Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

501 Reviews
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 501
Hads: 885
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 9.52%
Wants: 74
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: 885
Photo of harrymel
3.42/5  rDev -14.3%
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. (412 characters)

Photo of MisterE
3.49/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

bought this 22 oz. bomber at Ward's earlier this week

A: pours a murky rusty brown with almost no head

S: sweet malt, citrusy hops, and alcohol

T: more like an English Barleywine in my opinion, with a boozy bite as it warms

M: smooth but rather thin, very little carbonation

O: after reading previous reviews, this beer was a disappointment, but solid all the same

Perhaps it's hard for me to get excited by a beer in this category that costs more than Bigfoot but delivers less of the pleasure. (501 characters)

Photo of TheRougeBastard
4.4/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Since I am a big fan of Barley Wine styles, I never pass one up and willing to try all entries! Southern Tier's "back burner" absolutely did itself proud! Consumed straight from the 22 ounce bomber during the Niner's big win over "not-so Hot-Lanta"! But I digress...everything about the "back burner" that matters was pleasing; smell, taste, etc, was well balanced and an enjoyable consumption! Very, VERY reminiscent (sp?) of the Horn Dog by the Flying Dog, one of the better samplings of the genre, IMO! Well worth a try! (523 characters)

Photo of MRclean
4.8/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Vessel: Purchased in a 22 oz. bottle. Consumed from a tulip glass.

Appearance: a clean reddish brown, ½ finger developing head that dissipates quickly

Smell: sweet, caramel, malty

Taste: Sweet caramel and oak comes together with a notable but appropriate hop presence. It has a great flavor.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, with a slight punch of alcohol.

Overall: I am admittedly not a huge barley wine fan but this offering from Rogue is fantastic. The flavors come together in an amazingly enjoyable balance to create a delicious barley wine.
Serving type: bottle (559 characters)

Photo of Flounder57
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle was poured into a snifter.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger head that has reduced to a thin layer and left some lacing on the glass. It is a murky crimson brown color with some visions of bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: sweet caramel malts, toffee, citrus, and boozy alcohol.

Taste: Very tasty brew. I have been holding on to this one for several years and it has stood the test of time. It is good to see the hops not killing the maltiness of this beer. The taste follows the aroma really well.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, full bodied, medium bodied, boozy, and quite the treat.

Overall: Pretty solid barleywine. Hoppy, but the maltiness makes this beer well balanced. Quite enjoyable and a good sipper in the middle of this snowstorm we are getting. (787 characters)

Photo of GotWad629
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
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 BlackBelt5112203
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass at cellar temperature.

L – Amber-brown color with a 2-finger cream-colored head. Nice retention but not much lacing. Clear with a good amount of bubbles. A little bit lighter than expected, but still fits the style.

S – Mostly caramel malts and citrus hops with some dark fruits mixed in. Alcohol is definitely apparent in the nose.

T – Follows the nose with a little more depth in the malt department. Starts off sweet with caramel, rich malts, molasses, and dark fruits like plums and figs. Bitter citrus hops creep in mid-taste and build toward the finish.

F – Medium-bodied with good carbonation, a sticky and mouth-coating feel, and a dry and bitter finish. Sweet caramel and bitter citrus hops linger. Lots of alcohol warmth is apparent at the finish.

O – This is a pretty solid American barleywine. It comes exactly as advertised with sweet caramel balanced with bitter citrus hops. The heat detracts a little from the drinkability, but it seems like that’s to be expected in beers that are this big. I haven’t had many barleywines so it’s tough to judge, but this one is pretty tasty. Another good beer from Southern Tier. (1,190 characters)

Photo of Gobzilla
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a mahogany brown in color with yellow highlights and a thin ring of head that left very little bubbly lacing sticking to the glass.

S: most malty sweetness upfront in the nose but was able to detect some caramel, maybe a little dark fruitiness, hints of piney hops, a little booze and signs of maple.

T: the flavor was also very sweet and malty like the aroma suggested alongside dark fruit character, a little booze heat, caramel accents, a touch of toffee, maple sugar notes and a touch hoppiness.

M: the brew was medium in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, mildly dark fruity, boozy, slightly hoppy and sticky finish

O: I thought it was just OK but was decent. I guess I am just use to these real big robust rich flavorful barleywines. (776 characters)

Photo of ummswimmin
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer during the power outage following hurricane Sandy. I figured that a barleywine would work perfectly at room temperature.

I poured this beer into a snifter glass. This is a very hazy brown beer with minimal foam.

Backburner smells very hot. There are lots of venous qualities there.

The flavor is extremely rich. The heat comes in at the back of the throat.

This is a pretty good example of a barleywine. I'd go on more about this beer, but I got tired of writing reviews in the dark. (504 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bomber into snifter glass

Appearance- The beer pours a deep copper- red color with highlights of amber and a small off white head. The head fades very rapidly leaving a few bubbles to linger on the surface of the brew and leaving a light level of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is bready and sweet. A sweet aroma of caramel, cherries, apple, and toffee are plentiful mixing well with a big bready smell. With the sweet and malty is a decent showing of a nice bourbon aroma.

Taste – The taste starts out of a bready taste with hints of caramel and dark fruit sweetness. As the taste advances, a strong toffee sweetness comes to the tongue with it mixed with a lighter herbal flavor. As the taste moves on further the sweet fades slightly with an oak and bourbon alcohol flavor coming to the tongue. These two flavors grow quite a bit stronger at the end and mix with an earthy hop to leave a lingering sweet and earthy bourbon flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly creamier and thicker side, although for a 9.6 % it is not all that exceptionally thick. The carbonation level is quite appropriate for the style as it is on the lower side. The lower carbonation and the slightly thicker body allow the sweet, boozy, oak and lightly hopped flavors to linger on the tongue.

Overall - A rather interesting barley wine with a rather diverse flavor profile. While on the sweeter side, there are also good flavors of a bready, hoppy and boozy flavor. The transitions in the taste are all rather smooth and with it not being a booze bomb like some barley wines it is somewhat easy to drink. Worth a try if you have a chance. (1,701 characters)

Photo of bigaltemple
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep, dark, copper color with nice amber hues appearing at the edges. Quarter inch, khaki-colored turns to a flimsy cap. Get some intricate sheets of lacing.

S - Initial whiff is lots of oak with subtle hints of vanilla. Sweet caramel and a bit of raisin show up as well. As it warms the floral/earthy hops become a bit more prominent.

T/M - Very similar to the nose. Tons of oak and vanilla, with some caramel and toffee. Mild bitterness finishes it off. Medium bodied, bordering on the thin side. Mild carbonation is nice for this one.

O - Haven't disliked a beer from Southern Tier yet. Found this one to be enjoyable, and would gladly have again. (657 characters)

Photo of bnes09
3.71/5  rDev -7%
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)

Photo of PorterLambic
3.76/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Arrives in a snifter, a hazy dark brown with no head.
Smell is piney hops with some dark fruits and malt. Not exactly as expected but well balanced.
Taste is hoppy, sweet, malt, pine and some generic dark fruit notes. Balance is good.
Full bodied, warming and quite smooth. Extremely light effervescence, as expected. A nice sipping beer. Well done. So much better when it warms, easily twice the beer. Let it sit for 30 minutes at least and love it. (453 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Rattle N Hum in New York, NY

A: Pours a clear medium to dark amber in color with light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that slowly reduced to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of caramel and toffee malt sweetness with some notes of bourbon and vanilla - quite sweet and malty.

T: The taste is very similar to the smell with lots of malt flavors including caramel and toffee tastes and some bourbon notes - there are some light amounts of bourbon and vanilla. Very interesting with some notes alcohol near the finish.

M: Full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with some alcohol heat in the finish.

O: This beer drinks more like a bourbon or a whiskey than a beer, this is definitely a slow sipping beer to enjoyed over quite a bit of time. I like the hints of bourbon like flavors and smells but this beer is big and does not hide the fact. (1,069 characters)

Photo of WynnO
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This dark reddish brown beast is quite inviting. Head is not exceptional---what barley wine is?

Smell is a bit weak but quite floral. Average, par, nominal, etc.

This jewel tastes pretty close to its definition. Southern Tier is amazing, and they do not disappoint here. Great balance of hops and heat. And it lingers...not too much though. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel is marvy IMHO. I like this beer for its politeness of knowing when to leave. I sense no yucky aftertastes. It exits like a champ.

I give this a 4.5 overall only because Southern Tier has raised its bar so high that it's hard to find a spearchucker amongst its vast selection of incredible beers that can rise above their standard. (lighten up---"spearchucker" is meant for its literal comedy here---someone who casts a spear a long, long way) (811 characters)

Photo of TheSarge
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
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 AlCaponeJunior
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy and brown, very typical of a barleywine. Carbonation is ample and provided a pretty good 2 finger head that lasted a bit, but dissipated into a sheen, leaving pretty good thick, sticky lacing.

Aroma is blastingly malty, with that pungent barley aroma I'm looking for in a barleywine. Caramel malts are plentiful. Hops are equally forward, with a nice twang to top off the pungent aromas.

Flavor is very nice. Caramel malt, brown sugar, dark ripe fruits, some citrus bitterness, and a nice balancing of hops. This isn't an overly hopped barleywine, it's more malt forward and balanced (as compared to say SN Bigfoot ale, which I found to be monstrously hoppy). There's a note of oak, but it's not very forward and certainly not overpowering.

The body is medium to full, with a slick, syrupy finish.

It's pretty good, not the best barleywine I've had but still pretty good. It's right on par from what I expect from the Southern Tier Imperial Series. (966 characters)

Photo of hardy008
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy burgundy with a two finger beige head with nice retention and lacing. The aroma on this beer is one of the sweetest I have ever smelled. The aroma has caramel, toffee, oranges, dark fruit, and brown sugar.

Tastes almost as sweet as it smells, with caramel, toffee, oranges, and dark fruit. There is a bit more hop bitterness than I would have guessed, and it is a plus, because it goes so well together with the sweet malt flavors.

Full bodied with moderate carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden for 9.6 % abv, but this is definitely a warming beer. This is a very nice Barleywine for sure. (603 characters)

Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy amber-copper color with a finger of frothy off-white head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is full of sweet caramel and caramelized malts with some citrus, grapefruit, and grassy hops some dark caramel malts and a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet caramel and caramelized malts with some grapefruit and citrus hops and some bitterness. Through the middle, some brown sugar comes through with some grassy hops and some more bitterness. The finish is a mix of sweet caramelized malts, citrus and grassy hops, bitterness, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet, bitter, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nicely balanced American Barleywine with good body, malt, and hop balance. (813 characters)

Photo of Dope
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Relatively fresh bottle, <1 year old.

A: Pours a murky amber with a good sized and dense tan head. Fades slowly, leaving a thin but almost uninterrupted wall of lacing.

S: Loads of raisin, fig and molasses primarily. Some toffee and caramel in the middle.

T: Strong molasses up front along with the dark fruit - raisin and fig. Some toffee, caramel and a bit more molasses in the middle and towards the end. Not overly sweet, especially with a little burst of earthy and resin hop bitterness in the finish.

M: Heavy, thick.

O: A good american style barleywine. Nice complexity and balance of flavors. However, nothing stands out as earth-shattering so I give it a solid 4 across the board. Not a knock against the beer, it's a pretty excellent staple for the style. Just nothing to distinguish it from the rest. (821 characters)

Photo of albertjr21
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2011 bottle served in a snifter on 7-20-12:

A deep ruby color and syrupy looking consistency flirts almost into brown under a thin but resilient light beige froth. A delicious sweet aroma of caramel and luscious toasted bready malt delights the nose with a sugary raisin candy allure. I'm unsure as to how much has been going on in the bottle for the past year because I shamefully admit to having never tried a young version of this. But I can tell you that there is a very nice harmony of flavors bleeding into each other on the palate. Deep jammy earthy raisin fruit, caramel, and roasted grainy bread glide across the palate into pleasantly resinous sticky fruit bitterness. A little bit of pungent grape dryness in the finish as well. Enjoyed with a Blue Cheese D'Auvergne and thin sliced fresh Italian bread. (823 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been sitting on this one for a little while, there's no bottle dating, but I believe I put this away in 2009.
Pours a mostly clear deep reddish orange with a good sized off white head that shows great retention and moderate lace. Smells of sweet sugar, caramel and dark fruit, cherries mostly with an earthy as well as an ethanol bite. The flavor is sweet with cherries and raisins with lots of sweet and dark sugars. I also catch a hint of roast or chocolate at the end of every sip. There is a fair amount of alcohol burn as well as some earthy and oxidized flavors. Medium to thick body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. This is a nice flavorful barleywine but it seems to be in that in between stage where its not exactly fresh and not quite aged enough. I might have to put some of these away and see how they work with a bit more age. (885 characters)

Photo of siege06nd
3.79/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 2011 bottle, poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A. Pours a very cloudy, ruddy copper color. Not much head to speak of, just a wisp of a cream colored neck around the top. Lacing is also very faint. Meh.

S. Toasted malt, raisin, caramel, and some subtle hop notes.

T. Lots of toasty bread crust, some toasty caramel, raisin, toffee, spicy and bitter hops, and a fairly big booze burn on the back end.

M. Boozy finish but everything else is pretty well-balanced. Slightly astringent and drying from the bitterness and alcohol burn.

O. A solid American Barleywine and, I think, one of the better versions that is readily available. That said, with a little bit of effort, far better can be had, including Gratitude and Dogfish Head Olde School. (752 characters)

Photo of sommersb
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted On: 07-15-2012
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Snifter
Purchased: Received in a trade

Appearance is a dark amber colored clear beer, with one and a half fingers of off-white head. A fair amount of head retention and a good level of lace.

Aromas are rich; composed of oak, caramel malts, alcohol, spices and earthy hops.

The taste is both malty and hoppy, as you'd expect from a barleywine, with dark fruits, alcohol warming, and aged/wood flavors.

The mouthfeel is slick, with a full, thick body. Carbonation is low. The finish is smooth and is balanced well between sweet malts and bitter hops.

Overall, this is a strong and nicely balanced barleywine. I'd recommend you seek this one out - a real treat!

Thanks to TheBishopco for this one! (798 characters)

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer like most barleywines pours a darker amber, a little hazy on the body with an off white to really light (white-orange) head that rose to maybe 1/3".

Smell: Strong barley scent, with hints of caramel and sweet hops.

Taste: Not bad at all, I like it a lot with its caramel feel and strong "wine-rum" taste.

Mouth: Medium carbonation not so sticking as you would expect, it definitely isn't a 4 that's why I can't rate it so high but it will at least satisfy.

Overall: You will definitely like this, it will satisfy most palates and would be hard if it couldn't with most real beer drinkers . Take a shot because I would definitely grab it again. Salud! (704 characters)

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