Ballantine Burton Ale

It was in Newark that the legend of Ballantine Burton Ale was born. Famous for the reputably excellent Ballantine IPA, the brewers at Newark made a special beer for private distribution. This beer was brewed to a very high gravity and designed for long periods of maturation in oak tanks. A limited bottling every Fall would be released to employees and friends of the brewers as gifts for the holiday. The special label (examples of which are periodically available on ebay) lists the date the beer was brewed, bottled, and the person for whom the gift was intended.

According to Fred Eckhardt in an interview I conducted several years ago, the Burton Ale was a very strong beer of unknown gravity, with over 60 IBU’s of bitterness and a lengthy period in the wood. Eckhardt suggests that this beer has its roots prior to prohibition. This is a sensible assumption. As Ballantine dated its origins in Newark to 1840, it is not hard to imagine the brewery tapping into the old New England tradition of strong stock ale. The Burton Ale can be viewed as a fostering of this tradition, perhaps one of the last remaining examples.


(This article includes an actual tasting and further comments.)

Ye Olde Scribe’s Bad Beer Report

“When taste buds rebel and stomachs upchuck you know your palette is stuck on YUCK.”

Written by Ye Olde Scribe

Grab the little critter and squeezzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeee the essence into your glass. Make sure you get both barrels. Ah, SKUNK BEER! If that’s your desire grab your heine and lick it dry! Isn’t there a bit irony when a nickname is so apt? Scribe used to be a big fan of the darker version. Maybe Scribe just has more taste these days? Hey, it twere the 70s. Anything related to disco is tainted by mere location.

Corn… DMS. Weak body. A slightly sour sense. Weak urine color. What’s to complain about?