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Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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1,097 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: 1,097 | Ratings: 2,423
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a small head with a conrete lacing. Dark golden brown with a cloudy appeareance. Piney super hops is the only thing I can smell at first. It has caramel and banana undertones. Taste is very bitter and very sweet with piney hops and caramel and banana undertones. Mouthfeel is watery, but smooth, and a little carbonated. It also has a slight coffee undertone.

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Photo of Riggo
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pour yields a somewhat turbid chestnut brown / red color with a soft, creamy tan head; a little reminiscent of espresso crema. Excellent lacing.
Smell is fruity (apricots, apples, orange candy) mixed with caramel and toffee.
In the mouth, definitely sweet and viscous, but simultaneously sharp, bitter. Again, orange candy and oily cedar, perhaps lemon rind and caramel. Fruity and woody, lightened by a bright hop bite. Mouthfeel is silky, luscious.
Finish is fruity with a dry citric hop fade-out.

Extremely well-balanced it seems to me for a barleywine. Both big sweetness and big dry-ness are there but with such harmony. Still, it's rich; the alchohol is evident. Very well done.

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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 Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a dense, three finger thick, tightly beaded amber-tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear deep reddish amber color (it is dark enough that you have to hold it up to the light to see through it), that viscously slows an ample carbonation that rises up slowly up fron the bottom. The aroma is sweet, almost sticky with a solid mix between malt and hops. Most of the aromatic notes are that of malt, expecially of the caramel variety: I get rich notes of toffee, caramel, hints of rich fruit like cherry, raisins and prunes. There is also a fair amount hop character, it is definitely in the background, but I get some lightly astringent herbal note as well as some citrus aromatics. The aroma is quite rich and satisfying, definitely appropriate for a cold evenings sampling.

The beer is quite thick and viscous with a creamy start to this beer. It then morphs to a sweet crystal malt driven beer that finishes with a strong, astringent, grippingly bitter finish. This beer is definitely a sipper, it is so thick and rich that you need to savor each sip. The astringent finish seems to also be derived from a hint of dark malt character that manifests itself as a bit of roast coffee. Other than the ample bitterness there seems to be a ton of flavor hops in this beer as well, it is just that the ample, thick, sweet malt character seems to drown out most of the hop character. The hop flavors that are in here remind me most of pine, but there are some herbal notes and some menthol like character here as well.

I don't know how I am going to finish a 22oz bottle of this, very slowly I guesss. It is just so rich and thick, but it is still enjoyable.

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Photo of beertastegood
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Time to revisit this beer again, since I loved it so much last time.

Pours a deep, deep reddish-amber color with a small frothy tan head. Aromas of plums, raisins, caramel, and alcohol, overlaid with a spicy hop smell.

Taste: Hops bite at first, followed by a big malty punch of Munich-type sweetness, with alcohol-soaked plums and raisins prominent. Finishes sweet and thick yet spicy with hop flavor, like a good barleywine should.

Medium carbonation, thick body (of course). Drinkability is obviously not that of a session beer, but as barleywines go, this one is quite easy to drink, with none of the nasty fusel alcohols that can be found in the lesser versions of this style.

This beer is just as good as it was when I tried it last.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, paid $4.99 in Boulder, CO. 90 IBU's, 10.2% ABV.

Pours out to a cloudy dark amber, forming a tall, sticky, rocky, creamy head with amazing retention and beautiful chunky lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. The aroma is fruity with plenty of apple and grapefruit esters, vanilla and rum-soaked dark fruits touched by a drizzle of kiwi and piney, resinous assertive hops. The mouthfeel is slick and oily with a dense body. The taste is as expected for a beer of this style. It reminds me alot of Third Coast Olde Ale with it's pungent hop variety and assertiveness balanced by a huge sticky amber malt body. The bitterness is strong and resinous. Quite warming but not boozy. Everlasting aftertaste of burnt pine, leather, and fresh pipe tobacco.

Shit. I just noticed that these guys are only a few blocks away from Avery BC. I'll have to stop by there when I'm in Boulder next time. Make that a trio with Left Hand BC. Mmmm. At any rate, quite the standout big bad barleywine, this one is. Thoroughly enjoyable. I'd buy it again. Recommended!

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Photo of jakester
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. 2005 version.

Pours a very cloudy dark red with a nice one finger head of beige colored foam. The head drops to a 1/4" coating, and lacing actually coats the whole glass in thick foam. Nice.

Aroma is strong fruits like rum soaked raisins and dates, dark cherries, and pears, very floral hops. very dark caramel candy, and alcohol.

Flavor is really huge caramel malt, and dark fruits like above. Hop bitterness is high, and works well with this beer. Mouth just explodes with flavor. Distinct dark rum soaked fruits. Alcohol warmth is right there, but not overwhelming. Sweetness is high, but not cloying. Aftertaste is huge, sweet, bitter, and warm.

Mouthfeel is actually pretty smooth and creamy, with a tongue curling bitterness and a warm throat. Lips stick together from sweetness. Mouthfeel is absolutely HUGE! Finish is bitter and sticky.

IMO, it's tough to rate the drinkability of a beer like this. It's really delicious, very well made, leans toward the hoppy side, everything I love in a barleywine. Big hop bitterness, big hop flavor, huge caramel malt character and huge alcohol. Very good stuff.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
4.74/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Take Great Divide's Hercules, bump up the booze content and the malt content a little bit and you have Old Ruffian. Perhaps this is what happens to Hercules when he lets himself go... not as good looking but packs just as much punch. This is the old, experienced warrior that knows where and how to hit you. Very rich and tasty. Definately a hopped up barelywine. Reminds me a bit of Double Bastard in certain respects but I think I enjoy this more. This isnt as pretty as pretty can be... hazy and unshaven as it is... but who cares?
Not too far from perfect as far as the style goes.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a dark brown with some orange and red highlights. A mag-lite to the side caused my tulip glass to light up like a giant red LED. Weird. The head didn’t stick around too long and collapsed into a slight film.

Smelled of candy brown sugar, caramel, tootsie roll and bits of chocolate all magnificently blended into a superb earthy hop character. Very nice.

Tasted of big sticky sweet caramel and molasses malts with a huge hop kicker. I also distinctly picked up some red liquorish. This one is a definite candidate for aging.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with a gentle big mouthful of carbonation.

Very tasty!

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Photo of nlmartin
4.82/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed 20 ounce wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a very lovely amber / rubyesques coloration. The head was a thick creamy off white ruby tinged beauty almost three fingers high. Loads and loads of lacing left behind on the glass.

Smell: The beer has a marvelous caramel / vanilla smell. This beer had alot of hop goodness about it. The beer has a good malt character about it.

Taste: This beer has a malty sweetness that gives way to a hop oilyness about it. There is a nice fruity cherry dipped in rum sort of taste. This combines with a piney hoppy goodness.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer has a full bodied mouthfeel. The beer has small tight carbonation. Just a well balanced barley wine. Dam this beer is good.

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Photo of scooter231
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy reddish color with some tan head. Smell is way chocolately at first sniff- followed by whiffs of vanilla and a smoky bitterness. Taste is craaazy- very powerful, the first sip is. Coffee and bitter, roasted hops things going on... Bastard, anyone? Espresso fills the background with a chewy bready quality that gives the whole thing body, texture, and character. Also some caramel hints. A bitter, tasty, thing. Mouthfeel is chewy, creamy, thick. Makes me lick my teeth. Very drinkable for a barley wine- alcohol is present, but not so much that you're constantly thinking about it, so it sneaks up on you and kicks you in the ass pretty easily. A tasty, tasty thing.

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Photo of Terp96
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2005.

This is a fantastic brew. Pours a dark amber with a one and a half finger head that never quits.

Smell is very balanced. Sweet and malty but with a nice floral hop aroma as well. All packed into one.

Taste is exceptional. Very complex and very balanced. The malt backbone is heavy letting you know that this is indeed a barleywine but it has an exceptional hop presence as well. Again, very balanced.

Mouthfeel is equally strong. Syrupy sweet but with a substantial drying on the back end. Perhaps the most balanced beer I have ever had.

Drinkability is great too. This is not something you can say about a lot of barleywines. It is not too heavy in any aspect. It is perfectly balanced and doesn't tire you from anything.

Old Ruffian lives up to its billing and is worth getting your hands on.

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Photo of Lnedrive14
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
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 doubleipa
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was bottled in '04 and has been cellared since correctly. The aroma was excellent, but a little surprising for a barleywine. It had a bit of a roasted/burnt smell to go with the heavy hop and orange aroma. There was a rocky, off-white head. The body was hazy and dark amber. The inital flavor was moderately sweet with a long finish. The hops aroma and taste did not diminish. Nothing surprising in the palate. This beer really lives up to it's billing. Once again, another great Great Divide. Will be interested to see what happens after another year or so on the others I have.

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Photo of hustlemuscle
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fruit hops alchohol nose.

big fat puffy head over a dark maroon/amber cloudy body.

swirling fruit and spices, hops, complex, smooth and almost creamy yet tart from the abundant hops. alchohol present, but not overpowering.

reduces me to gibberish when trying to describe it. a magnificent brew.

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Photo of cubedbee
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a plum-brown with ruby highlights in the light, a finger of off-white head, and good retention for a barleywine, a decent cap staying on top for a good while. Some nice sticky lacing. Nose is a sweet plum/fig fruitiness, rich malt, molasses, all with a piney resinous hop scent overlaying. Piney hops hit the tongue first, followed by a nice caramel bready malt, some nice fruits--cherry, plum, orange, pineapple, and a nice bitter finish with a slight alcohol warming. Nice fullbodied mouthfeel, very smooth, slightly creamy. This is a superb barleywine, stupendous complexity of flavor yet a very good balance, very easy to finish the bomber which is dangerous.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The color is a dark ruby with a large, light brown head. Aroma is packed with hop smells, citrusy and piney hops duke it out for domination. An underlying rich malt is noted underneath the thick hop smell. Taste is equally hoppy, with a long hoppy finish. A rich underlying malt body is also a treat to taste. Dark fruit flavor is also in the mix, with just a hint of alcohol (I'm really surprised this is 10.4%). Anyway, this beer is a hop head's dream and another one of those beers that can get you in trouble with it's deceptive lack of alcohol flavor.

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Photo of Prufrock
2.82/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22 oz. bomber poured into a pilsner.

hazy light brown with an inch of tan head that takes an eternity to fall into puffy peaks, leaving rings of lacing.

tons of sweet, caramel malts in the aroma, but the hops are there as well with a touch of pine and citrus rind.

thick, syrupy mouthfeel. sweet with licorice at first, but then overwhelmed by a harsh, authoritative hop bitterness. it'd be hard to call this one drinkable, especially once the 10.2% kicks in. oddly enough, is too sweet and then too bitter, without really finding a balance.

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Photo of MSchae1017
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was tated in a snifter from a 650mL bottle.

It pours a deep burgandy in color with a huge frothy head that holds and laces fantastically. It smells hoppy surrounded by subtle fruity aromas. Hops are the first thing I notice on my tongue as I continue to drink I sense cherry and citrus flavors that blend well with the hops. This beer has a full thickness and fantastic carbonation. Overall, I would love to have this beer again.

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Photo of derrickt007
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a copper color with a nice cream colored head. Sticks around and laces pretty well. I really like the appearance of this beer.

The smell of this is hops and malts, very inviting.

The taste is a very hop forward barelywine. The malt comes through after the initial hit of the hops and it balances well to me.

I think this beer hides the alcohol very well, and the mouthfeel is kind of light but the hops and malt leave a pleasant taste in your mouth. With the taste and the alcohol hidden so well this is a very drinkable brew for me and will definitely seek out again soon.

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Photo of Jason
4.49/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz brown bomber with no freshness date, blurb about the beer on the label.

A- Sea foam lace sticks to the glass well, good head retention as well. Completely hazed reddish amber color.

S- Portuguese sweet bread, caramel and a rough citric and herbal hop in the back.

T&M- Big lush mouth feel with a long drawn-out smoothness. Juicy palate of malt and hops. Suggestions of caramel drizzled shortbread and toasted whole wheat potato bread from the malt. Fruity middle with a one two punch of hop bitterness and hop flavor which are very expressive yet not overwhelming. The bitterness comes at the same time the warming alcohol leaves a numbing sting on the tongue. Finishes with a sweet maltiness and a long lingering hop character.

D- Wow! Perhaps one of the most balanced American Barley Wines I have ever had ... very easy to sip and the taste buds do not get bored of this one.

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Photo of Shaw
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very nice barley wine. It looks really nice, quite dark with a brown head. It smells of hops, alcohol and malt.

The taste is typical barley wine: fiery and quite warming. This isn't quite as bitter and hoppy as Rogue's barley wine. This is a bit more balanced, if such a word can be applied to the style.

The mouthfeel is quite slick and smooth.

Overall this is a very nice barley wine. I'm really glad Great Divide's beers are available here in Florida. They are quite the brewery.

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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 Pegasus
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy copper color, with a large, persistent tan head, thick, sticky lacing, and fine, slow-rising carbonation.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and vinuous alcohol, notes of brandy, and subtle dark fruits.

Taste: Sweet, warming alcohol from start to finish, with lots of dark fruit and caramel, late orange and grapefruit hops, and a late surge of metallic bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and very full, with sharp champagne-like carbonation, and an almost syrupy mouth feel.

Drinkability/notes: An interesting example, which can be said to expand the boundaries of the style. Well worth a try.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A treat for all of the senses. Great Divide does it again. Aromas of molassas and hops jump out of the bottle even before the pour. The beer boldly plops into the glass with a dark ruby glow and a tan-yellow head that rises through the durration of the glass. Continues to release aromas of ripe and dehydrated dark fruits with cherries, plumbs, dates, figs... and big-time hop balance. Tastes very sweet and bold with the same fruits as in aroma. Throw in brown sugar, liqorice, raisons, U.S. hops for ultimate hop spiciness, boquet, and flavor. Hops rise up to keep the malts from becoming cloying or undrinkable. Alcohol flavors and feel comes on imediately and never dies, but never becomes too hot or too fusal. No flaws in this beer; if there were, they would become lost in the abundance of flavor. Finishes sweet, yeasty, and alcoholic. Though it's easy to be put in the top 100, it's similar to many other great big beers.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,423 ratings.
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