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Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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Backburner - Barleywine Style AleBackburner - Barleywine Style Ale
940 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 940 |  Reviews: 512
Photo of mdwalsh
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: A little light and a little heady for a barleywine, but the texture, active carbonation and clarity look okay to good. The head is over two fingers, but it's going down pretty quick. Too quick, there's now no head.

S: There's the remnants of hops, but it's not super big part of the aroma. It's piney and fruity, a little sweet. I don't get a whole lot of bready caramel like I like in barleywines, but it's alright. There is a sort of funky, solvently type smell to this beer that I just can't get behind.

T: Hmm, maltier and richer than the smell would lead me to believe, but I'm still not liking the way the hops work here. I get a little alcohol or solvent on the tip of my tongue, and over bitterness on the back of my throat.

M: Not particularly big for a Barleywine, I would think of this more of an Imperial Amber or something on those lines. It's full bodied, but not heavy, it isn't really encouraging me to "sip"

D: For a 10% ABV beer, this is pretty drinkable. Body is overwhelming, and it doesn't have the overwhelming sweetness or hoppiness of many Barleywines, RISs or DIPAs. I guess I would say if I wanted a beer to get real messed up on, this would be the one.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.11/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From notes. 22oz into chouffe tulip.

A- Looks like apple juice. 2 fingers of a creamy head. Sandy/eggshell white... color of whipped butter? Great lacing, impressive.

S- Pineapple, cherries, a fruit salad. Very sweet.

T- Given the reputation of ST, I expected this to be sweet. It is. Very sweet, almost syrupy. However, there's some good heavy hop action that provides a much-needed counter. Bitter bitter hops, right where they need to be. I believe this one was dry-hopped, and the pine-resin taste saves this beer.

M- Hot, big, bold, potent. Pretty good, if a bit too sweet.

D- Moderate. Good, one of the better balanced ST beers, the serious hops really tie this one together. Still, not my favorite and I doubt I'll be revisiting this one too often.

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Photo of cdizinno
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip from a 22oz. bomber.

A: Dark mahogany. Thin white head with little to no lacing.

S: Malts, sweet hops, cherry, fruits and mild spice.

T&M: Malty with mostly fruity flavors and some mild hops. Fuller bodied than I reviewed from tap previously. Alcohol is barely noticeable.

Here's one where the aging is preferential. First one I've had like that. Taste and mouthfeel is definitely better on this go around. Nice barleywine.

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Photo of CosmoHopHead
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a very dark ruby brown with a one finger off white head. Very thick lacing coats the glass walls

S: smells like a very nice barelywine. Malts are dominate but blend well with the potent earthy hops. Hints on pine, biscuits, yeast, lemon zest and tart fruit

T: tart fruits mixed with a bready, buscuit undertone. Earthy, piny hops come through on the backend. Alcohol warms the throat as it goes down.

M: light carbonation with a heavy feel on the tongue and bitter to the cheeks

D: at 10% abc it's pretty easy to drink. Alcohol is well hidden at first but comes on as you drink it. Probably couldn't drink more than one glass.

Overall a very nice barleywine. Not one of my favorites but I wouldn't shy away from having again.

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Photo of loren01
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a reddish brown color, good head and good lace down the glass
S: Smells of lots of malt and dark fruit.
T: Taste is mostly malt and dark fruits with a hint of hops at the end.
M: Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied.
D: My kind of barleywine, I loved this one. Was very drinkable for something with an ABV of 10%.

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Photo of weeare138
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to liquidarrogance for this...
Appears a semi transparent caramel toned brown with a small whit cap that quickly fades. Spotty bits if lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, vanilla, molasses, dates, nougat, and fried dough. Wow...reminds me of a fried snickers bar.
Taste is of the aromas with more of a caramel infused cherry flavor pulling through with tobacco leaves and vanilla nougat.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, slick, and oily on the finish. Light traces of the 10% abv is evident with warmth and lip smacking goodness in the swallow.

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

22 Oz. bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Served 50-55 F.
A: Dark mahogany. Retains thin frothy white head.
S: Malts, sweet hops, cherry, and spice.
T: Bold malts are met with intense fruity and resiny hops. Fruit and bread body finish with a lingering bitter. Alcohol is faintly noticeable.
M: Medium on tongue. Warming.
D: Big beer. On the fruity side of barleywines.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my new Dogfish head snifter from a 22oz. bomber.

A - Pours a nice garnet hue with some orange hints and a nice off white head that is .25 inches. Very dense and recedes slowly to a thin film with a nice ring.

S - Sweet malty hints with some grape note amongst other dark fruits. There is some nice piney character there as well.

T - Nice sweet malt character with some nice caramel and candy like sugar as well as some dark fruits with some grapes and even cranberries. Very nice. There is also some degree of DIPA like hop character and a nice dry finish. Citrus character as well.

M & D - Very nice smooth and well carbonated mouthfeel with a medium body. Very drinkable for a Barleywine and fro a beer with 10% ABV.

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Photo of ChadQuest
2.83/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is a touch sweet for the style, with less of a hop bitterness bite, maybe falling closer to the English side of the spectrum. The fruity presence in this beer is massive and juicy. much caramel going on in the sweetness. Such an easy drinking 10% BW alcohol wise, but its getting kinda cloying after half a 22oz. There is a light hop touch of predominently citrus notes to help the balance but it's not the amount you'd expect from an american BW. Dinkability is great during one glass but suffers after that point from the sweetness.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
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

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22oz brown pop top, nice label, no date

Appearance: Attractive hazy dark burnt orange beer, with lazy carbonation and a nice chunky dark ivory/cream cap with good retention

Smell: Really pleasant aromas...LOTS of sticky rich caramel, vinous dark fruits, just a GHOST of alcohol, with some dark toastiness as well...surprising lack of hop aromas, especially since it's dry-hopped; I wonder if this has had a year or so to mellow out on the shelf

Taste: Again, more English-style than I was expecting, which isn't a bad thing...there's a medium-strong herbal hop bitterness, but it's not anywhere near something like a Bigfoot for example; there are big toasty caramel notes, with a mild alcohol sting, and light notes of dark fruit. This is tasty, but not quite up to the vibrancy of the aromas.

Mouthfeel: Soft, and fairly full

Drinkability: Deft. on the high side for the style.

Conclusion: This is a really tasty barleywine that fits somewhere between the English and American styles. 10% alcohol? Really? WHERE?! This is nicely balanced, and the fact that the hops have receded a bit makes me wonder if this has been aged a bit. If it has, it's all the better for it. Would pick this up again.

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Photo of NewGeneric
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
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?

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Photo of Wheeble
3.2/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First off, let me just say that I absolutely love Southern Tier. I have yet to have a "bad" beer from them, in fact they are still one of my favorite breweries.

Besides from that fact, I was kind of disappointed with this beer.

Bought a case of 12 22oz bombers

It might just be my taste, or my assumption of what a good barleywine is supposed to resemble, but I felt this was over the top.

It reminded me of Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada, which for all intensive purposes I do not recognize as a barleywine

Initial pour was great in my snifter, medium to light initial head, very minimal retention and lacing.

Color was perfect, yet lacking in that classic barleywine bottle conditioned yeast haze I expect out of a traditional english or european BW.

Smell is floral and phenolic, but a little spicy

The first sip was very reminiscent of a cascade hopped pale ale, which kind of puzzled me. It finished very dry and a tad bitter, which I have almost come to expect from American Barleywines.

The second sip just reiterated that taste.

The body of the beer is definitely there, but even after multiple gulps it left a dry taste in my mouth almost to the point where I wanted a glass of water to rehydrate the taste buds.

Drinkability is lacking. I have an entire case of this beer, and I am hoping that me saving it for the next year or 2 will really reduce the bitter characteristic and mellow out the beer for the better.

Maybe I am spoiled because when I think of barleywines I automatically jump to the 10-15 year old aged classic Thomas Hardy's or J.W. Lees, but it seems to me that most american barleywines are overhopped and underaged, and for one of my favorite styles and even favorite breweries I am kind of disappointed.

I keep thinking to myself, "the 5 gallon batch of barleywine I brewed last July that I let sit till Christmas was much better than this", and I am not saying it as a personal preference, I am saying that as far as friends and connoisseurs that have tasted this beer and compared it to my own agree.

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Photo of DanOLeary
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: Dark fruits of raisin and plum enter the nose first with an alcoholic spice following it up. Malt character displays a grainy and bread-like character, while there seems to be little if any hop aroma.

Appearance: Deep mahogany brown to red with a slight haze. Light at the edges forms a ruby hue, though the beer doesn't allow a whole lot of light through. The head pours a billowy off-white but fades fairly quickly to a thin coating along the top of the beer. Some lacing down the sides of the glass.

Flavor: Deep dark fruit hits the tongue, along with just a hint of hop bitterness that stings your palate with rich complexity upfront. Alcoholic warmth moves in quickly and lingers into the middle where hop bitterness comes back quite strong with earthy tones. The malt profile takes on a dark toasty personality with some melanoidins as well. Though the flavor is generally defined by the alcoholic spice and hop bitterness, malt complexity is robust enough to back everything up.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. The alcoholic warmth coats the mouth with heat and spice while hops play into the back of the throat with just a slight sting of bitterness at the finish. Finish is warming and mostly dry, though there is some residual malt sweetness left around the edges.

Overall: A very nicely balanced barley wine style ale with a certain focus on alcoholic warmth and spice. While I think additional hop aroma would further help this beer stand out as an excellent example, it is quite well rounded in it's bitterness. Malt richness and balance are just enough to add complexity, but it doesn't get in the way of warming alcohol and biting hops.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle.

Pours a clear reddish amber with light off-white lacing for a head. Good cherry red glow when held to light.

Smells floral hoppy, similar to an IPA, but with more malty character. Maybe a bit of fig like fruits.

The taste starts grainy and a bit bitter. There's maybe a little smokiness to it. That's followed by sweet fruity tastes like figs. The taste finishes with subdued hops. Not too bitter, but present.

Feels thick with light but sharp carbonation. Very mild warmth from the alcohol.

Hmm, a good barleywine, although I'm more fond of the english variety which leans more towards sweetness than hoppiness. I would probably like this a lot more if it were a little less hoppy. That said, its very enjoyable but big. Fans of IPAs would really like this one a lot.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy walnut brown with minimal tan head, yet what does exist leaves a thin, but sticky lacing behind.

The aroma immediately displays fruity resins with sweet malt, and a strong hop presence towards the finish, but returning to resinous and vinous qualities.

Dark fruits, raisins, sweet malt, and perhaps molasses highlight the palate. Earthy hop notes are also present as well as some hidden barley.

Velvety smooth with medium carbonation and a full body as well as slight alcohol warmth to highlight this barley wine.

I quite enjoyed this brew and its many excellent features of the traditional style. I did not find some of the apparent hop aspects many did in this beer. It was exactly what I was hoping for prior to opening the bottle. Enjoy.

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Photo of UA8
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a deep garnet color with a one finger tan head.

S- Tangerine, brown sugar, tropical fruits.

T- Leads with caramel and spicy roasted malts. Midpalate has some citrus notes. Finishes with candied orange peel flavors. A touch of odd medicinal harshness lingers on the palate.

M- Moderate carbonation and just over medium viscosity.

D- Solid example of american barleywine but could use a bit more complexity in flavor.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured in a Sprecher snifter. 10% ABV, 25 degrees Plato, 15 degrees L, "serve in a snifter", best at 42 degrees F, listed ingredients, no date.

A - Pours a beautiful lightly hazy bronze color with golden amber highlights. A very low tan head pops up only to disappear right away to a ring of loose bubbles. A little coating of lace is left in a collar.

S - The aroma is almost reminiscent of a strong IPA. Lots of hops in the nose give off some potent pine hints mixed with fruity resins. Dark cherry and sugar-sprinkled raisin. The caramel malts add a nice lightly toasted aroma with some residual sweetness. The alcohol is also present but not overly strong.

T - Deep toasted caramel malts give the flavor a round feel with that caramel and honey sweetness. Notes of toasted, dense bread also come and go. The hops are still strange to me in this beer's first sips. There is a definite pine and light grapefruit from the Chinook that I'm not sold on yet. It doesn't seem to fit the profile. The lingering bitterness isn't at all bad though. In fact I think it balances well. The fruitiness is low but present and the alcohol finishes smooth.

M - Besides it going down the wrong pipe, it's smooth! Medium-full bodied and rich with a lingering bitterness to the finish. A little bit chewy but round overall.

D - Another sipping beer that has good balance but the potential to get old half-way through the bottle. A decent barleywine that has a sort of old world feel to it. Definitely enjoyable but not something I'll be rushing back out for. Maybe one to age to smooth even further.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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 sweemzander
3.33/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. 17-07-07 printed on the bottle.

(A)- Pours a thick & dark mahogany amber color that actually cascaded for a second or two as a decent off-white head formed. Decent retention. Left some lacing here & there.

(S)- Toasted & floral-like figs & raisins with bits of vanilla, toffee, and roasted cocoa.

(T)- Thin, yet dry & syrupy. Lots of fig & raisin with some toasted toffee & caramel.

(M)- Kind of a lackluster carbonation level. Like I mentioned earlier, its rather thin & syrupy in consistency & texture.

(D)- A decent aged barleywine that unfortunately, might be too old, but I cant know that for sure. Very syrupy & thin for a beer that should have a good kick to it. Enjoyable, but I would easily gravitate towards other offerings of the style. I would welcome the opportunity to try a fresh one for comparison.

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this since the middle of October 2009, no freshness date, and its been poured into a goblet.

Nosy opening leads to a pour that produces a brilliantly clear red glass full of sensory pleasures, I hope. Pretty good frothy tan head with seemingly good retention. Three fingers to one to half. Some pretty heavy lacing.

A surprising burst of citrus and grapefruit hops greets me considering my best guess is that this bottle has just shy of a year on it. This seems to fade after several minutes to reveal sugar, brown sugar, slightly burnt caramel, and definite warming alcohol. Fresh red grapes.

Simple syrup, the grapes are in evidence again but definitely fresh not wine. Some caramel and and small toffee influences but straight sugar is dominant but dried out by the alcohol. Eating orange peel describes the hop presence at the beginning and the finish is citric, bitter, and lasting.

Full, thick, and syrupy mouthfeel where the carbonation makes exactly the right impact, keeping the syrup from closing in on the palatte. Bubbles seem to rise slowly or become suspended.

Very good but not as good as Bigfoot, the yardstick by which all other American barleywines are measured. I have a slight regret that I didn't have this when it was purchased, as some more hops could liven it up. Still good with a one bomber limit for obvious reasons.

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Photo of DIM
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a clear, light coppery color with golden edges. It poured with a lightly sticky, fizzy off-white head.

s: No date on the bottle, but this smells like it has a little welcome age on it. While on the mild side, this does have that signature American b-wine candy hop aroma going for it. Tart, boozy cherries, piny hops, and a little toffee all come together really well.

t: The hops have probably faded quite a bit, but there is plenty going on to compensate. More toffee and less cherry than the smell would indicate. There are still some lip smacking hops providing a nice bite at the end.

m: I appreciated the gentle carbonation and the big body on this one.

d: Borderline 4.5s for taste and aroma, really a nice b-wine.

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Photo of association330
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. screen-printed bomber. Labeled "First Brew of 2008".

A - Pours a slightly hazy dark amber, with a thick tan head. Leaves a good, creamy cap and nice lace.

S - Erupts from the bottle the moment you crack it open. Caramel malt dominates, with toffee and slight dried fruit notes - solid complexity. Some pine and slight grapefruit rind reveal an American hop variety. Alcohol is perfectly hidden, becoming a bit more noticeable as the beer warms.

T - Malt sweetness up front. Alcohol comes off as a moderate woody/boozy taste. Finishes hoppy, semi-bitter, and dry. A hint of fruity sweetness lingers.

M - Nice chewy richness, but not syrupy. Carbonation begins a bit lively, but softens as you savor. Warming/numbing alcohol is almost immediately apparent.

D - A pretty nice barleywine here, and it would make a good nightcap. Boozy taste was a touch overdone, but not overpowering.

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Photo of billab914
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Southern Tier glass. Pours a hazy dark copper reddish color with a two finger white fluffy head. Moderate lacing on the glass.

Aroma is malty with a lot of caramel sweetness and surprisingly slightly hoppy. Taste also has a lot of caramel and maltiness with some fruit flavors as well. It also has a slight sweetness in the finish with a little bitterness.

Mouthfeel is heavy with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for a 10% beer. I'm glad I split the bottle with someone because 22oz of it would be slightly tough if planning to drink anything else tonight but one glass was very drinkable.

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Photo of claykeller
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type: 22oz bottle with a couple pours into the Sam Adam's glass.

Appearance: Dark amber with reddish tinge. 1 finger thick head, left broken lacing down the glass.

Smell: Malty and caramel. Slight pine smell. Can taste the alcohol but not very strongly.

Taste: Very sweet and malty. Too far on the sweet and malty side for me. I could be biased since I love hops though. I can smell some hops, but can just barely taste them.

Mouthfeel: Thick and rich.

Drinkability: I really couldn't drink the whole beer due to how sweet and malty it was. I would have wanted some bitterness to balance it out and it would have been fine for me.

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Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 940 ratings
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