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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.

839 Ratings

(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 Wedgie28


4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is good stuff. Cool color - HTML #43104 or so, transparency 95.

Minute foam that follows the beer to the bottom of the glass.

I eat barley in soup sometimes and I like it. I drink barley in beer sometimes and like it and this is one of the best beers with barley in it so far. So I really like it. You should get some.

This is strong but doesn't taste strong. Get a girl two glasses and she'll like you afterwards.


Serving type: on-tap

03-08-2014 20:24:26 | More by Wedgie28
Photo of barnzy78


4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tap House Grill - Des Plaines, IL
A - brown with faint ruby hues, creamy tan head sticks to the glass as it slowly fades
S - malty and earthy aroma, woodsy oak, vanilla, brown sugar
T - bold flavors of toasted grain, brown sugar, vanilla, oak, earthy hops, fruit, raisin, piny hop bitterness, boozy at times
M - fuller body, creamy, drying finish
O - nice oak aged barley wine. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn't change anything about it.

Serving type: on-tap

01-10-2014 04:12:39 | More by barnzy78
Photo of Immortale25

North Carolina

4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Palm snifter at The Local Miami.

A- Pours a reddish light brown color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before slowly meandering down to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a light sheet of surface foam. Spotty resilient lacing.

S- Piney hops lead the way with some cereal grain malt sweetness bringing up the rear. Makes for a pleasant balance. A bit musty with some alcohol fume.

T- The bitterness clamps down hard almost making my jaw tense up. Definitely a hop-forward barleywine but there's plenty of biscuity malt to complement. The alcohol is noticeable but easily managed.

M- A bit creamy, thick and sharp all at the same time. Medium carbonation and a fuller sort of body for the style.

O- Haven't had this in years and I've never had it on tap so it was a nice reminder of how awesome ST can be.

Serving type: on-tap

04-01-2013 01:47:56 | More by Immortale25
Photo of PorterLambic


3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Arrives in a snifter, a hazy dark brown with no head.
Smell is piney hops with some dark fruits and malt. Not exactly as expected but well balanced.
Taste is hoppy, sweet, malt, pine and some generic dark fruit notes. Balance is good.
Full bodied, warming and quite smooth. Extremely light effervescence, as expected. A nice sipping beer. Well done. So much better when it warms, easily twice the beer. Let it sit for 30 minutes at least and love it.

Serving type: on-tap

10-18-2012 01:45:29 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Rattle N Hum in New York, NY

A: Pours a clear medium to dark amber in color with light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that slowly reduced to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of caramel and toffee malt sweetness with some notes of bourbon and vanilla - quite sweet and malty.

T: The taste is very similar to the smell with lots of malt flavors including caramel and toffee tastes and some bourbon notes - there are some light amounts of bourbon and vanilla. Very interesting with some notes alcohol near the finish.

M: Full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with some alcohol heat in the finish.

O: This beer drinks more like a bourbon or a whiskey than a beer, this is definitely a slow sipping beer to enjoyed over quite a bit of time. I like the hints of bourbon like flavors and smells but this beer is big and does not hide the fact.

Serving type: on-tap

09-26-2012 02:28:40 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of WynnO


3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This dark reddish brown beast is quite inviting. Head is not exceptional---what barley wine is?

Smell is a bit weak but quite floral. Average, par, nominal, etc.

This jewel tastes pretty close to its definition. Southern Tier is amazing, and they do not disappoint here. Great balance of hops and heat. And it lingers...not too much though. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel is marvy IMHO. I like this beer for its politeness of knowing when to leave. I sense no yucky aftertastes. It exits like a champ.

I give this a 4.5 overall only because Southern Tier has raised its bar so high that it's hard to find a spearchucker amongst its vast selection of incredible beers that can rise above their standard. (lighten up---"spearchucker" is meant for its literal comedy here---someone who casts a spear a long, long way)

Serving type: on-tap

09-20-2012 00:01:43 | More by WynnO
Photo of charlzm


3.45/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed April 22nd, 2012 at Hopjacks, Ensley Florida.

Color is a clear, deep amber with a minimal off-white head. Some slight sheeting.

Aroma: resiny alcohol and a whiff of vanilla.

Almost a lacquer flavor at first. Sweet. Caramelized malt, vanilla, wood and alcohol heat. Some pepper. Not very bitter.

Thick in the mouth. Some carbonation prickle. Dry on the finish.

Easy to drink but oddly not super tasty. Considering I got this for $2.50 during happy hour, I'm not looking this gift horse in the mouth. Worthwhile, if not especially outstanding.

Serving type: on-tap

06-23-2012 19:48:32 | More by charlzm
Photo of Stinkypuss


4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)
Southern Tier Brewing Company
Style: American Barleywine
ABV: 9.60 %

LOOK: Dark ruby brown color, opaque, with a small, short livid white collar of a head.

SMELL: Deeply caramelized and toasted malts, booze, dark fruits. Smells like a big beautiful barley wine.

TASTE: Sweet sugar plum notes upfront, giving way to a malty body with a fruity estery English ale yeast profile. Loads of malt flavor, little in the way of bitterness, and a downplayed but present alcohol character. Warms the soul, as well as the belly.

FEEL: Full bodied, smooth, viscous, syrupy, but well carbonated.

OVERALL: This is a very tasty brew, and it goes down easily for a beer of such strength. A well made barleywine, and would age gracefully if cellared properly.

Serving type: on-tap

05-26-2012 21:49:25 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of kylehay2004


4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Thin head on a minimally hazy deep amber. Clearer than expected for the style.

S: apricot, syrup/molasses, terpentine (mild), sweet caramel malts.

T: Lots of sweet caramel malt, mildly boozy with some semi-sweet dark fruit like plum, apricot and fig.

M: May be the easiest to drink barleywine I have had. The usual sharpness than one has to get used to as they drink one of these isnt there. This one is smooth and likely this has to go along with the clearer body as oppose to others in the style. Light to medium carbonation and medium body.

Overall: very drinkable, more so than most, without lacking the flavor of a solid barleywine.

Serving type: on-tap

04-15-2012 18:46:01 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of thedoubler55

New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear reddish brown pour, that has a nice finger of head that leaves some nice lacing around the glass.

S: Weird smelling brew, sweet and spicy, a nose of caramel, citrus and sweet raisins.

T: Nothing great a large amount of dark fruits up front, with slight hints of citrus on the tail end.

M: Intense, high in carbonation and medium bodied.

O: Not to much contrast with everything in this brew, Not sure if I am interested in having this one again but might have to do it. Spicy and sweetness throw you off a bit on this one.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2011 00:38:20 | More by thedoubler55
Photo of Knapp85


3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This barley wine as poured at the ACBF 2010. The color of the beer is a dark brown color almost black. The head is minimal and doesn't leave much lacing. The smell is a little on the sweet side, some hops in there too. The taste has a burnt bitterness that fades into a subtle sweet aftertaste. This brew is average to me. I would try it again to give it another shot.

Serving type: on-tap

06-01-2011 02:56:09 | More by Knapp85
Photo of mjgooner13

New York

3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A coke a cola type color, a dark maple with hints of red on the sides. Left some nice lacing as i continued to drink.

S- had the usual sweet barleywine smell, of sweetness from some dark fruits and maybe some toffee.

T- Taste was not as sweet as the smell, which I think in this case is a good thing. Up front I get the same fruity tastes from the nose, some malt as well as licorice on the end. It was pretty well balanced throughout without really being dominated by anything.

M- Medium bodied and the alcohol was masked pretty well, so it went down quite smooth, which could make this one a bit dangerous with the 9.6 abv.

O- Def enjoyed this one, well balanced, hides the alcohol although you can pick it up a little bit, certainly wouldn't mind having one or two of these on a rainy day.

Serving type: on-tap

05-27-2011 15:02:23 | More by mjgooner13
Photo of tekn0ph1sh


4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this Barley Wine. However it was my first so I really didn't have a lot to go on.

It poured a brownish ruby color in a tulip glass. It had little to no head and almost no lacing.

It was a very pleasant tasty sweet beer that went down easy. The alcohol was well masked. I even tasted it warmed up. A friend of mine received a glass of it as a miss pour and did not care for it so he pushed it over to me. Even after sitting 30-40 minutes in a bar in FL without the AC on it was still very tasty.

I went to see if I could procure a couple of bottles of this and unfortunately there were none to be had.

Definitely a do again.

Serving type: on-tap

04-26-2011 16:19:16 | More by tekn0ph1sh
Photo of woosterbill


3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Cask Republic into a tulip.

A: Crystal clear ruby-brown body under a finger of tan foam. Great retention and lacing. Lovely.

S: Sweet, fruity caramel malt; dates, raisins, and citrus; spicy alcohol. Not great, but pretty good.

T: Dark fruits are dominant, followed by bready malts + citrus hops. Pretty tasty, but far from memorable.

M: Hugely carbonated, with soft fine bubbles exploding throughout the (maybe) medium body. Intense, but overdone.

O: I enjoyed this beer, but it doesn't really stand up well to the myriad of great barleywines available. While I was a fan of the citrus fruitiness of the hops, I didn't feel that they added enough hoppiness or bitterness to contrast meaningfully with the fruity sweetness of the malt. Completely solid, but completely forgettable.


Serving type: on-tap

04-15-2011 02:29:09 | More by woosterbill
Photo of waltersrj


3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour: Deep ruby red with a brown hue and a 2 fingered off white head. Sticky lacing on the glass and decent legs.

Nose: Dark fruit, sweet sugars, very hoppy, caramel malt, and toffee.

Taste: Dark fruits, prune and fig, toffee, caramel, very bitter hops, slightly cloying malts, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick but creamy with a slightly cloying feel.

Overall: a pretty good representation of an ABW, great hop and malt profile but not the best.

Serving type: on-tap

01-23-2011 07:06:45 | More by waltersrj
Photo of brystmar


3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Blind Tiger in the village. In the interest of full disclosure & fairness, let it be known that I'm not generally a barleywine guy (unless it's well aged) and I dislike IPAs / overly hoppy beer.

Pours a blackish stout color with mild head and poor retention. Moderate lacing. Hops and sweet malts in the nose. Bitter up front, sweet hops follow with hints of bittersweet chocolate and a bit bready too. Dry finish with lingering hops and a touch of alcoholic warmth.

Medium- to full-bodied, good carbo levels. Easy to drink for a barleywine -- honestly, great for the style -- but still not really my thing, even though I loooove Southern Tier. YMMV.

Serving type: on-tap

11-03-2010 19:28:35 | More by brystmar
Photo of gfreed


4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This arrived in a snifter, with a deep ruby color and a buttery and oaky aroma that was edged with cherries and raisins, vanilla and one or two coffee beans. The heat from the aroma was astonishing. The bitterness is on a level with a good stout, intensifying as it warms and exhibiting more coffee taste as well. The brown-sugary flavor intrudes somewhat at the end, but this can be forgiven. I mean, it's a malty, sweet beer. The burn is extensive and comfy. A fabulous fat and after-dinner beer.

Serving type: on-tap

09-07-2010 01:31:20 | More by gfreed
Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy


4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a molasses deep brown leaving no head. The sweet aromas are enticing and subtle rather than candy coated. The first sip has a pleasant sweetness of hearty brown sugar. The hoppy ending is fantastic. The warmth of the alcohol compliments the whole experience provided by this fine barley wine. The finish is smooth without a syrupy viscosity.

Serving type: on-tap

08-16-2010 02:45:30 | More by ArrogantDeadGuy
Photo of ktrillionaire


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 jzeilinger


4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very rich, clear looking amber/ruby color with a gorgeous rocky, creamy off-white head and minimal to no carbonation.

S - Has a moderate barley aroma, rye, citrus, and pine. It's not overly aromatic, my nose had a hard time picking up much more.

T - Very nice taste with caramel malt underneath throughout the sip while the citrus and pine hops flow over the top trying to squash it down. The tongue is immediately hit with caramel/toffee sweetness and some brown sugar which lingers to the end. There's also traces of raisins, mild green apples, and is mildly earthy. The hops enter after the start and exit before finishing with lipsmacking toffee sweetness. There's a coating of citrus, orange, and toffee bitterness left at the end.

M - Creamy and velvety on the tongue, heavy body, sticky sweet.

D - ABV is not so apparent, has a nice hop/malt pairing with neither dominating the other.

Had on tap but would love to have some bottles on hand to stick in the cellar for a few years to see where it goes. Backburner has always been one of my favorite Barleywines.

Serving type: on-tap

06-02-2010 03:43:13 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of CosmoHopHead


4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a very dark ruby brown with a one finger off white head. Very thick lacing coats the glass walls

S: smells like a very nice barelywine. Malts are dominate but blend well with the potent earthy hops. Hints on pine, biscuits, yeast, lemon zest and tart fruit

T: tart fruits mixed with a bready, buscuit undertone. Earthy, piny hops come through on the backend. Alcohol warms the throat as it goes down.

M: light carbonation with a heavy feel on the tongue and bitter to the cheeks

D: at 10% abc it's pretty easy to drink. Alcohol is well hidden at first but comes on as you drink it. Probably couldn't drink more than one glass.

Overall a very nice barleywine. Not one of my favorites but I wouldn't shy away from having again.

Serving type: on-tap

05-01-2010 00:46:51 | More by CosmoHopHead
Photo of DmanGTR

New York

4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes on 3/10/10. On tap at MacGregor's, I believe it's the 07 vintage.

A - Clear dark ruby/garnet with a well formed and retaining beige head. Very nice lacing. 4.5

S - Sweet muscat grapes, light caramel, hint of currants. Touch of carob. Wish the nose was stronger. 4.0

T - Big malty backbone, lots of caramel and a bit of figs followed by a healthy dose of bitterness and citrus. Finishes long with a touch of roast. 4.0

M - Crisp and medium bodied, well carbonated. A bit light for an American barleywine. 3.5

D - Too drinkable. Excellent. 4.5

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2010 12:47:56 | More by DmanGTR
Photo of DawnL

New York

3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

True amber with a little sticky lacing at the rim.

Pleasant hops with some alcohol on the nose.

Lots of alcohol heat. A cross between fine whiskey and beer. Wooden quality - not oak and not pine - more like bramble. Very intense, especially the alcohol.

This brew coats the palate. Has some residual sugar that collects around the lips but is not evident in either taste or aroma.

The drinkability suffers just because of the massiveness of this brew.

All in all - I love this beer!

Serving type: on-tap

09-18-2009 14:26:26 | More by DawnL
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A very dark brown color with quite a bit of red highlights. An impressive half finger of slightly off white head as well. Excellent lacing that was the first indication of how hoppy this beer is.

S: Hops. Just a wonderfully pungent hop nose. You do get quite a bit of malt and even a hint of raisins and molasses but damn was this hoppy.

T: Just a nice hoppy American barley wine. Tons of piney citrus hops. The malt was interesting in that there was quite a bit of other elements besides just the sweetness. Some dark fruit towards the end. Really nice and complex.

M: Heavy side of medium bodied that was fairly heavy on the tongue.

D: Damn this was quite a bit better on tap than it was in the bottle. The hops really shone though. It is a damn shame that we cannot get more Southern Tier stuff on tap being in the same state.

Serving type: on-tap

02-18-2009 20:47:13 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of Jayli


3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at The Abbey in Worcester 2/13
This beer pours a a mahogony color leaning more towards a plum color with an off white half finger head that holds nicely. Thick lacing that are present throughout. Nose is a big malty presence with hints of sweet caramel and sugar. Hops are also present with pine and floral fruit aromas. Alcohol is also very present in the nose. This is the first barley wine that I've tried and based off the nose, I thought that I would not like it. I was wrong! Taste is way more mellow than the smell - in a good way. Caramels, chocolate, brown sugar mixed with pine and floral hops. I found this to be very well balanced. Somewhat thick and juicy in the mouth. This is definitely a sipper, and with the high ABV not one to sit with for a session - however definitely a beer that I would have again!

Serving type: on-tap

02-14-2009 18:21:53 | More by Jayli
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Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 839 ratings.