1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale 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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

877 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 877
Reviews: 498
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 71
Gots: 105 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 877 | Reviews: 498 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ZAP
4.65/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big and well done.

A-Deep brown/mahogany...creamy 1/8 inch tan head.

S-Very hoppy aroma...sweet candied tropical fruits...also some toffee like malt.

t-Sweeter style BW which I enjoy....toffee like maltiness...also some berries, molasses and brown sugar....the hops are more of a secondary player on the taste but they still lend a nice sweet candied fruit presence.

M-Big and rich....full bodied...very creamy...what I expect from a BW..finishes smooth and sweet but not cloying.

D-Hell of a beer here. I love the rich malty BW's but what this one lends is a fantastic hop feel while never become extremely bitter. Top notch BW

Photo of dgilks
3.47/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gorgeously dark and deep burnt orangey brown. Firm smallish capping of lightly yellowish foam sits for good length before settling to a soild skim and a big bubbly collar. Tons of thinly placed sheeting which breaks apart into some webby strings and moth holes.

Lofty aroma of big caramel malts parched with orangified piney hops and toasted breads. A bit of soft berries, molasses, raisin, and fig grows as it sits.

Taste is just as good if not better and carries a very fine complexity to its flavor profile. Big on malts with some soft, soothing caramel mixed with alot of dark fruity acsents of fig, raisin, and berries. Semi tangy and sweet with a soft, silky, smooth body that's delicately malty rich and thick with just the perfect amount of warmth off the end to round it off as a partial hop tone comes into play. Only a slight bittering bite of orange peel and pine nudges at the palate as it maintains its big malty profile and deep richness settling into the finish. Quite complex with some hints to brown sugar, vanilla, pear, and a whole lot of raisinyness. A bit of toasted grain moves across the finish as it warms with just right kind of Barleywine ABV hint as it finishes.

Soft, full, rounded, thick, and rich body, not overly hefty nor hoppy and keeps a nice tone and malty creamyness and chewyness the whole way through. Oh, and the finish is just as soft and alluringly delicate as the rest of its nature with its small amount of warmth floating in over the maltitude of sweetness. Nice...

A pretty fuckin' solid Barleywine by Southern Tier. This will age well for those of you who do that sort of thing. But I found this fairly fresh bottle of Backburner to be dead-on, super nice, and yummalishious!! Brings memories of Old Guardian...when I can get it?!

Another big thanks to JoeyBeerBelly for the recent hook up of East Coast goodies!

Photo of WOLFGANG
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of barnzy78
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tap House Grill - Des Plaines, IL
A - brown with faint ruby hues, creamy tan head sticks to the glass as it slowly fades
S - malty and earthy aroma, woodsy oak, vanilla, brown sugar
T - bold flavors of toasted grain, brown sugar, vanilla, oak, earthy hops, fruit, raisin, piny hop bitterness, boozy at times
M - fuller body, creamy, drying finish
O - nice oak aged barley wine. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn't change anything about it.

Photo of pathman
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of tbeckett
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

Photo of sweemzander
3.33/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a brownish body with slowly receeding one-finger offwhite head and lace rings. A great floral hop smell along with bready caramel malts. Medium to full chewey body with a strong wood presence as well as a bit of yeast and caramel/honeyesque sweetness. Feels sticky and balanced from minor citric hops in backbite and finishes a little crisp as well thanks to carb and well-hidden ABV. A well-balanced sweet and fruity beer that has a nice finish and is worth trying at least once.

Photo of BMart
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of smartassboiler
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

Photo of outoffocus
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of ROGUE16
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of ColForbinBC
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a chouffe tulip

A murky, deep red body with a slightly off white cap reached to the top of my tulip and took forever to lie back down. Settled to a thin collar and left significant rings of lace.

Sweet nose, tons of malt with a strong grapefruit hop presence reaching up through the raisins, apples, figs/dates, and ethanol.

The bitter hops hit you up front with raisins, sweet malt, figs/dates holding their own on the back end. Some brown sugar and caramel also show up in the finish. Doesn't seem like a cohesive brew. The flavors complement each other, but they don't exactly line up.

Full bodied, heavy, with a chewy hop presence.

A good example of the style, fairly easy to drink. A definite sipper.

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Photo of ArrogantB
4.37/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bomber in a recent trade with kirok1999. The bottle says it was the first beer of 2007 so it must be about a year old now. Dark red color that is almost brown but not quite. The flavor smells great, hoppy, toffee, West Coast. The flavor follows up with a chewy, hop-laden taste. Lots of hops in this one and that is how I like it. Given how good this tastes now I bet a couple years will treat this beer well. Best beer I have had from Southern Tier but I'm biased toward barleywines.

Photo of MSandahl23
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of DmanGTR
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes on 3/10/10. On tap at MacGregor's, I believe it's the 07 vintage.

A - Clear dark ruby/garnet with a well formed and retaining beige head. Very nice lacing. 4.5

S - Sweet muscat grapes, light caramel, hint of currants. Touch of carob. Wish the nose was stronger. 4.0

T - Big malty backbone, lots of caramel and a bit of figs followed by a healthy dose of bitterness and citrus. Finishes long with a touch of roast. 4.0

M - Crisp and medium bodied, well carbonated. A bit light for an American barleywine. 3.5

D - Too drinkable. Excellent. 4.5

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the '08 bottle, it pours a deep and dark mahogany brown. It's a gorgeous color. The topping is short, sparse and off-white.
It noses of brown sugar, dark rum, ganja resin, peaches, and orange juice. It's an interesting and delicious aroma, but it seems a bit dialed-down.
Taste-wise, the progress can be thoroughly described as:
toasted grain-->caramel--->grilled pineapple-->bitter herb-->pine sap-->lemon rind-->cedar/cinnamon-->brandy. They problem is, that describes EVERYTHING that is in here. It's linear and offers no sideroads or detours. Nothing really meshes. It's merely and simply a progression of flavors. There's no melding, or complexity. It's just one thing, then another, then another. It's a series of compartments starting with malt, then hops, then alcohol.
The build is plenty thick and deep enough to let everything shine. It feels like a b'wine.
My gripe here is that nothing truly congeals. There is a series of tasty Barleywine traits. Great stuff, really, but they don't ever link up with any type of fluidity. It's all jagged, staccato, and separated. It needs to breathe and expand and deepen and coalesce....and it doesn't...
At least not yet. Age may do this a great deal of good. Fresh, though, it is skippable.

Photo of woosterbill
3.51/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Cask Republic into a tulip.

A: Crystal clear ruby-brown body under a finger of tan foam. Great retention and lacing. Lovely.

S: Sweet, fruity caramel malt; dates, raisins, and citrus; spicy alcohol. Not great, but pretty good.

T: Dark fruits are dominant, followed by bready malts + citrus hops. Pretty tasty, but far from memorable.

M: Hugely carbonated, with soft fine bubbles exploding throughout the (maybe) medium body. Intense, but overdone.

O: I enjoyed this beer, but it doesn't really stand up well to the myriad of great barleywines available. While I was a fan of the citrus fruitiness of the hops, I didn't feel that they added enough hoppiness or bitterness to contrast meaningfully with the fruity sweetness of the malt. Completely solid, but completely forgettable.

Cheers!

Photo of Pencible
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bomber, poured into a snifter. The beer was a garnet color with a fairly small white head. The aroma was pleasantly fruity, with a hint of spice. The taste followed form. The alcohol was warming without being intrusive. Very nice beer. I imagine it would cellar well.

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 877 ratings.