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:
133
For Trade:
6
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 938 |  Reviews: 512
Photo of Gagnonsux
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

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

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

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

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

 812 characters

Photo of rdespain
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of WhiskeeTango
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of Bakker
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of Lukass
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of DarthGuitarHero
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of MudHobbit
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of Turbodog666
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of AndrewGoria
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

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

A - Pours copper with a one finger whitish head.

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

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

M - Smooth, with pleasant moderate carbonation.

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

 617 characters

Photo of LoganMc
4.48/5  rDev +12%

Photo of SonictheBeerhog
4.48/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

 769 characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2,439 characters

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

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

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

 823 characters

Photo of animalchin
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle with no date. Purchased from Wegmans 3/16/11.

A - A dark amber/slight beige body with a nice lingering tan head that turns into a thinner film. Haven't seen a barley wine this light in color before. A lot of light passes through, even in a darker environment (it's cloudy out today.)

S - Very strong esters upfront - very sweet. More plum and black cherry follows up with almost no alcohol apparent at all.

T - This may be one of the sweeter barley wines I have tasted. Some slight bitterness upfront, but then this breaks down into sweeter parts, once again with dark fruits in mix. Not a single sign of hops, but definitely picking up a robust malt character that clings to the fruitiness.

M - Served at a warmer temperature, the body is heavy and cream like. Thicker than expected - a big add on to the already robust nature of the brew.

O - Simply a wonderful work. The label says this is rarely made at the brewery, but I hope this is reconsidered. Certainly more than worth a try.

 1,005 characters

Photo of jdhilt
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a two finger light tan head that faded quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Hazy amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Caramel nose. Flavor is caramel and some molasses and alcohol. $6.49 for a 22oz bottle from Manchester Wine and Liquors Manchester, CT.

 277 characters

Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This large bottle aged two years in biegaman's cellar, thanks for sharing. Pours a murky, caramel brown with tan head that settled in short order, wispy streaks remain with minor lacing and a ring. Sweet caramel-molasses nose, malts, a fleeting malty aroma interspersed with a hoppy backdrop yet present. Taste is sweet, bitter, sticky toffee with a long finishthat pleases. Smooth texture in the mouth, somewhat like a sherry but then a viscosity that says big time barley wine. This is not my favourite beer style but one I respect when it's done right and this is certainly one of the finer I've come across, exceedingly drinkable. The alcohol can't be denied yet it blends well and is not overpowering. The hops not yet faded, they flirt with the malty backdrop teasing your tastebuds with a complex structure that flirts with your palate. Barley wines are never to be rushed and while this is worth savoring, I found myself unalbe to put the glass down for very long. Well done, another winner from Southern Tier.

 1,018 characters

Photo of gkatsoris
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep brown in color w/ a reddish hue w/ no haze. Big foamy head that took over 5 min to dissolve. Not too much lacing left on the glass (tulip glass).

S: Lots of hops for a barleywine. Cherries. Raisins. Some alcohol is evident. Some wood too.

T: Holy Balanced! Perfect malts and hops (imo). Delicious. This is absolutely delicious. Cherries and vanilla. Raisins. Not too sweet or bitter. No alcohol taste (even though you can smell it right before you drink it). Again, lots of malts and hops and cherries.

M: Very thin. Not as chewy as I like my brews. Also a little high in the carbonation.

D: I could drink this year round, day or night. Very well crafted barleywine. Man have I been missing out.

 708 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A very dark brown color with quite a bit of red highlights. An impressive half finger of slightly off white head as well. Excellent lacing that was the first indication of how hoppy this beer is.

S: Hops. Just a wonderfully pungent hop nose. You do get quite a bit of malt and even a hint of raisins and molasses but damn was this hoppy.

T: Just a nice hoppy American barley wine. Tons of piney citrus hops. The malt was interesting in that there was quite a bit of other elements besides just the sweetness. Some dark fruit towards the end. Really nice and complex.

M: Heavy side of medium bodied that was fairly heavy on the tongue.

D: Damn this was quite a bit better on tap than it was in the bottle. The hops really shone though. It is a damn shame that we cannot get more Southern Tier stuff on tap being in the same state.

 836 characters

Photo of bgjohnston
4.44/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

While this looked like it would be an "o.k" beer, it turned out to be much better than expected. Bottle indicates it is a 2007, so about 2 years old as it passes into history.

My lowest mark for this beer is appearance. Has hardly any head and is a murky, cloudy brown. It nonetheless looks pretty much like a barleywine should, and has smooth, foamy carbonation with each sip.

The smell made me excited to sip it, and the taste delivered in a solid way. The aroma of sweetness and spice is true to the flavor. Maybe because it has some age on it, I actually would have pegged this as an English style barleywine if tasting blind, as there is no hop attack like a Bigfoot. Maybe it is a misconception on my part, but I expect American style barleywines to have more of a sharp hop bite. Maybe the age of this particular one made it into what it is now. There is just enough of a hop presence to spice up the sweetness of the malt, which has a very agreeable caramel/vanilla flavor to it.

Even if I wanted to, I couldn't mark it any lower for mouthfeel or drinkability. It is a 10% beer and a big bottle, to boot. That said, I could easily drink it way too fast, even with its full, satisfying mouthfeel.

I have previously been disappointed with other Southern Tier offerings, but they made good on all promises with this one.

 1,329 characters

Photo of StevenNebulous
4.44/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of jwff
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a glowing ruby/light brown with a nice white head. Great clarity. Pepper and fresh citrus stand out from the northwest hops with a hint of sweet malt and some caramel.

Hops and malt are incredibly balanced. A lot more mellow than I would have guessed at 85 IBUs. Grapefruit rind mixes with some light malt and caramel. Prickly hop flavor, but never bitter. The caramel is more pronounced than in the smell and gives it a nice balance. Peppery end with a little breadiness. All the flavors are extremely subtle and play off each other nicely. No trace of alcohol or heat anywhere in this beer. Sticky finish.

Rich mouthfeel that borders on thick but holds back just enough. Coats the mouth but without any slickness. Perfect for the size of this beer. This beer is fairly unique to me as an American barley wine. It has the IBUS, but it doesn't have the harsh bitter hops like Old Ruff, and doesn't have the boldness in ingredients like a Bigfoot. Just an extremely pleasant and light (for 10%) brew. Great offering from the North East.

 1,048 characters

Photo of GONZALOYANNA
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1pt bottle.Snifter glass.Enjoyed on jun´11.Bright brownish copper color.Foggy.Yellowish beige crown.Fairly well retention.Intense sweet malt aromas involving fruity notes.Flavor: Esters give us a miscelaneous of berries,citrics & apricot,orange hues too.Dry sweet bitter mouthfeel.Full body,correct carbonation.Sweety aftertaste while kind warming alcohol lingers through it.Very well balanced beer.A pretty nice drinkability. A TOP ONE!

 438 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.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

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

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

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

    Learn More