1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Not Rated.
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)

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

864 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 864
Reviews: 497
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 68
Gots: 102 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerTruth on 04-02-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 864 | Reviews: 497 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TJBAIHWL
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Dark cherrywood red. Translucent, and many tiny streams of bubbles appear when held up to light. No highlights really. Buttery, sticky head that starts craggy and subsides to about 1/4" thickness, leaving behind ample thick lacing.

S - The lemony hops and caramel malt are in-your-face, and a little alcohol, spice, & toastiness is present as well. That all blends together to create a sweet, fruity, almost smoky aroma. There really is a lot in the nose, more than I can really pick out or characterize.

T - Resiny and citrusy hops up front, sweet & clean malts in the middle of the palate, and a little warmth on the finish, with the resiny hops recurring as it goes down. Dark caramel, almost chocolaty malt comes through later on. Resiny hops & dark syrupy sweetness linger and give the impression of a maple flavor that I didn't find anywhere in the body of the beer. A good, unique barleywine flavor that creates a nice little narrative in your mouth.

M - Thick, sticky, chewy, full. The mouthfeel of this beer screams "big".

D - While not as digestible as some Barleywines, it is pretty good for one so thick & heavy as this. It's definitely one for sipping. If you drink it too fast, either the alcohol burn will get you or the aforementioned resiny aftertaste will. At a normal Barleywine sipping pace, though, this one is just fine.

TJBAIHWL, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of rapidsequence
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. I bought it at Total Wine in northern VA in November. Since its a February release, I'm assuming its from 2/10.

Appearance: An attractive clear red-brown color and an off white head with good retention. Webs of lacing.

Smell: A nosefull of caramel malt, ripe fruit, and citrus hops. Less hoppy than I hoped, but it is a year old or so. There's an earthy, slightly vegetal aroma in the background that I often find in ST beers and do not enjoy.

Taste: Very much what I expected from the smell. The vegetal aroma is really not tasted much. Caramel and fruit. A little toast. A nice amount of hops bitterness, but again the flavor is subdued. Alcohol is barely detected.

Mouthfeel: Very little bad to say about the mouthfeel. Big and sticky with soft carbonation.

Drinkability: Without that slight earthy/vegetal smell/taste, this would be excellent. As it is, for me, its pretty good.

rapidsequence, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of arboristfish
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a deep red amber color, almost reminds me of a blood amber color, with a slightly off white head. The aroma I can describe as robust malt. Sweet and yet hints of hops as well. The taste is sweet and has a unique charateristic, also has a slight boozy character to it. The mouthfeel is medium light and I would consider this one drinkable.

arboristfish, Dec 22, 2010
Photo of beerhan
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

beerhan, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of Pellinore1
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, cloudy amber, leaving about an inch of light tan head. This fades slowly, leaving some lacing.

The smell is primarily nice, mellow malt. Caramel and vanilla notes are there, with just a hint of hops and alcohol in the background.

This beer begins with sweet malt, dark fruit, and caramel, then comes through with a bit of hops and bitterness for the finish.

Ridiculously smooth and thick, with light carbonation.

The ABV is almost undetectable, making for a very drinkable barleywine.

Pellinore1, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of Sachsenfreude
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

appearance; Cloudy hazelnut brown with a tan head. Dissipates to a film and collar around the edge of the glass. Very pretty lacing.

smell; perfect balance of rich, nutty and sweet malts and citrusy hops. Beautiful aroma and the American hops work nice with the rich malts.

taste; starts with a sweet, sappy, resin flavor, mixed with white sugar. Super rich and caramel malts take control, before fading into a cirusy bitter finish. Some sweet malt as well as bitters in the aftertaste.

mouthfeel; very warm and sticky, reminds me of an apple cider texture. The carbonation is strangly chewy, yet smooth and light. Finish crisp and refreshing.

drinkability; the high abv is very well hidden. This beer can sneak up and knock one on thier ass. Quite smooth..

Sachsenfreude, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of mtstatebeer
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, 2008. Pours an opaque amber color with a decent, frothy tan head, good lacing. Aroma is roasted malt, smoke, wood, raisins, light earthy hops, grapefruit, and alcohol. Flavor is raisins, roasted and toasted malts, caramel, wood, pine, and a hint of alcohol at the end. Mouthfeel is medium, syrupy, sweet, warming, and finishes nice and bitter for proper balance. Good beer, drinkable, well balanced.

mtstatebeer, Dec 07, 2010
Photo of ryanonline
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep dark brown with a fluffy white head and awesome lacing.

Smells big and malty but with a strong hop presence. A light citrus scent in the background. Its a bit cold outside so its sort of hardto smell.

Much more citrussy than I would expect from sic a malty beer. Lots of toffee and bran in there too. Big ol alcohol finish though.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light bodied and has a sweet coating finish. Very crisp on top of it all.

Very drinkable.

I want to have southern tiers babies.

ryanonline, Dec 07, 2010
Photo of chicano4craft
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dirty brown. Cloudy and slighty red. Creamy white head.

Nose is strongly caramel and toffee. Smells very sweet. There's a faint citrus smell way in the back. I'm not sure how old this bottle is. I got it in a trade a few months ago. But whatever hops were there have since faded to the background.

Hops are still hanging around in the taste. There back up singers to the sweet barley now. Not as caramel as I expected, but that's good. There's a bit at the end. It's by no means hot...but after half a glass I was feeling this one.

Mouthfeel is a tad syrupy and heavy. This and the hugh abv brings down the drinkability for me. Overall it was an enjoyable barleywine. I much prefer my barleywines fresh. I'm more into the balance of lots of hops and barley. Would love to try this one again.

chicano4craft, Dec 01, 2010
Photo of aepb1
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Brown body with an off-white fluffy head

S- Caramel, apples, some bite from those apples too

T- Caramel up front, some hops sneak in but a great balance overall. Hop finish lingers.

M- Warming from the alcohol, creamy and full-bodied. Its name is perfect and says it all!

D- Nice barleywine and it's a great expression of the style

aepb1, Nov 28, 2010
Photo of brdc
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.

brdc, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of dragonWhale
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009
I don't remember it quite like this..but here it is in all its resplendent glory. Still with massive chain alcohols stirring the pot, prickling carbonation and surprisingly large hop aroma and flavor contributions. It's pretty astounding that this has held up so well after a year. I only remembered that it wasn't *too* sweet last time I had it.
Brilliant ruby. I feel as though I can see right through it, the light shines so brightly, but it is false! It is cloudy in there and my glass is stained with the strains of the liquid attempting to reach my mouth and swallow me whole. The alcohols are evident in the smell, shining through the sweet caramel malt, blending in with oranges and flowers in the hops. It is still bitter, not acridly so, with a nice balance between its sweetness, its booze, and its dryness. The carbonation is excellent, helping to lure you into thinking that this dry beer is one also of reasonability. Do not let it lie to you as it has done to me!

dragonWhale, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of claspada
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aromas are quite fruity (dark and stone fruits that is). Some prune, raisin, licorice, berry, inviting. As it warms I can detect some more lighter sweeter fruits and some caramels and nice hints of vanilla.

The taste is quite balanced considering I was expecting a much sweeter beer (as Southern Tier tends to do). A nice thick, deep maltiness persists throughout. Definitely rich, almost like a doppelbock, a lot of dark bready malts. Subtle prune, molasses and licorice. Very little bittering but some aroma hops are present, Quite atypical but an enjoyable twist for the style. I like that this isn't another Pacific coast hop bomb. Finishes with a dryness that makes such a malty beer dangerous. As it warms it starts drinking like candy, with bright vanilla and light caramel flavors. Carbonation is fairly low, as to be expected, especially considering the ABV, style and the brewer. A shade lighter than a "syrupy" beer in my opinion

Overall, thumbs up. I appreciate the out-of-the box approach by Southern Tier on this "barleywine," although by today's standards I would classify it as an Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale.

claspada, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of WildTurkey
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into snifter glass.

A: Traditional Barley Wine color. Dark amber with a little red. Thick head that recedes. Beige head with mixed size bubbles.

S: Lots of caramel and dark fruit. Maybe a some pine hop aroma afterwards.

T: Big flavor. Sweet caramel, with more dark fruit like raisin, followed by some nice hop bitterness -- pine. The alcohol taste is muted -- which I like in this instance. You can only detect the alcohol by some warmth in the finish.

M: Medium/Full body but it also feels dry -- which makes it feel deceptively lighter. Some carbonation can be felt in the mouth.

D: This is a very nice big body, full flavor, barley wine. Nice hop character for a malty beer like this style call for. Despite the big flavor, very smooth and drinkable. High alcohol is only slightly detectable, so you can slug it back if you like -- instead of sipping. Well done.

WildTurkey, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of ekardz
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - good carbonation, little to no head, lacing along glass. Amber/red in color - looks alive and inviting

S - very malty, figs or other dark fruits, raisins, smells boozy

T - nice malt and caramel flavors, taste some raisins and other dark fruits.

M - surprisingly light-medium bodied, do not notice any carbonation, very smooth.

D - very easy to drink, hard to just take small sips; with 10% alc this baby could get dangerous, because the strength is hidden.

Bottle from 2008.

ekardz, Nov 10, 2010
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.

brystmar, Nov 03, 2010
Photo of Cyberkedi
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is strong and fruity, more like a hard cider, with tones of apple and malt along with hints of brown sugar, grapefruit and honey. It pours a lovely transparent mahogany with a decent pale cinnamon head. Flavor is fruity, mainly apple; malty, slightly woody, slightly sweet, with hints of caramel and grapefruit - and a fair alcohol nip that lets you know it is a barleywine. Texture is smooth yet edgy and leaves behind a nice, slightly tinny fizz. I believe barleywine fans will like this one.

Cyberkedi, Oct 24, 2010
Photo of perrymarcus
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bomber (22oz) served in an oversized wineglass.

pours a luscious, murky mahogany tone with a finger plus of a beige/tan-colored head which quickly retreats into a collar around the glass. spotty lacing evident; nothing to write home about on that front. both somewhat subpar showings (head retention/lacing) forgivable with respect to the strength/style.

fairly pungent nose is rife with caramel malts and a discernible hoppy presence.

taste follows through as expected with a malt-forward, hoppy profile with the hops becoming most notable mid-palate. pretty good balance between the malty sweetness and hop bitterness, the latter resonating through the finish. not as big an alcohol showing as you might expect for a 10% ABV... pretty tasty - might be a bit overdone with the hops considering the style (IMHO... though i admittedly prefer the english version, so i should keep that in mind) - but enjoyable nonetheless.

medium-plus bodied, a touch syrupy. easy drinking for a barley wine. looks like i'm going even 4s across the board on this one. recommended, especially to a barley wine fan.

perrymarcus, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of axeman9182
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, poured into my Duvel tulip.

The beer pours a murky dark brown, with just a hint of orange highlights when held to the light. The first pour didn't produce much, but when my glass was mostly empty I poured the remainder of the bottle in and was rewarded with three fingers of foamy off white head, with some solid lacing left behind. First pour was a 3, second a 4, so we'll split the difference. Nose is a little bit too boozy for my liking, but there's also plenty of toffee and some citrusy american hops. The alcohol is a little bit more restrained in the taste, but not enough that I'm willing to bump up the score. Toffee and booze give way to a bitterness that, while potent, isn't quite up there with say a fresh Bigfoot. The same bitter grapfruit note from the nose comes back to close things out. The body is rich, as one might expect, but it feels somewhat spry. I credit this to the carbonation, which is a bit higher than I might expect for a barleywine, but I find it works really well. The only thing holding back the drinkability is the amount of alcoholic heat I pick up on Backburner, otherwise it's a very solid American barleywine.

axeman9182, Oct 13, 2010
Photo of peabody
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out really nice clear brown with ruby hints and one finger of tan suds that make the big bubbles. Lacing here of course.
Raisin and date and fig newton with a strong yeast/hop that burns the nose. The alcohol is in here too but not overly done.
Taste is dates and bitter malt and bready with a wonderful yeast flavor going on here. Alcohol is very well hidden.
Mouthfeel is slightly sticky and the flavor leaves the palate very quick.
Drinkability is OK really for such a big beer.
Nice job ST.

peabody, Oct 11, 2010
Photo of cratez
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

650ml bottle shared with Adil and Christian at Chancey Smith's. Pours a clouded, deep ruby hue with a thin ring of beige head. Several spots of lacing line the tulip. Smell and taste are yeast esters, pear-like aromas, prunes, sweet caramelized fruit, candy apples, red plums, butterscotch, liquor, and a light, minty hop bitterness to end. Mouthfeel is rich, silky, fuller than medium, a bit juicy, powdery and parched finish with some warming alcohol. Pretty basic for the style but it's aromatic and flavourful nonetheless. Drinks well for the weight even though the booze is evident at times. Southern Tier never disappoints.

cratez, Oct 07, 2010
Photo of emmasdad
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.

emmasdad, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of hopheadjuice
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle, no freshness date.

Pours a murky dark copper/ruby with a slow rising one finger head that's clinging onto the glass.

This one is very complex in the aroma. Starts off with a big blast of grain followed by a musty earthiness/yeast funk with tobacco, wood, cherries, strawberries and a slight hop and alcohol presence.

Taste is thick and strong. Big bready, caramel malts upfront with a big assertive dark fruit taste. Hops have a grassy earthy quality being more subdued. Alcohol heat is present but not too strong or overbearing.

Mouthfeel is extremely thick and chewy. Full bodied ale with a semi dry finish.

Drinkability is a little low with the 10% abv but its not a bad beer by any standards .

hopheadjuice, Sep 29, 2010
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.

gfreed, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - One finger of off-white foam on top of a hazy, dark brown body with amber highlights. The head settles quickly and leaves light lacing on the glass.

S - Caramel and brown sugar aromas dominate with background notes of mustard, blue veined cheese, and caraway seeds with a hint of vanilla.

T - Sweet, bready malt and thick caramel up front. Some brown sugar appears in the middle with spicy hops and some mustard notes. Finishes with more brown sugar and caramel as well as spicy, earthy hops flavor and fairly strong bitterness. Lingering caramel takes on a more burnt, molasses like flavor in the aftertaste along with a hop character that becomes mustardy and tobacco like with a lingering note of blue cheese.

M - Medium-thick body, moderately low carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Quite drinkable for a beer of this strength and for the style. The alcoholic strength is, oddly, only really apparent in the nose and blends nicely with the thick, rich malt in the flavor profile. The caramel and brown sugar character is rich and simple but character is added by the spicy hops and the darkening of the flavors in the finish. The hop bitterness is surprisingly smooth and restrained for an American barleywine and this allows the beer to be unusually quaffable.

nickfl, Sep 02, 2010
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 864 ratings.