Note: This review is the latest in an occasional series examining "go-to" beers. They're not the rarest or baddest beers on the planet, but you can never go wrong picking up a six-pack.
If you're a skier who's spent any time in Vermont, you've likely heard of The Shed Brewery and Restaurant. The Stowe, Vt. instiution has closed, but the brand and the beer live on. The Otter Creek/Wolaver's company purchased the brand, recipes, and brewing equipment from the brewpub and revived two of the most popular beers. You can now buy The Shed IPA and Mountain Ale in a large part of New England, including Massachusetts
I picked up a six-pack of Mountain Ale having never been to the Stowe brewpub. That's good because I didn't rate the beer based on any nostalgia, but I also can't compare it to the beer you had there in the past. One of my resourceful readers will have to tell me how the new version holds up.
The Shed Mountain Ale is described as a "rugged brown ale." It pours a dark hazelnut with a frothy off-white head. I smell toasted brown bread and candied sugar. The aroma is fairly underwhelming.
From the description I was expecting a beer that was rough around the edges, but I found this beer to be just the opposite. There's a big hop profile for a brown ale; it's sweet but not sticky, robust but not heavy. The finish is actually quite smooth, and I had to do a double-take to confirm that the beer I was drinking carried an ABV of 7.2 percent. I found the whole experience to be rather enjoyable.
This is a go-to beer because of how incredibly drinkable and balanced it is. I gave a bottle to my father-in-law, an avid Bud drinker, and he didn't waste a drop. I'll be seeking out more of this.