Old Backus Barleywine | Free State Brewing Co.

Old Backus BarleywineOld Backus Barleywine
BA SCORE
91.1%
Liked This Beer
4.21 w/ 246 ratings
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
Ranking:
#1,507
Reviews:
93
Ratings:
246
Liked:
224
Avg:
4.21/5
pDev:
10.69%
Alströms:
0
 
 
Wants:
196
Gots:
44
Trade:
6
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 246 |  Reviews: 93
Photo of Viggo
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of rspauldi
3.25/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

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Photo of drpimento
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Very good. When opened, I got a whiff of caramel and toffee right away, then with my schnoz in the glass I got raisins, apricots, yeast, hops, rye. Flavor has lots going on too - most pleasing to me was a note of roast which perfectly contrasts in a matching way the sweeter qualities. There is plenty of bitter in a balanced measure. Body however was odd in that it was good then it was a bit thin - kind of oscillated between the two states. Very drinkable for a strong brew.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bpfrush
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of glid02
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Growler shared by Grant - thanks!

Pours a very nice ruby-brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of moderately sweet caramel malts with good amounts of earthy and pine hop aromas. Also present are hints of dark toffee and very slight dark fruit aromas. As it warms the malt aromas sweeten a bit but never to the extent of an English barleywine.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Simple and robust caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by pine and leafy hops. Midway through the sip the mildly dry caramel malt flavors are sweetened with the addition of soft toffee flavors. The toffee fades out shortly thereafter, allowing the hops to carry through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is great. It's got a very nice thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall this beer has been on my wants backburner for quite some time and I'm glad I had the opportunity to try it. A nearly flawless American barleywine with no bells and whistles. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of Lucoli
3.96/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Kevinpitts
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of CTJman
4.25/5  rDev +1%

Photo of AgentZero
3.31/5  rDev -21.4%
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.

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Photo of Pearlstreetbrewingco
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of tykechandler
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of Zonian1
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of skaboom420
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of gford217
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of cp45
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jophish17
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of birchstick
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Served out of a growler

A - pours a brownish red without much of a head to speak of

S - smells of brown sugar, raisins & other dark fruits, and cinnamon

T - starts off with sugary, sweet malts with loads of caramel in the mix. These fade to dark fruits (figs, raisins). Ends with sticky, piney hops. There is also a weird citrus flavor throughout that I couldn't grasp for a while. Pretty solid taste profile!

M - thin and sticky, leaves a dry finish

D - really good barleywine. This was less hoppy and more malty than most American barleywines, which is a really good thing. I really surprised by this one in a good way and would highly recommend this!

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Photo of Boto
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught @ Brewpub: I was quite happy to see a 2005 vintage of this up on the day I visited. It is served in a small snifter. It pours a hazy, ruby tinged, brownish amber color. There is a good sized off-white head on it. It left a bit amount of lacing. There are notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruits and chocolate to the nose. The taste is excellent. Full bodied, a hint of bitterness, very complex. Hints of dark fruits. Very nice!

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Photo of woosterbill
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
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!

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Photo of Can_has_beer
3/5  rDev -28.7%

Photo of FosterJM
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1170th Review on BA
Growler to snifter
64oz

Thanks to my mom for sending this from KS

Shared with GuruDel, Jazzpatel, MrHirschybar & BdubleEdubleRUN

App- Rich deep ruby red with light more vibrant garnt edges. More of a liquer look with zero head but a ring of bubbles. Creamy and silky looking.

Smell- Loads of citrus open this up with a lot of sweet and malty thick. Really smells to me like red licorice.

Taste- For only a non BA BW things drinks alot bigger. The malts open on this with a large rich citrus flavor and then move to a more dark fruit, raisiny, plum and dark brown sugar flavor.

Mouth- Its more of a creamy low medium body with a lighter medium carbonation. A lot of creamy malts and deeper citrus and dark fruits.

Drink- Its been four years since I have had this and this version is better than I remember. More rich vs sweet and savory vs harsh. Glad some of the growler is left.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, dated 2014. Pours hazy reddish amber with a medium creamy off white head that retains well and leaves some lacing.

The aroma is sweet caramel and toffee malt with lots of figgy fruit and some cardboard notes.

The flavor is sweet caramel and toffee malts with lots of dark fruit and a little roast and a bit of sherry like alcohol and some harsh bitter alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, there's a lot going on, a bit too much. I bet this would improve with a bit of age to blend it all out better.

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Photo of RichH55
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of newbeeraday
2/5  rDev -52.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Old Backus Barleywine from Free State Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 91.1% out of 100 with 246 ratings
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