Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

BA SCORE
90
outstanding
512 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:
512
Ratings:
938
Avg:
4
pDev:
10.25%
 
 
Wants:
77
Gots:
133
For Trade:
6
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 512 | Ratings: 938
Photo of Dope
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Relatively fresh bottle, <1 year old.

A: Pours a murky amber with a good sized and dense tan head. Fades slowly, leaving a thin but almost uninterrupted wall of lacing.

S: Loads of raisin, fig and molasses primarily. Some toffee and caramel in the middle.

T: Strong molasses up front along with the dark fruit - raisin and fig. Some toffee, caramel and a bit more molasses in the middle and towards the end. Not overly sweet, especially with a little burst of earthy and resin hop bitterness in the finish.

M: Heavy, thick.

O: A good american style barleywine. Nice complexity and balance of flavors. However, nothing stands out as earth-shattering so I give it a solid 4 across the board. Not a knock against the beer, it's a pretty excellent staple for the style. Just nothing to distinguish it from the rest.

 821 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 RoyalT
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a nice, bronzy brown in color with a modest but very stubborn head that left cool-looking pits and a nice film.

Smell – This smells more like an EBW than an ABW. The table sugar is huge at the nose along with a vast collection of light, summertime fruits. I get a beautiful white apricot, a must try if you’ve never had them, with a bit of non-tart apple and maybe white grapes to go along with the barleyWINE moniker. The malts are modest caramel but really they are in the background here.

Taste – The light fruits and table sugar come through at the taste along with the first hint of hops. I guess the hop profile is somewhat complex but they do not dominate this ale like you would think from looking at the impressive list. I get a nice citrus and light pine mix but again nothing heavy. The caramel is a bit bigger in the mouth but nothing off the charts.

Mouthfeel – This is a big medium-bodied and greasy slick in the mouth with little suggestion of the high ABV.

Drinkability – This is the closest thing I’ve found to a session Barley Wine. It is very easy-drinking, not intimidating at all as most ABVs can be, and actually is more Enlgish than American. The light fruity character sets this apart from the rest and makes this mandatory tasting for all the BW lovers.

 1,317 characters

Photo of buschbeer
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%

650 ml. bottle
Served in a snifter

It is a rust to copper color with amber highlights. It is topped with an inch of tan head.

The smell has bread, toffee, molasses, fig, date, etc.

The taste is on the malty side. Of course I have no idea how old this bottle is. The date and fig seem to rule the day. There are some hints of caramel and toffee.

Thick and viscous. A joy to sup.

I haven't had this in awhile and it tasted exactly as I remembered, malty with rich dark fruit flavors. It was a nice find.

 509 characters

Photo of argock
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz brown bottle into a clear oversized wine glass. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $6.49.

A: Light caramel brown with strong off-white 1-finger head with decent retention and lacing down the glass.

S: Strong maltiness with sticky caramelly sweetness and floral and spicy hoppiness

T: Delicious strong pale and caramel malt flavors are highlighted by earthy, floral, and spicy malt flavors that are mildly to moderately bitter and give this brew a mellow quality that is good for sipping.

M: Smooth and silky with low but present carbonation and enjoyable sweetish pale malt aftertaste.

D: A delicious, solid brew that comes in at a nice price point with a consistent if unspectacular sweet caramel malt flavor accented with floral and earthy hops. A very good brew that needs a little more originality to move up a tier.

 861 characters

Photo of Bierman9
3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a big-ass, 22oz, painted-label bottle. No freshness info, but at 10%, I'm not too worried about spoilage. Part of my Birthday booty from old "Bro" Artied2.

Popped the cap to pour, and noticed it is a screw-off. How odd!!
Also, the lettering from the label, for the names "Southern Tier" and "Backburner", easily comes off the bottle. So, beware if you save and collect bottles.

Poured into my Rapscallion chalice, it has an extremely deep ruby/garnet color. A small amount of bubbles slowly meander towards the top, where a thin layer of head has formed. The topping is light tan in hue, and mostly gathers at the edge of the glass. Lacing is fairly decent as well, though I find the bier color to be a killer! Nose is on the restrained side, with notes of alcohol, burnt brown sugar, and a little raisin coming through. Mouthfeel is top-shelf, with the liquid being medium to medium-plus, and gliding over the tongue as easily as Orr on ice.

Flavor tends to favor the bitter, hoppy side over the sweeter malts, though both are present. Initially hitting the palate are some brown-sugary notes, with some subtle caramel and molasses. Soon after, there's some dark fruity action, with a bit of raisin and fig thrown around. Finally, some resiny, piney hops zestily coat the tongue. It's a dry finish, and the alcohol is noted as it warms the innards. A solid, pleasing offering from Southern Tier. Thnx, Bro!

Prosit!!

1033

 1,432 characters

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue IV:

Interesting, a twist-off bomber, you don't see that too often. The lacing drapes on the glass all the way down with a cobweb pattern. Clear and glowing tawny color. Deep aromas of caramel, golden raisins, roasted apples and a minty citric hop. Big, thick, creamy full body, some smoothness off of the moderate level of carbonation. Rich bread and caramel maltiness up front, hops come in strong, but are not overbearing and balance everything well. The hop bitterness couples with the warm peppery alcohol and yields a slight sharp tone in the middle. Bit of bread crust, raisin and ripe plum present. The alcohol is very warming, but not hot. Citric and mint hop flavors go well together and linger far into the bittersweet finish.

A solid Barleywine--balanced even with the semi-aggressive hop presence thrown at us. High regards for this beer within its style, which is without a doubt right on target.

 955 characters

Photo of woosterbill
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Cask Republic into a tulip.

A: Crystal clear ruby-brown body under a finger of tan foam. Great retention and lacing. Lovely.

S: Sweet, fruity caramel malt; dates, raisins, and citrus; spicy alcohol. Not great, but pretty good.

T: Dark fruits are dominant, followed by bready malts + citrus hops. Pretty tasty, but far from memorable.

M: Hugely carbonated, with soft fine bubbles exploding throughout the (maybe) medium body. Intense, but overdone.

O: I enjoyed this beer, but it doesn't really stand up well to the myriad of great barleywines available. While I was a fan of the citrus fruitiness of the hops, I didn't feel that they added enough hoppiness or bitterness to contrast meaningfully with the fruity sweetness of the malt. Completely solid, but completely forgettable.

Cheers!

 804 characters

Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the '08 bottle, it pours a deep and dark mahogany brown. It's a gorgeous color. The topping is short, sparse and off-white.
It noses of brown sugar, dark rum, ganja resin, peaches, and orange juice. It's an interesting and delicious aroma, but it seems a bit dialed-down.
Taste-wise, the progress can be thoroughly described as:
toasted grain-->caramel--->grilled pineapple-->bitter herb-->pine sap-->lemon rind-->cedar/cinnamon-->brandy. They problem is, that describes EVERYTHING that is in here. It's linear and offers no sideroads or detours. Nothing really meshes. It's merely and simply a progression of flavors. There's no melding, or complexity. It's just one thing, then another, then another. It's a series of compartments starting with malt, then hops, then alcohol.
The build is plenty thick and deep enough to let everything shine. It feels like a b'wine.
My gripe here is that nothing truly congeals. There is a series of tasty Barleywine traits. Great stuff, really, but they don't ever link up with any type of fluidity. It's all jagged, staccato, and separated. It needs to breathe and expand and deepen and coalesce....and it doesn't...
At least not yet. Age may do this a great deal of good. Fresh, though, it is skippable.

 1,272 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes on 3/10/10. On tap at MacGregor's, I believe it's the 07 vintage.

A - Clear dark ruby/garnet with a well formed and retaining beige head. Very nice lacing. 4.5

S - Sweet muscat grapes, light caramel, hint of currants. Touch of carob. Wish the nose was stronger. 4.0

T - Big malty backbone, lots of caramel and a bit of figs followed by a healthy dose of bitterness and citrus. Finishes long with a touch of roast. 4.0

M - Crisp and medium bodied, well carbonated. A bit light for an American barleywine. 3.5

D - Too drinkable. Excellent. 4.5

 564 characters

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.

 1,843 characters

Photo of Holland
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown with lighter highlights and an off white head that stays with lacing and a ring on the edges.

S: smells of honey, caramel, roasted malt.

T: delicious barleywine, but it's missing the fruity notes.

M: standard carbonation with a medium-heavy body. Good for the style.

O: very good beer, best of the night so far on a barleywine tasting with a few other decent ones.

 385 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

638 review on BA
Bottle to snifter
22oz

Thanks to my wife for bringing this home from her NY business trip.

App- As this poured it was more akin to a darker muddled brown. As I finish 1/2 the glass it takes a shade more of a smoother rum color of browns, red, a little amber. A puffy two finger head receding very quickly and left maybe one streak of lace and at most 10 dots of lace.

Smell- This is very malt heavy but decedantly sweet with the light/dark caramel being used very well. Its a bit of a vanilla like character with some candy sweetness.

Taste- I think I have finally found a benchmark of what the style should be measured against. I'm not giving a 5 because well I felt MoaS and Abacus were tastier. The paired malt and decidely smooth and soft and backseat hops bring a bit of balance to this malt forward BW but with the choice Amarillo & Centennial playing a big part in making this a very smooth and refreshing and not too overpowering beer.

Mouth- This is a very medium bodied beer with with almost a high carbonated feel to it. Nice bubbles on the finish make this a very refreshing beer.

Drink- A very well done barleywine. Malty with a refreshing kick of hops and a sound selection of malt/ratio that make it have some spice, vanilla, smooth. I love me some barleywines and the wife is going back to NY, this may need to come home again.

 1,366 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice ruby/brown color with 2 fingers worth of head that leaves some nice lacing

S: I'm picking up some sweetness along with malts and other than that, not much at all. Possibly some faint hoppiness

T: Same as the smell, an overload (not in a bad way, though) of malty sweetness. Alcohol is nowhere to be seen behind the sweetness. It's a good thing I like sweet beers, or else this one might get cloyingly sweet

M: Thick and heavy, with medium carbonation. Coats the mouth with sugary sweetness, although it's not as bad as some of their blackwater series

D/O: One is definitely enough because of the sweetness and abv, but other than that, this is a great barleywine. I'm not sure how this would age, I'm afraid it might get even sweeter. Drink this one up for sure

 781 characters

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a rich ruby red color with a light but frothy beige head.

A sweet aroma of dark ripe fruits, sweet malt, and floral hops.

Tastes of sweet malts, caramel, brown sugar, and citrusy hops. Clean finish. The alcohol is well hidden.

Full mouthfeel, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

This is one very easy to drink and even easier to enjoy barley wine from Southern Tier.

 387 characters

Photo of canucklehead
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just picked this up so it must be this years stock as it has not been in BC before. Very drinkable right the get go. Lovely hoppy nose with a deep carmel colour. Not overhopped or too sweet but rather a big balanced BW. The finish is long and naunced and the beer tends to drink like an English BW with some PNW hops. Great beer

 328 characters

Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Yet another beer courtesy of BeerTruth. Thanks Adam.

A: Pours deep brown color with hings of red. The head is small in volume, yet pretty dense. The head dies nearly as fast as it rises, but does leave behind some lacing.

S: The aroma is inviting. Nice bready yeast malt with hints of pine. There is citrus in there as well. It is skewed more to orange than grapefruit or lemon. Beneath it all is a nice sweet carmalized brown sugar with a hint of booze.

T: This one is malt forward. Nice sweet caramel malt with wonderful yeasty notes. Pine sap sweetness comes in with hints of grapefruit. A bit of booze leaves a bit of burn as it slides down the throat.

M: Medium carbonation but very smooth overall.

D: Well balanced, as drinkable as you will get with a barleywine with this ABV.

Overall: ST is one of my favorites. I am glad that I have BeerTruth to keep a steady flow coming my way. The taste of this one is rather balanced with the perfect amount of malt and hops, sweet and bitter. It is very drinkable for the ABV, I really enjoyed it. Can not even begin to imagine how it would taste on tap.

 1,110 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle.

Pours into the Stone Old Guardian glass with a deep, dark coppery brown body. Clear. Very dense, creamy finger of khaki brown head. Great lacing. Nose of scorched brown sugar, toffee, caramel, rummy fruits, candied yams, and some herbal hops.

Herbal hop bitterness greets the tongue. Toasted malt with burnt brown sugar quickly follow. Toffee and candy-coated fruit swell mid-palate. Citrus and herbal hop flavor follow, with some bitterness to balance the sweetish malt. Nicely done. Hop resin bitterness in the finish with lingering syrupy fruit and toffee malt. Full-bodied with a smooth, creamy feel. Another impressive ST bomber.

 651 characters

Photo of ADZA
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours a nice copper,bronze hue with decent carbonation that leaves behind a two finger head that slowly recedes to a nice frothy rim and some sporadic lacing,the smell is very sweet with aromas of cane sugar,caramel candy,sticky toffee and of course sticky resinous pine cones,it has a medium bodied nicely carbonated mouthfeel which feels very slick,sticky and resinous and has tastes of caramel candy,butter popcorn,sticky toffee,maple syrup and is rounded out with a bittersweet almost sweetbitter boiled candy,resinous pine cone finish that leaves your lips and mouth nice and sticky and overall even though im not the biggest fan of Barleywines i really do like this one as it does have a few different elements to it and is very easy to drink with its ABV being only noticeable on first sip cheers.

 814 characters

Photo of siege06nd
3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 2011 bottle, poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A. Pours a very cloudy, ruddy copper color. Not much head to speak of, just a wisp of a cream colored neck around the top. Lacing is also very faint. Meh.

S. Toasted malt, raisin, caramel, and some subtle hop notes.

T. Lots of toasty bread crust, some toasty caramel, raisin, toffee, spicy and bitter hops, and a fairly big booze burn on the back end.

M. Boozy finish but everything else is pretty well-balanced. Slightly astringent and drying from the bitterness and alcohol burn.

O. A solid American Barleywine and, I think, one of the better versions that is readily available. That said, with a little bit of effort, far better can be had, including Gratitude and Dogfish Head Olde School.

 752 characters

Photo of Flounder57
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle was poured into a snifter.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger head that has reduced to a thin layer and left some lacing on the glass. It is a murky crimson brown color with some visions of bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: sweet caramel malts, toffee, citrus, and boozy alcohol.

Taste: Very tasty brew. I have been holding on to this one for several years and it has stood the test of time. It is good to see the hops not killing the maltiness of this beer. The taste follows the aroma really well.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, full bodied, medium bodied, boozy, and quite the treat.

Overall: Pretty solid barleywine. Hoppy, but the maltiness makes this beer well balanced. Quite enjoyable and a good sipper in the middle of this snowstorm we are getting.

 787 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
3.76/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Arrives in a snifter, a hazy dark brown with no head.
Smell is piney hops with some dark fruits and malt. Not exactly as expected but well balanced.
Taste is hoppy, sweet, malt, pine and some generic dark fruit notes. Balance is good.
Full bodied, warming and quite smooth. Extremely light effervescence, as expected. A nice sipping beer. Well done. So much better when it warms, easily twice the beer. Let it sit for 30 minutes at least and love it.

 453 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 sulldaddy
4.77/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am samplinga 22 oz bottle at cellar temp poured into a snifter. The beer pours a clear deep mahogany color with ruby highlights and a thin creamy beige head forming an edge layer and some thin islands of foam. Aroma is malty with raisins, caramel and brown sugar and is also slightly boozy. First sip reveals a thick syrupy body and is very spacious with soft carb. Flavor is also malty and some dark fruit mixed around with brown sugar and molasses again. Just a hint of warm booze shows up on the finish. No hops at all, with sweet malt dominating from start to finish. Very nice malt lovers brew!

 601 characters

Photo of ummswimmin
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer during the power outage following hurricane Sandy. I figured that a barleywine would work perfectly at room temperature.

I poured this beer into a snifter glass. This is a very hazy brown beer with minimal foam.

Backburner smells very hot. There are lots of venous qualities there.

The flavor is extremely rich. The heat comes in at the back of the throat.

This is a pretty good example of a barleywine. I'd go on more about this beer, but I got tired of writing reviews in the dark.

 504 characters

Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 938 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe