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Old Backus Barleywine - Free State Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Backus BarleywineOld Backus Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

87 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 87
Hads: 210
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 16.47%
Wants: 189
Gots: 34 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 87 | Hads: 210
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 callmemickey
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed on tap at Bridger's Bottle Shop in Westport last month. Reviewing from notes. Served into a 12 oz Belgian style tulip glass.

Appearance - I love the look of this beer, with a reddish clay hue with carmine highlights where the light passes through. The darker parts of the beer appear almost burgundy, and atop sits a one-finger head of khaki colored foam. Retention is moderate, and as it starts to recede, it leaves Lorraine Swiss sheets of lace on the side of the glass, which eventually turn into a ring sheets of residue as I drink the beer down.

Smell - Wonderful blend of barley and grain, brown sugar, burnt caramel, English toffee and some slight alcohol astringency. There are also notes of earthy and herbal hops that provide a counterpoint to the sweeter aroma profiles.

Taste - Delivering on the promise of the nose, but cranked up a little bit, the taste imparts molasses, toffee and caramelized sugar along with an underlying rustic stone-ground grains from the malt base. Some notes of dried fruit reminiscent of figs and dates are now here where I didn't detect them in the smell. There is also a hint of leather and maybe just a touch of tannin characteristic on the finish as well as some herbal hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and moderate carbonation, but I must admit there is just a slight touch of oiliness/slickness from the feel that I didn't quite expect. I can't really call it off-putting, but it was unexpected and slightly out of place.

Overall, a beautiful beer with a great taste and solid aroma, and just a small bit of docking on the mouthfeel. Still, it's perhaps my favorite from Free State and could stand up to any American Barleywine in the country in my humble opinion. I wish they bottled it so that others could know just how good it really is. I especially like how the hops don't overpower as they do with some American style barleywines.

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Photo of younger35
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
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!

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.38/5  rDev -20.5%
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.

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Photo of zac16125
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter
no bottling dates

Thanks to mikeincharleston for hooking me up with this one!

A: Pours a dark copper with ruby hues when held to light, good clarity. Just over 1 fingers width of light tan head builds and then dissipates away fairly quickly. Leaves a few small patches of lacing. 4.25

S: Very nice aroma of sweetness, hops, and booze. Candied sugar, toffee. Lots of hoppy characters, with citrus and piney notes. 4.25

T: Nice combo of malts and hops. Citrus, some fruity characters, pine, booze. Good, but flavors aren’t as intense as many in the style, nor is it as complex as I look for in the style. 3.75

M/D: Medium body, appropriate carbonation, fairly smooth, ABV is noticeable but its not hot, drinkability is very good. 4.25

O: Good beer, but I was disappointed. I had very high expectations for this one, considering it was a top 5 barleywine on BA for years. It certainly didn’t live up to that, but tasty nonetheless. Glad I got to finally try it. Thanks Mike! 4

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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 maxpower
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of kevanb
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, 2014 on the neck, poured into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter.

The beer pours a medium amber color, hues of burgundy and caramel brown, light opacity though fairly clear with a solid finger of off white head, thick and foamy that has very nice retention, settling into a thick ring of film around the circumference of the glass while yielding nice swatches of soapy lace. The aroma is very heavy on the malted barley, caramel and amber malts, with brown sugar, toffee and a bit of dark pitted stone fruits but some definite piney and grapefruit forward hops help to balance this out. The flavors mirror the nose very well, lightly piney and bitter hops initiate the senses, while some grapefruit citrus plays well with the sweeter malts and brings out the richer more chewy flavors of toffee, molasses, raisin and fig though the bitterness from the hops and a bit of the fruitiness linger nicely. The mouthfeel is very nice, quite smooth and almost creamy with very low discernible carbonation, though just enough to prop the beer up, and a velvety finish.

Verdict: An excellent take on the American style barleywine. Definite hop presence that integrates very well with the malt profile and general sweetness of the beer. Complex, but not overly complicated and a very nice sipper that has great nuance as it warms, definitely a very under the radar beer.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
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!

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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 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 DemoniChris
4.98/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured on tap into a tulip

A - One of the most beautiful beers I've seen. Dark red-brown color with the ruby tones looking absolutely stunning when held up to the light. About a finger of off white head, moderate lacing.

S - Tobacco, leather, vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate, toffee, dark fruits such as cherries, plums and raisins. Even getting some barrel like bourbon qualities even though this beer has not been barrel aged... Astounding!

T - Big sweetness. All of the aromas are extending through the flavor but in a bigger way. Caramelized burnt sugar, brown sugar, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, caramel, dark fruits, bourbon, chocolate, tobacco. A slight herbal hop flavor comes through beneath the flavors but it works really nicely. It adds a nice underlying citrus quality that really ups the complexity of this beer. The bitterness is hard to detect, but it does linger a bit. It's also hard to detect any alcohol in this beer. In my eyes this is perfect.

M - This is how a barleywine should feel. Super rich medium to full bodied mouthfeel. So velvety and slick. It finishes quite dry as well, leaving the imbiber wanting more. Carbonation is perfect, and the first sip is just as good as the last.

O - This is far and beyond the best barleywine I've ever had. The only one that would come close is Double DBA and maybe BCBBW, but that was an English style barleywine, although, Old Backus drinks more like an English style barleywine rather than an American one. Mostly because the hops felt more in the background rather than obviously prevalent in the forefront. It is crafted with such impervious balance, it's impossible to believe it's 10.5%. This might be the most delicious and rewarding beer I've ever put my lips around. Go try this if you can!

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Photo of IMFletcher
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 2014 bottle; this is, for me, a refreshingly unhoppy American barleywine. Not too sweet, but not bitter. Would love to see this get some barrel treatment.

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Photo of tewaris
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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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 hoppymeal
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
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!

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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 Quaffer
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.02/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown bordering black with some red highlights. A lush finger's worth of mocha head with excellent retention.

S: Rising alcohol aromatics follow brown malt, treacle, shaved dark chocolate. Light citrus. Caramelized peaches.

M: Leathery and full bodied. High carb.

T: Bitterness and malt battle it out in this border state brew. Caramel malt body collides worth some tangy apple florals. Cherry and other stone fruits contribute nicely. Having been aged for 9 mos I feel like some of the flavors have mellowed and merged. Seems unauthoratative for a bw. I tend to like more assertive bws with pronounced flavors.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.31/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of dreadnatty08
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the Free State and their anniversary celebration, I was able to taste the 2000 bottling. The hoppiness is gone and this beer goes down incredibly smooth, sweet and amazing. Served in a snifter at proper temperature. Bartender was excited to pour and seems as though many others were getting a taste at this one. Really would like to see how a fresh one is, but impressed to see how well it ages.

Update: They recently brought out the 2004, with a dramatic change from the 6 yr old brew. Hops are in the forefront, and I believe I like it more this way. Sweetness isn't as dominant as in the older, and it's more balanced. Have to give it up to Free State for doing something like this!

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Photo of tr4nc3d
4.8/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

09 Vintage 64oz Growler- Used a snifter

Appearance is a dark amber color with just the slightest bit of light passing through. Pour produces a two inch creamy off-white head. Great head retention with magnifecent lacing. Siimply superb appearance as this is coming from a growler and its an 09 vintage. Shows how great this beer ages without losing carbonation.

Overload of aromas coming up my sinuses. Huge dark fruit aromas of dark cherriesk dates, and plums. Dark licorice, oak, toffee, vanilla, and caramel. Tobacco, leather, and some alcohol heat finish. Man oh man what an aroma.

Flavor starts off sweet with a cola like taste with some brown sugar. Midway flavor pursues into dark cherries, dates, and plums. Finish is toffee, caramel, oak, vanilla, and tobacco. Flavor wise this was more than I expected, simply great.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, very smooth and with adequate carbonation, alcohol well hidden. Very balanced and well done unlike many other barleywines that are overly sweet.

Overall I was skeptical if I should try it or trade it, as I'm not the biggest fan of barleywines, and I prefer Englis to American. Let me just say I'm GLAD I did not trade it as this beer is fan-fucking unbelievable. Its a rare treat as its hardly ever on tap, and a bitch to try and get a growler, so I'm glad I got the chance to try it and hopefully I will again. If you like Barleywines then this beer should be on the top of your list to try. Imagine if this beer was in bourbon barrels, now thats something to dream about!!!

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Photo of kbwalters
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured cold into a tulip glass; been in the fridge since January.
Look = 4.5 Pours a mahogany with red highlights and 2.5 fingers of off white head; head is thick with great retention and lacing.
Aroma = 4.25 Very sweet aroma; candied sugar, fruity (dark and pitted fruits), strong caramel and toffee notes; overall an intense aroma, smells good
Taste = 4.0 Follows the nose for the most part; sweet, candy sugar, toffee, caramel. Mild bitterness on the finish and a decent alcohol presence
Feel = 4.25 Thick and full bodied, syrupy and smooth. Low to medium carbonation.
Drinkability = 4.0 Not bad for a big barleywine
Overall = 4.175 A solid brew all around, very sweet aroma and taste, hops were muted but the brew is at least 7 months old.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
2.87/5  rDev -32.5%
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.

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Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 87 ratings.