Nick Carr on January 19, 2017 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Location Milton, DE Style Wood-Aged Imperial IPA ABV 10.0% IBU 70 Hops ? Malts ? Shelf Life 2 to 3 years Suggested Glass Snifter or IPA Glass Serving Temp 55°F Availability Year-Round Food Pairings Smoked Sausage, Spicy Goulash, Smoked Cheddar or Comté Cheese, Mint Crème Brûlée Upon returning from Christmas vacation, spent with my folks in the more Southern part of New Mexico, I was pleasantly surprised to find the New Year had ushered in an exciting arrival at our local grocery store. Dogfish Head has expanded its distribution into New Mexico. So, of course I had to review something from their portfolio… you understand no doubt. I just had to. And because Jack Frost is still tap-tap-tapping at my window, though with less vigor than other years, I chose the burly Burton Baton. Dogfish Head’s motto, as a lot of you probably know, is “Off Centered Ales for Off Centered People” and this beer exemplifies that off centeredness. Burton Baton was first brewed in 2004 specifically as a limited release for Michael Jackson’s rare beer club. It gained enough hype over the years that these days it is released year round, which can’t be an easy undertaking, logistically for Dogfish Head. You see the beer is a hybrid, a blending of two “threads,” or different batches of beer. In this case, an English old ale is blended with their 90 Minute Imperial IPA in an oak tank and left to sit for about a month. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Burton Baton from Dogfish Head. If you tasted this beer or if you have one in your hand as you read this review, please share your thoughts with everyone in the comments down below. Pour and Aroma: Hits the glass with a clean deep copper color and shines with reddish gold highlights when stood to good light. Clarity is good. Head is a creamy small bubbled off-white blanket, climbing to just over a finger and after several minutes it had only dropped by maybe a quarter, great gouts of sticky lacing cling to the glass. Medium carbonation rises fast out of the middle depths. First to the nose is intense alcohol swimming with toffee and caramel, bread crusty and sweet. Then some finer strands work their way in, subtle and soft, of orange, peach, and light woody, herbal dankness. A slight backdrop of raisins and something akin to cinnamon. Mouthfeel and Taste: This one is chewy and thick bringing a heavy, round body that dances smoothly, belaying its weight, across the palate. Carbonation is medium low leaving that smooth weightiness to do its work well. Palate is quickly cloaked in a high alcohol warming and herbal bracing astringency. First taste opens a barley wine-esc richness of slightly toasted malty sweetness, throwing hints of toffee and vanilla, while drowning in the high warmth of unapologetic alcohol giving it a rummy quality. Some quite signs of dark fruit; fig mostly and some lighter citrusy orange trails along. The low oak draw mellows the whole somewhat, and keeps the perfume-like herbal, slightly minty bitterness that rears up from completely stomping the palate. The finish is semi-dry and shines in an oaky orange moment, like the last flash of a brilliant sunset. Aftertaste has some light orange along with a herbal/earthy quality. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is a slow lumbering behemoth; big, complex beer, skirting the edge of harsh overwhelming bitterness with a graceful balance, like a fat man asked to walk a tight rope… and pulling it off with hidden, polished ease. Its closest relative would have to be an American barleywine. It carry’s all the same markers, with just a little something extra, something not playing quite into the fold. Come to that, I’m even more excited about having it around (year-round). I love barely wines and always have trouble finding them in anything but 750ml bottles, so it’s nice to be able to get something sort of in the same vein, but available in a 4-pack of smaller bottles. The short time in oak may be its greatest asset. The oaks added touches of vanilla and wood help to mellow the raspy bitterness just enough, but leave it in the oak too long and it would have likely lost most of its hop aroma and reduced the bitterness too much. They’ve done a good job getting it just right. It’s definitely one for the hop lover searching for a sweet warming touch on a cold winter night.