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 AlCaponeJunior
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy and brown, very typical of a barleywine. Carbonation is ample and provided a pretty good 2 finger head that lasted a bit, but dissipated into a sheen, leaving pretty good thick, sticky lacing.

Aroma is blastingly malty, with that pungent barley aroma I'm looking for in a barleywine. Caramel malts are plentiful. Hops are equally forward, with a nice twang to top off the pungent aromas.

Flavor is very nice. Caramel malt, brown sugar, dark ripe fruits, some citrus bitterness, and a nice balancing of hops. This isn't an overly hopped barleywine, it's more malt forward and balanced (as compared to say SN Bigfoot ale, which I found to be monstrously hoppy). There's a note of oak, but it's not very forward and certainly not overpowering.

The body is medium to full, with a slick, syrupy finish.

It's pretty good, not the best barleywine I've had but still pretty good. It's right on par from what I expect from the Southern Tier Imperial Series.

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Photo of hardy008
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy burgundy with a two finger beige head with nice retention and lacing. The aroma on this beer is one of the sweetest I have ever smelled. The aroma has caramel, toffee, oranges, dark fruit, and brown sugar.

Tastes almost as sweet as it smells, with caramel, toffee, oranges, and dark fruit. There is a bit more hop bitterness than I would have guessed, and it is a plus, because it goes so well together with the sweet malt flavors.

Full bodied with moderate carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden for 9.6 % abv, but this is definitely a warming beer. This is a very nice Barleywine for sure.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy amber-copper color with a finger of frothy off-white head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is full of sweet caramel and caramelized malts with some citrus, grapefruit, and grassy hops some dark caramel malts and a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet caramel and caramelized malts with some grapefruit and citrus hops and some bitterness. Through the middle, some brown sugar comes through with some grassy hops and some more bitterness. The finish is a mix of sweet caramelized malts, citrus and grassy hops, bitterness, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet, bitter, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nicely balanced American Barleywine with good body, malt, and hop balance.

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

Relatively fresh bottle, <1 year old.

A: Pours a murky amber with a good sized and dense tan head. Fades slowly, leaving a thin but almost uninterrupted wall of lacing.

S: Loads of raisin, fig and molasses primarily. Some toffee and caramel in the middle.

T: Strong molasses up front along with the dark fruit - raisin and fig. Some toffee, caramel and a bit more molasses in the middle and towards the end. Not overly sweet, especially with a little burst of earthy and resin hop bitterness in the finish.

M: Heavy, thick.

O: A good american style barleywine. Nice complexity and balance of flavors. However, nothing stands out as earth-shattering so I give it a solid 4 across the board. Not a knock against the beer, it's a pretty excellent staple for the style. Just nothing to distinguish it from the rest.

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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.

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

I've been sitting on this one for a little while, there's no bottle dating, but I believe I put this away in 2009.
Pours a mostly clear deep reddish orange with a good sized off white head that shows great retention and moderate lace. Smells of sweet sugar, caramel and dark fruit, cherries mostly with an earthy as well as an ethanol bite. The flavor is sweet with cherries and raisins with lots of sweet and dark sugars. I also catch a hint of roast or chocolate at the end of every sip. There is a fair amount of alcohol burn as well as some earthy and oxidized flavors. Medium to thick body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. This is a nice flavorful barleywine but it seems to be in that in between stage where its not exactly fresh and not quite aged enough. I might have to put some of these away and see how they work with a bit more age.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 2011 bottle, poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A. Pours a very cloudy, ruddy copper color. Not much head to speak of, just a wisp of a cream colored neck around the top. Lacing is also very faint. Meh.

S. Toasted malt, raisin, caramel, and some subtle hop notes.

T. Lots of toasty bread crust, some toasty caramel, raisin, toffee, spicy and bitter hops, and a fairly big booze burn on the back end.

M. Boozy finish but everything else is pretty well-balanced. Slightly astringent and drying from the bitterness and alcohol burn.

O. A solid American Barleywine and, I think, one of the better versions that is readily available. That said, with a little bit of effort, far better can be had, including Gratitude and Dogfish Head Olde School.

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

Tasted On: 07-15-2012
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Snifter
Purchased: Received in a trade

Appearance is a dark amber colored clear beer, with one and a half fingers of off-white head. A fair amount of head retention and a good level of lace.

Aromas are rich; composed of oak, caramel malts, alcohol, spices and earthy hops.

The taste is both malty and hoppy, as you'd expect from a barleywine, with dark fruits, alcohol warming, and aged/wood flavors.

The mouthfeel is slick, with a full, thick body. Carbonation is low. The finish is smooth and is balanced well between sweet malts and bitter hops.

Overall, this is a strong and nicely balanced barleywine. I'd recommend you seek this one out - a real treat!

Thanks to TheBishopco for this one!

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer like most barleywines pours a darker amber, a little hazy on the body with an off white to really light (white-orange) head that rose to maybe 1/3".

Smell: Strong barley scent, with hints of caramel and sweet hops.

Taste: Not bad at all, I like it a lot with its caramel feel and strong "wine-rum" taste.

Mouth: Medium carbonation not so sticking as you would expect, it definitely isn't a 4 that's why I can't rate it so high but it will at least satisfy.

Overall: You will definitely like this, it will satisfy most palates and would be hard if it couldn't with most real beer drinkers . Take a shot because I would definitely grab it again. Salud!

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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 Stinkypuss
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)
Southern Tier Brewing Company
Style: American Barleywine
ABV: 9.60 %

LOOK: Dark ruby brown color, opaque, with a small, short livid white collar of a head.

SMELL: Deeply caramelized and toasted malts, booze, dark fruits. Smells like a big beautiful barley wine.

TASTE: Sweet sugar plum notes upfront, giving way to a malty body with a fruity estery English ale yeast profile. Loads of malt flavor, little in the way of bitterness, and a downplayed but present alcohol character. Warms the soul, as well as the belly.

FEEL: Full bodied, smooth, viscous, syrupy, but well carbonated.

OVERALL: This is a very tasty brew, and it goes down easily for a beer of such strength. A well made barleywine, and would age gracefully if cellared properly.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Tanish black, nice 2 inch creamy head and tons of lacing.

Smell - ROasted malts, whiskey, spices, dark fruits, some added sugars, a little toffee and caramel note.

Taste - Strong opening taste of whiskey and fruits. Malts add the famed caramel/toffee flavor. Plenty of cherry mixed in with some molasses and brown sugars. Not very hoppy or much A slight warm alcohol bite near the finish.

Mouthfeel - Thick, syrupy and rich. Tounge gets malts, whiskey and sugars. Palate gets more of the same. Afetrtaste is dry and fruity.

Overall - This reminds me moreso of a belgium strong ale then a barleywine. Too drinkible, not such a monster sipper that ive come to know. I did enjoy the whiskey flavor but its just too tame and lacks the depth and complex flavors. Try bigfoot from sierra nevada and you will see what i meen. This is ok but i wouldnt buy again.

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Photo of t420o
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From old notes (9/3/2011)

Southern tier back burner barleywine

A- semi aggressive pour yields a 1 finger off white/tan head that rests atop a hazy copper body. Leaves decent lacing. 4 

S-deep candied sugar, cherry, ripe dark fruits, toffee, bready, slight sourness from the cherry smell, some alcohol. Smells very good 4   

T- follows the nose. Big waves of dark fruits, cherries, caramaized brown sugar, toffee, lightly hoppy, and some caramel. Alcohol is very well hidden.  Complex and well done. 4

M- good mouthfeel. Lowerer carbonation good weight 4

O- a very good barleywine which may be my favorite style. It is sweet but it does it in a good way in my opinion. Pretty drinkable 4


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

bomber (22oz) served in an oversized wineglass.

pours a luscious, murky mahogany tone with a finger plus of a beige/tan-colored head which quickly retreats into a collar around the glass. spotty lacing evident; nothing to write home about on that front. both somewhat subpar showings (head retention/lacing) forgivable with respect to the strength/style.

fairly pungent nose is rife with caramel malts and a discernible hoppy presence; taste follows through as expected with a malt-forward, hoppy profile with the hops becoming most notable mid-palate. pretty good balance between the malty sweetness and hop bitterness, the latter resonating through the finish. not as big an alcohol showing as you might expect for a 10% ABV although it is discernible.

medium-plus bodied, a touch syrupy. easy drinking for a barley wine. looks like i'm going even 4s across the board on this one. recommended, especially to an ABW fan.

original review on: 10-15-2010

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Photo of dgilks
3.47/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy dark red colour with a tiny head. Poor head retention but that's not what the beer is about.

Massive caramel malt on the nose with hints of grain. Some earthy and almost floral hops. Quite fruity.

Rich, silky malt with more fruit and earthy hops. Interesting combination. Pretty tasty.

Full body with moderate carbonation. Good.

I really like the combination of intensely rich malt and earthy hops here but it is a little cloying. Good but not great.

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Photo of crossovert
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. DOB 02/15/12

It pours a clear reddish brown with a quickly-dissipating off-white head. It leaves some decent lacing.

The smell is nice. Very American-tinged which I usually appreciate in the aroma of barleywines. Nice hop smells, though not super hoppy with some candied orange sort of smell. It pairs with just an amazing malt smell and beautiful oak notes. This brew smells amazing imo.

The flavor is good too. More earthiness, more cloying caramel-like sweetness, but overall nice. Fruit notes creep in after a few quaffs. I feel like the oak doesn't shine as much in the flavor. I think my tolerance for alcohol flavor is strengthening because this one doesn't seem to bad, at least i a not getting any annoying alcoholic notes like others have had.

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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 jsprain1
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Ruby colored, perfectly clear. The head is one finger and tan. Retains very well and leaves a few wisps of lacing.
S- The smell is heavy on the malt side, with dark fruits, dark caramel, and perceptible alcohol on the nose.
T- The alcohol has too much presence here, but thankfully there is some hop presence here. There is a fair bit of citrus hops underneath caramel and cherry, peach, and dark bread characters.
M- While the alcohol is a bit abrasive on the tongue, the body is generally smooth with low but even carbonation.
O- A decent barleywine, but not a great one. A disappoint for me, by Southern Tier standards.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Thin head on a minimally hazy deep amber. Clearer than expected for the style.

S: apricot, syrup/molasses, terpentine (mild), sweet caramel malts.

T: Lots of sweet caramel malt, mildly boozy with some semi-sweet dark fruit like plum, apricot and fig.

M: May be the easiest to drink barleywine I have had. The usual sharpness than one has to get used to as they drink one of these isnt there. This one is smooth and likely this has to go along with the clearer body as oppose to others in the style. Light to medium carbonation and medium body.

Overall: very drinkable, more so than most, without lacking the flavor of a solid barleywine.

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Photo of StlHopHead77
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage

A-Pours out a seriously dark,murky,maroonish brown with with 1 1/2 inches of slightly off white foam that showed moderate retention and left concentric,sticky rings of lacing.

S-Dark cherry,rum soaked raisin,baked sugar,plum,caramel apple and slight hop notes.

T-Ripe,red apple,brown sugar,bitter,citric hops,molasses,toffee and pipe tobacco finishing with an earthy herbal finish.

M-Medium bodied with good balance of flavors.Not overly sweet with a substantial citric hop presence right now.I think some age would benefit this a great deal.

O-Really nice.I wasn't aware that this had been retired so I'll probably pick up a few of the remaining bottles at my local shop.

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

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date on the bottle. Appearance is a nice, hazy, reddish mahogany color like a dark burnt orange. The head is thin and sandy white and dissipates quickly. The nose is primarily fruity with notes of tart oranges and cherries and some dried fruits as well. There are also some malty notes like fresh bread.

The taste is very sweet and malt-forward. Fruit and malt tones predominate and there's a soft hoppy presence at mid-palate that gives the beer a tart finish. The predominant flavors are caramel, sour apple, and orange juice. There's not a huge alcoholic presence, but it is detectable. The mouthfeel is firm and syrupy and the finish gives a tart dried apricot flavor.

Overall, this beer has a nice combination of sweet, bitter, and tart flavors. It's not as hoppy as I anticipated and I may need to revisit it sometime (I question the freshness of this bottle). Still, it is definitely a nice cold evening sipper.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.74/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber with no freshness date, purchased in 2012. Poured into two snifter glasses.

Tried to be vigorous with the pour to yield some head, but nothing stuck around. What was there fell to a thin ring in no time. The color is a dark coppery orange-brown. Not much more to say about the appearance. 2.5

I'm gonna try to let this one warm up and breathe a bit. The nose is offering a pronounced woody oak character along with citrusy hops a la tangerine and grapefruit. Some roasty toasty malts, but little toffee sweetness. There's a decent alcohol sting coming upwards. I wouldn't call the hops aggressive, but they're the main feature, thus far. 3.5

Oak, with the volume turned up, mixed with more orange rind hops. A dose of grapefruit pith, grassiness, and booze. The oak and hops are very prominent, leaving pale the semi-dry caramel malt. A semi-balanced, dry-hopped American-style barleywine, for sure. Missing some of the complexities of the hop-forward version that Bigfoot has. A little attenuated, but a decent drink. 4.0

Not much carbonation, as previously stated. The body is pretty light for a 9.6% beer. It's drinkable. I can say that much. Goes down pretty easily. Heady, but drinkable. 3.5

I'm not a huge fan of this kind of barleywine, but Southern Tier didn't make a bad beer here. I'd drink it again, preferrably to look for it on-tap. I wouldn't age it. Not sure what would be left of the original brew if one did. Give 'er a try. 4.0

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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!

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Photo of jtierney89
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brilliant looking for the style. Amazingly clear with a deep yet bright amber hue. Massive off white head. I love it. Nose is familiar yet unique. Classic big malt aromas of dark fruit bowls mixed with honey roasted peanuts. Touch of licorice combines with the nutty notes making a scent i've smelt before but can't put my finger on. Oak present on the nose as well, big time actually as the beer breathes.

First impressions on the first sip: thinner body then expected with a dominant oak taste but not overbearing. Not a small body so to say but a little thinner than most barley wines. Oddly subtle for such a fresh barley wine, I can only imagine this with a year on it, probably drinks too easily (but probably delicious) Some deep fruit flavors come through and those that do really play well with the oaky flavors. Some cola flavors with deep dark raspberries. A bit of honey on the front end.

A very complex brew with a lot to it if yo really want to look into it. I'm really interested as to how age would effect this one since it's already received some benefits of being aged in oak barrels.

A very earthy beer with flavors that remind you of a camping trip gone right. I like it.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, I'd guess and say it's about a year old if not older than that. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a reddish/brown color with a half inch tan head that went away quickly. There's a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like caramel malt, molasses, apricots, plums and a bit of pine hops. The taste is mostly like the aroma, but there's also the addition of some cherries, toffee and orange peel flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. It's easy enough to drink. I think it's a good overall brew, I'd buy it again in the future. It's certainly worth trying.

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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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