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Old Backus Barleywine - Free State Brewing Co.

Old Backus Barleywine
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BA SCORE
96
world-class

121 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 121
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 10.11%


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)
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Ratings: 121 | Reviews: 67 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of TheDudeRules
TheDudeRules

Minnesota

2.8/5  rDev -35.6%
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.

Serving type: growler

01-24-2012 02:47:44 | More by TheDudeRules
Photo of Sean9689
Sean9689

Illinois

3.15/5  rDev -27.6%
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.

Serving type: growler

02-01-2012 16:01:54 | More by Sean9689
Photo of HopHead84
HopHead84

California

3.23/5  rDev -25.7%
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.

Serving type: growler

12-06-2009 03:17:21 | More by HopHead84
Photo of AgentZero
AgentZero

Illinois

3.35/5  rDev -23%
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.

Serving type: growler

01-28-2012 16:33:46 | More by AgentZero
Photo of KickInTheChalice
KickInTheChalice

Illinois

3.4/5  rDev -21.8%
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.

Serving type: growler

02-10-2012 23:56:27 | More by KickInTheChalice
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard

Colorado

3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

02-09-2009 02:58:51 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of birchstick
birchstick

Colorado

3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
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!

Serving type: growler

09-09-2011 15:35:03 | More by birchstick
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

3.88/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

Serving type: growler

12-11-2009 23:50:06 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of Rhettroactive
Rhettroactive

District of Columbia

3.95/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

Serving type: growler

04-03-2012 18:58:27 | More by Rhettroactive
Photo of oline73
oline73

Maryland

3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

Serving type: growler

01-14-2013 03:49:43 | More by oline73
Photo of callmemickey
callmemickey

Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

A: Brackish orange-brown body, thin pale khaki head, a few stray wisps of lacing.

S: Rich caramel malts are accented by earthy notes of tobacco and leather. Some dark fruits and citric hops in the background.

T: Like the nose, caramel dominates. Toffee, lightly roasted malts, leather, tobacco, raisins, orange-hop bitterness, and residual booze notes.

M: Medium-full bodied. Moderate carbonation, creamy texture, with a clean, slightly bitter finish and some residual heat a few seconds later. Nice.

O: Overall I could see why this beer gets high marks, the nose and flavor are complex... ultimately, however, I thought the creamy caramel complexion was a little out of balance and perhaps tiring. M, Wooden Hell, King Henry, CWBBBW, and Alpine Great are superior beers in this category.

Serving type: growler

01-02-2012 02:50:01 | More by callmemickey
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to DrAwkward82 for sharing this one at drewone's place.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots and streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and citrus zest. Taste is much the same with a semi-sweet finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a great smell and a tasty flavor.

Serving type: growler

01-07-2013 02:01:44 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of amatuerbeerguy
amatuerbeerguy

Oklahoma

4.08/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown color, although hazy. Some head dissipated quickly no lacing, or other indication of head. Aroma of malt, some sweetness, fruity, with alcohol warming the nostrils. Flavor of chocolate, fruit, malt sweetness, caramel toffee. Slight hops appear for a delicate bite in the back of the throat. Alcohol is apparent but not overwhelming. Definite winter by the fire drink. Full-bodied although quick dissipation of head ( I believe do to the improper seal of growler, cap was not on tight, leaked a little). Very nice beer, Free State hats off. Can not wait to go back to the brewery.

Serving type: growler

11-13-2005 04:22:58 | More by amatuerbeerguy
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage.

Pours a cloudy amber/chestnut brown color with a one finger beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lace left behind.

Earthy aroma with lots of leathery malt, booze and dark fruit. Hints of caramel, toffee and hazelnut along with hints of sweet fig, plum, raisin and subtle hops.

Medium bodied with a good balance of earthy/leathery malt, dark fruit and boozy sweetness. Hints of caramel, toffee, nut and caramel along with notes of fig, plum, raisin, date and alcohol. There is a slight hop bitterness but at this age it has faded quite a bit into a faint presence. Some nice alcohol sweetness and slight heat but the overall the high ABV is decently masked. I would love to try this fresh for a comparison.

Serving type: growler

12-06-2011 22:35:48 | More by corby112
Photo of maxpower
maxpower

Missouri

4.13/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep clear dark amber-copper, small head foamy off-white head, sweet fruity aromas of apples and pears. Sweet and malty like a good barleywine, sweet slick finish, very smooth and full bodied with a full and syrupy mouthfeel, this is a damn good barleywine.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2003 18:14:13 | More by maxpower
Photo of jokelahoma
jokelahoma

Missouri

4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one was served in a small snifter.

Came out a deep, deep garnet red, almost purple. There's hardly any head whatsoever.

The nose is very vinous, very much full of dark fruits. You really don't pick up much hop, but it would be hard to discern hop aromas in the face of this malt wallop. Nice and appealing!

They didn't advertise this as being on cask, but I'm starting to wonder now. The little tiny bit of head, and now, when I take the first drink, I notice it's at cellar temp. Nice! The taste is surprisingly subdued and understated, if one can truly say that about anything having to do with a barleywine. It doesn't give you that heady sensation with the aroma wafting up the back of your nose that way many highly aromatic brews are wont to do. This is a sweetish barleywine, with the hops staying well in the background. They serve only to keep this one from tasting like syrup, with just enough bitterness to make it palatable. One can detect plums, prunes, raisins, apricots, and tropical fruits in this at various stages of the drink.The aftertaste provides the first real clue this is a strong beer, as the tiny bit of alcohol burn is felt. It stays more in the roof of the mouth than the back of the throat, though, which makes it far less invasive than other strong beers I've had. The oily malt sweetness lingers in the aftertaste, going on and on and on, coating your mouth with a very nice taste.

Mouthfeel here is pretty viscous, heavy and chewy. That seems to be expected from a beer this big, and really adds to the perception that you're drinking something formidable.

This barleywine is sweeter than I usually prefer, but it's very good and well made. If you happen to be fortunate enough to stop in when it's on tap, definitely give it a shot. You'll be glad you did.

Serving type: on-tap

05-20-2007 03:09:00 | More by jokelahoma
Photo of zeledonia
zeledonia

Minnesota

4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage, on-tap at the brewpub. Tasted 22 January 2013, reviewed from notes. My review is lacking a bit of detail, due to in-bar note-taking.

Pours a medium-dark reddish amber. Clear. One finger of off-white head that leaves terraces of lacing.

Smell pops with spice, hops, and smooth whiskey. Loads of spice, and a smooth, warm burn.

Taste has zip, zing, and zap. Brandy, candy, and more and more spice.

Feel is quite good. Medium body, very sticky, lasting and rounded, smoothly rising and drifting back down. More carbonation than many barleywines, and I like that.

A really tasty, spiced-up barrel-aged barleywine. The barrel is really cleanly integrated, with no obvious lines between the beer and the barrel. Happy I got the chance to try this.

Serving type: on-tap

02-10-2013 04:33:31 | More by zeledonia
Photo of Quaffer
Quaffer

Nevada

4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was a lovely barleywine, served in a proper snifter and at the proper temperature at the brewery in Lawrence.

Smell: The aroma was perfect and made my mouth water from the second I raised the glass to my nose. Strong malt, a nice hop kick, and all the complexity that one expects from a beer of this style were all present.

Taste: Whether it had been aged or not, I don't know, but this barleywine came across like one that has been around for awhile. Heavy malt and a strong (but not too strong) raisin component dominated the flavor. There was no heavy hop bite that accompanies many young BWs. There was just enough present to balance out all the malt and add a little "umph" to the character.

This beer came across as big and complex, but was very drinkable. While I only had one, I could have easily drank this beer throughout the entire evening. I wasn't expecting much when I ordered it, but ended up being very inmpressed. Keep in mind that I am very hard on barleywines when it comes to reviewing. A 4.15 is high on the list in my book for this style of brew.

Serving type: on-tap

10-25-2004 23:00:33 | More by Quaffer
Photo of younger35
younger35

Minnesota

4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received a growler of this delicious brew at Dark Lord Day from rlcnmeyer. I tasted some that day from another growler and was excited to get this home and dive in. Drank from my Port Brewing pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a deep crimson brown (almost purple) with a small, barely detectable, dark tan head. After a couple minutes a small ring forms leaving a very small amount of lacing.
Smell- Loads of deep dark fruits (prunes, raisins, figs, the usual deep dark suspects) and some bright red cherries. Brown sugar and toffee add a fair amount of sweetness to the nose as well as a bit of toasted malt. In a way, this brew has some red wine tones in it the more I inhale. A bit of alcohol is noticeable in the nose as well but very little.
Taste- Very English and fairly sweet with boatloads of toffee and caramelized sugar. Bitter and sweet at the same time as the hops add some cherries and raisins. After your mouth acclimates, the bitterness tends to take a back seat to the sweetness though and it can become slightly cloying. Not too bad though and the beer is good enough you don't mind much. Some yeast and more malt in the finish as the beer just lingers on and on.
Mouthfeel- Big and rich with an extremely heavy feel and very light carbonation that lends to the creaminess. Slightly warming on the finish from the 10.5% ABV.
Drinkability- All in all, considering how big this brew is, it's quite easy drinking. A buddy and I polished off the growler very easily and honestly I could have used another glass when we finished. It's big and rich and a excellent Barleywine. Thanks Randy!

Serving type: growler

05-08-2009 21:59:16 | More by younger35
Photo of hoppymeal
hoppymeal

Michigan

4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky, dark apple cider brown with a small light cream off white head that quickly fades back to a ring around the edge of the glass. Aroma is big english barleywine, sweet and malty, cereal and grainy maltiness. Very rich caramel in the nose, some nice dark fruit notes as well, raisins and prunes. I get just the faintest hint of leather, also some sweet bubble gum / cotton candy-like aroma, and some sweet grape-y maltiness. Taste follows with a big rush of caramel sweetness, more grainy maltiness, fairly rich, some raisin and berry fruitiness, more of the grape-y sweetness along with just a hint of citrus and smaller hint of spicy hoppiness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body, low carbonation, but what there is is soft on the tongue; a little sugariness coats, but it is not overly done or too cloying, instead well balanced before a dryness creeps in and builds into the finish. Alcohol is well hidden to me, quite drinkable and gets much better as it approaches room temperature. A very good barleywine, wish it were bottled to age a bit of, but this experience was delicious as well! A huge thank you to Bobby for helping cross off this long wanted bwine!

Serving type: growler

12-06-2009 04:07:18 | More by hoppymeal
Photo of barleywinebrewer
barleywinebrewer

New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks to goliath for the chance to try this gem from KS!

A - cloudy mahogany color with a nice off white head.
S - dark ripe fruits, brown sugar, slight abv note.
T - dark ripe fruits, molasses, burnt caramel, cocoa, cirtic hop bite.
M - full bodied, lighrtly carbonated, syrupy with a lingering roasted caramel and abv note.
D - nice sipper with a layering of flavors

reminds me in some ways of a local barleywine from VT. if this was in bottles I'd consider throwing a few in the cellar to see how this matures over time. If I was in town I'd definitely stop by for a pint or two!

Serving type: growler

10-26-2008 00:09:59 | More by barleywinebrewer
Photo of tewaris
tewaris

Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Ryan! The growler fill was from a 2009 keg I believe.

A deep mahogany brown colored beer that is relatively still as it should be in my opinion. I do observe some legs. Aroma is slightly alcoholic with notes of toffee and dry fruit. Not too sweet on the taste with notes of wood and roast. Hop bitterness works well. Vanilla and even bourbon like notes although this is not aged in barrels. Medium body and low carbonation. Tastes good, kicks ass; one of the better American barleywines I have had.

Serving type: growler

10-17-2012 08:29:56 | More by tewaris
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
BigMcLargeHuge

Arizona

4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

According to eboats rating this appears to be a 1999 Vintage. Pours murky brackish brown with thin off white head that fades to nothing in about a minute. This beer has a huge aroma of dark fruitiness with sweet caramel around the back of the smell. Very nice. The beer has a nice thick syrupy mouth feel that's seems just right. The dark fruity taste is composed of smooth silky cherry compote to apricot to dates. There's also sweet malt and caramel that go very well with the fruitiness. Very enjoyable barleywine.

Serving type: growler

11-17-2008 02:45:02 | More by BigMcLargeHuge
Photo of msubulldog25
msubulldog25

Oregon

4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler after what was *supposed* to be a night of celebrating back-to-back Blazer victories over the Lakers and Cavs...oh well, 1 out of 2. Filled a snifter with this brew, which was a wonderful treat sent by travlnlt several weeks back. The cap was shrink-sealed AND electrical-taped and the growler was held in the chilliest part of the basement. Let's hope she's ok...

A: Good news! Opens with a lengthy 'pffft', carbonation held true. Pours a murky pecan brown (it's unfiltered), with glowing auburn tinting. Look closely and there's still a flurry of small bubbles creeping up the glass to a waifish head, one which which recedes to a pencil-line ring of ivory and smoky swirl. Lace holds well, a thin coating of broken cream.

S: Malt/grain toastiness married with sweet/candied fruit (berry, light orange), a bit flowery. Definite toffee/honey presence the more it warms, pairs nicely with nutty qualities.

T: Heavier roast with a not-so-sugary backing: caramel reduction on burnt nuts, dusty cocoa, sage/herbal hoppiness (maybe minty?), spicy and subtly 'woody' (a recent cedar-aged beer is brought briefly to mind). Coffeecake, nutmeg, plus a fair amount of fruit (berry and raisin and definite cherry, with a deft tartness). Seems to have a little of everything, yet balance front-to-back.

M: Really, REALLY smooth. Carbonation may have dulled a tad while languishing in a growler, but there's no denying the creaminess here. Velvety texture, vague warmth mid-mouth, blanketing feel building on tongue and cheeks with each sip. A 'cooling' finish, a little on the thin side or a possible '5'.

D: A fine sipper, but - as is usually the case - a night-capping ale to linger over. That's not to say a second snifter wasn't in order, because it was...and the remainder of the growler won't last much longer. Quite an enjoyable brew and a very good example of the style. Thanks for granting me the chance to try, Geoff; Free State has a winner with this one.

Serving type: growler

01-11-2010 06:36:26 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of hopdog
hopdog

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler.

Poured a medium and cloudy / muddy brownish color with a very small sized off white head. Aromas of caramel, dark fruits, and a little earthy. Tastes of caramel, dark fruits, toasted nuts, and brown sugary sweet. Alcohol content well hidden.

Notes from 2/29/08

Serving type: growler

11-10-2008 01:37:02 | More by hopdog
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Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 121 ratings.