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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 FosterJM
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

638 review on BA
Bottle to snifter

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.

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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 Bierman9
3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a big-ass, 22oz, painted-label bottle. No freshness info, but at 10%, I'm not too worried about spoilage. Part of my Birthday booty from old "Bro" Artied2.

Popped the cap to pour, and noticed it is a screw-off. How odd!!
Also, the lettering from the label, for the names "Southern Tier" and "Backburner", easily comes off the bottle. So, beware if you save and collect bottles.

Poured into my Rapscallion chalice, it has an extremely deep ruby/garnet color. A small amount of bubbles slowly meander towards the top, where a thin layer of head has formed. The topping is light tan in hue, and mostly gathers at the edge of the glass. Lacing is fairly decent as well, though I find the bier color to be a killer! Nose is on the restrained side, with notes of alcohol, burnt brown sugar, and a little raisin coming through. Mouthfeel is top-shelf, with the liquid being medium to medium-plus, and gliding over the tongue as easily as Orr on ice.

Flavor tends to favor the bitter, hoppy side over the sweeter malts, though both are present. Initially hitting the palate are some brown-sugary notes, with some subtle caramel and molasses. Soon after, there's some dark fruity action, with a bit of raisin and fig thrown around. Finally, some resiny, piney hops zestily coat the tongue. It's a dry finish, and the alcohol is noted as it warms the innards. A solid, pleasing offering from Southern Tier. Thnx, Bro!



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Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Yet another beer courtesy of BeerTruth. Thanks Adam.

A: Pours deep brown color with hings of red. The head is small in volume, yet pretty dense. The head dies nearly as fast as it rises, but does leave behind some lacing.

S: The aroma is inviting. Nice bready yeast malt with hints of pine. There is citrus in there as well. It is skewed more to orange than grapefruit or lemon. Beneath it all is a nice sweet carmalized brown sugar with a hint of booze.

T: This one is malt forward. Nice sweet caramel malt with wonderful yeasty notes. Pine sap sweetness comes in with hints of grapefruit. A bit of booze leaves a bit of burn as it slides down the throat.

M: Medium carbonation but very smooth overall.

D: Well balanced, as drinkable as you will get with a barleywine with this ABV.

Overall: ST is one of my favorites. I am glad that I have BeerTruth to keep a steady flow coming my way. The taste of this one is rather balanced with the perfect amount of malt and hops, sweet and bitter. It is very drinkable for the ABV, I really enjoyed it. Can not even begin to imagine how it would taste on tap.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice barleywine, sweet caramel character with a smooth hoppy final profile.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Contemporary and dedicated design of a stove knob with the Southern Tier logo at its center. Small side narrative going over the history of the style, and a brief paragraph on intent and ingredients, closing with an additional warning to enjoy the brew with moderation. Shows °Plato (25), °Lovibond (15) and Alc. (10.0%) alongside detailed list of ingredients, and recommended drinking temperature and glassware. Poured into a medium size snifter.

A - Deep amber pour with dark copper tones, short foamy head with medium retention, leaving nice strokes of lace.

S - Sweet caramel malt, toffee roast notes, and a faint fruity whiff, grapefruit and pineapple maybe... Hops closing it subtly.

T - Taste follows and expands the nose in a very assertive and rich way. Caramel and toffee presence woven nicely with an almost unnoticeable boozy hint, some dark fruit notes. The hoppy profile it is here to, makes itself felt more so towards the end, it complements rather nicely the sweet profile, leaving the caramel as the main driver. Its a tiny fresh bite that finishes the experience rather well.

M - Medium to full body, with adequate subtle carbonation. Creamy, smooth and very rich texture.

D - Nice sipper... A rather enjoyable US barleywine.

Notes: It´s a great pleasure to be had. It carries a good profile of the style, remaining sweet and complex without overwhelming bitterness like other US versions lean on. And yet the hoppy profile, almost raw, is there woven in the end and working rather well. This is a bottle that I held in the cellar for about a year, so at least it is a batch of 08, maybe 07? This could have mellowed the hops in this nice way, although I have had this brew other times, supposedly without aging and it offered a very similar experience.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just picked this up so it must be this years stock as it has not been in BC before. Very drinkable right the get go. Lovely hoppy nose with a deep carmel colour. Not overhopped or too sweet but rather a big balanced BW. The finish is long and naunced and the beer tends to drink like an English BW with some PNW hops. Great beer

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Photo of alexgash
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle.

Pours into the Stone Old Guardian glass with a deep, dark coppery brown body. Clear. Very dense, creamy finger of khaki brown head. Great lacing. Nose of scorched brown sugar, toffee, caramel, rummy fruits, candied yams, and some herbal hops.

Herbal hop bitterness greets the tongue. Toasted malt with burnt brown sugar quickly follow. Toffee and candy-coated fruit swell mid-palate. Citrus and herbal hop flavor follow, with some bitterness to balance the sweetish malt. Nicely done. Hop resin bitterness in the finish with lingering syrupy fruit and toffee malt. Full-bodied with a smooth, creamy feel. Another impressive ST bomber.

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

This brew pours a nice copper,bronze hue with decent carbonation that leaves behind a two finger head that slowly recedes to a nice frothy rim and some sporadic lacing,the smell is very sweet with aromas of cane sugar,caramel candy,sticky toffee and of course sticky resinous pine cones,it has a medium bodied nicely carbonated mouthfeel which feels very slick,sticky and resinous and has tastes of caramel candy,butter popcorn,sticky toffee,maple syrup and is rounded out with a bittersweet almost sweetbitter boiled candy,resinous pine cone finish that leaves your lips and mouth nice and sticky and overall even though im not the biggest fan of Barleywines i really do like this one as it does have a few different elements to it and is very easy to drink with its ABV being only noticeable on first sip cheers.

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Photo of Dope
4/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of argock
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a clear oversized wine glass. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $6.49.

A: Light caramel brown with strong off-white 1-finger head with decent retention and lacing down the glass.

S: Strong maltiness with sticky caramelly sweetness and floral and spicy hoppiness

T: Delicious strong pale and caramel malt flavors are highlighted by earthy, floral, and spicy malt flavors that are mildly to moderately bitter and give this brew a mellow quality that is good for sipping.

M: Smooth and silky with low but present carbonation and enjoyable sweetish pale malt aftertaste.

D: A delicious, solid brew that comes in at a nice price point with a consistent if unspectacular sweet caramel malt flavor accented with floral and earthy hops. A very good brew that needs a little more originality to move up a tier.

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Photo of prototypic
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours a nice looking ruby brown color. Head is vanilla colored and only about a finger deep. Looks like the alcohol might have killed this one. Retention was good and lacing was sticky and thicker than expected.

Smell: Strong, piney hops kick it off nicely. They're followed up by sweet citrus grapefruit and pineapple aromas. It is malty and sweet smelling. Caramel malts seem to be primary variety. The aroma's a little weak, but opens up more as it warms. Plum and raisin scents finally emerge. The nose is complex and nothing short of appetizing.

Taste: It's sweet and a little citrusy up front. Grapefruit and pineapple flavors are nice, but a little more subdued than the nose suggests. Hops are piney, bitter, and a little citric. Caramel malts are sweet and really balance it out a lot. It's easily one of the most balance barleywines that I've tried. Dark fruit flavors are secondary and feature plum, raisin, and a little prune. The flavor profile is easily as complex as the nose, if not moreso. Amazingly, alcohol is not very noticeable. At 10%, I was expecting it, but it's masked extremely well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkabilty: It's full bodied, but only marginally so. Not as thick and chewy as some in this style. Carbonation level is subdued and very well done. Nice, super smooth feel. Drinkability is good, but there's no way I'd try to tackle more than a single bomber. It's too strong and too big for much more than that.

Southern Tier's developed perhaps the most balanced Barleywine I've had the pleasure of drinking. It's very good and really doesn't have any large shortcomings. I prefer just a tad more hops for the style. But, this really is damn good. It's hard to find much fault in it. Truth be told, Southern Tier would have to put a lot of effort into making a bad beer. They just can't seem to do it.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz twist top bomber, served in a goblet.

A - chestnut brown/red hue color with a tan head that lasted a little while, leaving some lacing.

S - sweet raisin/date/fig aroma.

T - very good tasting brew, sweet at first, rich malty flavors, hop taste kicks in after the swallow.

M - medium/full bodied, good carbonation, sweet aftertaste.

D - goes down very easy, an all around very good barley wine.

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Photo of Vancer
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hojaminbag comes up with another sweet beer from a sweet trade - thanks guy!

A sexy beer pour, oaken cola brown, clear - with a very sticky tan head - leaving a sheet of lace in my Corsendork tulip. THIS is the way a beer should look.

Classic sweet caramel BW style aroma, and even with some hops lurking underneath.

And yeah, the quaff is semi-dominated with the hops - more than needed in a pure Barleywine. Reminds me of the Bigfoot. Woody and resinous. No way this is a 10% brew.

Southern Tier - you make great beer.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - a brownish red iced tea color. A sizable cap of creamy tan foam hangs around for a minute before dropping to a soapy cover. Nice lace trails weaving up and down around the glass.

Aroma - flowery citrus, with just an edge of pine. Powdery grain, a fairly light nose in general.

Taste - sweet grain coats the mouth at first, followed by a mixture of alcohol and spicy hops. Lightly fruity, they are more balanced to the bitter side but show great character. The swallow shows a flash of citrusy sweetness before the bitterness jumps out and takes over, drying things out for a fine finish.

Mouthfeel - incredibly smooth, this feels like its already been in the cellar for three years. Easy-going bubbles don't interfere with the flow. My favorite part of this beer, almost...

Drinkability - it will take some will power to leave the other to age; we'll see if I'm up to it.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep dark raw apple cider. Not much head, not much lace. Almost legs going on.

S - Classic BW smells - dark fruits, deep sweet caramel malt.

T - Straight up sweet nectar with some hops to fight. Sweet wins, not completely balanced.

M - Medium to full body, good coating, great carb.

D - For the style, pretty darned drinkable!

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a rich ruby red color with a light but frothy beige head.

A sweet aroma of dark ripe fruits, sweet malt, and floral hops.

Tastes of sweet malts, caramel, brown sugar, and citrusy hops. Clean finish. The alcohol is well hidden.

Full mouthfeel, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

This is one very easy to drink and even easier to enjoy barley wine from Southern Tier.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.48/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

One of my last ST brews to review-thanks chris for sharing!

A- Body is a translucent red/brown hue with dynamic cloudiness. Pours with a thin fizzy one finger head that has little retention.

S-alcohol, spice, barley, caramel, and a candy sugar sweetness. Sweet, spicy, and boozy.

T- Sweet malt upfront with caramel and barley being the most prominent characters and a hint of plum in the background. A slight alcohol heat lingers.

M- Full medium weight body with soft carbonation and slight alcohol astringency.

D- This is a good barleywine overall. Very sweet and boozy-which can get a bit cloying after awhile.

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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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Photo of MattyG85
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass.

Appearance: Pours a very deep copper with hints of ruby red. Moderate amount of bubbles. Big three finger off white head which slowly recedes into a thin creamy layer. Leaves a lot of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A big sweet malty caramel aroma with good hints of hops and oak. Toasted bready malts with big hints of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, grains, and yeast. Hints of oak chips and wood. Solid hop profile with earthy hints of grass, pine, and a floral perfume like scent. Hints of citrus orange and grapefruit. Also hints of apple along with dark cherry, fig, and raisin. Sweet burnt brown sugar is in the mix as well as soon booze. A pretty solid rich aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma previews, a big rich taste of caramel malt, oak, hops, dried fruits, and booze. Sweet toasted malts with notes of caramel, toffee, grains, bready biscuit, and yeast. Taste of oak and wood. Brown sugar sweetness. Big hop kick with notes of grass, pine, and a floral, herbal hop taste. Citrus taste of orange peel and grapefruit. Dried apple taste. Undertones of dark fruit with notes of dried cherry, raisin, and fig. Some alcohol is also noticeable in the taste. A very rich and good Barley Wine taste with a good balance.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, rich, and fairly chewy. Finishes dry. Alcohol heat is felt as expected but it isn't too hot.

Overall: A really good Barley Wine. Good bold mix of sweet malt, hops, oak, and fruit esters.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%

650 ml. bottle
Served in a snifter

It is a rust to copper color with amber highlights. It is topped with an inch of tan head.

The smell has bread, toffee, molasses, fig, date, etc.

The taste is on the malty side. Of course I have no idea how old this bottle is. The date and fig seem to rule the day. There are some hints of caramel and toffee.

Thick and viscous. A joy to sup.

I haven't had this in awhile and it tasted exactly as I remembered, malty with rich dark fruit flavors. It was a nice find.

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Photo of harrymel
3.42/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

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Photo of flexabull
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of seanpachefddfa, thanks again!

Pours a dark muddied, and cloudy brown color with a decent off white head.

Aromas are of cereal grains, stewed fruits, oak, spices, and booze.

Taste is grainy, dry, with some oak, and quite a bit of hops. Not a whole lot in the way of malts, a bit of sweetness, and some cereal flavors, but mostly I taste alcohol and mineral hops. Not really all that balanced, tastes more like an DIPA to me.

Mouthfeel is ok. A bit sharp on the tongue though.

Drinkability is so so. It's not a bad beer, but it seems to really miss the mark when it comes to the barleywine style. This is pretty average.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.77/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am samplinga 22 oz bottle at cellar temp poured into a snifter. The beer pours a clear deep mahogany color with ruby highlights and a thin creamy beige head forming an edge layer and some thin islands of foam. Aroma is malty with raisins, caramel and brown sugar and is also slightly boozy. First sip reveals a thick syrupy body and is very spacious with soft carb. Flavor is also malty and some dark fruit mixed around with brown sugar and molasses again. Just a hint of warm booze shows up on the finish. No hops at all, with sweet malt dominating from start to finish. Very nice malt lovers brew!

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

$6.99 for a 22oz bomber at the newly relocated Beverage Shop in TC. Brewed with 2-row pale malt, light and dark caramel malts, and hopped with chinook in the kettle, willamette for aroma, and dry hopped with amarillo and centennial (oooh, two of my favorites!)

10% ABV, OG=23 plato, 15Lovibond. Funny. The bottle is stamped with the specs as per Rogue tradition, but as the condensation forms, the letter slip off and you can rearrange them like you would refrigerator magnets.

Pours out to a clear deep rich mahogany, forming a tall off-yellow head with excellent retention and good lacing. Carbonation is medium. The aroma is hop-a-licious. Loads of sticky, piney, resinous, hops with loads of chewy sticky sweet malts. The mouthfeel is bold and beautiful, soft, chewy and very satisfying. The taste starts with the big resisnous hops, but they are not harsh not overwhelming like an Arrogant Bastard can be. This gives way to a big estery profile with lots of dark over-ripe fruits...apples and cherries are big. Followed by brown sugar, roasted nuts, and a moderate herbal bitterness which is nicely balanced for such a big beer. The aftertaste is of herbal hops bitterness, leather, and raisins.

This is a very nice barleywine. It's a big beer, but it's easier to drink than most. It still has a big hop bill, and isn't quite as sweet as some of it's English bretheren, but I would gladly buy it again. Recommended.

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