Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Milton, DE
Price: $3.95/12 oz
ABV: 10%
NSP: 8.99

I've got a weird relationship with DFH.  90 Minute was the beer that got me into IPA in the first place.  But since then, my tastes have changed, and I pretty much always opt for a lighter-bodied California IPA over DFH's heavier fare.  Of course, it doesn't help that DFH beers are a bit on the pricey side, particularly their specialties, when a sixer of Lagunitas or Stone can be had for about 8 bucks.  But I've heard many good things about this beer in particular, so I scooped one up while I was in Oregon, since I don't actually think I've seen it in San Diego even though it's a year-rounder.

Well, it certainly is malty.  But the smell coming out of the glass is vanilla-y and caramelly, with no mustiness at all, so that's a good start.  I see on the bottle that this is oak-aged, and that's undoubtedly bringing some of that vanilla in.  I also see by the website that this is actually an imperial IPA blended with an old ale- which is why it tastes like a hoppy scotch ale on steroids.  The hops and malt seem to have achieved an interesting balance here, but I'm not sure I like it, mainly because the malt's strong enough that the hops don't bring much beyond bitterness.  To me, the key component of this beer is, somewhat strangely, the alcohol.  And no, not in an I-don't-give-a-shit-it'll-get-you-drunk kind of way.  This is one of those cases where alcohol provides an extra layer of flavor and complexity, and it makes the beer a fully stable tripod along with the malt and hops.  Without that alcohol punch, I feel like I'd just be drinking a morbidly obese amber ale.  The oak also brings some good stuff to the party- the woodsy vanilla softens the impact of all that muscle a little bit.

All in all, not bad.  Not something I'm going to buy every day, certainly not at this price.  But now I've got a fresh example of alcohol as a flavor enhancer, which is good, because I sure as hell don't remember the last one.

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