Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe 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: 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 JohnGalt1
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 from joe1510 .. shared a small glass with Brenda.. mine poured into my Smokestack goblet..

1" head with beautiful lacing.. brew is dark brown with not much showing until I held it to a light and it revealed a crystal clear ruby brew.. very pretty for the entire bottle.

Aroma is American hops but with a significant backboard of malts caramel and even some chocolate as it arms.. . yeasty fruitiness reminds me of overripe plums... does have a distinct solvent characteristic as it warms.

Flavor is very nice.. just enough bitterness to balance the malts.. good caramel.. toasty and much lesser chocolate malts.. complex malts with the fruitiness from the yeasts make this a memorable brew. Pine and citrus hops play very well with the overall sweetness. Bready midpalate and a long lingering hoppy/fruity finish combines with caramel remnants. Body is pretty much exact so is the carbonation..

I wish Backburner and other Southern Tier brews were available to me.. This BW is pretty classy fresh.. an would probably age like a champ if I had them in the cellar.. Good Stuff! Big props to joe1510 for a great trade!!


 1,140 characters

Photo of vfgccp
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Medium maple syrup color with a thin white head and ok lace.

S - Oak, booze, hints of brown sugar.

T - Smooth sweetness. Mild dried fruit character, but mostly oak and brown sugar that came through in the nose. Warm booze through the finish.

M - Medium body with a sweet finish.

O - OK flavors, but the booze is a bit astringent.

 337 characters

Photo of Tone
4.7/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy copper/amber color. 1/3 inch head of a pale tan color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of strong hops, sweet malt, slight alcohol, and a hint of raisin. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is really smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong hops up front, earthy malt comes through next, slight alcohol, and the finish is sweet malt and more hops. Wow, for a Barleywine fan and a big hops fan this is a great brew. Overall, this is a really tasty beer and I wish I had a SN Bigfoot to compare next, but I think this is just as good. Definitely worth a try.

 622 characters

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

A: poured a mahogany brown in color with yellow highlights and a thin ring of head that left very little bubbly lacing sticking to the glass.

S: most malty sweetness upfront in the nose but was able to detect some caramel, maybe a little dark fruitiness, hints of piney hops, a little booze and signs of maple.

T: the flavor was also very sweet and malty like the aroma suggested alongside dark fruit character, a little booze heat, caramel accents, a touch of toffee, maple sugar notes and a touch hoppiness.

M: the brew was medium in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, mildly dark fruity, boozy, slightly hoppy and sticky finish

O: I thought it was just OK but was decent. I guess I am just use to these real big robust rich flavorful barleywines.

 776 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle purchased from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/4" tan head over the clear burgundy chestnut brew. Head holds relatively steady, but tending towards a layer of small bubbles, with plenty of sticky lacing. Aroma is sweet malt, dark fruit, and alcohol. Taste is syrupy upfront for a moment, and then is overpowered by an extremely artificial-seeming fruitiness, with warmth coming on at the end. Mouthfeel is average to good, nothing particularly notable, and drinkability is quashed a bit by the fruitiness that (looking at the ingredients) probably is coming from some hop or another. Regardless, this one just didn't do much for me.

 685 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

85 ibu barley wine style. Hopped with Chinook and dried with Amarillo and centennial.

A: Pours a dark mahogany red with virtually no head.

S: Pine and spruce on nose.

T: Huge sticky pine flavor and palate. Bitter and dry with some dried grapefruit. 10.0 abv. Deep caramelized flavor with some bitterness that ends with a touch of lemon citrus. Some alcohol warming but otherwise very drinkable considering abv. Big dry pine bitterness from hops.

M: hearty malty mouthful. Reminds me of a arrogant bastard.

D: very good drinkability even for high abv%

 559 characters

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

A twist-top bomber?

A: Dark copper-brown, off-white head, some retention, good lace.

S: Plenty of fresh hop aroma: pine, peachy-appricot, woody spice; brandy.

T: Assertive bitterness, piney, light citrus, amarillo-aspirin, burnt toffee, light fruityness, alcohol is extremely well-hidden. Some BW's need some age on them, but this one is really great fresh.

M: Moderate body (well-attenuated), slightly creamy, hints of hop acidity, moderate carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable... the 10% could really catch up to you!

 529 characters

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

Another bottle I got with that great trader, russpowell. Thanks Russ!

A lovely deep red pour, 2 finger head of foam, excellent lacing...great way to start things off.

There's heaps of caramel and bready malt in the aroma intertwined with a rather small amount of hop bitterness. It smells more like an English BWSA than an American but the bread seems to be a bit too strong on my nose buds.

More of the same in the taste but it seems to work better on my palate than my nose. Caramel is huge, bread is big but not as big suggested by the smell, the hop bitterness is done very lightly, adding just a touch to stop this from becoming too sweet. Goodly amount of alcohol shining through bringing lots of warming. I'm a fan of the malt as well as the hop so I'm enjoying the sipping session I have going on here.

Close or at full bodied, carbonation is on the light side, very nice mouth feel and pretty easy to drink considering the abv. I like!

 948 characters

Photo of cjgator3
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle

A- Poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark amber color with an off-white head with great retention and lacing.

S- The aroma is a lot of malt like I expect in a goodn barleywine and fresh hops. 

T- The taste like the aroma has a ton of rich malty flavors up front. The finish features some bitterness from the hops and a good amount of lingering warmth from the alcohol in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is fantastic. It is medium bodied with a perfect amount of carbonation creating a perfect texture.

O- Overall, Southern Tier Backburner is a fine barleywine. It is a little maltier than most barleywines made here in the states, but it is deliciously crafted. I'm interested in seeing how this one ages as well. Recommended!

 742 characters

Photo of Viggo
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

At Goldoraks tasting, post-Mondial 2007! Big group of RB guys and a couple BA's, and some on both, it was a great time! Can't remember who brought this because I didn't write it down, but to whoever did, thanks!

Pours a clear brown, small off white head, lace spots, leaves a small ring, something very average about it though. Smell is sweet, some caramel, citrus, very fruity, alcohol, smell like an English barleywine. Taste is rich toffee, slight roast, very fruity, bit of alcohol, nice balance. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, quite coating and rich. Not sure if I would call this an American barleywine, but pretty half decent stuff. Thanks!

 676 characters

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

Scarlet red body. Slight off white head. Lace is quite adequate for the octane level. Aroma is fruity and hoppy. I get the pineapple like hoppy smell and some sweet maltiness as well. Pretty nice balance between malt and hops for this bigass brew. Rich caramel malts lay a nice foundation. Citrusy and pungent hops accent nicely. Alcohol is damn near absent in the flavor. Slightly spicy aftertaste from hops. Good barleywine overall.

 434 characters

Photo of dgilks
3.47/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

 461 characters

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

Pours a carameled, maple syrupy ruby color. Very faint head and no bubbles or lacing. Great color though. The aroma is a cinnamon spicey citrus and a dash of caramel and figs. Starts with some warm fruits and a light touch of Chrstmas seasonings. Cinnamon, nutmeg, with some caramel plums. Good, warm, and spicey sweet. The palate has some complex alcohol notes. Some brandy or mabybe cognac and some warms peas with some orange zest. Sippable andnice to look at in a snifter.

 476 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown color with a two-finger head that fades down to one finger. Nice presentation.

Aroma is full of cascade and centennial hops in the nose with a bit of sweet malt and alcohol warmth.

Taste is strong and full of sweet, caramel-like malt with raisin. Hops are quite strong here as well.Very mellow with only a hint of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is full of the lingering smorgasboard of flavors mentioned above. Very nice.

I like this barleywine. It's very mellow and easy to drink even when it's young. A bit of aging should expose the malt even more.

 577 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, I'd guess and say it's about a year old if not older than that. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a reddish/brown color with a half inch tan head that went away quickly. There's a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like caramel malt, molasses, apricots, plums and a bit of pine hops. The taste is mostly like the aroma, but there's also the addition of some cherries, toffee and orange peel flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. It's easy enough to drink. I think it's a good overall brew, I'd buy it again in the future. It's certainly worth trying.

 629 characters

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From tasting notes. L: A dark, slightly hazy pour supports a clingy 2” cream colored white foam collar. S: Wine and fruit aromas. T: A big malty palate with toffee, large pitted fruit, cola, and a long, lingering bitter hop finish. F: Full body, soft palate, medium carbonation. Has a wine like warming. O: A big, well balanced beer.

 335 characters

Photo of claspada
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aromas are quite fruity (dark and stone fruits that is). Some prune, raisin, licorice, berry, inviting. As it warms I can detect some more lighter sweeter fruits and some caramels and nice hints of vanilla.

The taste is quite balanced considering I was expecting a much sweeter beer (as Southern Tier tends to do). A nice thick, deep maltiness persists throughout. Definitely rich, almost like a doppelbock, a lot of dark bready malts. Subtle prune, molasses and licorice. Very little bittering but some aroma hops are present, Quite atypical but an enjoyable twist for the style. I like that this isn't another Pacific coast hop bomb. Finishes with a dryness that makes such a malty beer dangerous. As it warms it starts drinking like candy, with bright vanilla and light caramel flavors. Carbonation is fairly low, as to be expected, especially considering the ABV, style and the brewer. A shade lighter than a "syrupy" beer in my opinion

Overall, thumbs up. I appreciate the out-of-the box approach by Southern Tier on this "barleywine," although by today's standards I would classify it as an Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale.

 1,127 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Solid dark amber with just a half inch of foamy white head.

S - Smells like a nice dry hopped barleywine. Citrus rind with a sweet strong malt base and a bit of brown sugar goodness.

T - Wow who knew a little bit of dry hopping can make such a strong great tasting barleywine? Great hop presence of grapefruit and citrus along side of a great malt base. Sugar residue makes this beer have a sweet finish and hops strong enough to cover up the high ABV. Perfection.

M - Medium to heavy a definite sipper but easy sipper.

Overall it's a damn near perfect barleywine. Sweet, hoppy, and delicious. With an 8 dollar price tag it's not too expensive to enjoy on an occasion. Would recommend it to others.

 706 characters

Photo of avalon07
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a cloudy consistency. There was a half inch of long-lasting, foamy/creamy head. Very good lacing.

S: A strong aroma of hops, caramel, and some sugar.

T: Tasted of hops - a lot of hops - caramel, malt, and sugar. Nicely complex. Actually gets better as it goes along.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: One of the more drinkable American barleywines around.

 460 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

 487 characters

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

22oz bomb, split with an amigo while planning our 3 week south african safari

appearance: pours into a pint glass, dark amber body, foamy beige cap, lovely little barleywine

smell: floral, boutique of hops, citrus and caramel malts - pretty

taste: a definite hopbomb, beautiful floral hop profile, citrus, pine, booze, thick caramel malts, brown sugar - 1 dimensional but nice

mouthfeel: moderate bitterness, medium body

drinkability: good

 444 characters

Photo of ccrida
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml with a few months on it, poured into my Deshutes snifter, Backburner is a dark ruby with a large, rocky,burnt off-white head that leaves heavy lace.

Smell is rich and thick, fruity ale esters, caramel, nutty, and prune malts, wet, citrus hops, boozy but pretty good.

Taste is sharp and full, tangy, sweet malt and heavily hopped, caramelized fruits. The high ABV drys it out, although after the initially esters and hops, the finish is pretty clean. Pretty good, but could use more time to soften the edges.

Mouthfeel is slick and oily, medium heavy body, with a spicy, dry, hoppy and alcoholic finish.

Drinkability is pretty good, this is a nice barleywine for sure, second bomber that I've had. The first with any time in my cellar, it still has room to run, but I'll be sure to get more, especially once this become available in WA!

 850 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured in a Sprecher snifter. 10% ABV, 25 degrees Plato, 15 degrees L, "serve in a snifter", best at 42 degrees F, listed ingredients, no date.

A - Pours a beautiful lightly hazy bronze color with golden amber highlights. A very low tan head pops up only to disappear right away to a ring of loose bubbles. A little coating of lace is left in a collar.

S - The aroma is almost reminiscent of a strong IPA. Lots of hops in the nose give off some potent pine hints mixed with fruity resins. Dark cherry and sugar-sprinkled raisin. The caramel malts add a nice lightly toasted aroma with some residual sweetness. The alcohol is also present but not overly strong.

T - Deep toasted caramel malts give the flavor a round feel with that caramel and honey sweetness. Notes of toasted, dense bread also come and go. The hops are still strange to me in this beer's first sips. There is a definite pine and light grapefruit from the Chinook that I'm not sold on yet. It doesn't seem to fit the profile. The lingering bitterness isn't at all bad though. In fact I think it balances well. The fruitiness is low but present and the alcohol finishes smooth.

M - Besides it going down the wrong pipe, it's smooth! Medium-full bodied and rich with a lingering bitterness to the finish. A little bit chewy but round overall.

D - Another sipping beer that has good balance but the potential to get old half-way through the bottle. A decent barleywine that has a sort of old world feel to it. Definitely enjoyable but not something I'll be rushing back out for. Maybe one to age to smooth even further.

 1,601 characters

Photo of barczar
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Not sure where the bottling dates are coming from, but I see none. Also, not listed as retired on untappd. Guessing this is at least a year old, as it was on clearance.

Aroma is rich with deeply caramelized malt and huge dark fruit character. Notes of raisins, prunes, plums, and dates abound.

Flavor falls comparatively short in complexity, with raisins and dark cherries dominating, and a hint of cardboard oxidation drying out the finish. Could age longer. Wish I knew how old it was.

 489 characters

Photo of barnzy78
4.12/5  rDev +3%
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.

 450 characters

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