The Devil’s is certainly a dark pale ale, being somewhat coppery brown in colour, but I put little stock in the stylistic relevance of hue, so let’s proceed with the aroma. There is fruit there, as Martyn suggests is essential to Burton ale, but more so I get treacly caramel, which tarnishes the complexity of the nose with simplistic sugar notes. How this jibes with Martyn’s definition of Burton pale ale I do not know, as his post on the subject does not mention fragrant sugars like caramel, but it differs greatly from enticing, intriguing and, most importantly, wonderfully complex aroma of the Worthington White Shield I was supping last Friday.
On the palate, this beer certainly suggests a mix of fruit and hop, with dark and dried fruits like raisins and prunes holding the former banner and toasted nuttiness (walnuts, perhaps) standing in for the hops. On the finish, there’s a fair degree of bitterness, along with the roasted malt notes that arise in the second half of the taste and a whisper of smokiness.
What I like about this beer is its middle, the point where hops meet malty sweetness and begin the drift towards the bitter finish. What I don’t like is the clumsiness of that selfsame finish, which offers a coarse bitterness that stands in stark contrast with the softer approach of the front end.
As for the question of whether or not it might be in the Burton style, even if unintentionally so, I’d say not, or at least that’s what I’d say when comparing it to what I know of the classic Burton ale, it being White Shield. Which is not to say that the Devil’s is a bad beer – it’s a fine enough ale, if not necessarily one to get too excited about – but rather that the Worthington is an exceptional one.