Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop 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.
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 jsanto
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

s -- bottle, in a three philosphers glass.

a -- dark brown, with a small head.

s -- it smelled like alcohol asnd fruit.

t -- this is one of the better barley wines, with a fruity alcohol taste that is not too overpowerful.

m -- not much carbonation, but a smooth feel.

d -- one bottle is enough for this night.

 315 characters

Photo of yinzer
3.81/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I believe the bottle to be fresh, I haven't aged it.

appearance: clear dark copper with small tan head

smell: sweet carmel, a bit nutty, some hops notes - a small amount of pine

taste: seems to have a balance of toned down flavors. Sweet malts, with mild hop flavor, slight dirty hot alcohol and nice Chinhook finish. I'm not sure what makes this an Imperial BW. Nothing seems to be doubled.

mouthfeel: full and rich, nice carbonation.

drinkability: All in all I'm finding it a nice sipper. I might buy one to age for six months.

In general I’ve never found any of Southern Tier’s beer to be the standard for any style. But I do like their beers, maybe because I have a sweet tooth as they aren’t dry and have a good malt feel to them. I do wish that this beer have more hop aroma, and mid-addition hop flavor, but I have been on a Wet Hop binge and maybe I’m being unfair. I do find some slight hot alcohol notes in the finish, which I find as a flaw. I do recommend this beer.

And cudos to those who are saying asking- "Why would you want to age this beer since aging it will tend to lessen the things that you want more of" ;p

 1,142 characters

Photo of jmacdaddy2008
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tried a couple of the Southern Tier beers last night and I really like their imperial line.

Their Barley wine has a nice color. Deep amber with a thick head when dissipated it leaves some big bubbles and film on the side.

Has a strong smell of spiced fruits and malty richness. Gets better when warmed in my snifter.

Good full bodied taste, almost creamy feel on the palate. More of the spiced fruits and typical flavors of a strong Barely wine. Definite sipper, has a slight burn from alcohol, but still well hidden

Overall, this beer will only get better with time, but found it hard to age because of the good drink ability.

 632 characters

Photo of mjgooner13
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

 800 characters

Photo of torchednoodle
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jctribe25 for this beer.

It's a decent barleywine. Pours a dark brown copper. Taste is of sweet raisins and fruit. There's some mild burn from the alcohol, but it really hides the alcohol pretty well considering 10%. Carbonation feels very good. The group I drank this with enjoyed this beer, but we agreed that it wasn't a standout compared to the other beers we were drinking that day.

 398 characters

Photo of johlendorf
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into pint glass. Another strong delivery from Southern Tier.

A = Honey colored, slightly cloudy. Little head, lacing, or carbonation.

S = Plum sweetness, floral and hops.

T = Crisp and clean throughout. Dark fruit up front followed by citrus and slightly piney hops. Well balanced with maltiness throughout.

M = Feels solid. Satisfying on a cold rainy day.

D = Caution, sharp turn ahead! Deceptive for a 10%.

Really enjoyed this. I'm a fan of this style beer and BackBurner did me right.

 506 characters

Photo of tekn0ph1sh
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this Barley Wine. However it was my first so I really didn't have a lot to go on.

It poured a brownish ruby color in a tulip glass. It had little to no head and almost no lacing.

It was a very pleasant tasty sweet beer that went down easy. The alcohol was well masked. I even tasted it warmed up. A friend of mine received a glass of it as a miss pour and did not care for it so he pushed it over to me. Even after sitting 30-40 minutes in a bar in FL without the AC on it was still very tasty.

I went to see if I could procure a couple of bottles of this and unfortunately there were none to be had.

Definitely a do again.

 646 characters

Photo of bryangb
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle with a DOB of 2%2F28%2F13. Poured fairly aggressively leaving about a finger and a half of head. Color is a gorgeous dark amber. Smell%3A malt%2C barley%2C subtle hops%2C booze. Taste%3A Very smooth. Moderate body. Malt and barley up front. Hops peak through with medium bitterness. The booze comes towards the back end. Perfect amount to retain the beer's smoothness yet remind you you're drinking a barley wine. Booze flavor becomes more present as you let the beer warm. Up there on the list of recommended beers to try

 549 characters

Photo of mattp
3.81/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a bomber at Olivers along with a Hoppe Ale from Southern Tier. The pour is really nice with a fruity aroma and thick head. The color was lovely, a dark red/brown vision of substance. The mouth feel reminded me of Middle Ages Druid Fluid. It felt rich enough to just about chew. Very nice. As you would expect from a barleywine there was a nice bitterness and an appropriate malt balance. A nice sipping beer if you are only having one that night. It was kind of humid last night and a lot of condensation formed on the bottle. When I poured I found a chunk of the painted label stuck on my hand. Different.

 618 characters

Photo of mcmidc
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep amber color with a small tan head that lingered surprisingly. The smell is of fruits, and raisans with some hops and alcohol in the background. Tastes spicy with primarily plums and raisans that is spicy. Mouthfeel is full bodied, with spices running rampant. Drinkability is pretty good for a 10% beer and it's pretty smooth. Really becoming a fan of Southern Tier they put out some really good brews. I'll drink it again.

 437 characters

Photo of xcrunner78
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma of a carmel malt with a hint of dried fruit and hopped very lightly. A tan head on top of a dark amber color. It has a very carmel, malty flavor that leads into some hopness and leaves a sugery carmely taste on the palate. Thick body and really smooth with a lot of alcohol.

 280 characters

Photo of ccarney2
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Darkish deep amber orange color that is very cloudy. Pours about an inch of off white head when poured violently. Head quickly dissipates into a thin film that leaves hardly any lacing. Not too unexpected with the style and gravity.

Smell - Dark fruits with lots of cherry and plum to start. Alcohol is definitely evident, but so are a moderate amount of sweeter hops. Maybe a bit of caramel/vanilla scent, something sweet.

Taste - There is a big sweetness off the bat with this barleywine, that doesn't really fade too much. Alcohol flavor lasts throughout also, with the same characteristics of the smell here as well. Cherry, plum, and raisin dominate the palate. Kind of one dimensional in terms of flavors.

Mouthfeel - Moderate to high carbonation, with a pretty viscous and thick coat left on the tongue.

Overall - I feel like this is a slightly better than average beer. I don't have too much to compare it to stylewise, but I will say that you know how much alcohol you're taking in while drinking this. Southern Tier does not normally disappoint, and they didn't necessarily here either, but they also didn't really excite me either.

 1,161 characters

Photo of Rguardian989
4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

presentation - 2008 bottle served into a snifter

appearance and smell - awesome mahogany color with a tan head that lingers for a little while before settling to a film on the top of the beer. leaves a pretty good amount of lacing for a 10%'er. for some reason i get a pretty strong chocolate note in there from the first sniff. lots of dark fruit and caramel. lots of caramel... defintly some hop complexities in there but still overtly sweet.

Taste - taste is sweet with a bit of a bitter bite that lingers on for a little while. dark fruits and caramel again are both in the flavor. the alcohol is appreciated in the flavor but it doesnt cut in more than a little bit in the overall flavor, thus it is pretty well masked.

mouthfeel and drinkability - good level of carbonation with an underlying hop bite. alcohol makes its statement but is quickly washed away by the sweetness again. very smooth. i could and did drink a whole bomber of it over the course of this evening. the 10% is making me very loose so i wouldnt press onward if i had more of this delicious barelywine.

 1,081 characters

Photo of wkcyr4
4.72/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz. bomber into a Brandy Snifter:

A: Amber body, thin tan head, a little bit of retention on sides of glass.

S: Bourbon like, woodsy aroma very sweet and inviting.

T: Boozy, strong alcohol taste. Sticky much like an aged DIPA to me. I love it!! Leaves me wanting more.

M: Smooth, syrupy and full. Caramel notes come to the front upon letting it warm.

D: Easy sipper, for sure, but be careful not to get too confident or this one will bite you in the ass ! Very drinkable, in moderation of course.

I like this very much. It warms you on a cold Illinois evening. Only wonder how it would be after some lay down time? I believe this will be the only indulgence of the night. A solid effort from ST. Very strongly reccommended.

 745 characters

Photo of CrumpledFish
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours dark amber with a fairly thin white head.

S: Quite a malty smell. Caramel?

T: Very sweet, but in a good way.

M: Smooth. Almost no carbonation detected.

O: I like this beer a lot. The sweetness means it would be hard to drink more than 1 or 2, but it's good while it lasts. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Spaten Optimator, a doppelbock.

 355 characters

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

22 ounce bottle

A - Nice amber red/brown color. Pours even, decent head. No lace in glass.

S - Very pungent aroma. Pronounced malt nose with a hoppy back-bone.

T - Initial hop bitterness melts into sweet malt taste leads.

M - Subtle alcohol presence that develops with time.

D - While I was somewhat disappointed in Southern Tiers Barleywine, this is a good brew. I was hoping for hops than malt. Low alcohol taste makes this beer easy drinking.

 453 characters

Photo of claykeller
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type: 22oz bottle with a couple pours into the Sam Adam's glass.

Appearance: Dark amber with reddish tinge. 1 finger thick head, left broken lacing down the glass.

Smell: Malty and caramel. Slight pine smell. Can taste the alcohol but not very strongly.

Taste: Very sweet and malty. Too far on the sweet and malty side for me. I could be biased since I love hops though. I can smell some hops, but can just barely taste them.

Mouthfeel: Thick and rich.

Drinkability: I really couldn't drink the whole beer due to how sweet and malty it was. I would have wanted some bitterness to balance it out and it would have been fine for me.

 644 characters

Photo of lincoln44
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Bronze amber color, clear but deep mahogany appearance. Not much head after the pour but may be contributed to the temperature. Nice lacing stuck around afterward.

S- Spicy, sweet, and slight floral hop aroma all combined. Picking up a roasted malt flavor, must have been used for color and depth.

Taste- Rich sweet and spicy taste. The hop flavor must be from the Chinook as it is spicy and not as aromatic yet still enjoyable. Kind of a woody taste coming through on the tail of it all.

M- slick feel from the high residuals and hop oils. Carbonation is right on for this style.

D-Not my favorite barley wine but enjoyable nonetheless. Spicier and woody taste compared to the BW I am familiar with. Overall decent brew but I don't think I would be searching for this one every time I go to the store.

 841 characters

Photo of MRclean
4.8/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

Smell: sweet, caramel, malty

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

Mouthfeel: Smooth, with a slight punch of alcohol.

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

 559 characters

Photo of Arknot
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm loving this beer!
Appearance is dark amber with soft tan head.
Smell is caramel malt
Taste is buttery smooth caramel with very mild hop finish. Sweet upfront with a mostly dry finish.
Mouthfeel is buttery smooth and coating.
Overall, this really is a perfect straight up barley wine.
This beer doesn't try to blast you with hops, over malt, or burn you with alcohol. Its just a perfect smooth barley wine. Sometimes I like a beer that offers some thrills and I'll grab something from Stone or the likes. But if I want just a perfect rounded beer that simply tastes great and goes does perfect, Southern Tier is one of the best!

 632 characters

Photo of keaston
4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Visited the brewery, tasted this and brought home a growler of it. I figured I'd review it while doing some homework.

A - Poured into my Middle Ages imperial pint glass. Mahogany brown with ruby highlights. A 1-finger tan head quickly gives way to a thin lace on top.

S - Rich and inviting. Caramel and dark fruit underneath a floral and citric hop aroma. I could smell this beer all day.

T/M - Toffee sweetness, almost like malt syrup, is first and foremost. Hops are there for balance and linger for a bittering finish. Alcohol is very well hidden, mingling with the bitterness only at the very end. Definitely can feel the 10% more than I can taste it. All around a very tasty barleywine, though not as complex as the nose might indicate. Mouthfeel is very good, with just the right amount of carbonation that is gentle on the tongue and does not obscure any flavors.

D - Since the alcohol is so well hidden for the style, this gets a high drinkability mark. Goes down very smoothly and quite tasty, nothing except the sheer inebriation would keep me from drinking more of this but alas, not today.

Though not saying much, this is probably the best barleywine I've had and I'll definitely look into getting a bottle of this sometime in the near future. If you have a chance to visit the brewery, do it.

 1,310 characters

Photo of Wedgie28
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is good stuff. Cool color - HTML #43104 or so, transparency 95.

Minute foam that follows the beer to the bottom of the glass.

I eat barley in soup sometimes and I like it. I drink barley in beer sometimes and like it and this is one of the best beers with barley in it so far. So I really like it. You should get some.

This is strong but doesn't taste strong. Get a girl two glasses and she'll like you afterwards.


 437 characters

Photo of Wheeble
3.2/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First off, let me just say that I absolutely love Southern Tier. I have yet to have a "bad" beer from them, in fact they are still one of my favorite breweries.

Besides from that fact, I was kind of disappointed with this beer.

Bought a case of 12 22oz bombers

It might just be my taste, or my assumption of what a good barleywine is supposed to resemble, but I felt this was over the top.

It reminded me of Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada, which for all intensive purposes I do not recognize as a barleywine

Initial pour was great in my snifter, medium to light initial head, very minimal retention and lacing.

Color was perfect, yet lacking in that classic barleywine bottle conditioned yeast haze I expect out of a traditional english or european BW.

Smell is floral and phenolic, but a little spicy

The first sip was very reminiscent of a cascade hopped pale ale, which kind of puzzled me. It finished very dry and a tad bitter, which I have almost come to expect from American Barleywines.

The second sip just reiterated that taste.

The body of the beer is definitely there, but even after multiple gulps it left a dry taste in my mouth almost to the point where I wanted a glass of water to rehydrate the taste buds.

Drinkability is lacking. I have an entire case of this beer, and I am hoping that me saving it for the next year or 2 will really reduce the bitter characteristic and mellow out the beer for the better.

Maybe I am spoiled because when I think of barleywines I automatically jump to the 10-15 year old aged classic Thomas Hardy's or J.W. Lees, but it seems to me that most american barleywines are overhopped and underaged, and for one of my favorite styles and even favorite breweries I am kind of disappointed.

I keep thinking to myself, "the 5 gallon batch of barleywine I brewed last July that I let sit till Christmas was much better than this", and I am not saying it as a personal preference, I am saying that as far as friends and connoisseurs that have tasted this beer and compared it to my own agree.

 2,052 characters

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

Dark, clear mahogany appearance. Little to no head.

Has a light citrus (grapefruit) scent. Definite aromatic hop presence.

Medium body. Not syrupy, but noticeably thicker.

On first sip, it starts out sweet with a mix of oaken caramel malt and sweet grapefruit. Then goes to bitter citrus and finishes up with a sweet, mellow aftertaste. A good mix. Without the bitter break it might be too much sweet.

Though it weighs in at just over 9%, for a Barley wine it doesn't have a very alcoholic bite. I'd say that's neither good nor bad...just something I noticed.

Certainly a well done brew. Seems like it would go well with more hearty and savory dishes, or at least something to counter the strong, sweet character of the beer.

 730 characters

Photo of jpnasty
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer but i wouldn't say I really loved it. Of all the southern tier products I have had this is probably my least favorite. First off this doesn't really drink like a barley wine to me, it just feels to tame. I like my barley wines to be right up in your face and make you know that you are drinking a barley wine; this on the other hand drank like a very malty IPA. Maybe a year or two in the basement would bring out some of the more complexity and strength I expect from a barley wine.

 503 characters

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