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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

498 Reviews
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 498
Hads: 882
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 7.02%
Wants: 75
Gots: 103 | FT: 8
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: 498 | Hads: 882
Photo of Foxman
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
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 -8.5%
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 +10.8%
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 -10.3%
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 +5.3%
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 +4%
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 +0.3%
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 +1.3%
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 -2.8%
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 +6%
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 +6.8%
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 -9.8%
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 +4%
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 +5.8%
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 +5.3%
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 +1%
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 +9.5%
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 +6.5%
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 +1.5%
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 +9.8%
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)

Photo of sawbones420
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a complete slut for Southern Tier, so I'm getting around to reviewing all of their bombers, slowly. I don't drink much barley wine these days, mostly on account of the fact that they make me feel like hell the next day, even when keeping my consumption way down. Southern Tier makes me so happy, however, so I'll take my chances on a Sunday night...

What the hell is an Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale anyway?

Pours a dark mahogany color into my trusty Brooklyn Brewery snifter (my favorite glass of all time). Head? No. I'm starting to think my dishwasher leaves a thin film of soap on my glasses though, as I almost never get much in the way of head retention.

Smells deep, dark, complex. Fruit, hops, sweet malt and alcohol come through. Most notable are those hops, though. Not used to such a strong presence in a barley wine.

First sip is potent. A robust malt flavor hits the sides of the mouth, while the sharp hop presence centers the brew nicely. There's a whole lot going on here. The alcohol warms the back of the tongue and the throat as it slides down, leaving quite a bit to think about. On another sip caramel comes through prominently in the middle part of the tongue. Sweet to be sure, but not too heavy/syrupy to make you feel bloated.

I love beers where every sip offers something new and different from the last. It's interesting how your mouth adapts to this brew as you drink it. Definitely an awesome take on the style and a must for anyone who considers himself a fan of barley wines.

Oh and the burps taste like hops. mmm (1,555 characters)

Photo of brewcrew76
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in Sept 2007

A - Dark mahogany, ruby with a thin tan head and sticky lacing.

S - Spicy, citrus, piney and perfumey hops with sweet caramel, toffee and dried dark fruits.

T - Big citrus, spicy, piney hops followed by sweet caramel, toffee, cherries, raisins and prunes. Slight alcohol taste is noticeable but fits nicely.

M - Creamy and not as thick as other barleywines. Dry bitter finish.

D - A nice blend of bold hops and sweet malts. (451 characters)

Photo of Stoneman78
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at Sam's in Clybourn

Appearance is a dark amber hue, thin layer of off-white head dissipates, sticky lacing

Smell is dominated by hops [floral, grassy, citrus], sweet brown sugar, toffee, dark fruits, and alcohol

Taste is initially caramel malts and alcohol, transitions to pepper and bitter pine hops, then comes dark fruits and toffee, finishes sweet and pepper spicy

Mouthfeel is medium/full-bodied, thick and chewy texture, prickly carbonation

Drinkability is fair, but the alcohol presence and pepper distracts from the overall taste profile, this is a super-hoppy barleywine, slightly unbalanced but decent overall (643 characters)

Photo of lpayette
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased from Table & Vine in W. Springfield, MA for $6 a bomber.

At the pop of the cap you know that you wont be disappointed by this beer. With a hiss, the aroma immediately hits you with big fruity, malty, and hoppy notes. Ok, that was only my review of the popping of the top. On to the appearance-

Out of the bottle backburner pours a copper-like hue, but in the glass with more volume it develops a very nice ruby hue. With a hard pour the beer mustered about 1 finger of head which produced some nice brussels lace but still disappeared rather quickly.

The smell as mentioned previously, does not disappont. I'm proud to declare that I successfully was able to guess 2 of the 4 hop varities in this brew before looking at what it was brewed with (I guessed chinook, and amarillo). The willamette really made sense after reading it on the bottle, and the centinnial as well.

This is certainly an american style barleywine rather than an english... Very hoppy as expected, but to be honest... the combination of hops seems a little odd initially- although it seems to work better by mid bottle or so. I'd predict that this would be much better with some age under it... maybe a year or two? Malt-wise- subtle notes of caramel with a slightly chocolatey finish. The 10% abv is apparent, but not overpowering.

The mouthfeel when young at least is a bit lacking, but I predict that some age on this would yeild a much better result. The hops are so potent that they tingle around the edges of the tongue and you can practically feel the enamel stripping off your teeth... I suppose that's a good thing if you're looking for a hop bomb, american style barleywine. I tend to prefer the english variety, but again, with some aging, this might be spectacular. Also, the initial sips with the head present are very creamy, and I enjoyed those most.

Overall a very respectable offering from southern tier, and probably worth seeking out if you're a big American style barleywine fan. I know that I'll be picking up some more if I get the opportunity, but this time I'll wait at least a year before opening and let this develop a bit further before I revisit. (2,161 characters)

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

A - rich dark brown color with a large light tan head

S - dark fruits, brown sugar, citric hops, alcohol warmth.

T - Similar to the nose, rich sweet malts, some citric hops, some warming

M - medium full body, nicely carbonated, sweet aftertaste, warming effect.

D - a nice overall barleywine. (296 characters)

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 498 ratings.