Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,102 Reviews
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
greatdivide.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,102
Ratings:
2,442
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
9.95%
 
 
Wants:
299
Gots:
445
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,102 | Ratings: 2,442
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one pours out a very hazy copper color, with a beautiful tan/off-white, sticky head that clings to the glass, leaving all kinds of lacing. This one is just beautiful - other than the haze. I can forgive the haziness a bit for the other wonderful aspects. The smell is full of sweet malts, darker crystals, maybe a bit of chocolate, a great caramelly sweetness, with just a bit of piney, citrusy hops in the background. A very pleasant aroma that invites you to drink. The taste gives an intense bitterness along with an initial alcohol burn. Though there is quite a bit of malty balance. There is a distinct breadiness, backed by crystal malts with a bit of a chocolatey back. I also detect some citrus peel, with that piney feeling, not much in terms of resiny qualties, though. There's a hint of golden raisins. Overall a great flavor, but not the best I've had in the style. The mouthfeel is nice, good carbonation levels, a nice kind of chewy feel, but there's a hint of thinness at some points. The alcohols hits you, even with a bit of age, and the bitterness persists. The drinkability is nice. Definitely good to the last drop, but it starts to hit hard quickly. Worth a shot to all.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a snifter.

A- Pours a cloudy, murky tan-brown, sort of has an apple cider complexion, except a little darker. Gives off a solid 3 fingers width of head that dissipates over consumption.

S- Nice aroma of caramel, malts, honey, and some hops. Wish it was a little more distinct or pungent than it actually was.

T- From beginning to midway through it was pretty enjoyable. Had a nice caramel, dark fruit flavor with a great malt back bone. Just when I thought the taste would go up a notch as it finished, the bitter hop oils killed it all. All the taste I enjoyed and expected to savor as the beer went down were erased with one foul swoop.

M- Medium bodied with some carbonation. The viscosity wasn't as thick as I would have hoped and the beer finished with a much dryer mouth feel than I cared for.

D- As the beer reached room temperature, the hops infusion became less intense and made the beer much more drinkable. The 10% will kick your ass.

Overall, please take this review with a grain of salt. I love hops and I love barleywines. However, after many attempts, I just don't seem to be a big fan of mixing the two together. I bet this one would be awesome if it were layed down for a few years.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a red amber color with a foamy, khaki-colored head atop of the beer. The head sticks around for the entire duration it takes to drink this one. This barleywine smells of caramel malts, apples, white grapes, and wood. It's flavor is sugary up front with earthy notes, followed by a resiny citrus/pine hop washout. Much hoppier than I was expecting. Medium-bodied. Perfect carbonation.

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Photo of abrand
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber split with friend

Pours copper/orange color with a huge off white head. Some retention. Aromas of sugar, sweet malts, some hops, and fruits come through as it warms. Taste is lots of sugar and malts, typical for the style. Some earthy tones are noticed but not much more going on than the sugar. Mouthfeel is sticky and medium bodied. Overall this is a decent barley wine. Not exactly my style just too much sugar but good tasting.

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Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this barley wine doesn't stand up to Bigfoot in my mind. I just don't find the taste or aroma here as complex and engaging. There's some very nice, long-lasting bitterness, but the citrus hops flavors weren't that crisp and the malt seemed a somewhat bland fruity biscuit taste. I do give this one credit for going own easily, but I expect more flavor from a big, bad barley wine.

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Photo of Cresant
3.73/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this 22 oz. brown bottle into a Chimay glass. No date, but I have had this one about a year. The body was murky, brown/red leather. The head remained throughout.

Smell was sweet and fruity. grainy malts.

Taste was fruity with a mellow, subtle bitterness. Ultimately pretty balanced after some initial mood swings. Not my favorite style but I would like to try this one fresh too.

Mouthfeel was smooth and pretty full bodied. Medium carbonation.

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Photo of Wegbier
3.73/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I can only guess this beer is rounding 10months but I dont see a date on it,
a- The appearance of this beer spoils in every way, it leaves sticky shelves so i know where i am, the creamy head is stubborn and thick with a sort of cascade and a light ceiling all the way through the pint covering a copper red thick liquid with medium average lasting carbonation

s- enjoyable but not amazing smell of biscuits sweet alcohol and medium dark fruit.

t- similarly honey cinnamon biscuit with a light amount of plum dancing with the lightest of happy esters in a little pool of caramel. hoppy up front as described and bitter

palate- a medium lightly oiled silky body. the bitterness of this beer doesnt give up reaches down into your throat and scratches around without letting go, this guy is stubborn, indeed very well balanced even when i dont find all that i want

d- low, i think barleywines are fun but this one is rough throughout the whole trip.

I look for Great Divide beers with happy thoughts but i dont need to drink this one again- no sir

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Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a dark ruby color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of fruits, malts. Taste is hops, caramel, light fruits, bitter at the finish. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer.

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Photo of mcallister
3.71/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

what an enormous frothy head with terrific lacing. Not much more you can ask for in this department. Nose is what you would expect of a barley wine; hoppy, caramel, with fruity barley. Very smooth but with decent hop character. Very bold in your face type beer. Not one of my favorite barley wines but would definitely drink one again. Very soon if possible.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.71/5  rDev -12.1%
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 chinchill
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle with a bottling date of 24 Feb. 2015.

Look: Cloudy brown-copper colored body. Some sediment in the bottle even after a full pour.

Aroma: Ripe and dried fruits, yeasty baked bread.

Flavor: Toffee, alcohol esters, ripe and dried fruits, hops, baked bread. Slightly boozy (low for style). Mildly bitter.

Overall: a good example of the style with relatively well hidden alcohol.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Let the Hallowe'en mini-tasting begin! This offering pours a seemingly cloudy amber-brown topped by a finger of light tan froth. The nose comprises biscuits, orange peel, rye bread, milk chocolate, toffee, and a light bunch o' flowers. The taste pummels the tongue with a strong citrus-hop-based bitterness, with leather, figs, rubber, light cocoa, tobacco, spinach stems, and a vodka-like character all aiding and abetting in this assault. It's all a bit much, frankly. The body is pretty hefty, with a light carbonation and a fairly chewy feel. Overall, this is a beast that must be sipped carefully, lest the fury truly be unleashed. Again, I feel everything is a bit overdone, making the experience a bit less than really enjoyable.

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Photo of doppelmeup
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

There is no doubt that this is a quality barley wine, but it's not really my style. Had a bomber that I bought in March and was finally trying.

Very pretty pour. Amber, redish color poured into a snifter glass. Surprising amount of head for a barleywine.

Aromas of hops, sweet malts, toffee, brown sugar, as I would expect from a barleywine.

Strong hoppy. bitter flavor is the first thing you notice with this brew. Appropriate for the style, but not my favorte. Tasted some malts and definite hop flavor.

Overall, a quality brew but not my favorite style. Recommended if you like hoppy barleywines.

Mouthfeel is fine for a barleywine.

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Photo of tlazaroff
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
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 q33jeff
3.69/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

**
04/11/2014
Bottle (2012) to glass
Aroma Is not strong for the style. Turpentine, tar, apple, pear. Look is creamy head, orange-ish brown. Cloudy. Legs. Taste is more apples, tar-ish aroma is woody in tasting it. Caramel. Alcohol well masked. Most completely hidden of course at almost 13%, ....actually the bottle says 10.2%; But still impressive. Liking it more as I drink (but isn’t that always the case). Smooth, sour aftertaste.
**
10/28/16
Bottle (01/28/15) to snifter.

I still agree with my comments from 2 years ago. Sampling this immediately following a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot of similar age. They are alike in many ways. The Bigfoot is a touch smoother and does not have the sourish aftertaste, which now I detect as more metallic.

Still a nice barleywine.

**

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Photo of codysjb
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into my Duval tulip, date on the bomber was Dec. 10th, 2009. (Had on November 30th and Dec 1st, 2011)
A: Pours a watery brown, like dark tea or other similar watery brown substances. Had various layers of dark and lighter due to there being a lot of brewer’s yeast that came out when poured. Virtually no head.
S: like coffee or toffee (or toffee flavored coffee). Nothing really special, some caramel notes and what I think is coffee.
T: Strong, sugary, nothing extra special.
M: Balanced, and some caramel notes which complement the taste quite nicely.
O: Meh, okay certainly a decent beer to try. I’m not that into barley wines in general so it’s not really surprising that I’m not hopping all over this, but it’s decent. Really balance and doesn’t taste bad, just average. B- to B range.

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Photo of jkendrick
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very nice and clear amber color with a thick light tan head. Light is visible through this. In fact, the clarity is such that you can read through the glass. The head recedes moderately fast, but seems to hang around quite a bit longer than most barleywines. Thick, clumpy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

Aroma: Floral with a some caramel maltiness. It is sweet in the nose though and the alcohol isn't obvious.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, medium-bodied with mild carbonation.

Taste: Wow, very hoppy for a barleywine. The malty sweetness is there, but doesn't quite have enough to balance out the bitter. The alcohol is very present in the finish and after the swallow. Flavors are caramel and some pine, but it is tough to distinguish much over the intense bitterness and heavy alcohol.

Overall impression: Overall, this is just too bitter for me, especially for the style. I love hops, but want to taste the flavors not just the crushing bitterness. About halfway through I pulled out some almonds and that pairing really helped. This is a young bottle, just over a month old. I really think this would be better served after aging.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer has a full red appearance with good head and retention

The smell is of apple phenol with caramel malts and a slight banana phenol.

Taste is of thick caramel malts. Sweetness comes out up front with a nice hop bitterness to follow. A little too astringent and boozy

Mouthfeel is too astringent, but it clings fairly well.

This beer just needs to get rid of the astrigency. Once those get under control, this will be a great beer.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle obtained via trade with LuckySevens82. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 1 1/4" of dense tan head over the deeply orangey amber brew. Head just sits there, and lacing is nice. Aroma is sweetly of malts, with tinges of fruit, hops, and alcohol. Taste begins with smooth sweet grains, then the hops, fruitiness, and alcohol all hit at once. Kind of overpowers the palate, and then departs with a strong alcohol flavor. Mouthfeel and drinkability are not bad for the style, but it is certainly an acquired taste, even compared to others in the style.

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Photo of kmeves
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber/copper with a small beige head that lasts and also leaves nice lacing. Aroma is moderately sweet with caramel, toffee, grapefruit, pine, raisin and bread. Flavor is caramel, grapefruit, pine, pineapple and light chocolate. Full bodied, very creamy texture. Light alcohol burn in the finish. This beer would improve with age no doubt.

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Photo of JoePat
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep redish amber color with an off white head.
It smells of sweet caramel with some piney/citrusy hop undertones.
The flavor is a palate destroying bitter with the piney/citrusy hops staning out the most. A fruity maltiness comes next rounding out the flavor on your now destroyed palate.
The mouth feel is a sweet light syrup feeling with a slight dryness at the end.
Drinkability is not too bad for a barley wine but it is still a barley wine.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

S- Sweet fruit, malt.

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

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

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

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Photo of crayphish
3.68/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Old Ruffian poured a murky ruby color. A dense foamy head lingers stubbornly and leaves a fair amount of lace. Smell is sweet and a bit sour. Notes of caramel and fruit. Taste is sweet malts, some sour fruits, and hops. An alcohol flavor lie under it all. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, that is cleaned up by the hops presence. I found this barley wine to be a drinkable representation of its kind.

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Photo of Acoke
3.67/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle Poured into a tulip glass.

A- Two fingers worth of head. Gorgeous blood orange caramel color. Great looking beer

S- Lots of hops up front with a sweet caramel background.

T- Huge hop presence with substantial bitterness. Definitely taste the alcohol in it. Not getting much other flavors out of this, maybe just a tiny hint of caramel.

M- Smooth beer but a little light on the tongue. Every sip I was trying to make an assessment, but the flavors(or lack there of) vanished before I could get a grip on it.

O- Good beer, just not what I was expecting. Kinda new to Barley wines so I may be off on this one but I'm told this is better with age.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.66/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, clear, burnt red with a decent white head that leaves beautiful lacing. Great head for a 10% barleywine.

Fruits, molasses, cherry syrup, apples and sliced pears on the nose. Even with a year on it, this beer still has a good helping of grassy/spicy hops in the aroma.

Tipping back the glass reveals a wave of wood and oak upfront, followed with a good amount of hop bitterness. The hops are fairly abrasive and piney, but start to mellow just a bit as your tongue adjusts. A touch of cardboard seems to come through at times making me wonder if the cap was fastened securely while this was aging in the cellar. Very faint fruit comes through, but does become a bit stronger as the beer reaches room temp. Overall, I found the flavor to be mostly bitter and woody with a touch of cardboard. Some vanilla and sweetness can be found, but in general this was a bit rough.

Mouthfeel is smooth and bitter. Lower carbonation, but good for the style. The body could maybe be a bit thicker, but not bad.

Drinkability is about average. The high ABV and muddled bitterness/wood flavors made this a somewhat harsh sipper. Maybe more time will help this out, or maybe my bottle was somewhat oxidized. If this is how Old Ruffian is supposed to taste, then I would take a Bigfoot over this any day.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,442 ratings.
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