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Old Backus Barleywine - Free State Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Backus BarleywineOld Backus Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

85 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 85
Hads: 203
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 186
Gots: 32 | 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: 85 | Hads: 203
Photo of augustgarage
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
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. (932 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
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. (568 characters)

Photo of Reaper16
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
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. (1,721 characters)

Photo of msubulldog25
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
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. (1,982 characters)

Photo of COBeerBuff
4.97/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a growler filled prior to New Year's Eve...

Appearance: Pours a nearly opaque reddish-brown with an inch of a nice tan colored head. The lacing around the edges of the glass is amazing. The color is slightly darker than I was expecting, but taken in combination with the head and lacing, this is one of the prettier BW's I've seen in a while.

Smell: Caramel, toffee, and vanilla, oh my! This beer smells so rich and creamy. Definitely can pick up a bit of booze as well. Candied sugar, chocolate, molasses, as well as some cherry and plum notes also make their presence known.

Taste: This beer's taste follows the nose closely. The sweet malts of toffee, plums, cherry, caramel, and vanilla are all present and accounted for in my mouth. Initially, I was expecting a much more hop forward beer like most American BW's, but this beer's balance and overall sweet maltiness definitely push it towards the English BW's in my mind.

Mouthfeel: This is a smooth and delicious brew. Very full-bodied; this beer almost takes over your mouth and throat. The stickiness is amazing, and the combination of flavors work so well that your tongue doesn't know where to go next.

Drinkability: This is a ridiculously drinkable barleywine. The booze is not understated though so drinkers beware. However, the flavors are combined together in such a way that this beer has quickly become my favorite BW! (1,402 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
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 (677 characters)

Photo of d0ggnate
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the opportunity to try this fabled beer at Free State tonight.

Poured to a small snifter and settles a rich black/brown with a single finger off-white head. Heavy malt on the nose, but rounded off and not overwhelming. Board reads that this is from 2003. Toffee and candied sugar notes. Hints of coffee, molases and subtle smoke, too. Taste continues with rich malts and red smashes grapes. Also hints of molases and dark chocolate.

Extremely clean mouthfeel. Rich and complex. Very well balanced and a treat. Glad to log the chance to drink this one. If the bottled it, it would stand along side great, classic barlewine examples. (639 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.85/5  rDev -10%
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. (494 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
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... (695 characters)

Photo of hoppymeal
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
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! (1,198 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
3.22/5  rDev -24.8%
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. (1,127 characters)

Photo of younger35
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
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! (1,598 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
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. (1,254 characters)

Photo of grub
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
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. (1,498 characters)

Photo of Viggo
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
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. (986 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer simply put might be one of the best, if not the best BA barleywine I have ever had. I am soo gracious to the kind BA who sent this one my way. Served chilled and pourd into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/24/2009.

The pour was fantastic. Deep, dark caramel brown with no light making its way through except a small amount on the sides and the bottom. A really nice head of tan rose up to a height of two inches before it settled down to a nice inch layer and huges amounts of clumpy and sticky side glass lacing. The aroma was unreal, rich vanilla, tobacco, loads of caramel malts and a bourbon like smell that was just too good to believe. As it warms lots of oak notes start to come through. I go in for a taste and this is like heaven. Smooth, subtle flavors all wrapped up perfectly. Lots of vanilla, tobacco, and oak flavors. Big malt bill here left a nice sweetness underneath of everything. Creamy rich, beautiful. Really hard to put into words just how good this beer really is.

Overall I am blown away by this one. I did not even see it coming but this was elixer of the gods material here. easily one of the best beers i have ever had. (1,167 characters)

Photo of Beertracker
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
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. (1,217 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.75/5  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. (614 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a cloudy, copper/burgundy color with a foamy, thick, long-lasting, off-white head. It left thick, sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled intensely malty and sweet. Tons of floral aromas increase as the head settles.

T - It tasted very, very sweet. Malty sweet and boozy alcohol flavors dominate with a mild hoppy bitterness.

M - It was very smooth and chewy/bready. A full-bodied beer.

D - This is a great tasting barleywine. Very sweet and delicious however, a single 9 oz serving might be all I can handle at once. (529 characters)

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
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. (517 characters)

Photo of hopdog
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
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 (272 characters)

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
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! (586 characters)

Photo of Zadok
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
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. (538 characters)

Photo of Goliath
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
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. (1,218 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
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. (1,032 characters)

Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 85 ratings.