Serve in Snifter


on tap


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RATINGS: 252   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.96/5   SEASONAL: Winter   IBU: 55   EST. CALORIES: 315   ABV: 10.5%
Like great friendships, barleywine is meant to evolve over time. From the first brash encounters, to the mellow complexity that age will bring, this is a beer to be savored early and then revisited with the passage of time. Share our tribute to friendships new and old.
The aroma starts with some malty, caramel notes like a sprinkling of brown sugar. Fruity overtones from the fermentation build on the inviting sweetness and add to the complexity. A bright hint of lemon from the hops tops it off. Malty sweetness creates the first layer of flavor and on that foundation, fruity flavors of plums, pears and a touch of apple pie develop. The hops again serve to brighten the finish and add a balance to the malty sweetness . Over time these flavors and aromas will deepen and continue to develop. Undertones of raisons, figs and prunes will add maturity and the hops will continue to soften until they become but a faint background for the sweet, fruitiness of the malts. Of course, that means you have to save some to find out! Just as you might gently warm a winter brandy, let your barleywine come up to around 50-55° to allow for the best appreciation of its flavors and aromas.
Old Backus gains complexity from a blend of American and English Pale Malts as well English Crystal Malt and Amber Malt. Generosity is the name of the game with just over 1/3 of a pound of malt in every pint
Where complexity serves in the malt bill, focus and simplicity is the key to our hops. Domestic Nugget and Crystal hops add some balancing bitterness and a hint of citrus to the aroma O.G. 24˚P/1.100 IBU - 50

2016 vintage 10% abv

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Jrwhitney6 (509) - - JUN 2, 2017
Pours a dark brown with minimal head. Nose is funky - some malt and chocolate, but a bit of an odd smell, too. Taste is awesome, though - some bourbon, black licorice, coffee. Chewy mouthfeel - almost like food. Good stuff. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone

iampaw (1) - - MAY 27, 2017 does not count
I didn't get the burbon taste at all. Strong toffee taste. Just a little bit of a head. Tried this because i was told it was a very popular beer. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone

MetalNHopHead (2223) - Lincoln, Nebraska, USA - APR 16, 2017
Free State’s Old Backus is a malt bomb with lots of class. It pours brown. It has a nose that leans heavily toward toasted malt sugar - brown sugar, caramel, and cooked fruit. Caramel, molasses, butterscotch, vanilla, chocolate, stone fruits, and dark fruits make up the flavor profile. While this definitely leans more toward the English malt-forward style, you still get some zesty hops toward the finish. Gorgeous stuff.

bartzluke (598) - Oklahoma, USA - JUL 8, 2016
6 oz pour from chilled bottle into sniffer. Deep burnt orange, opaque, weak off-white head. Nose of plum, stone fruit, raisin, a little apricot, caramelization. Body is syrupy, thick, a little carbonation on the finish. Taste is sweet, molasses, malty, raisin a little lingering boozy-burn on the finish.

thomashall (999) - New Hope, Minnesota, USA - MAY 27, 2016
12oz bottle shared. Nice caramel color. Nice hoppy caramel toffee aroma. Taste pretty much follows, bitter up front, sweet in the middle, dry finish. Pretty solid!

ozzy70 (1283) - Omaha, Nebraska, USA - MAR 16, 2016
12 oz. bottle. Poured murky brown, thin tan head. Aroma was fruity, plum and malty. Taste was bitter, peppery.

HuskerTan (2403) - Ravenna, Nebraska, USA - FEB 28, 2016

A- Oak, stone fruits.

A- Mahogany color, cloudy liquid, off white head.

T- Woody, rotten fruit, pear, peach.

P- Full body, average texture, average carbonation, bland finish.

O- I’d say this one is a bit overrated, but it’s not entirely bad by any means. Just not the complexity I think it should have to make me say wow.

BigBeer45 (1572) - Michigan, USA - FEB 12, 2016
Sampled from a bottle,
this ale had a hazy medium brown-rust red pour and gave almost a one finger cover of pale yellow bubbles that receded to a small ring and scattering of small islands, it left some spots of lacing on the glass,

it had malty aromas with caramel, some bread, faint chocolate and raisin like fruit, faint citrus notes in the background with malt and light brown sugar sweetness,

the flavors were big malt, caramel, some chocolate, a little raisin dark fruit, some light brown sugar sweetness and very faint peach fruit notes with a little imperial red notes in the background that I found to be a little odd,
the finish had a small alcohol / citrus bitterness and trailed on the tongue for a bit, malty notes followed and clung to the mouth to give a back and forth of malt and bitterness with a tip to the malt and sweetness,

the mouth feel was medium full, it was a little creamy and had soft to average carbonation,

this beer was pretty mellow and easy to drink, a nice sipper of a drink.

CopterScott (254) - Kansas, USA - DEC 27, 2015
thick brown color with little to no head. aroma is caramel, toffee, and light booze. Flavor is toffee, caramel, barrel, light booze, and a hint of apricot or peach. sticky mouth feel.

Gunfighter (5) - Kansas, USA - DEC 26, 2015 does not count
Aroma is rather mild. Notes of sweet malt come through, but very little in the way of hops contributing to the aroma.

Appearance is what I would expect. Full disclosure, this is a first time experience with a barleywine. Dark red color and a finger and a half of head that lingers with so.e good lacing to follow.

Taste: Very interesting; first experience with a barleywine. The flavor is very well represented by the malts; hops take backseat. Fruity, tart, almost sour fruit taste comes through. Plum and general stone fruit flavors (apricot for example) that are mentioned by other reviewers I can pick up on. But very much nalt forward as I understand a barleywine can be; with the hops not overpowering the experience.

Palate: Pretty mild or low carbonation in this brew. Significant alcohol flavor does come through as an aftertaste.

Overall: This a beer very different than anything I have ever experienced. That said, it is the first "barleywine" that I have tasted. I was introduced to craft beer in Hays, KS at Lb. Brewing. Excellent microbrewery, but I can never recall them making a barleywine style of beer. It’s a very malt forward beer with an interesting mix of sweetness and fruity tartness. Not bad, but perhaps it will become better with age?

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