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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)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

501 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 501
Hads: 888
Avg: 4
pDev: 13.75%
Wants: 72
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:
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 charlzm
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed April 22nd, 2012 at Hopjacks, Ensley Florida.

Color is a clear, deep amber with a minimal off-white head. Some slight sheeting.

Aroma: resiny alcohol and a whiff of vanilla.

Almost a lacquer flavor at first. Sweet. Caramelized malt, vanilla, wood and alcohol heat. Some pepper. Not very bitter.

Thick in the mouth. Some carbonation prickle. Dry on the finish.

Easy to drink but oddly not super tasty. Considering I got this for $2.50 during happy hour, I'm not looking this gift horse in the mouth. Worthwhile, if not especially outstanding.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)
Southern Tier Brewing Company
Style: American Barleywine
ABV: 9.60 %

LOOK: Dark ruby brown color, opaque, with a small, short livid white collar of a head.

SMELL: Deeply caramelized and toasted malts, booze, dark fruits. Smells like a big beautiful barley wine.

TASTE: Sweet sugar plum notes upfront, giving way to a malty body with a fruity estery English ale yeast profile. Loads of malt flavor, little in the way of bitterness, and a downplayed but present alcohol character. Warms the soul, as well as the belly.

FEEL: Full bodied, smooth, viscous, syrupy, but well carbonated.

OVERALL: This is a very tasty brew, and it goes down easily for a beer of such strength. A well made barleywine, and would age gracefully if cellared properly.

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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.

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Photo of t420o
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From old notes (9/3/2011)

Southern tier back burner barleywine

A- semi aggressive pour yields a 1 finger off white/tan head that rests atop a hazy copper body. Leaves decent lacing. 4 

S-deep candied sugar, cherry, ripe dark fruits, toffee, bready, slight sourness from the cherry smell, some alcohol. Smells very good 4   

T- follows the nose. Big waves of dark fruits, cherries, caramaized brown sugar, toffee, lightly hoppy, and some caramel. Alcohol is very well hidden.  Complex and well done. 4

M- good mouthfeel. Lowerer carbonation good weight 4

O- a very good barleywine which may be my favorite style. It is sweet but it does it in a good way in my opinion. Pretty drinkable 4


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Photo of BostonHops
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bomber (22oz) served in an oversized wineglass.

pours a luscious, murky mahogany tone with a finger plus of a beige/tan-colored head which quickly retreats into a collar around the glass. spotty lacing evident; nothing to write home about on that front. both somewhat subpar showings (head retention/lacing) forgivable with respect to the strength/style.

fairly pungent nose is rife with caramel malts and a discernible hoppy presence; taste follows through as expected with a malt-forward, hoppy profile with the hops becoming most notable mid-palate. pretty good balance between the malty sweetness and hop bitterness, the latter resonating through the finish. not as big an alcohol showing as you might expect for a 10% ABV although it is discernible.

medium-plus bodied, a touch syrupy. easy drinking for a barley wine. looks like i'm going even 4s across the board on this one. recommended, especially to an ABW fan.

original review on: 10-15-2010

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Photo of dgilks
3.47/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy dark red colour with a tiny head. Poor head retention but that's not what the beer is about.

Massive caramel malt on the nose with hints of grain. Some earthy and almost floral hops. Quite fruity.

Rich, silky malt with more fruit and earthy hops. Interesting combination. Pretty tasty.

Full body with moderate carbonation. Good.

I really like the combination of intensely rich malt and earthy hops here but it is a little cloying. Good but not great.

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Photo of crossovert
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. DOB 02/15/12

It pours a clear reddish brown with a quickly-dissipating off-white head. It leaves some decent lacing.

The smell is nice. Very American-tinged which I usually appreciate in the aroma of barleywines. Nice hop smells, though not super hoppy with some candied orange sort of smell. It pairs with just an amazing malt smell and beautiful oak notes. This brew smells amazing imo.

The flavor is good too. More earthiness, more cloying caramel-like sweetness, but overall nice. Fruit notes creep in after a few quaffs. I feel like the oak doesn't shine as much in the flavor. I think my tolerance for alcohol flavor is strengthening because this one doesn't seem to bad, at least i a not getting any annoying alcoholic notes like others have had.

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Photo of litheum94
3.12/5  rDev -22%
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.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Thin head on a minimally hazy deep amber. Clearer than expected for the style.

S: apricot, syrup/molasses, terpentine (mild), sweet caramel malts.

T: Lots of sweet caramel malt, mildly boozy with some semi-sweet dark fruit like plum, apricot and fig.

M: May be the easiest to drink barleywine I have had. The usual sharpness than one has to get used to as they drink one of these isnt there. This one is smooth and likely this has to go along with the clearer body as oppose to others in the style. Light to medium carbonation and medium body.

Overall: very drinkable, more so than most, without lacking the flavor of a solid barleywine.

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Photo of StlHopHead77
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage

A-Pours out a seriously dark,murky,maroonish brown with with 1 1/2 inches of slightly off white foam that showed moderate retention and left concentric,sticky rings of lacing.

S-Dark cherry,rum soaked raisin,baked sugar,plum,caramel apple and slight hop notes.

T-Ripe,red apple,brown sugar,bitter,citric hops,molasses,toffee and pipe tobacco finishing with an earthy herbal finish.

M-Medium bodied with good balance of flavors.Not overly sweet with a substantial citric hop presence right now.I think some age would benefit this a great deal.

O-Really nice.I wasn't aware that this had been retired so I'll probably pick up a few of the remaining bottles at my local shop.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date on the bottle. Appearance is a nice, hazy, reddish mahogany color like a dark burnt orange. The head is thin and sandy white and dissipates quickly. The nose is primarily fruity with notes of tart oranges and cherries and some dried fruits as well. There are also some malty notes like fresh bread.

The taste is very sweet and malt-forward. Fruit and malt tones predominate and there's a soft hoppy presence at mid-palate that gives the beer a tart finish. The predominant flavors are caramel, sour apple, and orange juice. There's not a huge alcoholic presence, but it is detectable. The mouthfeel is firm and syrupy and the finish gives a tart dried apricot flavor.

Overall, this beer has a nice combination of sweet, bitter, and tart flavors. It's not as hoppy as I anticipated and I may need to revisit it sometime (I question the freshness of this bottle). Still, it is definitely a nice cold evening sipper.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.74/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with no freshness date, purchased in 2012. Poured into two snifter glasses.

Tried to be vigorous with the pour to yield some head, but nothing stuck around. What was there fell to a thin ring in no time. The color is a dark coppery orange-brown. Not much more to say about the appearance. 2.5

I'm gonna try to let this one warm up and breathe a bit. The nose is offering a pronounced woody oak character along with citrusy hops a la tangerine and grapefruit. Some roasty toasty malts, but little toffee sweetness. There's a decent alcohol sting coming upwards. I wouldn't call the hops aggressive, but they're the main feature, thus far. 3.5

Oak, with the volume turned up, mixed with more orange rind hops. A dose of grapefruit pith, grassiness, and booze. The oak and hops are very prominent, leaving pale the semi-dry caramel malt. A semi-balanced, dry-hopped American-style barleywine, for sure. Missing some of the complexities of the hop-forward version that Bigfoot has. A little attenuated, but a decent drink. 4.0

Not much carbonation, as previously stated. The body is pretty light for a 9.6% beer. It's drinkable. I can say that much. Goes down pretty easily. Heady, but drinkable. 3.5

I'm not a huge fan of this kind of barleywine, but Southern Tier didn't make a bad beer here. I'd drink it again, preferrably to look for it on-tap. I wouldn't age it. Not sure what would be left of the original brew if one did. Give 'er a try. 4.0

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4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1pt bottle.Snifter glass.Enjoyed on jun´11.Bright brownish copper color.Foggy.Yellowish beige crown.Fairly well retention.Intense sweet malt aromas involving fruity notes.Flavor: Esters give us a miscelaneous of berries,citrics & apricot,orange hues too.Dry sweet bitter mouthfeel.Full body,correct carbonation.Sweety aftertaste while kind warming alcohol lingers through it.Very well balanced beer.A pretty nice drinkability. A TOP ONE!

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Photo of jtierney89
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brilliant looking for the style. Amazingly clear with a deep yet bright amber hue. Massive off white head. I love it. Nose is familiar yet unique. Classic big malt aromas of dark fruit bowls mixed with honey roasted peanuts. Touch of licorice combines with the nutty notes making a scent i've smelt before but can't put my finger on. Oak present on the nose as well, big time actually as the beer breathes.

First impressions on the first sip: thinner body then expected with a dominant oak taste but not overbearing. Not a small body so to say but a little thinner than most barley wines. Oddly subtle for such a fresh barley wine, I can only imagine this with a year on it, probably drinks too easily (but probably delicious) Some deep fruit flavors come through and those that do really play well with the oaky flavors. Some cola flavors with deep dark raspberries. A bit of honey on the front end.

A very complex brew with a lot to it if yo really want to look into it. I'm really interested as to how age would effect this one since it's already received some benefits of being aged in oak barrels.

A very earthy beer with flavors that remind you of a camping trip gone right. I like it.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, I'd guess and say it's about a year old if not older than that. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a reddish/brown color with a half inch tan head that went away quickly. There's a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like caramel malt, molasses, apricots, plums and a bit of pine hops. The taste is mostly like the aroma, but there's also the addition of some cherries, toffee and orange peel flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. It's easy enough to drink. I think it's a good overall brew, I'd buy it again in the future. It's certainly worth trying.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

With fortified malt sweetness and a peripheral dance of hops about the edges, Southern Tier nails the flavor profile of American-style Barleywines with this nearly-balanced example.

Pouring a deep ruby or mohogany hue and with the signature haze of hoppy ales, the beer forms a masculine appearance and carries it well with a dense tanish head, long-lasting retention, and classic rings of lace as the beer fades.

The mouthwatering sweet sent of caramelized barley, toffee, and even molasses all take turns sharing the nose. Not to be outdone are the deep spicy hop notes of pine and citrus. Alcohol aromas are evident in a very rummy, cherry, and raisony way.

The focus toward sweetness continues with a balance of malty richness and toffee sweetness. The taste of heavy caramelization chases the beer from inital sip until the savory finish. A rise of citrusy grapefruit and orange zest complement the sweetness with an awakening sharpness and acidity that develops nicely into a clean resiny bitterness in finish. Estery with fruit complexities of cherry, raisons, and rum continue to blend in and out of the malty make up.

Big and bold, the early weighted creaminess is slow developing into a long and lingering finish of near-cloying and resiny-dry balance. Alcohol abrasion and biting hops deny the smooth and deeply developing finish of classics like Bigfoot Barleywine and Behemoth Barleywine.

Regardless, fresh varieties yield a brighter and hop-forward citrusy component while older versions prove smoother and more rounded. Should pair well with Stilton or Maytag Blue cheeses.

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Photo of jsanford
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Believe it's a 2010 vintage.

A - Pours a clear caramel with a creamy off-white head that settles to a solid cap, leaving sheets of lacing as it recedes.
S - Big, sweet aromas of caramel, honey, and dried fruits with a candied citrus peel hop character and a touch of alcohol.
T - Big malty flavors of caramel and honey with a good amount of fruitiness (prunes, raisins, apricots) and some citrusy hops. Obviously a sweet beer, but still nicely balanced and surprisingly drinkable despite the 9.60% ABV.
M - Slightly sticky, with a medium-full body and appropriately lowish carbonation.
O - An enjoyable, slow-sipping Barleywine, I just wish it came in 12oz bottles instead of 22. This is gonna be tough to finish by myself...

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Photo of Holland
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown with lighter highlights and an off white head that stays with lacing and a ring on the edges.

S: smells of honey, caramel, roasted malt.

T: delicious barleywine, but it's missing the fruity notes.

M: standard carbonation with a medium-heavy body. Good for the style.

O: very good beer, best of the night so far on a barleywine tasting with a few other decent ones.

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Photo of seedsofchaos
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thick, tawny, rubies thrown in the fire... Backburner is a heavy, opaque and dark barleywine. Sweet caramel malts, candied pears, plums and leather all lend themselves to a great aroma. Southern Tier never lets one down with anything short of a sweet beer but does well not to do so in a cloying way. A bit too peppery, but overall solid with great flavors of roasted caramel, dark fruits, earthy hops and leather.. Decent medium-heavy mouthfeel with a bit of heat from the alcohol.

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours murky amber in color into my snifter with about two fingers of dense tan head that has excellent retention and very sticky lacing.

S - Lots of sweet caramel malts, toffee, vanilla, apricots, cherries and a touch of alcohol.

T - Sweet caramel/toffee malts up front, mild piny and citrus hops, raisin, cherry, plum and even apricot are all present, and a warming presence of alcohol.

M - Really well balanced, not too hot, very smooth, slightly sticky.

O - Solid offering from Southern Tier, not overly impressive but very drinkable and enjoyable.

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Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (aged 2 years @ ~50 degrees) poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance: Dark gold/ Amber brown color, big eggshell colored bubbles with lacing that drips down the glass

Nose: Malty, toffee, caramel, light fruit notes like apricots

Taste: The apricots come through with a fantastic caramel and roasted malt backbone. Finish is piney and citrus from a the hops, the bitterness has faded perfectly well to support the beer.

Mouth: Velvetty and smooth, the alcohol taste that was there fresh is gone. This feels like silk on the tongue.

Overall: Bought 2 of these 2 years ago, and thought it would age ok, I am pleasantly surprised with this beer. Fresh isn't nearly as good as this, which has allowed the fruit to come out and the alcohol taste to settle down.

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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.

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Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a nice, bronzy brown in color with a modest but very stubborn head that left cool-looking pits and a nice film.

Smell – This smells more like an EBW than an ABW. The table sugar is huge at the nose along with a vast collection of light, summertime fruits. I get a beautiful white apricot, a must try if you’ve never had them, with a bit of non-tart apple and maybe white grapes to go along with the barleyWINE moniker. The malts are modest caramel but really they are in the background here.

Taste – The light fruits and table sugar come through at the taste along with the first hint of hops. I guess the hop profile is somewhat complex but they do not dominate this ale like you would think from looking at the impressive list. I get a nice citrus and light pine mix but again nothing heavy. The caramel is a bit bigger in the mouth but nothing off the charts.

Mouthfeel – This is a big medium-bodied and greasy slick in the mouth with little suggestion of the high ABV.

Drinkability – This is the closest thing I’ve found to a session Barley Wine. It is very easy-drinking, not intimidating at all as most ABVs can be, and actually is more Enlgish than American. The light fruity character sets this apart from the rest and makes this mandatory tasting for all the BW lovers.

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Photo of ccarney2
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Darkish deep amber orange color that is very cloudy. Pours about an inch of off white head when poured violently. Head quickly dissipates into a thin film that leaves hardly any lacing. Not too unexpected with the style and gravity.

Smell - Dark fruits with lots of cherry and plum to start. Alcohol is definitely evident, but so are a moderate amount of sweeter hops. Maybe a bit of caramel/vanilla scent, something sweet.

Taste - There is a big sweetness off the bat with this barleywine, that doesn't really fade too much. Alcohol flavor lasts throughout also, with the same characteristics of the smell here as well. Cherry, plum, and raisin dominate the palate. Kind of one dimensional in terms of flavors.

Mouthfeel - Moderate to high carbonation, with a pretty viscous and thick coat left on the tongue.

Overall - I feel like this is a slightly better than average beer. I don't have too much to compare it to stylewise, but I will say that you know how much alcohol you're taking in while drinking this. Southern Tier does not normally disappoint, and they didn't necessarily here either, but they also didn't really excite me either.

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