Drink of the Week: Dogfish Head Burton Baton IPA

October 28 2010 - 9:04 AM

Dogfish Head is known for their bold, experimental beers, barrel aging, weird barrel aging, and an off-centered (their term) array of ingredients.  Rasins?  They brew with those.  Tea?  That too.  South American wood?  Oh, yes.   So, it should come as no surprise that their attempt at a barrel aged India Pale Ale is not quite like any other on the market.  I speak of the Burton Baton Ale.  By description, Dogfish creates this beer by taking an imperial (i.e., high alcohol) IPA and blending it with another ale then oak barrels it for about a month to get those oak notes soaked into the brew. 

The results are stunning.  Give it the proper treatment and pour it into an English pint glass to let it expand and show off its nose.  Just viewing the beer is a treat. The color, rich amber, captures your attention.  It oozes of carbonation, billowing into a large fluffy head that you have to cut through to get to the contents below.  Burton's nose smells of grapefruit and pine hops, flowers, spices, and a hint of vanilla from the oak.  It has a silky texture like a barleywine and is light and effervescent in terms of its body.  The flavor is spicy and citrus fruity initially with soft toast flavors from the oak. It finishes with a strong rugged hop bitterness that belies all the finesse. 

Burton is a powerful and unusual beer. It was a bit overwhelming; by the time I finished I did not want another. The high ABV and complexity got to me and made me wish for something lighter.  This is a beer I want one of, but I surely would like another.