It’s hard to know what a real Burton Ale might have tasted like. The style, once among the most popular in England, pretty much died out 60 years ago. One is left with only old descriptions and brewer’s logs to try and piece together a facsimile. That is exactly what Dave Berg at August Schell Brewing Company did to create the fourth beer in the brewery’s Stag Series.
I’m not going to load this post down with a lengthy history of Burton Ale. You can read what British beer writer Martyn Cornell had to say about the style on the Zythophile blog. Or you can really geek out about it with brewer’s logs and recipes on the Shut Up About Barklay Perkins blog. I’ll let those guys do that. I’m just going to tell you my impression of the Schell’s version and leave it at that.
Here’s my notes:
Stag Series #4: Burton Ale
August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, Minnesota
Style: Burton Ale
Serving Style: 12 oz Bottle
Aroma: Sweet and toasty malt takes center stage with overtones of caramel, figs, and just the slightest suggestion of citrus. Earthy hops remain in the background.
Appearance: Clear. Dark amber to mahogany colored. Good stand of rocky, beige foam that persisted reasonably well.
Flavor: The main event is sweet malt, redolent with flavors of molasses, brown sugar, caramel, figs and raisins. A light impression of chocolate enters midway through. Earthy and citrus hop flavors seem to float on another layer along with prickly, minerally bitterness. The bitterness balances, but sweetness rules. The finish is spectacular, well-attenuated, but sweet. It seems to go on forever with successive waves of molasses, figs, raisins, and even anise.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Thick and smooth. Medium carbonation. Light alcohol warming.
Overall Impression: Man, what a finish!! It was great in my mouth, but still I could hardly wait to swallow every sip. The flavor layers are clearly articulated. Some may find this beer too sweet, but I love malt and this really showcases malt. It’s a bit like an overly-hopped, English Doppelbock.