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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:
#1,090
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 ZEB89
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of russpowell
4.48/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours dark caramel with a huge 2" plus tan frothy head. Crazy lacing & head retnetion

Smell; Sweet malt, piney hops, alcohol & fruticake

Taste: Huge fruitty malts, piney hops & oaky wooden taste. dryness and alcohol on the finish

MF Chewy & well balanced. More like a port or maderia (sp)

Not too too drinkable, this is just too much!

If you want big beer, can't beat this. Great when you are ready to take a snooze or get a straight jacket on...yummy

 466 characters

Photo of mendvicdog
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

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 mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review from notes 1/22/11. Thanks to THECPJ for sharing. 2010 vintage.

A: Hazy reddish/dark amber in color in color. Half finger of head forms with good retention. Decent foamy lace down the sides.

S: Quite hoppy! Some citrus aroma along with a good bit of malt - caramel and bread. Also get a good bit of alcohol on the nose as well.

T: Taste is similar to aroma. Get a ton of caramel and some toffee. The bread flavor is sweet and there is also a grass/citrus hop flavor.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, I liked the flavor profile, it is very complex, especially for a barleywine. My problem was how present the alcohol was. It was a struggle to drink this one, I look forward to having one with some age on it.

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Photo of duceswild
3.65/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.9/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Warmly glowing tawny with an infusion of candied cherry. I don't know if I've ever seen a larger or more spectacular looking head on a barleywine. The color is equal parts pastel orange and golden beige, a beautiful complement to the beer on which it sits. I love its rich, thick, marshmallow-like creaminess and the fact that it leaves more lace than any beer with an ABV higher than 10% has a right to.

Old Ruffian's nose defines the American barleywine style for me. It's so hugely powerful that one doesn't need to get within a foot of the glass to appreciate its wonderousness. Even a passing sniff causes melted caramel, candied citrus fruit and pine sap to enter the nose and impact the brain's olfactory center with megaton force. I'm not kidding, I haven't smelled a more explosively aromatic beer in a long, long time.

I wondered if this Great Divide offering could possibly live up to the Top 100 Beers hype. One glorious mouthful is all it took to tell me that Old Ruffian is the single best version of the style that has ever crossed my lips. Like the nose, this is exactly what I expect when I pop the cap on an American barleywine... and what I've almost never gotten. Make that never gotten. Until now.

It's tempting to think that any old brewer could recreate the magic that's in every drop of this magical elixir simply by dumping massive quantities of caramel malt and American hops into the kettle. Obviously that isn't true because only the brewers at Great Divide have managed to do it this well. My hat is off to them, as much for this beer as for the rest of the big beer they grace us with.

The caramel malt backbone is huger than huge and is easily the equal of the roasted malt backbones on the biggest Russian Imperial Stouts. Torrents of sticky, melted caramel flow across my tongue with each upending of the glass. If you have a beer sweet tooth (it's okay to admit it), then Old Ruffian will do you right. There's something else present, though, that keeps the sweetness at bay and keeps it from gumming up the works. And that is...

... a barrage of citric hoppiness that is greater than anything I've tasted in a beer of this style, no matter the age. My best guess is that this bomber is at least a year old. When fresh it must have been a masochist's delight, but then most hopheads have something of a masochistic streak anyway. Massively bitter hops of the candied grapefruit, orange and pineapple variety sink in and never really fade after the swallow. Maybe a little, but then it's time for another mouthful.

The glass couldn't possibly be more covered with lace than it is at present. I have no choice but to bump the appearance score a half point. While alcohol is clearly noted, there's so much maltiness and so much hoppiness running interference that I don't mind a bit. In fact, it gives the beer a certain raw power that further adds to its appeal. You want 'over the top', you've got it.

I can't begin to adequately describe the luxuriousness of the mouthfeel. Partly because I've run out of synonyms for f***ing amazing and partly because the ABV has begun to blanket my brain with a fantastic fog that is making the imaginative use of adjectives increasingly difficult. Simply put, it's hard for me to conceive of a more full, more velvety smooth, more heavily silky mouthfeel than the one that has been provided.

Old Ruffian Barley Wine is the American barleywine of my dreams. It does everything I want a beer of this style to do and then some. Every other brewer in America had better stay up nights if they hope to match the brilliance of Great Divide when it comes to this particular offering. This is the new gold standard as far as I'm concerned and is one of the best beers ever created.

 3,769 characters

Photo of Jason
4.49/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

 895 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 11/28/10 notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter, bottled on date is 12/02/09.

a - Pours a murky reddish mahogany color with two inches of light tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, dark fruit, sweet fruty malts, toffee, and hints of pine hops.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, caramel malts, dark fruit, toffee malts, and a little bit of alcohol.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation, very smooth and easy going down.

d - A great barleywine. Lots of great caramel malts and dark fruits in the smell and taste and a nice feel for over 10% ABV. Would love to have again.

 627 characters

Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Almost ruby bodied, but a bit more brown. Very clear with a decent head. Not a lot of lacing once it recedes.

Smell - Wonderful smell, once it warms. Caramel malts and dark fruits. Maybe a hint of banana. Not much sweetness to the smell, just the flavors. A bit of earthiness from the hops.

Taste - Not as good as the smell. The dark fruits are hard to pick out, but the caramel is there. Still not as sweet as I'd expect, and I like it. The pine hop presence in the back lends to the earthy flavor detected in the smell. Nice, but doesn't live up to the smell.

Mouthfeel - Barleywines often turn into syrup by the end of the glass. This one steers away from the sweetness nicely and doesn't become too thick. The carbonation keeps it drinkable as it's high enough to combat the body of the beer.

Overall - A very nice barleywine. Lacks a bit of complexity, but it's delicious and well made.

 945 characters

Photo of BEER88
4.27/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Yumm bozzy bourbony raisin juice.

33 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, hazy brownish, copper with a huge creamy head that just stayed and stayed and stayed. Smell was incredibly hopped and fruity. Overwhelming citrus all over, wonderful on the nose. Taste is wooo, strong, this one grabs you. Incredible bitterness, and the alcohol will warm you on the way down. Very dry finish. Did I mention hops?!?! Wow, a great sipping beer(power to you if you can do anything else) Perfect for a cold winter night, this was a treat I will be sure to return too.

 493 characters

Photo of jgunther71
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of Slatetank
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured 3/4 of this bomber for myelf in two separate doses into my Samuel Smith half pint. octopus87 tasted the rest.

A - A deep copper w/ a dark amber hue at the base of the glass. The cap is smooth and is a shade of khaki. There are rocky crags in the head from a slightly more than easy pour ino the center of the glass. The bead is very fine and even as hazed as it is the carbonation is still visible rising to the head.

S - Sweet and malty scents w/ fruit soaked in brandy as the esters are strong, but smooth. The depth of pine aromas is vivid and like pinesap mixed w/ sweet grapefruit. The aroma is bountiful
w/hops and malt that carries a heavenly brown sugar and citrus aroma with each inhalation

M - A kaleidescope is presented as if my tongue had eyes. First toasted grain, then alcohol following with intense citrus and spice hop textures and woody dry notes w/ a perfrct level of carbonation to enhance the maltiness while the bitterness is blanced w/ an alcoholic heat that lingers

T - An amalgamation of hop citrus and dark fruit w/ woody resinous flavors and subtle sugary malt w/ hints of berry and a mellow burn of alcohol as a sidecar to the fresh green pine hop taste. The resinous and grapefruity bitter flavors have the cushion of big sturdy caramel, pale and sweet crystal malts w/ the alcohol letting you know it deserves the name 'Ruffian' and it finishes as fiery and vibrant as it starts. The flavor is as balanced as a 10.2% Barleywine from west of the Mississippi can be.

D - An example of how to brew an American Barleywine-and how to make a drinkable American Barleywine in the sense that it is a big boozy barleywine, but doesn't lack for the fresh hops and the malt is substantial enough to keeep the pace. This Barleywine doesn't come across as an alcohol bomb or have overly sweet residual malt flavors either-it finishes with the hops resonating as the style should.

 1,915 characters

Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of atlbravsrno1
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of womencantsail
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jeff for this vintage bottle (2008 or 2009, can't remember).

A: The beer pours a very hazy amber color with about a finger's worth of off-white/khaki colored head.

S: Quite heavy on the caramel, as you might anticipate, with a surprisingly strong citrus aroma. I get a lot of oranges out of the beer along with some brown sugar, toffee, and molasses. A decent amount of bread, and no real booze to speak of.

T: Really sweet and pleasant overall. Toffee, caramel, and brown sugar provide a really nice sweetness. Some candied orange peel flavor adds a bit of citrus and bitterness. A touch of bread on the back end and a little bit of bitterness lingers on the finish.

M: The body is medium to full with a low-medium level of carbonation.

D: Damn, that was good. I'm glad I can now go down to any decent beer store and buy this.

 842 characters

Photo of krome
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of MarkyMOD
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of BeerForMuscle
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

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

 822 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Mike at the Barleywine tasting.
Deep copper color off white head. Rich caramel and toffee with light pitted fruits and hints of floral earthy hop. Pretty tasty and I'm surprised I haven't rated this before.

 223 characters

Photo of chippo33
2.75/5  rDev -34.5%

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