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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

862 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 862
Reviews: 497
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 66
Gots: 101 | 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: 862 | Reviews: 497 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bamadog
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle is from January 2010, and with a recent batch of cooler nights, I figure it's a good of a night as any to crack it. Review is from notes taken on 9/23/2011 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a deep coppery color with some hints of ruby to it; body presents a little a bottle murky, but you can still see light through it despite the cloudiness; starts with a 1/2 finger light tan, creamy head that fades relatively quickly to a thin, uneven skim with a thick, foamy ring around the surface; plenty of tiny spots and oil lingers on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Smell is fantastic, very big, robust -- I can smell it from the table; plenty of hop presence to it still and it is fairly citric and reminiscent of oranges, and with the big, sweet caramel maltiness backing it up, it is like candied fruit; warm toffee (and caramel, as already mentioned) sweetness, and a bit of a warm baking spiciness to it.

Taste: Taste is very good, and the hop presence has managed to really hold up well and there is still a good bit of herbal and fruity bitterness to it; very sweet, rich and deep maltiness is the strongest aspect to it along with the hops, and they are just as the nose suggests -- caramel and toffee with a bit of the warm baking spices to them; alcohol is still present, but more in the back and as a warming presence as opposed to a big isopropyl-like flavor.

Mouthfeel: Body is just over what I would consider medium in weight, and the carbonation is still present, but comes across as soft and it provides just about the right amount of carbonation; a moderately thick and sticky coating is left all over the mouth, and it allows the bitter hops to linger well into the aftertaste; belly is left a little warm from the nearly 10% ABV.

Overall: A great beer to be sure, and well worth picking up. I'm a pretty big fan of ST's bigger beers, and this one definitely runs with the rest of them. It's a sipper, to be sure, but it won't be a problem to finish the bottle by myself over the course of the night.

bamadog, Sep 24, 2011
Photo of kzoobrew
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep caramelly amber color. Three finger cinnamon colored head sits atop. The head works its way back at a casual pace leaving behind heavy moth eaten lacing. A nice cap remains on top for the duration.

Warm toast malt and caramel aroma are surprisingly dominant off the bat. Bright pineapple and citrus hop scents fill in behind. The aroma displays an impressive balance. Not the aroma I expect from an American Barleywine but it is enjoyed non the less.

Candied pineapple and caramel flavor lay heavy on the tongue out of the glass. A bright bitterness picks up as the flavor transitions to the midpalate before a heavy caramel flavor emerges. Deep flavors develop on the back of the palate, heavily caramelized sugar and raisins mainly. The darker flavors become very strong on the back end drowning out the lighter flavors from up front.

Backburner comes in just under full bodied. The carbonation is a bit higher than expected, delivering a bit of a lighter body than I would prefer. The finish is long as the dark sugar and fruit flavors dig into the tongue refusing to budge.

Backburner is a solid beer, enjoyable but fails to reach the top tier of the style. Easy to drink and enjoyable. This is one I will pick up a s a change in pace Barleywine but will not be on the top of my list.

kzoobrew, Sep 13, 2011
Photo of tbeckett
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

tbeckett, Sep 12, 2011
Photo of sprucetip
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from notes. Clear, copper/amber, thin fizzy tan head, no lacing. But good looking overall.

At first and in no particular order, boozy estery dark fruit, floral hops, caramel malt, and a more general malty sweetness. Really nice, if a bit hot. Later, the super rich caramel malt is prominent and highlighted by fruity notes from either hops and or yeast.

Dark fruit, mild hop bitterness, caramel and rich malty sweetness coming on strong in the middle and stealing the show. It's all accented lightly by gentle hoppy bitterness. Quite sweet, but very tasty.

Low carbonation leads to a thinnish feel for such a thick and rich brew. Mild warming, really sweet finish.

Many diverse elements add to the complexity and balance of this worthy ale. But it's pretty sweet, to be sure, even for a barleywine. I'd have it again.

sprucetip, Aug 30, 2011
Photo of Jules11788
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a cloudy deep mahogany red; barely any head; slight lacing.

S: Smells of sweet malts, figs, toffee, and sugary syrup.

T: Starts off with some nice sweet malts; opens up along the middle of the tongue to reveal soft flavors of malt, toffee, and a slight hint of fig; finishes sweet with a slight hint of bitterness.

M: Medium thickness; lightly carbonated; very soft and smooth on the tongue.

O: This is a really great Barleywine. Had this side-by-side with an Old Ruffian and was surprised that I found this to be the better (fresh) Barleywine of the two. This was super smooth, so it would be interesting to see what happens with a little age on it.

Jules11788, Aug 25, 2011
Photo of StaveHooks
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy garnet brown. Tight off white head leaves minimal lacing.

S - Roasted caramel malt, doughy fruit bread, dark cherries, some tropical fruit.

T - Loads of caramel and toffee, caramelized brown sugar. Sugary cherries and fig brighten up the dense toffee while mild leafy and citrus hops breakthrough and add some spiciness. Bits of bitter pecan and pepper on the finish.

M - Full thick body, chewy and creamy at times.

Not sure how old this is buts it's on the sweeter side of things, in a good way. Very rich and lots of complexity. This is more of a really well put together English Barleywine than it's American counterpart.

StaveHooks, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of chickenflea
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: The aroma is a combination of chocolate, caramel, anise, faint smoke, and mild citrus hops. It pours a transparent garnet with a small off-white head. The flavor starts with lots of chocolate and caramel. There is some light fruitiness in the background. The finish has some light notes of umami and charcoal. The mouthfeel is a tad thin for a Barley Wine. A lot of alcohol in the aroma, but very little burn in the finish. A very nice barley wine. Not too sweet. Very balanced.

chickenflea, Aug 07, 2011
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.

dogfishandi, Aug 06, 2011
Photo of 1Adam12
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orangish red, burgundy color, not much head. Sticky lacing, just not much of it. Smells very sweet. Figs, grapes, currants, strawberry, just very sweet. Taste is similar. Too sweet IMO. Good, just too sweet. Very nice fruity flavor, not much booziness to it. Mouthfeel is nice. Almost no carbonation, slightly creamy. Solid 4's all the way around. Overall, despite my score, there's just nothing special or memorable about this. It's nice, but nothing stands out to tell me "you have to buy this again".

1Adam12, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of Cavery
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage shared with Klym; bottle was courtesy of GoGators in a previous trade.

Poured into Stone Nonics.

Review from notes dated July 25 2011.

A: Rich dark mohagony tree trunk with a favoritism given to rustic browns. Reds flash in rotations of the glass, but browns dominate. Brown eggshell foams stubbornly hold on the edges of the glass. No head or lacing. Brilliant colors, but looks quite flat.

S: Rich toffee with a different mix of spices. Nutmegs certainly peak a bit. It really smells like a very rich imperial Irish red to me. Candy sweetness that is in check and deeply flavorful. Candied flavors throughout. Mixes of caramelized sugars, huge malt nose.

T: Sweet but subdued. There's a real tree bark like spice character that mellows alcohols and the sweetness. Cinnamon peanut brittle notes with some light toffee malt sweetener. A slightly grassy hop in the finish/linger that helps regulate the flavor transitions. Lots of flavor overlap in here, makes very slow transitions that mix both pleasantly and unpleasantly. An interesting deep fry batters flavor linger.

M: This has a medium-full body that does a good job of keeping the alcohol away long enough for the candies to take over. Very nice soothing bubbles accentuate the candies. The peak of the bubbles recedes to reveal equally intense candies. Solid balance here.

O: At first I found myself in a bit of a been-there-done-that drinking experience, but more time with this made me feel otherwise. The current age of this beer may put the flavors in an awkward spot. Nonetheless, all the necessary elements are there to make this a very complex aged beer. I'll seek this out again as a cellar investment. Currently very subtle with mellow complexities, but most importantly it comes off promising. The sweetness will mellow and the mouth feel will help carry any new flavor developments to new heights. The only thing I might miss here with age is the nice residual hop factor. However, it won't need to be there if the sweetness calms down.

Cavery, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of Vierenner
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Flavor and sweetness resemble many other Southern Tier brews. I can't pinpoint it, but there must be a substantial, common ingredient in all of them (Cuvee Series One, Oat, etc). I think there's too much sweetness, really. However, if you're looking for a desert-like beer, this could work very well. Very little hop bite makes the desert experience work.

Vierenner, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

Pours a deep, dark brown close to purple with one finger of head that fades to a thin lacing. Nose is malts and raisins. Taste is caramel and roasted malt with a very smooth dark fruit flavor maybe raisins or figs and just a hint of chocolate. Very good mouthfeel, not over carbonated, full bodied, and very smooth warmth from the alcohol.

I really liked this beer. I found it in the back of a Wegman's on my journey to Hornell, NY. It had dust on the bottle and looked like a hidden gem. Since we only recently started getting my hands on Southern Tier in NC, I buy up any I see. I'm so glad I did.

tdm168, Aug 02, 2011
Photo of Klym
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter & shared with Cavery. Thank you to gogators for hooking Cavery and me up with this bottle!

2011 Vintage

A: A date fruit brown that collects into a dark brown with a 1 finger off-white head. A nice medium-thick lacing that sticks around for a respectable while.

S: Fig, date, a little bit of cherry, a little hops and some small maple syrup like sweetness. A big white bread background to it all, too.

T: A bitter hop hit kicks it off and slides off into big balanced dark fruit sweetness paired with more savory butterscotch sweetness. The lingering hop bitterness with the excellently blended and balanced dark fruit sweetness is really nice. This beer really grew on me throughout drinking. Little to no alcohol detectable for me.

M: Medium bodied with very thorough carbonation in the mouthfeel. A small tad of heat on the roof of the mouth but it's masked by the hop feel in the same area. Slick linger on the sides of the tongue and inner gums but is really quite pleasant.

O: A really nice barley wine that I can imagine being great fresh and great aged. I liked the interplay of the deep, sweet dark fruit flavors and the biting hops; it all came together better than I expected it could. My second beer from southern tier and I leave again impressed.

Klym, Jul 26, 2011
Photo of FosterJM
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

638 review on BA
Bottle to snifter
22oz

Thanks to my wife for bringing this home from her NY business trip.

App- As this poured it was more akin to a darker muddled brown. As I finish 1/2 the glass it takes a shade more of a smoother rum color of browns, red, a little amber. A puffy two finger head receding very quickly and left maybe one streak of lace and at most 10 dots of lace.

Smell- This is very malt heavy but decedantly sweet with the light/dark caramel being used very well. Its a bit of a vanilla like character with some candy sweetness.

Taste- I think I have finally found a benchmark of what the style should be measured against. I'm not giving a 5 because well I felt MoaS and Abacus were tastier. The paired malt and decidely smooth and soft and backseat hops bring a bit of balance to this malt forward BW but with the choice Amarillo & Centennial playing a big part in making this a very smooth and refreshing and not too overpowering beer.

Mouth- This is a very medium bodied beer with with almost a high carbonated feel to it. Nice bubbles on the finish make this a very refreshing beer.

Drink- A very well done barleywine. Malty with a refreshing kick of hops and a sound selection of malt/ratio that make it have some spice, vanilla, smooth. I love me some barleywines and the wife is going back to NY, this may need to come home again.

FosterJM, Jul 12, 2011
Photo of PicoPapa
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Pours a murky, dark mahogany color with very little head. Minimal lacing. Aroma is booze, brown sugar, dark fruits, malts, and a bit bready. Taste is alcohol and dark fruits upfront. Sweet towards the end. Brown sugar finish. Good amount of malt flavor. The alcohol flavor is somewhat subdued considering the style and Abv. Nice carbonation and body. No Bottled On date so I'm not too sure how much age this has on it. A bit lighter in the flavor department than I like for a barleywine, but this is still a solid example of the style. Overall, good barleywine and worth grabbing.

PicoPapa, Jul 11, 2011
Photo of jayhawk73
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a bronze/red color w/ a beautiful two finger cocoa head. Decent carbonation and good lacing. Great looking, and perfect for the style.

S- Caramel, hops, malt, very sweet smelling... almost more than I'd like. Rum tinge to the fruit smell as well. Nice, although I'd like the hops to be more forward.

T- Big taste on this beer. A little on the sugar/sweet side, still nice. I'd like the hops to be predominant rather than the sweetness, but it's still good. A little short of great.

M- Very smooth, with a sweet aftertaste. No way this beer feels like 10%, it goes down too easily. A little on the dry side, and a tad thin. More malt in the taste would help the feel I think.

O- Nice Barleywine, and another solid beer from Southern Tier. If you like Barleywines, this is a good one to try- although the sweetness may turn off some people.

jayhawk73, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of Neffbeer
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle from last winter, poured into a snifter.

A: It pours a deep amber color with great looking mahogany highlights. A strong pour yielded a one finger white head that fades pretty quickly. It left a small amount of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of sweet malty goodness; caramel, biscuits covered with fig jam, vanilla, raisins, and some faint notes of booze.

T: The flavors follow suit on the palate. There is a heavy wave of caramel followed by raisins, figs, vanilla, and sweet booze. It finishes sort of sweet with a little kick from the alcohol. Overall a pretty smooth drinker.

M: Medium to heavy in mouthfeel. There are still some residual sugars here that really add to the overall viscosity.

O: A decent barley wine that comes off a bit on the sweet side. It is not crazily complex by any means, but manages to get the job done.

Neffbeer, Jun 25, 2011
Photo of thedoubler55
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear reddish brown pour, that has a nice finger of head that leaves some nice lacing around the glass.

S: Weird smelling brew, sweet and spicy, a nose of caramel, citrus and sweet raisins.

T: Nothing great a large amount of dark fruits up front, with slight hints of citrus on the tail end.

M: Intense, high in carbonation and medium bodied.

O: Not to much contrast with everything in this brew, Not sure if I am interested in having this one again but might have to do it. Spicy and sweetness throw you off a bit on this one.

thedoubler55, Jun 16, 2011
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.

infi, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of Yagman3000
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Creamy head appears with a slow pour and a finger remains.

Appears brown with a bit of an orange glow.

Smells of figs and prunes with a touch of molasses.

Tastes similar to smell but a touch of toffee and over-ripe fruit comes through as well.

Mouthfeel is thinner than I'd expect. I actually wish there was more thickness to this... A bit more syrupy perhaps.

Overall this was good but I wouldn't run to get it again for a while. Maybe it would be better served warm in the winter.

Yagman3000, Jun 13, 2011
Photo of lonestar4lunch
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured this into a New Belgium goblet and it is dark and murky. The head doesn't last long and sits down to nothing but a light lacing. Wow do I love the smell of barleywines. The aroma is strong and sweet. The plums and black cherries hit you first then comes malt and booze. It sends chills down my spine cause I know what the first sip is going to bring.

Wow, this is a gentle back hand to the taste buds. You expect it to be uber sweet with the first taste then here comes the hops. If there is a Jekyll and Hyde brew this is it which honestly adds to the enjoyment of this barleywine. I really enjoy the hops in this one and almost wish there was just a bit more to duke it out with the sweetness.

There is just a bit of heat on the finish but it for sure doesn't linger like other big barleywines. I really wish Southern Tier was here in Texas, damnit.

lonestar4lunch, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of Alieniloquium
3.65/5  rDev -9%
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.

Alieniloquium, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This barley wine as poured at the ACBF 2010. The color of the beer is a dark brown color almost black. The head is minimal and doesn't leave much lacing. The smell is a little on the sweet side, some hops in there too. The taste has a burnt bitterness that fades into a subtle sweet aftertaste. This brew is average to me. I would try it again to give it another shot.

Knapp85, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of mjgooner13
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A coke a cola type color, a dark maple with hints of red on the sides. Left some nice lacing as i continued to drink.

S- had the usual sweet barleywine smell, of sweetness from some dark fruits and maybe some toffee.

T- Taste was not as sweet as the smell, which I think in this case is a good thing. Up front I get the same fruity tastes from the nose, some malt as well as licorice on the end. It was pretty well balanced throughout without really being dominated by anything.

M- Medium bodied and the alcohol was masked pretty well, so it went down quite smooth, which could make this one a bit dangerous with the 9.6 abv.

O- Def enjoyed this one, well balanced, hides the alcohol although you can pick it up a little bit, certainly wouldn't mind having one or two of these on a rainy day.

mjgooner13, May 27, 2011
Photo of Brouwerij78
3/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One word...Meh...too pricey. I would probably not buy again but would be interested to see what it tastes like on tap. It is a heavier beer, with a bit of an aftertaste (not a particularly pleasant one). Overall, save your money - there are better barley wine style beers out there...try Victory Old Horizontal instead.

Brouwerij78, May 27, 2011
Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 862 ratings.