Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

512 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.

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Reviews: 512 | Ratings: 938
Photo of MattyG85
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass.

Appearance: Pours a very deep copper with hints of ruby red. Moderate amount of bubbles. Big three finger off white head which slowly recedes into a thin creamy layer. Leaves a lot of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A big sweet malty caramel aroma with good hints of hops and oak. Toasted bready malts with big hints of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, grains, and yeast. Hints of oak chips and wood. Solid hop profile with earthy hints of grass, pine, and a floral perfume like scent. Hints of citrus orange and grapefruit. Also hints of apple along with dark cherry, fig, and raisin. Sweet burnt brown sugar is in the mix as well as soon booze. A pretty solid rich aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma previews, a big rich taste of caramel malt, oak, hops, dried fruits, and booze. Sweet toasted malts with notes of caramel, toffee, grains, bready biscuit, and yeast. Taste of oak and wood. Brown sugar sweetness. Big hop kick with notes of grass, pine, and a floral, herbal hop taste. Citrus taste of orange peel and grapefruit. Dried apple taste. Undertones of dark fruit with notes of dried cherry, raisin, and fig. Some alcohol is also noticeable in the taste. A very rich and good Barley Wine taste with a good balance.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, rich, and fairly chewy. Finishes dry. Alcohol heat is felt as expected but it isn't too hot.

Overall: A really good Barley Wine. Good bold mix of sweet malt, hops, oak, and fruit esters.

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Photo of bashiba
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very nice shade of copper with deep clear ruby highlights and a light off white head that lingered for quite a while with some light lacing.

The smell has a great big toasted and bready malt nose, slightly sweet with a hint of maple.

The flavor is very mild for a big barleywine. Sweet and mapley with some nice big sourdough bread flavors and some light molasses.

The mouthfeel is suprisingly light bodied for the size of the beer with light carbonation and just a touch of alcohol heat.

Very nice Barleywine, I think I generally prefer this big malty style version vs. some of the more common barely hop monsters.

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Photo of TheRougeBastard
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Since I am a big fan of Barley Wine styles, I never pass one up and willing to try all entries! Southern Tier's "back burner" absolutely did itself proud! Consumed straight from the 22 ounce bomber during the Niner's big win over "not-so Hot-Lanta"! But I digress...everything about the "back burner" that matters was pleasing; smell, taste, etc, was well balanced and an enjoyable consumption! Very, VERY reminiscent (sp?) of the Horn Dog by the Flying Dog, one of the better samplings of the genre, IMO! Well worth a try!

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Photo of GbVDave
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into two pint glasses. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pours a dark rusty reddish-brown with a small and creamy light khaki-colored head. This head leaves sticky sheets of lace in the glass.

S: Big one-two punch of bitter citrus hops and toasted, caramel-y malt. Also along for the ride are some spice and grain.

T: Big citrus hops that gradually turn piney as it warms. Awesome toasted malt, spicy caramel, and peppery hops with a rather non-intrusive alcohol heat that adds rather than detracts.

M: Bitter and hoppy but at the same time restrained and not too raw. Peppery, spicy, and sweet and creamy. Very complex.

D: Excellent. Very balanced and drinkable for such a big barleywine. A pleasure to drink!

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Photo of number1bum
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
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 cdizinno
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
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 lackenhauser
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful mahogany color with a fairly sizeable head in top. Very malty aroma with a good dose of hops up front. Big full malt flavor with a bevy of hops but not the explosion that other US barleywines offer. Very nice caramel flavors. Somewhat earthy and rich tasting. Great body-extremely full and satisfying. Very, very drinkable. I let this sit over a 2 hour period while working around the house and it just got better and better. Well worth enjoying on a regular basis.

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Photo of DrinkinBuddy
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked-up this bad boy at the Empty Pint. For those who don't know: that's Southern Tier's Bar. Gotta thank Cameron and Ryan for this one!! Poured a nice dark ruby/brown with a delicious off-white head(1 finger). Smells sweet and sultry. Taste is definately sweet malts with ripened dark fruits mixed and a bit of hop bite to match. A very refreshing and appealing barleywine. More enjoyable than Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot BW. Mouthfeel is moderate and slightly chewy. Not too thick. Drinkability, is pretty damn good due to the amazing covering of the 10.00 abv. A very nice BW. I can't wait to crack the one I've been storing for the last 2 years!

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Last one left from the case that i bought the day it was released. "FIRST BREW TWO THOUSAND & SEVEN".

Pours a caramel mahogany amber color with better than a full finger foamy, yet fairly stiff, light tan head that lingers nicely leaving sheets of Belgian lacing behind. The smell is classic and true to style. The aroma is sweet and malty, butterscotch and caramel. Lightly carbonated with a slight tang of alcohol and hops. The mouth feel is medium-full bodied and altogether creamy and smooth. Full flavored, the taste is sweet, and inviting with sweet notes of caramel and butterscotch. A real crowd pleaser. A really fine drinker...the 10% ABV has aged into oblivion. I think it's possible that a person could crack a couple of these open, given that they were close to an easy chair. Highly recommended!

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Photo of mattcrill
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle inspection:

Twist off bomber (pretty cool...never had a twist-off bomber before)
10% abv
23 Plato
85 IBU's
2 row pale malt
Light and dark carmel malts
Kettle hops: Chinook
Aroma hops: Willamette
Dry hops: Amarillo and Centennial

Now that's a heck of a label!! Thank you!

Aroma: Candied oranges, carmel notes, sweet bread, and pacific NW hops. No alcohol heat or off aromas. Smells great with sweet and bitterness well-knit together.

Appearance: Dirty ruby color with a batter-like off-white head.

Flavor: Big resiny hops, carmel backbone, more candied oranges, rasins, and plums. Again, the palate goes back and forth between the carmel malt sweetness and resiny, piney hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full-bodied with medium carbonation.

Overall impression: I dug this beer. Enough hops to satisfy and enough malt backbone to balance the assault on the palate. Another winner from Southern Tier. It's hard for me to find much fault with this brewery. Nicely done!

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Photo of RickS95
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

There isn't much to say about the pour and appearance as it's relatively non-descript. It comes out as a very thin pour with a dark chestnut color. The head is thin and doesn't retain well. The slight head never really forms, but never really goes away either, leaving a thin ring of white bubbles.

It picks up in the nose as a ton of malts and an equal amount of hops comes wafting up from the snifter. Sticking your nose deep into the snifter reveals a good does of caramel malts and some alcohol astringency which masks the Centennial hops. The citrus scent is still there, but it's been governed well.

The taste. Three letters...WOW or OMG. It's stellar. Caramel malt overload with brown sugar, vanilla, and the citric hops. Alcohol is there, but isn't overwhelming, nor is the hop flavor. Strangely, I guess due to all the malts and sugar, it takes on a Belgianesque fruitiness. Really sublime taste.

For the type, it's the smoothest, easiest drinking barleywine I've ever had. It's mostly sweet and while there is bitterness, it never punches you in the gut like other barleywines. It's full bodied, very sweet, only slightly bitter, carbonated only slightly, and amazingly, it's kind of creamy.

It's an amazing beer overall and one of the top rungs of the barleywine ladder. It's easy to drink, has well-hidden alcohol content, and won't make your lips, tongue and throat numb.

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Photo of prototypic
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours a nice looking ruby brown color. Head is vanilla colored and only about a finger deep. Looks like the alcohol might have killed this one. Retention was good and lacing was sticky and thicker than expected.

Smell: Strong, piney hops kick it off nicely. They're followed up by sweet citrus grapefruit and pineapple aromas. It is malty and sweet smelling. Caramel malts seem to be primary variety. The aroma's a little weak, but opens up more as it warms. Plum and raisin scents finally emerge. The nose is complex and nothing short of appetizing.

Taste: It's sweet and a little citrusy up front. Grapefruit and pineapple flavors are nice, but a little more subdued than the nose suggests. Hops are piney, bitter, and a little citric. Caramel malts are sweet and really balance it out a lot. It's easily one of the most balance barleywines that I've tried. Dark fruit flavors are secondary and feature plum, raisin, and a little prune. The flavor profile is easily as complex as the nose, if not moreso. Amazingly, alcohol is not very noticeable. At 10%, I was expecting it, but it's masked extremely well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkabilty: It's full bodied, but only marginally so. Not as thick and chewy as some in this style. Carbonation level is subdued and very well done. Nice, super smooth feel. Drinkability is good, but there's no way I'd try to tackle more than a single bomber. It's too strong and too big for much more than that.

Southern Tier's developed perhaps the most balanced Barleywine I've had the pleasure of drinking. It's very good and really doesn't have any large shortcomings. I prefer just a tad more hops for the style. But, this really is damn good. It's hard to find much fault in it. Truth be told, Southern Tier would have to put a lot of effort into making a bad beer. They just can't seem to do it.

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Photo of lightindarkness
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep dark copper, brownish with some ruby sheen. Sudsy thick head swirls into a mass on top, then settles down to patchy bubbly froth.

Nose is packed with rich bready caramel and piny hops. A little chocolate, bread crust, and some alcohol burn. Really nice.

Taste is nice, not too aggressive up front, with a delayed attack that builds as caramel smoothness and deep grains rise into resinous hop flavors sharpened by alcohol spice. A nice version of the style that would probably do well with some well controlled age on it.

Feel is nice heavier medium body, cut by alcohol fumes. A little sticky on the palate, cleaning up a little with a hanging resinous finish. Carbonation adds nicely to the spice without being too strong, submitting to the stronger body of the beer.

Putting the 10% abv aside, it drinks remarkably well. Hops aren't too harsh (it is nearing a year old), and huge balance is fairly well achieved. Not too syrupy or thick on heavy malt, not too sharp on hops, it drinks a little better than many other huge barleywines. Just watch that alcohol.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bomber in a recent trade with kirok1999. The bottle says it was the first beer of 2007 so it must be about a year old now. Dark red color that is almost brown but not quite. The flavor smells great, hoppy, toffee, West Coast. The flavor follows up with a chewy, hop-laden taste. Lots of hops in this one and that is how I like it. Given how good this tastes now I bet a couple years will treat this beer well. Best beer I have had from Southern Tier but I'm biased toward barleywines.

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Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a dark amber-red almost caramel like color, topped off by a tight-knit but short lived head.

There's a flowery nose that disseminates sprites of hops, malt, yeast and something bucolic-- maybe it's fresh-cut grass like rifts or it's something to do with yeast..

The flavor is spicy and tart-- I checked the bottle label to see if Southern Tier included pepper in the brew--no they didn't.

The flavor includes notes of caramel, raisins, hops, malt and a mystical sweetness-- not cloying but a soothing underpinning that seems like a net that holds the rest of the key flavors together as they roll across my palate.

The finish is a long lasting hops bitterness as the starting flavors dissipate.

Over all this is an interesting beer-- propped by this spicy character that keeps my attention and my arm reaching to pour more from the bottle.

This beer is not what I'd call a refresher-- but a sipping beer-- it's one that is such that it demands its own stage-- and not to be shared with any other distraction.

Nice -- although I notice the 9.6% ABV

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Photo of DrKnoskelson
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle

A - Nice amber red/brown color. Pours even, decent head. No lace in glass.

S - Very pungent aroma. Pronounced malt nose with a hoppy back-bone.

T - Initial hop bitterness melts into sweet malt taste leads.

M - Subtle alcohol presence that develops with time.

D - While I was somewhat disappointed in Southern Tiers Barleywine, this is a good brew. I was hoping for hops than malt. Low alcohol taste makes this beer easy drinking.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear, crimson hued, slim, creamy head.

Aroma: rich, pungent, dark fruit meets brandy...cherry notes, sweet, but not too syrupy, rounds out dryly in the end.

Drinkin'...plump on the palate, and right quick, alcohol comes burning in, blazes the back of the mouth. Profusely malty, gathering sweetness, growing texture, bitter hops scouring the tongue.

Flavor lasts long in the mouth. Persistent finish. Big, hot, wet and juicy. Mmmm-mmm.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours brilliantly clear ruby red. Head is dense and crisply white, dissipating slowly and leaving sheets of sticky lacing. Certainly one of the most attractive beers I've seen.

Aroma rich caramel malt sweetness. Hints of brown sugar, and a nice bit of plum and date dark fruit. Only a slight alcohol heat.

Taste is similar to the nose. Bready caramel malt and bunt toffee up front. More of the plum, raisin, and date dark fruit. Finishes with a dry cedar quality, and an earthy bitterness that brings some balance to the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium-full. Extremely soft and silky.

Surprisingly malty, very smooth and drinkable. The caramel and dark fruit notes are outstanding when matched with the dry woody earthy bitterness. A winner.

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Photo of naterock
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into a delerium snifter.

Deep red in color, Phenomenal Head that stays like a film over the top of the glass.

Smell is rich barley and a super sweet nose with a brown sugar nose. But with teh massive barley comes a shit load of hops. Chinooks are huge.

Taste is so incredibly rich with malt. Hugely malted with a Gigantic Hop profile. Very Very Good.

Mouth is highly viscous with a decent carbonation. Drinks too easy for the ABV. Just a phenomenal Brew all together, there is nothing small about this beer.

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Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a molasses deep brown leaving no head. The sweet aromas are enticing and subtle rather than candy coated. The first sip has a pleasant sweetness of hearty brown sugar. The hoppy ending is fantastic. The warmth of the alcohol compliments the whole experience provided by this fine barley wine. The finish is smooth without a syrupy viscosity.

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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.

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Photo of biggred1
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Derk cherry red with strawberry blonde highlights and a creamy tan head that leaves splotchy rings of lace on the glass. The aroma is caramel slathered toast with a touch of buttered rum and mascerated dark fruit and plenty of citrus fruity hops. Caramel malty flavors with a strong hit of juicy hop bitterness to cut the sweetness. This beer is certainly in the mold of SN Bigfoot, a hop forward strong and complex ale. Medium full bodied and smooth with a slightly sticky mouthfeel. Another bullseye from Southern Tier.

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bourbon-colored (how can you go wrong?) from 22 oz. poured into mug with richer-than expected (but still moderate) head. Not a lot of carbonation here; it looks like a barley wine should.

Surprisingly hearty herbal/grassy hop flower aroma. Nice and strong bitterness. Some bitter citrus zest? In a barley wine? Aroma yields intriguing yet mild presence of malt; alcohol is surprisingly absent.

First taste is very hoppy for barley wine. The expected rich, viscous malt/alcohol backbone is slow to emerge, but the wait is enjoyable. Hops are nicely and unexpectedly overpowering on the palate. Malt and alcohol come in on a mild wave as time passes to generate the expected new-age hop abundant barley wine pucker and texture.

What starts out as a warm sleeping bag of hop syrup on the mouth wanting of just a little carbonation evolves into a well-balanced yet striking, crackling mix of low-burning, roasted malt and the same but more coating hop goodness. Each sip reveals something different from the last. The overall character reminds me of an "apprentice" 3F Behemoth. Very intriguing stuff that I look forward to enjoying again.

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Photo of goblue3509
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brownish reddish color with a hazy finish and a thin of white color head which gives way to a little lacing. The aroma is of a caramel and roasted malt backbone with a hint of earthy hops and a boozy aroma. The taste has a nice big malt backbone, caramel and roasted malts along with some dark fruits and a finish of a slight hop bite and a touch of alcohol. This barely wine is better balanced than some others with bigger flavors. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a light carbonation. The drinkability is very high, a very well blended smooth barleywine.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not too sure what an Imperial Barley Wine is, but okay. Nice coppery-mahogany colour with a thin, lacy cream coloured head.

Rich malts, wine and light spice in the nose. Very mild citrus. Nice mild coffee and brandy taste, hints of bread, spices and brown sugar. Hints of wine, cinnamon and raisins.

A bit light on the body, but the carbonation is good. I think the ABV is actually a bit low for the style, but that's not a bad thing.

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