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The Hop Brief: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales’s Burton Baton

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Enjoyed on 9/30/2010

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales

Location: Milton, DE

Beer: Burton Baton

Web: http://www.dogfish.com/

Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2010

Style: American Style Imperial India Pale Ale blended with an English Old Ale

Barrel: Oak

ABV: 10.0%

IBU: 70

Hops: Warrior, Glacier

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

This is a blended beer that we’ve been brewing for the past several years and it’s recently been gaining in popularity.

For Burton Baton we first brew two ‘threads’ or batches of beer: an English-style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA. After fermenting the separate beers in our stainless tanks, the two are transferred and blended together in one of our large oak tanks. Burton Baton sits on the wood for about a month.

When enjoying the Burton Baton, you’ll find an awesome blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak. The wood also tends to mellow the 10% of the beer – so tread cautiously!

Beer Advocate: A- (4.13)

Rate Beer: 98 (3.74)

Timperial’s Notes:

When I had this beer at Brouwer’s Hopfest I had forgotten how delicious it was.  If you saw our review of said fest here, you probably noticed that it was our second favorite out of everything we tried, which was nearly 40 hopped up brews.  It would be wrong of me to say that I’m surprised, after all, DFH is a force to be reckoned with.  One can only fantasize about how those results could have been effected were 120 Minute IPA involved.  Honestly, I don’t think that it would have mattered, at least for me.  Never-the-less, ever since my re-discovery of the Baton, I have been unable to mosey past it in the bottleshops without grabbing one.

When you break this beer down to its core elements, it’s quite clear that Sam Calagione stepped into my psyche, rummaged around a bit, and popped out with a beer manifesto perfectly penned to make my knees wobble.  I am gaga about old ales, gonzo about imperial IPAs and gung-ho about wood aged beers.  Have your read my review of Great Divide‘s Hibernation, or my review of Russian River‘s Pliny the Elder?  If you have, you probably got a sense of my intense passion for the styles.  To blend the two, well, leave it to Sam to come up with that one.  Yes, maybe it happens more than I know.  Possibly, breweries do it and don’t advertise it as such.  If they do, they should inform me and me only.  I’ll keep that little nugget in the vault and acquire my fair share of the congenial cocktail for continued consumption.

If you haven’t done it already, I would highly recommend going to the Burton Baton page on the DFH website and watching the video of Sam describing the beer.  The most interesting part is being able to see the wood vat that the beer ages in.  It’s pretty epic.

A standard pour conjured a respectable head that rose like an ominous yellowish-white fog about an inch above the liquid.  It took about 5 minutes to settle down to a thin foam and ring.  The lacing is impressive, a dense slathering of porous paint on the inside of the glass.  I gentle swirling of the brew causes the transparency of the glass to wither.  The fluid itself is of a mysterious, cloudy amber hue that seems to vary from murky pond water brown to bright sunrise orange depending on the angle you hold it to the light.

The scent perplexes the mind with its unfathomable depth.  I know not where to begin… The initial moment my nose hit the scent, I thought the wrong beer was in the bottle.  There seemed to be coffee and cocoa emanating…from an IPA?  As it warms just slightly, those notes seem to fade to the peripherals.  Somewhere between then and when it’s warm enough to fully and properly experience, there are strong shots of lemon, blood orange, pine, and sweet baking doughs.  The booze can be sensed early after the pour.  Low temperatures do nothing to hide the 10%.  It’s surprisingly medicinal, or nearly petroleum like with potency.  To call this balanced in the nose is almost laughable.  I mean yes, there is a gargantuan helping of lupulin here, and the gods themselves where heavy-handed with the malt bill, but to use the word balance seems to place some sort of neutrality tag on a beer that is far too massive to even fit on known scales.  This is a beer for warriors, for Vikings, for kings of men.  Wait, I haven’t even smelled it at proper temp yet let alone tasted it.

As it warms a bit more, a medicinal, syrupy hop quality really dominates, but all the while drizzled upon sweet buns hot out of the oven, soaked in rum.  Sometimes granny gets a little nuts in the kitchen.  Even more warmth leaves only the malt backbone and a nose hair singeing alcohol.

The mouthfeel is just as the smell would suggest, slick with sugars and minimal with effervescence.  In this case, that’s what’s appropriate, and points are won for consistency.  The words that I want to use to describe the flavors are bouncing around my head faster than I can collect them.  The most striking of all is the re-emergence of what was inhaled at the very onset.  Coffee?  Again, I thought this was an IPA, and no, not a Cascadian dark version.  Yes, there is some tinge of brown in the color, and lest we not forget the old ale swimming in our midst, but roasted malts?  Clearly, nothing is off-limits for DFH.

The sweetness factor alone is multifaceted.  I get a slight bubble gum quality along with the baked sweets.  There is caramelized, near burnt sugar, which seems to play with the coffee and the hop bitterness to make a valiant attempt at blotting up the salivary glands.  There are moments when my palette is left feeling chalky dry, but inevitably, the sugar cascade reigns supreme.  No matter the juxtaposition in precipitants as I swallow, there is an undeniable need for more sips.  Though, I must admit, that desire for more is mostly beset on the intrigue factor – intrigue for what happens before the swallow, to greater understand the ever emerging nuances in flavor.

And I mustn’t dare leave out the hops.  Sure, they are in there – the piney, citrus aromas, the battling bitterness units… there is no mistake that this is a strong IPA, but the overall hop profile seems to lie in more of a supporting role.  If you told me there was hop extract in this beer I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.  There just isn’t enough room for the hop to substantially play on my taste buds.  I couldn’t even begin to contemplate the varieties used, let alone where they may sit in the addition schedule.  Does that hurt the score?  Well, maybe to a very finite degree, but like I said, this is an IPA and there is no question about that.  For the malt profile to be so brutally steadfast and for the ‘IPA’ moniker to still be obvious, how could one hold issue?

The aftertaste is the only flaw I can find here, but believe me, I’m stretching.  The “burnt” flavors seem to latch on with the most strength after the fluid has passed.  It’s a deep flavor that tells of the darker malts and the conditions of the wood that once housed the brew, or so I assume.  99% of the time, the byproduct of these elements brings me to my knees with delight.  Here, I’m forlorn.  For me, it’s not too different from being offered a fine cigar…or a Tom Waits album.  I so badly want to have the experience enlighten me, but sadly,  I just wasn’t built for it.  I was, however, built for hop candy, and this is one of the supreme examples of just such a beer.

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.97

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.95

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.79

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.96

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.90

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.55

GQ’s Suggested 50 Beers to Try Hits and Misses

GQ takes a shot at beer drinking; for the most part, they did fine. (Photo: GQ.com)

So, GQ eh? Well why the hell not? They are a bunch of dudes, dressing well, tossing around money – they have to do a beer thing. Its the new fad in looking cool, right? I mean that’s why you are all here. Of course, GQ is jumping on the bandwagon.

Luckily, for you I don’t believe anything I just wrote. Beer is freaking beer. Anyone can love it – as long as you are 21 (Message/Disclaimer!).

We do not discriminate against anyone throwing out their opinion on beer. We are regular people like you all. In total, we are a lawyer, a development administrator, and a learning assistant brewer at a small brewery. Just regular people. Just regular thoughts about beer.

But, when you put your opinion up on the web, its the rest of our jobs to police it to some extent, by listening, sparking  dialogue and trying to build a community opinion. So, lets.

GQ published an article today on their website of the top 50 beers that everyone should try before they die. Important note: its not the Top 50 beers, just 50 beers you need to try. So we keep that in mind in discussion.

The list is teeming with small brewery american ales, epic belgian grog, and even a few mass produced “beers.”

Here is my reaction:

They had to add these 5, and we are damn glad they recognized!

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Orval Trappist Ale

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Westvleteren 12

If you have not had the pleasure of drinking each of these 5 beers, you really need to take action ASAP. These are standards.

Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA rules the category of sweet IPAs and Pliny takes over the bitter category.

Orval is probably the first trappist beer you should try. They make only one beer for a reason – its damn good. Westvleteren 12 is a hard find, but necessary as the world’s most famous beer (thanks Michael Jackson).

Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout should be your first foray into adjunct filled stouts. Its so delicious and almost no one can turn it away. Try your mom, grandma, nephew, or dog – guarantee they like it.

I am so happy to see that they added these beers, and didn’t expect it…..

Alesmith Speedway Stout

Cantillon Iris

Struisse Pannepot Fisherman’s Ale

Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

If you can find Speedway Stout, buy it and drink it. It does not require aging, its perfect off the shelf. Problem : WA does not have Alesmith. Why? no clue, but I’m perplexed. Similarly, Espresso Yeti is incredible off the shelf. This is probably the best coffee stout out there, especially if you like a flavor explosion as opposed to subtlety.

Struisse’s Pannepot is just incredible. We sampled this beer before taking off for Belgium in March (2006 vintage) and then had some at the famous De Zon in Woesten, Belgium, which was the venue of an amazing bar visit. Its probably the best example of a huge mixing pot of Belgian flavors.

Cantillon’s Iris was one of 8 bottles we purchased at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels. I think its the best choice for this list because it personifies the lambic styling of Belgium.

If you like sausage or anything smoked for that matter – Aecht Schlenkerla is for you. This is the ultimate example of rauchbier. Lucky for us, we can get it almost everywhere in the US.

It kills me to know that GQ had these beers – because I have not and so badly want to…..

Leelanau White Ale

Alvinne Melchio

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Route des epices

Sam Adams Utopias

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Russian River Beatification

Where to start? This list of rouge ales is so impressive. Alvinne is just an all-around great brewery. Alvinne is at the cusp of progression in Belgian beer, taking a more globally influenced attitude about making beer. We visited the brewery in March and fell in love with everything they make – for some reason I still have not had a Melchio, but I do have 3 rare Oak Aged Podge’s in the cellar.

Dieu Du Ciel is the best of Canada (sorry Unibroue). All their beers are mind boggling, incorporating interesting adjuncts into the wort. This one has escaped me, and its made with peppercorns. Need to try.

Leelanau is a brewing label brewed by Ron Jefferies of Jolly Pumpkin. If you read Notes of a Beer Nerd ever, you know that we love all that he does, and this spiced white ale needs to be obtained.

Utopias is a huge 30%+ monster of “beer” that we would like to try, so that it can be compared to BrewDog’s Sink the Bismark and Nuclear Penguin, which we tried courtesy of Davey at Alvinne.

These last two are the highest on my list. Kentucky Breakfast Stout is supposedly bacon and eggs coated in bourbon – why not? Their selection of Beatification was puzzling and angering at the same time. This means they skipped over more obtainable sour ales from Russian River, such as Consecration, Temptation and Supplication – and went for the only one I cannot obtain in WA. Damn you – but thank you for reminding me to find this beer.

Two quick “wish they would have went another direction” but the brewery should be on the list…..

Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold

Smuttynose Barleywine

So, I love Great Lakes. Its a familial love too, and i am certainly an apologist. But Dortmunder is just not a great choice. Again, I understand that they are trying to pick “best of” styles, and so Dortmunder is a great lager. But, still….. I would have added Christmas Ale, another incredibly unique beer made by Great Lakes that has a cult following.

Smuttynose got selected as the barleywine on the list. Bad choice. Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, Mikkeller – all better barleywines. They could keep Smuttynose on here though for their Wheatwine, which is by far and away the best wheatwine I have ever tried.

Any other thoughts on the beers listed on the 50 to try? Leave them below.

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