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Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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510 Reviews
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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 510 | Ratings: 933
Photo of charlzm
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed April 22nd, 2012 at Hopjacks, Ensley Florida.

Color is a clear, deep amber with a minimal off-white head. Some slight sheeting.

Aroma: resiny alcohol and a whiff of vanilla.

Almost a lacquer flavor at first. Sweet. Caramelized malt, vanilla, wood and alcohol heat. Some pepper. Not very bitter.

Thick in the mouth. Some carbonation prickle. Dry on the finish.

Easy to drink but oddly not super tasty. Considering I got this for $2.50 during happy hour, I'm not looking this gift horse in the mouth. Worthwhile, if not especially outstanding.

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Photo of ccarney2
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Darkish deep amber orange color that is very cloudy. Pours about an inch of off white head when poured violently. Head quickly dissipates into a thin film that leaves hardly any lacing. Not too unexpected with the style and gravity.

Smell - Dark fruits with lots of cherry and plum to start. Alcohol is definitely evident, but so are a moderate amount of sweeter hops. Maybe a bit of caramel/vanilla scent, something sweet.

Taste - There is a big sweetness off the bat with this barleywine, that doesn't really fade too much. Alcohol flavor lasts throughout also, with the same characteristics of the smell here as well. Cherry, plum, and raisin dominate the palate. Kind of one dimensional in terms of flavors.

Mouthfeel - Moderate to high carbonation, with a pretty viscous and thick coat left on the tongue.

Overall - I feel like this is a slightly better than average beer. I don't have too much to compare it to stylewise, but I will say that you know how much alcohol you're taking in while drinking this. Southern Tier does not normally disappoint, and they didn't necessarily here either, but they also didn't really excite me either.

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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.

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Photo of harrymel
3.42/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottled 13FEB12

Dark brown with deep amber character and a solid quilt of buttered cream foam. Smells nice. Toffee, leather, malts, coffee, caramel, more malt and a hint of oak. Nice nose. Flavor is sweet and alcoholic, not nearly as decadent as the olfactory. Malts and tannins and sweetness. Nothing special. Medium on full bodied with a light, touching carb and a semi dry finish. Nice beer, nothing special.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
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 silentjay
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

nice dark mahogany with a decent sized light khaki head that dissipates quick, but leaves intricate lacing on the glass. a beautiful pour.

aroma is very malty and fruity. raisins, and other dried, sweetened dark fruits like plums. alcoholic as well.

taste is very malty sweet. lots of caramel, some dark fruit, and a bit of floral and piney hops try to balance the sweetness. They fail, as this one is a bit too sweet and alcoholic for my liking.

Can't knock the body, as it suits the style being heavy-medium bodied with just enough carbonation and a lot of sticky, syrupy residue.

Very sweet and with burning alcohol prevalent throughout, this is one to nurse, but lacks the complexity I would want in a sipper. Not bad for the price, but not my favorite of the style, nor my favorite of ST's portfolio.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No discernible date on the bottle. Tulip glass.

A: Pours clear dark amber with a ring and some swirls of off-white head.

S: Upfront is toffee malt and vanilla, along with some red fruit (cherry, raspberry) and citrus brightness.

T: Some mild caramel segueing into some hop bitterness, and finishing pretty tasteless and very dry with a little caramel. Kind of one dimensional.

M: Medium-full body and mild carbonation.

O: Smells good, but pretty average taste.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
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 DrewV
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Meh, not a horrible beer, but certainly nothing special. A bit "earthy", which in my mind doesn't accurately represent the style. Pretty heavy malt, but backed up with some sort of minty flavors. Just not a cohesive brew. The differing flavors seem to be playing against each other, not offering a constructive flavor buildup. Flavor gets worse as the beer warms, which is opposite of what I usually prefer. Best I can say about this is that the alcohol presence isn't offensive. But no real attractive flavors or aromas present. Mouthfeel is okay, but that doesn't really make or break a beer. For the price, there's MUCH better out there. I'm glad I tried it, because now I know what to avoid in the future. No more than a B- rating from me.

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Photo of phishgator
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a stout pint glass. Big foamy white head and lighter amber color. The nose is some fruity hops, alcohol esters, and apricot fruit. The taste is residual sugars throughout. There is a bitterness that tries to balance the sweetness, but doesn't. The alcohol is actually well hidden even though you smell it. The body is filling; finished the bomber and didn't want anymore beer for the night. It's been a little while since I've been drinking a Barley Wine so I might be a little bias on the taste. Not bad just there are much better examples out there.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Medium maple syrup color with a thin white head and ok lace.

S - Oak, booze, hints of brown sugar.

T - Smooth sweetness. Mild dried fruit character, but mostly oak and brown sugar that came through in the nose. Warm booze through the finish.

M - Medium body with a sweet finish.

O - OK flavors, but the booze is a bit astringent.

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Photo of brdc
3.27/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Large capped bottle, kept in my cellar at controlled temperatures for two years.

Poured into a snifter. Deep dark brown, clear, minimal head. Below average lacing.
Aroma has caramel, citric hoppiness, but despite the two years in the bottle, the alcohol related aromas are still predominant - brandy like, for the most part.
Medium bodied, reasonably well carbonated, but hot - hot -hot. Caramel, bread, lots of sugar, some fruitiness, and lots of "booze".
The flavors are actually interesting, and blend well - except the excessive heat still kills most of the enjoyment. I could not finish mine.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle purchased from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/4" tan head over the clear burgundy chestnut brew. Head holds relatively steady, but tending towards a layer of small bubbles, with plenty of sticky lacing. Aroma is sweet malt, dark fruit, and alcohol. Taste is syrupy upfront for a moment, and then is overpowered by an extremely artificial-seeming fruitiness, with warmth coming on at the end. Mouthfeel is average to good, nothing particularly notable, and drinkability is quashed a bit by the fruitiness that (looking at the ingredients) probably is coming from some hop or another. Regardless, this one just didn't do much for me.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not quite sure why this one is labeled as an imperial barley wine, when there is nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary, everyday, run of the mill American barleywine. Received as a generous extra last week, and I shared it with a friend the other night. Pours a ruby brown color with a thinnish white head. Aromas of floral/grassy hops, brown sugar and sweet malt. On the palate, I got a little oxidation, along with some lightly toasted malt, caramel and some mild hopping. A solid beer, but nothing great.

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Photo of mmmbeer
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber, 2008 version, sampled several months back. It pours dark ruby, with low carbonation and an inch of light tan head. Later, the beer is almost still and the head reduces to a small collar. Orange, pine, white grapefruit and ethanol in the nose; still pretty raw. It tastes young as well, with thick caramel malts, fruity esters, and citric/piney/spicy hops that impart a deep bitterness. The body is medium to thick (approaching syrupy), dry, with light carbonation, and a medium to long finish. Still very young and rough around the edges, but will probably be great in a year or two.

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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.

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Photo of Wheeble
3.2/5  rDev -20%
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 phisig137
3.17/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A- Pours a mahogany color, fading to deep gold around the edges... great range of color. One finger head quickly dissipates, and leaves nothing behind.

S- Complex burnt sugars, resinous hops, a touch of leather, and a fair amount of alcohol/hooch.

F- Big flavor, but lacking. Lots of unfermented sugars here, with caramel hints. Solid hop bitterness, with only a touch of piney flavor. Sweetness is overwhelming on the finish. Unfortunately the alcohol is quite hot and forward.

M- Thick and lucious, creamy and smooth. Very nice.

D- A bit low due to the alcohol presence.

Overall, I'm pretty disappointed in this one. Usually Southern Tier has some phenomenal beers, but this one just doesn't stand up to the rest of their lineup. It is worth a try for the price, but I won't be rushing back.

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Photo of jwc215
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours deep, rich mahogany with a one-inch head that descends to half-size and stays (very impressive for abv level!). Some lacing sticks to glass.

Well, this is a hoppy-smelling beer for the style. Citrus and pine with resiny alcohol with plenty of sweet malt mixed in. Complex, but leans towards plastic.

I thought I would enjoy the hoppy profile, and I do to a point, but it is just too much for this style, and ends up with plastic/resin mixing with alcohol that is very sharp. Still, caramel and molasses are enough to give it more complexity and depth. It has a medium-to-full body. Very warming - I would even say hot.

Interesting, and not bad tasting, but the mix ends up leaving a plastic aftertaste and it's very sharp. Things just don't meld together well enough for me to get again, though I'm glad I had it once. Maybe aging will mellow it, but I'm not quite convinced it's worth it.

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Photo of litheum94
3.12/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep, reddish-brown body that shines in the light. Two-finger, light brown head that sett;es to a patchy cover.

Faint aromas of apples, pears and figs. Earthy yeast and some caramel. Sweet alcohol esters, like brandy. Leafy hops.

Flavors of apples and pears, with some toffee. Faint chocolate malts with some caramel and bread flavors. Sweet alcohol finish, with faint earthy hops.

Some good flavors, but I wouldn't call this a barley wine in a blind tasting. Doesn't really have the qualities of an American or English BW. Good, but was hoping for more.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.11/5  rDev -22.3%
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 mikesgroove
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice light brown color with a modest head of tan across the top that fades and leaves light lacing in its wake. Aroma is hot, loads of alcohol here with hints of caramel, lots of hops and a just a biting malt nose as well. Really a very odd profile from both sides. Very hot on the palate again with minimal balance to it, just seemed like it was terribly off balance. Flavors were all over the place with hints of everything but the kitchen sink and just an very hot, hoppy, dry finish that really did not work well for me at all.

Overall I was rather unimpressed here I have to admit. I had high hopes for this, but maybe a year or so will settle it down.

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Photo of TangTKE402
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber glass into a Guinness Pint Glass and observed minimal head, and a deep dark unfiltered brown. It looked like mahogany that someone stupidly painted over with black, and then someone else was in the process of sanding the paint away.

The nose was faint, fruity, and a little bit of a surprising wheat and yeast aroma surfaced. Overall, nothing major to report on the nose.

The taste is slightly thin, and spicy in the mouth, with hints of cinnamon, a little curry, and mixed berries floating around in the mouth. This beer leaves you with a dry, hoppy swallow that is almost a little too bitter. The aftertaste smacks of metal and hops.

Overall, if this is your first Barleywine, it will not be the one to turn you on to the genre.

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Photo of jpnasty
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer but i wouldn't say I really loved it. Of all the southern tier products I have had this is probably my least favorite. First off this doesn't really drink like a barley wine to me, it just feels to tame. I like my barley wines to be right up in your face and make you know that you are drinking a barley wine; this on the other hand drank like a very malty IPA. Maybe a year or two in the basement would bring out some of the more complexity and strength I expect from a barley wine.

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Photo of Brouwerij78
3/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One word...Meh...too pricey. I would probably not buy again but would be interested to see what it tastes like on tap. It is a heavier beer, with a bit of an aftertaste (not a particularly pleasant one). Overall, save your money - there are better barley wine style beers out there...try Victory Old Horizontal instead.

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Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 933 ratings.
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