Saturday Night Blue Collar Brew Review –
Dogfish Head Burton Baton Imperial India Pale Ale


Friday morning begat another quest for beer in the Morris hamlet and I had a big hankering for some big beers. I’ve become increasingly aware of the greater selection of craft brews at the Four Seasons Beer Store that I planned on making the two weekly purchases there, in a one-stop shopping event. I had a twenty dollar bill on my pocket with a five and some ones as back up, just in case my taste buds and my imagination got the better of me. I was still in winter-warmer mode but I noticed that, for some reason, it’s also IPA season.

Another IPA? Hell, we just enjoyed some of Bell’s Hopslam last week. Hah! and So What? I say. If that’s what appeals to me then that’s what we shall buy and drink with gusto. It would give me something to compare to.

In each of my two previous visits to the store, I spotted a new member to the Dogfish Head section. A picture of a ‘50s-style cowboy, sitting on a barrel, strumming a guitar. The beer was Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton. I winced at the $15 price tag and sidled over to the cooler for alternatives.

What grabbed me there was a cold sixer of Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout. At ten bucks, it fulfilled half of my weekend requirement. Back over to the shelf, starting at the bomber section at the back working my way forward.

So many mysterious beers. Smuttynose, Karmeliet, Gulden Draak, Horney Goat… the list went on. I found myself back at the Dogfish head section, staring at the Burton Baton Double Hopped-Up Super-Duty IPA. And having a discussion with myself in my head.

This beer is $15 for four bottles.
Yeah, but’s it’s from DFH.
It’s an Imperial IPA. It’ll be bitter.
You had Hopslam last week and you loved it.
Jesus, it’s ten percent.
With proper preparation, it’ll be right up your alley for a Saturday night.
What if I don’t like it?
For God’s sake, man. IT’S DOGFISH HEAD! They even had a TV show. It has to be good!
But it’s $15.
It’s good beer and you brought backup cash. Go for it.

My second choice was the DogFish Head Burton Baton Imperial India Pale Ale. It’s Dogfish Head. I will like it.

At the counter, Barry and I had a brief chat about upcoming beers. Barry had asked me to suggest any beers that are popular or soon to be, so that he could look into getting some for the store. I gave him a sticky note with two beers that that I heard about over the Interwaves. One was from Sierra Nevada. It was their Bigfoot Barleywine-style Ale. The other was Goose Island’s Big John, coming up in April. It’s along the lines of their Bourbon County Stout and Nightstalker, but brewed with cacao nibs. Barry thanked me profusely.

I paid the bill which came to a shade over $25, wondering if I had enough left for vending machine snackie-poos at work that evening. All will hopefully be well with the world by this weekend.

Friday night work stint came with one of our three-man team having off for the night. My partner and I filled in for him while answering calls and clearing conveyor jams. By night’s end, I had that battery acid taste on my tongue and therefore decided to wash it away with the Two Brothers’ stout all by myself while I sat at the computer and prepared the Sunday Slinks. It was a hearty stout with a 9.1% ABV and a nice roasty taste. I plan to pick up another sixer of the stout and pick it apart in a future review.

Saturday came and rendered itself uneventful due to weather. With a high of 19° there was no chance for a spin around the block on the Intruder nor finishing the kegerator project out in the Manly Garage. The highlight of the day would be the drinking of beer. Glory Hallelujah.

It was time. I grabbed the recommended RB tulip glass, rinsed it out and grabbed the first of four $3.75 DFH beers. I looked once again at the label. Who was the guitar strumming cowboy? DFH gives a little insight here.

I have discovered that the beer in hand is actually two beers brewed into one. A batch of fermented English old ale is mixed with a batch of fermented 90 Minute IPA and then aged in a giant oak barrel for a month. Hence, the two threads as the label states. BA has an interesting article on the brewing of this beer.

The beer poured with a beautiful orange-red color all nicely sitting below a one-inch head of thick off-white foam. A moderate amount of micro-bubbles rose slowly upward. The aroma was mild but smelled of mellow hops. I could hardly wait to swan dive into this beer.

The first sip was absolutely loaded. This beer had a strong, full body to it and filled every cranny of mouth. The hop bitterness was not as readily apparent as I had previously imagined, but traveling down my gullet, it seemed as if it scraped its fingernails on the sides of my esophagus all the way down.

The hop bitterness tended to linger in the back of the throat as the liquid rasped down the pipe. Not so much of a citrusy flavor to this one, but a big beer nonetheless. The hoppiness is the 800 pound gorilla in this beer with the big malt body lounging around like a sluggish hippo.

At the halfway point of the first glass, a number of effects transpired. The thick foamy head dissipated to a slight film on the surface of the beer, a slight grapefruity taste became more apparent, each sip left a real nice lacing on the sides of the glass and that space heater in my stomach kicked on. However, there was no alcohol to be smelled or tasted in this beer despite the fact that it clocks in at 10% ABV.

This beer has a lot going on to its favor. A great big, nicely sweet body, a pronounced hoppy bitterness which, if absent, would kill this beer and a belt sander going down. I believe that after a couple of these Burton Batons, you’ll be able to hit all the high notes in the national anthem at the “rockets red glare” part.

I’d say that this beer is the reciprocal of the taste in Hopslam reviewed last week. Not so much of the hops melding with the malts, but the other way around. The hops are the A-Team here. But the secret to this beer is in the taste and exactly the way the hops play off the malt to deliver a unique taste that’s special to this beer alone.

This beer is an excellent taste for this time of year, warming going down and sweet and almost citrus enough to remind one of the lawn mowing season coming up in a few months. A coupla two-three will make everything all right with the mind, body and the world. A sippin’ beer to be sure, you’ll be surprised how easy it will be for you to forget how many you’ve had. It’s probably the reason the beer comes in four-packs.

Share a couple with a friend or loved one. This beer is too good to keep to yourself.

The SixPackTech ratings for Dogfish Head Burton Baton Imperial India Pale Ale are:

Taste: A > Easter for your mouth, 4th of July for your throat.
Smoothness: A- > If it weren’t for the malts, the beer would be all wood rasp.
Drinkability: B+ > In spite of the bitterness, the beer is quite drinkable in multiples of one.
Bang for the buck: B+ > A bit pricey, but so are tickets to Space Mountain.
ABV: 10.0%
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) Hmm. Hard to say… fruity… (sip) Whoa, real grapefruity. (sip) Not as bitter as thought it would be. (sip) You know what? I kinda like it actually. (sip) Yeah. That’s one of the best ones you’ve had for a while. I thought it’d be real bitter and drying, but it’s not. Not bad at all. (sip.) (She knows about the audio and refused to be recorded this week. I will, however, try my best to convince her that she sounds like a rock star. It’s the only way to truly capture those epiglottal CCHKK! noises she makes.)

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