Saturday, March 6, 2010

Southern Tier Back Burner

Back Burner
Style: Barley Wine Style
Serving Type: Bottle
Purchased at 99 Bottles

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.

I rated this an A- on Beer Advocate.

I have enjoyed the sweeter beers from Southern Tier such as their Choklat and Pumking. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect from them regarding such a monster brew as a Barley Wine. I have to say I am quite impressed with the quality and focus of this beer. It stands up as one of my favorite examples of the style. Still behind Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws, but certainly in the running.

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Beer enthusiast and advocate. Recognized beer judge and traveler of west coast beer destinations.