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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.

851 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 851
Reviews: 496
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 62
Gots: 96 | FT: 6
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 851 | Reviews: 496 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2010 02:37:48 | More by WildTurkey
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2010 02:30:59 | More by ekardz
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 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.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 01:14:33 | More by Cyberkedi
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2010 04:55:25 | More by perrymarcus
Photo of axeman9182

New Jersey

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.

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2010 04:53:56 | More by axeman9182
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2010 23:30:26 | More by peabody
Photo of cratez

Ontario (Canada)

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.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2010 03:13:29 | More by cratez
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2010 04:27:34 | More by emmasdad
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 .

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2010 17:19:30 | More by hopheadjuice
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 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.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2010 06:13:23 | More by nickfl
Photo of StephenRich

Ontario (Canada)

3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

In the early 1900s and before, a brewers first runnings of the mash (the first amount of sweet liquid that they would drain off the soaked malts) would always be the strongest, and would indeed be very rich given the large quantity of malted barley used at the time. Every successive running would allow the brewer to create the same beer, but with lesser alcohol and character each time. Thus with 1 mash but 3 sparges (filtering water though the grains) the brewer could create 3 similar beers of varying strength (ie. 12, 7, and 4%). This very first running, the strongest of the three, created a high alcohol beer known as a Barleywine.

Today a barleywine is widely considered by brewers and beer aficionados to be the epitome of brewing expertise. The style has become popular enough too that various brewing regions have adapted the style to their own preferences - and hence, the American Barleywine was born. This is of course a more heavily hopped, and drier barleywine than the original English style, and it commands respect world wide. From Up-State New York then comes the Southern Tier Back Burner Imperial Barleywine style Ale; a quintessential example of American Barleywine.

Although Southern Tier calls it an Imperial Barleywine, it is really just a Barlywine. These beers by definition are anywhere from 8 to 12% abv, and sometimes even higher. The Back Burner comes in at 10% abv, thus placing it directly in the median. An Imperial Barleywine would be 18 or 19% - they do exist. Southern Tier's recipe is a relatively simple one; the Back Burner is brewed with three grains, two hops, and is dry hopped with an additional two. This would seen very classically American to me. This beer is released every February so to enjoy its warming malts in the dead of winter, however you could easily hold onto it until the next cold season runs by. Beers like this beg to be aged smoothing out the flavors and bringing greater complexity and power.

I opened the Back Burner up at the upper end of cellar temperature around 13 or 14C (57F) and poured it into a wide mouth snifter. The beer was very silky and oil like showing great depth in color even before the growing ruby beer hit the glass. What formed was a richly crimson red beer with deep caramel browns, copper, and thick burgundy resting in the center. A short head just under an inch build up showing dense carbonation, tightly packed bubbles, and a soft light brown to tan color. It sat there with a creamy and silky cap to a monstrous looking beer.

The nose is richly warming with thick and gooey caramel malts. Its filled with the aromas of light brown sugar and toffee, but shows a definite dry side, and citrus hops are also easily present. Its not overly bitter, and seemingly less so than many of its American counterparts, but the hops come in with a proper balancing of the rich malts which show a strong presence and an obviously dry sweetness.

On your palate the Back Burner delivers smooth and creamy malt flavors at every inch. The richly caramel malt aromas burst into action now showing your tongue a wide dark fruit flavor that hints at dried cherries, blood orange, a touch of spice and hints of warmth. Toffee and caramel are really round here and melt across your cheeks bringing deep flavor everywhere.

The overall sweet malt sensation is dry, but somehow very fruity. It strikes a very nice balance between rich sugar and mellow malt. What helps create this illusion is a soothing dose of both bittering and aroma hops. The backbone of the Back Burner is dense malt (dark cherries, dried apricots, prunes, and figs), but it is made possible by a lightly grapefruit flavored hop aroma that brings a touch of pine, earth and spice along with it. It helps to soften this beer without being too bitter.

It is actually not very bitter at all, not compared to most American Barlywines. But it is dry, dry and malty. There is greater complexity in the flavor than I would have originally anticipated as I begin to get vanilla, a hint of ginger, and Grand Marnier. This is a warming and rich barleywine, but it dryer than I normally enjoy. I tend to favor the juicy, gooey barleywines. This though would make an excellent desert pairing with rich chocolates, or would be a wonderful companion to a aromatic cigar.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2010 01:47:10 | More by StephenRich
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 Xul


3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep, translucent ruby with a brown tint, capped by one finger of frothy, eggshell head. Retention is good for such a big beer and it leaves light lacing in its wake.

S: Caramel and toffee are strong up front, followed by raisins, figs, and some light earthy hops. Strong booze notes swirl around but never overpower the other elements of the aroma. Somewhat subdued as a whole.

T: Starts out with some light earthy bitterness before transitioning into dark fruits - raisins, figs, and some dark cherries - and some vanilla notes. A big, sweet caramel note hits near the backend and sticks around through to the finish. The booze is evident, but a bit more controlled than in the aroma.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, has a slightly creamy feel.

D: Booze is kept relatively in check and the taste is well balanced, drinks well for its ABV, but isn't particularly remarkable.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2010 04:04:20 | More by Xul
Photo of goblue3509


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

Pours a brownish reddish color with a hazy finish and a thin of white color head which gives way to a little lacing. The aroma is of a caramel and roasted malt backbone with a hint of earthy hops and a boozy aroma. The taste has a nice big malt backbone, caramel and roasted malts along with some dark fruits and a finish of a slight hop bite and a touch of alcohol. This barely wine is better balanced than some others with bigger flavors. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a light carbonation. The drinkability is very high, a very well blended smooth barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2010 20:52:08 | More by goblue3509
Photo of BeerAdvocate


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

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue IV:

Interesting, a twist-off bomber, you don't see that too often. The lacing drapes on the glass all the way down with a cobweb pattern. Clear and glowing tawny color. Deep aromas of caramel, golden raisins, roasted apples and a minty citric hop. Big, thick, creamy full body, some smoothness off of the moderate level of carbonation. Rich bread and caramel maltiness up front, hops come in strong, but are not overbearing and balance everything well. The hop bitterness couples with the warm peppery alcohol and yields a slight sharp tone in the middle. Bit of bread crust, raisin and ripe plum present. The alcohol is very warming, but not hot. Citric and mint hop flavors go well together and linger far into the bittersweet finish.

A solid Barleywine--balanced even with the semi-aggressive hop presence thrown at us. High regards for this beer within its style, which is without a doubt right on target.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2010 14:30:47 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of Amalak

New York

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

I had at Muggs Tavern in Williamsburg, Brooklyn off a pump cask.
A- It has a red color to it and has some bubbliness. There's a good foamy head that leaves some lace.
S- Hoppy with a hint of alcohol.
T- It's extremely hoppy and is very bitter. Intense taste is the best way I can put it. The hops overshadow everything else. There's some alcohol in there as well. Not bad at all.

Serving type: cask

07-28-2010 17:54:56 | More by Amalak
Photo of clayrock81


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

Poured a brownish body with slowly receeding one-finger offwhite head and lace rings. A great floral hop smell along with bready caramel malts. Medium to full chewey body with a strong wood presence as well as a bit of yeast and caramel/honeyesque sweetness. Feels sticky and balanced from minor citric hops in backbite and finishes a little crisp as well thanks to carb and well-hidden ABV. A well-balanced sweet and fruity beer that has a nice finish and is worth trying at least once.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2010 12:42:17 | More by clayrock81
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 joepais


3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Well finally got to crack this one open thanks to a great BA who sent it to me in the barleywine BIF. This bottle had some age to it. I poured it into a snifter and it produced a short lived tan colored head that settled to a light lace of foam on top of a mahogany colored brew.

Slightly oxidized note to the nose with some good caramel sweetness. The hops had all but diminished but I could tell they were there fresh. The flavors were spot on for the style and my liking leaning ever so towards the sweet malt. It had a medium feel to it in my mouth with a light carbonation

A good drinking barleywine not one of the best but a good representation of the style. Worth the try especially for the price

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2010 13:15:42 | More by joepais
Photo of silentjay


3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

nice dark mahogany with a decent sized light khaki head that dissipates quick, but leaves intricate lacing on the glass. a beautiful pour.

aroma is very malty and fruity. raisins, and other dried, sweetened dark fruits like plums. alcoholic as well.

taste is very malty sweet. lots of caramel, some dark fruit, and a bit of floral and piney hops try to balance the sweetness. They fail, as this one is a bit too sweet and alcoholic for my liking.

Can't knock the body, as it suits the style being heavy-medium bodied with just enough carbonation and a lot of sticky, syrupy residue.

Very sweet and with burning alcohol prevalent throughout, this is one to nurse, but lacks the complexity I would want in a sipper. Not bad for the price, but not my favorite of the style, nor my favorite of ST's portfolio.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2010 03:31:26 | More by silentjay
Photo of PittBeerGirl


3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

One of my last ST brews to review-thanks chris for sharing!

A- Body is a translucent red/brown hue with dynamic cloudiness. Pours with a thin fizzy one finger head that has little retention.

S-alcohol, spice, barley, caramel, and a candy sugar sweetness. Sweet, spicy, and boozy.

T- Sweet malt upfront with caramel and barley being the most prominent characters and a hint of plum in the background. A slight alcohol heat lingers.

M- Full medium weight body with soft carbonation and slight alcohol astringency.

D- This is a good barleywine overall. Very sweet and boozy-which can get a bit cloying after awhile.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2010 23:24:16 | More by PittBeerGirl
Photo of babaracas


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

Pours a mostly clear reddish orange with thin cream colored head, barely any lace. Smell: caramel, sweet with vague fruitiness - nothing jumps out, earthy and floral hops. Odd yeasty note in the back. Taste: caramel, brown sugar, big earthy hopping with a little candied citrus peel. Quite sweet and fairly boozy. Mouthfeel: alcohol cuts the body, though it's just carbonated enough.

More alcohol than necessary, sweeter than called for, and average character...what I've come to expect from ST.

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2010 02:18:02 | More by babaracas
Photo of darklordlager


4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opens with a spurt of carbonation...

A: Pours an opaque orange/brown with sparse lacing.

S: A smash of sweet grapefruit citrus, layers of caramel, and a bit of dark fruit. A bit of biscuit in it as well.

T: Sweet citrus, (mild grapefruit), biscuit, layered caramel, bitterness, & sweet malt in the finish. Very "balanced" in a way. just when you expect the bitterness or malt to become huge and overwhelming, it yields to the other elements.

M: Slick, slightly syrupy, but with a silky texture--work nicely.

D: A very solid barleywine. Not one to write home about, but very solid none-the-less.

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2010 08:08:39 | More by darklordlager
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 851 ratings.