Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

1,106 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: 1,106 | Ratings: 2,455
Photo of bearrunner44
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber.

Appearance- Opaque, burnt sienna color. Pillowy cream-colored head. Thick streaks of lace coat the sides of the glass.

Smell- Sweet, honey-like aroma. Soft, flowery hop scents in the back. The hops, along with the large alcoholic presence, provide a lightly floral counterpoint to the malt profile. Elixir-like.

Taste- This beer is all about deception. It lulls you in with it's sweet, pleasing aroma. Then, it pounds you over the head in a big, hoppy, alcoholic fashion. The malt is smooth and somewhat buttery, but it quickly submits to the hops. The hop flavor is tight and herbal; it really clings to the back of the throat. The alcohol tingles and numbs the tongue, but the taste is still somewhat subdued for a beer with 10.20% ABV. It mostly shows up in the finish, where the alcoholic burn mixes with the herbal hop flavors. The sweetness of the malt lends a little smoothness to the finish.

Mouthfeel- Big-bodied, yet smooth.

Verdict- Yowza. They really shouldn't sell this in bombers; by the time you get to the end, your taste buds are numbed to oblivion by the hops and (especially) the alcohol. Satisfying.

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Photo of jhammel01
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark dark ruby red into glass mug with a great sticky thick head. The head sticks around forever. Its a bit off white and very dense. Tons of lacing..

Smells of ALCOHOL! tons of it...also a bit of hoppiness that seems the most prominent. Some caramel and citrus from the hops as well.

The taste up front is bittering hops. Not much other than the bitterness of the hops, not oily but alot of some citrus, almost "soapy". Also heavy amounts of malt. Tastes like roasted malts to be honest. A good mix of two bittering things.

The mouthfeel is tingly, a bit thick-full bodied. Its very good.

Definitely, a great beer for a cold night. I'm enjoying this one quite a bit.

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Photo of guitarmage
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A very cloudy dark copper, the beer is lighter at the top of the glass, a modest off white lacing sits on top, a few bubbles in the glass.

Smell: A meaty sweetness, caramel, raisins, brown sugar. Hops take a backseat in the aroma, mild alcohol.

Taste: Big alcohol sweetness, brown sugar and raisins, a hint of orange citrus, big and malty, gives way to alcohol warmth in the nose and an even dry leafy hoppiness.

Mouthfeel: Big full body, milky with light carobnation, this beer is very thick. The finish leaves the palate very dry, however.

Drinkability: A big, sweet, barleywine. My nose is stuffed from hop irritation, so I might be missing some subtleties here. This is a good barleywine though, very clean and nice but complex.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- 22 oz. bottle dated Dec. 22-2009
Hard pour into a pint glass. Hazy, amber. 1/2 inch honeycomb head that slowly melted away. Decent lacing throughout.

S- Sweet fruit, malt.

T- Starts sweet and malty, finishes hoppy and bitter. Strangely different than other barley wines that I have tried.

M- Smooth. Decent carbonation. Slight burn on the swallow.

O- Not bad, but too hoppy for my taste.
Tried again in January 2012. 2009 bottle. Slightly bitter and dry aftertaste. I love barleywines, but this is lacking a "wow" factor for me.

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Photo of gonzo138
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a deep brownish red color, has a low cream colored head that retains decently and laces very well

S- a complete balance as far as smell goes, rich chocolatey malt sweetness balanced with a just a strong citric hoppy aroma, alcohol smell is present towards bottom of glass

T- just as balanced as the smell is, rich chocolatey fruity malt sweetness, strong hoppy bite on the finish

M- low/moderate carbonation, full heavy body, very sticky mouthfeel, taste lingers in mouth for quite a while

D- a good barleywine is not too drinkable, you can sip it for a while, but you dont need more than one, an excellent beer, would buy/drink/recomend any day

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Photo of bminor7
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle from Hoosick St Beverage in Troy, NY.

A - a great deep walnut brown, I really like this color. slightly murky. some lacing, leaving a net-like foam across the surface of the beer once settled.

S - hops, malt, promising! seems very IIPA-like.

T - like a smoked-up IIPA. black cardamom, deliciously strong hop profile, sweet malt. bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue. incredible flavor.

M - heavy, syrupy thick. chewy malts. rolling the beer around in my mouth releases more of the creamy carbonation and flavor.

D - low. thick and boozy, a definite sipper. my mind was supremely altered by this powerful beer.

Highly recommended, this is one of the most amazing beers I've ever had. Absolutely intense malt and hop flavors. Very well balanced.

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Photo of Fatduck
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ive been exploring the barley wine style for a while now. So I've been looking for this one for a while.

Pours a deep copper/amber color, with a fluffy tan head that fades quickly but leaves a sticky collar of bubbles. Tis a crisp and clean tasting barley wine, with a focus on the hops, lots of hops.

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Photo of Manoftyr
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance-Pours a dark walnut color into the glass with dulled red highlights that become more prominent when held to light. A distinctive, and longly-lingering beige head tops the crown of the beer, a very nice head especially considering that it's a high ABV barleywine. Lacing is abundant. This is one nice looking barleywine.

Aroma-That distinctive, huge aroma of caramel-malt that sets barleywines apart IMHO is the first thing to assail your nostrils and sharply following is a wave of hops emparting smells of pine and candied citric fruits. These alternating waves of malt and hop pretty much define this beer, and indeed what I've come to expect from American Barleywines.

Taste-Sweet, sweet waves of rich caramel, toffee and sweet dark fruit rush over the tongue only to be promptly weathered by an onslaught of piney, hoppy bitterness around mid-palete, the typical flavors of grapefruit and citric fruit rind are present on the back end. Some alcohol is noted but the sheer hugeness of the flavors covers it up sufficiently. Awesomely rich American Barleywine.

Mouthfeel-Syrupy, heavy, silky-smoothe, medium carbonation; luxurious.

Drinkability-Well, it's a Barleywine so drinkability is hard for me to rate but it certainly leaves me satisfied and looking forward to successive sips with each drink. For style it's pretty much perfect.

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Photo of BostonBrewins
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep amber. Head is big, frothy, and creamy. Head retention is excellent. Considerable lacing.

S - Fragrant bouquet of fresh fruits, specifically grapes, apples, and melon.

T - Very fruity and sweet. Melons and apples are strong up front. Fruitiness is blended with a bit of honey. Undertones of bready maltiness. There's definitely some caramel too. Finishes with some citrussy, oily hops. Some nice complexity.

M - Full bodied and creamy. Feels great on the tongue. No complaints here.

D - Flavorful and complex. Much more drinkable than other barleywines. A nice alternative to some of the more "angry, hoppy" interpretations of the style that shred your pallate with an overload of hops. I'm curious to see what this tastes like after a year or so of aging.

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Photo of sjverla
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nose: Dark cherry and molasses. Deep, woodsy earthiness. Slightly solvent. Mild hints of vanilla. Overall I would have expected a it to be a little more pungent.

Appearance: Gorgeous ruby/mahogany. Vanilla skim of head grabs the glass.

Sweet and bitter. Hints of vanilla. Very woody - almost overpowering. No shortage on grains here.

Overall: Very good, but a little disappointing. It's complex, but doesn't seem to play well with itself. Some of the flavors just compete.

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Photo of srhoadsy
3.62/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served slightly chilled into snifter.

Pours a murky orange color with a quarter inch tan head that quickly recedes with a slight surface layer and light lacing.

Aromas of burnt sugar, vanilla, dried fruits and very mild dark coffee background.

Sweet flavors follow through from the aromas with a clinging bitternes that I didn't really care for.

Body is medium/heavy, sweet and sticky with mild carbonation.

A decent barleywine, but couldn't get by that lingering bitterness. This was a 2011 batch so I will age my other bottle and see what happens.

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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 slayer3604
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice deep amber with a fluffy head. Damn does this look appealing. Kind of what you'd expect for a Barley Wine to pour like.

smells like boozy fig and raisin with a great little husky malt note hanging in the balance.

Has so much flavor. It is bitter but balanced and full of cream from the body. This is a spectacular beer for the price. Most barleywines these days are hefty in price.

Full bodied and creamy

Not very drinkable. This actually got me a little messed up. Heavy borderline cloying stickiness and has a burnt fruit taste in the background after every sip.

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Photo of bigkahunas4
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter.

Pours a cola color, with some minimal head. Nice sticky lacing. Nose is full, very resiny - very earthy - however, not really to my liking.

Taste is great however, beginning with some rich sour dough malts, with a big punch of smokiness. Hops come full force at the end, lots of grass with hints of pine. Mouthfeel is very dense on the tongue, and the hops really cling to the palette.

Certainly a sipper, and enjoyably warming. Not all of my favorite characteristics, but a solid flavor structure makes it enjoyable.

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Photo of RickSawyer
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, amber, mahogany hue. A creamy head holds two fingers as long as it can before falling to a 1/4" disk of tightly wound foam. In its wate is a curtain of tiny white lace along the edges of the glass. Smell is carmel, breakfast coffee cake, pine sap and a very glorious floral citrus hop. Taste begins sweet, lots of carmel, burnt brown sugar, ginger bread molasses, then transitions into a spicy, peppery hop kick full of orange rind, grapefruit juice some piney resin goodness. The finish has a bit of a twinge, a real dry, puckering touch of bitterness.

Old Ruffian is a wonderful barleywine. As usual, this is often overlooked by me at the local since its common to see on the shelves. Solid says it all. Real american barleywine.

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Photo of nova009
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber bottled on 12/08/2009 into a snifter

A- pours a bright ruby red, a one finger fluffy tan head that slowly dissipates, retains pretty well, fantastic lacing

S- citrus hops hit the nose first, somewhat floral, slightly malty with caramel being the most prominent, fruit notes are mixed in as well, a lot sweeter smelling than i expected, wish it would have been hoppier

T- i may not have gotten the hops in the smell but i definitely got a hit of them on the first sip, creamy and somewhat mellow turns into a punch of bitter hops, the fruit notes are present but seem to be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the caramel notes, somewhat nutty and grassy as well, the bitterness is pretty lingering, a little boozy on the finish

M- pretty full body feel to it, smooth and creamy coating the entire palate, the booze kind of bites the mouth, medium carbonation, dry finish with lasting bitterness

D- not a bad barleywine, i think the balance was off a little but not enough to make a major impact, solid beer but im not sure if i would pick this up again

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Photo of fatmcb1
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010 poured into a wine glass

Pours a dark amber, reddish color with a khaki head that leaves ample lacing.

Very balanced aroma with plenty of malt, serious hops, and some fruity esters in the background.

This is one of the hoppiest American barleywines I've had. At first it is subtle, but the hop bitterness and flavors hit you. A definite hopheads barleywine.

Carbonation is rich and the body is average of the style.

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Photo of crayphish
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Old Ruffian poured a murky ruby color. A dense foamy head lingers stubbornly and leaves a fair amount of lace. Smell is sweet and a bit sour. Notes of caramel and fruit. Taste is sweet malts, some sour fruits, and hops. An alcohol flavor lie under it all. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, that is cleaned up by the hops presence. I found this barley wine to be a drinkable representation of its kind.

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Photo of jakon
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle purchased for $6.70 on 10-17-7 at Tanasbourne Haggen.

Pours a deep caramel color with a robust head that will sneak up on you if you're not careful. The foam collapses on itself leaving behind rings of sticky lacing. The aroma is huge with sweet malts and fruity hops. Marshmallow, caramel, pineapple, ripe banana, brown sugar and just a generally pleasant and inviting overall aroma. The hops really show up more in the taste. Ample bitterness balances out all that luscious malt character. There is no holding back with this brew. In a word, decadent. One of my 3 favorite barleywines to date. I'd recommend picking up at least a case of this and drinking a few now, and saving the rest for a year and beyond.

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Photo of crewfan16
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from a bomber to a pint glass.

a- poured a dark red/orange color. cream colored head didnt rise up much and left quickly.

s- sweet caramely malts, lots of oily piney musty smell. something nutty and perhaps brown sugar. maybe a bit of raisin even.

t-lots of hoppy bitterness. grapefruit and pineapple citrus. tons of caramel and malt to back it up though. finishes extremely bitter and dry.

m- as it warms, the booze really starts to come out, but never gets too overpowering. initially feels a bit oily on my tounge, but finishes very bitter and dry.

overall, I enjoyed this brew. I am not as familiar as some with barley wine in general, but this one was tasty. almost feels like a malty DIPA. its definately a sipper, but another solid brew from the great divide.

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Photo of gimmehead
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish brown with some bright copper highlights, with a gigantic bubbly off-white head and positively glass coating lace. I don't know if I've ever looked upon a finer presentation than this beer in an oversized snifter. If I could paint a still it would sell for thousands. Huge floral and citric hops in the nose- especially grapefruit- with some fruity esters and sweet malts lying subtly underneath. Taste is predominantly bitter grapefruit hops. In fact, it's a little tough to get past the bitterness and pick out any other flavors, maybe just a bare hint of sugary sweetness. Very hop dominant, no balance at all. Very bitter lingering finish with an alcohol blast. This baby is full bodied and downright mouthcoating. I don't think I'll be able to tatse anything else for hours.

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Photo of MOB210SA
4.88/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Huge, rich slowly creeping up 2 finger head that retains well and looks absolutly great for a decently high ABV barley-wine.

Nose and taste is great. Thick and creamy huge hoppiness. Stong eminating hoppiness with a strong caramel backdrop. Complex and balanced. Bold and Sweet. Almost candy like, but not syrupy. {Probably the best barley-wine ive ever had.}

Super smooth silky mouthfeel. Almost feels as if it melts in your mouth. Phenomenal mouthfeel.

Drinkability, this couldnt be any better.

This was a favorite of mine a long while ago. Still as great as I remember.

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Photo of bifrostguard
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep brownish amber color on the same order of dried out tobacco leaves. Tall light tan head the leaves a good amount of lacing.

S - Malt, namely caramel. Piney hops and tobacco are also detectable.

T - Very nice. Not overly sweet with a nice, clean bitter finish. All flavors noted in the nose are proportionally present in the flavor. I'm not big on barleywines, but this is a very good one.

M - Thick and creamy

D - A very well balanced beverage that I could drink for a long time. Complex enough to keep me drinking it throughout the night.

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Photo of hobbes2112
4.73/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber

Pours a beautiful garnet color with a thick huge off-white head. Long retention (2+ min halflife) and tons of lacing. This is a really good looking beer.

Aroma is a lot more hops than I am use to in barley wines, and that is a good thing. The label boasted 85-90 IBUs and with this hop content in the nose if backing that statement up! Big brandy and pine notes with some obvious alcohol too.

Taste is like a barley wine "kicked up a notch" on the hop scale. I was worried that a lot of the sweet malty and fruity flavors would get lost in the hops but that was not the case. In fact I think this might be a perfect blend of the hop and malt worlds. Oh, and this perfect blend just kicked you in the mouth! What a knockout!

This beer is one of the tops for me, I am going to go pick a bunch more of these up and pack them away for a rainy day.

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Photo of surprenant1138
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber/orange color with a finger of quickly fading cream colored head. Good retention of lacing. Aroma is of hops, caramel, raisins, bread, caramel. Very sweet smelling. The taste is pretty much the smell with a bit of citrusy hops and slightly bitter. Sticky, medium bodied mouthfeel. This is my #1 barleywine style ale. I love it.This beer ages very very well. A two or three year old bottle is fantastice. All of the flavors become incredibly bold.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,455 ratings.
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