Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
89
very good
509 Reviews
Backburner - Barleywine Style AleBackburner - Barleywine Style Ale
BEER INFO

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

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.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
509
Ratings:
932
Avg:
4
pDev:
14%
 
 
Wants:
78
Gots:
131
For Trade:
7
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 509 | Ratings: 932
Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (aged 2 years @ ~50 degrees) poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance: Dark gold/ Amber brown color, big eggshell colored bubbles with lacing that drips down the glass

Nose: Malty, toffee, caramel, light fruit notes like apricots

Taste: The apricots come through with a fantastic caramel and roasted malt backbone. Finish is piney and citrus from a the hops, the bitterness has faded perfectly well to support the beer.

Mouth: Velvetty and smooth, the alcohol taste that was there fresh is gone. This feels like silk on the tongue.

Overall: Bought 2 of these 2 years ago, and thought it would age ok, I am pleasantly surprised with this beer. Fresh isn't nearly as good as this, which has allowed the fruit to come out and the alcohol taste to settle down.

 769 characters

Photo of biegaman
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Iron red oxide with the slimmest bronzing trim. The beer is stainlessly clear although its deep tone yields distorted transparency. Nevertheless, its complexion is brilliant and its body glows. Despite the bare center, a sandy fence of lace has mushroomed up along its perimeter and serves to fatten up the otherwise barren surface of the beer.

The beer is brewed with Amarillo, Willamette, Chinook and Centennial - if there is a better cast of hops I'd like to know about it. Let me tell you - this smells wonderful. It's an ambrosial, leafy, pine-scented bouquet with a backdrop of scorched caramel and singed bread crust. It is as sticky sweet and tree sappy bitter as any American barleywine I've come across.

Big fat hop cones ladled with caramel and finally dipped in chocolate - this is the delicious profile of Southern Tier's barleywine. The hops really do play an unmistakable role contributing notes of spice, pine, and above all else dried citruisy fruit. What a power struggle between hops and malt! It has caramel crusted toffee wafers coated with citrus zest. It's an ultra-hoppy flavour that indulges the taste buds without numbing them.

Please, defined "drinkability" for me. Granted, this sample has had just about two years to mellow in the cellar but it is as smooth and quaffable of a 10% beer as you can expect to ever find. I don't believe that barleywines should necessarily be meant to be quaffable in this sense, but the fact that Back Burner is means that it's disappearing from the glass at a much faster pace than was expected.

And why wouldn't it? Like its supposed 85 IBU's, the alcohol is scarcely noted. The bottle could read 7% and I'd believe it; the alcohol plays no real factor in determining drinkability. The beer drinks like a sweet caramel-hop smoothie with the taste of biscuits and pine lingering pleasantly. Notes of candied-fruits and caramelized malts please the palate without overwhelming it. Each sip simply entices you more so to take the next.

Southern Tier had already proven to me that they could swim in high gravity waters but their barleywine certainly confirms that. Anything they release in a 650ml bottle is well worth picking up. I'm reminded of a few reputable West Coast offerings but wonder if even they are as good as the drink left in front of me. Back Burner is so aggressively hopped yet balanced with such finesse, I must recommend this to any fan of the style.

 2,439 characters

Photo of albertjr21
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2011 bottle served in a snifter on 7-20-12:

A deep ruby color and syrupy looking consistency flirts almost into brown under a thin but resilient light beige froth. A delicious sweet aroma of caramel and luscious toasted bready malt delights the nose with a sugary raisin candy allure. I'm unsure as to how much has been going on in the bottle for the past year because I shamefully admit to having never tried a young version of this. But I can tell you that there is a very nice harmony of flavors bleeding into each other on the palate. Deep jammy earthy raisin fruit, caramel, and roasted grainy bread glide across the palate into pleasantly resinous sticky fruit bitterness. A little bit of pungent grape dryness in the finish as well. Enjoyed with a Blue Cheese D'Auvergne and thin sliced fresh Italian bread.

 823 characters

Photo of tprokop7
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Reviewing this one from the Dive Bar. Poured from the tap into a snifter. I had a bottle the other day, and I was excited when I saw it on the chalkboard.

A - Pours copper with a one finger whitish head.

S - Smells sweet and hoppy. Definate bitterness, with some floral and citrus as the main influences.

T - Nice, sweet flavor quickly backed up with floral hops.

M - Smooth, with pleasant moderate carbonation.

D - This one really wins here. Despite the high abv, it goes down smooth and pleasant overall. I've always thought ST's regular offerings were pretty average, but I've loved their bigger stuff so far.

 617 characters

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From tasting notes. L: A dark, slightly hazy pour supports a clingy 2” cream colored white foam collar. S: Wine and fruit aromas. T: A big malty palate with toffee, large pitted fruit, cola, and a long, lingering bitter hop finish. F: Full body, soft palate, medium carbonation. Has a wine like warming. O: A big, well balanced beer.

 335 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

Pours a deep, dark brown close to purple with one finger of head that fades to a thin lacing. Nose is malts and raisins. Taste is caramel and roasted malt with a very smooth dark fruit flavor maybe raisins or figs and just a hint of chocolate. Very good mouthfeel, not over carbonated, full bodied, and very smooth warmth from the alcohol.

I really liked this beer. I found it in the back of a Wegman's on my journey to Hornell, NY. It had dust on the bottle and looked like a hidden gem. Since we only recently started getting my hands on Southern Tier in NC, I buy up any I see. I'm so glad I did.

 643 characters

Photo of avalon07
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a cloudy consistency. There was a half inch of long-lasting, foamy/creamy head. Very good lacing.

S: A strong aroma of hops, caramel, and some sugar.

T: Tasted of hops - a lot of hops - caramel, malt, and sugar. Nicely complex. Actually gets better as it goes along.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: One of the more drinkable American barleywines around.

 460 characters

Photo of NewGeneric
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to the city of Chicago for hookin it up.
Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A: Deep ruby hue topped with beige head that recedes quickly and leaves scattered lacing around the glass. Minimal foam resides on top.

S: Very hop forward with serious, earthy hops followed by mountains of caramel goodness. There is some toastiness and mild dark fruits present as well. Quite pleasant.

T: Mild earthy hop bite up front, succeeded by extreme malt. Holy cow! This is a malt bomb! Sweet, sweet caramel dominates. Very good.

M: Really nice body, and almost no noticeable alcohol though. Bitterness and carbonation seem to be almost perfect. Incredible feel for a barleywine.

D: Mmm...what else can I say?

 699 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gorgeously dark and deep burnt orangey brown. Firm smallish capping of lightly yellowish foam sits for good length before settling to a soild skim and a big bubbly collar. Tons of thinly placed sheeting which breaks apart into some webby strings and moth holes.

Lofty aroma of big caramel malts parched with orangified piney hops and toasted breads. A bit of soft berries, molasses, raisin, and fig grows as it sits.

Taste is just as good if not better and carries a very fine complexity to its flavor profile. Big on malts with some soft, soothing caramel mixed with alot of dark fruity acsents of fig, raisin, and berries. Semi tangy and sweet with a soft, silky, smooth body that's delicately malty rich and thick with just the perfect amount of warmth off the end to round it off as a partial hop tone comes into play. Only a slight bittering bite of orange peel and pine nudges at the palate as it maintains its big malty profile and deep richness settling into the finish. Quite complex with some hints to brown sugar, vanilla, pear, and a whole lot of raisinyness. A bit of toasted grain moves across the finish as it warms with just right kind of Barleywine ABV hint as it finishes.

Soft, full, rounded, thick, and rich body, not overly hefty nor hoppy and keeps a nice tone and malty creamyness and chewyness the whole way through. Oh, and the finish is just as soft and alluringly delicate as the rest of its nature with its small amount of warmth floating in over the maltitude of sweetness. Nice...

A pretty fuckin' solid Barleywine by Southern Tier. This will age well for those of you who do that sort of thing. But I found this fairly fresh bottle of Backburner to be dead-on, super nice, and yummalishious!! Brings memories of Old Guardian...when I can get it?!

Another big thanks to JoeyBeerBelly for the recent hook up of East Coast goodies!

 1,865 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz twist top bomber, served in a goblet.

A - chestnut brown/red hue color with a tan head that lasted a little while, leaving some lacing.

S - sweet raisin/date/fig aroma.

T - very good tasting brew, sweet at first, rich malty flavors, hop taste kicks in after the swallow.

M - medium/full bodied, good carbonation, sweet aftertaste.

D - goes down very easy, an all around very good barley wine.

 413 characters

Photo of tekn0ph1sh
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this Barley Wine. However it was my first so I really didn't have a lot to go on.

It poured a brownish ruby color in a tulip glass. It had little to no head and almost no lacing.

It was a very pleasant tasty sweet beer that went down easy. The alcohol was well masked. I even tasted it warmed up. A friend of mine received a glass of it as a miss pour and did not care for it so he pushed it over to me. Even after sitting 30-40 minutes in a bar in FL without the AC on it was still very tasty.

I went to see if I could procure a couple of bottles of this and unfortunately there were none to be had.

Definitely a do again.

 646 characters

Photo of Gehrig
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I stopped by the great Neil St. Piccadilly on a whim tonight, and I'm awfully glad I did. Back Burner in the bomber bottle was in, perched next to Big Red and Unearthly, and deserved a shot. Great beer.

A dense, durable finger of off-white foam topped a rich mahogany body in the trusty Duvel tulip. Snowy lacing on the tulip seals the deal for a terrific appearance. Good smell, rather malty, lots of caramel, berry, and coffee--delicious. Great taste, viscous, sweet and sour, bold malty flavor--wonderful barleywine. It's nicely hopped as well, almost wet-hopped in taste and texture. Hops definitely take charge in the second half of Back Burner in taste and mouthfeel.

Outstanding barleywine, delicious, flavorful, and brawny--one of the best I've had, and one of the best from Southern Tier. Outstanding.

 812 characters

Photo of edmedina
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice clear dark amber color. It does have nice heard as well shows off a lot of carbonation.

Smell: Hoppy with hints of mint and cocoa. Very much floural smell. Not at all what I would expect from a Barleywine.

Taste: Very interesting taste here. Starts off bitter from the hops. As the taste settles you get a sweet after taste. Finishes dry leaving nothing left to taste

Overall: When I saw Imperial Barleywine on the bottle, I thought to myself how do you take a beer that is already strong and go over the top on it? Well Southern Tier certainly figured it out. The hops they use blend very well together. The smell leads you to believe you are enjoying an Imperial IPA but the taste lets you know otherwise. I never thought someone would go further with my favorite style of beer. I am glad Southern Tier did.

 837 characters

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured bomber into 34oz mug. Clear orange/red with a moderate white head that sticks. Smells mostly of hops, but with a strong malt presence providing some bready scents. Taste is all over the place; smooth clean malt sweetness at first, then slightly minty hops, warming alcohol, and finally a slightly yeasty finish. This is a big beer; just what I'd expect a barleywine to be. Mouthfeel is full and a bit creamy, moderately carbonated.

 438 characters

Photo of DavidSeanNJ
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Beautiful 22 oz. bomber poured into a chalice...

A- Browns, oranges, reds, all tied into one. Little bubbles of carbonation floating to the top- thing cream colored head.

S- Melted caramel, raisons, malts, sugar

T- Malts of all flavors (big sweet and sugary flavors), oak, nut, vanilla, dried fruits, nutmeg, and HOPS. The hops were not upfront to me, but got me on the back end. No alcohol flavor whatsoever. P

M- Mouthfeel was very light and sleek. Easily sipped.

D- As drinkable as a barleywine will get. This is as good a barleywine as I have ever had. Smooth, complex, sweet, balanced, fruity, hoppy. Everything a barleywine should be.

Very recommended for the BW lovers out there.

 693 characters

Photo of sawbones420
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a complete slut for Southern Tier, so I'm getting around to reviewing all of their bombers, slowly. I don't drink much barley wine these days, mostly on account of the fact that they make me feel like hell the next day, even when keeping my consumption way down. Southern Tier makes me so happy, however, so I'll take my chances on a Sunday night...

What the hell is an Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale anyway?

Pours a dark mahogany color into my trusty Brooklyn Brewery snifter (my favorite glass of all time). Head? No. I'm starting to think my dishwasher leaves a thin film of soap on my glasses though, as I almost never get much in the way of head retention.

Smells deep, dark, complex. Fruit, hops, sweet malt and alcohol come through. Most notable are those hops, though. Not used to such a strong presence in a barley wine.

First sip is potent. A robust malt flavor hits the sides of the mouth, while the sharp hop presence centers the brew nicely. There's a whole lot going on here. The alcohol warms the back of the tongue and the throat as it slides down, leaving quite a bit to think about. On another sip caramel comes through prominently in the middle part of the tongue. Sweet to be sure, but not too heavy/syrupy to make you feel bloated.

I love beers where every sip offers something new and different from the last. It's interesting how your mouth adapts to this brew as you drink it. Definitely an awesome take on the style and a must for anyone who considers himself a fan of barley wines.

Oh and the burps taste like hops. mmm

 1,555 characters

Photo of BlindPig
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- About a 1" tan head on a kind of clear dark brown and amber body. Great head retention and thin lacing covers the top with a nice collar and sticks to side of glass.
S- Huge hop aroma along with a bunch of sweet caramel and toffee malt, alcohol comes through nice and big too, some pine and light citrus, some breads also.
T- Sweet caramel malt back bone with a ton of hops that are holding on to the malts. Pine and some grapefruit make up the hop profile and leave a nice big bitterness on mid of tongue. Breads, and alcohol come through very nicley. Nothing over powers the other even though they are all big flavors.
M- Full body with low carbonation that tickles the tongue.
D- It is a very nice barley wine and refreshing to have one after not have one or a good one in about 7 months. I would get this again and can only OAT can be as good as this.

 859 characters

Photo of Mitchster
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

$6.99 for a 22oz bomber at the newly relocated Beverage Shop in TC. Brewed with 2-row pale malt, light and dark caramel malts, and hopped with chinook in the kettle, willamette for aroma, and dry hopped with amarillo and centennial (oooh, two of my favorites!)

10% ABV, OG=23 plato, 15Lovibond. Funny. The bottle is stamped with the specs as per Rogue tradition, but as the condensation forms, the letter slip off and you can rearrange them like you would refrigerator magnets.

Pours out to a clear deep rich mahogany, forming a tall off-yellow head with excellent retention and good lacing. Carbonation is medium. The aroma is hop-a-licious. Loads of sticky, piney, resinous, hops with loads of chewy sticky sweet malts. The mouthfeel is bold and beautiful, soft, chewy and very satisfying. The taste starts with the big resisnous hops, but they are not harsh not overwhelming like an Arrogant Bastard can be. This gives way to a big estery profile with lots of dark over-ripe fruits...apples and cherries are big. Followed by brown sugar, roasted nuts, and a moderate herbal bitterness which is nicely balanced for such a big beer. The aftertaste is of herbal hops bitterness, leather, and raisins.

This is a very nice barleywine. It's a big beer, but it's easier to drink than most. It still has a big hop bill, and isn't quite as sweet as some of it's English bretheren, but I would gladly buy it again. Recommended.

 1,423 characters

Photo of BMoney575
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 9-14-09

Pours an ultra-cloudy red/brown color, with a thin white head that bubbles away. Boozy looking, with no lacing whatsoever.

Smell is great strong malt and super booze, with a hoppy fruitiness to keep things even. A year in the cellar has added just the right amount of age.

Taste huge booze, in a good way. Lots of peaty malt, a little smoky, tons of bitter hops, and slight coffee at the very end. One of the best I've had.

Mouthfeel is dead nuts for the style, slick to go with the hops and alcohol.

Drinkability is quite good, considering.

Overall, an impressive Southern Tier. Get some, but age it first.

 632 characters

Photo of Tballz420
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Brown colored brew, think and murky. Bubbly tan head. You dont even need to hold the glass near to smell the think malts coming out of that glass. Stinks of dank syrupy malts. Hot damn its a goodin. Thick malts stick to your throat. Nice load of bittering hops. Alcohol is there, and its spicy. Dark fruit tones. Its a big beer, theres no doot aboot that one. Thick and crunchy, very full mouth. Fairly sharp on the tongue. A no-shit beer.

 439 characters

Photo of TommyW
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Cloudy, brownish gold with lots of tiny bubbles coming up the sides of the glass forming a thin, off-white head.

S- Caramel malts with some fruitiness (maybe golden raisins and apricot), faint note of floral hops and a note of alcohol as well.

T- Big caramel malt base with some notes of molasses and a nice warming alcohol presence.

M- Full and smooth body with a nice carbonation.

D- Really enjoyed this one a lot; a great sipper.

 439 characters

Photo of aaronh
4.58/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Richly colored body topped by a thin cream head. Aroma of malt and alcohol sweetness dominate - a bit of earthy hops in there as well. Flavor is excellent. Nice balance of caramel, biscuit, and toffe malt flavors tempered by smooth hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth. Drinkability is very nice, but it's tough to drink more trhan one bomber of this in an evening. Another great opffering from Southern Tier.

 418 characters

Photo of beckje01
4.59/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark amber with a light thin head.

S- Wonderful caramel and malt with a hint of the booze.

T- Nice taste hides the ABV very well, nice and mellow. Very good flavor.

M- Great thickness and perfect activity.

D- Very drinkable it's a slow sipper but you don't want to stop. The best thing about this beer is it's great fresh no need to age it like other barleywines.

 375 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.6/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 release, poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of brown sugar, caramelized malts, fruit, a good amount of hops and a little bit of alcohol.

T: The taste starts out sweet up front with strong flavors of brown sugar, caramel & dark fruit. Then a strong but not over-powering hops presence comes in to provide a good balance. There's a hearty malt character and no trace of the alcohol that you get in the smell. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, strong kick, excellent representation of style, this is a really good beer to drink for a long time and yet another excellent big beer from Southern Tier.

 906 characters

Photo of generallee
4.65/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from tap into a small (10 or 12oz) nonic pint glass and served right at the brewery in there own bar The Empty Pint.

Appearance: A small finger of just off white head sits on top of a mahogany reddish brown colored beer. The body looks thick and blurry when held up to the light. Its head quickly fades to a slick ring of lace.

Smell: In the nose I get a big blast of sweet, rich, bready and somewhat fruity malt. Hops can also be found in the nose and they add just a touch of citrus.

Taste/Palate: The flavor is like caramel covered raisins and baked apples with hints of plum and nectarine wrapped up in sweet bready and pie crust like maltiness. Add to this a nice warm boozy character and some mellow hops with modest notes of citrusy grapefruit rind and herbal bitterness. It feels quite firm on the palate and smooth but still lightly carbonated. (slow sipper)

Notes: When I think Barley Wine, this is about what I think of. It has loads of malt complexity first, which is then backed up with hops. Backburner is a very enjoyable Barley Wine!!!

 1,087 characters

Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 932 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!