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Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

501 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 501
Hads: 888
Avg: 4
pDev: 13.75%
Wants: 72
Gots: 104 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerTruth on 04-02-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Reviews: 501 | Hads: 888
Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a clear copper reddish color with a dirty white head leaving a nice lace.

S-the nose is big, tons of caramel malts up front, toasted malt, notes of meat in the middle, dark fruits soaked with some alcohol in the back, earthy and tea hop scent.

T-the taste follows the nose, caramel, meat, sweet in the back, notes of booze, tea, earthy hops.

M-smooth on the palate, low carbonation, soft finish, syrupy and medium bodied.

D-pretty solid brew here, a little sweet but not cloying. nice hop presence in the back to balance all the malts.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 bottle stored in the basement since may

A- deep dark amber to ruby colored body with a finger of fleeting off white very sticky head.

S- strong odor of hops. lots of dark ripe fruits. cherries, figs, and a hint of booze

T- loads of citrusy hops. some medicinal qualities, and the fruits i could smell. pretty boozy

M- nice and syrupy. the alcohol warms all the way down.

D- best suited for colder weather, the whole bottle was kind of hard to polish off on my own. half of it was perfect. wouldnt want another one.

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle about room temp poured into ordinary kitchen glass. split with a friend. im thinking this is the 2011 vintage, but could easily be the 2010 (bought at wegmans, dont think they push much of this beer)

pours out a clear deep red color. one finger of light tan colored head that faded to just a very thin retentive layer. no lace.

in the aroma, big doses of burnt candied caramel, toffee, a little buttery, (english yeast), woody hops, and just very light hints of dark fruits.

pretty much the same taste as the aroma suggests. burnt candied caramel apple, buttery, woody hops, not much bitterness, but a good amount of heat. burnt sugar in the finish.

big sticky body, maybe a little more carbonation than i would want in a BW.

for me, this is definatly more of an english barlywine, no real aggresive hops and lots of english yeast characteristics (toffee, buttery). not something i would really come back to in a hurry, but id like to try it again, maybe a little colder next time.

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Photo of flexabull
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of seanpachefddfa, thanks again!

Pours a dark muddied, and cloudy brown color with a decent off white head.

Aromas are of cereal grains, stewed fruits, oak, spices, and booze.

Taste is grainy, dry, with some oak, and quite a bit of hops. Not a whole lot in the way of malts, a bit of sweetness, and some cereal flavors, but mostly I taste alcohol and mineral hops. Not really all that balanced, tastes more like an DIPA to me.

Mouthfeel is ok. A bit sharp on the tongue though.

Drinkability is so so. It's not a bad beer, but it seems to really miss the mark when it comes to the barleywine style. This is pretty average.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear and reddish copper with a scrumptious head of beige foam that fell to a thick cap and bewitching lace. Effervescing. Nose is strawberry, mango and sweet malt. Carmel toffee and as it warms sugar and molasses. Floral , oaky, and a little bread and butter. A musty breeze. First taste is sweet and then some. Juicy strawberry and mango and then the malt lays in it’s sweetness. There’s some alcohol warmth but on the second sip it’s alcohol on the palate. A touch of bitter to coat the throat as it goes down and some alcohol dryness. A bit of bread and butter in the dry finish. Body is thick and syrupy but also smooth and silky considering the candy sweetness and the alcohol presence. I am beginning to see why some people say that Southern Tier makes very sweet beers.

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Photo of infi
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle, shared with BAs brun, glard and NYManc.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

Complete copper/rustic-gold color with some transparency and a thin off-white colored head of low retention. Smell is distinctly sweet and aromatic. Lots of figgy-like qualities from the glass: dark-fruit sweetness, earthy oak tones and some piney hoppiness. Some malted barley breadiness to be found, with also some shortbread cookie characteristics.

Taste is more sweet-forward with the malt and honey-like sweetness. Very, very thin hop oil aspects to be said of. Begins with a syrupy and fruity sweetness on the palate and ends on a minimal hoppy and pine bitterness. Not much of a balance in the taste and I think that's the weakest aspect here.

Mouthfeel is just about medium-bodied with some carbonation. Average barleywine overall. Could use more hop punch and less syrupy sweetness.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Ruby colored, perfectly clear. The head is one finger and tan. Retains very well and leaves a few wisps of lacing.
S- The smell is heavy on the malt side, with dark fruits, dark caramel, and perceptible alcohol on the nose.
T- The alcohol has too much presence here, but thankfully there is some hop presence here. There is a fair bit of citrus hops underneath caramel and cherry, peach, and dark bread characters.
M- While the alcohol is a bit abrasive on the tongue, the body is generally smooth with low but even carbonation.
O- A decent barleywine, but not a great one. A disappoint for me, by Southern Tier standards.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hmmm... IMPERIAL barleywine? sounds kinda odd to me, given the usual strength of a barleywine... but anyway, I occasionally have a craving for the style, and this was one of those nights. I haven't always had a lot of luck with Southern Tier, but I was willing to give this one a go.

Appearance was a half finger of head atop a clear, deep amber body. Sure looks like a lot of malt was used in this one.

Aroma was of rich, strong sweet malts, hints of h ops dancing around the outsides, and a little doughy but not too much. There was a little bit of fruitiness thrown in as well. Not bad at all.

The first flavor I got was strong, bitter hop resins. These were supported by a deep, rich, slightly sweet malt backbone that had hints of caramel and pears. It finished with an alcohol backdraft. Not bad, but the alcohol took away from it a little.

Mouthfeel was full and rich, smooth and a little oily.

Drinkability takes a hit because of the alcohol taste, and its sheer power. One bottle was enough for me... and if I had been sharing it with someone, a half bottle would have been enough.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- A dark burnt copper red color. The head is tick fluffy and very very light tan, but vanishes quickly leaving great lacing.

S- The smell is very true to form of an American Barleywine. The Hops are present along with sweet malt smells and nice dark fruits are also very much there.

T- There is a bread taste that mixes with the dark fruits giving a granola type of taste. The hop taste is there and provides a bitter taste.

M- Feels good on the mouth, the Alcohol creates a spiciness on the tongue.

D- Easy to drink.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried this big beer on tap last Saturday night at Deep Ellum. Came served in a Unibroue tulip glass. It was dark red, bordering on mahogany in color. Not much head or carbonation to speak of. The smell was really piney. The taste was very good. Sometimes I am not a fan of certain barleywines because they border on firewater, but this was a tamed inferno that I'd have no trouble enjoying. Very smooth in both body and taste, and very satisfying. Only thing that I noticed was that the alcohol really kicks with this one, so I am glad that it was acting as my dessert after dinner. No more beer after that one.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 650ml bottle with no visible BB date. Purchased ages ago from a webshop. This bottle is old; I've had it for nigh on two years and it may have been out of date even before then. Mostly stored in my garage. The label describes it as an American take on the British barleywine.

Poured into a Duvel tulip (twice). Bottle conditioned. A deep reddish-amber hue with faint haze and light carbonation. Produces a large head of creamy off-white foam that lasts for a few minutes before subsiding to a patchy surface layer. Aroma of sweet, heavily oxidised malt with a fruity character. Hints of caramel, grain, sherry/port, brown sugar, dried fruit, subtle pine, stewed hops, faint yeast and a serious whiff of booze. Rich and slightly cloying.

Tastes of sweet, fruity malt with a hoppy finish. Notes of caramel, grain, sherry, raisins, dried fruit, brown sugar, mild pine resin, faint weed, stewed hops and yeast esters. A warming whiff of alcohol lurks in the background, accompanied by a lingering sweetness and a hoppy bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is silky smooth with a light carbonation that suits the style. Lovely body that borders on unctuous, while tingly hop oils stimulate the palate. Aftertaste of sweet caramel malt, pine-laden hop notes, booze and a mild bitterness.

Despite the age of the bottle this is OK. Then again, I'd expect this style of beer to hold up reasonably well. It looks spot on, while the aroma and flavour are laden with sweet, oxidised malt, dried fruit and mild pine. Little in the way of aromatic hops but quite well balanced. Great body - just right. I reckon the booze helped to preserve this one. Not sure if this is produced anymore, but worth a punt if you come across it.

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Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the '08 bottle, it pours a deep and dark mahogany brown. It's a gorgeous color. The topping is short, sparse and off-white.
It noses of brown sugar, dark rum, ganja resin, peaches, and orange juice. It's an interesting and delicious aroma, but it seems a bit dialed-down.
Taste-wise, the progress can be thoroughly described as:
toasted grain-->caramel--->grilled pineapple-->bitter herb-->pine sap-->lemon rind-->cedar/cinnamon-->brandy. They problem is, that describes EVERYTHING that is in here. It's linear and offers no sideroads or detours. Nothing really meshes. It's merely and simply a progression of flavors. There's no melding, or complexity. It's just one thing, then another, then another. It's a series of compartments starting with malt, then hops, then alcohol.
The build is plenty thick and deep enough to let everything shine. It feels like a b'wine.
My gripe here is that nothing truly congeals. There is a series of tasty Barleywine traits. Great stuff, really, but they don't ever link up with any type of fluidity. It's all jagged, staccato, and separated. It needs to breathe and expand and deepen and coalesce....and it doesn't...
At least not yet. Age may do this a great deal of good. Fresh, though, it is skippable.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber, 10% ABV, 85 IBU. Mahogany in color, with some ruby shades. Tan foamy head, which held together well for the size of the beer, then faded to a nice ring.

Citrusy, floral and slightly grassy aroma. Not much else.

Bits of dark fruit and toffee stick out first. A lot of sweetness, with some fruity flavors. Bitterness is not as powerful as the aroma would indicate.

Good body, with lower carbonation. Fairly balanced. Overall, not bad, but not terribly exciting either.

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Photo of gopens44
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Somewhere between golden and orange. Hazy with a nice thick foamy creme colored head.

S - A ton of malt hits first with a twinge of honey sweetness following. I looked for hops but didn't find any.

T- Like the nose, malty and honey sweet with a grape taste as well. After a while a medicinal taste came through but not a ton of it. Just enough to notice.

M - Silky with not too much carbonation. Almost no aftertaste at all.

O - This came across a little more like an English barleywine in my opinion due to the lack of a predominant hop presence. Good beer but it lacked a tiny little "something" that I can't quite place...maybe it was the lack of hop taste after all...

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Photo of ClevoPiwo
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice deep copper or chestnut color with a decent head that dissipates down to a frothy ring along the outside of the glass leaving a nice lacing on the way down.

The smell is pretty good with nice malty aromas of caramel and molasses as well as a nice floral character of the hops coming through as well. The alcohol is a bit pronounced in the smell, edging on a slightly solvent-like quality, but not too much.

Taste is pretty good, with nice mouth feel and a characteristic malt sweetness up front and a hoppy finish. The alcohol is present as well, and perhaps a bit assertive.

Not my favorite by Southern Tier, but definitely a worthy brew!

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Photo of bjohnson
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ripe plum color with an off white half finger head that holds nicely around the edges and leaves a bit of film in the center. Huge malty presence with hints of sweet caramel and spicy brown sugar notes. Hop presence stings the nose with a pine and floral fruit aromas. Thick and juicy with a huge alcohol bite.

Malty and hoppy combination blends well with a balanced mouthfeel. Caramel, slight chocolate, burnt sugar, and molasses malt notes. Piney and spicy hop flavors. Juicy and coating on the palate with a thickness. An interesting and thick barleywine definitely weighing in on the American side of the line. With such a high abv, this brew isn't very drinkable, but still pretty tasty. A nice one to get a hold of if you can and another good selection from ST.

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Photo of BarrelO
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a goblet.

A: Good garnet color. Nice two-finger head, but it fades fairly quickly.

S: Carmel malt and citrusy hops at war with each other. Fairly solventy.

T: Again, the malt and hops pretty much cancel each other out. It's basically a neuter beer. Not too pleasant.

M: Appropriately thick and after-dinnery.

D: Can't say I dig it too much. Since it reminds me of Old Horizontal, I'm giving it the same score. It's almost becoming a tradition at this point.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 pt, 6 fl oz brown bottle, served in a snifter.
First brew 2007.

Pours a deep garnet with hues of ruby. Slightly creamy, off-white head that fades to a near intact sheet with pools of bubbles. Lasting strings of foamy lacing with decent strength.

Dark, yet ripe fruit: plum, cherry, fig. Notes of acidity with a sharp alcohol aroma. Spicy pine from the hops. Mild hints of powdered chocolate/caramel.

Creamy, semi-sweet tones of caramel and hazlenut; rather dry and powdery. Mild, dark fruit: cherry, grape, and plum met by a young and swarming alcohol presence. Subtle, almost bland flavors.

Medium in body; slick, smooth for the most part. A nice balance in texture with hops and malt.

The flavors are too tame for my preference in Barleywines. Nothing offensive, but not one I'd have again.

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Photo of birderbeerer
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light brown beer with a light and tall, frothy head.

Smells like a super sweet beer. No hop scent. Just caramelized malts over and over.

The taste is almost cloyingly sweet. Not quite, but it's close. It just seems like it's an overboard barleywine. No hops are present in the taste. Just a big bucket of sweetness.

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Photo of RedChrome
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A iced tea brown color with a huge red color in the light. Tan half inch high head faded very rapidly. Slowly rising carbonation in an average amount. Lacing is small sticky spots.

Aromas of cherries popped first in the scent. Alcohol is clearly present but not as strong as expected. Light citrus and earthy pine blend to balance out the complexity.

Taste is subdued alcohol which leaves room for the other components. Malt is a toffee and caramel blend, which plays against and wins over dark fruits including plums. Bittering finish from hops.

Thinner then most others in the style, but it allows for carbonation to really grab a hold and shift some flavors.

A decent choice. A great after dinner beer on a cold night. Not as strong alcohol profile as others I have had. A subtly strong beer with good flavor.

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Photo of Neffbeer
3.57/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle from last winter, poured into a snifter.

A: It pours a deep amber color with great looking mahogany highlights. A strong pour yielded a one finger white head that fades pretty quickly. It left a small amount of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of sweet malty goodness; caramel, biscuits covered with fig jam, vanilla, raisins, and some faint notes of booze.

T: The flavors follow suit on the palate. There is a heavy wave of caramel followed by raisins, figs, vanilla, and sweet booze. It finishes sort of sweet with a little kick from the alcohol. Overall a pretty smooth drinker.

M: Medium to heavy in mouthfeel. There are still some residual sugars here that really add to the overall viscosity.

O: A decent barley wine that comes off a bit on the sweet side. It is not crazily complex by any means, but manages to get the job done.

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Photo of Onslow
3.57/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

has a pretty big bitterness profile, what would aging do to this puppy .. . decent head, dark brown bottle color .. . has some pine acerose qualities mixed with tar .. . nor shall you! .. . enjoyable stuff, pretty easy to put away .... you gotta sink that shit kamara! .. similiar to bigfoot but less aggressive/full, but similiar .. a guy on a bike got creamed .. . tasty, but not overly complex .. .

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Photo of tigg924
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: minimal head, moderate carbonation, orange-brown, slightly cloudy

Smell: pineapple, pine, malt, hops, and dark fruit

Taste: hops, alcohol, sweet dried fruit, pine, caramel, and malt

Mouthfeel: harsh/bitter first sip then smooth with a bitter aftertaste, medium heavy in body

Drinkability: One is enough for me. This one definately lands on the bitter side of barleywines. This does have a good flavor combination and the alcohol is not hidden. To me this is not as experimentive as other barleywines I have tried.

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Photo of claspada
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aromas are quite fruity (dark and stone fruits that is). Some prune, raisin, licorice, berry, inviting. As it warms I can detect some more lighter sweeter fruits and some caramels and nice hints of vanilla.

The taste is quite balanced considering I was expecting a much sweeter beer (as Southern Tier tends to do). A nice thick, deep maltiness persists throughout. Definitely rich, almost like a doppelbock, a lot of dark bready malts. Subtle prune, molasses and licorice. Very little bittering but some aroma hops are present, Quite atypical but an enjoyable twist for the style. I like that this isn't another Pacific coast hop bomb. Finishes with a dryness that makes such a malty beer dangerous. As it warms it starts drinking like candy, with bright vanilla and light caramel flavors. Carbonation is fairly low, as to be expected, especially considering the ABV, style and the brewer. A shade lighter than a "syrupy" beer in my opinion

Overall, thumbs up. I appreciate the out-of-the box approach by Southern Tier on this "barleywine," although by today's standards I would classify it as an Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: A little light and a little heady for a barleywine, but the texture, active carbonation and clarity look okay to good. The head is over two fingers, but it's going down pretty quick. Too quick, there's now no head.

S: There's the remnants of hops, but it's not super big part of the aroma. It's piney and fruity, a little sweet. I don't get a whole lot of bready caramel like I like in barleywines, but it's alright. There is a sort of funky, solvently type smell to this beer that I just can't get behind.

T: Hmm, maltier and richer than the smell would lead me to believe, but I'm still not liking the way the hops work here. I get a little alcohol or solvent on the tip of my tongue, and over bitterness on the back of my throat.

M: Not particularly big for a Barleywine, I would think of this more of an Imperial Amber or something on those lines. It's full bodied, but not heavy, it isn't really encouraging me to "sip"

D: For a 10% ABV beer, this is pretty drinkable. Body is overwhelming, and it doesn't have the overwhelming sweetness or hoppiness of many Barleywines, RISs or DIPAs. I guess I would say if I wanted a beer to get real messed up on, this would be the one.

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Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 501 ratings.