Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

2,459 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,459 |  Reviews: 1,109
Photo of Dewey0603
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of Tom-Peters
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of johntfox
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of Pahn
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of Thirstygoat
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 12/05/11
Off white head settles gradually leaving lots of lacing. A bit murky bronze color.
Mostly a malt smell with a bit of hops.
Much of the 90 IBU remain especially on the back of the mouth. Much sugar, candy barleywine taste AND also the malt,
Active in the mouth, a bit of sizzle?
If you like American style BW, yes you must try this.

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Photo of BlissJunkie
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of ethanmc12
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of 31Sam13
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of rwilde
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of Joecaddie
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of touchmeimsac
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of n2pux
4.25/5  rDev +1%

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

Sampled this at an epic tasting hosted by EinWeizenbitte. Thanks a ton Todd!

Roughly six-month-old bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Huge, fluffy, tan-peach head surges up from a hazy, autumn red-brown body. Top-notch retention and tons of sticky lace. Consistent streams of carbonation feed the head throughout the session. Looks fantastic!

Smell: Tons of caramel and honey, with a solid dosage of hop resin to boot. Smells sweet and syrupy with a touch of pine in the back. Not too complex, but smooth and spot-on.

Taste: Maple syrup, wood, some butter and bready doughy malt, and, oh yeah, TONS of piney hops. I can't imagine what this would taste like fresh. Conversely, I'd love to taste one that's got a few years on it. A very, very, hop-forward barleywine. Yum. EDIT (06-07-09): drinking it fresh right now, and damn it is awesome!

Mouthfeel: Resinous, syrupy, and very warm. Medium carbonation. Pretty thick body. I think this one needs a little time to cool off. EDIT (06-07-09): Fuck that - totally hittin' the spot right now.

Drinkability: Again, a little time would do this one good. This was very bitter and very hot; very delicious, but very bitter and very hot. Can't wait to get my hands on a bottle or two of my own! EDIT (06-07-09): Just depends on the mood you're in. This is disappearing quick tonight!

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

Photo of KG710
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of aforbes10
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

well, ive had this bottle for a couple of months and i was going to wait a year to drink it but all the reviews suggest that it doesnt really need to age very much and that its basically good to go right away. so here goes...

pours a deep majestic red like liquid mahogany. densely packed, short head. syrupy looking lacing hugs the glass. massive hops nose with more than a hint of ethanol. obviously a lot of malt in the nose too. not exactly how i think of a barleywine smelling....more like a super malty double IPA. But hey, wow, the taste is something else. this IS a good beer. initially there's a very bitter hoppy taste with little hints of breadiness and fruitiness and the malt really just acting as a kind of delivery system for tons of hops. Then, as it warms and your mouth becomes acclimated to it, there's some orange zest and maybe even some grapefruit that becomes more noticeable. by the end it really is like a good well aged barleywine...nice and sweet and fruity and great. The mouthfeel is appropriately thick and syrupy. its overall not terrifically well balanced, but i wonder if it should be? Lastly, its maybe a bit too much to drink a whole bomber in one sitting....i did, of course, and i kind of regret it because its one of those beer that i know will give me a swirly feeling in the morning (it did). but, yeah, ill buy some more.

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Photo of brureview
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a light tea color with a 1 finger head.

The aroma was a strong vanilla-toffee presence which lasted for much of the warming.

Mouth feel: moderately carbonated.

Taste: there was some vanilla and slight toffee which was masked by a strong alcoholic presence, distinct bitterness, and hops.

I would have preferred more fruit and balanced bitterness. The alcoholic presence overwhelmed the beer.

Overall, a good American Barley Wine, but unbalanced. Perhaps the December 2011 brew date was past its prime. I prefer the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, which has a more balanced taste profile.

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Photo of csurowiec
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of adam42381
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into a Duvel tulip. Bottled on: Dec 10 2009 printed on label.

Appearance: Pours a deep mahogany brown with ruby highlights and a 3 finger fluffy light tan head. Excellent lacing.

Smell: Sweet floral hops, caramel malt, candied fruit and citrus.

Taste: Caramel malt up front followed by sweet citrus in the middle then ending with a blast of bitter grapefruit and pine at the finish. Alcohol is evident but not overpowering. Aftertaste is bitter and earthy. This is one hoppy barleywine.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with a fairly low amount of carbonation. Very smooth and creamy. Alcohol warmth comes through on the way down.

Drinkability: High drinkability. This is obviously a sipper but one you'll enjoy the whole way through.

Overall: Excellent beer overall. Old Ruffian is a very good barleywine that I'd highly recommend, especially if you are a hop lover.

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Photo of birdsellam
1.5/5  rDev -64.4%

Photo of dnb128
3.5/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Timtac
3.89/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

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

Pours a deep mahogany with a dense tan head. lots of thick lace. Smells of hops, tangerine, grapefruit and smoky malt.

Taste is surprisingly hoppy and citrusy. Bitter hops permeate the rich malt. Big carame-like malt. Big body with a sweet and lightly sticky finish. Very long hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste. Pretty drinkable. I like a hoppy barleywine but this one might have been too much. Might need some age to take that edge off. Still, a stellar and tasty barleywine.

 480 characters

Photo of webmanspidey
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a chalice. Dark brown with the perfect amount of fizzy head. This looks perfect. Smell is a nice combination of sweet honey, hops, grain, molassses/syrup. Taste is bitingly bitter at first but heavy and malty. There is a strong alcohol content but it is very smooth and drinkable, not having any problem with it. Thick and creamy mouthfeel.

This is a really great beer. I'm going to seek it out again. It is actually not as bitter and extreme as others in the style I've had but it is probably one of the best.

 530 characters

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

22oz bottle bated 12/09

served in a chalice

A - pours with a hort-lived layer of sudsy, light tan foam, settling to a thin ring and few floating patches of bubbles. the beer is a beautiful, clear, ruby grapefruit color.

S - classic american barleywine scents: robust caramel malts, tobacco, notes of dark fruits, vanilla and rum, abundant booze, oxidized hops.

T - bold sweet caramel, dark fruits, biting alcohol, and hop bitterness all battle each other for the top billing. definite this beauty within chaos, as each flavor plays off another. hops are slightly grapefruit forward, the years have not completely devoid them of taste. alcohol cleans it all up with a hint of rum and tobacco.

M - medium body yet on the chewy side, lifted slightly by moderate tight carbonation. welcome and warming alcohol heat clean up most of the (good) mess itself. lingering hop bitterness. perfect.

O - a stellar beer, great fresh or with some years on it. this one even at the "awkward" 2-3 year mark for a barleywine still delivers. mental note, get more of this, enjoy a few now and lay some down for the future.

 1,111 characters

Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.21 out of 5 based on 2,459 ratings.
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