I was super pumped when I heard that Phantom Canyon was re-brewing a 1942 Burton Ale. I’ve never had a Burton Ale but I’ve wanted to try one for some time now. Burton (Burton upon Trent) is a town in England that has become famous for the popularization of the IPA, and the lesser known Burton Ale. According to Roger Protz:
“Burton Ale [was] a beer that was just as vigorously exported in the 18th century as IPA was a century later. It was Burton Ale that built both the reputations and fortunes of the Burton brewers but as a style it disappeared in the 20th century, taxed out of existence as a result of its strength, and overtaken in popularity by pale ale and bitter.”
Burton’s water is known for its high mineral content, and from what I understand these minerals play a significant part in the flavor of the beer. The beer is also darker than the IPA which followed it, higher ABV, and meant to be aged. So, Alan at Phantom based his recipe on the one found at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, but switched a few things around including the use of Galena and Challenger hops, and the beer is lighter in color than I believe the original KK style would have been, although I know he still used barley, brown, rye, and amber malts. I believe that this particular version had less strength than other Burton Ales, and was not meant to age. Anyway, about this beer:
The beer is a hazy orange and almost has the taste of a brown ale with roasty, bready, toasty, and amber malt character to it. The bitterness is strong, but probably not if you’re used to West Coast Double IPA’s, the bitterness is nice and earthy, there’s a prominent nuttiness to it as well and it’s medium-full bodied which is surprising for it’s color. I actually often prefer an earthier beer to the citrusy IPAs we often get. Additionally the beer had a somewhat mineraly saltiness to it that left me thirsty and wanting more. This mineral flavor added a nice complexity that stretches far beyond the hops and malts, it’s a welcome and nice extra layer in the beer.
I’ve never had a Burton Ale before and I certainly wasn’t around when Burton Ale was in full swing so I don’t know how well Phantom nailed this one in terms of style, but, for what it’s worth I can tell you that it stands out in my mind as unique. While the beer may not be to everyone’s liking, I’d certainly order a few more pints of it. I recommend stopping in and ordering one of these before it disappears. It’s a real treat!