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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: 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: 888
Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - nice solid, untapering amber that pours a 1-finger off-white/cream head that dissipates rather quickly, but leaves a good amount of lacing

S - The hops shine right through from the very beginning, with a floral and citric background bringing up the rear. Not too faint alcohols linger as well.

T - The hops are nicely balanced with the malts, making for a well-rounded barley wine. Perhaps a bit too sweet for my taste, especially as it warms. The alcohol is dangerously well concealed nonetheless.

M - very, very good. nicely carbonated and a solid creamy consistency.

D - I could drink this all day long - but definitely shouldn't.

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Photo of tprokop7
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Reviewing this one from the Dive Bar. Poured from the tap into a snifter. I had a bottle the other day, and I was excited when I saw it on the chalkboard.

A - Pours copper with a one finger whitish head.

S - Smells sweet and hoppy. Definate bitterness, with some floral and citrus as the main influences.

T - Nice, sweet flavor quickly backed up with floral hops.

M - Smooth, with pleasant moderate carbonation.

D - This one really wins here. Despite the high abv, it goes down smooth and pleasant overall. I've always thought ST's regular offerings were pretty average, but I've loved their bigger stuff so far.

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

22 oz. bomber poured into 2 goblets. One finger of off-white head which slowly dissipates leaving lots of sticky lacing. Dark ruby color, good clarity. Aroma is spicy and citrusy with hints of toffee, dates and little bit of fusel alcohol in the back end of the nose. Taste is shockingly smooth from an exceptionally balanced brew. Flavors of caramel, prunes and citrusy spice present themselves for a slightly dry finish. Medium-heavy mouthfeel with great drinkability. This one sneaks up on you!

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Photo of Stonebreaker
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: A very nice looking beer. Good creamy head, dark amber color.

Smell: Unfermented malt sugars, not raisiny so much but some sort of dried fruit, perhaps figs, caramel sugars blah blah blah.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Slightly thin for the style, sweet malt with a nice warming alcohol effect, caramel, figs. It's a smooth operator to an extent, here I am at the end of a bomber and I'm feelin it. A good beer, but not an outstanding one.

Drinkability: It's a barleywine people, act accordingly.

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Photo of imaguitargod
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was on tap at La Cave Du Vin so I ended up getting a snifter of it. Burgundy in color and a little less opaque than most barely wines I've had. There is not much carbonation and is your typical barley wine in taste except when it comes to the hops. There is a lot of hops here but they come in as a background flavor and aftertaste making it a bit bitter.

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Photo of ekardz
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - good carbonation, little to no head, lacing along glass. Amber/red in color - looks alive and inviting

S - very malty, figs or other dark fruits, raisins, smells boozy

T - nice malt and caramel flavors, taste some raisins and other dark fruits.

M - surprisingly light-medium bodied, do not notice any carbonation, very smooth.

D - very easy to drink, hard to just take small sips; with 10% alc this baby could get dangerous, because the strength is hidden.

Bottle from 2008.

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Photo of littlekidlover
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I just poured a bomber half way up a wine glass. The head was typical of a high alcohol beer, disappeared quickly. The appearance is a amber/copper. The smell has caramel and hop notes, not too strong. The taste is caramel, dried fruit, citrus hop. Mouth feel is- gonna take my wife's least favorite wine tasting description CHEWY. This is a highly drinkable beer for a barley wine, dangerously drinkable at 10% alcohol. It does not have the cascade hop bite of many of the barley wines I have tasted- dangerous.

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Photo of DanOLeary
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: Dark fruits of raisin and plum enter the nose first with an alcoholic spice following it up. Malt character displays a grainy and bread-like character, while there seems to be little if any hop aroma.

Appearance: Deep mahogany brown to red with a slight haze. Light at the edges forms a ruby hue, though the beer doesn't allow a whole lot of light through. The head pours a billowy off-white but fades fairly quickly to a thin coating along the top of the beer. Some lacing down the sides of the glass.

Flavor: Deep dark fruit hits the tongue, along with just a hint of hop bitterness that stings your palate with rich complexity upfront. Alcoholic warmth moves in quickly and lingers into the middle where hop bitterness comes back quite strong with earthy tones. The malt profile takes on a dark toasty personality with some melanoidins as well. Though the flavor is generally defined by the alcoholic spice and hop bitterness, malt complexity is robust enough to back everything up.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. The alcoholic warmth coats the mouth with heat and spice while hops play into the back of the throat with just a slight sting of bitterness at the finish. Finish is warming and mostly dry, though there is some residual malt sweetness left around the edges.

Overall: A very nicely balanced barley wine style ale with a certain focus on alcoholic warmth and spice. While I think additional hop aroma would further help this beer stand out as an excellent example, it is quite well rounded in it's bitterness. Malt richness and balance are just enough to add complexity, but it doesn't get in the way of warming alcohol and biting hops.

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Photo of edmedina
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice clear dark amber color. It does have nice heard as well shows off a lot of carbonation.

Smell: Hoppy with hints of mint and cocoa. Very much floural smell. Not at all what I would expect from a Barleywine.

Taste: Very interesting taste here. Starts off bitter from the hops. As the taste settles you get a sweet after taste. Finishes dry leaving nothing left to taste

Overall: When I saw Imperial Barleywine on the bottle, I thought to myself how do you take a beer that is already strong and go over the top on it? Well Southern Tier certainly figured it out. The hops they use blend very well together. The smell leads you to believe you are enjoying an Imperial IPA but the taste lets you know otherwise. I never thought someone would go further with my favorite style of beer. I am glad Southern Tier did.

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Photo of demitriustown
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

07 version via trade a while ago with Jah Noth! (Thank You!) Aroma is wonderful with a nice roasted nut and caramel overtone, a bit of fruity hoppiness, and some raisins and prunes to round out this awesome aroma. Pours a clear ruby color with a two finger thick head that lingers around for a while. Taste is malty with dark fruit intermingled. A lot of stuff going on in the taste of this brew. Smoothing going down and deceptively drinkable. Overall, A darn good barley wine with about a year of age on it. Nice!

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

Beer/Brewery - Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)/ Southern Tier Brewing Company
City/State- Lakewood, New York
STYLE – American Barleywine
ABV – 9.6%
IBU – 85
DATE – 23 OCT 2011
SERVING TYPE – 22 oz Bomber
APPEARANCE – It is a murky brown with a hint of red, sadly it reminds me of pond water. It poured with a ¼ inch head that dissipated quickly leaving a ring of foam around the edge of the glass
AROMA- Fruity sweet with traces of alcohol
TASTE – It has the defined barleywine taste with some nice roasted malts, but with traces of fig and dates with the alcohol closing in at the end to warm you up.
MOUTHFEEL – A little thick with a good bit of carbonation on the tongue
CONCLUSION – A good stand alone barleywine, nothing special, but very enjoyable.

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Photo of DrinkinBuddy
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked-up this bad boy at the Empty Pint. For those who don't know: that's Southern Tier's Bar. Gotta thank Cameron and Ryan for this one!! Poured a nice dark ruby/brown with a delicious off-white head(1 finger). Smells sweet and sultry. Taste is definately sweet malts with ripened dark fruits mixed and a bit of hop bite to match. A very refreshing and appealing barleywine. More enjoyable than Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot BW. Mouthfeel is moderate and slightly chewy. Not too thick. Drinkability, is pretty damn good due to the amazing covering of the 10.00 abv. A very nice BW. I can't wait to crack the one I've been storing for the last 2 years!

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

A- Nice dark copper color, with a sandy head. That turns into a lacing of head.

S- Very floral aroma, with a nice backbone of fruit. Deep carmel flavors and toffee. Backburner covers up its ABV well. There is little alcohol in its aroma. There also is a musk aroma.

T- The Chinook hops come threw at first. Backburner is floral, piney and soft. There is not much bitterness that punches the tongue. There is nice balance between the caramel malt and hops. Not too much, if any malt taste. The alcohol is well hidden.

M- Nice full mouthful, carbonation is there but not too strong.

D- I like this beer. Could drink a bunch of there 22oz. bombers of this. This taste to me was similar to Bigfoot that has been stored for a year or two.

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Photo of cindiwindi1025
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a- light chestnut color, medium head that reduces to a sticky, light colored collar around the glass, nice!

s- smells like cola. no other way to describe it

t- big taste. molasses, raisins, yeast, earthy malts, with a hop bite. brilliant balanced taste that comes into the barleywine parameters with ease. alcohol is very well masked. a little peppery aftertaste, not hugely so.

m- a bit prickly, medium carbonation with tiny bubbles. overall very drinkable, hop finish is a tad dry but crisp, nothing heavy here

o- happy with this selection, as always with the southern teir products, big robust imperial beers with complex tastes. I'm not a huge fan or regular imbibor of the barleywine style, but I would get this one again.

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Photo of GotWad629
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

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Photo of WildTurkey
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into snifter glass.

A: Traditional Barley Wine color. Dark amber with a little red. Thick head that recedes. Beige head with mixed size bubbles.

S: Lots of caramel and dark fruit. Maybe a some pine hop aroma afterwards.

T: Big flavor. Sweet caramel, with more dark fruit like raisin, followed by some nice hop bitterness -- pine. The alcohol taste is muted -- which I like in this instance. You can only detect the alcohol by some warmth in the finish.

M: Medium/Full body but it also feels dry -- which makes it feel deceptively lighter. Some carbonation can be felt in the mouth.

D: This is a very nice big body, full flavor, barley wine. Nice hop character for a malty beer like this style call for. Despite the big flavor, very smooth and drinkable. High alcohol is only slightly detectable, so you can slug it back if you like -- instead of sipping. Well done.

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3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Dark cherrywood red. Translucent, and many tiny streams of bubbles appear when held up to light. No highlights really. Buttery, sticky head that starts craggy and subsides to about 1/4" thickness, leaving behind ample thick lacing.

S - The lemony hops and caramel malt are in-your-face, and a little alcohol, spice, & toastiness is present as well. That all blends together to create a sweet, fruity, almost smoky aroma. There really is a lot in the nose, more than I can really pick out or characterize.

T - Resiny and citrusy hops up front, sweet & clean malts in the middle of the palate, and a little warmth on the finish, with the resiny hops recurring as it goes down. Dark caramel, almost chocolaty malt comes through later on. Resiny hops & dark syrupy sweetness linger and give the impression of a maple flavor that I didn't find anywhere in the body of the beer. A good, unique barleywine flavor that creates a nice little narrative in your mouth.

M - Thick, sticky, chewy, full. The mouthfeel of this beer screams "big".

D - While not as digestible as some Barleywines, it is pretty good for one so thick & heavy as this. It's definitely one for sipping. If you drink it too fast, either the alcohol burn will get you or the aforementioned resiny aftertaste will. At a normal Barleywine sipping pace, though, this one is just fine.

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Photo of jdaelhousen
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown colored body with little head to it.

Aroma consists of sweet candy sugar, orange peel, mild coriander notes, and contains a strong boozy factor.

Taste has an immediate blast of alcohol mixed with fruit essences of fig, cherry, and mild toffee presence. Mouthfeel is very sticky with a strong alcohol backing.

Overall, and outstanding and highly alcoholic barleywine.

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Photo of RedBeerHead
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On a barely wine kick, so here's another one...
I purchased this from Warehouse Beverage on Mayfield in Cleveland. I continue to find that they are a consistent source of good, hard to find, selections.

Poured from a 22 oz into a regular pint glass. Very carbonated head, light and bubbly. The body is cloudy and has a dark amber color.
Smells like bread and also citrus. Has a matly/roasted hint as well. Definite contrast here compared to other barley wine style beers I've tried.
First thing you notice about the taste is the definite "kick in the mouth". Hints of ginger, spice, citrus and bread. Very sophisticated taste.
In general, very drinkable...good feel on the tongue. A must try if your exploring the barley wine style.

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Photo of roopy40
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A - Looks like a light brown, but when held up with light in its background, a reddish-amber hue appears. Beautiful, white, creamy head forms and looks like the top of a meringue pie.

S - Good balance of fruit and hops. I think raisin and alcohol is definitely present.

T - Now you certainly taste the fig, raisin, and spice with a nice hop finish.

M - Thick, but smooth and well carbonated. Definitely a medium to heavy body, but it is very pleasant and feels wonderful going down. A friend and I could not get enough of it.

D - Very high on the drinkability chart and especially dangerous when you consider the high ABV of this wonderful barley wine.

Overall, I am again impressed with ST Imperials. I confess to not having tried dozens of this style, but I sure am enjoying them and will continue my journey.

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Photo of rebelthrower
3.94/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Dark red/rust in color. Off-white head that took a while to dissipate.

S-Smells sweet, strong barley and a little bit of hops

T- Rich with malt. Alcohol is not as strong as originally expected. a bit spicy on the tongue.

M- Mid amount of carbonation. Body wasn't to heavy. Nothing stands out as a unique taste.

D- Easy to drink. Not overwhelmed with alcohol. Overall the beer is pretty good. I was expect more though.

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

2007 Vintage Backburner Bomber (First Brew Two Thousand Seven on bottle)

Visited the family in Connecticut today and came back with a sweet haul, including this fine offering from Southern Tier, courtesy of my brother Matt. Nasdrovia Bro!

A - Reddish brown and clear, barely any head to speak of, but this is fine for a barleywine.

S - Grainy, toasty, with pleasant fruity esters. The hops are there, but seem to be performing the difficult task of masking the alcohol in this huge brew rather than being up front and in your face as you would find in a Bigfoot.

T - Toffee, caramel flavors dominate, with a nice dark fruit finish. Dried apricots, raisins, and sweet malts with the slightest hint of citrusy hops. The hops were probably more prevalent before aging, but time has given this a wonderful balance. Mellow malty, fruity flavor at the onset, with a mild citrus hop finish that lingers nicely on the back of the tongue.

M - Thick, smooth and chewy with a wonderful warming quality. Perhaps the best aspect of this deceptively mellow brew. Like butter on bread (which isn't to say diacetyl--it's just so smooth).

D - Wonderfully drinkable at a sipping pace. A quality barleywine to be savored on a cold winter's night--or, if you're like me, whenever you feel like it! (this is my favorite style after all...)

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Photo of Guzzler78
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been eying this one since it came out, finally pulled the trigger.

Appearance: A dark amber color. A 1/2" white head that reduces to a small layer over top of the beer, fair lacing

Smell: Sweet maltiness, floral and citrus hop aromas, dried fruits

Taste: Complex-sweet malts, citrus, dark fruit and a bit of tropical fruits and of course a nice hop bite

Mouthfeel: Medium body, nice and viscous feel. Somewhat dry finish

Drinkability: A good barleywine, glad i tried it would drink it again for sure. Could drink two or three glasses for sure

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Photo of Brouwerij78
3/5  rDev -25%
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.

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Photo of sawbones420
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a complete slut for Southern Tier, so I'm getting around to reviewing all of their bombers, slowly. I don't drink much barley wine these days, mostly on account of the fact that they make me feel like hell the next day, even when keeping my consumption way down. Southern Tier makes me so happy, however, so I'll take my chances on a Sunday night...

What the hell is an Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale anyway?

Pours a dark mahogany color into my trusty Brooklyn Brewery snifter (my favorite glass of all time). Head? No. I'm starting to think my dishwasher leaves a thin film of soap on my glasses though, as I almost never get much in the way of head retention.

Smells deep, dark, complex. Fruit, hops, sweet malt and alcohol come through. Most notable are those hops, though. Not used to such a strong presence in a barley wine.

First sip is potent. A robust malt flavor hits the sides of the mouth, while the sharp hop presence centers the brew nicely. There's a whole lot going on here. The alcohol warms the back of the tongue and the throat as it slides down, leaving quite a bit to think about. On another sip caramel comes through prominently in the middle part of the tongue. Sweet to be sure, but not too heavy/syrupy to make you feel bloated.

I love beers where every sip offers something new and different from the last. It's interesting how your mouth adapts to this brew as you drink it. Definitely an awesome take on the style and a must for anyone who considers himself a fan of barley wines.

Oh and the burps taste like hops. mmm

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