Old Backus Barleywine | Free State Brewing Co.

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93
outstanding
238 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:
238
Reviews:
91
Avg:
4.24
pDev:
10.85%
 
 
Wants:
196
Gots:
43
For Trade:
6
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 238 |  Reviews: 91
Photo of newbeeraday
2/5  rDev -52.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Photo of HawkeyeNation
2.5/5  rDev -41%

Photo of TheDudeRules
2.87/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

09 pour from a growler to my Hangar 24 snifter.

Minimal head. Like a fingernail's width. Dark dirty dishwater color liquid.

Smell is sweet dark fruit. Fig, plum,raisin. Toffee and caramel elbowing in. Semi intoxicating. Smell is awful sweet.

Low carbonation. Almost nill. Heavy alcohol bite. Strong resin like aftertaste. Raisin like sweetness is there, but the sucker punch from the alcohol takes over. I'm going to let this warm a touch and come back to it. And I'm back. Well this is exactly the same. Bleh.

Not what I was hoping for. Flat bunk. At least I have 30 more ounces to go. Oh joy.

 601 characters

Photo of Can_has_beer
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of phishbone23
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.09/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Clear amber body. Almost no head. Very thin collar.

Smell - Grapefruit hops. Fruity caramel malts. A little bit of apple.

Taste - Even hoppier here. Grapefruit. Sweet caramel. Fruity and apple-y again.

Mouthfeel - Medium low carbonation. Medium heavy.

Overall - Meh. It's decent. Very fruity, but not a very interesting barleywine.

 396 characters

Photo of Sean9689
3.16/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks, Mike. 64oz growler into snifter.

A - Pours a reddish/brown color, cream-colored head, thin ring.

S - Dark fruits, lots of booze, light caramel, no real sweetness. The heavy booze and lack of sweetness is a turn-off for me with this beer. I think this needs quite some time before loosing the booze.

T - Similar to the nose, harsh booze/alcohol, dark fruits, and overly oak'd. The booze is too much and actually turns this into a harsh beer to drink. The lack of sweetness and burnt sugars is terribly disappointing, as I was expecting so much from this beer.

M - Medium, good carbonation, creamy oak finish.

O - Not a top-notch barleywine for me. The booze is way too overpowering and the lack of sweetness makes this one too harsh to enjoy a decent pour. Would revisit with some age, but this is a growler, so no-can-do. Average, at best.

 853 characters

Photo of HopHead84
3.22/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Growler received in a trade with BobbDigi. Consumed on 12/05/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer pours out ruddy, murky, and tawny. The hard pour yielded a miniscule beige head that seems to disappear rather than recede. No lacing is on the glass.

The aroma opens up with prunes, figs, dates, and alcohol. The booze is prominent. Sherry oxidation is coupled with an unavoidable cardboard character. Toffee and caramel are evident, and the malt is of baked bread. The nose is quite sugary.

The taste opens with a brown sugar sweetness and notes of toffee, baked bread, and caramel. The oxidation is more graceful in the flavor, imparting sherry notes, and the cardboard isn't as strong here as I found it in the nose. Dates, figs, prunes, and raisins are present. The high moderate bitterness hits midpalate and carries through to the sweet, boozy, and sugary dark fruit finish. The combination of booze and bitterness make for a somewhat harsh finish.

The beer has a very low level of carbonation, creating a thick and sticky mouthfeel. One snifter of this was laborious, and when it was finished I could drink no more.

 1,127 characters

Photo of JavaNoire
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of spycow
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of rspauldi
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pretty boozy and quite a bit of hop bitterness. Not really a fan of this one.

78 characters

Photo of AgentZero
3.31/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

64 oz growler from kansascitytrader. Cheers! Shared with the rest of the Rejects.

A - Hazy brown beer. Very brown, looks like a bit of a purple in there. It's a very dark and big looking barleywine. Decent sized brown head.

S - Smells is not the greatest. It's quite boozy, needs some time to cool down. Very heavy on the dark fruits, particularly figs and maybe prunes. Lots of caramel malt.

T - Taste is better than the smell, with a little bit more burnt sugar. Still loads of dark fruits, figs, etc. Quite sweet, with a bit of toffee and some caramel. Quite heavy on the malts for a barleywine, in my opinion. It's not bad, but I was really expecting more.

M - Pretty close to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - I was expecting good things, particularly as MasterSki was glowingly speaking of it. I guess his batch was from a few years ago, maybe that made a difference. It's above average, but nothing that is worthy of the top 100, at least not fresh.

 970 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.38/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 64 oz. growler courtesy of kansascitytrader through AgentZero. Thanks for sharing guys!

The beer pours a fairly murky, flat brown color with a ruby miniscus and a small wisp of a tan head.

The aroma is harsh and boozy. The smell is heavy on the dark fruits and lighter on the caramel and brown sugar malt notes. Rum-soaked raisins, plums, and figs, with additional sugar and alcohol presence.

The flavor is not quite so severe. The flavor starts and stays very sweet, with a little bit more balance than I was led to believe existed from the nose. Brown sugar and toffee coat the figs, raisins, and plums, but the bready malt gets lost behind a still-intense booze and oak character. The finish is fairly boozy. It has a harsh flavor, but there could be a good beer hiding behind the rough edges.

Old Backus is very light on the carbonation and the grainy nature of the beer contributes to a fairly rough feel on the palate overall.

I have definitely smelled and tasted barleywines with very rough aromas at first that have mellowed out into beautiful beers. Unfortunately, with only the opportunity to try this one fresh, it has not had any time to develop.

 1,178 characters

Photo of teromous
3.43/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

There ticks on the side of the label to mark a date code but none of them are punched on this beer. I purchased it in Dec 2015.

Appearance: The body is a tawny brown color and murky. The head is a short off-white cap that fades out to a ring that leaves spotty lacing on the glass. Not bad for a high ABV beer.

Aroma: The aroma is recessed to the point of being nearly hidden. It pokes out of the darkness with a bit of caramel and just a touch of alcohol.

Taste: It has a very sweet caramel flavor that roams the palate unchecked. It's the kind of beer that you need to eat something salty or bitter to counteract the sweetness that is not accounted for in the beer itself. It works very well as an English Barleywine but nothing about this beer says American Barleywine.

Mouthfeel: The beer is nice and smooth as if it was already well aged. It is very easy drinking.

Overall: I would recommend the beer to those who enjoy a good English Barleywine but this is not something I'd recommend to those who are looking for an American Barleywine. It's a good sweet beer but it lacks complexity, depth, or any unique character. While it would be a nice sweet treat for a barleywine lover, it unfortunately doesn't offer anything beyond sweet caramel and a high ABV content.

 1,274 characters

Photo of BrownAleBollocks
3.44/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper with red and brown. Head is off white and fairly small. Aroma is mostly malts with caramel, toffee, and some dark fruit. Taste follows the nose with only light hopping. Mouthfeel is medium and a bit more oily than I expected. Overall a fairly good barelywine that hides it's alcohol well.

 313 characters

Photo of tsgooch79
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Whiskeydeez
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of Sweffin
3.52/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Beestin
3.6/5  rDev -15.1%

Photo of stephens101
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reddish-brown with a bubbly tan froth. Smells of gum and cherry syrup. Tastes of plum, black grape, burnt sugar and pine. Has a sickly sweet aftertaste. Syrupy and even medicinal in spots. Medium in body with a touch of alcohol warmth.

I get the history of this one, and have nothing but respect, but it's really not working on any level for me, and ain't nobody got time for that these days.

 400 characters

Photo of beergorrilla
3.71/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ALC82
3.73/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of alienlifeforcecube
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of bismarksays
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of PeakedInHighSchool
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

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Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
4.24 out of 5 based on 238 ratings.
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