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Old Backus Barleywine - Free State Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Backus Barleywine
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BA SCORE
95
world-class

130 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 130
Reviews: 70
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.91%
Wants: 164
Gots: 6 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Free State Brewing Co. visit their website
Kansas, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bronze Medal Winner, 1997 World Beer Championships - Barleywines.

Old Backus contains just over 2,000 pounds of malt and 55 pounds of hops. The original gravity is 25.6 P/1092 which contributes to an alcohol content of 10.5% by volume. This is a tremendously complex beer that should be savoured slowly and in moderation. It will continue to change with age as it is served unfiltered.

This barleywine is named after Richard Backus, an old friend to the Brewery.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-29-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 130 | Reviews: 70 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheDudeRules
2.8/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

09 pour from a growler to my Hangar 24 snifter.

Minimal head. Like a fingernail's width. Dark dirty dishwater color liquid.

Smell is sweet dark fruit. Fig, plum,raisin. Toffee and caramel elbowing in. Semi intoxicating. Smell is awful sweet.

Low carbonation. Almost nill. Heavy alcohol bite. Strong resin like aftertaste. Raisin like sweetness is there, but the sucker punch from the alcohol takes over. I'm going to let this warm a touch and come back to it. And I'm back. Well this is exactly the same. Bleh.

Not what I was hoping for. Flat bunk. At least I have 30 more ounces to go. Oh joy.

TheDudeRules, Jan 24, 2012
Photo of phishbone23
3/5  rDev -30.9%

phishbone23, Jan 23, 2013
Photo of Sean9689
3.15/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks, Mike. 64oz growler into snifter.

A - Pours a reddish/brown color, cream-colored head, thin ring.

S - Dark fruits, lots of booze, light caramel, no real sweetness. The heavy booze and lack of sweetness is a turn-off for me with this beer. I think this needs quite some time before loosing the booze.

T - Similar to the nose, harsh booze/alcohol, dark fruits, and overly oak'd. The booze is too much and actually turns this into a harsh beer to drink. The lack of sweetness and burnt sugars is terribly disappointing, as I was expecting so much from this beer.

M - Medium, good carbonation, creamy oak finish.

O - Not a top-notch barleywine for me. The booze is way too overpowering and the lack of sweetness makes this one too harsh to enjoy a decent pour. Would revisit with some age, but this is a growler, so no-can-do. Average, at best.

Sean9689, Feb 01, 2012
Photo of HopHead84
3.23/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Growler received in a trade with BobbDigi. Consumed on 12/05/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer pours out ruddy, murky, and tawny. The hard pour yielded a miniscule beige head that seems to disappear rather than recede. No lacing is on the glass.

The aroma opens up with prunes, figs, dates, and alcohol. The booze is prominent. Sherry oxidation is coupled with an unavoidable cardboard character. Toffee and caramel are evident, and the malt is of baked bread. The nose is quite sugary.

The taste opens with a brown sugar sweetness and notes of toffee, baked bread, and caramel. The oxidation is more graceful in the flavor, imparting sherry notes, and the cardboard isn't as strong here as I found it in the nose. Dates, figs, prunes, and raisins are present. The high moderate bitterness hits midpalate and carries through to the sweet, boozy, and sugary dark fruit finish. The combination of booze and bitterness make for a somewhat harsh finish.

The beer has a very low level of carbonation, creating a thick and sticky mouthfeel. One snifter of this was laborious, and when it was finished I could drink no more.

HopHead84, Dec 06, 2009
Photo of spycow
3.25/5  rDev -25.1%

spycow, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of AgentZero
3.35/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

64 oz growler from kansascitytrader. Cheers! Shared with the rest of the Rejects.

A - Hazy brown beer. Very brown, looks like a bit of a purple in there. It's a very dark and big looking barleywine. Decent sized brown head.

S - Smells is not the greatest. It's quite boozy, needs some time to cool down. Very heavy on the dark fruits, particularly figs and maybe prunes. Lots of caramel malt.

T - Taste is better than the smell, with a little bit more burnt sugar. Still loads of dark fruits, figs, etc. Quite sweet, with a bit of toffee and some caramel. Quite heavy on the malts for a barleywine, in my opinion. It's not bad, but I was really expecting more.

M - Pretty close to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - I was expecting good things, particularly as MasterSki was glowingly speaking of it. I guess his batch was from a few years ago, maybe that made a difference. It's above average, but nothing that is worthy of the top 100, at least not fresh.

AgentZero, Jan 28, 2012
Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.4/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 64 oz. growler courtesy of kansascitytrader through AgentZero. Thanks for sharing guys!

The beer pours a fairly murky, flat brown color with a ruby miniscus and a small wisp of a tan head.

The aroma is harsh and boozy. The smell is heavy on the dark fruits and lighter on the caramel and brown sugar malt notes. Rum-soaked raisins, plums, and figs, with additional sugar and alcohol presence.

The flavor is not quite so severe. The flavor starts and stays very sweet, with a little bit more balance than I was led to believe existed from the nose. Brown sugar and toffee coat the figs, raisins, and plums, but the bready malt gets lost behind a still-intense booze and oak character. The finish is fairly boozy. It has a harsh flavor, but there could be a good beer hiding behind the rough edges.

Old Backus is very light on the carbonation and the grainy nature of the beer contributes to a fairly rough feel on the palate overall.

I have definitely smelled and tasted barleywines with very rough aromas at first that have mellowed out into beautiful beers. Unfortunately, with only the opportunity to try this one fresh, it has not had any time to develop.

KickInTheChalice, Feb 10, 2012
Photo of Whiskeydeez
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%

Whiskeydeez, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of alienlifeforcecube
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%

alienlifeforcecube, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of PeakedInHighSchool
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%

PeakedInHighSchool, Mar 28, 2014
Photo of Mebuzzard
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in a 9oz snifter. Rich amber pour, with very little head. Looked a bit flat and port-like. Average looking, which isn't all that bad.
Sweet, candied apple smell. Malt was well balanced with the small sampling of spice and alcohol. It has high OG and IBU, but the aroma is rather tame.
Complex taste with sweet malt and caramel, a slight smidgen of hops and a good spicey overall feel to it. The IBUs doesn't quite match the description, yet it doesn't take away from the taste. Alcohol is well hidden, but it does come with quite a wallop.
Easy drinking, complex mouthfeel make this barley wine a must try.

Mebuzzard, Feb 09, 2009
Photo of birchstick
3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Served out of a growler

A - pours a brownish red without much of a head to speak of

S - smells of brown sugar, raisins & other dark fruits, and cinnamon

T - starts off with sugary, sweet malts with loads of caramel in the mix. These fade to dark fruits (figs, raisins). Ends with sticky, piney hops. There is also a weird citrus flavor throughout that I couldn't grasp for a while. Pretty solid taste profile!

M - thin and sticky, leaves a dry finish

D - really good barleywine. This was less hoppy and more malty than most American barleywines, which is a really good thing. I really surprised by this one in a good way and would highly recommend this!

birchstick, Sep 09, 2011
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So I get to try the infamous. Thanks Joel.

Poured a murky light burgundy color with low carbonation and a small beige head. Nose is lots of dried fruits like raisins, figs and booze. Taste is a bit flat at first, rush of figs, raisins, wood and cherries and even taste oxidized a bit, cardboard. Mouthfeel is big sugar, sticky sweet, caramel, dried fruits and booze.This brew got better and better as it warmed and the dynamic changed alot. At first i was not a fan but it grew on me later on.

barleywinefiend, Dec 11, 2009
Photo of Rhettroactive
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From 64oz growler to Portsmouth glass on 3/29/12
*From notes

-- Thanks, Siege --

Growler filled around Christmas 2011

A: Muddy cider in color. A standard pour yields a creamy one finger off-white head. It lingers for a minute and leaves a thick collar and moderate lacing.

S: Stodgy pine oil. Hints of sliced green apple and a touch of toasted malt.

T: Creamy malt up front. The mid is nothing if not a bit sweet. The hops then jump right in and bite the palate. It's more of a biting pine resin then fruity.

M: Decent. We're talking about a growler that was filled and driven all the way back from Kansas a few months ago, so it's not gonna be crisp. A bit oily and thin as well.

O: A nice take on an American Barleywine. Being as this is non-barrel aged, this instantly is put at a disadvantage, though having said that, this is still a solid beer. I'd recommend drinking it fresh, or waiting quite a while to get into it, as the hops here were a bit stale in my opinion.

Not quite up to the rDev or lofty status, and certainly not worth dumping your cellar for.

Rhettroactive, Apr 03, 2012
Photo of oline73
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the growler into a tasting snifter.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy reddish amber with a small amount of off white head that goes away rather quickly.

Smell: This is really sweet and full of caramel and grain. I'm getting a lot of dark fruit along with a mild banana note.

Taste: This is a really sweet barleywine. Lots of caramel like malt. The mild banana shows up here as well. A strong dark fruit note here along with the sweetness. The finish is sweet, but there is a solid hop presence as well.

Mouthfeel: The body is syrupy with a few tingles of carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I would say that the main story here is the sweetness. I'd have more if it was offered.

oline73, Jan 14, 2013
Photo of JasonFromLA
4/5  rDev -7.8%

JasonFromLA, Mar 29, 2013
Photo of dtx00
4/5  rDev -7.8%

dtx00, Mar 24, 2012
Photo of bismarksays
4/5  rDev -7.8%

bismarksays, Apr 01, 2014
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -7.8%

ygtbsm94, Jan 31, 2012
Photo of SeatsTaken
4/5  rDev -7.8%

SeatsTaken, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of Bosoxfan20
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Bosoxfan20, Apr 27, 2014
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -7.8%

drewone, Jan 06, 2013
Photo of Khazadum
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Khazadum, Aug 11, 2012
Photo of BeerHunter76
4/5  rDev -7.8%

BeerHunter76, Nov 12, 2012
Photo of seeswo
4/5  rDev -7.8%

seeswo, Jan 21, 2012
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Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 130 ratings.