Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

1,105 Reviews
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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Reviews: 1,105 | Ratings: 2,451
Photo of taez555
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a ruby/brown body with thick white/tan head.

Nose has intense sugary caramel smells, alcohol and this bright fruity citrus, earthy herb, pepper aroma. A very round sort of smell. Not as much a piercing sharpness as some other American Barley wines. Very nice

Body is VERY VERY thick. Starts very soft. Ends with a much brighter sting of Hop bitterness. Almost reminds me of good french Bordeaux as it flows over the palette. Rich caramel, toffee, dark chocolate, sugary malt with a very "chewy" sort of body. Bright alcohol with huge citrus peel, pepper, herbal and floral hops. A huge bitterness, but again mostly comes in the back end of this beer. Alcohol hits you hard after only a little bit of this . Definitely a sipper.

A really nice American Barleywine. It's a unique one at that as well. Big hoppy American with rich almost English like malt base, but at the same time the hops aren't your typical stinging hops. I like it, not my favorite, but up there.

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Photo of greg202stewart
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a dark coppery red the reveals a big head upon pouring. The smell is of roasted malts, caramel and really has a fantastic aroma that is out of this world and hard for me to pinpoint. The taste is strong and has an exceptional roasted flavor with a bite that is tempered by the caramel and sugar sweetness. Although this beer is strong it is very drinkable any time of the year. I just wish next time it makes a little longer than a week in my beer cellar to let it age.

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Photo of Morris729
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark and murky reddish brown color with a tall frothy tan head that sticks to the sides of the glass as it slowly recedes. Fresh pine and cedar dominate the nose with some fainter aromas of cocoa and freshly baked cinnamon cookies in the background. This is a very flavorful beer with candied sugar and sweet malt up front quickly followed by lots of dark fruit and chewy caramel. Next up are acidic bitter raw hop flavors, rum-soaked raisins, a rather pronounced spiciness (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and white pepper) and a bit of brandy towards the finish. A sticky hop resin aftertaste remains on the lips and tongue until the next sip. Very nice—a thoroughly enjoyable barley wine.

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Photo of BenwayPHD
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark red, almost brown. The aroma is very nice with this one. It's mostly sweet malt. Figs, caramel, toffee, a slight booze smell, with an earthy hop background like lavender and sagebrush. The flavor is much more bitter than the nose. The malty sweetness is present, but there is a very strong resiny bitterness that slowly takes over the flavor. The mouthfeel is nice but slightly thin for such a big beer. It's very good.

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Photo of humulus
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: reddish, chocolate with a beige head.

S: malt, chocolate, syrup, leather, red berries and dark fruits.

T: very well balanced. Dried fruit, chocolate, pomerans, orange zest, bit of oak, bitterness that is very well balanced against the fruity chocolate sweetness.

M: creamy, smooth, elegant.

O: World class. This is incredibly good. Just a shame I only got one bottle and it's out of stock in Sweden.

Drank from snifter.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer even *looks* like it is going to be insane. The thick and sticky beer pours into the glass to a hazed nutty amber color with a nice thick collar of everlasting head. The lacing seems to stick fairly well.

The smell is great. Thick with sweet caramel malts with hints of earthy raisins and plums. A ton of hops dominate the aroma, however. The bouquet is heavy on the grapefruity and pine resiny hops.

The first sip provides a nice and big well-rounded bitterness accompanied by a very complex and seamless array of sweet malts. First the bitterness, then the sweet caramel, plum and fig, followed by some piney, grapefruity hop flavors with a bitter finish. Has lots of residual sugars that layer up in the mouth for added complexity as the glass finishes.

The body is huge! Thick and chewy, only a little bit syrupy and juicy. Very creamy with a light carbonation. As I said, the residuals coat the mouth for long after the last drink, and the overall taste perception seems to accumulate on the palate as you drink.

This is a perfect drinker for the barleywine season, even though it is starting to warm up a bit around here. It's one of the strongest barleywines I've had this season, but still one of the smoothest and most well rounded. Very similar to a DIPA, though the intense malt flavor tips it back to the barleywine side of the thin line.

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Photo of MiguelMandingo
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the first beer in quite some time that left me speechless after the first sip. All I could say was "Damn". This beer is truly phenomenal.

Poured part of a 22oz. bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance - It poured out a cloudy deep ruby color and produced a solid 1 finger foamy head. The head dissipated into a thin foam coating across the top of the brew. There is a ton of lacing left behind the longer I drink. Over time, as it came to room temperature, the cloudiness disappeared and the brew became transparent.

Smell - I mainly smell caramel and toffee-like malts, and citrusy hops. I also detect notes of pineapple. The scent of alcohol becomes more apparent as the beer warms.

Taste - This beer starts off sweet. I initially taste buttery caramel, toffee-like malts that are slightly roasty, honey, and some fruit that I can't distinguish. Then, it has a HUGE, dry citrusy hop finish. I can detect the slightest amount of alcohol as it warms. The alcohol is hidden amazingly well for a beer this strong.

Mouthfeel - Medium thickness just shy of being syrupy. It has a very small warming sensation from the alcohol. Small carbonation level that is near perfect for a beer like this. Goes down amazingly smooth.

Drinkability - For a beer this strong, the drinkability is flawless. Period. I would happily have a second bomber. I would be pretty trashed, but I would be happy.

This beer is now a mainstay in my beer rotation, and it should be a part of your's. Try it.

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Photo of jaxon53
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

came across a couple of 22 oz. bottles for the first time yesterday. served in an Ommegang three philosophers chalice , slightly chilled. poured a nice darkish brown with a thick but short head. wonderful aroma of oak, hops, with a nice shot of alcohol. tasted of caramel with slight oak with a hoppy,and well hidden alcohol finish dispite the abv. this barley wine was surprisingly drinkable with no burn, and a very complex flavor.

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Phenomenal beer. Very nice appearance; appears to be filtered. A brilliant mahogany pour reveals a deep caramel indication... massive, pillowy head forms above.

Subtle fruit aromas hint at softness. Taste reveals otherwise. This beer has a massive hop whallop that punches your palate in the gut. You get the wind knocked out of you but you come back for more. It's some weird sort of sadist enterprise. I love it.

Mouthfeel is quite creamy for a barley wine. Quite unique. Overall, one of the most complex, subtle, and interesting American Barley Wines I've ever had. Bravo.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tan head bubbling out of the snifter, topping a brown brew leaning strongly towards red. Retention and lacing turn out to be awesome.

The nose is great; strong and powerful, nice and clean. The caramel sweetness ramps up strongly the usual fruitiness, while the hops lay down a pine smack. Complex and attractive.

More of the same in the mouthfeel and flavor. Just about as good as it gets in the American barleywine category. Big bitter hopping, distinct malt backbone. Immovable object is the malt, unstoppable force is the hops. Creamy enough, absolutely beautiful once it hits the room temperature, minimal bitterness on the finish despite the huge hopping.

Still outstanding, I was excited to find it on tap. Keep this one in your rotation if you're A. into Barleywines and B. in G.D.B.C.'s distribution area.

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Photo of argock
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz brown bomber into a clear stemmed glass goblet. No freshness date. Purchased at Ancona's (Ridgefield, CT) for $6.19.

A: Orange-amber hue with 1-2 finger, beige head with very good retention and tons of lacing.

S: Hefty citrus and floral hops aromas mingle with lush, varied light and caramel malt aromas to produce a very well-rounded brew

T: A hops greater than malt barleywine, but a great example of the American Barleywine style for just that reason. Thick, rich light malt flavors set the scene for the complex orange, pine, and spicy hops flavors. One of the top American Barleywines.

M: Thick without feeling syrupy, medium-full body with a pleasant hoppy aftertaste.

D: A very drinkable, high ABV, American-styled Barleywine with strong hops and smooth but full mouthfeel. An exceptional version of the style. RIght on par with the brewery's other offerings -- formidable to say the least.

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Photo of bnuttz
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This barley wine pours a dark rusty copper color. It is somewhat cloudy and thick with a yellowish tan head about the size of a finger. The smell is somewhat of caramel, but mainly dominated by citric hops. This beer is aggresively hopped, but still well balanced. The fruity sweet malt backbone balances the 90 IBUs of PNW hops that occupy this brew. The alcohol makes sure to give you a little boot in the end. This beer is sticky sweet on the mouth but not at all cloying. Damn drinkable for a 10% which makes it very dangerous. If I want a hoppy barley wine I'll shoot for this. Bigfoot who?

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Photo of mattcrill
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Crystal clear viscous red amber pour. Perfect two finger sticky, fluffy tan head. Visible carbonation in the body.

Smell: Carmel, toffee, orange-ade, citric Northwest hop aroma.

Taste: Malty carmel sweetness up front quickly followed by a citric hop slam and a bitter, dry hop leaf finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and slightly syrupy.

Drinkability: One to savor. I had this over the course of an afternoon and in to the evening. One of my favorite American Barley Wines to date. This is the real deal...malt, hop, and love. Strongly recommended.

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Photo of deBeers
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fresh, complex, with a lovely off-white head. Strong hops and I'm picking up hints of caramel malts. Beautifully balanced and no doubt this would cellar a couple of years with grace.

To quote the bottle (I read it after the tasting)..."hefty hop-forward barleywine style ale...seemingly mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness. 85-90 IBU's.

Superb job! Seek this ale out and share it with your best friends...

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Photo of wcudwight
4.61/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Peabody's
Ruby, cherry, and brown in color with the best head and lacing I've ever seen on a barleywine. It's not fair that a beer this big can have such wonderful lacing.
Big, huge sweet citrusy aroma. Just open the bottle and the aroma fills the room.
The flavor starts off very sweet. Caramel. The sweetness quickly gives way to wonderful DIPA like piney and citrus flavors. Nice alcohol kick in the finish. This barleywine has it all and is so much more than just a ton of malts and a ton of hops thrown into a brew kettle. Great Divide has concocted a recipe for the perfect barleywine.
Big full bodied mouthfeel with some burn from the alcohol and some sharpness from the hops.
Common sense tells me to sip this beer, the little guy on my shoulder tells me it's too good to sip.

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Photo of rallison
4.61/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful copper brown with the best head on a barleywine I have ever seen - 1 finger thick and ridiculously creamy. Don't know how they do it, but it is beautiful. Tons of lacing as well.

Smells of caramel malts followed by some earthy hops and a touch of alcohol.

Taste is delicious. Initially, lots of caramel toffee sweetness, but immediately balanced by a delicious helping of earthy, somewhat piny hops. Alcohol is slightly present, but really not noticeable. Maybe even a touch od dark fruits here too. Everything is perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel is excellent - rich and creamy, but yet somehow light and delicate too - never even approaches being heavy.

Drinkability is insanely good for the alcohol.

Highly recommended. This might replace Bigfoot as my favorite BW. It is so flavorful, but so easy to drink a pint of (or a bomber of...).

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber.

Ladies and gentlemen...this is what a barley wine should look, taste, smell, feel, and drink like.

A- A dark brown color- lots of reds, tans, and even some cinnamon colored shades. a big fluffy head shows once it is poured. Some lacing, although less than expected.

S- Smell was of sweet caramel, fruits, brown sugar, hops.

T- Taste was absolutely ridiculous- perfect amount of hops, sweet caramel, dried fruits, some nuts, nutmeg, alcohol- choc full o flavor.

M- Mouthfeel was sticky and rich, bold, oily, warm.

D- For such a HUGE abv, this one drinks like a champ. I kept pouring until I realized I had nothing left. This barley wine is THAT good- but then again, I'm a fan of the hoppy barley wines.

Very, very, very recommended.

At 6.99 a bomber, this is steal.

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Photo of philbe311
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dense nearly opaque dark black cherry coloring... A tad bit of light leaks in through the top... Just the slightest amount of carbonation rises along the sides of the glass... Rich fingers worth of tan head displays moderate retention... Head ultimately fades to leave a full splotchy lacing which is exceedingly thicker around the edges of the glass... Some slight stickiness on the glass throughout the session...

S - Terrific aroma... Loads of fruit - cherries, plums, raisins... Sweet caramel... Some piney hop notes... Well balanced and quite inviting...

T - Similar to the nose, the palette is seduced by a wonderfully delicate mix of fruit and caramel... The hops come fully to life on the back end and remain dominant as part of the after taste... A slight booziness joins as part of the after taste that lingers for a while...

M - Terrifically mellow and well balanced... I want to say "delicate," but that seems unimaginable at 10.2% ABV... Perfect carbonation on the front end of the sip... Fills mouth fully... Slightly warming...

D - There aren't enough accolades to describe this epic offering from Great Divide... I'm continually impressed by Great Divide, and this is their best...

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Photo of carln26
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured a hazy medium brown with orange/cranberry highlights topped by a thick tan head that receded quickly into the glass. The nose has a lot of hop in it. Dominated by a hop flower and grapefruit scent. It’s very close in nature to the aroma of the double IPA, but there is a little more malt. The finish has some of the malt, a hint of dates and a mild whisky note. The taste has a definite whisky flavor. I mean this in a good way. Almost bourbon like. The malt sweetness blends nicely with he citrus character of the hops to produce a complex flavor. Many Barleywines tend to overpower. This one comes on easy, and delivers a nice warming as it goes. A slick mouth feel lends to a high drinakbility. This is a new favorite.

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Photo of joezak5
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured into a Duvel sniffter; deep murky ruby with a thick dusty beige three finger head that has excellent retention and lacing.

Smell: Sweet, sugary molasses-like bread malt with an oily herbal hop background.

Mouthfeel: Hugely syrupy and sweet, muted carbonation... utter smoothness.

Taste: Sweet, sugary caramel raisin bread... peppery and spicy grapefruit. A little coffee and chocolate on the finish with some oh so nice warmth.

Drinkability: I only got one of these which was a big mistake... I'll be stocking up next time I see this. A pleasure to drink; complex beyond belief but a smooth, easy sipper.

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Photo of cMonkey
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Found this at a local bar, and had not previously heard of Great Divide brewing, so I had no idea what to expect.

The beer was presented to me with a pilsner style glass, so aromas and head were more difficult to determine. However, I was not expecting such a dark brew. The aroma was full, and very malty.

One taste and I knew I found a new brewery to seek out. The taste was full, complex, and very good, with only a slight sting of the alcohol content at the end.

Drinking the entire bottle was highly enjoyable, and I did not tire of its taste. Of course, after just one 22oz bottle of this 10.2% barley wine, I can only faintly remember the last drops...

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I'm feeling cold tonight, so you know what that means...bring out the barleywine! The 22 ounce bottle, bottled on December 29, 2009, shall provide plenty of joy for the rest of the night. On to the beer:

A finger and a half worth of head lay on top this crimson colored beer. The head goes down slowly, giving a little lacing to stick.
Despite being only days shy of its first birthday, I can still smell some magic in the hops. Their tea-like aromas mixed with drippings of caramel are a great change of pace from the usual over resiny American barleywine.

For an American barleywine, it's rather sweet, but it still has some American character to it. The malt wastes no time greeting your palate with heavy carmelized malts and burnt sugar. Then suddenly some resin and tea leaf notes crop up. Gentle breezes of pine and pineapple add further complexity to this magnicifent beer. Speaking of magnificent, that mouthfeel is meaty and smooth; full bodied/grab your palate by the horns, all while the 10.2% ABV is buried like treasure.

I expected Old Ruffian to be good. I didn't expect it to be this good, considering that I am not as keen of American-style barleywines. Simply a magnificent beer to sip on throughout the night, and a slice of caramel cheesecake that the label recommends as a food pairing sounds dank.

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Photo of Shango42
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving type-on tap poured into snifter.

A-Dark amber color with off white head. Good retention with some lacing.

S-Caramel sweet, floral hops, smells like a DIPA.

T-At the beginning this has a lot of qualities that remind me of a DIPA. Wonderfull sharp hops but good sweet caramel. The malt and the hops duke it out but in the end the hops wins. Nevertheless,this is a great balance. As I drink the beer it becomes more barleywine and less DIPA with great depth. Perhaps it started too cold. The alcohol creeps in at the end, but the semi-bitter hops still stays.

M-Thick, good body that brings out the malt. Alcohol is there but not overpowering.

D-One of the best and most drinkable barleywines I've had. So balanced. What a fantastic beer!

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Photo of RedChrome
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A deep copper color with minor ruby hues. Half inch off white head took about three minutes to drop. Slightly above average amount of carbonation rising slowly. Huge sticky lace on sides.

A huge hops aroma powered right off the top. Strong roasted almond presence with a light caramel aroma. Alcohol is clearly there, but seems balanced.

Strong taste on all sides. Hops and malts lend nicely for sweet and tart tea and fruit flavors. Citrus hint to an alcohol undertone. Very great balance with delicious flavors.

Nice and thick feeling on the mouth surfaces. Carbonation is downplayed, but shifts the beer around.

A very high quality choice. Great with a nice sharp cheddar cheese. Cheers to the boys at Great Divide. Anyone can appreciate something of this flavor as long as it doesn't overwhelm.

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Photo of eriktoyra
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark copper colored and clear liquid. A massive creamy and
off-white head forms and stays for long. Nice lacings on the glass.

S: Lots of caramel malts up front. I can also find maple syrup, candy sugar, bananas, orange peel and honeydew melon. Some earthy tones and alchohol at the end. The alcohol smell is very mellow for a beer of 10.2% ABV.

T: Starts with a distinct malty flavour and then continues with maple syrup, burnt sugar, and honeydew melons. Very sweet. The alcohol is distinct and most noticeable at the end. It leaves a long and clean bitter grapefruit peel aftertaste.

M: Full bodied with a nice and oily texture. The alcohol burns a little. Low to medium carbonation.

O: Hands down one of my favorite Barley Wine style beers. Fantastic!

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,451 ratings.
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