Old Backus Barleywine - Free State Brewing Co.

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Old Backus BarleywineOld Backus Barleywine

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86 Reviews
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Reviews: 86
Hads: 206
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 188
Gots: 33 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Free State Brewing Co. visit their website
Kansas, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-29-2001

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 86 | Hads: 206
Photo of emerge077
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Alex for sharing the growler, this was a highlight of the evening.
Review is from written notes.

Reddish copper color with nice head retention: there's a sticky halo of drippy lace all around. Really pleasant confectionary aroma of golden raisins, figs, and dates, some shortbread or sugar cookie also. Fruit leather and subdued flavors of dried apricot and other fruits. Rich and boozy feel (notes say 12%) yet the harshness of any alcohol is absent. Very full bodied with low to medium carbonation. A snifter of this would be my personal limit, as a perfect nightcap. A standout American Barleywine that's very fruit forward. Thanks again Alex for sharing this outstanding beer...

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

Old Backus Barleywine is a rare treat when it's pouring from the FSBC taps in Lawrence. OBB pours up with a modest carbonation that creates a moderate creamish-tan head that nicely rings the snifter above the slightly murky, dark brown body. The strongish-sweet grainy aroma shows some grassy, herbal hops laced with a tinge of fruity esters (dried orange, grape seed, oroblanco) that barely escapes the huge toasty, burnt caramel maltiness. Lots of oaky goodness from the barrel with hints of dry sack sherry, cherry-vanilla, tobacco leaf, etc... as it warms in hand. Alcohol strength is noteable, but certainly not ditracting. The flavor is very multi-layered with the caramel sweetness upfront followed by a firm toastiness (crackers, flatbread) with a hint of chocolate. The hop bitterness is firm creating a balanced, but slightly astringent, cheek warming finish. This chewy, full-bodied barleywine drinks more English than American with an unsurpassed (almost scary!) drinkability for its strength. Lots & lots of goodness going on here. Here's to Old (Richard) Backus an his namesake barleywine from Steve Brandt & crew.

CHEERS! Beertracker

*Thanks to amateurbeerguy for sharing some of this magical elixir.

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

A huge thanks to Dale for helping me out and sending me a growler of this! It's a fill of the 2009 vintage.

A: The pour is a dark amber color with a pretty decent sized tan head (considering the time spent in the growler).

S: Smells like a good barleywine. Lots of caramel, toffee, and perhaps a touch of butterscotch. There's some nice dark fruit aromas to it as well, and some earthy hop notes.

T: There's a good hop flavor, but not really all that bitter. Toffee, molasses, and caramel provide plenty of sweetness to the beer. Some dark fruits like figs, plums, and dates are present too.

M: The body is medium to full with a relatively good amount of carbonation.

D: A very solid barleywine, and amazingly easy to drink for a beer that's over 10% alcohol. Very glad to have tried this.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 Vintage

Appearance: Pours a cloudy dark amber color with a modest head; legs but no lace

Smell: Dark fruit dominates, with raisins, figs and dates most prominent; plenty of caramel, as well

Taste: Opens with rich caramel and dark fruit flavors, with a developing bitter balance to counter the raisins, figs and dates; after the swallow, the flavors meld together to provide a balanced, but layered finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation

Drinkability: Amazing that a seven year old barleywine has retained some hop balance that blends to a complex flavor marriage with the malts; worth seeking out

Thanks, mreusch (from the other site) for the opportunity

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to rbald42 for sharing a growler of this at the Sexual Chocolate release.

Poured a dark amber with a pretty good head (especially out of a growler) with good lacing. The smell was pretty intense and complex, including caramel malt, toffee sweetness, hints of vanilla, some dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. The taste is quite similar, with a beautiful malt sweetness coming through in addition to the characteristics of the nose. Very nice mid-to-full-bodied mouthfeel with good carbonation and outstanding drinkability for a beer of this size and complexity.

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Photo of orangesol
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Kegatron for sharing this one with us all at Stakem's Fish Fry. This growler is over a year old.

A - Pours slightly hazy dark amber with a nice one finger tall light tan head leaving thin strings of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells amazing right off the bat. Lots of brown sugar, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, and a bit of dark fruit at the end of each sniff.

T - Starts off with a big dose of sweetness - mostly toffee, caramel, butterscotch and a bit of molasses - slowly giving way to a bit of dark fruits and some dulled hop bitterness. Very little, if any, booze is present but there is definitely a touch of oxidation in this one but, like the booze, it never gets in the way.

M - Big body with a smooth, creamy feel with moderate carbonation. The feel works extremely well with the flavors to create an easy drinking yet potent barleywine.

O - Damn, this is one fine barleywine. I have had some great barleywines in my travels but this one is one of the best. Simply awesome stuff, hope I get to try it again some day.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I couldn't make it to the bottle-share where my tasting group opened this growler, but they generously hand-bottled a pour for me to enjoy shortly thereafter. Poured into a snifter.

A: Warm brown body; cloudy, but nicely translucent. No head, but gorgeous legs. I didn't expect any carbonation given the treatment this sample has received, and for what it is it looks nice.

S: Rich toffee, nuttiness, sherry, marshmallow, and some dark fruit. Very complex, very pleasant.

T: Dark fruit, caramel, toffee, sherry, and lovely hints of tobacco. Dark chocolate and nuts on the long, bitter finish. The sweetness up front + bitterness on the back end balance beautifully. Booze is present, but restrained. Delicious.

M: Thick, slick, and smooth. Not too sticky. Carbonation is low but present.

O: This is a terrific beer, and has held up great for a while (I was told this was a growler from 2010, but I'm not entirely sure about that). I do know that I'd love to try it fresh some time. Terrific stuff.


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Photo of tmoneyba
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured hazy golden brown color with a minimal frothy off-white head that mostly diminished with fair lacing. Moderate to heavy dark fruit, hop and small alcohol aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. Moderate to heavy complex sweet flavor with a medium to heavy complex bittersweet finish of moderate to long duration. This is was a standout beer.

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Photo of --Dom--
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

A complete home run for Free State. Just an amazing example of the style. A little less heat/carbonation than some other offerings in this category. But jam-packed with character, complexity and flavor. Too many nuances to list. It's sweet that's for sure, but never off-putting. I wish I had the self control to save a few of these for the cellar but there's no chance of that... Don't miss out on this one. I'd even recommend this to folks looking to get into the style... look out though, they might just be ruined afterwards.....

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Photo of Viggo
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to rlcnmeyer for the growler at DLD.

Pours a hazy dark reddish brown, some ruby, really nice colour, very thick off white head forms, settles down to a thin layer and thick ring around the glass, nice sheets of lacing stuck to the glass, looks real good. Smell is crazy, tons of caramel and rum raisins, prunes, wood and vanilla, cherries, very fruity, touch of alcohol, some floral, earthy, maybe a touch of chocolate, nice stuff. Taste is similar, tons of raisin, caramel, very fruity, alcohol but very smooth, some grapefruit or citrusy acidity, earthy, almost woody, light vanilla and chocolate, very rich, like a toffee date cake I know how to make, solid bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, light warmth from the alcohol but insanely smooth for the ABV. Very nice barleywine, I might call it somewhere in between an American and an English barleywine. Very nice stuff, glad I have half a growler left! Thanks a ton Randy.

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Photo of JEdmund
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep burgundy, almost as dark as a stout, with a fantastic quarter inch head that was extremely creamy and whipped-like. It was served in a mini snifter, probably eight ounces or so.

Really nice fruity, sweet smell coming off it. Not a lot of hops, but certainly a sweet maltiness.

Taste & Mouth Feel
There’s an upfront sweetness, followed by a very tasty and hearty maltiness, followed by a good hop presence. Nothing over the top hop-wise here, but the balance is really nice. I would say there’s not a strong aftertaste, but what is left is very enjoyable, so no fault there. Another strong point is the alcohol, and lack thereof presence-wise; I never got an inclination it was a high ABV beer.

This is one of the more striking and tasty Free State beers I’ve had. Definitely worth tasting each time they offer it.

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Photo of Goliath
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with some ruby hues. It's seemingly cloudy, and fairly opaque when the glass is full. One inch of light tan head forms on top and lingers with excellent retention (especially for a beer with such high ABV), and leaves some nice lacing.

The aroma is great. A slight hop presence showing some earthy and spicey tones. The malt profile by contrast is incredible. It's relatively sweet with notes of caramel, honey and various fruits. Figs and raisins dominate here. Just truly enticing.

The taste does not disappoint. Again, a nice hop character showing some nice bitter notes of pine and citrus. Again, the malt profile is great. Sweet malts, raisin, figs, caramel, and bread. A bit of alcohol warmth as well. Complex and fulfilling.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a relatively light carbonation. However, the carbonation seeming light still gave me a decent tingle. Some welcomed alcohol heat as well (very tame).

Drinkability is high. Regardless the high alcohol, it's an incredible beer. A sipper for sure, but the flavors are there and the alcohol is apparent but not obnoxious. I could only imagine how great this could be with a little cellar time. Too bad they don't bottle.

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Photo of gford217
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can't thank Dale enough for sending this growler my way. 2009 vintage I believe.

Pours pretty dark for a barleywine, a murky mahogany that shows amber around the edges with a one-inch tan head that shows decent retention and lacing for a growler pour.

The aroma is fantastic and has all kinds of things going on. There is a dominant sweetness that's a combination of toffee, caramel and fruits. The fruit has both plums and raisins but also a little bit of green apples and sherry.

The taste actually has more hops than I was expecting with an initial bitterness that gave way to a toffee and caramel backbone with sugar-coated dark fruits. The finish brings back the hops and leaves a slightly roasted but bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is so smooth and close to full bodied. Almost chewy with soft carbonation and a sweet but slightly dry finish.

I had heard good things about this but probably wasn't prepared for how really great a beer it was. It's one of the better non-BA barleywines I can remember having. Exceptionally complex but still remains drinkable. Really impressive.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Many thanks to monsterfat for my first growler - I have forgotten the vintage, I think it is from '02 or so. Opens with a mild hiss, thankfully. Poured into snifter.

Tuscan red body with raspberry highlights, clear with a thin dense cosmic latte head that recedes to a thin collar. Poor lacing, but viscous legs.

Oaky, malt-rich, carmelized brown sugar, light burgandy, dark fruit, and even roasted bacon aromatics.

Figs, smoke, wild honey, maple sugar, and deep carmel malt flavors coat the palate. Mild earthy pine-like hops come through to offset the sweetness and meld with the faint tannic roastiness into the finish. Clean, deep, and well balanced.

Medium-bodied with low but sufficient carbonation. A hint of astringency adds complexity. The alcohol adds depth of flavor and body without excess heat.

Remarkably smooth and drinkable - straight-forward and gimmick-free - among the best examples of the style I've had.

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Photo of stakem
4.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Kegatron for sharing this growler. For being over a year old in a growler, this has held up mighty fine. Poured into a thistle, this brew appears a deep clear amber color with a finger of yellowish stained creamy froth atop. The cap slowly fades leaving a webbing of lacework on the glass. Rising bubbles of carbonation maintain a creamy film across the top. When held to the light, this brew really shows some ruby clarity through the body.

The aroma of this brew is sweet with a scent of caramel malt, toffee, biscuit and some fruity/floral hop accents. There really is a candy-like appeal to the way this brew smells and it covers almost all aspects of the burnt sugar spectrum. The alcohol is very well masked for 10.5% and it really only shows itself in the aroma with a support role to the fruity/floral character.

The taste is everything you would expect based on the aroma. Sweet toffee malt, caramel, biscuit, candy, molasses. There is a faint oxidized touch minorly like cardboard to this that blends into an herbal hop component. The alcohol is more pronounced the flavor than you would imagine based off the scent. The alcohol is a bit solvent but very well tamed for 10.%. It finishes with some sherry-like flavors that just scream barrel aging but from what I understand, this wasn't barrel aged. Fantastic.

This is a thick, heavier than medium bodied brew with a perfect level of light carbonation. It is a rock solid interpretation of the style and something I could myself craving again sometime when in the mood for a barleywine. It contains just enough alcohol presence to keep you in line and have to respect this brew for what it is. I found myself ripping through more than a glass much faster than I should have. Many thanks again Heath!

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Photo of MasterSki
4.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Randy (rlcnmeyer) for bringing my a growler of this brew. Served in me Surly pint glass. 2006 Vintage?

A - Two fingers of dark tan foam with ridiculous retention and glass-coating lacing. It finally settles into a thick cap that doesn't really go away. The liquid is a dark cherry-red wood color that's slightly lighter at the fringes. I generally expect very little from high-gravity barley wines, so this was a shocker.

S - Dark fruits, berries, caramel, toffee, raisins, brown sugar, sherry, a touch of chocolate, roastiness, tobacco - this is possibly the maltiest thing I've ever smelled. There's little trace of the 10.5% at all. Intensely potent - it can be smelled from quite a ways.

T - The taste is more caramel & bread, but the other flavors are all still in the mix, and there's also a nice residual roasty bitterness to it. Again there's nary a trace of the high gravity.

M - Moderate carbonation, full-bodied, thick and chewy, with nice residual stickiness. It's what a barleywine should feel like.

D - The buzz creeps up pretty quick, but you can't taste the high ABV. The carbonation is moderate and the taste is delicious. Two pints is actually doable with this one.

If you like barleywines, this stuff is a must-try.

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Photo of glid02
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Growler shared by Grant - thanks!

Pours a very nice ruby-brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of moderately sweet caramel malts with good amounts of earthy and pine hop aromas. Also present are hints of dark toffee and very slight dark fruit aromas. As it warms the malt aromas sweeten a bit but never to the extent of an English barleywine.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Simple and robust caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by pine and leafy hops. Midway through the sip the mildly dry caramel malt flavors are sweetened with the addition of soft toffee flavors. The toffee fades out shortly thereafter, allowing the hops to carry through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is great. It's got a very nice thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall this beer has been on my wants backburner for quite some time and I'm glad I had the opportunity to try it. A nearly flawless American barleywine with no bells and whistles. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of weeare138
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to hopdog for this...
Appears a dark opaque brown with crimson highlights. Small bubbles slowly rise to the top of the glass. A small, light tan cap fades into a mild film and hearty collar of batter-like bubbles. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of heavy malt, raisins, toffee, cocoa, figs, tobacco, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, sugar cookies, ripened dark fruits, mild hints of black cherries. This is what I've been craving.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a sugary blend of fruit, raisins, vanilla, and an array of gourmet cocoa, molasses, and toasted nuts. Hot damn! This is a definite winner that I'm proud to say I've had the pleasure of drinking.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, smooth, mildly fruity, creamy, syrupy, with a touch of heat and rum soaked raisins lingering along the palate.
Steve, Tom, and Eric...thanks a bunch for saving some of this delicious nectar. This was truly a treat! This could possibly be one of the best barleywines that I ever recall having.

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Photo of Boto
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught @ Brewpub: I was quite happy to see a 2005 vintage of this up on the day I visited. It is served in a small snifter. It pours a hazy, ruby tinged, brownish amber color. There is a good sized off-white head on it. It left a bit amount of lacing. There are notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruits and chocolate to the nose. The taste is excellent. Full bodied, a hint of bitterness, very complex. Hints of dark fruits. Very nice!

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Photo of grub
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Viggo shared this one. thanks eric!

64oz growler. sampled may 2/09.

pours deep red-brown. there seems to be just a touch of haze to it, but some great garnet and ruby highlights appear when held to the light. a thick, dense light tan head forms, dropping slowly and leaving tons of lace behind.

aroma is great. rich dark caramel. toffee. bit of butterscotch. dark fruit - raisin, date, fig. touch of alcohol, but it hides its strength well. biscuit. lightly toasted whole wheat bread. earthy and slightly woody.

taste is great. holy raisins, batman! there must be a ton of special-b in this thing. lots of raisin, date, and a bit of fig. rich dark caramel. toffee and butterscotch. lightly toasted whole wheat bread. earthy and woody. touch of chocolate. medium-high bitterness level. bit of alcohol, but again it hides its strength well. bit of coffee.

mouthfeel is great. nice big body, yet it still manages to have a fairly drying finish from the bitterness and earthy/woody character. very well integrated super fine medium carbonation. pretty smooth.

drinkability is great. very good balance, drinking more like a 6% beer than one nearing double that. great fruity, malty, and caramel depth. i don't think i'd really call it an american barleywine, and it even tends to lean more toward an old ale than an english barleywine - though the bitterness likely cements it as not being an old ale. great stuff though, and i'm already half way through this pint and looking forward to the next.

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Photo of Zadok
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep brown in a small snifter. Had a light bubbly head. Somewhat of an apple cinnamon appearance.

Deep dark fruity aroma. Cherries, figs, chocolate. Smells very sweet.

Wow, amazing flavor. The balance of flavors is amazing. Figs, cherries and raisins. The hidden alcohol is a thing of beauty.

Very smooth and syrupy, low carbonation. Mouthfeel is of a mellow brandy.

Although I am somewhat of a barlywine newbie, this was without a doubt worth the trip from KC and then some. Amazing blend of flavors and textures, delicious.

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Photo of Reaper16
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served on-tap into a snifter at Free State Brewery

Pours a garnet-flecked creamy brown. The tan head was pretty substantial, especially for a beer of its ABV%. It was two fingers maybe and plenty thick. The lacing gripped the sides of the glass for dear life. The beer appears to get lighter and lighter as you drink. It looks damn nice.

This needs to be a candle. DAMN. Vanilla, caramel, cinnamon roll dough, cookie dough, sourdough bread crusts, and a splash of prune make up this ultra-malty aroma. Its like MaltSlam! There is so much here, but it isn't overpowering. Everything has its place.

MaltSlam, indeed. The flavors here are so rich. There is a lot of vanilla; it reminds me of a barrel-aged beer though Old Backus isn't as far as I know. All of the flavors mentioned in the aroma are present on the tongue, with the dark fruits taking a bit of a stronger place. In addition there is plenty of earthy hop flavors going on. Everything is balanced; no flavors stands apart from the rest. The balance has to be tasted to be believed. What an accomplishment.

The body was plenty thick enough to accommodate the maltiness. The malt character never becomes too sweet. Even better, it is able to hide the 10.05 % ABV extremely well. I could have had another glass of this because I never really tasted alcohol.

This was my first trip to Free State Brewery and I came away pretty impressed. This beer is easily the crown jewel of Free State's lineup as far as I can tell. More that that, this beer is absolutely one of the very best barleywines made in America. If you're passing through Kansas City you owe it to yourself to stop by Lawrence, KS and have a glass (or a growler) of this treat. It is world-class.

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Photo of siege06nd
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at FSB....

A. Pours a ruddy copper orange color. About a quarter finger cream colored head. Pretty good lacing on the sides. Very good retention through the session. Great looking bw here.

S. Leather, toffee, a little burnt tobacco, dark fruit, caramel, vanilla. One hell of a complex nose here. It would take me an hour to discern all the notes in this. Spectacular.

T. Dark fruit, cherry, tobacco, charred leather, raisin, plum, caramel, and a subtle hop presence. Wow. The complexity here is great. I like how the dark fruits really carry it. Nice.

M. Home run. Amazingly complex and full flavored but retains a fruity, light mouthfeel. Drinks like a wine, which I suppose is the point. Minimal carbonation lets the flavors shine. Nice hoppy and fruity finish. The flavors are perfectly balanced. Wow.

O. At first blush, I was bored by this one. The glut of barrel aged bw's has made the standard version seem boring. But after giving this time to warm up, it surprised me. A great barleywine and well deserving of its status as one of the best American versions.

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Photo of zhanson88
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer from the source in Lawrence. 2010 vintage, served in a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a hazy ruby-caramel color, with 1/2" of light caramel head. Lacing is great, and retention is very good for something of that ABV.

Smell: Very malty overall, with lots of caramel, toffee, and toasted coconut. A smaller amount of dark fruits are present as well. There is some hop character present, as this is a fairly new vintage. Mostly piney, but some citrus components in there too.

Taste: The malts continue in the taste. Toffee, caramel, toasted coconut, and dark fruit flavors are apparent immediately. Citrus and pine hop character forms on the back end, but is light all in all. Lingering bitterness and caramel on the finish. This is extremely nuanced and flavorful. Super.

Mouthfeel: Just under full bodied, with a moderate amount of very fine carbonation. Just the right amount of carbonation for a brew this big. Very creamy. Overall, this is a really great barleywine. Very impressed.

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Photo of ratedz
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage, literally the bottom of the barrel. I went in for growlers today and got one filled and another was about half full when the keg kicked. This growler was the half filled one.

A - Pours a thick, hazy brown with a very thin ring of bubbles around the glass.

S - Very complex. Some caramel, toffee, dark fruits such as figs, and piney hops are most noticeable. A slight hint of alcohol is also present.

T - The sweetness of the malts comes out first, but it isn't overly sweet. Toffee, vanilla and a hint of oak dance on the tongue before a slight hop bitterness appears on the finish. A plethora of flavors and the alcohol is well hidden. Very easy to drink.

M - Thick, smooth, and creamy. Light carbonation, which I prefer for the style.

O - Am amazing beer. So complex with it's array of scents and tastes and more of both become noticeable as the beer warms. It reminds me more of an English barleywine than an American barleywine because of it's sweetness, but this is a must try.

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Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.