Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
2,468 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,468 |  Reviews: 1,113
Photo of craytonic
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz Bomber

Appearance: Large ea foam head; takes a while to subside. Nice lacing. Color is hazy burnt-umber orange and brown.

Smell: Citrus, harsh (excessive) hops, pine resin.

Taste: Over-hopped beer. Probably could have used some age. Some sweetness, but it is completely overpowered. Slight metallic twinge.

Mouthfeel: Good full body. Finish is astringent and bitter.

Drinkability: Over-hopped and over-hyped. Not for me.

 430 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a translucent caramel color with ruby hues and a full finger orange tinted light tan head. There is visible carbonation and as the head fades small eruptive pools adorn the surface. Reasonable lacing can be observed.

The aroma is immediate but not overbearingly a piny hop with a balanced sweet caramel earthen malt character.

The mouth feel is a medium heavy body with smooth and creamy textures accented by high hoppy notes. The complexity is imaginative and noteworthy.

This beverage's flavor is a keystone to the style in my mind. An interesting citrus flavor relaxed by a malted earthy component.

You can tell that it's a heavier product, but the 10.2% isn't like a liquor. Quite drinkable.

 713 characters

Photo of freduardo
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

Photo of ommegangpbr
4.74/5  rDev +12.9%
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.

 586 characters

Photo of rwilde
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of maxpower
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber pours hazy glowing amber-orange with a thick creamy off-white head that leaves a nice lace in my glass. Sharp hoppy aroma of grapefruit and pine, resinous sticky pine and grapefruit flavors , has a full thick, sticky and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that finishes with a lingering bitterness, has a good malt balance. Alcohol very well hidden, I can't believe how drinkable this is.

 393 characters

Photo of RMoeNay
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of Stillmakingnoise
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Jason1337
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of BuckTuckian
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of KajII
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

[Best served in a Snifter]

The pour was a clear dark mahogany red with a large (2-3 finger) light tan pillowy head that was mostly lasting, receding down to a large puddle and collar with excellent sheeting of lace.

The aroma was of a sweet toasted biscuit malt, pine hops and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of toffee, citrus (grapefruit), caramel and some dark fruit (plums and raisons).

The taste was sweet and rather malty with hints of toffee and dark fruit at first and then became slightly hoppy with a really nice bitter citrus note and a decent alcohol warming sensation at the end. The flavor hung around for a long while with a bitter sweet citrus flavor left to lie on the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was just below medium in body with a dry oily texture and a prickly carbonation.

Overall a sensationally tasting Barleywine with just the right blending of sweet malts and bitter hops...

 898 characters

Photo of sammyg832
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of Naerhu
3.2/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - deep dark brown body, with a tight off white head.
S - Grapefruit peel, old flowers and alcohol.
T - The initial malt flavors are entirely over run by the hoppy bitterness. Unbelievably long bitterness. Dark, over-ripe, burned fruit.
M - Extremely heavy and syrupy. It took me over an hour to just drink a third of the bottle.
D - Really this was just too much. Too much alcohol, too much bitterness, too heavy. Its really just over the top. The name tags this beer pretty well becaus it is quite rough. It should be Old Rough-ian.

 540 characters

Photo of CityofBals
3/5  rDev -28.6%

Photo of DavidST
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip, bottled on 12 - 5 - 12. This pours a brownish color with a massive lace leaving tan head. The smells are of toasted malts, caramel and a nice little bit of pine hops and dark fruit. The feel is thick. The taste is pretty good, a load of bitter hops, nuts, caramel and toasted malts, excellent. I'm glad I bought this today, I was looking for the 12 Bigfoot, but this is a fine alternative.

 429 characters

Photo of Timtac
3.89/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of TwelveOunces
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter
Bottled on Dec 02 2011 (13 months to the day)

A- A deep copper color. A one finger of a very lightly tanned head. Nice alcohol legs.

S- Very sweet sugary malts. Burnt sugar, caramel, molasses. A big faded hop character. Citrus and some pine.

T- A big beer. A massive hop bitterness and a surprising amount of hop flavor. The flavor has receded some but there is still a strong pine and citrus. A big burnt caramel and molasses flavor. A sugary barleywine. A huge breaddy malt backbone. A slight roasted quality.

M- Sticky, stinging, bitter and thick. It hides the alcohol taste well but not the feel.

O- This is a world class example of an american barleywine. It's hopped to high hell and that I like. (Keep in mind my review is of a 13 month old bottle)

 796 characters

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

When the top pops, this brew has the instant smell of fresh hops. It pours thick but not soupy, little to no head, reddish amber, deep red. tranparent as hell for a barley wine. I may sound bias because i much prefer english style. The nose is of hops, hops, and more hops. The first sip has a great mouthfell, but is instantly hoppy as hell. Typical of American microbrews this tastes like a thick version of an imperial IPA. Even has similar colors, without the cloudiness. The finish is quite bitey and the 80 ( guess ) IBUs show up. A slight sweetness does linger on the lips but does not show up to much in the taste. A good barley wine for hopheads. A good summer barleywine, much like that of hog heaven by avery. I think this would age fairly well and maybe lose some abrasiveness in the hop flavors. I would put it away for like two years.

 848 characters

Photo of sideshowe
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Pahn
4.45/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip. No bottled on date to be found.

Appearance: 1/2 inch bone white head dissipates steadily into a small bubbly pile of foam. Decent lacing and wine-like legs. Color is a very warm and dark orange, reddish and brownish. Opaque from haze.

Smell: Deep brown sugar and caramel, fresh bread, and some less pronounced notes creeping in the background (I think I got some apple and grassiness hiding alongside the bread and sugar).

Taste: First sip: smooth, juicy start with a strong and bready taste of brown sugar and caramel, then a pleasant explosion of hop bitterness. Hot alcohol finish. This is a perfectly balanced, classic American barley wine; big malt, big hops, deep and complex caramel/candy flavor profile, some hot alcohol, with nothing overshadowing anything else.

The beginning of each sip has the mildest of hop bitterness and a slight prickle of carbonation on the top of the tongue. Then the full, bready and sweet malt flavors bloom, then comes a bomb of not-just-bitter-but-flavorful hops which proceed to dance back and forth with the malt until the alcohol heat shuts down the dance leaving a pleasant warmth with some sweet malt breadiness sticking around for the aftertaste. Perfect.

Mouthfeel: Juicy then creamy, punchy hops and subdued carbonation, then boozy heat and an ever so slightly chewy finish. On a personal note, for me, this beer has the perfect carbonation; a bit player in the taste and feel--not at all soda-like, but just enough to punch up the experience.

Drinkability: While this beer doesn't hide its ABV, it's so well-balanced and delicious that the only impediment to drinkability is simple drunkenness; it's not too heavy, nor too sweet, nor too bitter, nor too anything. Plainly not to be pounded, but no reason not to sip multiple bottles over a long period of time.


This beer speaks for itself. All I'll say in summary is that if you even remotely like American barley wines and haven't tried it, do so. If I had to suggest 1 beer to introduce someone to American barley wine, it would be this one.

Another amazing offering by Great Divide (their Hibernation has been my go-to beer for the last month or so). If I lived in Denver, I'd be a fixture in their tap room.

 2,256 characters

Photo of rsquared59
4.19/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Chackman151
4.73/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of ShogoKawada
3.76/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, no bottling date, but for barleywines it doesn't really matter.

A- Brown, copper, muddy looking. Eggshell white head, perhaps tapioca pudding color. Very attractive.

S- Malt sweetness, slightly boozy, but very faint.

T- Hops and malts are blended very well. Thick and rich with enough hop bite to cut through the serious malts. Very good, refined, clean barleywine.

M- Pretty good. Not overpowering or overbearing, this is pretty smooth and sippable. This is one of the tamer mouthfeels of any barleywine I've had, and is a testament to the well-crafted beer that this is.

D- Moderate to moderately high. You only want one, but it's a joy to drink and goes down incredibly easy considering the ABV. A quality brew. Do not hesitate to seek this one out. Very well put-together.

 795 characters

Photo of Dewey0603
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a clear dark mahogony with a huge tan foamy head that lasts forever. This is really impressive looking with great lacing and head retention. The smell is "bisquity" with some dark fruits, alcohol, and hops. A nice mellow smelling beer and not over blown like some barleywines. The taste is mild with dark fruit, bread yeast, alcohol, and some hop bitterness. This is different from other b/w's as the flavor has more hops and is much more mild in regards to dark fruit and alcohol. The m/f is heavy with all flavors mixing very well including hiding the high alcohol and the hop explosion in this beer. This is an incredible beer. A true classic that most be tried. Cheers.

 689 characters

Photo of Tom-Peters
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.