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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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

869 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 869
Reviews: 497
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 70
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:
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 869 | Reviews: 497 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TangTKE402
3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber glass into a Guinness Pint Glass and observed minimal head, and a deep dark unfiltered brown. It looked like mahogany that someone stupidly painted over with black, and then someone else was in the process of sanding the paint away.

The nose was faint, fruity, and a little bit of a surprising wheat and yeast aroma surfaced. Overall, nothing major to report on the nose.

The taste is slightly thin, and spicy in the mouth, with hints of cinnamon, a little curry, and mixed berries floating around in the mouth. This beer leaves you with a dry, hoppy swallow that is almost a little too bitter. The aftertaste smacks of metal and hops.

Overall, if this is your first Barleywine, it will not be the one to turn you on to the genre.

TangTKE402, Feb 23, 2009
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.

jpnasty, May 11, 2008
Photo of mikesgroove
3.05/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice light brown color with a modest head of tan across the top that fades and leaves light lacing in its wake. Aroma is hot, loads of alcohol here with hints of caramel, lots of hops and a just a biting malt nose as well. Really a very odd profile from both sides. Very hot on the palate again with minimal balance to it, just seemed like it was terribly off balance. Flavors were all over the place with hints of everything but the kitchen sink and just an very hot, hoppy, dry finish that really did not work well for me at all.

Overall I was rather unimpressed here I have to admit. I had high hopes for this, but maybe a year or so will settle it down.

mikesgroove, May 02, 2011
Photo of litheum94
3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep, reddish-brown body that shines in the light. Two-finger, light brown head that sett;es to a patchy cover.

Faint aromas of apples, pears and figs. Earthy yeast and some caramel. Sweet alcohol esters, like brandy. Leafy hops.

Flavors of apples and pears, with some toffee. Faint chocolate malts with some caramel and bread flavors. Sweet alcohol finish, with faint earthy hops.

Some good flavors, but I wouldn't call this a barley wine in a blind tasting. Doesn't really have the qualities of an American or English BW. Good, but was hoping for more.

litheum94, Apr 26, 2012
Photo of ShogoKawada
3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From notes. 22oz into chouffe tulip.

A- Looks like apple juice. 2 fingers of a creamy head. Sandy/eggshell white... color of whipped butter? Great lacing, impressive.

S- Pineapple, cherries, a fruit salad. Very sweet.

T- Given the reputation of ST, I expected this to be sweet. It is. Very sweet, almost syrupy. However, there's some good heavy hop action that provides a much-needed counter. Bitter bitter hops, right where they need to be. I believe this one was dry-hopped, and the pine-resin taste saves this beer.

M- Hot, big, bold, potent. Pretty good, if a bit too sweet.

D- Moderate. Good, one of the better balanced ST beers, the serious hops really tie this one together. Still, not my favorite and I doubt I'll be revisiting this one too often.

ShogoKawada, May 17, 2010
Photo of jwc215
3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours deep, rich mahogany with a one-inch head that descends to half-size and stays (very impressive for abv level!). Some lacing sticks to glass.

Well, this is a hoppy-smelling beer for the style. Citrus and pine with resiny alcohol with plenty of sweet malt mixed in. Complex, but leans towards plastic.

I thought I would enjoy the hoppy profile, and I do to a point, but it is just too much for this style, and ends up with plastic/resin mixing with alcohol that is very sharp. Still, caramel and molasses are enough to give it more complexity and depth. It has a medium-to-full body. Very warming - I would even say hot.

Interesting, and not bad tasting, but the mix ends up leaving a plastic aftertaste and it's very sharp. Things just don't meld together well enough for me to get again, though I'm glad I had it once. Maybe aging will mellow it, but I'm not quite convinced it's worth it.

jwc215, Jul 16, 2007
Photo of phisig137
3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

phisig137, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of Wheeble
3.15/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First off, let me just say that I absolutely love Southern Tier. I have yet to have a "bad" beer from them, in fact they are still one of my favorite breweries.

Besides from that fact, I was kind of disappointed with this beer.

Bought a case of 12 22oz bombers

It might just be my taste, or my assumption of what a good barleywine is supposed to resemble, but I felt this was over the top.

It reminded me of Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada, which for all intensive purposes I do not recognize as a barleywine

Initial pour was great in my snifter, medium to light initial head, very minimal retention and lacing.

Color was perfect, yet lacking in that classic barleywine bottle conditioned yeast haze I expect out of a traditional english or european BW.

Smell is floral and phenolic, but a little spicy

The first sip was very reminiscent of a cascade hopped pale ale, which kind of puzzled me. It finished very dry and a tad bitter, which I have almost come to expect from American Barleywines.

The second sip just reiterated that taste.

The body of the beer is definitely there, but even after multiple gulps it left a dry taste in my mouth almost to the point where I wanted a glass of water to rehydrate the taste buds.

Drinkability is lacking. I have an entire case of this beer, and I am hoping that me saving it for the next year or 2 will really reduce the bitter characteristic and mellow out the beer for the better.

Maybe I am spoiled because when I think of barleywines I automatically jump to the 10-15 year old aged classic Thomas Hardy's or J.W. Lees, but it seems to me that most american barleywines are overhopped and underaged, and for one of my favorite styles and even favorite breweries I am kind of disappointed.

I keep thinking to myself, "the 5 gallon batch of barleywine I brewed last July that I let sit till Christmas was much better than this", and I am not saying it as a personal preference, I am saying that as far as friends and connoisseurs that have tasted this beer and compared it to my own agree.

Wheeble, Mar 13, 2010
Photo of ppoitras
3.2/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle purchased from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/4" tan head over the clear burgundy chestnut brew. Head holds relatively steady, but tending towards a layer of small bubbles, with plenty of sticky lacing. Aroma is sweet malt, dark fruit, and alcohol. Taste is syrupy upfront for a moment, and then is overpowered by an extremely artificial-seeming fruitiness, with warmth coming on at the end. Mouthfeel is average to good, nothing particularly notable, and drinkability is quashed a bit by the fruitiness that (looking at the ingredients) probably is coming from some hop or another. Regardless, this one just didn't do much for me.

ppoitras, Jun 10, 2007
Photo of emmasdad
3.23/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not quite sure why this one is labeled as an imperial barley wine, when there is nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary, everyday, run of the mill American barleywine. Received as a generous extra last week, and I shared it with a friend the other night. Pours a ruby brown color with a thinnish white head. Aromas of floral/grassy hops, brown sugar and sweet malt. On the palate, I got a little oxidation, along with some lightly toasted malt, caramel and some mild hopping. A solid beer, but nothing great.

emmasdad, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of jeffthecheff
3.23/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

jeffthecheff, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of mmmbeer
3.23/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber, 2008 version, sampled several months back. It pours dark ruby, with low carbonation and an inch of light tan head. Later, the beer is almost still and the head reduces to a small collar. Orange, pine, white grapefruit and ethanol in the nose; still pretty raw. It tastes young as well, with thick caramel malts, fruity esters, and citric/piney/spicy hops that impart a deep bitterness. The body is medium to thick (approaching syrupy), dry, with light carbonation, and a medium to long finish. Still very young and rough around the edges, but will probably be great in a year or two.

mmmbeer, Feb 23, 2009
Photo of Smurf2055
3.25/5  rDev -19%

Smurf2055, Aug 03, 2013
Photo of SpAiReArGsEonNE
3.25/5  rDev -19%

SpAiReArGsEonNE, Jun 12, 2013
Photo of seeswo
3.25/5  rDev -19%

seeswo, May 20, 2012
Photo of sketchyhoodie
3.25/5  rDev -19%

sketchyhoodie, Mar 03, 2013
Photo of redlegacy
3.25/5  rDev -19%

redlegacy, Mar 26, 2012
Photo of jimelee108
3.25/5  rDev -19%

jimelee108, Mar 19, 2012
Photo of sweemzander
3.28/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. 17-07-07 printed on the bottle.

(A)- Pours a thick & dark mahogany amber color that actually cascaded for a second or two as a decent off-white head formed. Decent retention. Left some lacing here & there.

(S)- Toasted & floral-like figs & raisins with bits of vanilla, toffee, and roasted cocoa.

(T)- Thin, yet dry & syrupy. Lots of fig & raisin with some toasted toffee & caramel.

(M)- Kind of a lackluster carbonation level. Like I mentioned earlier, its rather thin & syrupy in consistency & texture.

(D)- A decent aged barleywine that unfortunately, might be too old, but I cant know that for sure. Very syrupy & thin for a beer that should have a good kick to it. Enjoyable, but I would easily gravitate towards other offerings of the style. I would welcome the opportunity to try a fresh one for comparison.

sweemzander, Jan 28, 2010
Photo of brdc
3.28/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Large capped bottle, kept in my cellar at controlled temperatures for two years.

Poured into a snifter. Deep dark brown, clear, minimal head. Below average lacing.
Aroma has caramel, citric hoppiness, but despite the two years in the bottle, the alcohol related aromas are still predominant - brandy like, for the most part.
Medium bodied, reasonably well carbonated, but hot - hot -hot. Caramel, bread, lots of sugar, some fruitiness, and lots of "booze".
The flavors are actually interesting, and blend well - except the excessive heat still kills most of the enjoyment. I could not finish mine.

brdc, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of vfgccp
3.3/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Medium maple syrup color with a thin white head and ok lace.

S - Oak, booze, hints of brown sugar.

T - Smooth sweetness. Mild dried fruit character, but mostly oak and brown sugar that came through in the nose. Warm booze through the finish.

M - Medium body with a sweet finish.

O - OK flavors, but the booze is a bit astringent.

vfgccp, Mar 22, 2011
Photo of pmarlowe
3.3/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No discernible date on the bottle. Tulip glass.

A: Pours clear dark amber with a ring and some swirls of off-white head.

S: Upfront is toffee malt and vanilla, along with some red fruit (cherry, raspberry) and citrus brightness.

T: Some mild caramel segueing into some hop bitterness, and finishing pretty tasteless and very dry with a little caramel. Kind of one dimensional.

M: Medium-full body and mild carbonation.

O: Smells good, but pretty average taste.

pmarlowe, Dec 08, 2011
Photo of DrewV
3.31/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Meh, not a horrible beer, but certainly nothing special. A bit "earthy", which in my mind doesn't accurately represent the style. Pretty heavy malt, but backed up with some sort of minty flavors. Just not a cohesive brew. The differing flavors seem to be playing against each other, not offering a constructive flavor buildup. Flavor gets worse as the beer warms, which is opposite of what I usually prefer. Best I can say about this is that the alcohol presence isn't offensive. But no real attractive flavors or aromas present. Mouthfeel is okay, but that doesn't really make or break a beer. For the price, there's MUCH better out there. I'm glad I tried it, because now I know what to avoid in the future. No more than a B- rating from me.

DrewV, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of phishgator
3.33/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a stout pint glass. Big foamy white head and lighter amber color. The nose is some fruity hops, alcohol esters, and apricot fruit. The taste is residual sugars throughout. There is a bitterness that tries to balance the sweetness, but doesn't. The alcohol is actually well hidden even though you smell it. The body is filling; finished the bomber and didn't want anymore beer for the night. It's been a little while since I've been drinking a Barley Wine so I might be a little bias on the taste. Not bad just there are much better examples out there.

phishgator, Jan 27, 2011
Photo of harrymel
3.36/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottled 13FEB12

Dark brown with deep amber character and a solid quilt of buttered cream foam. Smells nice. Toffee, leather, malts, coffee, caramel, more malt and a hint of oak. Nice nose. Flavor is sweet and alcoholic, not nearly as decadent as the olfactory. Malts and tannins and sweetness. Nothing special. Medium on full bodied with a light, touching carb and a semi dry finish. Nice beer, nothing special.

harrymel, Feb 11, 2013
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 869 ratings.