Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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 phishgator
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a stout pint glass. Big foamy white head and lighter amber color. The nose is some fruity hops, alcohol esters, and apricot fruit. The taste is residual sugars throughout. There is a bitterness that tries to balance the sweetness, but doesn't. The alcohol is actually well hidden even though you smell it. The body is filling; finished the bomber and didn't want anymore beer for the night. It's been a little while since I've been drinking a Barley Wine so I might be a little bias on the taste. Not bad just there are much better examples out there.

 563 characters

Photo of vfgccp
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Medium maple syrup color with a thin white head and ok lace.

S - Oak, booze, hints of brown sugar.

T - Smooth sweetness. Mild dried fruit character, but mostly oak and brown sugar that came through in the nose. Warm booze through the finish.

M - Medium body with a sweet finish.

O - OK flavors, but the booze is a bit astringent.

 337 characters

Photo of brdc
3.27/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Large capped bottle, kept in my cellar at controlled temperatures for two years.

Poured into a snifter. Deep dark brown, clear, minimal head. Below average lacing.
Aroma has caramel, citric hoppiness, but despite the two years in the bottle, the alcohol related aromas are still predominant - brandy like, for the most part.
Medium bodied, reasonably well carbonated, but hot - hot -hot. Caramel, bread, lots of sugar, some fruitiness, and lots of "booze".
The flavors are actually interesting, and blend well - except the excessive heat still kills most of the enjoyment. I could not finish mine.

 601 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle purchased from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/4" tan head over the clear burgundy chestnut brew. Head holds relatively steady, but tending towards a layer of small bubbles, with plenty of sticky lacing. Aroma is sweet malt, dark fruit, and alcohol. Taste is syrupy upfront for a moment, and then is overpowered by an extremely artificial-seeming fruitiness, with warmth coming on at the end. Mouthfeel is average to good, nothing particularly notable, and drinkability is quashed a bit by the fruitiness that (looking at the ingredients) probably is coming from some hop or another. Regardless, this one just didn't do much for me.

 685 characters

Photo of emmasdad
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not quite sure why this one is labeled as an imperial barley wine, when there is nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary, everyday, run of the mill American barleywine. Received as a generous extra last week, and I shared it with a friend the other night. Pours a ruby brown color with a thinnish white head. Aromas of floral/grassy hops, brown sugar and sweet malt. On the palate, I got a little oxidation, along with some lightly toasted malt, caramel and some mild hopping. A solid beer, but nothing great.

 512 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber, 2008 version, sampled several months back. It pours dark ruby, with low carbonation and an inch of light tan head. Later, the beer is almost still and the head reduces to a small collar. Orange, pine, white grapefruit and ethanol in the nose; still pretty raw. It tastes young as well, with thick caramel malts, fruity esters, and citric/piney/spicy hops that impart a deep bitterness. The body is medium to thick (approaching syrupy), dry, with light carbonation, and a medium to long finish. Still very young and rough around the edges, but will probably be great in a year or two.

 598 characters

Photo of jeffthecheff
3.21/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Twist off 22 oz bottle, no freshness date.

Pours a murky, dark, dark chestnut brown with a nice creamy head that turned into a cap.

Aroma is very sweet. Dark malts and dark, sugary fruits. A bit of hops, reminds me of an aged barleywine, which I'm not sure if this is. There is also this strange aroma that reminds me of cat litter.

The taste is incredibly sweet, without a big, noticeable hop bitterness. The sugars in this are very intense. The hops remind me of an aged barleywine again, because they seemed to have settled out but are still there. The bottle says to drink this at 42 degrees, which is very low for a barleywine serving temp. However, I learned that this is a good suggestion. As it warms up to close to room temp, it reminds me of a dark syrupy unfermented wort, but at the cool temperatures, it has a cranberry and dark fruit like flavors that are pretty nice.

Mouthfeel is incredibly thick and wort like. You can feel the unfermented sugars in it. It reminds me of when your drinking iced tea from mix and you put too much mix into it. The thickness is interesting, but its not smooth enough for me. Drinkability is tough on this one. Do they have to put all these big beers in 22 oz bottles? I was able to finish it, but like I said before, as it gets warm it's very hard to drink. Keep it cool and split it with a friend or two and this is as drinkable enough, but this serving size is too much.

 1,424 characters

Photo of Wheeble
3.2/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First off, let me just say that I absolutely love Southern Tier. I have yet to have a "bad" beer from them, in fact they are still one of my favorite breweries.

Besides from that fact, I was kind of disappointed with this beer.

Bought a case of 12 22oz bombers

It might just be my taste, or my assumption of what a good barleywine is supposed to resemble, but I felt this was over the top.

It reminded me of Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada, which for all intensive purposes I do not recognize as a barleywine

Initial pour was great in my snifter, medium to light initial head, very minimal retention and lacing.

Color was perfect, yet lacking in that classic barleywine bottle conditioned yeast haze I expect out of a traditional english or european BW.

Smell is floral and phenolic, but a little spicy

The first sip was very reminiscent of a cascade hopped pale ale, which kind of puzzled me. It finished very dry and a tad bitter, which I have almost come to expect from American Barleywines.

The second sip just reiterated that taste.

The body of the beer is definitely there, but even after multiple gulps it left a dry taste in my mouth almost to the point where I wanted a glass of water to rehydrate the taste buds.

Drinkability is lacking. I have an entire case of this beer, and I am hoping that me saving it for the next year or 2 will really reduce the bitter characteristic and mellow out the beer for the better.

Maybe I am spoiled because when I think of barleywines I automatically jump to the 10-15 year old aged classic Thomas Hardy's or J.W. Lees, but it seems to me that most american barleywines are overhopped and underaged, and for one of my favorite styles and even favorite breweries I am kind of disappointed.

I keep thinking to myself, "the 5 gallon batch of barleywine I brewed last July that I let sit till Christmas was much better than this", and I am not saying it as a personal preference, I am saying that as far as friends and connoisseurs that have tasted this beer and compared it to my own agree.

 2,052 characters

Photo of phisig137
3.17/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A- Pours a mahogany color, fading to deep gold around the edges... great range of color. One finger head quickly dissipates, and leaves nothing behind.

S- Complex burnt sugars, resinous hops, a touch of leather, and a fair amount of alcohol/hooch.

F- Big flavor, but lacking. Lots of unfermented sugars here, with caramel hints. Solid hop bitterness, with only a touch of piney flavor. Sweetness is overwhelming on the finish. Unfortunately the alcohol is quite hot and forward.

M- Thick and lucious, creamy and smooth. Very nice.

D- A bit low due to the alcohol presence.

Overall, I'm pretty disappointed in this one. Usually Southern Tier has some phenomenal beers, but this one just doesn't stand up to the rest of their lineup. It is worth a try for the price, but I won't be rushing back.

 803 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours deep, rich mahogany with a one-inch head that descends to half-size and stays (very impressive for abv level!). Some lacing sticks to glass.

Well, this is a hoppy-smelling beer for the style. Citrus and pine with resiny alcohol with plenty of sweet malt mixed in. Complex, but leans towards plastic.

I thought I would enjoy the hoppy profile, and I do to a point, but it is just too much for this style, and ends up with plastic/resin mixing with alcohol that is very sharp. Still, caramel and molasses are enough to give it more complexity and depth. It has a medium-to-full body. Very warming - I would even say hot.

Interesting, and not bad tasting, but the mix ends up leaving a plastic aftertaste and it's very sharp. Things just don't meld together well enough for me to get again, though I'm glad I had it once. Maybe aging will mellow it, but I'm not quite convinced it's worth it.

 904 characters

Photo of litheum94
3.12/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep, reddish-brown body that shines in the light. Two-finger, light brown head that sett;es to a patchy cover.

Faint aromas of apples, pears and figs. Earthy yeast and some caramel. Sweet alcohol esters, like brandy. Leafy hops.

Flavors of apples and pears, with some toffee. Faint chocolate malts with some caramel and bread flavors. Sweet alcohol finish, with faint earthy hops.

Some good flavors, but I wouldn't call this a barley wine in a blind tasting. Doesn't really have the qualities of an American or English BW. Good, but was hoping for more.

 565 characters

Photo of ShogoKawada
3.11/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From notes. 22oz into chouffe tulip.

A- Looks like apple juice. 2 fingers of a creamy head. Sandy/eggshell white... color of whipped butter? Great lacing, impressive.

S- Pineapple, cherries, a fruit salad. Very sweet.

T- Given the reputation of ST, I expected this to be sweet. It is. Very sweet, almost syrupy. However, there's some good heavy hop action that provides a much-needed counter. Bitter bitter hops, right where they need to be. I believe this one was dry-hopped, and the pine-resin taste saves this beer.

M- Hot, big, bold, potent. Pretty good, if a bit too sweet.

D- Moderate. Good, one of the better balanced ST beers, the serious hops really tie this one together. Still, not my favorite and I doubt I'll be revisiting this one too often.

 763 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice light brown color with a modest head of tan across the top that fades and leaves light lacing in its wake. Aroma is hot, loads of alcohol here with hints of caramel, lots of hops and a just a biting malt nose as well. Really a very odd profile from both sides. Very hot on the palate again with minimal balance to it, just seemed like it was terribly off balance. Flavors were all over the place with hints of everything but the kitchen sink and just an very hot, hoppy, dry finish that really did not work well for me at all.

Overall I was rather unimpressed here I have to admit. I had high hopes for this, but maybe a year or so will settle it down.

 670 characters

Photo of TangTKE402
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber glass into a Guinness Pint Glass and observed minimal head, and a deep dark unfiltered brown. It looked like mahogany that someone stupidly painted over with black, and then someone else was in the process of sanding the paint away.

The nose was faint, fruity, and a little bit of a surprising wheat and yeast aroma surfaced. Overall, nothing major to report on the nose.

The taste is slightly thin, and spicy in the mouth, with hints of cinnamon, a little curry, and mixed berries floating around in the mouth. This beer leaves you with a dry, hoppy swallow that is almost a little too bitter. The aftertaste smacks of metal and hops.

Overall, if this is your first Barleywine, it will not be the one to turn you on to the genre.

 754 characters

Photo of jpnasty
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer but i wouldn't say I really loved it. Of all the southern tier products I have had this is probably my least favorite. First off this doesn't really drink like a barley wine to me, it just feels to tame. I like my barley wines to be right up in your face and make you know that you are drinking a barley wine; this on the other hand drank like a very malty IPA. Maybe a year or two in the basement would bring out some of the more complexity and strength I expect from a barley wine.

 503 characters

Photo of Brouwerij78
3/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One word...Meh...too pricey. I would probably not buy again but would be interested to see what it tastes like on tap. It is a heavier beer, with a bit of an aftertaste (not a particularly pleasant one). Overall, save your money - there are better barley wine style beers out there...try Victory Old Horizontal instead.

 319 characters

Photo of bierguru
2.99/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

- clear amber body no head pours with a slight bubbly head but fades quick

- smells of rich dark fruits with a hop backbone

- big dark fruit sweetness right up front malty middle with a citrus hop ending maybe some slight cherry flavors no booze backbone

- slightly carbonated and some prickleness in the mouth

- decent beer not really the best american barleywine out there very mild in both flavors and booze flavor

 422 characters

Photo of biglite351
2.91/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - cloudy golden honey with a tall creamy near white head.

S - sweet caramel, fruit and yeast. A non so bitter hop scent in the finish.

T - a hop hit up front that is pushed by a caramel and fruit flavor through the middle. Slight roasted after taste.

M - medium coating with a mild tingle on the sides of the tongue.

O - not bad but not my bag.

 350 characters

Photo of beerhan
2.9/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Ah 2008 bottle poyred into a wine glass. Very little head with an orange color. Super thick and creamy. Smells veru fruity and tastes kind of bitter and reallt malty. Kind kf hurts going down. Thus is a real sipper that takes a while to drink. Decent beer for the price

 269 characters

Photo of charlesw
2.85/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

It's brown. Today it's listed as 'merican b'wine but it's obviously not one. Smells like a Hardy clone. Mouth and taste more like ol' lighthouse (sic).

Low head, low carbonation in general. Which is really too bad 'cause what this really needs is to be lighter, you know? I mean, it's syrupy like underatenuated extract homebrew. Very unfortunate. Just like ol' lighthouse. Bleh.

Smells like Hardy. Prunes and brandy and caramel malt... Whoa! Heady stuff! But the flavors of a Hardy just aren't there. A little bitter at the end, but lots of syrupy sweetness. It's an English style, eh? And not one I'd seek out again.

Suggestions: dry it out a little, up the carbonation, up the bitterness, make the grain bill a little more complex.

 737 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
2.83/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is a touch sweet for the style, with less of a hop bitterness bite, maybe falling closer to the English side of the spectrum. The fruity presence in this beer is massive and juicy. much caramel going on in the sweetness. Such an easy drinking 10% BW alcohol wise, but its getting kinda cloying after half a 22oz. There is a light hop touch of predominently citrus notes to help the balance but it's not the amount you'd expect from an american BW. Dinkability is great during one glass but suffers after that point from the sweetness.

 539 characters

Photo of dar482
2.69/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

This was bottled 2/15/12. Basically two year old bottle.

The beer comes in a super hazy copper color with ruby red coming through in the light. Not much of a head.

The aroma has oak chips, tons of oxidation, wet leaves, cardboard. A tinge of dark toffee sweetness.

The beer follows with oak woodiness, some syrupy caramel sweetness, but the beer is generally dominated of oxidation. Chewy leaves, potpourri flowers, wet cardboard. Not much bitterness with a slightly empty finish.

I would not recommend empty this beer as there lacks sweetness and the oxidation tastes horrible. Tons of oak, oxidation, without much sweetness. I had to pour it out.

 653 characters

Photo of chugalug06
2.68/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Update: One year aged - VERY sugary, this may be my last ST brew... Very bland and heat filled and non-unique, no loger fits a B-Wine. Mouthfeel is metallic and papery. No longer recommended.

A - Very little head rises... A nice cream colored ring forms around the perimeter of the brew. Color is very caramel with poor clarity.

S - Interesting. Very malty. Slightly metallic. Doesn't really smell like a IB-Wine... Vaguely fits the style... Not too much hop in this one. Lots of sweet caramel too.

T - Very smooth and well blended. A unique B-wine. Lots of grape and caramel. Slightly on the overly sugary side.

M - Near perfect. Good carb, no heat, and gentle smoothness.

O - Not quite what I was expecting, but still a nice brew. Worth finding and trying. Not sure what the price on this was, but I would think twice before paying over $8

 848 characters

Photo of klewis
2.48/5  rDev -38%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A: Pours a deep garnet color with a small bubbly head. Moderate lacing.

S: Small but balanced smell with both a fruity malt character and a dry hoppiness. Noticable alcohol presence.

T: Malty with brief fruit flavors that quickly yield to a taste of burnt plastic and chemicals. Bitter, hoppy, and alcoholic in the finish.

M: Full-bodied, chewy, and sticky with light carbonation.

D: Not bad, except for the disgusting taste of course. One of the worst tasting barleywines that I've had.

 499 characters

Photo of ktrillionaire
2.39/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - It pours a big and sticky looking red hue, with large soapy bubbles in the plentiful froth. This thing screams 'big beer'.

S - The smell is quite alcoholic and malty-roasted in a vaguely unpleasant way. The hops are grassy, but they are not enough to compensate for the lesser aspects of the nose.

T - I was hoping for an improvement in terms of taste, but alas, 'twas not to be. The beer is a big burnt grainy alcoholic mess. Again, the hop is not enough to save it.

M - Not that good; similar to malt liquor.

D - Not that good; similar to malt liquor.

 561 characters

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