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 lonestar4lunch
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured this into a New Belgium goblet and it is dark and murky. The head doesn't last long and sits down to nothing but a light lacing. Wow do I love the smell of barleywines. The aroma is strong and sweet. The plums and black cherries hit you first then comes malt and booze. It sends chills down my spine cause I know what the first sip is going to bring.

Wow, this is a gentle back hand to the taste buds. You expect it to be uber sweet with the first taste then here comes the hops. If there is a Jekyll and Hyde brew this is it which honestly adds to the enjoyment of this barleywine. I really enjoy the hops in this one and almost wish there was just a bit more to duke it out with the sweetness.

There is just a bit of heat on the finish but it for sure doesn't linger like other big barleywines. I really wish Southern Tier was here in Texas, damnit.

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

22oz bomber poured into a tulip.

A - Medium amber; hazy, with a two finger head and excellent retention.

S - Intense malt, plus citrusy hops and some raisin. Fantastic aroma that intensifies as it warms.

M - Medium full and velvety; low carbonation with noticable, but not overpowering alcohol.

T - Right on target for the style. Starts with bready malt, then sweetness that carries through to the citrus hops and alcohol. Finishes with a dry, lingering hop bitterness

D - Very nice for the ABV, and a solid entry in the Southern Tier (ST) Imperial line. Much less polarizing in my circle than some other ST Imperials (e.g. Creme Brulee, Pumking).

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Photo of Yagman3000
3.48/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Creamy head appears with a slow pour and a finger remains.

Appears brown with a bit of an orange glow.

Smells of figs and prunes with a touch of molasses.

Tastes similar to smell but a touch of toffee and over-ripe fruit comes through as well.

Mouthfeel is thinner than I'd expect. I actually wish there was more thickness to this... A bit more syrupy perhaps.

Overall this was good but I wouldn't run to get it again for a while. Maybe it would be better served warm in the winter.

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Photo of jim102864
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown ibw from a bomber bottle poured into my Chimay snifter. Thick pour with no head and moderate carbonation.

Pleasing nose with berry esters such as blackberry and other dark fruit. Backgound whiff of anise from cherry licorice and caramel; very aromatic nose. Sugar is evident and Willimette hops.

Anice from licorice with a slight booze burn in the finish. Phenolic with a mediciny tongue. Some carbonation adds to the exprience.

Mouthfeel was thick and chewy. Chinook and Willimette, and Amarillo hops open their doors.

Definitely a sipper but a lovely interpretation of the style. Let it warm up.

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Photo of CrazyMacHarris99
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear ruby red with a thin off white head that left some nice thick lacing. Smells of hops, citrus notes and some alcohol with a hint of some sweet malts. The taste is about the same. Starts out sweet with some sweet fruit then switches to some citrus and hop bitterness. The hop presence really comes out in the finish. The mouthfeel is a happy medium. Overall this is a good rendition of the style but not overly extreme. This makes it a great (to me) session barleywine.

I'm raising this glass to the late, great Myron Cope! This one gets a Double Yoi!

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - poured a dark translucent amber with a loose head, about one finger, produced with a vigorous pour. It subsided quickly to a nice foam cap. The cap remained throughout definitely a plus coupled with some lacing.

S - notes of hops come first then followed by a wall of malt sweetness, and fruity nuances. The hops are a piney resinous character while the malt provides a nice raisin and dark fruit aroma. It is rounded out by vanilla and whiskey notes.

T - Taste is very mellow, I would even say refined. It is malt forward, with notes of toast, biscuit, brown sugar, and raisin. There is a slight grassy hop flavor and even slighter Bittering hops. I think the barrel aging does a lot for the balance, making this very smooth tasting.

M - mouthfeel is a little light for the style, low carbonation. Went down really fast for the style, I would have expected more of a sipping experience, this drank like a much lighter, lower abv beer.

O - it's a very balanced BA barley wine, more of in the English style in my opinion, certainly more malt forward and low hop flavor/bitterness. It was missing some just overall body and there was nothing really lingering on my pallet afterwords, but nonetheless enjoyable if your looking for a more relaxed barley wine experience.

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

We taste-tested a few Southern Tier and Rogue beers last night and this was one of the favorites among our friends. I'm normally not a big fan of Barley Wine style beers, but this was pretty good. The 10% ABV is pretty well hidden, and this beer is surprisingly drinkable. I doubt I would put this on tap at home, but I'd certainly buy a couple more bottles of it.

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Photo of association330
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. screen-printed bomber. Labeled "First Brew of 2008".

A - Pours a slightly hazy dark amber, with a thick tan head. Leaves a good, creamy cap and nice lace.

S - Erupts from the bottle the moment you crack it open. Caramel malt dominates, with toffee and slight dried fruit notes - solid complexity. Some pine and slight grapefruit rind reveal an American hop variety. Alcohol is perfectly hidden, becoming a bit more noticeable as the beer warms.

T - Malt sweetness up front. Alcohol comes off as a moderate woody/boozy taste. Finishes hoppy, semi-bitter, and dry. A hint of fruity sweetness lingers.

M - Nice chewy richness, but not syrupy. Carbonation begins a bit lively, but softens as you savor. Warming/numbing alcohol is almost immediately apparent.

D - A pretty nice barleywine here, and it would make a good nightcap. Boozy taste was a touch overdone, but not overpowering.

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Photo of bheilman
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Great barleywine. Improves as it warms, but I feel that's usually the case with most barleywines. Has a smooth sweet malty flavor and stays tasty in your mouth for a while after it's in your stomach. Slight hint of hops makes for a nice balance and a great after taste. I would drink more of this and go out of my way to get it.

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Photo of bierguru
2.99/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

- clear amber body no head pours with a slight bubbly head but fades quick

- smells of rich dark fruits with a hop backbone

- big dark fruit sweetness right up front malty middle with a citrus hop ending maybe some slight cherry flavors no booze backbone

- slightly carbonated and some prickleness in the mouth

- decent beer not really the best american barleywine out there very mild in both flavors and booze flavor

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Photo of ThePeskyDingo
4.2/5  rDev +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 pershan
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a deep, clear, reddish-amber with a dense tan head into a pint glass. The aroma was of fresh, piney hops - very nice. The taste was a big-time blend of sweet caramel malt, pungent hop flavor, and alcoholic esters, with a huge hop bitterness at the finish. Not quite as good as SN Bigfoot, IMHO, but pretty darn close.

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Photo of evanforbeer
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured deep orange-red with off white head from bomber
Nose- sweet nose; fruity with orange and grapefruit zest with floral notes, caramel malt toffee
Taste- follows with lots of fruity hoppy flavors, citrus and even a touch of mango, lots of caramel malt with subtle dark fruits, buttered raisin bread, oaky vanilla. Finishes with booze, fruit, some pine and oak-mellowed dark fruit
Feel- fairly light bodied for a barleywine extremely drinkable. Fair amount of carbonation
Pretty good, really nice fruitiness from the hops. Barrel does well and not overdone

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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.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ignore the first sip or two. After it coats the tongue, this beer starts to come into its own. Serious hop blend and malty tongue twisting action. Carmel sweetness is appreciated. This isn't an alcohol bomb. Imo the abv is well hidden. But there was a sneak attack. Be careful.

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Photo of crewfan16
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from an undated bomber (at least I cant find a date) into a snifter

a- pours a deep brown/ruby color. what very little head appears is slightly off white. not a ton of lacing on the glass.

s- lots of caramel malt sweetness. some sweet fruit as well, raisin or fig maybe. bread and some slight hop citrus

t- follows the nose pretty closely, but with more gusto. sweet caramel and fruit initially. then comes some more bready malt. some bitter citrus hops come out, then back to the fruity sweetness. i dont get a ton of hops here (older bottle maybe?) but there is a lot of sugar present for the style. Very tasty though.

m- not a ton of carbonation. this brew doesnt seem to heavy though. lots of sugary sweetness without being to viscous. flavors linger along time and the abv is not very present at all. highly drinkable.

overall, I really enjoyed this beer. I will be the first to admit that im not incredibly experienced in the style, but this brew is tasty. I have yet to find an imperial beer by southern tier that I didnt like.


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

Aroma from the mouth of the freshly opened bottle: malts, hops, alcoholic smells

Aroma after the pour: phenols, malts, hops

The Southern Tier Back Burner pours into a tall pils glass producing a three finger cream-colored head which settles back to a one inch layer of foam atop a clear-bronze brew.

This barley wine begins "alcohol sweet" and finishes with a very complex blend of flavors of hops, malts and diacetyls.

The mouthfeel is heavy and carbonated, sticky, chewy, oily.

The drinkability of this brew is dependent upon your willingness to be patient. The 10% abv is rather evident. IT IS A SIPPER. And, if sipped can be an enjoyable experience.

Just be ready for a very substantial brew. I've said it for other brews ... it drinks like a brandy.

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Photo of arboristfish
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a deep red amber color, almost reminds me of a blood amber color, with a slightly off white head. The aroma I can describe as robust malt. Sweet and yet hints of hops as well. The taste is sweet and has a unique charateristic, also has a slight boozy character to it. The mouthfeel is medium light and I would consider this one drinkable.

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

Appearance - Copper Plum hue with amber glow with mild head that dissipates slowly. Decent lacing on glass. Poured into a snifter glass.

Smell: Hops, burnt brown sugar, nutmeg, cocoa, rich milk chocolate ghiradelli brownie, dried cherries, maple syrup, watered down bourbon - very fragrant and floral

Taste: dried dark chocolate, biscuit, faint hint of dried red fruit, hint of grapefruit bitterness, aged hops

Mouthfeel: nice effervescense, silky, smooth like an aged whisky - slightly watery through mid-palate -but makes up in aftertaste.

Drinkability: sipper with a good cigar, great after dinner beverage for long conversations or times full of thought.

This will age very well.

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Photo of sophisticated
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"1st brew of 2008" stated on bottle.

A) Dark amber, almost a deep ruby when held to the light. Head is nice - tight small bubbles which left thick lace.

S) Strongly fruit smell - cherreies, plums. Some vanilla. Caramel, malts, some hops but mostly sweet.

D) Strong sweet fruit taste - cherries and caramel. Plenty of malts but also some citrus hops and some mild spice. The 10% ABV not noticeable in taste but leaves a slight warming burn.

MF) Chewey and soft

D) Good! This is an intense brew with complex flavors but a nice sipper to savor. Definitely enjoyable.

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

Thick, tawny, rubies thrown in the fire... Backburner is a heavy, opaque and dark barleywine. Sweet caramel malts, candied pears, plums and leather all lend themselves to a great aroma. Southern Tier never lets one down with anything short of a sweet beer but does well not to do so in a cloying way. A bit too peppery, but overall solid with great flavors of roasted caramel, dark fruits, earthy hops and leather.. Decent medium-heavy mouthfeel with a bit of heat from the alcohol.

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

Appearance: Murky ruby red with two inch foamy cream colored head. Good retention and lacing.

Smell: Lots of citrus hops mixing with a sweet toffee like smell. Pine and earthy hops in the back of the aroma, smells somewhat acrid.

Taste: Grapefruit and pine hop flavors are front and center but followed by a strong caramel malt background. The hops come back at the end to give you a nice hit of flavor and bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, full-bodied, kind of sticky but very smooth drinking.

Drinkability: Deceptively easy to drink.

Overall: I love Southern Tier and this barley wine does not disappoint, but I would say that it could be amazing after some aging. It has enough hops in it to age it for two years and it still be pretty damn hoppy. I'd say give it a year in the cellar and you'd have a stupendous, and more traditional, barley wine.

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

22 Oz. bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Served 50-55 F.
A: Dark mahogany. Retains thin frothy white head.
S: Malts, sweet hops, cherry, and spice.
T: Bold malts are met with intense fruity and resiny hops. Fruit and bread body finish with a lingering bitter. Alcohol is faintly noticeable.
M: Medium on tongue. Warming.
D: Big beer. On the fruity side of barleywines.

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Photo of WillieMoe
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a reddish brown color, with a thin head that quickly dissolves, but leaves a nice lace.

S-The aroma is of hops, mostly citrusy, with some hints of floral and piney hops. Smells more like an IPA, than a barleywine.

T-The taste is similar to the smell, in that is starts hoppy and IPAish, but as it goes down you can feel that bit of sharp alcohol taste you usually find in a barleywine, as it goes down.

Goes down very clean and smooth for a barleywine. It's very balanced and probably one of the more drinkable barleywines and overall another winner from ST.

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