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:
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Ratings: 940 |  Reviews: 512
Photo of coldmeat23
3.7/5  rDev -8%
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.

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Photo of ottovon
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
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

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Photo of froghop
3.54/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a clear burnt auburn with a small white-yellowish head, and great lacing.

smell is faint, some caramel, some grain, and a touch of spice.

taste is sticky, some spice, caramel, a touch of nuts, and a roastiness to it, ends dry and slightly bitter.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.41/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A= Pours a viscous looking amberish brown color with a small half centimeter head that's a cream color but lasts a long time leaving decent spotty lacing.
S= Pretty pungent pine and grapefruit hops in it but there is a very noticeable alcohol odor as well as some darker sweet malts in it.
T= The hops come through up front but are gone quickly by thick syrupy malt. The malts are very sweet and not quite stout tasting but more of a thick brown ale kinda malt taste. There's a slight alcohol touch as well.
M= Thick and syrupy with a dry finish
D= Decent. This is prolly the first big beer I've had in a while where you could notice the alcohol so that's a little disappointing but it's still an ok beer. Not the best barleywine I've had but I suppose it was worth trying.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hmmm... IMPERIAL barleywine? sounds kinda odd to me, given the usual strength of a barleywine... but anyway, I occasionally have a craving for the style, and this was one of those nights. I haven't always had a lot of luck with Southern Tier, but I was willing to give this one a go.

Appearance was a half finger of head atop a clear, deep amber body. Sure looks like a lot of malt was used in this one.

Aroma was of rich, strong sweet malts, hints of h ops dancing around the outsides, and a little doughy but not too much. There was a little bit of fruitiness thrown in as well. Not bad at all.

The first flavor I got was strong, bitter hop resins. These were supported by a deep, rich, slightly sweet malt backbone that had hints of caramel and pears. It finished with an alcohol backdraft. Not bad, but the alcohol took away from it a little.

Mouthfeel was full and rich, smooth and a little oily.

Drinkability takes a hit because of the alcohol taste, and its sheer power. One bottle was enough for me... and if I had been sharing it with someone, a half bottle would have been enough.

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Photo of keaston
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Visited the brewery, tasted this and brought home a growler of it. I figured I'd review it while doing some homework.

A - Poured into my Middle Ages imperial pint glass. Mahogany brown with ruby highlights. A 1-finger tan head quickly gives way to a thin lace on top.

S - Rich and inviting. Caramel and dark fruit underneath a floral and citric hop aroma. I could smell this beer all day.

T/M - Toffee sweetness, almost like malt syrup, is first and foremost. Hops are there for balance and linger for a bittering finish. Alcohol is very well hidden, mingling with the bitterness only at the very end. Definitely can feel the 10% more than I can taste it. All around a very tasty barleywine, though not as complex as the nose might indicate. Mouthfeel is very good, with just the right amount of carbonation that is gentle on the tongue and does not obscure any flavors.

D - Since the alcohol is so well hidden for the style, this gets a high drinkability mark. Goes down very smoothly and quite tasty, nothing except the sheer inebriation would keep me from drinking more of this but alas, not today.

Though not saying much, this is probably the best barleywine I've had and I'll definitely look into getting a bottle of this sometime in the near future. If you have a chance to visit the brewery, do it.

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Photo of Zorro
4.01/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear brown colored beer with a thick lasting tan colored head. Maroon colored when held up to the light to test clarity.

Smells spicy and heavily hopped. Scents of Pinewood, citrus, faint mango and pineapple.

Starts out sweet and woody with a melon aftertaste. Quite fruity the melon taste stays but a peach flavor appears along with the taste of chocolate. Little bit of spice here, mostly cinnamon stick.

Mouthfeel is full.

Quite a friendly Barleywine not near as strong as the smell suggests. This is about perfectly balanced between flavor and tongue friendliness.

Sampled through the efforts of Bentkentk56 and Secret Bunny 09 BIF.

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Photo of littlekidlover
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I just poured a bomber half way up a wine glass. The head was typical of a high alcohol beer, disappeared quickly. The appearance is a amber/copper. The smell has caramel and hop notes, not too strong. The taste is caramel, dried fruit, citrus hop. Mouth feel is- gonna take my wife's least favorite wine tasting description CHEWY. This is a highly drinkable beer for a barley wine, dangerously drinkable at 10% alcohol. It does not have the cascade hop bite of many of the barley wines I have tasted- dangerous.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22-oz. bomber into a pint glass at ohoove's.

A: Poured a rich and burnt ruby, amber brown color with a fluffy head of white foam, leaving a sticky pearl lace. Carbonation seems fierce and is visible beneath the dark amber body.

S: Smells sweet, fruity and pretty herbal and citrusy from the type of hops used.

T: Taste is pretty well balanced, but actually quite bitter for a barleywine. The hops are in full force and sort of push aside the roasted malt and barley flavor. There are some fruity, grassy flavors and ripened vine fruit flavors, but the finish is a little stick and bitter as well as slightly sweet and toffee-like.

M: Mouthfeel is slightly astringent at first, then a bit more mellow, yet still bitter, towards the end.

D: The 10% ABV and slightly startling hops profile might cool your heels a bit, but if this were oak-aged from the brewery or cellared for a year or so, it'd be damn good.

The hops need a little time to chill out in this American barleywine. There's still a good earthy, fruity malt flavor there, but it could stand to mature some. Do yourself a favor, pick up a bottle and put it on the backburner for a while ... and I suddenly hate myself for saying that!

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Photo of TheMistler
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber brown. Dark not in coloration, but so that it is nearly opaque. Off-white latte-like head, a pretty good amount. Thin but creamy cap remains after some pretty nice retention, a tad thicker than many high-ABV beers but reminiscent of them nonetheless. Lots of spots comprise the rather substantial lacing.

A pretty alcohol tinged nose. Sticky, with both hops and sweet malt. Citrus. Apple, and caramel for malt.

Hoppy, but with a solid undergirding of chocolate malt. Apple taste accompanies alcohol, just a wee bit medicinal. Toffee. Hops are grassy, a bit coarse. Dusting of cocoa accompanies resin-y bitter aftertaste. Dry finish, which is of course no surprise, given the ABV and the hoppiness.

Lighter bodied than anticipated. Carbonation makes its mark with tiny prickles that interplay with the alcohol. Honestly, it is fairly - and rather astonishingly, for a barleywine - crisp.

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Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, burgundy/garnet color with a small, thick, foamy head. It left sticky trails of lace.

S - It smelled of rich malt, very biscuity. Also, good caramel and floral notes.

T - It tasted of sweet malt. It was very rich with some fruity flavors. Just enough bitter hops to add some balance.

M - It was soft and smooth. A medium to full-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good barleywine. Certainly a very malty one.

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Photo of mothman
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared some of this with ThePeskyDingo.

Poured into New Belgium Globe Glass

Pours a 1 finger tan head. Decent retention with thick lacing. Color is a very cloudy dull copper. Kind of a sweet look to it.

Aroma: D*mn it's hoppy. Floral hops to the max backed up with a bready malts.

Taste is major floral hops again. Has some alcohol, grapefruit, and so major citruses to it. Very bready.

Mouthfeel is very bitter. After a while it smooths out a tad, but still remains bitter. The 10% abv comes out here a lot. Leaves a boozy aftertaste.

Overall, I really enjoyed all the hops in this beer. At 10% abv, I think having an entire bomber of this would take a while to finish. I highly recommend this one.

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Photo of skrib09
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

Drinkin with mothman and DerrickBerg tonight.

Poured a 1 finger light tan head that dissipated in a medium amount of time. The beer color is a deep hazy amber color. Lots of lacing.

Smells very hoppy, with hints of dark fruits in the background

Tastes hoppy, with some dark fruit notes in the background, like the smell.

Mouthfeel is nice, bitter during the whole experience. Carbonation is on the low side of medium. Bitter aftertaste.

Pretty drinkable beer. Very tastey, hoppy like i like them, but not cant have more than a couple due to the ABV.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a caramel color with a very modest head that manages to dot the chalice with lace

Smell: Rich and deep aromatics, with fig and dates, treacle and a hint of piney hops

Taste: With a sweet treacle beginning, the dark fruits move to prominence by mid-palate, with a balancing earthy/piney bitterness as well; after the swallow, the flavors are nicely balanced and the finish is prolonged; almost like bread pudding in a bottle but with a bit of tobacco on the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low to moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: A really fine, well-balanced barleywine

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

Pours a dark amber color with no head and no lacing. Some small white bubbles sit on top. Aroma of dark fruit, brown sugar, lightly piney from the hops, slightly floral. Taste is very sweet, noticeable alcohol heat (which I get in every ST Imperial Series other than Unearthly), a nice dose of sticky, piney hops, caramelized sugar, and light fruitiness. This is a pretty tasty beer, but nothing surprising as ST's hop bill seems to be the same on all their hoppy brews. Not a complaint, just an observation. Viscous mouthfeel, low carbonation, alcohol heat comes out especially as it warms. This is a tasty barleywine. I am enjoying sipping on this one slowly.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

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Photo of KarlHungus
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a murky brown color. The head is a quarter inch in height, and recedes into a thin ring of lacing. The aroma is of pine resin, grapefruit, and caramel. The taste leans more toward the malt than the aroma does, but this is still a hop centric beer. Like a lot of other overly hopped barleywines the hops seem to be sitting on top of the malt, and never intermingling. The mouthfeel is full bodied with lively carbonation. Overall, I think this beer would be better with some age on it. Then again age might further bring out the its lack of oneness between the malt and the hops.

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Photo of bort11
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale tulip. Mild creamy tan head, very nice retention. Color is a dirty coppery orange.

Smell has candied orange and caramel aroma. Taste has a orange rind flavor with some candied sugars. A little mint. Mild sweet apples with cinnamon.

Creamy mouthfeel and medium body.

Blipped "Brain Burner" by No Age

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Photo of matty
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber colored beer with a slowly fading head.Aroma is fruity and grqapefruit.Taste is dark fruit,sweet caramel and pine hops.If they did this without the hops it would be way better.Still it is an overall good beer that I would recommend and try again!!

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

I bought this bottle a year ago (March 2008).

A- Absolutely clear deep ruby red with a creamy off white head that has some pretty good retention and lacing.

S- Caramel, pine, grapefruit, slightly vegetably, and a bit spicy. Not too shabby.

T- Sweet caramel up front with some pine and citrus on the tail end with some notes of vegetable. The alcohol isn't harsh, just a little warm. The hoppiness has died off a bit, but some of the oiliness is still apparent.

M- Sweet, sticky, cloying, dry with a nice carbonation level. What I tend to look for in a Barleywine. The sweetness becomes a tad overbearing in the aftertaste.

D-A nice surprise for Southern Tier. For a 10% clear beer from Southern Tier, I was expecting an alcohol bomb, but this is an enjoyable Barleywine. This renews Southern Tier a bit in my book.

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Photo of number1bum
4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle says this is 'first batch from 2008' so this is probably a full year or a little more old.

Pours a dark, dense reddish brown with about a finger of beige head. Doesn't keep much of a lace, just some bubbles around the rim and a splash of stick here and there.

Smell has a deep caramel aroma and a lot of fruit. Fruit seems to be a combination of hops and yeast esters. There is some citrus, cherries, apples, pears and dark fruits. Deep, complex sweet malts and the alcohol, shockingly for a ST beer, is well masked.

The nose was nice on this one but the taste is better. It's a bold, complex and flavorful combination of sweet malts and fruit. Lots of caramel malt and sticky sweet flavor, citrus, apples, passion fruit, and dark fruits. Just a ton of fruitiness, which again seems both hop and yeast in origin. There is some slightly earthy hop flavor and bitterness in the finish. Alcohol, like the smell, is well masked.

Mouthfeel is full and smooth, creamy with light carbonation, giving it a soft, smooth feel. For a barleywine this is extremely drinkable.

This is one of the best ST imperial beers I've had. It's well balanced and even restrained, which is often ST's problem imo. By restrained I mean it's not overly hoppy or boozy, it's just well put together. I like it. This is a barleywine I would come back to for sure. Good stuff.

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

Southern Tier Backburner
22 oz brown bottle
Served in an Allagash tulip glass

Pours a mahogany brown with a decent head on top.

Whiffs of a caramel sweetness, malts and perhaps some fruit.

Bready and crusty dark bread backbone with a strong caramel malt presence. Sweet and sugary with hints of apple and even darker fruits like prunes.

Certainly a complex beer with an alcohol warmth and brown sugar punch on the finish. This beer is all over the place - acidic, bitter, sweet, sugary and bread flavors.

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Photo of Guzzler78
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been eying this one since it came out, finally pulled the trigger.

Appearance: A dark amber color. A 1/2" white head that reduces to a small layer over top of the beer, fair lacing

Smell: Sweet maltiness, floral and citrus hop aromas, dried fruits

Taste: Complex-sweet malts, citrus, dark fruit and a bit of tropical fruits and of course a nice hop bite

Mouthfeel: Medium body, nice and viscous feel. Somewhat dry finish

Drinkability: A good barleywine, glad i tried it would drink it again for sure. Could drink two or three glasses for sure

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Photo of Gehrig
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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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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