Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

BA SCORE
89
very good
938 Ratings
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
Ratings:
938
Reviews:
512
Avg:
4
pDev:
10.25%
 
 
Wants:
75
Gots:
132
For Trade:
6
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 938 |  Reviews: 512
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.

 2,277 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.91/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to koopa for this one, cheers Dennis!

Pours a chill hazed chestnut with a finger of chunky tan head. Tons of sticky lacing lines my glass along with great head retention

S: Figs, plums, a whisper of booze & breadyness, fades a bit as this warms...

T: Follows the nose, a bit of raisin & leafy hops as well up front, very English up front to me....More fruittyness with a touch of persimmons, cinnamon & dryness, plus doughyness as this warms. Finishes with slight smokeyness, toffee, then more figgyness

MF: Semi-chewy fairly low carbonation, nice balance

Drinks pretty easy for the ABV & style. This hides the Amarillo & Chinook hops too well, I will rate this a decent English Barley wine or a middling American BW, I prefer to be optimistic on this one!

 769 characters

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

Pours a nice deep copper or chestnut color with a decent head that dissipates down to a frothy ring along the outside of the glass leaving a nice lacing on the way down.

The smell is pretty good with nice malty aromas of caramel and molasses as well as a nice floral character of the hops coming through as well. The alcohol is a bit pronounced in the smell, edging on a slightly solvent-like quality, but not too much.

Taste is pretty good, with nice mouth feel and a characteristic malt sweetness up front and a hoppy finish. The alcohol is present as well, and perhaps a bit assertive.

Not my favorite by Southern Tier, but definitely a worthy brew!

 657 characters

Photo of Ryan011235
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage

Poured into a snifter on 6/28/09

A - Moderately deep, transparent brown in color. ½ inch head lasted only about a minute, with some bubbly retention left on top. Decent, light lacing.

S - Robust malt aroma; rich in caramel. Some booziness in the nose at first, though it mellowed quickly.

T - Some hop presence still lingers, though it seems quite subdued at this point. Potent malt flavors dominate. I primarily noticed caramel notes & candied malts. Nicely blended.

M - Moderately full-bodied. Smooth & creamy carbonation. Some slickness on the tongue, though it maintains a bit of grit.

D - I found this very enjoyable to drink. The bottle sat in the store shelf for about a year before I bought it, so I'm not sure if there was any damage due to light. I have another 2007 bottle to age a bit longer & revisit.

 835 characters

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

s -- bottle, in a three philosphers glass.

a -- dark brown, with a small head.

s -- it smelled like alcohol asnd fruit.

t -- this is one of the better barley wines, with a fruity alcohol taste that is not too overpowerful.

m -- not much carbonation, but a smooth feel.

d -- one bottle is enough for this night.

 315 characters

Photo of SLeffler27
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One finger of fine froth quickly settles to a thin lacing on the glass while a dark brown chestnut with garnet red highlights leaves a thin film on the glass.

Very well balanced between sweet malts and floral hops, spruce, figs, plums, round out the profile with a hint of rum and warming to reveal honey and ginger tones.

Two years in the bottle may have served the nose well, however, the flavor profile appears little changed.
There is strong bitterness with cigar flavors and some leather.

My Rodenbach snifter glass aptly contains the full body of this beer with a consistency of maple syrup and a strong presence of alcohol.

I'll be finishing this one sip at a time, but it is clearly up to a pairing with a cigar or a strong flavored food.

 752 characters

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

22oz bomber poured into a goblet.

A: Good garnet color. Nice two-finger head, but it fades fairly quickly.

S: Carmel malt and citrusy hops at war with each other. Fairly solventy.

T: Again, the malt and hops pretty much cancel each other out. It's basically a neuter beer. Not too pleasant.

M: Appropriately thick and after-dinnery.

D: Can't say I dig it too much. Since it reminds me of Old Horizontal, I'm giving it the same score. It's almost becoming a tradition at this point.

 486 characters

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

A good solid balanced barleywine. Pours a mahogany color. Regular pour produces a small off white head. Hard pour gives a big one. Average head retention. Strong, thick lacing.

Smell is above average. Floral hops and caramel malts.

Taste is good. I never let it warm up but there is good hops bitterness up front and a sweeter caramel malt background. Dark fruit is apparent as well. Fairly complex.

Mouthfeel is rich. Some alcohol presence but not a detriment.

Drinkability is good for a big beer. This is nota harsh hoppy barleywine, pretty civilized slow sipper. I drank the whole bomber and enjoyed every sip.

 617 characters

Photo of jeffthecheff
3.21/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Twist off 22 oz bottle, no freshness date.

Pours a murky, dark, dark chestnut brown with a nice creamy head that turned into a cap.

Aroma is very sweet. Dark malts and dark, sugary fruits. A bit of hops, reminds me of an aged barleywine, which I'm not sure if this is. There is also this strange aroma that reminds me of cat litter.

The taste is incredibly sweet, without a big, noticeable hop bitterness. The sugars in this are very intense. The hops remind me of an aged barleywine again, because they seemed to have settled out but are still there. The bottle says to drink this at 42 degrees, which is very low for a barleywine serving temp. However, I learned that this is a good suggestion. As it warms up to close to room temp, it reminds me of a dark syrupy unfermented wort, but at the cool temperatures, it has a cranberry and dark fruit like flavors that are pretty nice.

Mouthfeel is incredibly thick and wort like. You can feel the unfermented sugars in it. It reminds me of when your drinking iced tea from mix and you put too much mix into it. The thickness is interesting, but its not smooth enough for me. Drinkability is tough on this one. Do they have to put all these big beers in 22 oz bottles? I was able to finish it, but like I said before, as it gets warm it's very hard to drink. Keep it cool and split it with a friend or two and this is as drinkable enough, but this serving size is too much.

 1,424 characters

Photo of TheNightbird
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Nice dark copper color, with a sandy head. That turns into a lacing of head.

S- Very floral aroma, with a nice backbone of fruit. Deep carmel flavors and toffee. Backburner covers up its ABV well. There is little alcohol in its aroma. There also is a musk aroma.

T- The Chinook hops come threw at first. Backburner is floral, piney and soft. There is not much bitterness that punches the tongue. There is nice balance between the caramel malt and hops. Not too much, if any malt taste. The alcohol is well hidden.

M- Nice full mouthful, carbonation is there but not too strong.

D- I like this beer. Could drink a bunch of there 22oz. bombers of this. This taste to me was similar to Bigfoot that has been stored for a year or two.

 738 characters

Photo of Kadonny
3.43/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber bottle into a tulip glass.

A: A dark reddish orange color with a thin off white head. Nice glass lacing.

S: Dark fruits, sweetness and floral herby hops.

T: First hint is dark fruits with some floral herby spicy hops, then the malt honey caramel sweetness flows in. A bit spicy but the sweetness overtakes the hops to the point of being cloying IMO. Finish is sweet and really over the top. Where are all the dark dried fruit flavors I love in my barleywines?

M: Medium with a coating prickly mouthfeel. Some bitterness but sweetness is lingering.

D: Low, this wore on me at the end of the bomber.

Overall this barleywine just didn't do it for me. Too honey sweet and not enough dark fruit flavors. I'll take an Old Guardian, Bigfoot, Old Ho or Old Ruff over this any day. Sorry, misses the mark for me.

 831 characters

Photo of CHSLBrew
3.86/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a snifter.

A-Hazy copper-brown beer, murky, remiscent of iced tea. Almost non-existent head, tan colored what is there.

S-Murky, sticky hops, resiny. Malty semi-sweetness, slightly toasty with a nutty, fruity one-two punch mixed in there.

T-Earthy and herbal hop flavors welcome in a reign of aggressive hop bitterness. This bitter is certainly necessary, as it's trying its hardest to balance a big malt presence, toasty and nutty in character, with a slight bready sweetness. Raisins in there, as well. Finshes bitter, with a slight fruitiness and a linger herbal nuance.

M-Medium full body, moves around surprisingly spritely, with a surprisingly lively, yet not overwhelming, carbonation.

D-Decent. A strong example of an amped-up American barleywine with its rediculous bitterness and hop presence. Drink up :D

 839 characters

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep amber hue with a half finger frothy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a heavy caramel malt with some alcohol and a sweet hop.

The taste consisted of a dull alcohol, dark fruit, raisin and an earthy hop. Some residual sweetness.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style with a slightly tongue numbing alcohol.

Overall a tasty and well balanced barleywine.

 402 characters

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Great looking beer. Deep rich caramel-red-brown. About two inches of head with moderate retention and good lacing.

S- Also smells great, although the aroma isn't too strong. Big citrusy hops with a strong caramel-malty backbone.

T- Some molasses, citrusy hops, some pine, caramel sweetness. Some alcohol too. Some rum raisin in there too. Roasty/peppery finish. Bitterness is pretty low. Robust and flavorful, I really like this.

M- Medium bodied, coats the mouth well. A bit of prickle from the carbonation.

D- Just a great beer. I keep looking for more flavors. Sweetness makes it a bit hard to have a bunch though. Not as grassy/earthy/piney as other Barleywines I've had. Kind of like a big, imperial APA, really.

 724 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 MVotter
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma from the mouth of the freshly opened bottle: malts, hops, alcoholic smells

Aroma after the pour: phenols, malts, hops

The Southern Tier Back Burner pours into a tall pils glass producing a three finger cream-colored head which settles back to a one inch layer of foam atop a clear-bronze brew.

This barley wine begins "alcohol sweet" and finishes with a very complex blend of flavors of hops, malts and diacetyls.

The mouthfeel is heavy and carbonated, sticky, chewy, oily.

The drinkability of this brew is dependent upon your willingness to be patient. The 10% abv is rather evident. IT IS A SIPPER. And, if sipped can be an enjoyable experience.

Just be ready for a very substantial brew. I've said it for other brews ... it drinks like a brandy.

 760 characters

Photo of jdubjacket
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light brown color with amber hues with a moderate head. Smell is a mixture of sweet and sour. Taste is both sweet and sour - brown sugar, alcohol with a solid malt backbone. Moderate carbonation. Overall, a pretty good barleywine. Not my favorite, but still pretty good.

 279 characters

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.

 581 characters

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

2007 Vintage Backburner Bomber (First Brew Two Thousand Seven on bottle)

Visited the family in Connecticut today and came back with a sweet haul, including this fine offering from Southern Tier, courtesy of my brother Matt. Nasdrovia Bro!

A - Reddish brown and clear, barely any head to speak of, but this is fine for a barleywine.

S - Grainy, toasty, with pleasant fruity esters. The hops are there, but seem to be performing the difficult task of masking the alcohol in this huge brew rather than being up front and in your face as you would find in a Bigfoot.

T - Toffee, caramel flavors dominate, with a nice dark fruit finish. Dried apricots, raisins, and sweet malts with the slightest hint of citrusy hops. The hops were probably more prevalent before aging, but time has given this a wonderful balance. Mellow malty, fruity flavor at the onset, with a mild citrus hop finish that lingers nicely on the back of the tongue.

M - Thick, smooth and chewy with a wonderful warming quality. Perhaps the best aspect of this deceptively mellow brew. Like butter on bread (which isn't to say diacetyl--it's just so smooth).

D - Wonderfully drinkable at a sipping pace. A quality barleywine to be savored on a cold winter's night--or, if you're like me, whenever you feel like it! (this is my favorite style after all...)

 1,324 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown color with a two-finger head that fades down to one finger. Nice presentation.

Aroma is full of cascade and centennial hops in the nose with a bit of sweet malt and alcohol warmth.

Taste is strong and full of sweet, caramel-like malt with raisin. Hops are quite strong here as well.Very mellow with only a hint of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is full of the lingering smorgasboard of flavors mentioned above. Very nice.

I like this barleywine. It's very mellow and easy to drink even when it's young. A bit of aging should expose the malt even more.

 577 characters

Photo of Atron67
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle that ive had for a year or so. drinking out of a harpoon tulip glass (100 barrel series style)

A- pours a dark opaque brown, slightly muddy looking from the side but actually appears to be particulate free when held up to a light. clear red shines through when held to the light. overall a pretty solid representation of what you would expect. a tan/cream head on top that built up a little then was stuck around for a little while. nothing big but for a style with so little head expectationgs, is pretty reasonable.

S- mainly a huge maltiness. ide say oaky, but maybe its moer just tannic. but not the astringent version. that of aged hops (cellared version remember, although only a year) not really much presence of floral hop character. although the malt profile that does shine through is distinctly bitter and not reminiscent of the more english styles of barleywines. there seems to a be a 'copper' tanginess to the scent as well giving a 'peppery' character similiar to other highly malted beers or like that of a bock. although bocks tend to be less forward.

T- pretty strong malt flavor throughout. starts off with a strong maltiness. not quite tongue assault, but its strong. contains that peppery character common to the more intense varieties and the tannic character i expected from he scent. doesn't actually ever materialize the highly bitter aspect however. all of this is pretty accentuated by the mild fine carbonation that gives it a little acidity, but lets it stick to its characteristics of maltiness. the finish is not sweet, however its not nearly bitter. its peppery character really defines the finish. has a bit of complexity in the maltiness.

M- has a thick body, but isn't syrupy. medium/light carbonation.

D- is a pretty solid barleywine that i might be drinking out of season right now, however its quite tasty and enjoyable though not really mind blowing. its a better experience in the style, however being one of my favorite styles, i have pretty high expectation.

 2,020 characters

Photo of Onslow
3.57/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

has a pretty big bitterness profile, what would aging do to this puppy .. . decent head, dark brown bottle color .. . has some pine acerose qualities mixed with tar .. . nor shall you! .. . enjoyable stuff, pretty easy to put away .... you gotta sink that shit kamara! .. similiar to bigfoot but less aggressive/full, but similiar .. a guy on a bike got creamed .. . tasty, but not overly complex .. .

 401 characters

Photo of BuffaloTapHugger
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured approximately 6 ounces into an oversized wine glass. Mellow tan head that dissipated quicker than cupcakes at a pot party. Glass allowing no lacing, but its got some killer legs!

S: Smells are deep and rich. Butterscotch, caramel, sweet malts, caramelized sugar, granny smith apple, some light alcohol in the back.

T: Sweet caramelized malts in the front, little hop in the back but is seldom noticed. Much of the smell notes come into play as well.

M: On the brink of full body in texture, some good carbonation, with a someone strong ABV which is a given. Sticky on the palate with the alcohol lingering in the back.

D: Pretty stellar sipper, just one can do the trick. Another great concoction from the Southern Tier, keep up the good work!

 758 characters

Photo of coldmeat23
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours a nice, dark ruby/brown hybrid color. One-finger head of loose, light tan foam. Retention is pretty good. Lacing is in threads and very sticky.

Right out front is a nice, rich, sweet malty smell. It is wrapped around a nice breadiness. Light presence of hops is sprinkled around. Nice notes of toffees and dark fruits.

With the label of 'Imperial' Barleywine, I expected the flavor to be much bolder than it is.
Big sweet maltiness. Light hint of caramel. Notes of golden brown sugars. Flavor of a dark fruit blend. Light hop presence.
It is actually so nicely balanced that I think it may actually be hurting it overall. I can tell that there are alot of potentially bold flavors in my glass. They are so in tune with each other though, that nothing really shines and it all falls a little flat.

Full-bodied and rich. Very smooth. Only mildly creamy. Nice medium level of carbonation.

It's good and easy enough to drink. The 10.0%ABV is well-hidden within the taste, but you can certainly feel it.
I expected this one to be so much more. It's almost a letdown.
Sure I like it. Sure I'd drink another one, if I get the chance. Am I actively seeking that opportunity? No.

 1,231 characters

Photo of ottovon
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a dark amber color. it has about a 1" off white head.

S: smells rich with some hints of toffee and caramel. you can smell some citrus from the hops. some what bready.

T: there is some breadiness with some toffee, caramel in there as well. starts off a little sweet but finishes with some hoppy bitterness and some alcohol.

M: very smooth with a medium body.

D: a good barleywine. i could drink a couple of these.

drank on: 05.06.09

 449 characters

Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 938 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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