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Oak-Aged Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Oak-Aged Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)Oak-Aged Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

80 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 80
Hads: 321
Avg: 4.03
pDev: 9.18%
Wants: 27
Gots: 44 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MasterSki on 02-01-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 80 | Hads: 321
Photo of StaveHooks
2.96/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Southern Tier brewery.

A - Poured a mahogany brown with a thin cream cap. Very pretty beer.

S - Lots of oak, buttery caramel, vanilla, rich candy toffee, burnt raisins, licorice, alcohol.

T - Super dense malt, oak was very heavy, vanilla, burnt brown sugar, candy toffee, burnt raisins, pine and hints of citrus.

M - Full body, creamy feel, low carbonation, warming.

This beer is either way too young or just doesn't work. Very raw and powerful flavors all around. Nothing seemed to mesh well. I'd like to try a bottled version with some time on it.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.11/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clean orange-ish to amber color with a light tan head. In the aroma, mellow bourbon, small dark fruits, and alcohol. In the taste, alcohol to oaky bourbon, dark fruit, and licorice. An alcohol bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry bourbon, vanilla, and alcohol like aftertaste. Too big, like a shot inside a barleywine. It's just too much for me.

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Photo of bassboneman
3.2/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I must admit...
I am glad I didnt dump this product upon first tasting!
I had it with a super hearty and delicious stew my wife made...not a good complimentary drink.
However, with something sweet - this drink is much better!
I wish the label had a more prominent BARLEY WINE logo...
To quote Monty Python's Instant Record Collection... "Warning...Larks Vomit" - or ' "Crunchy Frog"...
An interesting drink to say the least...ProsT fruende!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.41/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle (repeatedly poured) into a snifter.

A: Pours a dark chestnut color with a beautiful glow. Given the small glass size, there isn't much head - just a thin off-white film, and even that retains itself poorly. The beautiful shade gives it a few extra brownie points.

S: Lots of caramel, toffee, and earth in this one. The hops seem faded at this point (not unexpected) with only faint notes of melon, peach, and lemongrass. I also pick up additional oaky, vanilla tones as it opens up in the glass. Competent without bowling me over in any way.

T: This opens very fruity on the tongue. There are still some front-loaded hop flavors (it's almost like a lemon cake, in a manner), without any obnoxious bitterness anywhere on the palate. Finish is subtly oaky, but more dominated by sweet, buttery vanilla - and after some time, some boozy touches. The end result is a very sweet brew best suited for dessert, but with a surprising drinkability level. Not amazingly complex, though.

M: It's thick yet soft on the palate - as a barleywine should be - though perhaps a bit too prickly at times. Once carbonation softens, the full texture is allowed to shine through. Oak helps to dry the finish up slightly; this is why it's relatively drinkable.

O: This seems to strike a middle ground between the hoppy American barleywine and the sweet, desserty English barleywine - and truth be told, I'm more reminded of the latter here. Oddly for the style, this is best when it's very cold; it becomes rather imbalanced and even harsh when warmed up sufficiently.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.45/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been in love with the Backburner, and when the base beer is as good as it is I believe you shouldn't mess with it. However, there's exceptions to that just looka at what Founders does with variations of Breakfast Stout. Pours a deep ruby red mahogany brown hue with a cream colored khaki head with fine speckled laicng forming on the sides of my glass. Aroma has oak and vanilla with hints of booze, caramelized sugars with a rolling breadiness. Also in addition there's a subdued earth, citrus pith, and herbaceous flavor combination that gets a bit jaded by the loads of vanilla and charred oak flavors, making the beer a bit dysmal for me. I like Unearthly but not a fan of Oak Aged Unearthly, this is basically the same type of oak flavor, it just doesn't do anything for me that the base beer meant so much. Mouthfeel burns a bit a, quite booze ridden with dry oak chip finish going on, cloyingly sweet at the same time not enough hops balance things out. Overall I don't like the booze level and the overt sweetness found in this beer.

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Photo of JWeldon
3.48/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

750ml poured into a tulip at 46F

A: pours a dark, reddish amber with a half-finger of light khaki head

S: fig and raisin, bready with hints of oak and cherry

T: Dates and raisin with cherry, toffee and oak

M: medium bodied with a big malty beginning and a light hop finish. Balanced booziness

O: A solid beer, but not a showstopper. I definitely enjoyed it, and it gained some complexity as it warmed up from the 46F pour temp. There’s just a “stand-out” element missing that places it behind other barlywine-styled brews I’ve drunk.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Alesmith Horny Devil snifter.

A- pours a dark copper with a 2 finger light tan head. Nice thin leopard spotting of lacing around the glass.

S- oak/wood, citrus and some dark fruit.

T- sweet caramel, citrus, and wood. Has some hop bitterness.

M- medium body and carbonation. There's a hint of alcohol.

O- good Barleywine but not very complex. Wish this beer picked up some more flavors from the oak.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle to snifter at World of Beer Tioga. Pours a reddish brown, clear, with nearly no head. Aroma of sweet hard candies, bit of dank hops, but heavy on the caramel malt. Flavor is toffee, biscuit, hard candy, dry oak, vanilla root beer. Plenty going on but super sweet. I sould have shared this with someone, but it was only my wife and I at the bar and she won't drink it. Slick mouthfeel with lowish carbonation. Not bad, but just a bit much for me. On the sweet side and a bit more oak than I would have wanted.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.64/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was served from the tap at Tap and Mallet in Rochester, NY into a Great Lakes Brewing snifter. The brew glowed a golden ruby red, holding a two finger tan head of tight bubbles. This left spotty froth around the glass as it went slowly away. Carbonation appeared light, and no haze or sediment was noted. The nose blows your socks off!! There was the deepest butter and oak, mixing and flourishing with freshness and robustness. It was musky, yet warming and spicy. There was maple syrupy sugars and thickness, and light booze to the back. Our first impression was that it was boozy and buttery, but not nearly as good as the nose. The flavoring opened with light caramel grains and syrupy sweetness. The booze cut everything, moving to the peak with unforgiving fusel bite. Black pepper, oak, paler malts, and faint honey flowed on the back. The booze really killed a lot of any remaining flavoring, leaving booze, wood and caramel to the very end. The aftertaste rumbled on with vodka, nail polish, plastic phenols, and more even oaky musk. The body was thinner than expected, with medium carbonation. There was light coating, but ultimately fusel bite to suck the palate bone dry. There was nice slurp and smack, but thin on froth or cream. The abv was appropriate, and the beer was very slow drinking.

Overall, by far the best thing about this brew was the nose. This is the closest nose we’ve found to be nearly as oaky and smooth as the Bourbon County series. The rest of the tasting falls from there drastically. The flavoring is hugely boozy throughout, with fusel fire burning away the rest of the palate, and decimating all flavor. The feel was also thinner than expected, again, taking away from the experience.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.64/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

P: Murky mahogany color with a fast fading taupe froth. Wet lacing forms on the sides.

S: Heavy wood aroma, vanilla, sweet roasted caramel malt, creole spices, roasted barley, and a faint old milk aroma.

T/M: Super sweet upfront with toasted caramel, syrup, brown sugar, drinks similar to really sweet tea but with loads of smoldered barley and wood. Hops are earthy and very mild while faint chocolate lingers in the backdrop. A nice full body with moderate carbonation.

O: I hate to say it but I'm not a fan of this one. I like that the oak cuts the sweetness but its just too understated for the brigade of sweetness that attacks the palate. It's like drinking overly sweetened tea. Well put together and easy drinking gives this a bump in points. I read reviews about a strong hop profile so I really want to try a fresh version.

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Photo of weeare138
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a dense mahogany with a small white cap that slowly fades into a gentle cap. Tiny speckles of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of dense caramel, fruit, vanilla, oak, whiskey, peaches, pineapple...sheer sweetness.
Taste is of the aromas with a candy sweetness that lingers with heat.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, sweet, and hot.

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Photo of silentjay
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

deep, yet still translucent mahogany with a two-fingered khaki head that quickly settles, leaving behind chunky lacing.

oaky aroma (virgin oak maybe, not getting much liquor characteristic) gives a sugary, vanilla aroma on top of the malty, fruity, and caramelly aroma.

starts fruity, woody, and sweet. sweet dark fruits come in next with some caramel, vanilla and toasted malts. boozy from start to finish.

medium bodied with subtle carbonation, yet not quite providing the syrupy body that would make this ideal.

adds a bit of complexity on top of the base beer, which was lacking a bit in that department. Doesn't quite become a complex, savory monster as many oak/barrel/bourbon aged barleywines are able to. It's better than the original, but not worth seeking out extensively.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Lost Abbey tulip, bottled 2/15/12. Pours a orange red, with a one inch off white head, that leaves some solid lace. Smell is hard candy, vanilla, dark fruit, biscuit, carmel, grapefruit, and brown sugar. Taste is really well balanced, lots of vanilla, carmel, burnt brown sugar, and sweet grapefruit in the finish. Body is thinner than expected, the amount of carbonation you would expect, not really dry, and drinkable for its heft. This is a good and different tasting barleywine.

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Photo of barczar
3.77/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep amber with garnet highlights and a quarter inch cream colored head that dissipates slowly, leaving a ring around the rim.

Aroma is sweet malt, caramel, booze, and a but ifsoft grapefruit. There's a slight hint of vanilla and pine.

The flavor is somewhat dominated by booze, with a backbone of fairly sweet caramel malt and a hint of vanilla. Citrus hop is present throughout. There's a hint of oak at the slightly bitter finish.

Body is moderate, with fairly low carbonation, ending with alcohol warmth.

Overall, a pretty tasty beer. Alcohol is definitely evident. I expected a little more hop presence for the style.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

this cant have spent too much time on wood, as the oak properties are way behind the malt, and the carbonation on this is still so robust. the color is a hazy dark amber, and its real heady for an oaked brew. the nose is slightly fruity, almost dried cherries or figs on it, with all the grain taking on a sweeter, molasses sort of complexion, with just a faint staleness. the flavor is rather uniform, with a real fruity finish and an impressively light body for both the alcohol content and the norms of the style. dark caramel sweetness from the grain, it tastes like unfermented wort, but the finish is much more resolved, dryer, and honestly rather clean for the start. cherry and maybe raisin fruit flavors as well. tons of bubbles on it, a well hidden abv, and a dangerously drinkable lighter body. i could stand to see a little more of a prominent oak profile on it, may mellow the grain sweetness, but i think the beer is solid as a more drinkable barleywine. not southern tiers best, but a beer not to pass up if you havent had one.

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Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber/orange with a small head and bits of lacing.

Smell is on par. Slghtly sweet, caramel malts, burnt sugar, light booze, light floral hops, some pine.

Malt forward..oak comes through more in taste with some spice notes..figs, more sweetness, little bitterness, little booze.

Easier to drink than many of this style

Nice BW, falls into its style.

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am not a fan of hoppy barleywines...and this was hoppy...but that said, it was still a very tasty beer but not amongst my favorite barleywines because I look for a more malt forward beer when drinking something out of this style.

As the beer warmed, there were some malt and fruit characters that came through. One thing I noticed missing in this beer was the oak taste, since this was supposedly aged in oak barrels.

Overall this was solid beer but with some many other barleywines out there that I like better, I probably won't buy it anytime soon again.

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Photo of JMS1512
3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The initial smell that sways my sinuses is one of raisin and a bit of toast. A few more inhales and I also notice a little bit of citrus, I suspect from the Willamette hops. Its color appears as a deep, and slightly cloudy mahogany. Backlit by the sun, it gives off a small red flare midst the brown. My first sip includes roasted malt, a tinge of hops, and more raisins from the nose. Midway through, I also detect vanilla and a little bourbon. It lingers, joined by big wood. [rim shot] No, really, the finish really leaves you with the oak-aged portion of the process. Great sipper. Tiny bubbles and mist-droplet like lacing. I’ve had the regular version of this. I much prefer this one, as it reminds me of Widdershins, but with less oak. Good take on barleywine, without being from across the pond.

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Photo of TongoRad
3.87/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This is a review of an older bottle, and the hops are not as prominent as they would be in a fresh bottle.

Great color,albeit a bit cloudy, and a nice fine head that like to stick around for a while. The nose is almost barleywine all the way, with a hint of oak playing a supporting role deep down under the figs, berries, nuts, light caramel, showing as a touch of vanilla bringing up the rear. Not too much here in the way of hops or specialty malts, but that's how I prefer them anyway. The vanilla comes out a lot more on the palate, while the oak lingers in the finish- a very well-integrated and non-intrusive element. The elegant presentation of well-woven flavors, unfortunately, is marred by an underattenuated quality that dominates all else. Dry this out a touch, and it would do a lot for this beer. Solid effort, but it easily could have been on a whole other level.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up just because. Poured into a tulip glass after being forces to bowl, I hate bowling. This beer has an awesome color, deep transparent garnett red, it glows. Some puffy head, a little bit of lacing, actually more like speckling. Aroma has some pine, pith, rich malty toffee and caramel notes, and oak essence, did I just right oak essence? Well oak, its there actually it kind of takes away from the rest of the aroma. Some good things, balanced hops, citrus, pith, pine, rich caramel like malt, syrupy, sappy. Some bad things, the oak / wood flavor is a bit artificial and wood chip - E tasting. Aside from that I really enjoy the balance of this beer, some A - Barleywines are just too hoppy / bitter and this is nice. A rich full and slightly slick mouthfeel, its good, it isn't hot, and the alcohol hides well. I think this beer wwould be great in 6 months, perhaps the wood would relax at that point.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep mahogany body with unexpected clarity. Poured a one finger cream-colored head that has now dissipated to a thin film of suds, leaving good lacing.

Aroma: Rich malts oozing with caramel, apple and a touch of hearty spice (like one would find in hot cider). Not much in terms of hops and reminiscent of a Scotch Ale.

Taste: Of the many flavors, the oak is the most prominent. It brings out an almost cinnamon or nutmeg spice note in the grain. This creates a sort of cinnamon apple flavor that gives it an almost candy-like quality. Although it is hard to define what hop flavor is present, it is easier to detect the bitterness that is contributed by them. The bitterness starts about halfway through and continues on through to echo in the aftertaste. This strikes a good balance with the somewhat sweet malt flavor. Once the hop bitterness has faded after each sip, the heat in the back of the throat kicks in. Although I’d classify 9.6% ABV as being only in the upper middle part of the craft beer strength range, it definitely packs a punch in this Barleywine.

Mouthfeel: Almost full in body but not quite heavy feeling. The carbonation is on par with what is expected from an oak-aged brew and brings a lightness to the drinkability. Although classified as more of a sipper, it is easy to take this beast down.

Final Thoughts: I’d been curious to try Backburner for a while now (well ever since I grew to appreciate this style) and while not the beer I expected, it did impress. Just when I’d begun to peg the American Barleywine style as nothing more than citrusy malt-bombs, Backburner comes along and redefines that trend. With characteristics of both an American Barleywine, English Barleywine, and Scotch Ale, Backburner is a treat for those seek out the finer things. Would I drink it again? Sure.

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Photo of jtingue
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler fill from the brewery. Poured into a pumpking chalice.

Appearance. Copper brown in color. Pours with 3 fingers of off white head, which dissipates quickly leaving some nice lacing down the side of the glass. A thin, frothy layer of head remains for a while.

Smell. Caramel and toffee are joined by a faint toasted oak and some mustiness, which I often recognize in Southern Tiers oak aged beers.

Taste. Starts off with a semi-tart grape flavor. Some of the more sugar-sweet flavors of caramel come in. This is balanced, and eventually overtaken by a slight oak soaked bitterness. The oak, however, is not as musty as I found it to be in their other oak aged beers. The slight fruity tartness comes back, this time soaked in rum. The finish is dried a bit by the alcohol presence, and contains a lingering ripe berry flavor.

3.5Mouthfeel. A moderate to thick body is broken up and made light by a moderate amount of loose carbonation.

This one really benefits from the aging, in my opinion. The original was dominated by a persistant presence of the yeast that was used, while this was much more balanced by the oak, fruit and caramel flavors.

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Photo of RollBounce
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Great toffee and Carmel tones bright mouthfeel for a 2012 vintage. Some orange hints light lacing. Some chocolate is there as well.

Overall better then expected, with the sweetness thatbi love but still needing to age a little more for my taste. Would like to pick up a bottle

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Photo of RDAdams
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a mahogany brown with ruby highlights and a thin, lingering, tan head.

S: WoW! I was overwhelmed, first by the maple syrup, then by the caramel, then by the oak, and finally by the alcohol. It has a very sweet, thick, high octane aroma with hints of toffee, vanilla, and dark fruit plus citrus & floral hops. I am in love.

T: The label says to serve at 42°F. Do so as its taste is very affect by temperature. Regardless of temperature, it is cloyingly sweet and over-oaked. At lower temperatures, the hops and the alcohol provide a balance that is otherwise lacking. Also when it is warmer, it lack the clean finish and the fruity aftertaste that the brewer intended.

M: Mouthfeel too depends on temperature. Warmer means a thinner body and over carbonation.

O: Obviously the answer is "It depends on the temperature."

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Photo of MistahBeah
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby brown. Cream colored head that disappears after half a minute or so. Minimal lacing. Some visible carbonation. A little cloudy

Smells of toasty malts. Vanilla and oak notes. Toffee and caramel

Taste follows the nose to the tee. Lots of toasty bready malts. Almost a fruit bread flavor. Woody oak with hints of vanilla. Sweet caramel and toffee in the finish. Slight alcohol heat

Feels full-bodied and coating. Some warmth and tingly spice from the alcohol

Overall not too bad. Approachable for those starting their forray into barleywines. not overly complex. The oak smooths the beer out and adds a nice secondary flavor profile. Affordable (8.99), easy-drinking and tasty but not the greatest

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Oak-Aged Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 80 ratings.