Jeff, I'd be interested in your rendition of the Burton Ale. After having drank them myself and others here on the forum(Denny et al) and along with my tasting notes reflecting what Brockington reported in the 90's of the apparent "apple and pear" aroma, I personally would surmise that they actually used the Bass strain for those two batches they brewed in '34 and '46. Getting back ot, it's funny how brewing myths can seem reality, when I lived in Chico and talked to Ken Grossman about the analogy that he got his yeast from the dying Ballantine brand back in the late 70's, he immediately chuckled and told me he got a strain that was banked at Siebel in Chicago and went on the performance specs.
The Newark Yeast intrigues me and is inspiring me to brew up some more Ballantine IPA project beers now that I have a source for "organic" Brewers Gold which I believe was a favorite at Ballantines. I've subbed Cluster on recommendations but, I'm ready to rework the recipe with BG. This is awesome! Let's keep the conversation going!
Some of this will likely repeat what I may have posted elsewhere, but since it's relevant to the discussion at hand, here goes:
From what I had been able to find out from a few former Ballantine employees a number of years ago (and I started inquiring about it probably more than 30 years ago), their XXX, IPA, Brown Stout, Porter, and Burton ales ALL used the same Ballantine house ale yeast . The strain originated in England, but nothing I was told firsthand or read elsewhere ever led me to believe it was the Bass strain. The Ballantine strain (whatever its UK origins) was certainly robust enough that there would have been no reason to substitute something else.
My ongoing experiments with reproducing the Bally IPA have settled in with Cluster and Bullion for the hops; Brewers Gold was used by the brewery for a time, but is a bit more difficult to find nowadays and Bullion is a very good substitute as far as my palate can discern. As pointed out many times, the real keys to their IPA were the long aging period (they aged it for 1 year, in wooden aging tanks) and the use of hop oil in addition to the dry hopping.
I'm still working on the hop oil part of it, but aside from that issue, the only times I've ever come remotely close to reproducing the beer was when I could keep my mitts off of it and let it fully age for 8-12 months.
As far as the Burton beer, it's also interesting to note that (according to at least one firsthand account) other than the unbelievably long aging prior to bottling (up to 20 years), their Burton was essentially the same beer as their IPA- -perhaps ramped up a bit with a higher OG at the outset-- -- but topped up annually with select batches of the IPA once the yearly Xmas bottling was done. That's evidently how they were able to keep up the tradition for 20+ years.