#85: Burton Baton – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware
What the HELL is wrong with me? This is my 85th (yes, 85TH) review and this will be the very first time I review a beer brewed by Dogfish Head. As many of you are aware, Dogfish Head is viewed as the craft brewery. They’re as innovative as anyone, their beers are as renowned and beloved as any, and their sales are… well, they’re damn good. They are the unofficial flag bearers for craft brewing in the United States, always offering something new while keeping the practice of brewing in perspective. So what took me so long? Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you. I suppose I feel a brewery of this magnitude deserves a certain treatment in order to distinguish it from the rest. Perhaps that “treatment” is making them review No. 85. At least, that’s my excuse.
Dogfish Head was founded by Sam Calagione in 1995 under the name “Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats,” and was Delaware’s first brewpub. As a brewery with a bustling restaurant and little equipment, Dogfish Head found itself brewing three times a day, Monday through Friday. This led to a great deal of repetition, and it provided the perfect opportunity for experimentation. As Dogfish Head’s reputation grew, their 12-gallon capacity quickly became unfit for keeping up with demand, and an expansion of the brewhouse soon followed. In 1996, Dogfish Head began bottling their Shelter Pale Ale, and three years later the brewery was shipping five beers to nearly a dozen states. In 2002, Dogfish Head moved their production brewery to 100,000 square-foot facility, and also added a distillery on the second floor of their brewpub. Today, Dogfish Head produces 75,000 barrels of beer annually, and has resoundingly established itself in the center of America’s craft brewing movement with their “off-centered” approach. Whether it’s using a diverse range of ingredients, reproducing ancient ales from recipes that date back to the 8th century BC, or being the subject of the television show “Brewmasters” on the Discovery Channel, Dogfish Head has established itself as one of the lead horses in the craft brewing world with their thirst for innovation. Today, we’ll take a look at their Double IPA, Burton Baton.
Pull over, that beer too fat.
The beer poured with a big, billowy, foamy off-white head, which receded to a comfortable rim atop the beer and stuck around for quite a while. The color was a hazy amber, with tints of dark/burnt orange and red visible as well. For a double IPA, I get quite a bit of malt in the nose, and this is a welcome sensation. The malt is quite assertive, bringing along with it hints of caramel and slightly buttery sweetness. At 10% ABV, I was expecting a little more alcohol in the nose, but it remains quite balanced. In addition, orange and other citrus scents are evident, making this a very well-rounded aroma.
I immediately notice how rich the malt is, and I can tell this beer is going to be a wonderful time. The malt definitely doesn’t shy away from the hops in this one. Rich caramelly flavors hit the tongue quickly, but after that things get complicated as it becomes an onslaught of flavors. The nuttiness of the oak adds a wonderful dimension to this beer, and it complements the malt beautifully with its dryness. Citrus flavors such as orange and mango are also somewhere a little further down the line. Nearing the finish, additional sweetness presents itself in the form of dried fruit, such as dried apricots or even candied peaches. Hops also come back into the range of flavor as the finish approaches, adding dry bitterness to balance the wide array of sweet flavors. With such complexity of flavor, the 10% ABV is noticeable only for a brief moment in the finish, and is quickly swept away by a slightly lingering, pleasant bitterness. The mouthfeel is very full and hearty, but somehow finishes with enough smoothness to make the beer drinkable. Outstanding.
Beers such as this make me feel foolish for taking so long to feature Dogfish Head on Whosisbrew. These guys understand how to obtain every ounce of flavor from each ingredient they use, and their passion for brewing is apparent with each sip you take. I’ve never been adamant about double IPAs, but Burton Baton might have the capability to turn me to the dark side.