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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
BA SCORE
4.2/5
Exceptional
2,468 Ratings
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
Ranking:
#1,093
Reviews:
1,113
Ratings:
2,468
pDev:
10%
Bros Score:
4.49
 
 
Wants:
295
Gots:
448
Trade:
17
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,468 |  Reviews: 1,113
Photo of dlmvh5150
3.02/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Kind of bitter ending to it

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.03/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Round 7 of a marathon 8 round American Barley Wine-off with expatsteve. Starting to feel the weight of these big beers. This is the highest-rated of the bunch, let's see how it stacks up against direct comparison to some of its peers.

Pour: darkish amber, nice clarity with a finger of khaki head and little to no lacing.

Nose: PINE HOPS! Yeesh. Then a hearty dose of booze vapor, with citrus and caramel malt trying to balance.

Taste: Intensely bitter/piney hops, grapefruit, menthol-vapor booze with caramel malt struggling for attention.

Feel: medium-heavy body and smooth carbonation but hops and booze burn all the way down the esophagus.

Drinkability/Overall: Really disappointed in the harshness of the hopping and booze in this one. I'm all for a hop bomb but this seems more of a hops and vodka tonic than a beer brewed with MALT. This was frankly a little hard to finish. Not a drain pour, but more work than drinking a beer should be. Hard to see how this is rated so much higher than works of complexity and balance like Old Foghorn or Old Crustacean.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.04/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottles on December 22, 2009. Big thanks to VTbobcat for picking this up for me in Mass!

Pours a very hazy mahogany brown with a small light brown head that quickly fades to nil. Nose is really quite hoppy given the age, very sweet and floral, it's got the same bready yeast note as Yeti. Booze is not noticeable.

Hmm, it almost seems like there's a tinge of vinegar to this. It's not overt and it's not sour, it may be more of an iron taste but it is a bit odd. It might also be the alcohol that is giving it this flavor. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with good carbonation for the style.

Have to take off points for drinkability because of he acidity. I'll re-review my other bottle in 6-12 months and see if it's gone away.

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Photo of cfrances33
3.07/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of chriswilkes33
3.08/5  rDev -26.7%
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 TheBeerAlmanac
3.09/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a hazy, deep amber color with a decent amount of lingering head.

S: Aroma is potent with flaky pastry, plum, yeast, sour peaches, and feet. I was a little confused by the feet smell, but I think it must have come from the foil around the bottle rim. I hope so anyway.

T/M: Taste is immediately vibrant: caramel quickly giving way to dark fruits, floral hops and a tangy bitterness in the finish. There’s a lingering warm booziness after a bit, a little offputting. The texture is very thick, almost chewy.

The flavors contrast pretty vehemently, but everything is very good, with the exception of the strong alcohol aftertaste. It really would have been nice had they been able to mask that more, but I like it. This barley wine’s for you, Springfield.

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Photo of Cameroon
3.1/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I am a relative newbie to Barley wine and this is the first hop intensive barley wine I've tried. I am not a fan of heavily hopped beers. It strikes me that hop fans are like the folks that like hot peppers. Somehow, somebody has equated hops and hot peppers with balls. Hops lend a very valuable adjunct to beer, but are not more or less than a particular spice is to a Belgium brew. 70% of this brew is balanced sweet, with fruit tones. The heavy dose of hops is far too powerful and distracts from the barley wine nature. It may be perfect for some but to me it is an undeserved bow to the unorthodox, West Coast fad of single, double, triple and God forbid quadriple hopheads. Think of hops as a spice that is to be used to create highlights in taste. For those who truly love overdoses of hops, I say "God Bless". Hopping up an intrinsic sweet beer steals the very nature of the beer in my opnion.This beer is definately deserving of a try and honest appraisal, but this boy sees much more potential if the hops were muted. Sadly, in my opinion, when it comes to barley wine, hops should be a subtle reverberation, not a sledge hammer. Under this department store suit, there lies a handsome wardrobe.

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Photo of david18
3.11/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A good barleywine but not the best. Great Divide is usually very aggressive with hops but not with this. American Barleywine is distinguished by its bitterness combine with malty strength and, although this has the latter it certainly lacks in the former. It's worth trying but Great Divide makes a number of better ales including its Hercules and Hybernation Ales.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.12/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

bomber into tulip. bottled on: DEC 20 2012.

A: a very hazy deep ruby hued brew. head is frothy and slightly off-white. great retention and boatloads of lacing.

S: a good deal of oxidation hits me right off the bat. a little challenging for me to work around. halfway through the bottle im starting to work through the oxidation and get some caramel, malty aroma. sweet caramel apples.

T: similar to the nose, a lot of oxidation on this thing. bitterness is there, but there is enough sweetness to keep it in check and from being overwhelming. a little bit of booze, but pretty calm, which is what I would expect after almost a year of being in bottle. I don't know if I would say there is much hop flavor left in this thing. definitely some caramel graininess. lingers as well.

M: really creamy, smooth mouthfeel. I am enjoying the carb being so mellow on this big of a beer.

D: I bought this at my local Wegman's and figured it was pretty fresh when I saw them on the shelf. after I got home is when I realized how old it actually was. I thought to myself, "hey maybe I get a aged gem, some of these reviews seem to incline that way!" im afraid I was dead wrong as oxidation has really taken this down a notch for me. as oxidation can work with most barleywine's, this particular one just has too many hops (as most American's do) to come back from. however, I would love to try this fresh.

If you are only going to read one line of this review, buy and drink fresh. DO NOT AGE.

 1,490 characters

Photo of 1whiskey
3.13/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass. Pours out a cloudy reddish-amber with a thick apricot colored head.

Aroma is a mix of sweet fruit and floral combination, caramel, grapefruit, and brown sugar. Oddly enough, I also smell tea (fuggles?).

Taste is...sweet. Really, really, sugary, syrupy sweet. If ever the phrase "malt bomb" applied to a beer, this is it. More fruit & floral notes are present, and again the tea-like bitterness it struggling to be found amongst all the sugar. Alcohol is clearly evident. In some respects, this reminds me of booze-soaked fruitcake.

Mouthfeel is syrupy thick, with some creamy carbonation present. Drinkabilty? I'm in no hurry to have a second one. I may not be able to finish the bottle. Way too much sugar for me. Those with a sweet tooth may love this, though.

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Photo of cproioi
3.13/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Alright this is the first time I've ever had a Barley Wine so here we go. From a bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Nice reddish-brown color with a little haze in it. Poured a two finger head that was tan in color and disipated at a moderate rate.

S: First smell is extremely hoppy. Also with a backing of sweetness sneaks up.

T: nice bitter start but with a caramel sweetness that follows very quickly. I would prefer to have the bitterness stay around a little longer.

M: Very syrupy and very sugary.

D: I don't find this to be an easy thing to drink. Not that it's bad or anything it's just not really appealing to my taste so we shall see what happens with this bottle and what other barley wines I buy next.

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Photo of heygeebee
3.13/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on [illegible] 2010

Pours a wonderful hazy deep gold/copper. One finger head stays. Good lace.

Aromas of hops, toffee, malts.

Taste is a let down. One dimensional and thin, hop driven with little malt to support. Alcohol burn. Astringent. Bitter. Skunked.

Mouthfeel good, medium to full bodied, low carbonation.

Overall, not a good example. Given 2010 bottling, even more of a let down.

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Photo of Marraybay
3.15/5  rDev -25%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Dark red-amber in color: cloudy; about a finger of foam.

Smell: dried fruit and citrus; booze

Taste: Begins with a bit of sweetness, which quickly transitions into all out citrusy hop
overload that lingers and then some. Booze also apparent.

Feel: Nondescript

Overall: Drinkable, but a tad harsh with some definite balance issues.
Likely would not revisit, given the availability of other BW's that I prefer/enjoy.
(Two recent surprises are "Devil's Milk" from DuClaw and "Anniversary" from Unita.)

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Photo of expatsteve
3.15/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Split a bomber with Golden2wenty1 during a barleywine session.

Appearance: Copper/orange amber, pours a 1/2 inch head. Lingers with heavy suds over. Low/medium viscosity, and low/medium visibility.

Aroma: Big burst of grapefruit, banana and hints of toffee. Not much development, but impressive nonetheless.

Taste: Banana burst initially, but this is quickly replaced by overwhelming pine resin across the entire palate. I can't help feeling that this renders the beer one-dimensional, and that it flattens out most of the malt development (honey and orange notes can never compete with the hops). The alcohol is particularly well-hidden.

Mouthfeel: The hops overpower the low carbonation, and leave this dry and unbalanced.

Drinkability: While this is no doubt a winner with hopheads, I reacted to this beer the way my cats react to having medicine pushed down their throat. When compared to masterfully hopped American barleywines like Old Crustacean, or even more balanced efforts like Bigfoot, this beer seems excessively one-dimensional (I acknowledge that this was probably their aim, and gave this a 3 for taste rather than a lower mark - I adjusted drinkability to reflect my assessment of this beer against the style). Nearly no malt or fruit developments in this one, and the heady and thick quality of other barleywines is altogether lacking. One for the hopheads, though more like a double IPA than a barleywine.

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Photo of jmarsh123
3.18/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours murky rust with a finger or so of tan head receding into nothing. Little lacing.

Lots of caramel and burnt sugar in the aroma. Some plum and other dark fruits.

Similar flavors. Very sweet throughout until some bitterness grips at the end. The bitterness should be welcome, but clashes a bit and doesn't mesh well with the dark fruit and caramel.

Medium bodied somewhat sticky so good for the style. Medium carbonation. A little cloying at times, but still finishes with some bitterness so sweetness doesn't linger on the tongue.

Ok barleywine and for the price and availability probably worth it. Not something I seek out all that often though.

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Photo of OKCNittany
3.18/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle

A: Poured a hazy reddish brown with a 3/4 in light tan head that stayed awhile. Heavy lacing all over the glass.

S: Light aroma of sweet caramel and grapefruity hops.

T: Sweet for just a sec than bitter hops come through. Pretty good balance considering how hoppy this is (not that I'm complaining about the hoppiness). Unfortunately, the alcohol taste is so overwhelming it diminishes everything I like about it. I know this style calls for a high abv, but in this case it interferes too much with an otherwise good flavor.

M: Creamy mouthfeel - thick with light carbonation - halfway between beer and motor oil. Finishes with a nasty alcohol burn. Maybe I should have poured it into a shot glass.

D: Considering the reputation, I almost feel apologetic for not loving this - but while there's lots to like, the alcohol taste is too much to let me get through more than 1. It's a sipper only - and the first of Great Divide's big beers I don't love.

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Photo of njmoons
3.2/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Excellent base, hopping overwhelmed the beer for my taste

A: Deep dark red. Looked good

S: Sweet and heavy fruits plum cherry. Malty and hoppy

T: The initial taste was very complex sweet fruits and malty. Hop bitterness and citrus hop flavors take over quickly and overwhelm the complexity and flavor of the beer. Beer finishes clean and crisp for a big beer. I think of would be a great beer, if a bit more balanced.

M: Thick and heavy, but not cloying. Nice

D: The citrus hop character reduces the drinkability.

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Photo of Naerhu
3.2/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - deep dark brown body, with a tight off white head.
S - Grapefruit peel, old flowers and alcohol.
T - The initial malt flavors are entirely over run by the hoppy bitterness. Unbelievably long bitterness. Dark, over-ripe, burned fruit.
M - Extremely heavy and syrupy. It took me over an hour to just drink a third of the bottle.
D - Really this was just too much. Too much alcohol, too much bitterness, too heavy. Its really just over the top. The name tags this beer pretty well becaus it is quite rough. It should be Old Rough-ian.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.21/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A gorgeously intense brown/amber color with a tremendously dense tan head that lasts and lasts and lasts.

Smell: Very intense piney hops blended with burnt caramel and punctuated by a spicy alcohol aroma.

Taste: Starts with an explosion of hoppiness, followed by a quick burst of sickly sweetness. Much of the maltiness is lost when the dryness and bitterness takes over. The level of hops is what I have a problem with. It seems overhopped and overbitter for a potentially smooth brew that you could just soak in for a while.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, but a little too oily and syrupy for me.

Drinkability: Quite the Hop Monster, here, and one I lost the battle with. My senses are left singed. "Hop-forward" is an understatement. While others seem to really love this one, I'd prefer something a little more "malt-forward" without being so cloyingly sweet.

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Photo of harrymel
3.23/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$8 for 22oz @ Huck's in Spokane, WA
Poured to NB tulip.

A: Ale pours a dark mahogany with red edges. Mildly transparent around edges. Light caramel, thin cap over the ale. Can agitate bubbles to thicker head, but less so as temperature increases.

S: Caramel, toffee, mint, pine, earthy hops. Still a small hint of alcohol. Standard lineup of a BW.

T: Bitter. Pine, astringent. Sweetness from alcohol present, too much bite on back of palate. Finishes with a hair of nougat, but not enough to help balance out the mass of early wort hops on this one.

M: Medium to heavy ale with medium to low carbonation. A bit sharp with high ABV.

D: This is absolutely a big beer, in GDBC's nature. Although this beer is decent, and I imagine fantastic with two years under it's belt, I cannot call it great. Worth a try, worth a purchase to age a couple. Beyond that, mediocre as far as BW's go.

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Photo of afksports
3.23/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I'm an amateur, and given that the bros give this an A, I feel compelled not to rip this. Primarily because it seems I'd stand alone. That said, I just don't like it. I'm drinking it on tap right now at Ginger Man in midtown NYC (2009, they said they aged it).

It looks great in my snifter, and if that were the only assessment this would be a winner. The nice head to begin the pour sits at about a finger above the the red orange hue with lacing throughout. It smells of pine, some hops and citrus.

The taste starts off strong with malt and sweetness. In the middle it exhibits something toasty, maybe a little fruity. In the end there's a soap hoppy bitterness (more soap than hop) that sticks on your tongue. I'll give it props for lasting, and it sure seems complex, but I don't have to like it. In fact, I want to wipe my tongue and mouth off. The finish reminds me of the end of my GD BelgIca pours. Maybe it's something in the Colorado water. I'll have to ask Coors!

For that reason, drinkability is low for me, although if this is your thing, it's a truly smooth brew for the abv and the category. As for me and Great Divide, I think I'll stick to my Yeti.

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Photo of Dizzy
3.25/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours hazy reddish brown with a tan head. It retains the head really well for the amount of alcohol in this one. Aroma is citrusy hops, fruits, tons of sweet malt and alcohol. Taste is dominated by the hops and the alcohol, and unfortunatly the malts and a lot of the complexity are overshadowed by the hops. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous. This beer isn't bad, but I don't really understand why it is rated so high. At almost $6 for a bottle, I probably won't buy it again but I don't regret trying it. Might be good to split the 22 oz bottle with someone.

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Photo of ConradKenney
3.25/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of incubuscience
3.25/5  rDev -22.6%

Photo of Moses_Malone
3.25/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 2,468 ratings
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