potatoes and age. Smells are aged amber, hops, sweet malt, oats, wood, breakfast cereal, paper, cigarettes and paint.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A - Teas colored cloudy brew with a small head with short life and copious streaks of lacing.

S - Caramel, vanilla, pine, bourbon, molasses, oak, toffee and alcohol. Fantastic aroma. What an American barleywine is meant to smell like!

T - A bit of a sweet maltiness that quickly shifts to an intense crisp pine flavor. The aftertaste is a powerful pine bitterness with some faint grassy notes and a lot of lingering sweet molasses malt underneath. A pleasant barleywine for certain.

M - Thick with minute bubbles that tingle the tounge and gums, but i wouldn't say it feels highly carbonated. There is a bit of a film left in the mouth fromt he beer being so thick, so the refreshment is about neutral.

D - Good. I will have this again. One of the best barleywines I have had the pleasure of tasting, great work Great Divide!

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Photo of Lnedrive14
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with some ruby highlights.

Huge head for a barleywine. Great lacing too.

Kinda hard to pull individual smells and tastes out of this one. Hops, fruits, malts, and some caramel are all in there. A fairly complex brew with lots going on in each sip. Kind of like Indian food, in that you know there is a ton that goes into it, but it all fuses into one giant, tasty mess.

Mouthfeel is good. Alcohol hits a bit too hard, I think. That's why I really docked the drinkability here. I liked the fact that the sweetness didnt come out too strong, but I felt that a bomber was a bit too much.

All in all a great brew, however.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

UPDATE - 10/16/08 - 4/4.5/4.5/4.5/4: Grabbed another bottle of this, aged for a solid year. Delicious beer. Crazy sweet candy and cookies to start, that slowly moves into a huge hopfest as the beer warms up. Syrupy throughout. Very good beer, one of those barley wines just a hick-up left of a double IPA. No alcohol presence whatsoever. Very, very good (although doesn't quite reach the levels of the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot).

6/01/07 - 4.5/4/4.5/4/4: Pours a perfect two fingers of white frothy head, with intense lacing. Clear amber beer that looks great. Nose is strong and spicy, a little breadiness. Taste is great. Dried fruit up front, molasses, brown sugar maltiness, a little alcohol in the middle. Breadiness shows up in the end, just before a good hop kick. Feel is good, medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall a really great beer, high ABV but flavor's so great I don't really care (I'd drink a bunch, until I couldn't stand).

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Photo of SeattleBeerBlog
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- An off white head that seems to last forever, gently going down to a finger, pours a dark ruby red, and very clear.

S- Complex might be an understatement, a Little woody/piney, with some nice hops, a bit of alcohol and some sweet cherry or prunes. Yum.

T- Super Smooth, zero rough edges, very well rounded for a barley wine, upfront flavors of dark carmel, wood, rich chocolate, and a good amount of grapefruit bitterness. Also some Alcohol as well.

M- Great carbonation level, nothing spectacular here

D- Overall a great barley wine, definitely a sipper but if you are a fan of Barley wines you must try this beer.

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Photo of MetalHopHead6
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Great Divide Old Ruffian is a boozy, hoppy, floral, fruity mouthful.

It poured a deep gorgeous ruby red with a thick creamy head that left thick rings of lace throughout the glass. The smell was sweet and floral but subdued. The flavors were more explosive and complex, with earthy grassy notes, a hint of sweet dark cherry, and a ton of flowers. The high alcohol level left a boozy aftertaste and a warming feeling that was nice on a snowy December day. The feel was very bitter and full.

Old Ruffian is a wonderfully aggressive flavorful ruby gem. Too strong for everyday yet delicious and bitter enough to make any day special.

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Photo of sjccmd
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I think this may have been old since it had the old label...I'm pretty sure it's a beer that can do well with age so I wasn't worried

A: pours amber with a ruby red hue with a slight gloopy quality, it ranges from a light copper to a dark red depending on the light...pretty neat...tan head that recedes to a lacing

S: grapefruit hops that are initially more sweet than bitter, pine, molasses-y dark bread

T: tingly sweetness at first that finishes with bitter hops, fulfills the expectations given by the smell but it's a bit more potent

M: the carbonation provides that initial tingle, finishes thick and stains the mouth

D: the sweetness is a little high, but the amount of carbonation makes it easier to drink for a barley wine

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Photo of kbeals
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I believe this was an '07 vintage.

A- 22 oz. bomber decanted into a snifter results in a murky, reddish brown colored brew. A finger of thick, soapy off-white head sits atop. Excellent head retention with thin lacing makes this a fantastic looking beer.

S- Tons of vanilla and caramel with even a dose of piney hops. This came as a surprise given its age. A bit of booze comes through as it warms, but it's very pleasant overall.

T- Wonderfully complex with loads of vanilla and caramel coming through. A bit of booziness, and good doses of hops. This beer finishes off a bit dry. Again, this came as a surprise.

M- Deliciously smooth and heavy bodied. A bit of carbonation.

D- Definitely drinkable, but the dryness of the flavor wears on me a little bit. Doesn't go real good with the sweetness of the vanilla and caramel.

This was an incredible brew. Now I just need to find a few more and line these up for a vertical.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours a caramel amber with a hint of cherry. Two big fingers of manila foam, sticky walls all over the glass.

Aroma - pineapple and orange, a caramel figginess, very nice. At times, even suggestions of oranges and/or strawberries.

Taste - the first sip shows lots of bready, caramel sweetness and an odd touch of metal. After 20 months, the hops are still big but without the bite. Lots of good resiny pine, little if any push towards anything medicinal. Abv heat is evident but complementary to the big flavors of sweet grain and grapefruit rind. The finish is expectedly drying, warm, with some bitter residue hanging around for a good 15 seconds. No trace of the initial metallic flavor either. This is still hop-heavy, not quite as balanced as my ideal bw, but awfully good.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, pretty darn heavy too. Carbonation holding up quite well.

Drinkability - this is a good one for sharing, but still can be a big sipper. Just me and the cat still awake tonight, looks like Bogartski-ville for this one.

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Photo of bifrostguard
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep brownish amber color on the same order of dried out tobacco leaves. Tall light tan head the leaves a good amount of lacing.

S - Malt, namely caramel. Piney hops and tobacco are also detectable.

T - Very nice. Not overly sweet with a nice, clean bitter finish. All flavors noted in the nose are proportionally present in the flavor. I'm not big on barleywines, but this is a very good one.

M - Thick and creamy

D - A very well balanced beverage that I could drink for a long time. Complex enough to keep me drinking it throughout the night.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #1250.

Bottle, 2007 vintage, the last year before the label change. I grabbed this at Chevy Chase a few weeks back.

Pouring an absolutely gorgeous deep ruby red with a dense, light brown head with excellent retention and lacing, this is an excellent looking barleywine. The nose is great too. Despite its age, it still has a moderate hop character, with pine and candied orange peel being most noticeable. The malt character is robust and intense, with toffee, caramel and even a little vanilla and an almost oak-like character. It seems like oxidation is starting to creep in, with just a touch of papery character. In addition, there's also some fruit present, with a rich plum and raisin character. Quite excellent for a barleywine IMO.

The palate opens with a solid blast of caramel and candy, with brown sugar and a rather intense tobacco character. As it warms up, the tobacco really grows, tempering how fast you can drink this. Fruity oxidation is present, blending very well with the leather, tobacco and the caramel character. The hop flavor has mostly faded, but a rather potent bitterness is present, a blend of hops and grain, with a little burnt sugar thrown in for good measure. The finish is excellently balanced with sweetness and bitterness present in appropriate amounts, and the tobacco adding complexity. Great flavors and balance here, this beer is full in body and has soft carbonation and a great finish. An excellent barleywine, one I'm going to enjoy sipping over the course of the evening. In some ways, it reminds me of the Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia, a beer I need to revisit. I would also add that I like this more than the BA version

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Photo of emmasdad
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium hazy amber color, with a bit of creamy off white head. Good aromas of dark fruit, caramel and piney hops. More hops on the palate; this is a very hoppy barley wine, with a lot of double IPA qualities, especially young and fresh. The hops are balanced nicely with some sweet malt and warming alcohol. Truly an awesome example of the style.

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Photo of tronester
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This ale is a crystal clear reddish brown in color. The head is light tan in appearance, and medium in size from a vigorous pour. There is tons of lacing left on the glass as you drink the beer. The smell is of vanilla, brown sugar and dough. The taste is very malty, sweetness of sugar, biscuity, and smooth, with just a slight earthy character from the hops. The bitterness levels match up quite well with the sweetness, leaving a very well rounded taste. Mouthfeel is thick, carbonation is smooth and light. Very drinkable for such a high ABV beer, it isn't hard to drink the entire 22oz bomber by ones self. Great Divide has another great ale here!

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Photo of ollerton
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of shoegueuze
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of clvand0
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a ruby color with a moderate head that has great retention and leaves a little lacing on the sides of the glass. It has a very strong hop aroma of pine. Not much citrus hop. The flavor is much more subdued in the hop profile than I expected, but the hops do add a certain spice to the flavor. Nice caramel malt presence. The alcohol is apparent, but not over the top. The body is fairly thick and the drinkability is brought down a bit by the alcohol presence.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very satisfying barleywine on the cusp of, but just missing, perfection. Color, sweetness, and heat are awesome. I agree with comments about excessively bitter finish though. Available in 4-packs of 12 oz bottles, which is a huge plus for me...I hate that barleywines are so often reserved for special-markup bombers. Will definitely purchase at least twice/year if available.

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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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