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Old Backus Barleywine - Free State Brewing Co.

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

128 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 128
Reviews: 70
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 9.91%
Wants: 158
Gots: 6 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Free State Brewing Co. visit their website
Kansas, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

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

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

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-29-2001)
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Ratings: 128 | Reviews: 70 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of emerge077
emerge077

Illinois

4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
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...

Serving type: growler

12-06-2009 17:34:01 | More by emerge077
Photo of hoppymeal
hoppymeal

Michigan

4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
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 HopHead84
HopHead84

California

3.23/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

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

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

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

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

Serving type: growler

12-06-2009 03:17:21 | More by HopHead84
Photo of younger35
younger35

Minnesota

4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
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
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MasterSki

Illinois

4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Serving type: growler

05-06-2009 03:29:19 | More by MasterSki
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grub

Ontario (Canada)

4.6/5  rDev +6%
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.

Serving type: growler

05-03-2009 01:54:14 | More by grub
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Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: growler

05-03-2009 01:48:16 | More by Viggo
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mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
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.

Serving type: growler

04-25-2009 13:00:50 | More by mikesgroove
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Beertracker

Oklahoma

4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Serving type: growler

03-11-2009 20:12:27 | More by Beertracker
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Mebuzzard

Colorado

3.8/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

Serving type: on-tap

02-09-2009 02:58:51 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2009 00:52:19 | More by zeff80
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BigMcLargeHuge

Arizona

4.28/5  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.

Serving type: growler

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

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
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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barleywinebrewer

New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
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
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Zadok

Kansas

4.65/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-21-2008 03:06:48 | More by Zadok
Photo of Goliath
Goliath

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-13-2008 23:24:53 | More by Goliath
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

4.55/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Serving type: growler

06-02-2008 02:27:08 | More by weeare138
Photo of Boto
Boto

Connecticut

4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

Serving type: on-tap

04-26-2008 21:13:58 | More by Boto
Photo of jokelahoma
jokelahoma

Missouri

4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
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 JEdmund
JEdmund

Kansas

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance
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.

Aroma
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.

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

Serving type: on-tap

01-12-2007 00:06:19 | More by JEdmund
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HardTarget

Texas

4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Raisins, rum, and an earthy tobacco. All in all, perfumed, sedate with west coast hops adding a crisp note. Late in the glass I got some soft chocolate notes.

Appearance: Brown snifter that glows blood red in the candlelight. A thin tan collar lasts, but fails to lace.

Flavor: Maple syrup and sweet dark malt is firmly balanced by fresh tasting citric hops and an alcoholic soothing quality. All flavors fit together nicely to give a complete and complex character.

Mouthfeel: Luscious. Soft and full with a short lived finish that quickly dries.

Overall Impression: Masterful! One of the best barley wines I’ve wrapped a tongue around. Almost worth the drive up, if you’re in Kansas, you owe yourself a trip out to Free State if just for this brew. One of the best beers I’ve ever had.

Serving type: on-tap

04-15-2006 04:28:11 | More by HardTarget
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dreadnatty08

District of Columbia

4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
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!

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2006 23:16:31 | More by dreadnatty08
Photo of amatuerbeerguy
amatuerbeerguy

Oklahoma

4.08/5  rDev -6%
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 Quaffer
Quaffer

Nevada

4.2/5  rDev -3.2%
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
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bditty187

Nebraska

4.93/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brownish-red in color, great depth to the eye with slight shade differences where the light danced off of it, somewhat murky. It was served with a finger of an off-white head that turned to a soapy cap halfway through consumption. Subsequent lacing was spotty, and as expected, not very prevalent. I must say the presentation in the smallish snifter was quite impressive and very fitting for the grand ale. The nose was simply awesome. Perfect. Lovely, complex with layers of maltiness that allowed sweet candies, figs, yeast induced fruitiness, and toffee to become prevalent. There was a kiss of hops at the far, far back of the bouquet, right next to the alcohol. This is a great smelling Barelywine. The palate was breathtakingly wonderful, I mean simply heavenly… I’ll be dammed if this was brewed in a brewpub in Kansas. The caramel-toffee maltiness, candied sugar, figs, dates, and spicy alcohol all interconnected into a well-rounded palate that had a long lingering aftertaste. It was almost impossible to set my glass down. The hops were noticeable at the finish; they lent just a smidge of bitterness and balance. The alcohol gleefully burned my throat as it slid down, while at the same time, numbed my mind and warmed my belly. This is a force to be reckoned with. Damn near full-bodied. The amount of carbonation was ideal, low and distant, in other words, hardly noticeable. It was also served only slightly chilled, kudos to Free State! Terrifically drinkable for how potent it is, which might be dangerous. No matter how many trains, planes, and automobiles it takes, you must get to Lawrence and quaff this masterpiece. Highly Recommended.

Via Free State Brewing website: 10.5% by volume

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2003 14:38:33 | More by bditty187
Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 128 ratings.