Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "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.

Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Backburner - Barleywine Style AleBackburner - Barleywine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

503 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 503
Hads: 902
Avg: 4
pDev: 13.75%
Wants: 79
Gots: 112 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Retired after 2015 - new recipe/beer coming out in 2016 with a new listing.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 503 | Hads: 902
Photo of bosco7
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep garnet color with a creamy tan head.

Vanilla, caramel, waffle cone, light molasses, under cooked chocolate chip cookie, and some cherries in the nose.

First thing I taste is the heavy and complex malt flavors; molasses, burnt caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. A hint of powder chocolate and dark cherries in the middle. Some cinnamon and herbs in the finish. The bitterness and alcohol are agressive.

Full body with plenty of carbonation to counter. I think the alcohol burn is a little much at this point in its life and brings the drinkability down a little bit. Tasty barleywine, the malt profile is so complex. Aggressive to boot. Recommended.

 657 characters

Photo of ZAP
4.65/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big and well done.

A-Deep brown/mahogany...creamy 1/8 inch tan head.

S-Very hoppy aroma...sweet candied tropical fruits...also some toffee like malt.

t-Sweeter style BW which I enjoy....toffee like maltiness...also some berries, molasses and brown sugar....the hops are more of a secondary player on the taste but they still lend a nice sweet candied fruit presence.

M-Big and rich....full bodied...very creamy...what I expect from a BW..finishes smooth and sweet but not cloying.

D-Hell of a beer here. I love the rich malty BW's but what this one lends is a fantastic hop feel while never become extremely bitter. Top notch BW

 633 characters

Photo of dogger6253
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark and cloudy, can't really see anything. It's not black though, there is some brown coloring going on. The head is a strong, mocha layer of foam about 1/2 inch thick. Gorgeous streams of lacing coat the side of my glass. Pretty stuff.

At first I thought there wasn't much going on in the aroma, but I realized that there is a lot of balance and complexity going on. There is no "over-powering" scent, everything is in subtle balance. Overall, pretty fruity with some darkness going on too. Sort of like plums, rum, raisins topped off with a bit of clove for good measure.

The taste was more bitter than I expected, heavy hops upfront. In the back of the flavor is where the dark fruits and similar tastes hide out. There is a quick, but mellow transition from bitter to sweet and tart. I found the slightest hint of lavender mixed in as well. Kind of heavy on the roasted malt taste too.

This was pretty heavy, pretty boozy too. I feel like it's an excellent beer, but I don't feel the fruitiness came out as much as it should in this style. Actually, this tasted more like an imperial stout than a barley wine.

 1,117 characters

Photo of Kendo
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a pint glass. Body is reddish-coppery in color with a 1-finger cream/tannish head that retains nicely. No visible carbonation in the body. Decent lace on the way down the glass.

S: Not terribly strong in the nose is the first impression -- mainly caramel malt and something fruity. As it warms I get a hint of alcohol on top of sweet malt and fruit.

T: Nicely balanced between caramel malt sweetness and hop bitterness. I get brown sugar and toffee but balanced by a lingering sense of lemony pine or even spruce. Also a touch of spice and heat at the back of the sip. A very nicely balanced barleywine.

M: Pretty creamy in feel, a bit heavier than medium in heft.

D: Very good, particularly for a beer of this strength. I split the bomber with a friend and it went down more slowly than your average beer, but it was not difficult to drink at all.

 867 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 Foxman
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours a clear and fairly carbonated ruddy coppery amber. A finger of pithy beige head sinks to rounded hillocks of froth. Rolls of lacing coast along the inside of the glass.

In the aroma, toasted malt is sugar sweet with caramel and dried fruit. Toffee and vanilla join a muted citrus hop note. A mild swirl of dough is warmed by a puff of alcohol.

Upon sipping, roasty malt is initially rock candy sweet and dusted with caramel, raisin, and dark cherry. Creamy vanilla rounded doughy esters slide alongside a cozy warm cusp of alcohol. Baked biscuit is earthy and residual malt sugars preside but are soon dried by a mix of floral and citrus zest bitter hop influences. The finish is crisp but mellow. The hops assert late, but in the end they help complete a nice profile.

Full bodied, it has a sinewy, slick feel that lays fairly sweet and silky on the palate.

The aroma is a touch light and the hops take their time in the flavor, but the result is a homey, tasty barleywine that takes on a little British character. It goes down easily and the covert but husky ABV presents nary a hitch. It's no grand giant, maybe, but it's sure good enough to promote from the back burner to one in the front. Though then the name wouldn't be as cool. So never mind.

 1,268 characters

Photo of jamie2dope
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lately (perhaps unconsciously) I have been drawn to Barleywines by sheer evidence of the fact that I keep purchasing new ones. I bought this one for two reasons: I have never had it out of the bottle, and I grabbed a new blue cheese (Great Hill Blue) to pair it with. Poured a dark rosewood color, with a small white head. Nose has lots of grains that almost come off as honey soaked, followed by some brush strokes of stone fruit, and plenty of alcohol to go around. Taste is as intense as the smell, with some residual sweetness showing up at the beginning (perhaps the fruit and honey), and then ending on a much more hoppy, bitter note. Body of this brew coats the mouth from top to bottom, and leaves a very noticeable hoppy aftertaste. No question that this beer is big, with lots of hops and alcohol to push your palate around. One bomber is more than enough for me, but that isn't to say that it is not a very complex, tasty Barleywine. It is nice to see a beer like this with such balls come along. An impressive beer from Southern Tier, and one that I think would make a great candidate for some aging. Cheers

 1,119 characters

Photo of jmacdaddy2008
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tried a couple of the Southern Tier beers last night and I really like their imperial line.

Their Barley wine has a nice color. Deep amber with a thick head when dissipated it leaves some big bubbles and film on the side.

Has a strong smell of spiced fruits and malty richness. Gets better when warmed in my snifter.

Good full bodied taste, almost creamy feel on the palate. More of the spiced fruits and typical flavors of a strong Barely wine. Definite sipper, has a slight burn from alcohol, but still well hidden

Overall, this beer will only get better with time, but found it hard to age because of the good drink ability.

 632 characters

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.

 1,272 characters

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a rich ruby red color with a light but frothy beige head.

A sweet aroma of dark ripe fruits, sweet malt, and floral hops.

Tastes of sweet malts, caramel, brown sugar, and citrusy hops. Clean finish. The alcohol is well hidden.

Full mouthfeel, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

This is one very easy to drink and even easier to enjoy barley wine from Southern Tier.

 387 characters

Photo of errantnight
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Joe1510

Big citrus hop bomb at the moment... quite tasty young and fresh, but this really really really tastes like it needs a few years on it.

Pours a brilliant ruby red, perfectly carbonated with lasting head, lacing, and initial finger and a half of creamy head that disappears, as per the style, rather quickly.

Hops all over the nose, peaking around some sweet, malty notes. A slightly maltier, slightly less aggressive hop presence than a DIPA, but it's in the realm.

Taste has some awesome, incredibly well balanced hop flavor, a dry finish after a rounded, malty sweet middle, with golden raisin notes in particular coming through. It just tastes... simple. Malt flavor lacks complexity, it's perhaps a little spritzy.

Seems like a fine candidate to see what some aging does. The hops will of course drop out a bit, but there's a lot here. Some oxidative notes might help round things out.... or it might just get syrupy. Who knows?

Certainly worth the try, I'd gladly drink another.

 1,008 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomb, split with an amigo while planning our 3 week south african safari

appearance: pours into a pint glass, dark amber body, foamy beige cap, lovely little barleywine

smell: floral, boutique of hops, citrus and caramel malts - pretty

taste: a definite hopbomb, beautiful floral hop profile, citrus, pine, booze, thick caramel malts, brown sugar - 1 dimensional but nice

mouthfeel: moderate bitterness, medium body

drinkability: good

 444 characters

Photo of Vancer
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hojaminbag comes up with another sweet beer from a sweet trade - thanks guy!

A sexy beer pour, oaken cola brown, clear - with a very sticky tan head - leaving a sheet of lace in my Corsendork tulip. THIS is the way a beer should look.

Classic sweet caramel BW style aroma, and even with some hops lurking underneath.

And yeah, the quaff is semi-dominated with the hops - more than needed in a pure Barleywine. Reminds me of the Bigfoot. Woody and resinous. No way this is a 10% brew.

Southern Tier - you make great beer.

 525 characters

Photo of Avryle
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a clear, dark garnet, almost like cherry soda but without the active carbonation. Small almond-colored head even with vigorous pour. Little lacing but the consistency is so thick, the liquid coats & slides slowly down the side of the glass

S- Strong caramel malts and pine-y hops. Ubiquitous "dark fruits" such as dates & raisins and a sweet tinge of citrus. Booze in the background

T- Strong bitter hop presence along with heavy caramel malts. There's a sweet woodiness to it. Also burnt brown sugar and... citrus??? Warming booze finish

M- Very full-bodied, almost syrupy in consistancy

D- This is a heavy one even for a barleywine. Proceed with caution at 10%

 675 characters

Photo of Metalmonk
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at cellar temperature. Love these screen-printed Southern Tier bottles, and the overall S.T. design scheme is really great. The beer itself looks excellent. Incredible clarity through the copper/mahogany color with a soapy light tan cap. As the head shrinks slowly then disappears, large strips of lace ring the glass.

Big toffee/caramel sweetness in the nose, with piney hops taking a strong foothold in the background. Faint tobacco-leaf/wood earthiness in the distance.

I found the flavor to be among the most unique of any barleywine I've come across so far. Overall quality and enjoyment is a 4, but there's something else here I can't put my finger on that pushes it further over the edge. Kind of a sharp wood flavor, as if it were aged in a new barrel (ie. no bourbon or other spirit having hung out in the barrel). A bit like Fred From The Wood but not quite as green. Expected toffee, molasses, and pine elements come forth at the front of the sip, with only a pinch of the 10% alcohol making itself known. Then the woody characteristic takes over, with a pungent, astringent grassy element mingling and hanging around the rest of the time. Seems a little strange at first, but with time it really shows itself as a top-notch BW.

Mouthfeel is creamy, though not quite as creamy or thick as I'd like it to be...quite good, but something even fuller and chewier would really do the trick.

I wonder about the need for the "Imperial" in the name. The alcohol is hardly noticeable; it's not as if this is wildly alcoholic in taste or actual ABV. The flavor is very nice, definitely complex with its own individuality, but aren't barleywines kind of imperial without needing to call them Imperial? Maybe it's just a marketing thing, suckering in all of us who throw down their money for anything "imperial." Whatever the case, this is a fine barleywine that should be sought out by all lovers of the style...though probably not the best BW introduction for newbies.

 1,980 characters

Photo of BeerBelcher
4.26/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I thought this was an exceptional barley-wine. Hoppy, approachable, and (like most Southern Tier beers) a highly attractive appearance. I'd definitely recommend.

Most Southern Tier beers have a clear body and brilliant color, and this beer is no exception. It had a copper color and voluminous cumulus-cloud head. Aroma is strongly of hops, almost like a DIPA. Flavor is strongly malty but balanced with a real wallop of hop bitterness and some citrus. Conceals its 10% ABV quite ably. Mouthfeel is certainly stout enough, but still is quite drinkable and mostly dry in my mouth.

I would highly recommend this beer. I bought this bottle at 3 Cellars in Franklin, WI.

 668 characters

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.

 611 characters

Photo of TheBlackMallard
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have a snow day tomorrow so I turned on Heavyweights and decided to review this.

Pours a dark red with an orange/yellow hue into my Kuhnhenn tulip, no head but a ring around the glass.

Mmm, Smells like caramel, raisins, brown sugar, citrus, and pine. This is one of the reasons I love a barleywine.

Sweet caramel malts up front, followed by pine with a nice harsh lingering bitterness.

Heavy but it goes down easily.

Wow, this is exactly what I want when I pick up a barleywine. Oat and Gemini weren't my thing, this along with Chokat and Unearthly are all impressive.

 578 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Scarlet red body. Slight off white head. Lace is quite adequate for the octane level. Aroma is fruity and hoppy. I get the pineapple like hoppy smell and some sweet maltiness as well. Pretty nice balance between malt and hops for this bigass brew. Rich caramel malts lay a nice foundation. Citrusy and pungent hops accent nicely. Alcohol is damn near absent in the flavor. Slightly spicy aftertaste from hops. Good barleywine overall.

 434 characters

Photo of TheBCrew
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber poured into 2 goblets. One finger of off-white head which slowly dissipates leaving lots of sticky lacing. Dark ruby color, good clarity. Aroma is spicy and citrusy with hints of toffee, dates and little bit of fusel alcohol in the back end of the nose. Taste is shockingly smooth from an exceptionally balanced brew. Flavors of caramel, prunes and citrusy spice present themselves for a slightly dry finish. Medium-heavy mouthfeel with great drinkability. This one sneaks up on you!

 497 characters

Photo of Douglas14
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, Southern Tier is steadily making its way up my list of favorite breweries; they have not disappointed me yet and Back Burner further strengthens their bid (march madness has gotten to me) for a top 5 spot. Anyway, moving along...

The beers pours the darkest red I have ever seen; its has a deep ruby color that appears to let light in but not escape. It has a nice off-white head with great retention and leaves a considerable amount of lace. The aroma is heavily of roasted malts, hops, some tart fruits and lots of dough/ bread. The flavor is very sweet and bitter; hops, tons of barley, biscuits, and fruits (berry fruits). It has a great start and finishes with a noticeable amount of alcohol burn. Leaves your mouth dry initially but the flavor last for a long time afterwards.

Incredible beer.

 806 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bomber in a recent trade with kirok1999. The bottle says it was the first beer of 2007 so it must be about a year old now. Dark red color that is almost brown but not quite. The flavor smells great, hoppy, toffee, West Coast. The flavor follows up with a chewy, hop-laden taste. Lots of hops in this one and that is how I like it. Given how good this tastes now I bet a couple years will treat this beer well. Best beer I have had from Southern Tier but I'm biased toward barleywines.

 493 characters

Photo of LittleBreeze
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ignore the first sip or two. After it coats the tongue, this beer starts to come into its own. Serious hop blend and malty tongue twisting action. Carmel sweetness is appreciated. This isn't an alcohol bomb. Imo the abv is well hidden. But there was a sneak attack. Be careful.

 277 characters

Photo of cooncat
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving from a 22 oz bomber, decanted into a Sam Adams glass.

A firm pour yields a ruby-garnet colored brew with a thick one fingered head, which subsides to a thin cap. Decent lacing is evident on the glass.

Nose is predominently sweet malt in character, with dark fruit coming to the fore. The bottle states 85 IBUs, but none of those hops make it into the nose.

The taste is a full bodied sweet malt bomb! Dark fruit, cherries, mixed with molasses ... a sweetness I didn't expect. Like the nose, the 85 IBUs don't make much of a showing. In fact, they are pretty much completely buried. Mouthfeel is huge, not just full. Wonderfully warming, the alcohol is not really a force in the taste. It is just subtle; a subdued 'backburner' type of warming, especially as the beer warms. Despite the sweetness, I did not find it cloying; just amazingly delicious. This barleywine is dangerously drinkable, so enjoy responsibly. Highly recommended ... go out of your way to find this one.

Na Zdravje!

 997 characters

Photo of DrinkinBuddy
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked-up this bad boy at the Empty Pint. For those who don't know: that's Southern Tier's Bar. Gotta thank Cameron and Ryan for this one!! Poured a nice dark ruby/brown with a delicious off-white head(1 finger). Smells sweet and sultry. Taste is definately sweet malts with ripened dark fruits mixed and a bit of hop bite to match. A very refreshing and appealing barleywine. More enjoyable than Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot BW. Mouthfeel is moderate and slightly chewy. Not too thick. Drinkability, is pretty damn good due to the amazing covering of the 10.00 abv. A very nice BW. I can't wait to crack the one I've been storing for the last 2 years!

 647 characters

Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 503 ratings.