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

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

839 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 839
Reviews: 496
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%


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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerTruth on 04-02-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 839 | Reviews: 496 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Arbitrator
Arbitrator

California

1.93/5  rDev -51.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Received in a trade from busch03. Thanks Waylon!

A: Pours a clear mahogany in the glass with ruby highlights when held against a lamp. The pour produces a light tan-colored head of two fingers' worth, but it slowly recedes into half a finger on the brew, and leaves some flecks of lacing down the glass. Really impressive for a 10%er.

S: Sickly sweet. Oh god. I was getting worried upon smelling this, thinking it was going to wind up tasting like the Cuvee One, which was a total sugar bomb. Caramel malts, toffee, honey, brown sugar, and fruits: pineapple / citrus and apple. Hugely complex, but it has me scared this is going to turn into an oversweet drain pour. Too much.

T: Surprisingly, it is not oversweet. Definitely caramel and some chocolate on the initial taste, but they're not out to make this a total malt bomb. Citrus hops make themselves known as grapefruit, orange, and pineapple flavors atop the malt backbone. Their bitterness carries toward the finish, where they work to blend with the more unrefined sweetness of honey and brown sugar. The finish is faintly grassy with a lingering bitterness. Some booze.

M: Viscous and thick, suggesting a lot of residual sugars, but the hops do well to fight them off. I'd be very worried about having this aged, though -- with faded hops, I think this would quickly become an imbalanced sugar bomb. Creamy carbonation. Slightly boozy.

D: I have another one, but I'm not looking to drink it anytime soon. I'm a little apprehensive about what it will turn into, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt since it is fairly good right now.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2009 07:56:59 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of ktrillionaire
ktrillionaire

Florida

2.35/5  rDev -41.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-26-2010 02:16:49 | More by ktrillionaire
Photo of klewis
klewis

Ohio

2.38/5  rDev -40.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2007 22:02:06 | More by klewis
Photo of dar482
dar482

New York

2.66/5  rDev -33.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2014 03:39:34 | More by dar482
Photo of chugalug06
chugalug06

Colorado

2.68/5  rDev -33.2%
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

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2011 04:00:14 | More by chugalug06
Photo of charlesw
charlesw

New York

2.78/5  rDev -30.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2008 01:46:32 | More by charlesw
Photo of ChadQuest
ChadQuest

Illinois

2.78/5  rDev -30.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2010 07:10:08 | More by ChadQuest
Photo of beerhan
beerhan

Ohio

2.88/5  rDev -28.2%
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

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2010 05:56:53 | More by beerhan
Photo of biglite351
biglite351

Pennsylvania

2.9/5  rDev -27.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2011 21:45:16 | More by biglite351
Photo of bierguru
bierguru

Florida

2.98/5  rDev -25.7%
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

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2011 05:38:12 | More by bierguru
Photo of Brouwerij78
Brouwerij78

New York

3/5  rDev -25.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2011 00:09:59 | More by Brouwerij78
Photo of jpnasty
jpnasty

Massachusetts

3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2008 21:22:15 | More by jpnasty
Photo of TangTKE402
TangTKE402

New York

3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2009 23:53:27 | More by TangTKE402
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.05/5  rDev -23.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2011 00:13:38 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of ShogoKawada
ShogoKawada

Rhode Island

3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2010 22:36:29 | More by ShogoKawada
Photo of litheum94
litheum94

California

3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2012 03:33:05 | More by litheum94
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2007 03:05:35 | More by jwc215
Photo of phisig137
phisig137

Virginia

3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2009 01:17:19 | More by phisig137
Photo of Wheeble
Wheeble

Pennsylvania

3.15/5  rDev -21.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2010 07:01:08 | More by Wheeble
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

3.2/5  rDev -20.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2007 00:38:13 | More by ppoitras
Photo of mmmbeer
mmmbeer

Massachusetts

3.23/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2009 20:31:09 | More by mmmbeer
Photo of jeffthecheff
jeffthecheff

Connecticut

3.23/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-21-2009 17:00:51 | More by jeffthecheff
Photo of emmasdad
emmasdad

Colorado

3.23/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2010 04:27:34 | More by emmasdad
Photo of sweemzander
sweemzander

Illinois

3.28/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. 17-07-07 printed on the bottle.

(A)- Pours a thick & dark mahogany amber color that actually cascaded for a second or two as a decent off-white head formed. Decent retention. Left some lacing here & there.

(S)- Toasted & floral-like figs & raisins with bits of vanilla, toffee, and roasted cocoa.

(T)- Thin, yet dry & syrupy. Lots of fig & raisin with some toasted toffee & caramel.

(M)- Kind of a lackluster carbonation level. Like I mentioned earlier, its rather thin & syrupy in consistency & texture.

(D)- A decent aged barleywine that unfortunately, might be too old, but I cant know that for sure. Very syrupy & thin for a beer that should have a good kick to it. Enjoyable, but I would easily gravitate towards other offerings of the style. I would welcome the opportunity to try a fresh one for comparison.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2010 23:05:07 | More by sweemzander
Photo of brdc
brdc

Wisconsin

3.28/5  rDev -18.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2010 05:25:22 | More by brdc
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Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 839 ratings.