Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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510 Reviews
Backburner - Barleywine Style AleBackburner - Barleywine Style Ale

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Retired after 2015 - new recipe/beer coming out in 2016 with a new listing.

Added by BeerTruth on 04-02-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 510 | Ratings: 933
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a warm deep reddish-brown body with a sea of tiny bubbles. There is a sticky light tan head that makes sheets of foam on the glass after each sip.

S-The sweet slightly floral smell of caramel malt has a cream note to it with a faint watermelon smell that soon blooms into a musty green pungent hop nose.

T- The taste of sweet caramel malt has some notes of dark caramel malt sweetness in the background followed by a spicy hop finish with some earthy pine hops. The hop bitterness along with the malt sweetness both linger a bit after the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and no real alcohol heat.

D-The malt flavors are robust and the hops flavors are just as robust and more complex. This is a nice hoppy beer to sip by the fire on those subzero nights.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter. Bottle dates June 27th, 2010 off we go.

Straight in the middle pours a nice dark amber out of the bottle, going to a really beautiful red plum color. Head has some color to it of cream tan. Some leg action but not much pock mark sticking.

Malty dominant, and some fruit almost faint Concord sweet grapes in the back. Smells particularly boozy, some hints of chocolate also but it needs to be aerated to open up the chocolate it seems. Overall though pretty good nose, smells like something sweet is coming.

Malt chocolate and mild malt overtones for taste. Surprisingly not as sweet as expected. Grape taste comes through in the after finish after a few swallows. Hardly noticeable high abv loosing the boozyness of the drink upon tasting. Small hints of tickle carbonation.

Pretty good I have to say for drinkability this was quite tasty I have to admit. I'd get it again for the style.

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Photo of portia99
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (2007 vintage) poured into a Portsmouth goblet.

A - Pours a beautiful reddish amber/brown color (held to the light, this gives off a not quite, but close to a red wine color)...perfectly clear with a small, tight bubbled cream colored head that fades rapidly to a thick collar around the glass and sparse pockets of bubbles on the surface.

S - Tons of caramel character here. Very rich and sweet, lots of fruity aromas here...a little bit brighter than expected. Malty sweetness, brown sugar, unfermented wort.

T - Quite malty, tons of caramel, a touch of coffee and dark roasted malts. Molasses, brown sugar. Some fruityness (I'm getting citrus - oranges, lemons) and a good portion of port wine character. Alcohol presence is definitely there, but not at all hot...a couple of years on this one has smoothed out any hotness that was there to begin. Hop levels are just about perfect. Bottle says 85 IBU, but this has mellowed for sure over the years. There is still enough bitterness there to really balance this out well for me. Tons of malt and sweeet character, but the hops keep this from seeming cloying or syrupy. Very good barleywine.

M - Fairly full bodied. Has a nice feel on the tongue - a touch oily and quite viscous. The hops keep this from feeling syrupy. Carbonation is maybe a touch high for my liking, although I would say it is medium level overall. Just feels maybe a little too prickly for my tastes, feel it would be better served at a lower level to enhance the fullness of the body. Overall, still quite good.

D - I was a little bit concerned(?) about opening this bomber for myself, but figured what the heck. Thought it might be tough to get thru, but I'm finding this much more drinkable than expected. At 10%, it is on the high side...this will be my last beer of the night, but this is hidden fairly well. Thought with a couple of years on this the hops would be totally faded and this might be a super sweet barleywine, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that it is quite well balanced.

My local store still has about a case of the 2007's left...think I'm going to have to go down there and get a couple more bottles before they disappear.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a 22 oz stein. Got it at Malt & Vine in Redmond, WA.

Pours a golden reddish color, very slightly cloudy. Little carbonation, less than a finger head, and hardly any lacing at all. Smell is musty and alcoholic with maybe a little plum or cherry with molasses.

Taste is bitter, slightly sour, citrus and cherry, but leaves you with an impression of sweetness. Smoke and mustiness throughout.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, but fairly sticky (probably what gives the impression of sweetness).

For as strong as this beer is, it's probably dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of pershan
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a deep, clear, reddish-amber with a dense tan head into a pint glass. The aroma was of fresh, piney hops - very nice. The taste was a big-time blend of sweet caramel malt, pungent hop flavor, and alcoholic esters, with a huge hop bitterness at the finish. Not quite as good as SN Bigfoot, IMHO, but pretty darn close.

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Photo of skrib09
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured out a rich mahogany color with an off white head.

smells slightly sour, a strong pine and citrus come through, and maybe some sweetness. the alcohol is faint on the nose.

a really nice offering of hop and barley balance. overall richness comes through in a well mannered way. the color and taste are paralleled.

mouthfeel is fullbodied yet light. it's an easier to drink brew than other southern tier products.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is strong and fruity, more like a hard cider, with tones of apple and malt along with hints of brown sugar, grapefruit and honey. It pours a lovely transparent mahogany with a decent pale cinnamon head. Flavor is fruity, mainly apple; malty, slightly woody, slightly sweet, with hints of caramel and grapefruit - and a fair alcohol nip that lets you know it is a barleywine. Texture is smooth yet edgy and leaves behind a nice, slightly tinny fizz. I believe barleywine fans will like this one.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.34/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

appearance: Hazy copper, looks like sorghum syrup. Pretty fat off white head on the pour that settles down to a smattering.
smell: Sweet, yeasty, fruity. That is, very nice.
taste: More of the same but even better. The balance is just superb. Slightly bitter finish, very slight...mostly sweet and full.
overall: haven't had this in a while and just picked up some 2013 (presumably...couldn't find the date on the bottle). Very nice fresh out of the gate. Tastes more like an English than an American to me. Actually quite reminiscent of Unearthly.

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Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a molasses deep brown leaving no head. The sweet aromas are enticing and subtle rather than candy coated. The first sip has a pleasant sweetness of hearty brown sugar. The hoppy ending is fantastic. The warmth of the alcohol compliments the whole experience provided by this fine barley wine. The finish is smooth without a syrupy viscosity.

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Photo of ommegoose
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bomber into a small snifter. Later, into a 25 cl Gulden Draak tulip.

Short, but creamy thick beige head, big bubbles. Fades a little quick. Deep purple color. Amber with clarity when held to the light.

Dark fruity aroma. Prune, raisin, licorice, berry. At room temperature it really sweetens, opening up lighter fruits, vanilla, and milky caramel especially.

I have to say I was expecting more sweetness, coming from Southern Tier. This is actually very balanced for the style, but certainly malt-forward. Thick, deep maltiness. Rich like a doppelbock almost, bready. Fruity notes of cherry, raisin, and some lightly tangy berry flavors. Prune, licorice. For an American Barleywine, the hops are rather subdued, showing up mostly on the finish. A little crisp bitterness from the Amarillo. I like that this isn't another Cascade bomb. Centennial is really growing on me lately. Finishes with a dryness that makes such a malty beer dangerous. Hop flavors don't clash with the malt. No citrus or piney flavors. Maybe it's the booze, but the back half of this bomber tastes great. It starts drinking like candy, with bright vanilla and light caramel flavors. Delicious, delicious beer candy.

Carbonation is pretty low, as to be expected, especially considering the style and the brewer. Thick and a bit syrupy. This is from about eight months ago now, I assume (rather than a year and eight months) and it's drinking very smooth.

I think I admire the insanity of Dogfish Head's barleywine more than anything this offers. But it's a nice, well-made beer. For once, Southern Tier doesn't go nuts. It's far less hoppy than something like Bigfoot, and the alcohol is not pushing boundaries. At this age, it's a real easy drinker. Definitely excels at warmer temperatures, much above the recommended 42 degrees, which seems way, way too low. It is at a lower price point than much of the ST lineup, and actually pretty fair for a bomber. Still, I'd often be more inclined to go for the ones that beg to be consumed fresh and the ones in danger of selling out. This one is not as sexy, so it does sit, which is actually quite alright considering how it has responded to age. Yum. All in all, thumbs up. One of the easiest big bombers to get down in recent memory.

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Photo of biggred1
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Derk cherry red with strawberry blonde highlights and a creamy tan head that leaves splotchy rings of lace on the glass. The aroma is caramel slathered toast with a touch of buttered rum and mascerated dark fruit and plenty of citrus fruity hops. Caramel malty flavors with a strong hit of juicy hop bitterness to cut the sweetness. This beer is certainly in the mold of SN Bigfoot, a hop forward strong and complex ale. Medium full bodied and smooth with a slightly sticky mouthfeel. Another bullseye from Southern Tier.

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bourbon-colored (how can you go wrong?) from 22 oz. poured into mug with richer-than expected (but still moderate) head. Not a lot of carbonation here; it looks like a barley wine should.

Surprisingly hearty herbal/grassy hop flower aroma. Nice and strong bitterness. Some bitter citrus zest? In a barley wine? Aroma yields intriguing yet mild presence of malt; alcohol is surprisingly absent.

First taste is very hoppy for barley wine. The expected rich, viscous malt/alcohol backbone is slow to emerge, but the wait is enjoyable. Hops are nicely and unexpectedly overpowering on the palate. Malt and alcohol come in on a mild wave as time passes to generate the expected new-age hop abundant barley wine pucker and texture.

What starts out as a warm sleeping bag of hop syrup on the mouth wanting of just a little carbonation evolves into a well-balanced yet striking, crackling mix of low-burning, roasted malt and the same but more coating hop goodness. Each sip reveals something different from the last. The overall character reminds me of an "apprentice" 3F Behemoth. Very intriguing stuff that I look forward to enjoying again.

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Photo of goblue3509
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brownish reddish color with a hazy finish and a thin of white color head which gives way to a little lacing. The aroma is of a caramel and roasted malt backbone with a hint of earthy hops and a boozy aroma. The taste has a nice big malt backbone, caramel and roasted malts along with some dark fruits and a finish of a slight hop bite and a touch of alcohol. This barely wine is better balanced than some others with bigger flavors. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a light carbonation. The drinkability is very high, a very well blended smooth barleywine.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not too sure what an Imperial Barley Wine is, but okay. Nice coppery-mahogany colour with a thin, lacy cream coloured head.

Rich malts, wine and light spice in the nose. Very mild citrus. Nice mild coffee and brandy taste, hints of bread, spices and brown sugar. Hints of wine, cinnamon and raisins.

A bit light on the body, but the carbonation is good. I think the ABV is actually a bit low for the style, but that's not a bad thing.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a slow to emerge 1.5" head. Clear dark auburn brown. Smell is like a strong double IPA. Taste is complex with very sweet malt, hops, vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, some fruitiness, and spices. It's a big barley wine which will put some hair on your chest. A solid A performance to me.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice barleywine, sweet caramel character with a smooth hoppy final profile.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Contemporary and dedicated design of a stove knob with the Southern Tier logo at its center. Small side narrative going over the history of the style, and a brief paragraph on intent and ingredients, closing with an additional warning to enjoy the brew with moderation. Shows °Plato (25), °Lovibond (15) and Alc. (10.0%) alongside detailed list of ingredients, and recommended drinking temperature and glassware. Poured into a medium size snifter.

A - Deep amber pour with dark copper tones, short foamy head with medium retention, leaving nice strokes of lace.

S - Sweet caramel malt, toffee roast notes, and a faint fruity whiff, grapefruit and pineapple maybe... Hops closing it subtly.

T - Taste follows and expands the nose in a very assertive and rich way. Caramel and toffee presence woven nicely with an almost unnoticeable boozy hint, some dark fruit notes. The hoppy profile it is here to, makes itself felt more so towards the end, it complements rather nicely the sweet profile, leaving the caramel as the main driver. Its a tiny fresh bite that finishes the experience rather well.

M - Medium to full body, with adequate subtle carbonation. Creamy, smooth and very rich texture.

D - Nice sipper... A rather enjoyable US barleywine.

Notes: It´s a great pleasure to be had. It carries a good profile of the style, remaining sweet and complex without overwhelming bitterness like other US versions lean on. And yet the hoppy profile, almost raw, is there woven in the end and working rather well. This is a bottle that I held in the cellar for about a year, so at least it is a batch of 08, maybe 07? This could have mellowed the hops in this nice way, although I have had this brew other times, supposedly without aging and it offered a very similar experience.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours brilliantly clear ruby red. Head is dense and crisply white, dissipating slowly and leaving sheets of sticky lacing. Certainly one of the most attractive beers I've seen.

Aroma rich caramel malt sweetness. Hints of brown sugar, and a nice bit of plum and date dark fruit. Only a slight alcohol heat.

Taste is similar to the nose. Bready caramel malt and bunt toffee up front. More of the plum, raisin, and date dark fruit. Finishes with a dry cedar quality, and an earthy bitterness that brings some balance to the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium-full. Extremely soft and silky.

Surprisingly malty, very smooth and drinkable. The caramel and dark fruit notes are outstanding when matched with the dry woody earthy bitterness. A winner.

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Photo of naterock
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into a delerium snifter.

Deep red in color, Phenomenal Head that stays like a film over the top of the glass.

Smell is rich barley and a super sweet nose with a brown sugar nose. But with teh massive barley comes a shit load of hops. Chinooks are huge.

Taste is so incredibly rich with malt. Hugely malted with a Gigantic Hop profile. Very Very Good.

Mouth is highly viscous with a decent carbonation. Drinks too easy for the ABV. Just a phenomenal Brew all together, there is nothing small about this beer.

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Photo of RickS95
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

There isn't much to say about the pour and appearance as it's relatively non-descript. It comes out as a very thin pour with a dark chestnut color. The head is thin and doesn't retain well. The slight head never really forms, but never really goes away either, leaving a thin ring of white bubbles.

It picks up in the nose as a ton of malts and an equal amount of hops comes wafting up from the snifter. Sticking your nose deep into the snifter reveals a good does of caramel malts and some alcohol astringency which masks the Centennial hops. The citrus scent is still there, but it's been governed well.

The taste. Three letters...WOW or OMG. It's stellar. Caramel malt overload with brown sugar, vanilla, and the citric hops. Alcohol is there, but isn't overwhelming, nor is the hop flavor. Strangely, I guess due to all the malts and sugar, it takes on a Belgianesque fruitiness. Really sublime taste.

For the type, it's the smoothest, easiest drinking barleywine I've ever had. It's mostly sweet and while there is bitterness, it never punches you in the gut like other barleywines. It's full bodied, very sweet, only slightly bitter, carbonated only slightly, and amazingly, it's kind of creamy.

It's an amazing beer overall and one of the top rungs of the barleywine ladder. It's easy to drink, has well-hidden alcohol content, and won't make your lips, tongue and throat numb.

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Photo of prototypic
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours a nice looking ruby brown color. Head is vanilla colored and only about a finger deep. Looks like the alcohol might have killed this one. Retention was good and lacing was sticky and thicker than expected.

Smell: Strong, piney hops kick it off nicely. They're followed up by sweet citrus grapefruit and pineapple aromas. It is malty and sweet smelling. Caramel malts seem to be primary variety. The aroma's a little weak, but opens up more as it warms. Plum and raisin scents finally emerge. The nose is complex and nothing short of appetizing.

Taste: It's sweet and a little citrusy up front. Grapefruit and pineapple flavors are nice, but a little more subdued than the nose suggests. Hops are piney, bitter, and a little citric. Caramel malts are sweet and really balance it out a lot. It's easily one of the most balance barleywines that I've tried. Dark fruit flavors are secondary and feature plum, raisin, and a little prune. The flavor profile is easily as complex as the nose, if not moreso. Amazingly, alcohol is not very noticeable. At 10%, I was expecting it, but it's masked extremely well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkabilty: It's full bodied, but only marginally so. Not as thick and chewy as some in this style. Carbonation level is subdued and very well done. Nice, super smooth feel. Drinkability is good, but there's no way I'd try to tackle more than a single bomber. It's too strong and too big for much more than that.

Southern Tier's developed perhaps the most balanced Barleywine I've had the pleasure of drinking. It's very good and really doesn't have any large shortcomings. I prefer just a tad more hops for the style. But, this really is damn good. It's hard to find much fault in it. Truth be told, Southern Tier would have to put a lot of effort into making a bad beer. They just can't seem to do it.

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Photo of lightindarkness
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep dark copper, brownish with some ruby sheen. Sudsy thick head swirls into a mass on top, then settles down to patchy bubbly froth.

Nose is packed with rich bready caramel and piny hops. A little chocolate, bread crust, and some alcohol burn. Really nice.

Taste is nice, not too aggressive up front, with a delayed attack that builds as caramel smoothness and deep grains rise into resinous hop flavors sharpened by alcohol spice. A nice version of the style that would probably do well with some well controlled age on it.

Feel is nice heavier medium body, cut by alcohol fumes. A little sticky on the palate, cleaning up a little with a hanging resinous finish. Carbonation adds nicely to the spice without being too strong, submitting to the stronger body of the beer.

Putting the 10% abv aside, it drinks remarkably well. Hops aren't too harsh (it is nearing a year old), and huge balance is fairly well achieved. Not too syrupy or thick on heavy malt, not too sharp on hops, it drinks a little better than many other huge barleywines. Just watch that alcohol.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bomber in a recent trade with kirok1999. The bottle says it was the first beer of 2007 so it must be about a year old now. Dark red color that is almost brown but not quite. The flavor smells great, hoppy, toffee, West Coast. The flavor follows up with a chewy, hop-laden taste. Lots of hops in this one and that is how I like it. Given how good this tastes now I bet a couple years will treat this beer well. Best beer I have had from Southern Tier but I'm biased toward barleywines.

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Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a dark amber-red almost caramel like color, topped off by a tight-knit but short lived head.

There's a flowery nose that disseminates sprites of hops, malt, yeast and something bucolic-- maybe it's fresh-cut grass like rifts or it's something to do with yeast..

The flavor is spicy and tart-- I checked the bottle label to see if Southern Tier included pepper in the brew--no they didn't.

The flavor includes notes of caramel, raisins, hops, malt and a mystical sweetness-- not cloying but a soothing underpinning that seems like a net that holds the rest of the key flavors together as they roll across my palate.

The finish is a long lasting hops bitterness as the starting flavors dissipate.

Over all this is an interesting beer-- propped by this spicy character that keeps my attention and my arm reaching to pour more from the bottle.

This beer is not what I'd call a refresher-- but a sipping beer-- it's one that is such that it demands its own stage-- and not to be shared with any other distraction.

Nice -- although I notice the 9.6% ABV

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Photo of DrKnoskelson
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle

A - Nice amber red/brown color. Pours even, decent head. No lace in glass.

S - Very pungent aroma. Pronounced malt nose with a hoppy back-bone.

T - Initial hop bitterness melts into sweet malt taste leads.

M - Subtle alcohol presence that develops with time.

D - While I was somewhat disappointed in Southern Tiers Barleywine, this is a good brew. I was hoping for hops than malt. Low alcohol taste makes this beer easy drinking.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear, crimson hued, slim, creamy head.

Aroma: rich, pungent, dark fruit meets brandy...cherry notes, sweet, but not too syrupy, rounds out dryly in the end.

Drinkin'...plump on the palate, and right quick, alcohol comes burning in, blazes the back of the mouth. Profusely malty, gathering sweetness, growing texture, bitter hops scouring the tongue.

Flavor lasts long in the mouth. Persistent finish. Big, hot, wet and juicy. Mmmm-mmm.

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Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 933 ratings.
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