Old Backus Barleywine | Free State Brewing Co.

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93
outstanding
242 Ratings
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Old Backus BarleywineOld Backus Barleywine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Free State Brewing Co.
Kansas, United States
freestatebrewing.com

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bronze Medal Winner, 1997 World Beer Championships - Barleywines.

Old Backus contains just over 2,000 pounds of malt and 55 pounds of hops. The original gravity is 25.6 P/1092 which contributes to an alcohol content of 10.5% by volume. This is a tremendously complex beer that should be savoured slowly and in moderation. It will continue to change with age as it is served unfiltered.

This barleywine is named after Richard Backus, an old friend to the Brewery.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-29-2001

BEER STATS
Ratings:
242
Reviews:
93
Avg:
4.24
pDev:
10.61%
 
 
Wants:
196
Gots:
43
For Trade:
6
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 242 |  Reviews: 93
Photo of csmalley
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of Bobbydigi
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of --Dom--
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

A complete home run for Free State. Just an amazing example of the style. A little less heat/carbonation than some other offerings in this category. But jam-packed with character, complexity and flavor. Too many nuances to list. It's sweet that's for sure, but never off-putting. I wish I had the self control to save a few of these for the cellar but there's no chance of that... Don't miss out on this one. I'd even recommend this to folks looking to get into the style... look out though, they might just be ruined afterwards.....

 533 characters

Photo of Imstillthegman
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of AGoodStout
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of beerwolf77
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of BarrytheBear
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of Viggo
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to rlcnmeyer for the growler at DLD.

Pours a hazy dark reddish brown, some ruby, really nice colour, very thick off white head forms, settles down to a thin layer and thick ring around the glass, nice sheets of lacing stuck to the glass, looks real good. Smell is crazy, tons of caramel and rum raisins, prunes, wood and vanilla, cherries, very fruity, touch of alcohol, some floral, earthy, maybe a touch of chocolate, nice stuff. Taste is similar, tons of raisin, caramel, very fruity, alcohol but very smooth, some grapefruit or citrusy acidity, earthy, almost woody, light vanilla and chocolate, very rich, like a toffee date cake I know how to make, solid bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, light warmth from the alcohol but insanely smooth for the ABV. Very nice barleywine, I might call it somewhere in between an American and an English barleywine. Very nice stuff, glad I have half a growler left! Thanks a ton Randy.

 986 characters

Photo of JEdmund
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance
Deep burgundy, almost as dark as a stout, with a fantastic quarter inch head that was extremely creamy and whipped-like. It was served in a mini snifter, probably eight ounces or so.

Aroma
Really nice fruity, sweet smell coming off it. Not a lot of hops, but certainly a sweet maltiness.

Taste & Mouth Feel
There’s an upfront sweetness, followed by a very tasty and hearty maltiness, followed by a good hop presence. Nothing over the top hop-wise here, but the balance is really nice. I would say there’s not a strong aftertaste, but what is left is very enjoyable, so no fault there. Another strong point is the alcohol, and lack thereof presence-wise; I never got an inclination it was a high ABV beer.

Overall
This is one of the more striking and tasty Free State beers I’ve had. Definitely worth tasting each time they offer it.

 860 characters

Photo of dlello2
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of Goliath
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with some ruby hues. It's seemingly cloudy, and fairly opaque when the glass is full. One inch of light tan head forms on top and lingers with excellent retention (especially for a beer with such high ABV), and leaves some nice lacing.

The aroma is great. A slight hop presence showing some earthy and spicey tones. The malt profile by contrast is incredible. It's relatively sweet with notes of caramel, honey and various fruits. Figs and raisins dominate here. Just truly enticing.

The taste does not disappoint. Again, a nice hop character showing some nice bitter notes of pine and citrus. Again, the malt profile is great. Sweet malts, raisin, figs, caramel, and bread. A bit of alcohol warmth as well. Complex and fulfilling.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a relatively light carbonation. However, the carbonation seeming light still gave me a decent tingle. Some welcomed alcohol heat as well (very tame).

Drinkability is high. Regardless the high alcohol, it's an incredible beer. A sipper for sure, but the flavors are there and the alcohol is apparent but not obnoxious. I could only imagine how great this could be with a little cellar time. Too bad they don't bottle.

 1,218 characters

Photo of gford217
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can't thank Dale enough for sending this growler my way. 2009 vintage I believe.

Pours pretty dark for a barleywine, a murky mahogany that shows amber around the edges with a one-inch tan head that shows decent retention and lacing for a growler pour.

The aroma is fantastic and has all kinds of things going on. There is a dominant sweetness that's a combination of toffee, caramel and fruits. The fruit has both plums and raisins but also a little bit of green apples and sherry.

The taste actually has more hops than I was expecting with an initial bitterness that gave way to a toffee and caramel backbone with sugar-coated dark fruits. The finish brings back the hops and leaves a slightly roasted but bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is so smooth and close to full bodied. Almost chewy with soft carbonation and a sweet but slightly dry finish.

I had heard good things about this but probably wasn't prepared for how really great a beer it was. It's one of the better non-BA barleywines I can remember having. Exceptionally complex but still remains drinkable. Really impressive.

 1,082 characters

Photo of pjbfromkc
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of RSchaeffer
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of shebby
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of jroberts8811
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of jophish17
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of RWNewhouse
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of Carb-Overlord
4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to rbald42 for sharing a growler of this at the Sexual Chocolate release.

Poured a dark amber with a pretty good head (especially out of a growler) with good lacing. The smell was pretty intense and complex, including caramel malt, toffee sweetness, hints of vanilla, some dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. The taste is quite similar, with a beautiful malt sweetness coming through in addition to the characteristics of the nose. Very nice mid-to-full-bodied mouthfeel with good carbonation and outstanding drinkability for a beer of this size and complexity.

 568 characters

Photo of theranko
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of orangesol
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Kegatron for sharing this one with us all at Stakem's Fish Fry. This growler is over a year old.

A - Pours slightly hazy dark amber with a nice one finger tall light tan head leaving thin strings of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells amazing right off the bat. Lots of brown sugar, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, and a bit of dark fruit at the end of each sniff.

T - Starts off with a big dose of sweetness - mostly toffee, caramel, butterscotch and a bit of molasses - slowly giving way to a bit of dark fruits and some dulled hop bitterness. Very little, if any, booze is present but there is definitely a touch of oxidation in this one but, like the booze, it never gets in the way.

M - Big body with a smooth, creamy feel with moderate carbonation. The feel works extremely well with the flavors to create an easy drinking yet potent barleywine.

O - Damn, this is one fine barleywine. I have had some great barleywines in my travels but this one is one of the best. Simply awesome stuff, hope I get to try it again some day.

 1,053 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I couldn't make it to the bottle-share where my tasting group opened this growler, but they generously hand-bottled a pour for me to enjoy shortly thereafter. Poured into a snifter.

A: Warm brown body; cloudy, but nicely translucent. No head, but gorgeous legs. I didn't expect any carbonation given the treatment this sample has received, and for what it is it looks nice.

S: Rich toffee, nuttiness, sherry, marshmallow, and some dark fruit. Very complex, very pleasant.

T: Dark fruit, caramel, toffee, sherry, and lovely hints of tobacco. Dark chocolate and nuts on the long, bitter finish. The sweetness up front + bitterness on the back end balance beautifully. Booze is present, but restrained. Delicious.

M: Thick, slick, and smooth. Not too sticky. Carbonation is low but present.

O: This is a terrific beer, and has held up great for a while (I was told this was a growler from 2010, but I'm not entirely sure about that). I do know that I'd love to try it fresh some time. Terrific stuff.

Cheers!

 1,011 characters

Photo of tmoneyba
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured hazy golden brown color with a minimal frothy off-white head that mostly diminished with fair lacing. Moderate to heavy dark fruit, hop and small alcohol aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. Moderate to heavy complex sweet flavor with a medium to heavy complex bittersweet finish of moderate to long duration. This is was a standout beer.

 379 characters

Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
4.24 out of 5 based on 242 ratings.
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