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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.

847 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 847
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: 847 | Reviews: 496 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mcmidc


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

Poured a deep amber color with a small tan head that lingered surprisingly. The smell is of fruits, and raisans with some hops and alcohol in the background. Tastes spicy with primarily plums and raisans that is spicy. Mouthfeel is full bodied, with spices running rampant. Drinkability is pretty good for a 10% beer and it's pretty smooth. Really becoming a fan of Southern Tier they put out some really good brews. I'll drink it again.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2008 20:41:45 | More by mcmidc
Photo of scruffwhor


4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a carameled, maple syrupy ruby color. Very faint head and no bubbles or lacing. Great color though. The aroma is a cinnamon spicey citrus and a dash of caramel and figs. Starts with some warm fruits and a light touch of Chrstmas seasonings. Cinnamon, nutmeg, with some caramel plums. Good, warm, and spicey sweet. The palate has some complex alcohol notes. Some brandy or mabybe cognac and some warms peas with some orange zest. Sippable andnice to look at in a snifter.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2008 05:02:29 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of jdaelhousen


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

Brown colored body with little head to it.

Aroma consists of sweet candy sugar, orange peel, mild coriander notes, and contains a strong boozy factor.

Taste has an immediate blast of alcohol mixed with fruit essences of fig, cherry, and mild toffee presence. Mouthfeel is very sticky with a strong alcohol backing.

Overall, and outstanding and highly alcoholic barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2008 23:26:43 | More by jdaelhousen
Photo of alexgash


4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle.

Pours into the Stone Old Guardian glass with a deep, dark coppery brown body. Clear. Very dense, creamy finger of khaki brown head. Great lacing. Nose of scorched brown sugar, toffee, caramel, rummy fruits, candied yams, and some herbal hops.

Herbal hop bitterness greets the tongue. Toasted malt with burnt brown sugar quickly follow. Toffee and candy-coated fruit swell mid-palate. Citrus and herbal hop flavor follow, with some bitterness to balance the sweetish malt. Nicely done. Hop resin bitterness in the finish with lingering syrupy fruit and toffee malt. Full-bodied with a smooth, creamy feel. Another impressive ST bomber.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2008 02:50:47 | More by alexgash
Photo of lordofthewiens


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

From a bomber, poured into a snifter. The beer was a garnet color with a fairly small white head. The aroma was pleasantly fruity, with a hint of spice. The taste followed form. The alcohol was warming without being intrusive. Very nice beer. I imagine it would cellar well.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2008 19:22:36 | More by lordofthewiens
Photo of EPICAC


3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Burp Castle in NYC.

Pours a clear, deep amber. Topped by a beige head that fades to a patchy film leaving spotty lace. The aroma is malty and very fruity with notes of caramel and cherries. Swirling brings out hints of hops.

Malty: caramel and a bit of chocolate. Toasty with a bit of citrusy hops and a nice bitter finish. Full-bodied, moderate to low carbonation and smooth.

Serving type: on-tap

07-16-2008 19:10:56 | More by EPICAC
Photo of ccrida


3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml with a few months on it, poured into my Deshutes snifter, Backburner is a dark ruby with a large, rocky,burnt off-white head that leaves heavy lace.

Smell is rich and thick, fruity ale esters, caramel, nutty, and prune malts, wet, citrus hops, boozy but pretty good.

Taste is sharp and full, tangy, sweet malt and heavily hopped, caramelized fruits. The high ABV drys it out, although after the initially esters and hops, the finish is pretty clean. Pretty good, but could use more time to soften the edges.

Mouthfeel is slick and oily, medium heavy body, with a spicy, dry, hoppy and alcoholic finish.

Drinkability is pretty good, this is a nice barleywine for sure, second bomber that I've had. The first with any time in my cellar, it still has room to run, but I'll be sure to get more, especially once this become available in WA!

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2008 03:02:34 | More by ccrida
Photo of feloniousmonk


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

Clear, crimson hued, slim, creamy head.

Aroma: rich, pungent, dark fruit meets brandy...cherry notes, sweet, but not too syrupy, rounds out dryly in the end.

Drinkin'...plump on the palate, and right quick, alcohol comes burning in, blazes the back of the mouth. Profusely malty, gathering sweetness, growing texture, bitter hops scouring the tongue.

Flavor lasts long in the mouth. Persistent finish. Big, hot, wet and juicy. Mmmm-mmm.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2008 04:54:59 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of MuenchenerKindl


4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber to a glass mug the liquid is red with very good carbonaion. The head is tall 2 fingers of tan foam and leaves good lace.

The smell is big think sticky malt and extra hops,very bitter.

The taste follows a very big and thick brew to ba sure, However the hops are there and good.

The mouthfeel is good, vary full with great carbonation.

The drinkability is oh so good, this is a fine BW lots of biggness.

Prosit, MK

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2008 03:55:38 | More by MuenchenerKindl
Photo of prototypic


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

Appearance: It pours a nice looking ruby brown color. Head is vanilla colored and only about a finger deep. Looks like the alcohol might have killed this one. Retention was good and lacing was sticky and thicker than expected.

Smell: Strong, piney hops kick it off nicely. They're followed up by sweet citrus grapefruit and pineapple aromas. It is malty and sweet smelling. Caramel malts seem to be primary variety. The aroma's a little weak, but opens up more as it warms. Plum and raisin scents finally emerge. The nose is complex and nothing short of appetizing.

Taste: It's sweet and a little citrusy up front. Grapefruit and pineapple flavors are nice, but a little more subdued than the nose suggests. Hops are piney, bitter, and a little citric. Caramel malts are sweet and really balance it out a lot. It's easily one of the most balance barleywines that I've tried. Dark fruit flavors are secondary and feature plum, raisin, and a little prune. The flavor profile is easily as complex as the nose, if not moreso. Amazingly, alcohol is not very noticeable. At 10%, I was expecting it, but it's masked extremely well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkabilty: It's full bodied, but only marginally so. Not as thick and chewy as some in this style. Carbonation level is subdued and very well done. Nice, super smooth feel. Drinkability is good, but there's no way I'd try to tackle more than a single bomber. It's too strong and too big for much more than that.

Southern Tier's developed perhaps the most balanced Barleywine I've had the pleasure of drinking. It's very good and really doesn't have any large shortcomings. I prefer just a tad more hops for the style. But, this really is damn good. It's hard to find much fault in it. Truth be told, Southern Tier would have to put a lot of effort into making a bad beer. They just can't seem to do it.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2008 03:49:54 | More by prototypic
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear. Deep mahogany in color. The yellowed tan head rises two or more inches at the first pour, then dies down to a solid finger's width, and then a creamy half-inch cap that holds a solid surface covering for some time. Lacing is quite nice. Given the strength, the head retention and lacing are quite impressive.

Smell: Sticky sweet with a distinct caramelish maltiness and citrusy/tropical fruits that include tangerine, pineapple, melon, papaya, and coconut as well as some apples, pears, and red berries. I can only assume that the fruitiness is a combination of yeastiness, citrusy hops, and sugary malts, as well as some alcohol. It's certainly bold and complex, but also welcoming.

Taste: The sweetness found in the nose appears on the tongue. It's caramelish and sticky, and even a subtle touch chocolatey. The fruitiness is right there with it, however, cutting through the sugar with gently acidic citrusy juiciness. And by mid-palate it's become more about the fruitiness (still very solidly backed by sweet caramel malts)! Bitterness then steps in, and you're ushered to the finish with an added brush of grassy and herbal character to boot. The caramel tumbles with the fruitiness. The bitterness tumbles with the sweetness. The alcohol steps forward and then vanishes just as quickly as it came. It's a long and drawn out finish with just about every note that's found in the nose making an appearance at least once or twice if not more. Really rich and full!!!

Mouthfeel: Viscous, to say the least. There are a lot of unfermented sugars in this baby. It's almost like tasting wort. The creamy, very fine-bubbled median carbonation just barely cuts through, and it's super creamy and remarkably smooth across the palate.

Drinkability: Overall it's a bit too much to drink beyond a short apertif, settling night cap, or relaxing, slow sipper - but guiding wisdom tells us that drinkability has much more to do with its special and unique qualities - and how much we enjoy it in those moments - than anything that has to do with quantity or length of time. I could easily enjoy a small glass of this for an hour. It's rich and full and complex, and very interesting and satiating. There are barleywines that are better rounded and far more balanced, but there's still something here that makes it very worthwhile. Certainly worth trying!!!

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 03:00:35 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of brewdlyhooked13


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

Appearance - a brownish red iced tea color. A sizable cap of creamy tan foam hangs around for a minute before dropping to a soapy cover. Nice lace trails weaving up and down around the glass.

Aroma - flowery citrus, with just an edge of pine. Powdery grain, a fairly light nose in general.

Taste - sweet grain coats the mouth at first, followed by a mixture of alcohol and spicy hops. Lightly fruity, they are more balanced to the bitter side but show great character. The swallow shows a flash of citrusy sweetness before the bitterness jumps out and takes over, drying things out for a fine finish.

Mouthfeel - incredibly smooth, this feels like its already been in the cellar for three years. Easy-going bubbles don't interfere with the flow. My favorite part of this beer, almost...

Drinkability - it will take some will power to leave the other to age; we'll see if I'm up to it.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2008 21:58:49 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of demitriustown


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

07 version via trade a while ago with Jah Noth! (Thank You!) Aroma is wonderful with a nice roasted nut and caramel overtone, a bit of fruity hoppiness, and some raisins and prunes to round out this awesome aroma. Pours a clear ruby color with a two finger thick head that lingers around for a while. Taste is malty with dark fruit intermingled. A lot of stuff going on in the taste of this brew. Smoothing going down and deceptively drinkable. Overall, A darn good barley wine with about a year of age on it. Nice!

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2008 18:11:45 | More by demitriustown
Photo of Crosling


3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ruby/brown color. Aroma is mainly dominated by sherry-like oxidation. Flavor is also dominated by sherry-like oxidation, but also has some nice elements of raisins, dark fruit, caramel and mixed nut. Decent finish as well, which lasts pretty long. Very oxidized, but still pretty good.

Serving type: bottle

06-13-2008 18:28:38 | More by Crosling
Photo of emerge077


4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Hitachino glass. Color is the darkest possible shade of orange. Plenty of intricate lacing, good retention overall.

Toffee caramel notes with some orange peel and pastry. Spun sugar or cotton candy. Alcohol is in the background if you look for it.

Hoppy bitterness with a huge, rich maltiness. Citrus is in there somewhere, followed by leafy hops. Rich, spicy, a little doughy. Long bitter aftertaste. Very smooth, velvety feel, the bottle doesn't last too long. Very drinkable barleywine...

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2008 03:08:15 | More by emerge077
Photo of Donnie2112


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

appearance: dark cherry brown with a nice film of bubbly head on top

smell:dark fruit and cereal just a bit of citrusy hops.

taste: lots of raisins, some brown sugar, a bit of nutty yeast, nice citrus, and some floral hops

mouthfeel: oily and astringent full bodied and nicely carbonated

drinkability: nice flavor easy drinking for what it is. I like this one it's full enough and ends up finishing lean with the hops really nicely balanced

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2008 01:35:05 | More by Donnie2112
Photo of Buebie


4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this at Heritage Liquore today, St. Paul MN
Price for my brown bombar was $6.50
It was in the dark, non lit cooler too!

A: Poured a dark redish orange. Head was 2-3 finger deep creamy white. Head stuck around for a long time before fizzling down to a quarter inch, and stayed that way. Thick clumpy laceing, not as thick as the imperial ipa, but close.

S: wiffs of rich hoppy aroma, huge floral hoppy aroma. Wort boil hops were chinook and Willamette. Dry hoped with Amarillo and Centennial. Sweet malt, I can actually get wiffs of the steeped grain, in a grape nuts kinda way. Fresh cut hay, grassy feilds. Some doughy yeast scents are present. A faint cry of alcahol in the smell as well.

T: Upfront there is a nice hoppy presence without bite, sweetness upfront as well. Very well balanced through each step in your mouth. Midway the carbonation meats with the creamyness and carries the sweet creamy malt through my mouth. Some mild cracked pepper, and other types of spices that I cannot put a finger on are present. After the swallow the tinged dryness of hops hange around. Alcahol warming kicked in just before the swallow and departed quickly as the hops aftertaste took over.

M: Creamy rich thickness with medium carbonation in the middle that disappears as all the other flavors begin to overwhelm and take over.

D: Another amazing brew from Southern tier. This would age very well. I highly recommend this beer. The laceing alone is like no other beer I have had. Its more thick as far as laceing goes then a stout.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2008 18:59:55 | More by Buebie
Photo of botham


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

bomber poured into a snifter. pours a rich copper brown color with a half finger of tight tan head. light lacings.

aroma is malty and coniferous. a bit of spice is present as well. malt notes include caramel and a touch of chocolate. overall the brew is hoppy, which drowns out the malts a bit.

taste is rich and malty up front, with caramel malts and a bit of chocolate malt showing. a distant earthy quality forms a base, while it finishes on a light chocolate note with coniferous hops and residual caramel.

mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, with a smooth texture, and light bites from CO2 and alcohol. finishes demi-dry.

drinkability is decent. this is a full bodied and rich brew, with a notable alcohol tag (10%APV). that being said, this is a mellow and drinkable barley wine, without overpowering the malts or the hops. nicely crafted.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2008 23:57:58 | More by botham
Photo of irishkyle21

Ontario (Canada)

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

Finally got my special order in (got to love the LCBO). Poured into my favorite snifter. The off white head leaves a good amount of lacing and stays 1/4 of an inch the whole way through. Has a reddish brown color.

Smells of caramel malts, big juicy hops and alcohol.

Tastes of caramel malts, bitter hops (citrusy/floral), fruits and a warming alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2008 04:49:08 | More by irishkyle21
Photo of bosco7


4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep garnet color with a creamy tan head.

Vanilla, caramel, waffle cone, light molasses, under cooked chocolate chip cookie, and some cherries in the nose.

First thing I taste is the heavy and complex malt flavors; molasses, burnt caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. A hint of powder chocolate and dark cherries in the middle. Some cinnamon and herbs in the finish. The bitterness and alcohol are agressive.

Full body with plenty of carbonation to counter. I think the alcohol burn is a little much at this point in its life and brings the drinkability down a little bit. Tasty barleywine, the malt profile is so complex. Aggressive to boot. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2008 01:19:48 | More by bosco7
Photo of ZAP


4.65/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big and well done.

A-Deep brown/mahogany...creamy 1/8 inch tan head.

S-Very hoppy aroma...sweet candied tropical fruits...also some toffee like malt.

t-Sweeter style BW which I enjoy....toffee like maltiness...also some berries, molasses and brown sugar....the hops are more of a secondary player on the taste but they still lend a nice sweet candied fruit presence.

M-Big and rich....full bodied...very creamy...what I expect from a BW..finishes smooth and sweet but not cloying.

D-Hell of a beer here. I love the rich malty BW's but what this one lends is a fantastic hop feel while never become extremely bitter. Top notch BW

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2008 06:05:38 | More by ZAP
Photo of dogger6253


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

Dark and cloudy, can't really see anything. It's not black though, there is some brown coloring going on. The head is a strong, mocha layer of foam about 1/2 inch thick. Gorgeous streams of lacing coat the side of my glass. Pretty stuff.

At first I thought there wasn't much going on in the aroma, but I realized that there is a lot of balance and complexity going on. There is no "over-powering" scent, everything is in subtle balance. Overall, pretty fruity with some darkness going on too. Sort of like plums, rum, raisins topped off with a bit of clove for good measure.

The taste was more bitter than I expected, heavy hops upfront. In the back of the flavor is where the dark fruits and similar tastes hide out. There is a quick, but mellow transition from bitter to sweet and tart. I found the slightest hint of lavender mixed in as well. Kind of heavy on the roasted malt taste too.

This was pretty heavy, pretty boozy too. I feel like it's an excellent beer, but I don't feel the fruitiness came out as much as it should in this style. Actually, this tasted more like an imperial stout than a barley wine.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2008 04:10:09 | More by dogger6253
Photo of Kendo

New York

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

A: Poured into a pint glass. Body is reddish-coppery in color with a 1-finger cream/tannish head that retains nicely. No visible carbonation in the body. Decent lace on the way down the glass.

S: Not terribly strong in the nose is the first impression -- mainly caramel malt and something fruity. As it warms I get a hint of alcohol on top of sweet malt and fruit.

T: Nicely balanced between caramel malt sweetness and hop bitterness. I get brown sugar and toffee but balanced by a lingering sense of lemony pine or even spruce. Also a touch of spice and heat at the back of the sip. A very nicely balanced barleywine.

M: Pretty creamy in feel, a bit heavier than medium in heft.

D: Very good, particularly for a beer of this strength. I split the bomber with a friend and it went down more slowly than your average beer, but it was not difficult to drink at all.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2008 17:10:24 | More by Kendo
Photo of jpnasty


3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer but i wouldn't say I really loved it. Of all the southern tier products I have had this is probably my least favorite. First off this doesn't really drink like a barley wine to me, it just feels to tame. I like my barley wines to be right up in your face and make you know that you are drinking a barley wine; this on the other hand drank like a very malty IPA. Maybe a year or two in the basement would bring out some of the more complexity and strength I expect from a barley wine.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2008 21:22:15 | More by jpnasty
Photo of Foxman

New Jersey

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

It pours a clear and fairly carbonated ruddy coppery amber. A finger of pithy beige head sinks to rounded hillocks of froth. Rolls of lacing coast along the inside of the glass.

In the aroma, toasted malt is sugar sweet with caramel and dried fruit. Toffee and vanilla join a muted citrus hop note. A mild swirl of dough is warmed by a puff of alcohol.

Upon sipping, roasty malt is initially rock candy sweet and dusted with caramel, raisin, and dark cherry. Creamy vanilla rounded doughy esters slide alongside a cozy warm cusp of alcohol. Baked biscuit is earthy and residual malt sugars preside but are soon dried by a mix of floral and citrus zest bitter hop influences. The finish is crisp but mellow. The hops assert late, but in the end they help complete a nice profile.

Full bodied, it has a sinewy, slick feel that lays fairly sweet and silky on the palate.

The aroma is a touch light and the hops take their time in the flavor, but the result is a homey, tasty barleywine that takes on a little British character. It goes down easily and the covert but husky ABV presents nary a hitch. It's no grand giant, maybe, but it's sure good enough to promote from the back burner to one in the front. Though then the name wouldn't be as cool. So never mind.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2008 14:31:45 | More by Foxman
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 847 ratings.