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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 DrKnoskelson
4.37/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle

A - Nice amber red/brown color. Pours even, decent head. No lace in glass.

S - Very pungent aroma. Pronounced malt nose with a hoppy back-bone.

T - Initial hop bitterness melts into sweet malt taste leads.

M - Subtle alcohol presence that develops with time.

D - While I was somewhat disappointed in Southern Tiers Barleywine, this is a good brew. I was hoping for hops than malt. Low alcohol taste makes this beer easy drinking.

Photo of rebelthrower
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Dark red/rust in color. Off-white head that took a while to dissipate.

S-Smells sweet, strong barley and a little bit of hops

T- Rich with malt. Alcohol is not as strong as originally expected. a bit spicy on the tongue.

M- Mid amount of carbonation. Body wasn't to heavy. Nothing stands out as a unique taste.

D- Easy to drink. Not overwhelmed with alcohol. Overall the beer is pretty good. I was expect more though.

Photo of Jayli
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at The Abbey in Worcester 2/13
This beer pours a a mahogony color leaning more towards a plum color with an off white half finger head that holds nicely. Thick lacing that are present throughout. Nose is a big malty presence with hints of sweet caramel and sugar. Hops are also present with pine and floral fruit aromas. Alcohol is also very present in the nose. This is the first barley wine that I've tried and based off the nose, I thought that I would not like it. I was wrong! Taste is way more mellow than the smell - in a good way. Caramels, chocolate, brown sugar mixed with pine and floral hops. I found this to be very well balanced. Somewhat thick and juicy in the mouth. This is definitely a sipper, and with the high ABV not one to sit with for a session - however definitely a beer that I would have again!

Photo of phisig137
3.17/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A- Pours a mahogany color, fading to deep gold around the edges... great range of color. One finger head quickly dissipates, and leaves nothing behind.

S- Complex burnt sugars, resinous hops, a touch of leather, and a fair amount of alcohol/hooch.

F- Big flavor, but lacking. Lots of unfermented sugars here, with caramel hints. Solid hop bitterness, with only a touch of piney flavor. Sweetness is overwhelming on the finish. Unfortunately the alcohol is quite hot and forward.

M- Thick and lucious, creamy and smooth. Very nice.

D- A bit low due to the alcohol presence.

Overall, I'm pretty disappointed in this one. Usually Southern Tier has some phenomenal beers, but this one just doesn't stand up to the rest of their lineup. It is worth a try for the price, but I won't be rushing back.

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

This poured a slightly hazy mahogany with a bit of tan head. It smelled like fresh copper and lemon hops, with surprisingly little malt, but a bit of brown sugar and oak. It tasted like copper and citrus hops with a bit of burnt caramel, roasted barley, and vanilla oak. It was slightly thick with some carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this was very mild and plain for a barleywine. It had a nice clean flavor and good body, but it didn't have any unique character at all. It was more like an imperial amber or IPA, which was fairly disappointing to me. It hid the alcohol decently, so it was easy enough to drink, but I was really hoping for something more. This could conceivably improve (a lot) with age, if it develops a much stronger malt character. But it's not worth much fresh.

Photo of biegaman
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Iron red oxide with the slimmest bronzing trim. The beer is stainlessly clear although its deep tone yields distorted transparency. Nevertheless, its complexion is brilliant and its body glows. Despite the bare center, a sandy fence of lace has mushroomed up along its perimeter and serves to fatten up the otherwise barren surface of the beer.

The beer is brewed with Amarillo, Willamette, Chinook and Centennial - if there is a better cast of hops I'd like to know about it. Let me tell you - this smells wonderful. It's an ambrosial, leafy, pine-scented bouquet with a backdrop of scorched caramel and singed bread crust. It is as sticky sweet and tree sappy bitter as any American barleywine I've come across.

Big fat hop cones ladled with caramel and finally dipped in chocolate - this is the delicious profile of Southern Tier's barleywine. The hops really do play an unmistakable role contributing notes of spice, pine, and above all else dried citruisy fruit. What a power struggle between hops and malt! It has caramel crusted toffee wafers coated with citrus zest. It's an ultra-hoppy flavour that indulges the taste buds without numbing them.

Please, defined "drinkability" for me. Granted, this sample has had just about two years to mellow in the cellar but it is as smooth and quaffable of a 10% beer as you can expect to ever find. I don't believe that barleywines should necessarily be meant to be quaffable in this sense, but the fact that Back Burner is means that it's disappearing from the glass at a much faster pace than was expected.

And why wouldn't it? Like its supposed 85 IBU's, the alcohol is scarcely noted. The bottle could read 7% and I'd believe it; the alcohol plays no real factor in determining drinkability. The beer drinks like a sweet caramel-hop smoothie with the taste of biscuits and pine lingering pleasantly. Notes of candied-fruits and caramelized malts please the palate without overwhelming it. Each sip simply entices you more so to take the next.

Southern Tier had already proven to me that they could swim in high gravity waters but their barleywine certainly confirms that. Anything they release in a 650ml bottle is well worth picking up. I'm reminded of a few reputable West Coast offerings but wonder if even they are as good as the drink left in front of me. Back Burner is so aggressively hopped yet balanced with such finesse, I must recommend this to any fan of the style.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This large bottle aged two years in biegaman's cellar, thanks for sharing. Pours a murky, caramel brown with tan head that settled in short order, wispy streaks remain with minor lacing and a ring. Sweet caramel-molasses nose, malts, a fleeting malty aroma interspersed with a hoppy backdrop yet present. Taste is sweet, bitter, sticky toffee with a long finishthat pleases. Smooth texture in the mouth, somewhat like a sherry but then a viscosity that says big time barley wine. This is not my favourite beer style but one I respect when it's done right and this is certainly one of the finer I've come across, exceedingly drinkable. The alcohol can't be denied yet it blends well and is not overpowering. The hops not yet faded, they flirt with the malty backdrop teasing your tastebuds with a complex structure that flirts with your palate. Barley wines are never to be rushed and while this is worth savoring, I found myself unalbe to put the glass down for very long. Well done, another winner from Southern Tier.

Photo of lincoln44
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Bronze amber color, clear but deep mahogany appearance. Not much head after the pour but may be contributed to the temperature. Nice lacing stuck around afterward.

S- Spicy, sweet, and slight floral hop aroma all combined. Picking up a roasted malt flavor, must have been used for color and depth.

Taste- Rich sweet and spicy taste. The hop flavor must be from the Chinook as it is spicy and not as aromatic yet still enjoyable. Kind of a woody taste coming through on the tail of it all.

M- slick feel from the high residuals and hop oils. Carbonation is right on for this style.

D-Not my favorite barley wine but enjoyable nonetheless. Spicier and woody taste compared to the BW I am familiar with. Overall decent brew but I don't think I would be searching for this one every time I go to the store.

Photo of htomsirveaux
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle tried 15 Nov 2008.

Poured in 0.4 L Sonnen glass. Medium light brown head. Medium carbonation. Clear ruby brown color. Smells quite hoppy, almost like an IPA, soapy, floral. Starts roasty malty, chocolatey. Moderately roasty throughout. Sweet, warming finish but not hot. Slightly astringent aftertaste. Medium body. Somewhat sticky mouthfeel.

Nice barleywine, would get this again.

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

22oz bottle into 25oz snifter.

When not held up to the light, the beer appears as almost black with some ruby highlights. Some light reveals that this is a mahogany colored beer with an off white one finger head. The head settles to a very thin cap, along with a thin rim along the glass. The settling head leaves behind a solid wall of lacing.

High amounts of citrusy grapefruit is in there along with a little bit of sweet and tart pineapple. The hops are a little spicy as well. The malts aren't detectable behind the high amounts of hops.

Ultra sharp hops in the flavor. Some sweet flavors come from the malts, hidden behind more grapefruit and pineapple. The alcohol is well hidden. The hops seems to dominate the flavor.

Another major hop-bomb from ST. This one gives any hop fan a run for their money. Tons of citrus from the sharp hops. Barely any malts to speak of. A good Barleywine. Recommended.

Photo of SpecialK088
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle Deliruim Snifter

Sexy Sexy this beer looks really good and the light on it just makes it look better the head is thin but just hangs around the entire time you have the beer, deep carmel brown.

Sweet carmel malt with a slew of diffrent hops more fragrent than many beers all the hops and malt come out in the nose.

So extremly complex and smooth this one is sweet in the finish and bitter in the middle and finish is a mixture of the two, has a nice sweet carmel taste that mixes in the hops well, this beer is huge in every way.

Smooth rich and complex this goes down like candy medium to thick body.

Not something you could just sit around and drink but you want to sit and sip at a great beer this is one you need to try.

Photo of naterock
4.36/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into a delerium snifter.

Deep red in color, Phenomenal Head that stays like a film over the top of the glass.

Smell is rich barley and a super sweet nose with a brown sugar nose. But with teh massive barley comes a shit load of hops. Chinooks are huge.

Taste is so incredibly rich with malt. Hugely malted with a Gigantic Hop profile. Very Very Good.

Mouth is highly viscous with a decent carbonation. Drinks too easy for the ABV. Just a phenomenal Brew all together, there is nothing small about this beer.

Photo of edmedina
4.53/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice clear dark amber color. It does have nice heard as well shows off a lot of carbonation.

Smell: Hoppy with hints of mint and cocoa. Very much floural smell. Not at all what I would expect from a Barleywine.

Taste: Very interesting taste here. Starts off bitter from the hops. As the taste settles you get a sweet after taste. Finishes dry leaving nothing left to taste

Overall: When I saw Imperial Barleywine on the bottle, I thought to myself how do you take a beer that is already strong and go over the top on it? Well Southern Tier certainly figured it out. The hops they use blend very well together. The smell leads you to believe you are enjoying an Imperial IPA but the taste lets you know otherwise. I never thought someone would go further with my favorite style of beer. I am glad Southern Tier did.

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

Bottle into red wine glass.

Pours a hazy deep brown with a hint of red and a medium, off-white head.

Aroma is caramel, a hint of cocoa, minty hops.

Taste starts off with a sweet, huge malt back bone with hints of dark fruit and even cocoa, with prickly hops emerging from the very beginning and really taking up residence midway with a prickly, minty, piny presence. The hops perfectly counterbalance the huge sweet malt without dominating. Finish is malt sweetness, drying hop bitterness and definitely a bit of spicy alcohol burn on the finish, complemented by the prickly hops - it's clear how this beer got it's name.

Mouthfeel is heavy, syrupy, and oily, but with a light, crisp carbonation.

Delicious beer - easy to finish one bomber, but I think one is enough.

Photo of roopy40
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A - Looks like a light brown, but when held up with light in its background, a reddish-amber hue appears. Beautiful, white, creamy head forms and looks like the top of a meringue pie.

S - Good balance of fruit and hops. I think raisin and alcohol is definitely present.

T - Now you certainly taste the fig, raisin, and spice with a nice hop finish.

M - Thick, but smooth and well carbonated. Definitely a medium to heavy body, but it is very pleasant and feels wonderful going down. A friend and I could not get enough of it.

D - Very high on the drinkability chart and especially dangerous when you consider the high ABV of this wonderful barley wine.

Overall, I am again impressed with ST Imperials. I confess to not having tried dozens of this style, but I sure am enjoying them and will continue my journey.

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

22oz bomber, into a goblet

A - Pours a very brown color - with a little bit of redish haze. Head formation is very light and fairly light cream white in color. Leaves behind just a small film.

S - A fairly floral hop aroma dominates - piney and full of grapefruit. Small amount of yeasty and phenolic scents hanging around in the background. Moderately assertive versus other barley wines.

T - Starts off on the sweet side - malt forward. Bitterness does build at mid-stream, which includes a complimentary hop earthiness. Not near as direct as the smell would indicate. Finishes with a combination of chocolate sweetness, alcohol and a sour acidity. Aftertaste is bitter.

M - Thick and creamy - heavy in body. Cloying and sticky. The unfermentable sugars are very detectable. High amount of oily alpha acids left behind.

D - For barley wines, I find this to be extremely drinkable. That's not to say that one shouldn't have more than one of these in a session, but rather that the beers flavor and carbonation profile are very smooth. ABV will probably knock you over pretty good however.

Photo of pvsob
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a clear mahogany color with a small (tan) head that fades quickly leaving some lacing.

S- Raisins, figs, sugar cookies, bread, alcohol, and hops

T- Starts off sweet (raisins, figs), transitions into a slight hoppy flavor that increases through the swallow. Dry finish with plenty of alcohol.

M- Medium feel with very little carbonation.

D/O- A decent American Barleywine from a great brewery. I will definitely pick up a few bombers of this brew for some aging. Cheers!

Photo of Oxymoron
3.52/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Recently tried this fresh, but have hadn't aged. And it does not age well. Pours a darker shade of amber with a light brown hue throughout. A fizzy white head that quickly dissipated and not much lacing to speak of.

The nose was light for a barleywine, but some malt notes with a slight grainy backing. Some biscuit and light nutty notes. Some yeasty notes along with some lighter plum and fig phenolics. No real hop aroma to speak of. (The aged sample has big butyric notes).

The taste comes out more than the nose indicates. The malt is more represented with a more complex caramel flavor. Some sweet caramel, would have liked to see more depth with a more melanodian/kettle caramel thing. Some sudsy notes in the flavor that leaves a filmy finish. The bitterness comes out, but doesn't really balance to the malt well. Some light citrus hops but limited. Yeast notes and some oxidation but not overly off. (The aged continues with butyric but also a nasty sudsy thing).

The body is moderate to big. Some complexity but would like a bit more. Carbonation is a bit high, but helps the bitterness. Would like more finishing hops though. Overall not a great barleywine, but IMHO try it fresh.

Photo of oakbluff
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brownish ruby, good clarity. Minimal head. Nose- toffee, hot piney hops. Taste- sweet caramel malts, nuts, with a sharp hop bite on the finish. Medium bodied and carbonation. Drinks quite smooth but is missing something. Just not all that complex for a big barleywine.

Photo of badbeer
4.26/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Really dark red with an off-white head that has excellent retention and lacing. Sweet caramel, dark fruits, and toffee are balanced with piney and orange-y hops in the nose. Sweet malt all over the tongue; caramel, dark fruit, and a large amount of bitter, but flavorful hops come through with some pineapple and tangerine. This drinks incredibly smooth to me with a full body and about medium carbonation. I'll be getting more of this.

Photo of flexabull
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of seanpachefddfa, thanks again!

Pours a dark muddied, and cloudy brown color with a decent off white head.

Aromas are of cereal grains, stewed fruits, oak, spices, and booze.

Taste is grainy, dry, with some oak, and quite a bit of hops. Not a whole lot in the way of malts, a bit of sweetness, and some cereal flavors, but mostly I taste alcohol and mineral hops. Not really all that balanced, tastes more like an DIPA to me.

Mouthfeel is ok. A bit sharp on the tongue though.

Drinkability is so so. It's not a bad beer, but it seems to really miss the mark when it comes to the barleywine style. This is pretty average.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Wells Discount Liquors, Baltimore, MD. Poured into a cervoise.

Appearance: Pours a deep, filtered mahogany, crisp but dense. A nice one-plus-finger tan head has average to above-average retention and leaves sticky sheets and plenty of foamy, glittery, cloud-like blots of lace. Effervescence is surprisingly fast and fine-bubbled. A very attractive barleywine, nicely colored, and with very pleasant-looking lacing and head retention.

Aroma: Very clean and crisp. Full of light fruit esters - pears, blueberries - and hints of pine, buttery malt notes, caramelized sugars. Thoroughly pleasant and complex.

Taste: A nice, faded bitterness watches gracefully over an assortment of dark fruity notes, mild hop notes and fruity esters, and lightly- to heavily-caramelized malts. Raisins (rum raisin), big caramel, molasses, brown sugar, Belgian waffles, and toast, and pears, berries, pine, and citrus notes round things out. It's very complex, and a great combination of notes

Mouthfeel: Amazingly light for such a big and flavorful barleywine. The carbonation, crisp-looking at first, lightens up the body near-perfectly, cutting the crispness as well as the thickness for a nice, medium-feeling, creamy, even body.

Drinkability: For a 10.0% abv beer, it's solid. The flavors and aromas are pretty damn complex on this one, even if they don't make for the absolute most amazing combination, and the appearance and the mouthfeel are fantastic. Another winner from one of my top 5 breweries. Recommended.

Photo of jdhilt
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a two finger light tan head that faded quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Hazy amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Caramel nose. Flavor is caramel and some molasses and alcohol. $6.49 for a 22oz bottle from Manchester Wine and Liquors Manchester, CT.

4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Two fingers of slow rising tan foam bubbles reach the top of my goblet and just sit there for awhile then start t fade turning rocky as they do. Lots of scattered lace is left. Body is of the deepest brown, almost black showing hints of ruby when held to light. Nose has tones of sweet cherry pie, phelonic spiceyness, and even a citrus rind hop presence. With first sip you get an initial dry slightly sweet spicey feel that is the base of this brew. Then you get a distinct hop burst that really takes over mid-palate and controls the rest of the way. A bit oily are these hops, almost reisen like. Alchol lingers in the backround. Mouthfeel has a nice hop dryness. Nicely drinkable barleywine.

Photo of ColForbinBC
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a chouffe tulip

A murky, deep red body with a slightly off white cap reached to the top of my tulip and took forever to lie back down. Settled to a thin collar and left significant rings of lace.

Sweet nose, tons of malt with a strong grapefruit hop presence reaching up through the raisins, apples, figs/dates, and ethanol.

The bitter hops hit you up front with raisins, sweet malt, figs/dates holding their own on the back end. Some brown sugar and caramel also show up in the finish. Doesn't seem like a cohesive brew. The flavors complement each other, but they don't exactly line up.

Full bodied, heavy, with a chewy hop presence.

A good example of the style, fairly easy to drink. A definite sipper.

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