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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)

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880 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 880
Reviews: 498
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 73
Gots: 103 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 880 | Reviews: 498 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jeffthecheff
3.21/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Twist off 22 oz bottle, no freshness date.

Pours a murky, dark, dark chestnut brown with a nice creamy head that turned into a cap.

Aroma is very sweet. Dark malts and dark, sugary fruits. A bit of hops, reminds me of an aged barleywine, which I'm not sure if this is. There is also this strange aroma that reminds me of cat litter.

The taste is incredibly sweet, without a big, noticeable hop bitterness. The sugars in this are very intense. The hops remind me of an aged barleywine again, because they seemed to have settled out but are still there. The bottle says to drink this at 42 degrees, which is very low for a barleywine serving temp. However, I learned that this is a good suggestion. As it warms up to close to room temp, it reminds me of a dark syrupy unfermented wort, but at the cool temperatures, it has a cranberry and dark fruit like flavors that are pretty nice.

Mouthfeel is incredibly thick and wort like. You can feel the unfermented sugars in it. It reminds me of when your drinking iced tea from mix and you put too much mix into it. The thickness is interesting, but its not smooth enough for me. Drinkability is tough on this one. Do they have to put all these big beers in 22 oz bottles? I was able to finish it, but like I said before, as it gets warm it's very hard to drink. Keep it cool and split it with a friend or two and this is as drinkable enough, but this serving size is too much.

Photo of TheNightbird
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Nice dark copper color, with a sandy head. That turns into a lacing of head.

S- Very floral aroma, with a nice backbone of fruit. Deep carmel flavors and toffee. Backburner covers up its ABV well. There is little alcohol in its aroma. There also is a musk aroma.

T- The Chinook hops come threw at first. Backburner is floral, piney and soft. There is not much bitterness that punches the tongue. There is nice balance between the caramel malt and hops. Not too much, if any malt taste. The alcohol is well hidden.

M- Nice full mouthful, carbonation is there but not too strong.

D- I like this beer. Could drink a bunch of there 22oz. bombers of this. This taste to me was similar to Bigfoot that has been stored for a year or two.

Photo of Kadonny
3.43/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber bottle into a tulip glass.

A: A dark reddish orange color with a thin off white head. Nice glass lacing.

S: Dark fruits, sweetness and floral herby hops.

T: First hint is dark fruits with some floral herby spicy hops, then the malt honey caramel sweetness flows in. A bit spicy but the sweetness overtakes the hops to the point of being cloying IMO. Finish is sweet and really over the top. Where are all the dark dried fruit flavors I love in my barleywines?

M: Medium with a coating prickly mouthfeel. Some bitterness but sweetness is lingering.

D: Low, this wore on me at the end of the bomber.

Overall this barleywine just didn't do it for me. Too honey sweet and not enough dark fruit flavors. I'll take an Old Guardian, Bigfoot, Old Ho or Old Ruff over this any day. Sorry, misses the mark for me.

Photo of CHSLBrew
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a snifter.

A-Hazy copper-brown beer, murky, remiscent of iced tea. Almost non-existent head, tan colored what is there.

S-Murky, sticky hops, resiny. Malty semi-sweetness, slightly toasty with a nutty, fruity one-two punch mixed in there.

T-Earthy and herbal hop flavors welcome in a reign of aggressive hop bitterness. This bitter is certainly necessary, as it's trying its hardest to balance a big malt presence, toasty and nutty in character, with a slight bready sweetness. Raisins in there, as well. Finshes bitter, with a slight fruitiness and a linger herbal nuance.

M-Medium full body, moves around surprisingly spritely, with a surprisingly lively, yet not overwhelming, carbonation.

D-Decent. A strong example of an amped-up American barleywine with its rediculous bitterness and hop presence. Drink up :D

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep amber hue with a half finger frothy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a heavy caramel malt with some alcohol and a sweet hop.

The taste consisted of a dull alcohol, dark fruit, raisin and an earthy hop. Some residual sweetness.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style with a slightly tongue numbing alcohol.

Overall a tasty and well balanced barleywine.

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Great looking beer. Deep rich caramel-red-brown. About two inches of head with moderate retention and good lacing.

S- Also smells great, although the aroma isn't too strong. Big citrusy hops with a strong caramel-malty backbone.

T- Some molasses, citrusy hops, some pine, caramel sweetness. Some alcohol too. Some rum raisin in there too. Roasty/peppery finish. Bitterness is pretty low. Robust and flavorful, I really like this.

M- Medium bodied, coats the mouth well. A bit of prickle from the carbonation.

D- Just a great beer. I keep looking for more flavors. Sweetness makes it a bit hard to have a bunch though. Not as grassy/earthy/piney as other Barleywines I've had. Kind of like a big, imperial APA, really.

Photo of argock
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a clear oversized wine glass. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $6.49.

A: Light caramel brown with strong off-white 1-finger head with decent retention and lacing down the glass.

S: Strong maltiness with sticky caramelly sweetness and floral and spicy hoppiness

T: Delicious strong pale and caramel malt flavors are highlighted by earthy, floral, and spicy malt flavors that are mildly to moderately bitter and give this brew a mellow quality that is good for sipping.

M: Smooth and silky with low but present carbonation and enjoyable sweetish pale malt aftertaste.

D: A delicious, solid brew that comes in at a nice price point with a consistent if unspectacular sweet caramel malt flavor accented with floral and earthy hops. A very good brew that needs a little more originality to move up a tier.

Photo of MVotter
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma from the mouth of the freshly opened bottle: malts, hops, alcoholic smells

Aroma after the pour: phenols, malts, hops

The Southern Tier Back Burner pours into a tall pils glass producing a three finger cream-colored head which settles back to a one inch layer of foam atop a clear-bronze brew.

This barley wine begins "alcohol sweet" and finishes with a very complex blend of flavors of hops, malts and diacetyls.

The mouthfeel is heavy and carbonated, sticky, chewy, oily.

The drinkability of this brew is dependent upon your willingness to be patient. The 10% abv is rather evident. IT IS A SIPPER. And, if sipped can be an enjoyable experience.

Just be ready for a very substantial brew. I've said it for other brews ... it drinks like a brandy.

Photo of jdubjacket
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light brown color with amber hues with a moderate head. Smell is a mixture of sweet and sour. Taste is both sweet and sour - brown sugar, alcohol with a solid malt backbone. Moderate carbonation. Overall, a pretty good barleywine. Not my favorite, but still pretty good.

Photo of snaotheus
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a 22 oz stein. Got it at Malt & Vine in Redmond, WA.

Pours a golden reddish color, very slightly cloudy. Little carbonation, less than a finger head, and hardly any lacing at all. Smell is musty and alcoholic with maybe a little plum or cherry with molasses.

Taste is bitter, slightly sour, citrus and cherry, but leaves you with an impression of sweetness. Smoke and mustiness throughout.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, but fairly sticky (probably what gives the impression of sweetness).

For as strong as this beer is, it's probably dangerously drinkable.

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

2007 Vintage Backburner Bomber (First Brew Two Thousand Seven on bottle)

Visited the family in Connecticut today and came back with a sweet haul, including this fine offering from Southern Tier, courtesy of my brother Matt. Nasdrovia Bro!

A - Reddish brown and clear, barely any head to speak of, but this is fine for a barleywine.

S - Grainy, toasty, with pleasant fruity esters. The hops are there, but seem to be performing the difficult task of masking the alcohol in this huge brew rather than being up front and in your face as you would find in a Bigfoot.

T - Toffee, caramel flavors dominate, with a nice dark fruit finish. Dried apricots, raisins, and sweet malts with the slightest hint of citrusy hops. The hops were probably more prevalent before aging, but time has given this a wonderful balance. Mellow malty, fruity flavor at the onset, with a mild citrus hop finish that lingers nicely on the back of the tongue.

M - Thick, smooth and chewy with a wonderful warming quality. Perhaps the best aspect of this deceptively mellow brew. Like butter on bread (which isn't to say diacetyl--it's just so smooth).

D - Wonderfully drinkable at a sipping pace. A quality barleywine to be savored on a cold winter's night--or, if you're like me, whenever you feel like it! (this is my favorite style after all...)

Photo of Brad007
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown color with a two-finger head that fades down to one finger. Nice presentation.

Aroma is full of cascade and centennial hops in the nose with a bit of sweet malt and alcohol warmth.

Taste is strong and full of sweet, caramel-like malt with raisin. Hops are quite strong here as well.Very mellow with only a hint of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is full of the lingering smorgasboard of flavors mentioned above. Very nice.

I like this barleywine. It's very mellow and easy to drink even when it's young. A bit of aging should expose the malt even more.

Photo of Atron67
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle that ive had for a year or so. drinking out of a harpoon tulip glass (100 barrel series style)

A- pours a dark opaque brown, slightly muddy looking from the side but actually appears to be particulate free when held up to a light. clear red shines through when held to the light. overall a pretty solid representation of what you would expect. a tan/cream head on top that built up a little then was stuck around for a little while. nothing big but for a style with so little head expectationgs, is pretty reasonable.

S- mainly a huge maltiness. ide say oaky, but maybe its moer just tannic. but not the astringent version. that of aged hops (cellared version remember, although only a year) not really much presence of floral hop character. although the malt profile that does shine through is distinctly bitter and not reminiscent of the more english styles of barleywines. there seems to a be a 'copper' tanginess to the scent as well giving a 'peppery' character similiar to other highly malted beers or like that of a bock. although bocks tend to be less forward.

T- pretty strong malt flavor throughout. starts off with a strong maltiness. not quite tongue assault, but its strong. contains that peppery character common to the more intense varieties and the tannic character i expected from he scent. doesn't actually ever materialize the highly bitter aspect however. all of this is pretty accentuated by the mild fine carbonation that gives it a little acidity, but lets it stick to its characteristics of maltiness. the finish is not sweet, however its not nearly bitter. its peppery character really defines the finish. has a bit of complexity in the maltiness.

M- has a thick body, but isn't syrupy. medium/light carbonation.

D- is a pretty solid barleywine that i might be drinking out of season right now, however its quite tasty and enjoyable though not really mind blowing. its a better experience in the style, however being one of my favorite styles, i have pretty high expectation.

Photo of Onslow
3.57/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

has a pretty big bitterness profile, what would aging do to this puppy .. . decent head, dark brown bottle color .. . has some pine acerose qualities mixed with tar .. . nor shall you! .. . enjoyable stuff, pretty easy to put away .... you gotta sink that shit kamara! .. similiar to bigfoot but less aggressive/full, but similiar .. a guy on a bike got creamed .. . tasty, but not overly complex .. .

Photo of BuffaloTapHugger
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured approximately 6 ounces into an oversized wine glass. Mellow tan head that dissipated quicker than cupcakes at a pot party. Glass allowing no lacing, but its got some killer legs!

S: Smells are deep and rich. Butterscotch, caramel, sweet malts, caramelized sugar, granny smith apple, some light alcohol in the back.

T: Sweet caramelized malts in the front, little hop in the back but is seldom noticed. Much of the smell notes come into play as well.

M: On the brink of full body in texture, some good carbonation, with a someone strong ABV which is a given. Sticky on the palate with the alcohol lingering in the back.

D: Pretty stellar sipper, just one can do the trick. Another great concoction from the Southern Tier, keep up the good work!

Photo of coldmeat23
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours a nice, dark ruby/brown hybrid color. One-finger head of loose, light tan foam. Retention is pretty good. Lacing is in threads and very sticky.

Right out front is a nice, rich, sweet malty smell. It is wrapped around a nice breadiness. Light presence of hops is sprinkled around. Nice notes of toffees and dark fruits.

With the label of 'Imperial' Barleywine, I expected the flavor to be much bolder than it is.
Big sweet maltiness. Light hint of caramel. Notes of golden brown sugars. Flavor of a dark fruit blend. Light hop presence.
It is actually so nicely balanced that I think it may actually be hurting it overall. I can tell that there are alot of potentially bold flavors in my glass. They are so in tune with each other though, that nothing really shines and it all falls a little flat.

Full-bodied and rich. Very smooth. Only mildly creamy. Nice medium level of carbonation.

It's good and easy enough to drink. The 10.0%ABV is well-hidden within the taste, but you can certainly feel it.
I expected this one to be so much more. It's almost a letdown.
Sure I like it. Sure I'd drink another one, if I get the chance. Am I actively seeking that opportunity? No.

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

A: pours a dark amber color. it has about a 1" off white head.

S: smells rich with some hints of toffee and caramel. you can smell some citrus from the hops. some what bready.

T: there is some breadiness with some toffee, caramel in there as well. starts off a little sweet but finishes with some hoppy bitterness and some alcohol.

M: very smooth with a medium body.

D: a good barleywine. i could drink a couple of these.

drank on: 05.06.09

Photo of froghop
3.54/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a clear burnt auburn with a small white-yellowish head, and great lacing.

smell is faint, some caramel, some grain, and a touch of spice.

taste is sticky, some spice, caramel, a touch of nuts, and a roastiness to it, ends dry and slightly bitter.

Photo of jjanega08
3.41/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A= Pours a viscous looking amberish brown color with a small half centimeter head that's a cream color but lasts a long time leaving decent spotty lacing.
S= Pretty pungent pine and grapefruit hops in it but there is a very noticeable alcohol odor as well as some darker sweet malts in it.
T= The hops come through up front but are gone quickly by thick syrupy malt. The malts are very sweet and not quite stout tasting but more of a thick brown ale kinda malt taste. There's a slight alcohol touch as well.
M= Thick and syrupy with a dry finish
D= Decent. This is prolly the first big beer I've had in a while where you could notice the alcohol so that's a little disappointing but it's still an ok beer. Not the best barleywine I've had but I suppose it was worth trying.

Photo of connecticutpoet
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hmmm... IMPERIAL barleywine? sounds kinda odd to me, given the usual strength of a barleywine... but anyway, I occasionally have a craving for the style, and this was one of those nights. I haven't always had a lot of luck with Southern Tier, but I was willing to give this one a go.

Appearance was a half finger of head atop a clear, deep amber body. Sure looks like a lot of malt was used in this one.

Aroma was of rich, strong sweet malts, hints of h ops dancing around the outsides, and a little doughy but not too much. There was a little bit of fruitiness thrown in as well. Not bad at all.

The first flavor I got was strong, bitter hop resins. These were supported by a deep, rich, slightly sweet malt backbone that had hints of caramel and pears. It finished with an alcohol backdraft. Not bad, but the alcohol took away from it a little.

Mouthfeel was full and rich, smooth and a little oily.

Drinkability takes a hit because of the alcohol taste, and its sheer power. One bottle was enough for me... and if I had been sharing it with someone, a half bottle would have been enough.

Photo of keaston
4.11/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Visited the brewery, tasted this and brought home a growler of it. I figured I'd review it while doing some homework.

A - Poured into my Middle Ages imperial pint glass. Mahogany brown with ruby highlights. A 1-finger tan head quickly gives way to a thin lace on top.

S - Rich and inviting. Caramel and dark fruit underneath a floral and citric hop aroma. I could smell this beer all day.

T/M - Toffee sweetness, almost like malt syrup, is first and foremost. Hops are there for balance and linger for a bittering finish. Alcohol is very well hidden, mingling with the bitterness only at the very end. Definitely can feel the 10% more than I can taste it. All around a very tasty barleywine, though not as complex as the nose might indicate. Mouthfeel is very good, with just the right amount of carbonation that is gentle on the tongue and does not obscure any flavors.

D - Since the alcohol is so well hidden for the style, this gets a high drinkability mark. Goes down very smoothly and quite tasty, nothing except the sheer inebriation would keep me from drinking more of this but alas, not today.

Though not saying much, this is probably the best barleywine I've had and I'll definitely look into getting a bottle of this sometime in the near future. If you have a chance to visit the brewery, do it.

Photo of Zorro
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear brown colored beer with a thick lasting tan colored head. Maroon colored when held up to the light to test clarity.

Smells spicy and heavily hopped. Scents of Pinewood, citrus, faint mango and pineapple.

Starts out sweet and woody with a melon aftertaste. Quite fruity the melon taste stays but a peach flavor appears along with the taste of chocolate. Little bit of spice here, mostly cinnamon stick.

Mouthfeel is full.

Quite a friendly Barleywine not near as strong as the smell suggests. This is about perfectly balanced between flavor and tongue friendliness.

Sampled through the efforts of Bentkentk56 and Secret Bunny 09 BIF.

Photo of littlekidlover
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I just poured a bomber half way up a wine glass. The head was typical of a high alcohol beer, disappeared quickly. The appearance is a amber/copper. The smell has caramel and hop notes, not too strong. The taste is caramel, dried fruit, citrus hop. Mouth feel is- gonna take my wife's least favorite wine tasting description CHEWY. This is a highly drinkable beer for a barley wine, dangerously drinkable at 10% alcohol. It does not have the cascade hop bite of many of the barley wines I have tasted- dangerous.

Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22-oz. bomber into a pint glass at ohoove's.

A: Poured a rich and burnt ruby, amber brown color with a fluffy head of white foam, leaving a sticky pearl lace. Carbonation seems fierce and is visible beneath the dark amber body.

S: Smells sweet, fruity and pretty herbal and citrusy from the type of hops used.

T: Taste is pretty well balanced, but actually quite bitter for a barleywine. The hops are in full force and sort of push aside the roasted malt and barley flavor. There are some fruity, grassy flavors and ripened vine fruit flavors, but the finish is a little stick and bitter as well as slightly sweet and toffee-like.

M: Mouthfeel is slightly astringent at first, then a bit more mellow, yet still bitter, towards the end.

D: The 10% ABV and slightly startling hops profile might cool your heels a bit, but if this were oak-aged from the brewery or cellared for a year or so, it'd be damn good.

The hops need a little time to chill out in this American barleywine. There's still a good earthy, fruity malt flavor there, but it could stand to mature some. Do yourself a favor, pick up a bottle and put it on the backburner for a while ... and I suddenly hate myself for saying that!

Photo of TheMistler
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber brown. Dark not in coloration, but so that it is nearly opaque. Off-white latte-like head, a pretty good amount. Thin but creamy cap remains after some pretty nice retention, a tad thicker than many high-ABV beers but reminiscent of them nonetheless. Lots of spots comprise the rather substantial lacing.

A pretty alcohol tinged nose. Sticky, with both hops and sweet malt. Citrus. Apple, and caramel for malt.

Hoppy, but with a solid undergirding of chocolate malt. Apple taste accompanies alcohol, just a wee bit medicinal. Toffee. Hops are grassy, a bit coarse. Dusting of cocoa accompanies resin-y bitter aftertaste. Dry finish, which is of course no surprise, given the ABV and the hoppiness.

Lighter bodied than anticipated. Carbonation makes its mark with tiny prickles that interplay with the alcohol. Honestly, it is fairly - and rather astonishingly, for a barleywine - crisp.

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 880 ratings.