1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

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

874 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 874
Reviews: 497
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 70
Gots: 104 | 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:
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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 874 | Reviews: 497 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 650ml bottle with no visible BB date. Purchased ages ago from a webshop. This bottle is old; I've had it for nigh on two years and it may have been out of date even before then. Mostly stored in my garage. The label describes it as an American take on the British barleywine.

Poured into a Duvel tulip (twice). Bottle conditioned. A deep reddish-amber hue with faint haze and light carbonation. Produces a large head of creamy off-white foam that lasts for a few minutes before subsiding to a patchy surface layer. Aroma of sweet, heavily oxidised malt with a fruity character. Hints of caramel, grain, sherry/port, brown sugar, dried fruit, subtle pine, stewed hops, faint yeast and a serious whiff of booze. Rich and slightly cloying.

Tastes of sweet, fruity malt with a hoppy finish. Notes of caramel, grain, sherry, raisins, dried fruit, brown sugar, mild pine resin, faint weed, stewed hops and yeast esters. A warming whiff of alcohol lurks in the background, accompanied by a lingering sweetness and a hoppy bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is silky smooth with a light carbonation that suits the style. Lovely body that borders on unctuous, while tingly hop oils stimulate the palate. Aftertaste of sweet caramel malt, pine-laden hop notes, booze and a mild bitterness.

Despite the age of the bottle this is OK. Then again, I'd expect this style of beer to hold up reasonably well. It looks spot on, while the aroma and flavour are laden with sweet, oxidised malt, dried fruit and mild pine. Little in the way of aromatic hops but quite well balanced. Great body - just right. I reckon the booze helped to preserve this one. Not sure if this is produced anymore, but worth a punt if you come across it.

Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the '08 bottle, it pours a deep and dark mahogany brown. It's a gorgeous color. The topping is short, sparse and off-white.
It noses of brown sugar, dark rum, ganja resin, peaches, and orange juice. It's an interesting and delicious aroma, but it seems a bit dialed-down.
Taste-wise, the progress can be thoroughly described as:
toasted grain-->caramel--->grilled pineapple-->bitter herb-->pine sap-->lemon rind-->cedar/cinnamon-->brandy. They problem is, that describes EVERYTHING that is in here. It's linear and offers no sideroads or detours. Nothing really meshes. It's merely and simply a progression of flavors. There's no melding, or complexity. It's just one thing, then another, then another. It's a series of compartments starting with malt, then hops, then alcohol.
The build is plenty thick and deep enough to let everything shine. It feels like a b'wine.
My gripe here is that nothing truly congeals. There is a series of tasty Barleywine traits. Great stuff, really, but they don't ever link up with any type of fluidity. It's all jagged, staccato, and separated. It needs to breathe and expand and deepen and coalesce....and it doesn't...
At least not yet. Age may do this a great deal of good. Fresh, though, it is skippable.

Photo of Bierguy5
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber, 10% ABV, 85 IBU. Mahogany in color, with some ruby shades. Tan foamy head, which held together well for the size of the beer, then faded to a nice ring.

Citrusy, floral and slightly grassy aroma. Not much else.

Bits of dark fruit and toffee stick out first. A lot of sweetness, with some fruity flavors. Bitterness is not as powerful as the aroma would indicate.

Good body, with lower carbonation. Fairly balanced. Overall, not bad, but not terribly exciting either.

Photo of gopens44
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Somewhere between golden and orange. Hazy with a nice thick foamy creme colored head.

S - A ton of malt hits first with a twinge of honey sweetness following. I looked for hops but didn't find any.

T- Like the nose, malty and honey sweet with a grape taste as well. After a while a medicinal taste came through but not a ton of it. Just enough to notice.

M - Silky with not too much carbonation. Almost no aftertaste at all.

O - This came across a little more like an English barleywine in my opinion due to the lack of a predominant hop presence. Good beer but it lacked a tiny little "something" that I can't quite place...maybe it was the lack of hop taste after all...

Photo of connecticutpoet
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
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 ClevoPiwo
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice deep copper or chestnut color with a decent head that dissipates down to a frothy ring along the outside of the glass leaving a nice lacing on the way down.

The smell is pretty good with nice malty aromas of caramel and molasses as well as a nice floral character of the hops coming through as well. The alcohol is a bit pronounced in the smell, edging on a slightly solvent-like quality, but not too much.

Taste is pretty good, with nice mouth feel and a characteristic malt sweetness up front and a hoppy finish. The alcohol is present as well, and perhaps a bit assertive.

Not my favorite by Southern Tier, but definitely a worthy brew!

Photo of bjohnson
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ripe plum color with an off white half finger head that holds nicely around the edges and leaves a bit of film in the center. Huge malty presence with hints of sweet caramel and spicy brown sugar notes. Hop presence stings the nose with a pine and floral fruit aromas. Thick and juicy with a huge alcohol bite.

Malty and hoppy combination blends well with a balanced mouthfeel. Caramel, slight chocolate, burnt sugar, and molasses malt notes. Piney and spicy hop flavors. Juicy and coating on the palate with a thickness. An interesting and thick barleywine definitely weighing in on the American side of the line. With such a high abv, this brew isn't very drinkable, but still pretty tasty. A nice one to get a hold of if you can and another good selection from ST.

Photo of BarrelO
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a goblet.

A: Good garnet color. Nice two-finger head, but it fades fairly quickly.

S: Carmel malt and citrusy hops at war with each other. Fairly solventy.

T: Again, the malt and hops pretty much cancel each other out. It's basically a neuter beer. Not too pleasant.

M: Appropriately thick and after-dinnery.

D: Can't say I dig it too much. Since it reminds me of Old Horizontal, I'm giving it the same score. It's almost becoming a tradition at this point.

Photo of NEhophead
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 pt, 6 fl oz brown bottle, served in a snifter.
First brew 2007.

Pours a deep garnet with hues of ruby. Slightly creamy, off-white head that fades to a near intact sheet with pools of bubbles. Lasting strings of foamy lacing with decent strength.

Dark, yet ripe fruit: plum, cherry, fig. Notes of acidity with a sharp alcohol aroma. Spicy pine from the hops. Mild hints of powdered chocolate/caramel.

Creamy, semi-sweet tones of caramel and hazlenut; rather dry and powdery. Mild, dark fruit: cherry, grape, and plum met by a young and swarming alcohol presence. Subtle, almost bland flavors.

Medium in body; slick, smooth for the most part. A nice balance in texture with hops and malt.

The flavors are too tame for my preference in Barleywines. Nothing offensive, but not one I'd have again.

Photo of birderbeerer
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light brown beer with a light and tall, frothy head.

Smells like a super sweet beer. No hop scent. Just caramelized malts over and over.

The taste is almost cloyingly sweet. Not quite, but it's close. It just seems like it's an overboard barleywine. No hops are present in the taste. Just a big bucket of sweetness.

Photo of Wetpaperbag
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- A dark burnt copper red color. The head is tick fluffy and very very light tan, but vanishes quickly leaving great lacing.

S- The smell is very true to form of an American Barleywine. The Hops are present along with sweet malt smells and nice dark fruits are also very much there.

T- There is a bread taste that mixes with the dark fruits giving a granola type of taste. The hop taste is there and provides a bitter taste.

M- Feels good on the mouth, the Alcohol creates a spiciness on the tongue.

D- Easy to drink.

Photo of RedChrome
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A iced tea brown color with a huge red color in the light. Tan half inch high head faded very rapidly. Slowly rising carbonation in an average amount. Lacing is small sticky spots.

Aromas of cherries popped first in the scent. Alcohol is clearly present but not as strong as expected. Light citrus and earthy pine blend to balance out the complexity.

Taste is subdued alcohol which leaves room for the other components. Malt is a toffee and caramel blend, which plays against and wins over dark fruits including plums. Bittering finish from hops.

Thinner then most others in the style, but it allows for carbonation to really grab a hold and shift some flavors.

A decent choice. A great after dinner beer on a cold night. Not as strong alcohol profile as others I have had. A subtly strong beer with good flavor.

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

22oz bottle about room temp poured into ordinary kitchen glass. split with a friend. im thinking this is the 2011 vintage, but could easily be the 2010 (bought at wegmans, dont think they push much of this beer)

pours out a clear deep red color. one finger of light tan colored head that faded to just a very thin retentive layer. no lace.

in the aroma, big doses of burnt candied caramel, toffee, a little buttery, (english yeast), woody hops, and just very light hints of dark fruits.

pretty much the same taste as the aroma suggests. burnt candied caramel apple, buttery, woody hops, not much bitterness, but a good amount of heat. burnt sugar in the finish.

big sticky body, maybe a little more carbonation than i would want in a BW.

for me, this is definatly more of an english barlywine, no real aggresive hops and lots of english yeast characteristics (toffee, buttery). not something i would really come back to in a hurry, but id like to try it again, maybe a little colder next time.

Photo of TJBAIHWL
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of flexabull
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
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 froghop
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
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 jsprain1
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Ruby colored, perfectly clear. The head is one finger and tan. Retains very well and leaves a few wisps of lacing.
S- The smell is heavy on the malt side, with dark fruits, dark caramel, and perceptible alcohol on the nose.
T- The alcohol has too much presence here, but thankfully there is some hop presence here. There is a fair bit of citrus hops underneath caramel and cherry, peach, and dark bread characters.
M- While the alcohol is a bit abrasive on the tongue, the body is generally smooth with low but even carbonation.
O- A decent barleywine, but not a great one. A disappoint for me, by Southern Tier standards.

Photo of utopiajane
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear and reddish copper with a scrumptious head of beige foam that fell to a thick cap and bewitching lace. Effervescing. Nose is strawberry, mango and sweet malt. Carmel toffee and as it warms sugar and molasses. Floral , oaky, and a little bread and butter. A musty breeze. First taste is sweet and then some. Juicy strawberry and mango and then the malt lays in it’s sweetness. There’s some alcohol warmth but on the second sip it’s alcohol on the palate. A touch of bitter to coat the throat as it goes down and some alcohol dryness. A bit of bread and butter in the dry finish. Body is thick and syrupy but also smooth and silky considering the candy sweetness and the alcohol presence. I am beginning to see why some people say that Southern Tier makes very sweet beers.

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

22 oz. bottle, shared with BAs brun, glard and NYManc.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

Complete copper/rustic-gold color with some transparency and a thin off-white colored head of low retention. Smell is distinctly sweet and aromatic. Lots of figgy-like qualities from the glass: dark-fruit sweetness, earthy oak tones and some piney hoppiness. Some malted barley breadiness to be found, with also some shortbread cookie characteristics.

Taste is more sweet-forward with the malt and honey-like sweetness. Very, very thin hop oil aspects to be said of. Begins with a syrupy and fruity sweetness on the palate and ends on a minimal hoppy and pine bitterness. Not much of a balance in the taste and I think that's the weakest aspect here.

Mouthfeel is just about medium-bodied with some carbonation. Average barleywine overall. Could use more hop punch and less syrupy sweetness.

Photo of Onslow
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
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 DerekDudley
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%

Photo of dsa7783
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

650 ML bottle copped for $5.99 from Gary's in Madison...
After an aggressive pour, the appearance is a dark, mahogany-brown colored hue with an impressive-sized foamy and frothy head that soon receded leaving loads of lacing...
Strong smell bursting with a nice suggestion of a balance between thick malts and rich hops with noticeable essences of caramel, toffee, and honey...
Taste was super-thick and rich, very, very sweet, even for a barleywine, bursting with powerful candied sugars, thick malts that dominated the hops, caramel, toffee, licorice, and honey...
The taste was extremely sweet on this one, very different from most Southern Tier brews I've sampled...
Mouthfeel was rich and thick, but overdone with the Herculean suggestion of sugars and honey...
Drinkablity took a real hit due to the slightly overwhelming and powerfully sweet taste that dominated the palate and took over the taste buds... This beer would be teriffic if it were a little more bitter and slightly less sweet...
Nonetheless, a pretty good sample...

Photo of UA8
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a deep garnet color with a one finger tan head.

S- Tangerine, brown sugar, tropical fruits.

T- Leads with caramel and spicy roasted malts. Midpalate has some citrus notes. Finishes with candied orange peel flavors. A touch of odd medicinal harshness lingers on the palate.

M- Moderate carbonation and just over medium viscosity.

D- Solid example of american barleywine but could use a bit more complexity in flavor.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a clear copper reddish color with a dirty white head leaving a nice lace.

S-the nose is big, tons of caramel malts up front, toasted malt, notes of meat in the middle, dark fruits soaked with some alcohol in the back, earthy and tea hop scent.

T-the taste follows the nose, caramel, meat, sweet in the back, notes of booze, tea, earthy hops.

M-smooth on the palate, low carbonation, soft finish, syrupy and medium bodied.

D-pretty solid brew here, a little sweet but not cloying. nice hop presence in the back to balance all the malts.

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark burnt orange with a fairly good head considering the style and abv and some sloppy lacing. Slightly hot in the nose and with very sweet aromas up-front of maple syrup, cardomom, and pear as well as a bit of wax and apple. The taste on the other hand could be a bit sweeeter on the finish. The beer drops off quite a bit toward the end. Otherwise the beer is still a bit hot and there are flavors of dry, crackery malt; and a savory flavor of salty caramel, buttered popcorn and something somewhat meaty. A little strange and somewhat flat tasting. Quite smooth, if a bit hot. Not bad, and it certainly packs a punch, but the flavors seem a bit unusual and not quite sweet enough for the style.

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 874 ratings.