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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 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!

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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.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is strong and fruity, more like a hard cider, with tones of apple and malt along with hints of brown sugar, grapefruit and honey. It pours a lovely transparent mahogany with a decent pale cinnamon head. Flavor is fruity, mainly apple; malty, slightly woody, slightly sweet, with hints of caramel and grapefruit - and a fair alcohol nip that lets you know it is a barleywine. Texture is smooth yet edgy and leaves behind a nice, slightly tinny fizz. I believe barleywine fans will like this one.

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

A deep mahogany color with a solid light tan head and an excellent lace. The aroma is a very mellow blend of malt and red wine with a subtle nuttiness. The taste shows much the same with lots of malty sweetness and a deep grape wine. Very fine carbonation and fair drinkability for a barleywine. Fruity and nutty. Delicious but not something to drink carelessly. Very nice.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a chouffe tulip

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

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

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

Full bodied, heavy, with a chewy hop presence.

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

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a clear copper reddish color with a dirty white head leaving a nice lace.

S-the nose is big, tons of caramel malts up front, toasted malt, notes of meat in the middle, dark fruits soaked with some alcohol in the back, earthy and tea hop scent.

T-the taste follows the nose, caramel, meat, sweet in the back, notes of booze, tea, earthy hops.

M-smooth on the palate, low carbonation, soft finish, syrupy and medium bodied.

D-pretty solid brew here, a little sweet but not cloying. nice hop presence in the back to balance all the malts.

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Photo of dar482
2.69/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

This was bottled 2/15/12. Basically two year old bottle.

The beer comes in a super hazy copper color with ruby red coming through in the light. Not much of a head.

The aroma has oak chips, tons of oxidation, wet leaves, cardboard. A tinge of dark toffee sweetness.

The beer follows with oak woodiness, some syrupy caramel sweetness, but the beer is generally dominated of oxidation. Chewy leaves, potpourri flowers, wet cardboard. Not much bitterness with a slightly empty finish.

I would not recommend empty this beer as there lacks sweetness and the oxidation tastes horrible. Tons of oak, oxidation, without much sweetness. I had to pour it out.

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Photo of ZAP
4.65/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big and well done.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Immortale25
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Palm snifter at The Local Miami.

A- Pours a reddish light brown color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before slowly meandering down to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a light sheet of surface foam. Spotty resilient lacing.

S- Piney hops lead the way with some cereal grain malt sweetness bringing up the rear. Makes for a pleasant balance. A bit musty with some alcohol fume.

T- The bitterness clamps down hard almost making my jaw tense up. Definitely a hop-forward barleywine but there's plenty of biscuity malt to complement. The alcohol is noticeable but easily managed.

M- A bit creamy, thick and sharp all at the same time. Medium carbonation and a fuller sort of body for the style.

O- Haven't had this in years and I've never had it on tap so it was a nice reminder of how awesome ST can be.

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Photo of Bung
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. Cloudy amber pour, with a nice whitish ring around and good lacing. Aroma is sweet malt up front, caramel covered fruit, faint hops. Taste is a pleasant and balanced blend of caramel, malt, yellow raisin, brown sugar and piney hops. Pleasant nearly creamy mouthfeel. Nearly 2 years on this has turned it into a cross between an English and American barleywine. I prefer the English, so I'm glad I waited. One of the most balanced barleywines I've had. Drinkability is good for a big beer, good warming brew. Worth trying, but if you're really looking for American style, drink this fresh.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bomber into snifter glass

Appearance- The beer pours a deep copper- red color with highlights of amber and a small off white head. The head fades very rapidly leaving a few bubbles to linger on the surface of the brew and leaving a light level of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is bready and sweet. A sweet aroma of caramel, cherries, apple, and toffee are plentiful mixing well with a big bready smell. With the sweet and malty is a decent showing of a nice bourbon aroma.

Taste – The taste starts out of a bready taste with hints of caramel and dark fruit sweetness. As the taste advances, a strong toffee sweetness comes to the tongue with it mixed with a lighter herbal flavor. As the taste moves on further the sweet fades slightly with an oak and bourbon alcohol flavor coming to the tongue. These two flavors grow quite a bit stronger at the end and mix with an earthy hop to leave a lingering sweet and earthy bourbon flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly creamier and thicker side, although for a 9.6 % it is not all that exceptionally thick. The carbonation level is quite appropriate for the style as it is on the lower side. The lower carbonation and the slightly thicker body allow the sweet, boozy, oak and lightly hopped flavors to linger on the tongue.

Overall - A rather interesting barley wine with a rather diverse flavor profile. While on the sweeter side, there are also good flavors of a bready, hoppy and boozy flavor. The transitions in the taste are all rather smooth and with it not being a booze bomb like some barley wines it is somewhat easy to drink. Worth a try if you have a chance.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured into snifter glass.

Appearance: hazy orange color with a thinkg white head.

Smell: Malty goodness. Some hops to balance the beer/

Taste: Oak, vanilla, malty sweetnes.

Mothfeel: This is a big beer that is very balanced. It s an imporession to wo worka n qiimqnten sign,

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Photo of tigg924
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: minimal head, moderate carbonation, orange-brown, slightly cloudy

Smell: pineapple, pine, malt, hops, and dark fruit

Taste: hops, alcohol, sweet dried fruit, pine, caramel, and malt

Mouthfeel: harsh/bitter first sip then smooth with a bitter aftertaste, medium heavy in body

Drinkability: One is enough for me. This one definately lands on the bitter side of barleywines. This does have a good flavor combination and the alcohol is not hidden. To me this is not as experimentive as other barleywines I have tried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 oz bottle, no date, but I'm assuming it's a 2011 bottle, and the brewery's website indicates a yearly February release.

appears a cloudy dark brown, with amber highlights at the edges of the glass. thin off-white colored head. strong aroma of sweet caramel malt with a touch of hops. very appetizing.

taste is big malt, as expected - toffee, bready, brown sugar. but not overly sweet, and balanced by a little hop finish. coats the mouth, but not too thick. just enough carbonation, so it drinks smooth.

a nice cold season beer, another Southern Tier success!

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

Appearance – This is a nice, bronzy brown in color with a modest but very stubborn head that left cool-looking pits and a nice film.

Smell – This smells more like an EBW than an ABW. The table sugar is huge at the nose along with a vast collection of light, summertime fruits. I get a beautiful white apricot, a must try if you’ve never had them, with a bit of non-tart apple and maybe white grapes to go along with the barleyWINE moniker. The malts are modest caramel but really they are in the background here.

Taste – The light fruits and table sugar come through at the taste along with the first hint of hops. I guess the hop profile is somewhat complex but they do not dominate this ale like you would think from looking at the impressive list. I get a nice citrus and light pine mix but again nothing heavy. The caramel is a bit bigger in the mouth but nothing off the charts.

Mouthfeel – This is a big medium-bodied and greasy slick in the mouth with little suggestion of the high ABV.

Drinkability – This is the closest thing I’ve found to a session Barley Wine. It is very easy-drinking, not intimidating at all as most ABVs can be, and actually is more Enlgish than American. The light fruity character sets this apart from the rest and makes this mandatory tasting for all the BW lovers.

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Photo of Pencible
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a slightly hazy mahogany with a bit of tan head. It smelled like fresh copper and lemon hops, with surprisingly little malt, but a bit of brown sugar and oak. It tasted like copper and citrus hops with a bit of burnt caramel, roasted barley, and vanilla oak. It was slightly thick with some carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this was very mild and plain for a barleywine. It had a nice clean flavor and good body, but it didn't have any unique character at all. It was more like an imperial amber or IPA, which was fairly disappointing to me. It hid the alcohol decently, so it was easy enough to drink, but I was really hoping for something more. This could conceivably improve (a lot) with age, if it develops a much stronger malt character. But it's not worth much fresh.

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

This beer pours a murky brown color. The head is a quarter inch in height, and recedes into a thin ring of lacing. The aroma is of pine resin, grapefruit, and caramel. The taste leans more toward the malt than the aroma does, but this is still a hop centric beer. Like a lot of other overly hopped barleywines the hops seem to be sitting on top of the malt, and never intermingling. The mouthfeel is full bodied with lively carbonation. Overall, I think this beer would be better with some age on it. Then again age might further bring out the its lack of oneness between the malt and the hops.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very rich, clear looking amber/ruby color with a gorgeous rocky, creamy off-white head and minimal to no carbonation.

S - Has a moderate barley aroma, rye, citrus, and pine. It's not overly aromatic, my nose had a hard time picking up much more.

T - Very nice taste with caramel malt underneath throughout the sip while the citrus and pine hops flow over the top trying to squash it down. The tongue is immediately hit with caramel/toffee sweetness and some brown sugar which lingers to the end. There's also traces of raisins, mild green apples, and is mildly earthy. The hops enter after the start and exit before finishing with lipsmacking toffee sweetness. There's a coating of citrus, orange, and toffee bitterness left at the end.

M - Creamy and velvety on the tongue, heavy body, sticky sweet.

D - ABV is not so apparent, has a nice hop/malt pairing with neither dominating the other.

Had on tap but would love to have some bottles on hand to stick in the cellar for a few years to see where it goes. Backburner has always been one of my favorite Barleywines.

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

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue IV:

Interesting, a twist-off bomber, you don't see that too often. The lacing drapes on the glass all the way down with a cobweb pattern. Clear and glowing tawny color. Deep aromas of caramel, golden raisins, roasted apples and a minty citric hop. Big, thick, creamy full body, some smoothness off of the moderate level of carbonation. Rich bread and caramel maltiness up front, hops come in strong, but are not overbearing and balance everything well. The hop bitterness couples with the warm peppery alcohol and yields a slight sharp tone in the middle. Bit of bread crust, raisin and ripe plum present. The alcohol is very warming, but not hot. Citric and mint hop flavors go well together and linger far into the bittersweet finish.

A solid Barleywine--balanced even with the semi-aggressive hop presence thrown at us. High regards for this beer within its style, which is without a doubt right on target.

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

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

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

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

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

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

D - Too drinkable. Excellent. 4.5

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Photo of woosterbill
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Cask Republic into a tulip.

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

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

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

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

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


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Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

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