Backburner - Barleywine Style Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company

very good
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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 512 | Ratings: 938
Photo of TheBlackMallard
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have a snow day tomorrow so I turned on Heavyweights and decided to review this.

Pours a dark red with an orange/yellow hue into my Kuhnhenn tulip, no head but a ring around the glass.

Mmm, Smells like caramel, raisins, brown sugar, citrus, and pine. This is one of the reasons I love a barleywine.

Sweet caramel malts up front, followed by pine with a nice harsh lingering bitterness.

Heavy but it goes down easily.

Wow, this is exactly what I want when I pick up a barleywine. Oat and Gemini weren't my thing, this along with Chokat and Unearthly are all impressive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of hopheadjuice
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle, no freshness date.

Pours a murky dark copper/ruby with a slow rising one finger head that's clinging onto the glass.

This one is very complex in the aroma. Starts off with a big blast of grain followed by a musty earthiness/yeast funk with tobacco, wood, cherries, strawberries and a slight hop and alcohol presence.

Taste is thick and strong. Big bready, caramel malts upfront with a big assertive dark fruit taste. Hops have a grassy earthy quality being more subdued. Alcohol heat is present but not too strong or overbearing.

Mouthfeel is extremely thick and chewy. Full bodied ale with a semi dry finish.

Drinkability is a little low with the 10% abv but its not a bad beer by any standards .

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Photo of chicano4craft
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dirty brown. Cloudy and slighty red. Creamy white head.

Nose is strongly caramel and toffee. Smells very sweet. There's a faint citrus smell way in the back. I'm not sure how old this bottle is. I got it in a trade a few months ago. But whatever hops were there have since faded to the background.

Hops are still hanging around in the taste. There back up singers to the sweet barley now. Not as caramel as I expected, but that's good. There's a bit at the end. It's by no means hot...but after half a glass I was feeling this one.

Mouthfeel is a tad syrupy and heavy. This and the hugh abv brings down the drinkability for me. Overall it was an enjoyable barleywine. I much prefer my barleywines fresh. I'm more into the balance of lots of hops and barley. Would love to try this one again.

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Photo of waltersrj
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour: Deep ruby red with a brown hue and a 2 fingered off white head. Sticky lacing on the glass and decent legs.

Nose: Dark fruit, sweet sugars, very hoppy, caramel malt, and toffee.

Taste: Dark fruits, prune and fig, toffee, caramel, very bitter hops, slightly cloying malts, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick but creamy with a slightly cloying feel.

Overall: a pretty good representation of an ABW, great hop and malt profile but not the best.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of DawnL
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

True amber with a little sticky lacing at the rim.

Pleasant hops with some alcohol on the nose.

Lots of alcohol heat. A cross between fine whiskey and beer. Wooden quality - not oak and not pine - more like bramble. Very intense, especially the alcohol.

This brew coats the palate. Has some residual sugar that collects around the lips but is not evident in either taste or aroma.

The drinkability suffers just because of the massiveness of this brew.

All in all - I love this beer!

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Photo of imagineiii
3.87/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: poured into my trusty dfh snifter. decent eggshell head, diminishes after minute leaving lace. mahoghany color with blood red tones. could be a little clearer in my glass.

S: malty sweetness is rich and tart. red apples, raisans, maybe grapes and melons. hops?

T: Sweet smooth on the tongue. Tart and biting as it moves. bitter tannins in the aftertaste. complex and smooth but borderline syrupy, resulting in a long lingering aftertaste.

M: Carbonation doesnt do much to break up the syrupy aftertaste.

D: I gave this a 4 for drinkability because of its style. ive had barleywines that are far less smooth.

Being a barleywine, this is a beer that you know whether or not youre going to like it when you buy it. I like it, it is an above average barleywine.

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Photo of ClevoPiwo
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice deep copper or chestnut color with a decent head that dissipates down to a frothy ring along the outside of the glass leaving a nice lacing on the way down.

The smell is pretty good with nice malty aromas of caramel and molasses as well as a nice floral character of the hops coming through as well. The alcohol is a bit pronounced in the smell, edging on a slightly solvent-like quality, but not too much.

Taste is pretty good, with nice mouth feel and a characteristic malt sweetness up front and a hoppy finish. The alcohol is present as well, and perhaps a bit assertive.

Not my favorite by Southern Tier, but definitely a worthy brew!

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Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - nice solid, untapering amber that pours a 1-finger off-white/cream head that dissipates rather quickly, but leaves a good amount of lacing

S - The hops shine right through from the very beginning, with a floral and citric background bringing up the rear. Not too faint alcohols linger as well.

T - The hops are nicely balanced with the malts, making for a well-rounded barley wine. Perhaps a bit too sweet for my taste, especially as it warms. The alcohol is dangerously well concealed nonetheless.

M - very, very good. nicely carbonated and a solid creamy consistency.

D - I could drink this all day long - but definitely shouldn't.

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

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

A - Pours copper with a one finger whitish head.

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

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

M - Smooth, with pleasant moderate carbonation.

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

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

22 oz. bomber poured into 2 goblets. One finger of off-white head which slowly dissipates leaving lots of sticky lacing. Dark ruby color, good clarity. Aroma is spicy and citrusy with hints of toffee, dates and little bit of fusel alcohol in the back end of the nose. Taste is shockingly smooth from an exceptionally balanced brew. Flavors of caramel, prunes and citrusy spice present themselves for a slightly dry finish. Medium-heavy mouthfeel with great drinkability. This one sneaks up on you!

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Photo of Stonebreaker
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: A very nice looking beer. Good creamy head, dark amber color.

Smell: Unfermented malt sugars, not raisiny so much but some sort of dried fruit, perhaps figs, caramel sugars blah blah blah.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Slightly thin for the style, sweet malt with a nice warming alcohol effect, caramel, figs. It's a smooth operator to an extent, here I am at the end of a bomber and I'm feelin it. A good beer, but not an outstanding one.

Drinkability: It's a barleywine people, act accordingly.

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Photo of imaguitargod
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was on tap at La Cave Du Vin so I ended up getting a snifter of it. Burgundy in color and a little less opaque than most barely wines I've had. There is not much carbonation and is your typical barley wine in taste except when it comes to the hops. There is a lot of hops here but they come in as a background flavor and aftertaste making it a bit bitter.

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Photo of ekardz
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - good carbonation, little to no head, lacing along glass. Amber/red in color - looks alive and inviting

S - very malty, figs or other dark fruits, raisins, smells boozy

T - nice malt and caramel flavors, taste some raisins and other dark fruits.

M - surprisingly light-medium bodied, do not notice any carbonation, very smooth.

D - very easy to drink, hard to just take small sips; with 10% alc this baby could get dangerous, because the strength is hidden.

Bottle from 2008.

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Photo of littlekidlover
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I just poured a bomber half way up a wine glass. The head was typical of a high alcohol beer, disappeared quickly. The appearance is a amber/copper. The smell has caramel and hop notes, not too strong. The taste is caramel, dried fruit, citrus hop. Mouth feel is- gonna take my wife's least favorite wine tasting description CHEWY. This is a highly drinkable beer for a barley wine, dangerously drinkable at 10% alcohol. It does not have the cascade hop bite of many of the barley wines I have tasted- dangerous.

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

Aroma: Dark fruits of raisin and plum enter the nose first with an alcoholic spice following it up. Malt character displays a grainy and bread-like character, while there seems to be little if any hop aroma.

Appearance: Deep mahogany brown to red with a slight haze. Light at the edges forms a ruby hue, though the beer doesn't allow a whole lot of light through. The head pours a billowy off-white but fades fairly quickly to a thin coating along the top of the beer. Some lacing down the sides of the glass.

Flavor: Deep dark fruit hits the tongue, along with just a hint of hop bitterness that stings your palate with rich complexity upfront. Alcoholic warmth moves in quickly and lingers into the middle where hop bitterness comes back quite strong with earthy tones. The malt profile takes on a dark toasty personality with some melanoidins as well. Though the flavor is generally defined by the alcoholic spice and hop bitterness, malt complexity is robust enough to back everything up.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. The alcoholic warmth coats the mouth with heat and spice while hops play into the back of the throat with just a slight sting of bitterness at the finish. Finish is warming and mostly dry, though there is some residual malt sweetness left around the edges.

Overall: A very nicely balanced barley wine style ale with a certain focus on alcoholic warmth and spice. While I think additional hop aroma would further help this beer stand out as an excellent example, it is quite well rounded in it's bitterness. Malt richness and balance are just enough to add complexity, but it doesn't get in the way of warming alcohol and biting hops.

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Photo of GotWad629
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a dark red - brown with a thin head that dissipates quickly.

Smell is of toffee, dark fruits, and caramel. The booze is definitely present.

Taste is similar. Lots of toffee, dark fruit and caramel. There is a decent amount of sweetness that is balanced out nicely with the bitterness of the hops. The alcohol is definitely noticeable as well.

The body and carbonation are both pretty light.

This is definitely a sipper and perfect for a winter night.

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Photo of edmedina
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice clear dark amber color. It does have nice heard as well shows off a lot of carbonation.

Smell: Hoppy with hints of mint and cocoa. Very much floural smell. Not at all what I would expect from a Barleywine.

Taste: Very interesting taste here. Starts off bitter from the hops. As the taste settles you get a sweet after taste. Finishes dry leaving nothing left to taste

Overall: When I saw Imperial Barleywine on the bottle, I thought to myself how do you take a beer that is already strong and go over the top on it? Well Southern Tier certainly figured it out. The hops they use blend very well together. The smell leads you to believe you are enjoying an Imperial IPA but the taste lets you know otherwise. I never thought someone would go further with my favorite style of beer. I am glad Southern Tier did.

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

07 version via trade a while ago with Jah Noth! (Thank You!) Aroma is wonderful with a nice roasted nut and caramel overtone, a bit of fruity hoppiness, and some raisins and prunes to round out this awesome aroma. Pours a clear ruby color with a two finger thick head that lingers around for a while. Taste is malty with dark fruit intermingled. A lot of stuff going on in the taste of this brew. Smoothing going down and deceptively drinkable. Overall, A darn good barley wine with about a year of age on it. Nice!

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

Beer/Brewery - Backburner (Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale)/ Southern Tier Brewing Company
City/State- Lakewood, New York
STYLE – American Barleywine
ABV – 9.6%
IBU – 85
DATE – 23 OCT 2011
SERVING TYPE – 22 oz Bomber
APPEARANCE – It is a murky brown with a hint of red, sadly it reminds me of pond water. It poured with a ¼ inch head that dissipated quickly leaving a ring of foam around the edge of the glass
AROMA- Fruity sweet with traces of alcohol
TASTE – It has the defined barleywine taste with some nice roasted malts, but with traces of fig and dates with the alcohol closing in at the end to warm you up.
MOUTHFEEL – A little thick with a good bit of carbonation on the tongue
CONCLUSION – A good stand alone barleywine, nothing special, but very enjoyable.

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

A- Nice dark copper color, with a sandy head. That turns into a lacing of head.

S- Very floral aroma, with a nice backbone of fruit. Deep carmel flavors and toffee. Backburner covers up its ABV well. There is little alcohol in its aroma. There also is a musk aroma.

T- The Chinook hops come threw at first. Backburner is floral, piney and soft. There is not much bitterness that punches the tongue. There is nice balance between the caramel malt and hops. Not too much, if any malt taste. The alcohol is well hidden.

M- Nice full mouthful, carbonation is there but not too strong.

D- I like this beer. Could drink a bunch of there 22oz. bombers of this. This taste to me was similar to Bigfoot that has been stored for a year or two.

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Photo of cindiwindi1025
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a- light chestnut color, medium head that reduces to a sticky, light colored collar around the glass, nice!

s- smells like cola. no other way to describe it

t- big taste. molasses, raisins, yeast, earthy malts, with a hop bite. brilliant balanced taste that comes into the barleywine parameters with ease. alcohol is very well masked. a little peppery aftertaste, not hugely so.

m- a bit prickly, medium carbonation with tiny bubbles. overall very drinkable, hop finish is a tad dry but crisp, nothing heavy here

o- happy with this selection, as always with the southern teir products, big robust imperial beers with complex tastes. I'm not a huge fan or regular imbibor of the barleywine style, but I would get this one again.

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

Poured from bomber into snifter glass.

A: Traditional Barley Wine color. Dark amber with a little red. Thick head that recedes. Beige head with mixed size bubbles.

S: Lots of caramel and dark fruit. Maybe a some pine hop aroma afterwards.

T: Big flavor. Sweet caramel, with more dark fruit like raisin, followed by some nice hop bitterness -- pine. The alcohol taste is muted -- which I like in this instance. You can only detect the alcohol by some warmth in the finish.

M: Medium/Full body but it also feels dry -- which makes it feel deceptively lighter. Some carbonation can be felt in the mouth.

D: This is a very nice big body, full flavor, barley wine. Nice hop character for a malty beer like this style call for. Despite the big flavor, very smooth and drinkable. High alcohol is only slightly detectable, so you can slug it back if you like -- instead of sipping. Well done.

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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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