Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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1,096 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: 1,096 | Ratings: 2,416
Photo of Sixpoint
4.6/5  rDev +9%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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 +9.2%
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 +9.2%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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 +9.5%
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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Photo of mynie
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bomber, served in a wine snifter.

Beautiful. The color of a blood orange. Uncontrollable white head simmers down into a solid puff that sits around for ages.

Smells of HOPS! Bitter hops, sour hops. Grapefruit hops, sweet rolls and caramel. Excellent. Everything you could reasonably expect from a barley wine, and more.

Taste is a fansastic balance between intense, bitter and sour hops, mostly citrus and grapefruit, and really wonderful sweet malt.

A great Barley Wine. Way too easy to finish an entire bomber.

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Photo of TrippnFiasco
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Caramel color head, about one finger. Begins to get smaller after a minute or so, but small amount lingers for 3ish minutes, with small ring remaining for the entire glass.

S: Smells like intense hops, but a fruity sweetness keeps it from smelling totally like an IPA. Hoppy, fruity, caramely. Very well balanced.

T: Delicious! Tastes like an IPA with a caramely-sweetness, although not as fruity as the aroma first impressed. Slight alcohol bite, but not overpowering. VERY well balanced.

M: Medium-Heavy bodied, slight creaminess

D: Very drinkable, could have one entire bottle over an evening, or split between two after/with dessert

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Photo of Kvlterbm
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle to snifter. Bottled on November 8, 2010.

A: Pours a clear, dark amber that borders on red with one finger of foamy white head. Head disappears pretty quickly, but it leaves some nice lacing along the sides of the glass. A perfect looking barleywine.

S: Big, sweet caramel malt notes at the front of the nose. Some toffee from the malt, and a fig/raisin dark fruit aroma. There's a definite citrus and pine smell from the hops as well. Very faint hint of booziness.

T: Follows the nose very well. Big caramel malt sweetness and some fruit notes, followed by huge hop flavor. Pine and citrus, and some tropical fruit sweetness as well. The label says 90 IBUs, and you'll definitely taste that bitterness. The hop bitterness blends well with a toffee that'll linger on your palate once the bitterness fades. The alcohol is very well masked. You'll definitely feel it as you work your way through the bottle, but there's no boozy taste to it whatsoever.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, light carbonation. Great for a barleywine.

D: Definitely a sipper at 10.2%. The alcohol's extremely well-hidden, so you'll feel it much more than you taste it.

A fantastic barleywine. Great fresh, and should be just as good, if not better with some age. I'll definitely be drinking more, as well as aging a few bottles.

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Photo of ericj551
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Old Ruffian Barleywine pours a clear deep copper red with beautiful lacing that follows the beer down the glass. The aroma is rich with sweet caramel malts and tons of dark fruity esters. There is a bit of citrusy hops and bitterness. The first flavor that hits my tongue is a preview of citrusy, grapefruity hops, followed by rich sweet caramel and toffee malt. The huge sweetness is balanced by a rounded bitterness and more grapefruit hops. The bitterness lingers in the aftertaste and almost completely hides the alcohol. This has to be the easiest drinking barleywine I've had, it's really smooth and delicious.

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Photo of wolfinthemirror
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dated Jan. 07 2010, poured from a 22oz. bomber into a tulip glass. Deep mahogany color with a nice fingers worth of an off white head that dissipates and dissolves into a ring. the alcohol forms a clear film on the inside of the glass.

In the nose I get honey drenched hops. It exudes a nectary sweetness. There might be some citrus there, and a faint scent of booze.

WOW. This tastes brilliant. very rich, I get the caramel malts and other sweet amenities enveloped in an excellent crust of the hops. The complexity of this beer almost reminds me of a pie in that way, while the sweetness is the gooey filling on the inside, it's all housed by the hops. Perfectly balanced. As the beer warms, the alcohol begins to reveal itself more. Also, something about the taste really reminds me of the nectar from honeysuckle flowers.

This absolutely just coats the mouth, and is smooth like butter. low carbonation, medium-full bodied . almost seems milky and i'm left with warming from the alcohol.

Despite the ABV being 10.2% on this beer, it is extremely drinkable due to the rich taste. I'll finish this bomber probably over the course of an hour.

I had very high expectations for this beer and have cherished the bottle for a few months since I bought it. I've lookd forward to trying this for a very long time, and it was well worth the wait.

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Photo of rye726
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from private nitro tap into a goblet at 45F. Aged about one year.

Nice thick and creamy ¾" tan head. Cloudy but glowing orange-brown hue.

Smells of Mexican sweet bread covered in fresh honey and caramel. The sweetness really comes out as this brew ages. There are also aromas of citrus fruits and piney hops. This is a drink you can taste just by the aroma.

What a well-balanced barley wine. The sweet flavors blend perfectly with the heavy yet well balanced hops.

Lightly carbonated creamy body fits this beer very well. The fruity characteristics of this beer allow it to go well with most dishes, especially fine poultry and fish. This is one of the finest American barley wines around and I would highly recommend giving it a try.

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Photo of KyleVick4
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber

A: Pours a clear ruby red with a massive head and wonderful lacing. Looks like a superbly brewed beer.

S: Wow, I can smell this beer without bringing it to my nose. When I do, I catch thick citrusy hoppiness with a sweet malt smell. Virtually no alcohol smell for 10% I am impressed. Rich bisuit malt can already be smelled and the caramel is present as well.

T: Mmmmm this is a thick chewy heavy heavenly beer. Lots of bisuit malt up front with caramel in the background. Normally that order is reversed but Im a huge fan of biscuit so naturally this works out well for me. Hints of chocolate malt come through as it warms. The hopiness is nicely done and does not overpower the heavy malt flavors. Damn I hate to do it, but this may be worthy one of the few 5 taste ratings I will ever give out...

M: As I stated earlier, it is very thick and chewy. Which is expected for this style of beer. The carbonation is right on par and the feel is warming to the taste buds. What I like about the feel is it is not creamy like other 'barleywines' its thick heavy and rich.

D: For a barleywine I have been continuously sipping this bad boy, the beer does seem to whisper to me while I am typing, which may be a good thing. Or a terrible thing...

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Photo of pwsoldier
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'08 release

A - Pours cloudy mahogany with a rich tan head that shows great retention. Lacing is plentiful. This is a beautiful beer!

S - The nose is dominated by dark fruits and spicy hops. Plum, cherry, and raisin come through strongly with some wood notes complimenting the hops perfectly.

T - Lots of spicy hop bitterness up front, followed by the sweet notes of the fruits that were present on the nose. Wood notes enhance the spicy hop character. A strong malt backbone makes itself more assertive as it warms, creating a great balance between sweet and spicy/bitter. Alcohol is well-hidden throughout.

M - Full-bodied with a wet, smooth finish. Carbonation does a nice job of keeping this beer from being too rich.

D - Definitely one of my top 5 barleywines. This beer is immensely enjoyable and the complexity of it is a real treat. The abv makes it difficult to drink more than one, but that's okay.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,416 ratings.
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