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Sailing the bitter seas with Burton Bridge Empire Pale Ale

Jeremy Short · Dec. 29

 

Day four of these beer tasting we have a bit of a hop theme going on with Burton Bridge Brewery’s Empire Pale Ale. Unlike the creepy eye’s of Dry Dock’s IPA we have a pair of the Queen’s men sharing a refreshing brew. How cheery! I think they’re ready to battle the beast of the Dry Dock can.

What's great about this beer is that it comes from Burton-Upon-Trent, the birthplace of the pale ale. Coming from the birthplace is one thing, but a beer brewed with the famous water that brings out that sharp hop flavor makes the experience all the better. I think, possible, this is the first beer I've had a beer from Burton-Upon-Trent. I feel like quite a slacker for admitting that fact. I just need to fly to England and travel from pub to pub to pub and get a proper English beer drinking experience. There really is a very small selection of English beer available in the United States. I found this IPA while on vacation in Kansas. Wait, can you consider a trip to Kansas a vacation? I suppose they have some sort of Tourist Bureau who would very strongly say yes. Where was I? oh, yeah, the beer.

As soon as I pulled that cap off I could smell and see the beer I had always imagined the English IPA to be. Truly pale in color. Rich spicy/earth hops jumping out of the glass. It's a bit more boozy than I expected and it does come in at the high end of the style with 7.5% ABV. A couple of these beasts while far away from home in India would be enough to get you twirling your feet.

What about water? Water? Really, water? This is one of the key parts of Burton-Upon-Trent and why they made such great pale ale and here is an opportunity to try such an ale. And no disappointment here. There is a distinct mineral flavor that add to the flavor and lets the hops show all their stuff. The grist is nice and simple. According to the website they use simply: Pale & Invert sugar No.2. My kind of reciepe! Simple. Delicious. As far as the hops in this beer go they use Challenger with Styrian.

Out of curiosity I checked out those other beer rating sites. I saw several reviews pointing out a sour flavor. My bottle had nothing of the sort. I think it could be possible that a batch of this ale was infected and soured but it is not the characteristic I would expect and if you did run into such an example I would take it back and buy another. This is not a sour ale. This is a delicious IPA. Also, just a quick thought, of course it's not like American IPAs! I scanned over a couple of reviews suggesting this is not a hoppy beer. These people are idiots. This is very hoppy. The bitterness is lasting and flavorful (as a good bitterness should be). The body is is fairly heavy and sticky.

If you have a chance I would highly recommend grabbing a bottle of this beer.

BONUS BEER!

Boom sauce! We have a second beer to enjoy today. The reason? Scanning through

my in-laws’ fridge on this vacation I ran into a couple bottle’s of New Belgium's Rampant an Imperial IPA. This is here because I put it here many months ago on our last visit. What a pleasant surprise to have it still waiting for me! There are few places that one can put a beer (especially a beer a good as Rampant) and return month later to find your beer waiting for you. The reason I want to toss this beer in with the English IPA above is that it makes a great contrasting beer. It  has a simple malt base: pale plus, oddly enough, black malt. It's strong 8.5%. And it's hoppy as hell. But the hop profile is distinctly different. With Rampant you will find the fancy pants hops Mosaic, Calypso, and the not-as-exciting-but-still-delicious Centennial. What a great contrast these beers are. Both are excellent ales and showcase such significantly different hops that it would make for a great example of what hops can do to a beer. Here you can see the Old World and the New World and what that means for hops.

I didn't take notes on the Rampant and won't say too much more. I will say that you should check it out. It's an excellent brew with great value. An Imperial IPA that won't break your wallet.

Day five's beer? Another English one waits in the fridge.

 

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