Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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: 885
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 9.52%
Wants: 74
Gots: 103 | 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: 885
Photo of biglite351
2.91/5  rDev -27.1%
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 tekn0ph1sh
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
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. (646 characters)

Photo of BDTyre
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not too sure what an Imperial Barley Wine is, but okay. Nice coppery-mahogany colour with a thin, lacy cream coloured head.

Rich malts, wine and light spice in the nose. Very mild citrus. Nice mild coffee and brandy taste, hints of bread, spices and brown sugar. Hints of wine, cinnamon and raisins.

A bit light on the body, but the carbonation is good. I think the ABV is actually a bit low for the style, but that's not a bad thing. (436 characters)

Photo of bierguru
2.99/5  rDev -25.1%
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 woosterbill
3.51/5  rDev -12%
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.

Cheers! (804 characters)

Photo of augustgarage
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Courtesy of ShogoKawada (thanks!) - poured from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head oversized snifter.

Sienna body with bronze highlights and a beige pearling collar and isthmus. Decent retention. Light lacing.

Malty aromatics with caramel, toffee, and a touch of sherry as well. Lightly herbal hop notes.

Zesty earthy hops with a touch of citrus throughout - but the sweetness from specialty malt and a touch of oxidation is paramount. Moderately bitter at times, though this is by no means a hop-bomb. There is a touch of fruit in the drying finish, though the caramel never abates entirely.

Medium-bodied with sufficient carbonation. ABV is well hidden.

Uncomplicated, slightly sweet barleywine. (707 characters)

Photo of renniksdb
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, clear mahogany appearance. Little to no head.

Has a light citrus (grapefruit) scent. Definite aromatic hop presence.

Medium body. Not syrupy, but noticeably thicker.

On first sip, it starts out sweet with a mix of oaken caramel malt and sweet grapefruit. Then goes to bitter citrus and finishes up with a sweet, mellow aftertaste. A good mix. Without the bitter break it might be too much sweet.

Though it weighs in at just over 9%, for a Barley wine it doesn't have a very alcoholic bite. I'd say that's neither good nor bad...just something I noticed.

Certainly a well done brew. Seems like it would go well with more hearty and savory dishes, or at least something to counter the strong, sweet character of the beer. (730 characters)

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice ruby/brown color with 2 fingers worth of head that leaves some nice lacing

S: I'm picking up some sweetness along with malts and other than that, not much at all. Possibly some faint hoppiness

T: Same as the smell, an overload (not in a bad way, though) of malty sweetness. Alcohol is nowhere to be seen behind the sweetness. It's a good thing I like sweet beers, or else this one might get cloyingly sweet

M: Thick and heavy, with medium carbonation. Coats the mouth with sugary sweetness, although it's not as bad as some of their blackwater series

D/O: One is definitely enough because of the sweetness and abv, but other than that, this is a great barleywine. I'm not sure how this would age, I'm afraid it might get even sweeter. Drink this one up for sure (781 characters)

Photo of birderbeerer
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (317 characters)

Photo of DrDemento456
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Solid dark amber with just a half inch of foamy white head.

S - Smells like a nice dry hopped barleywine. Citrus rind with a sweet strong malt base and a bit of brown sugar goodness.

T - Wow who knew a little bit of dry hopping can make such a strong great tasting barleywine? Great hop presence of grapefruit and citrus along side of a great malt base. Sugar residue makes this beer have a sweet finish and hops strong enough to cover up the high ABV. Perfection.

M - Medium to heavy a definite sipper but easy sipper.

Overall it's a damn near perfect barleywine. Sweet, hoppy, and delicious. With an 8 dollar price tag it's not too expensive to enjoy on an occasion. Would recommend it to others. (706 characters)

Photo of BeerLover99
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep cardinal red body, fluffy 2 finger head, towering white lacing throughout.

S: big malt aroma, fine spice, citrus dancing in glass

T: malt smooth punch up front, long slow mild bitter big BOOZY finish.

M: medium/heavy, smooth semi-chewy mouth.

O: Southern Tier makes nice bombers, this is delicious Barleywine. It is one of my favorite beer styles. This is quite good, not world class, but you could do much worse.

ENJOY! (433 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle

A- Poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark amber color with an off-white head with great retention and lacing.

S- The aroma is a lot of malt like I expect in a goodn barleywine and fresh hops. 

T- The taste like the aroma has a ton of rich malty flavors up front. The finish features some bitterness from the hops and a good amount of lingering warmth from the alcohol in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is fantastic. It is medium bodied with a perfect amount of carbonation creating a perfect texture.

O- Overall, Southern Tier Backburner is a fine barleywine. It is a little maltier than most barleywines made here in the states, but it is deliciously crafted. I'm interested in seeing how this one ages as well. Recommended! (742 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
3.28/5  rDev -17.8%
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 Blakaeris
4.36/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours brilliantly clear ruby red. Head is dense and crisply white, dissipating slowly and leaving sheets of sticky lacing. Certainly one of the most attractive beers I've seen.

Aroma rich caramel malt sweetness. Hints of brown sugar, and a nice bit of plum and date dark fruit. Only a slight alcohol heat.

Taste is similar to the nose. Bready caramel malt and bunt toffee up front. More of the plum, raisin, and date dark fruit. Finishes with a dry cedar quality, and an earthy bitterness that brings some balance to the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium-full. Extremely soft and silky.

Surprisingly malty, very smooth and drinkable. The caramel and dark fruit notes are outstanding when matched with the dry woody earthy bitterness. A winner. (745 characters)

Photo of bashiba
4.4/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very nice shade of copper with deep clear ruby highlights and a light off white head that lingered for quite a while with some light lacing.

The smell has a great big toasted and bready malt nose, slightly sweet with a hint of maple.

The flavor is very mild for a big barleywine. Sweet and mapley with some nice big sourdough bread flavors and some light molasses.

The mouthfeel is suprisingly light bodied for the size of the beer with light carbonation and just a touch of alcohol heat.

Very nice Barleywine, I think I generally prefer this big malty style version vs. some of the more common barely hop monsters. (628 characters)

Photo of YouSkeete
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: deep and full reddish mahogany with a brown tint. Practically no head, with bubbly edges. moderate lacing.

S: Thick caramel malt upfront. Complex dark fruits like pomegranates, black cherries and dates. Hints of dry hops and lemon zest.

T: ultra sweet candied fruit and caramel is close to overwhelming, though smooth and dry malts do well at balancing out the flavor in the body. The fruits in the aroma are not far from the taste at all, definitely quite dark and complex. yeast and bready malts along with hints of maple syrup. Alcohol is present throughout.

M: Incredibly sweet, and very fruity. Medium body and medium carbonation. Decent fruity aftertaste.

D: It's a bit overpowering with its' massive fruity sweetness. Not a favorite, but still good. (763 characters)

Photo of animalchin
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle with no date. Purchased from Wegmans 3/16/11.

A - A dark amber/slight beige body with a nice lingering tan head that turns into a thinner film. Haven't seen a barley wine this light in color before. A lot of light passes through, even in a darker environment (it's cloudy out today.)

S - Very strong esters upfront - very sweet. More plum and black cherry follows up with almost no alcohol apparent at all.

T - This may be one of the sweeter barley wines I have tasted. Some slight bitterness upfront, but then this breaks down into sweeter parts, once again with dark fruits in mix. Not a single sign of hops, but definitely picking up a robust malt character that clings to the fruitiness.

M - Served at a warmer temperature, the body is heavy and cream like. Thicker than expected - a big add on to the already robust nature of the brew.

O - Simply a wonderful work. The label says this is rarely made at the brewery, but I hope this is reconsidered. Certainly more than worth a try. (1,005 characters)

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

I picked this beer up at Green's liquor in Atlanta. I think that this is the first beer I have reviewed from Southern Tier. Let's see what they are all about:

Appearance: The beer popped like Hell when I popped the cap...I still don't know where the cap ended up, but it bounced off of the ceiling. So far so good...glad that this one didn't pop. Overall the beer is a nice reddish brown and clear with a small head after the pour. The head had disappeared back into the beer after about 45 seconds.

Aroma: The beer has the typical Barley Wine aroma with lots of malt and some hops and alcohol making up the predominant components of the aroma. There is a little bit of sweet cherry notes and some sweet caramel in here to round out the profile.

Taste: The flavor is quite balanced for a Barley Wine. It has a good deal of sweetness up front which is a bit unusual and then the hops and alcohol kick in quickly to give a firm warming and a bit of dryness in the finish that lingers for a while. The flavor is a little bit "soapy", but has a defined caramel and reserved toasty notes to compliment. The body is medium to full with ample carbonation. The mouthfeel is quite soft for this style. I like this, but I don't know how much it meets the style.

Opinion: This is a really good beer overall, but I wonder how much it really fits the out-skirts of the guidelines for a Barley Wine. I really like the balance as it is more toward the malt than any Barley Wine I have tried, but it seems a little weird for the style. I am used to these beers being strong, dry, somewhat harsh on the palate, with a bit of chalkyness to linger long after the finish. A burn is optional. This beer is balanced and strong which is nice for me. Unfortunately I am going to have to rate this beer against the Barley Wine style of beer than rating it on it's own merit. I would speculate that I would give this beer around a 4.5 as just a beer, but it won't score that high as a Barley Wine when compared to more classic examples as Bigfoot, etc. (2,030 characters)

Photo of Snow81
4.41/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Red glow, so clean, no haze, no maltyness

Smell: Roosted malts, sweet grass, caramel hops off the nose

Head: Very small but last the life of the beer, light tan in color

Taste: Caramel with a deep rich citric, no heat is shown in the beer so drink it up now

Weight: Malty, nice and heavy

Finish: Stick, Stick, Stick to my lips with a bit of a Dark citric bitter in there (387 characters)

Photo of rajendra82
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The translucent body was sienna colored, and the carbonation formed a two finger thick head. The smell was sweet and hoppy, and very intense like the style demands. There were notes of dry fruit, chocolate, and licorice in the smell. The taste comprised of the same elements as the smell, drizzled in brown sugar. The hops were a bit lacking here compared to Bigfoot or Old Ruffian. The beer felt sticky and rich in the mouth, and left a spicy aftertaste. A great nightcap beer with a soothing feel. (499 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another bottle I got with that great trader, russpowell. Thanks Russ!

A lovely deep red pour, 2 finger head of foam, excellent lacing...great way to start things off.

There's heaps of caramel and bready malt in the aroma intertwined with a rather small amount of hop bitterness. It smells more like an English BWSA than an American but the bread seems to be a bit too strong on my nose buds.

More of the same in the taste but it seems to work better on my palate than my nose. Caramel is huge, bread is big but not as big suggested by the smell, the hop bitterness is done very lightly, adding just a touch to stop this from becoming too sweet. Goodly amount of alcohol shining through bringing lots of warming. I'm a fan of the malt as well as the hop so I'm enjoying the sipping session I have going on here.

Close or at full bodied, carbonation is on the light side, very nice mouth feel and pretty easy to drink considering the abv. I like! (948 characters)

Photo of sacrelicio
3.46/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Decent barleywine, but not a favorite. A little let down. Fruity pineapple and honey and cherry syrup smell. Taste is somewhat savory and sweet, with bitter pine hops and chewy malt. Solid bitterness on the finish. Mouthfeel is full but flat. Fairly drinkable, but nothing special. (281 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter. Bottle dates June 27th, 2010 off we go.

Straight in the middle pours a nice dark amber out of the bottle, going to a really beautiful red plum color. Head has some color to it of cream tan. Some leg action but not much pock mark sticking.

Malty dominant, and some fruit almost faint Concord sweet grapes in the back. Smells particularly boozy, some hints of chocolate also but it needs to be aerated to open up the chocolate it seems. Overall though pretty good nose, smells like something sweet is coming.

Malt chocolate and mild malt overtones for taste. Surprisingly not as sweet as expected. Grape taste comes through in the after finish after a few swallows. Hardly noticeable high abv loosing the boozyness of the drink upon tasting. Small hints of tickle carbonation.

Pretty good I have to say for drinkability this was quite tasty I have to admit. I'd get it again for the style. (930 characters)

Photo of MoreThanWine
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a slow to emerge 1.5" head. Clear dark auburn brown. Smell is like a strong double IPA. Taste is complex with very sweet malt, hops, vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, some fruitiness, and spices. It's a big barley wine which will put some hair on your chest. A solid A performance to me. (292 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured into snifter glass.

Appearance: hazy orange color with a thinkg white head.

Smell: Malty goodness. Some hops to balance the beer/

Taste: Oak, vanilla, malty sweetnes.

Mothfeel: This is a big beer that is very balanced. It s an imporession to wo worka n qiimqnten sign, (280 characters)

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