“Tapping the Keg” is a weekly review of craft beers brought to you by staff writer Dan Wood.
Located in Stowe, Vermont and founded in 1995, the Shed Brewery is fairly new to the craft brew scene. They started out as a restaurant and brewery in Stowe, so this beer was designed to pair with gourmet food. They eventually expanded to a full-sized brewery to brew and distribute more of their wonderful products that had already become a favorite by local patrons of the restaurant.
Upon first impression of this beer, one might draw from the packaging that the brewers are modest and do not rely on flashy packaging or gimmicks to draw in new customers, as many beers do with their outrageous artwork and crazy names. The Shed Brewery tends to lean on the conservative side, as all of their bottles sport the same logo with a very limited color palate. The logo is almost reminiscent of an old company logo from the mid 1800s, giving it a pleasant antiquity.
Sporting two bare trees on a barn red background, this Mountain Ale looks to be just right for late fall/early winter. Out of the bottle, this beer is a muddy red brown with a luscious head of fine, creamy bubbles that don’t grow too large so you can get right to enjoying this beer.
The nose of this beer provides notes of black fruits like plum and blackberry, as well as very slight hints of red apple and orange peel. The top does share some characteristics of the nose but is far more complex: here we get tastes of those black fruits, but are given a deeper look into the beer’s profile. The black fruits are seamlessly blended into notes of coffee and malt, all while remaining crisp and clean. The complex body gives way to a very different finish, tasting very nutty and earthy with a slight bitterness, mildly resembling cut hardwood.
These woody flavors in the finish are most likely attributed to the fact that this brown ale is unfiltered, leaving behind other compounds that give the beer this unique flavors that would otherwise not be found in commercial brown ales.
This beer is incredibly complex, straying from the typical build of a brown ale. Most brown ales have heavy malt, caramel and citrus tones much like a cola, but Mountain ale is “a rugged brown ale,” unfiltered and full of surprises.
This beer is strong enough to stand up to dishes that many beers could not. It would make a lovely pairing with roast game like duck, goose or venison, perfect with the hunting season now upon us. Along those same lines, this beer would compliment any dish that showcases mushrooms, pine herbs, onion and bold seasonings. The black fruit and subtle bitterness of this brown ale would also be great with anything creamy, be it soft ripened cheeses or a red meat ravioli in a cream sauce.
This beer weighs in at 7.4% ABV and is easy to drink, so go easy on it. Mountain Ale is available locally at Price Chopper as a six-pack or as part of their pick-six deal for around $10 to $12. Although this beer is from Vermont, it is close enough to be local, and you should always help your local economy and producers! Mountain Ale is sure to warm you up over the coming holiday season and should be a must on your beer list this time of year.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.