Style Details

Bur­ton Ale
Strong Bri­tish Ale
BJCP Style Code
17 A1
Light cop­per to dark brown in color. Dar­ker ver­si­ons can be near­ly opaque, but cla­ri­ty should be good when noted. Mode­ra­te-sized, fine-tex­tu­red, cream-colo­red head, persistent.
Modera­te­ly strong, rich, and sweet mal­ty aro­ma with deep toast or dark cara­mel notes. No roasty or burnt malt appa­rent, but a brea­dy and bis­cui­ty base is com­mon. Dark or dried fruit (plums, figs, pru­nes, rai­sins) often pre­sent at up to a mode­ra­te level. A light alco­hol pre­sence may be noted, but should not be sharp. Hops can be light to mode­ra­te, and reflec­ti­ve of frui­ty, flo­ral, woo­dy, or spi­cy Eng­lish varie­ties. The malt makes the stron­gest impres­si­on in the balan­ce, but the other aspects add an aro­ma­tic complexity.
Simi­lar to the aro­ma, the malt is initi­al­ly noted with a rich cha­rac­ter and a some­what sweet finish. The bit­ter­ness level is medi­um-high to high and helps balan­ce the strong malt fla­vor. The malt fla­vors have a brea­dy and bis­cui­ty cha­rac­ter with sub­stan­ti­al deep toast or dark cara­mel fla­vors; over­ly roas­ted and burnt fla­vors are inap­pro­pria­te. Hop fla­vor can be medi­um to low, with a frui­ty, flo­ral, spi­cy, or woo­dy Eng­lish qua­li­ty. Dark or dried fruit fla­vors (plum, pru­ne, fig, or rai­sin) are often pre­sent at up to a mode­ra­te level. A light alco­hol fla­vor might be detec­ted, but the sweet­ness in the finish usual­ly masks it. The sweet­ness should be balan­ced by hops and never be cloy­ing or clashing.
Medi­um-full to full body with a smooth, rich, luscious cha­rac­ter. Warm­ing alco­hol should be noti­ceable in stron­ger ver­si­ons. Mode­ra­te car­bo­na­ti­on, lower when ser­ved on hand pump.
Over­all Impression
A rich, mal­ty, sweet, and bit­ter dark ale of modera­te­ly strong alco­hol. Full bodi­ed and che­wy with a balan­ced hop­py finish and com­plex mal­ty and hop­py aro­ma. Frui­ty notes accen­tua­te the malt rich­ness, while the hops help balan­ce the swee­ter finish.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Brea­dy and bis­cui­ty Eng­lish base malts. Sub­stan­ti­al por­ti­on of ‘high kil­ned’ malt. His­to­ri­cal ver­si­ons often used bre­wing sug­ars and corn. More modern ver­si­ons can use crys­tal malts for fla­vor and cho­co­la­te malt for color. Eng­lish ale yeast. Tra­di­tio­nal Eng­lish hops, often dry hopped.
Popu­lar in Bur­ton befo­re IPAs were inven­ted, wide­ly expor­ted to the Bal­tic count­ries. After 1822, refor­mu­la­ted to be less sweet and strong. Most popu­lar in the Vic­to­ri­an Era, with seve­ral dif­fe­rent strengths available in the fami­ly. The stron­gest ver­si­ons evol­ved into Eng­lish Bar­ley­wi­nes. Beca­me less popu­lar after WWII, even­tual­ly dying out around 1970. Some ver­si­ons exist as Win­ter War­mers, Bar­ley­wi­nes, or Old Ales, but the name has lost favor in the market.
The beer has a long and sto­ried histo­ry and many ver­si­ons exis­ted over time. The style repre­sen­ted her most­ly repres­ents the beer at its peak befo­re WWI, alt­hough the para­me­ters allow for later era lower-gra­vi­ty ver­si­ons as well. A kee­ping ale, the beer was typi­cal­ly aged befo­re consuming.
Com­mer­cial Examples
The Labo­ra­to­ry Gone for a Burton
Has some simi­la­ri­ty in malt fla­vor to Wee Hea­vy, but with sub­stan­ti­al­ly more bit­ter­ness. Less strong than an Eng­lish Barleywine.
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.055 - 1.075 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.018 - 1.024 SG
14 - 22 SRM
5.0 - 7.5 %vol
40 - 50 IBU