Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

501 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 501
Hads: 888
Avg: 4
pDev: 13.75%
Wants: 72
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Reviews: 501 | Hads: 888
Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

 547 characters

Photo of jwinship83
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 bottle stored in the basement since may

A- deep dark amber to ruby colored body with a finger of fleeting off white very sticky head.

S- strong odor of hops. lots of dark ripe fruits. cherries, figs, and a hint of booze

T- loads of citrusy hops. some medicinal qualities, and the fruits i could smell. pretty boozy

M- nice and syrupy. the alcohol warms all the way down.

D- best suited for colder weather, the whole bottle was kind of hard to polish off on my own. half of it was perfect. wouldnt want another one.

 525 characters

Photo of UA8
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

 428 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

 706 characters

Photo of webmanspidey
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into a Chimay chalice. A dark caramel/amber color with a slight head. Smells sweet and rich.. taste is much of the same. Full bodied, very rich, heavy, and malty with a mild hoppy bitterness in the background. Alcohol is present but not overwhelming, yet the overall characteristics of this make it a very slow sipper.

For this most part, I think this beer is pretty par for the course for the style. A solid offering.

 434 characters

Photo of jamie2dope
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lately (perhaps unconsciously) I have been drawn to Barleywines by sheer evidence of the fact that I keep purchasing new ones. I bought this one for two reasons: I have never had it out of the bottle, and I grabbed a new blue cheese (Great Hill Blue) to pair it with. Poured a dark rosewood color, with a small white head. Nose has lots of grains that almost come off as honey soaked, followed by some brush strokes of stone fruit, and plenty of alcohol to go around. Taste is as intense as the smell, with some residual sweetness showing up at the beginning (perhaps the fruit and honey), and then ending on a much more hoppy, bitter note. Body of this brew coats the mouth from top to bottom, and leaves a very noticeable hoppy aftertaste. No question that this beer is big, with lots of hops and alcohol to push your palate around. One bomber is more than enough for me, but that isn't to say that it is not a very complex, tasty Barleywine. It is nice to see a beer like this with such balls come along. An impressive beer from Southern Tier, and one that I think would make a great candidate for some aging. Cheers

 1,119 characters

Photo of MVotter
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

 760 characters

Photo of wvsabbath
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Tanish black, nice 2 inch creamy head and tons of lacing.

Smell - ROasted malts, whiskey, spices, dark fruits, some added sugars, a little toffee and caramel note.

Taste - Strong opening taste of whiskey and fruits. Malts add the famed caramel/toffee flavor. Plenty of cherry mixed in with some molasses and brown sugars. Not very hoppy or much A slight warm alcohol bite near the finish.

Mouthfeel - Thick, syrupy and rich. Tounge gets malts, whiskey and sugars. Palate gets more of the same. Afetrtaste is dry and fruity.

Overall - This reminds me moreso of a belgium strong ale then a barleywine. Too drinkible, not such a monster sipper that ive come to know. I did enjoy the whiskey flavor but its just too tame and lacks the depth and complex flavors. Try bigfoot from sierra nevada and you will see what i meen. This is ok but i wouldnt buy again.

 900 characters

Photo of dsa7783
3.67/5  rDev -8.3%
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...

 1,036 characters

Photo of brystmar
3.67/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Blind Tiger in the village. In the interest of full disclosure & fairness, let it be known that I'm not generally a barleywine guy (unless it's well aged) and I dislike IPAs / overly hoppy beer.

Pours a blackish stout color with mild head and poor retention. Moderate lacing. Hops and sweet malts in the nose. Bitter up front, sweet hops follow with hints of bittersweet chocolate and a bit bready too. Dry finish with lingering hops and a touch of alcoholic warmth.

Medium- to full-bodied, good carbo levels. Easy to drink for a barleywine -- honestly, great for the style -- but still not really my thing, even though I loooove Southern Tier. YMMV.

 662 characters

Photo of tbeckett
3.67/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the IGA in Potsdam. From notes.

A - Poured a dark red with a little island of white filmy head. Fairly effervescent. Bright. No lace and no head retention.

S - Caramel, hops are very obvious to balance against the sweetness to come, slight alcohol, sugary. Hops really push the sugars around but blend together.

T - Strong earthy notes, caramel, molasses, sugar, maple syrup, strong pure hops push the dark fruit sweetness out of the way.

M - Mild to medium carbonation, full body, sweet finish.

O/D - Alright. The hop forward profile of this barleywine is much like the American take on all other traditional styles...more hops. Lacks alot of the characteristics that I enjoy in BWs by just hopping the hell out of it. I probably wouldn't seek this out again but I enjoyed half the bottle to the degree that I would consider it a good American twist on the style.

 881 characters

Photo of pvsob
3.67/5  rDev -8.3%
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!

 482 characters

Photo of Xul
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep, translucent ruby with a brown tint, capped by one finger of frothy, eggshell head. Retention is good for such a big beer and it leaves light lacing in its wake.

S: Caramel and toffee are strong up front, followed by raisins, figs, and some light earthy hops. Strong booze notes swirl around but never overpower the other elements of the aroma. Somewhat subdued as a whole.

T: Starts out with some light earthy bitterness before transitioning into dark fruits - raisins, figs, and some dark cherries - and some vanilla notes. A big, sweet caramel note hits near the backend and sticks around through to the finish. The booze is evident, but a bit more controlled than in the aroma.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, has a slightly creamy feel.

D: Booze is kept relatively in check and the taste is well balanced, drinks well for its ABV, but isn't particularly remarkable.

 900 characters

Photo of Pencible
3.68/5  rDev -8%
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.

 802 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep garnet body with an off-white head. The head doesn't last long and it doesn't leave much lacing.

Smell - Delicious smell. Caramel and toffee malts with strong dark fruit aromas. Maybe some bananas in the background. Not a lot of the hops come through.

Taste - A bit of hoppiness right at the start, then sweet. Not a complex as the smell. The sweetness overwhelms what I can only imagine to be subtlety in the flavors. A good hop bitterness in the back lingers and reminds me that it's a barleywine and not an old ale.

Mouthfeel - Thick and a bit syrupy, which makes sense considering the sweetness. Not a lot of carbonation makes it feel thicker. The drinkability really starts to get sluggish as this beer warms. The slightest bit of alcohol warming in the finish.

Overall - Great smell, slightly disappointing flavor. Still tastes good, just not great.

 915 characters

Photo of mntlover
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich reddish amber color nice when held to the light. Brown thumb sized head falls to ringed scum that laces well.

Aroma is nice seems fruity orange, pears apples kind of weird but good mixed with nice caramel base sweet malts, honey, touches of brown sugar. I know the fruity notes are from the hops but over all brew not slap u in the face west coast hoppy more mellow and fruity with pine hints.

Taste is lots of caramel malts, toffee hints, brown sugar even some honey. Hops kick in and try to back off on the cloying sweetness and mostly they succeed. Some hints of alcohol is noticed and lingers into the finish. Seems like mix of American and English or this is an old bottle? Not bad over all just not really coming together for me to make me want more.

Mouthfeel is approaching full but just missing the mark carbonation is lightly peppy.

Drinkability is ok decent enough brew but not one that screams go buy more of me.

 941 characters

Photo of TheSarge
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured about 6oz out into a wide mouthed tulip, and the brew makes a good two finger thick khaki colored head presentation with great retention, and the body is dark and hazy with a plum skin color.

The aroma is milk like, dark over ripe fruit, cooked veggies, and slight caramel.

Taste wise it is very caramel and toffee, with a spike of grapefruit kick in the end.

This is full in body, and a bit warming in the end.

 421 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured into snifter glass.

Appearance: hazy orange color with a thinkg white head.

Smell: Malty goodness. Some hops to balance the beer/

Taste: Oak, vanilla, malty sweetnes.

Mothfeel: This is a big beer that is very balanced. It s an imporession to wo worka n qiimqnten sign,

 280 characters

Photo of Stoneman78
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at Sam's in Clybourn

Appearance is a dark amber hue, thin layer of off-white head dissipates, sticky lacing

Smell is dominated by hops [floral, grassy, citrus], sweet brown sugar, toffee, dark fruits, and alcohol

Taste is initially caramel malts and alcohol, transitions to pepper and bitter pine hops, then comes dark fruits and toffee, finishes sweet and pepper spicy

Mouthfeel is medium/full-bodied, thick and chewy texture, prickly carbonation

Drinkability is fair, but the alcohol presence and pepper distracts from the overall taste profile, this is a super-hoppy barleywine, slightly unbalanced but decent overall

 643 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a goblet.

A: Slightly hazy, dark amber color with a partial residue of off-white bubbles. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Strong toffee candy and fermented grain. There is a spirituous edge of moist earth and fruit that becomes detectable.

T: Begins very off-dry, with heavy caramel and husky toasted malt. Acidity is understated, while fruity esters are fairly pronounced. Malt becomes softer, more bready, in the middle as umami becomes momentarily defining. Earthy flavors compliment relatively mild bitterness in the finish, with dark citrus fruit and resurgent caramel also present. Alcohol presence remains relatively restrained even at its late, slow peak.

M: Medium viscosity; soft, slightly syrupy, and warming on the palate; with low carbonation.

D/O: This is a pleasant, malt-focused barleywine that is strongly influenced by English yeast character. It gives up some of the interesting challenge of a strong ale to seem more palate friendly than most. This beer could easily pass as a stronger old ale.

 1,051 characters

Photo of GotWad629
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a dark red - brown with a thin head that dissipates quickly.

Smell is of toffee, dark fruits, and caramel. The booze is definitely present.

Taste is similar. Lots of toffee, dark fruit and caramel. There is a decent amount of sweetness that is balanced out nicely with the bitterness of the hops. The alcohol is definitely noticeable as well.

The body and carbonation are both pretty light.

This is definitely a sipper and perfect for a winter night.

 464 characters

Photo of Jmamay22
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've been loving everything that Southern Tier has been putting out lately and I have high expectations for their Barley Wine.

Pours a rust tinged mahogany's with white wisps that hint of the head that has since dissipated. Collar leaves behind occasional spotty lacing.

Smells strongly of toffee and sweet malts. The hops are surely there as well, but aren't in your face as many American versions. The alcohol is strong as well, but does not come off as harsh. There's a nice fruit scent as well, which mixes with the hops to create an interesting citrus and raisin scent.

Tastes of cherry ladened with brown sugar and rum. Sweet and alcohol fueled until the hops start overtaking things. Much more citrus and pine than in the nose.

Mouthfeel is average and medium bodied. Hops and alcohol create this prickly feeling in the aftertaste. Drinkability comes off as difficult due to the harshness of the alcohol in the taste. The combination of alcohol and hops seem to create a near metallic aftertaste. Not their best. Best enjoyed as a digestif and alone.

 1,062 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Here's something I don't see that often; a twist-off 22 ounce bomber bottle. Bought this one in 2007. Poured cold out of the fridge and into my nonic pint glass. Appears a rather cloudy crimson brown color with about an inch of creamy tan head. The head settles to a thin ring within a few minutes of pouring. Aromas and flavors consist of brown sugar, raisins, dates, caramel, quite bitter, still a good amount of alcohol heat, piney hops, pineapples. Decent carbonation with a medium to full body and a lingering bitterness. The bitter notes give way to a touch of sweetness as the ale warms. A sipper for me.

 611 characters

Photo of coldmeat23
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

 1,231 characters

Photo of bnes09
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark bronze translucent ale. Ample light tan head with tons of lacing that lasts the entire drink and forms more with each sip.

Sweet, dark fruit aromas with raisins, dates and plums.

Dense malt character with dark fruits to add sweetness. Caramel and maple. Hops are subtle with an herbal tone. Sweet overall.

Thick, near syrupy texture. Descent carbonation provides a mild snappiness.

Adequate flavor and balance for a barley wine. Unfortunately, not much more to offer here. Also a tad too sweet for my taste.

 516 characters

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 501 ratings.