Thursday, 6 December 2012
Fuller’s Past Masters – Old Burton Extra
As beer writer Martyn Cornell makes clear, Burton Ale was not a bitter IPA as one might suppose, but a slightly stronger, darker and sweeter beer than the pale ales first made famous by that Staffordshire brewing town before its name become synonymous with India Pale Ale. A Burton remained a popular choice in pubs in the immediate period after the Second World War but today it is a virtually forgotten style – Gone for a Burton, as they say. More recent beers brewed in the Burton tradition no longer go by that name.
This is very recognisably a Fuller’s beer with characteristic marmalade and spearmint aroma but also hints of fresh grassy hops and hazelnut above the fruity caramel malt. For its strength of 7.3%, I was surprised at the smooth, light, almost delicate initial taste, only after which the alcoholic warmth becomes apparent. It is certainly a very easy beer to drink, aided by the fact that it is not in the slightest bit cloying; for while the flavour is predominantly fruity and sweet with burnt sugar and caramel malt, it is remarkably well-balanced by a gentle but lingering dry hop finish.
The original Fuller’s Old Burton Extra was replaced in 1971 by a winter brew called ESB. Wonder what happened to that?