Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Dogfish Head - Burton Baton Imperial IPA Review
Brewery: Dogfish Head (DE)
Style: Imperial IPA
Don't take this the wrong way, because I love west coast IPAs and all the bold fruity flavors we now associate with American hops — in the end, in a pinch, I'll probably choose them every time. But it is nice to be reminded that there are many, many varieties of hops out there, lending all sorts of varied flavors that can be quite far removed from the bright, citrusy West Coast hops. Dogfish Head's Burton Baton is a bit of a departure from your regular American IPAs in more than a few ways — both in its hop profile, and the fact that it's aged with oak staves.
There is some citrus hop presence here, but everything in Burton Baton ends up contributing a very "woody" profile. Obviously, most of that comes from the oak aging. Beers this light aren't usually given the oak treatment, and it's certainly a risk, as the flavor of the wood comes across quite strong. Fortunately, the hops contribute a lot of pine, earth and resin notes that work well with this. Bitterness is a bit harsh, as is the oak, but not unpleasantly so, and the sweet thick flavors of the high ABV balance out the bitterness just enough. After a while, the brighter fruit flavors of the hops come out to play a bit more, and the malt is the slowest to reveal itself, nearly buried under the other flavors; smooth malty rather than sweet malty. This isn't over-the-top in any of the ways that an Imperial IPA might usually be.
I appreciate the uniqueness of this, as an IPA. Possibly because of the oak-associations — or maybe I'm just subliminally influenced by the label — but I get a very gruff, old-timey vibe from Burton Baton. As most Imperial IPAs suffer from over-sweetness and lack of originality, it's nice to try something a bit rough around the edges, even if I wouldn't want to go to it regularly. Solid effort from Sam on this one.
Availability: Year-round offering. Fourpacks of 12 ounce bottles. Dogfish has pretty widespread distribution on the East coast, which you probably already know if you live there.