Old Backus Barleywine | Free State Brewing Co.

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Old Backus BarleywineOld Backus Barleywine

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

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

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Ratings: 242 |  Reviews: 93
Photo of Hophead717
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Beestin
3.6/5  rDev -15.1%

Photo of Punisher
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of BradBuchanan
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of Hohnbaum
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of ToddSoonerFan
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of JuicesFlowing
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a balloon glass.

Look: The body is a thick, syrupy-looking ruby mahogany color. The head is tan and recedes to a cirrus cloud wisp. Surprisingly good lacing coats the glass.

Aroma: Massive malt notes, bourbon, faint honey.

Taste: Very medicinal tasting up front with bourbon and a heavy malt bill. Somewhere in the middle, a touch of honey-like sweetness roams around. Bitter hops come in the finish offering a tangy, bitter balance.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, syrupy.

Overall: I've never had a beer that resembled cough syrup so much. I'm not sure if that's an insult or a compliment.

 593 characters

Photo of TGanyone
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of HawkeyeNation
2.5/5  rDev -41%

Photo of JavaNoire
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of tykechandler
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of IowaBiertrinker
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of dsalmons
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of DemoniChris
4.98/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured on tap into a tulip

A - One of the most beautiful beers I've seen. Dark red-brown color with the ruby tones looking absolutely stunning when held up to the light. About a finger of off white head, moderate lacing.

S - Tobacco, leather, vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate, toffee, dark fruits such as cherries, plums and raisins. Even getting some barrel like bourbon qualities even though this beer has not been barrel aged... Astounding!

T - Big sweetness. All of the aromas are extending through the flavor but in a bigger way. Caramelized burnt sugar, brown sugar, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, caramel, dark fruits, bourbon, chocolate, tobacco. A slight herbal hop flavor comes through beneath the flavors but it works really nicely. It adds a nice underlying citrus quality that really ups the complexity of this beer. The bitterness is hard to detect, but it does linger a bit. It's also hard to detect any alcohol in this beer. In my eyes this is perfect.

M - This is how a barleywine should feel. Super rich medium to full bodied mouthfeel. So velvety and slick. It finishes quite dry as well, leaving the imbiber wanting more. Carbonation is perfect, and the first sip is just as good as the last.

O - This is far and beyond the best barleywine I've ever had. The only one that would come close is Double DBA and maybe BCBBW, but that was an English style barleywine, although, Old Backus drinks more like an English style barleywine rather than an American one. Mostly because the hops felt more in the background rather than obviously prevalent in the forefront. It is crafted with such impervious balance, it's impossible to believe it's 10.5%. This might be the most delicious and rewarding beer I've ever put my lips around. Go try this if you can!

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Photo of 22Blue
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of LambicPentameter
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed on tap at Bridger's Bottle Shop in Westport last month. Reviewing from notes. Served into a 12 oz Belgian style tulip glass.

Appearance - I love the look of this beer, with a reddish clay hue with carmine highlights where the light passes through. The darker parts of the beer appear almost burgundy, and atop sits a one-finger head of khaki colored foam. Retention is moderate, and as it starts to recede, it leaves Lorraine Swiss sheets of lace on the side of the glass, which eventually turn into a ring sheets of residue as I drink the beer down.

Smell - Wonderful blend of barley and grain, brown sugar, burnt caramel, English toffee and some slight alcohol astringency. There are also notes of earthy and herbal hops that provide a counterpoint to the sweeter aroma profiles.

Taste - Delivering on the promise of the nose, but cranked up a little bit, the taste imparts molasses, toffee and caramelized sugar along with an underlying rustic stone-ground grains from the malt base. Some notes of dried fruit reminiscent of figs and dates are now here where I didn't detect them in the smell. There is also a hint of leather and maybe just a touch of tannin characteristic on the finish as well as some herbal hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and moderate carbonation, but I must admit there is just a slight touch of oiliness/slickness from the feel that I didn't quite expect. I can't really call it off-putting, but it was unexpected and slightly out of place.

Overall, a beautiful beer with a great taste and solid aroma, and just a small bit of docking on the mouthfeel. Still, it's perhaps my favorite from Free State and could stand up to any American Barleywine in the country in my humble opinion. I wish they bottled it so that others could know just how good it really is. I especially like how the hops don't overpower as they do with some American style barleywines.

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Photo of acslatersbtb
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of AmyfaceNYC
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very strong and malty, delicious barleywine. Pours a dark, rich color. Tastes like smooth and delicious liquor--only the alcohol is not particularly noticeable. I didn't notice much sweetness or hoppiness. Beer was medium- to full-bodied, with moderate carbonation. This not the most complex beer I've had, but there were lots of different flavors going on--lots to enjoy!

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Photo of csmalley
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of FreeKansas
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of BarrytheBear
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of bismarksays
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

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