Beer Profile: Shed Brewing’s Mountain Ale

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Shed Brewery Mountain Ale
Middlebury, VT
(That’s the small print on bottle. Big print says “Stowe.”)

Profiled by Ken Carman for professorgoodales

Beer-Profile1-258x300 Listed as a “rugged brown ale,” this brown ale might better be listed as slightly harsh, somewhat overly bitter butter brown. Those comments may seem harsh, but only if you ignore the modifiers, both “slight” and “somewhat,” and the fact that the diacetyl-like butter-sense is background, but grows once you become aware it’s there.

The bottle claims 1995. Unless they weren’t exporting out to other nearby states, or they were under another name, seems odd I’ve never seen this spending as much time as I have for the past 30 years in New England. BA and Rate list this as an old ale/English Strong. The packaging I had said it was a brown.

In my opinion it was neither old, strong or brown.

Nose was brown malt with a sense of sweet: orange-like. Maybe a tad butter? But almost all of this is in the mouthfeel and the taste.

Appearance: a deep brown that creeps up on black. SRM at least 18. Nice tan small bubble, but mostly pillow, head. Slight chill haze: probably the propane fridge it came out of. Good clarity, otherwise.

Some of the “harsh” could possibly be a hint of Black Patent, but still too much. Yet, I’m guessing too much hops at too long a boil: too early in the boil. That explains why it’s not in the nose. Nice chewy mouthfeel provides a great sense of depth to the malt in both mouthfeel and taste. Other than the possible hint of black patent adding to the bitter/harsh, the malt complexity with possible pale, brown and mix of caramel malts: maybe even a hint of Maris Otter, is pleasing. But the slight butter and the harsh just leaves me annoyed.

87 at Beer Advocate. BA says “retired.” Could I have gotten an old bottle? Purchased at Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge, MA: I doubt it. They rotate product where the six packs are displayed rather fast: this had a primo spot. Looks like most reviewers reviewed it lower but a couple went high enough to skew the results. Rate Beer has it at 59: closer to fact.

Further research shows Otter Creek purchased Shed a while back. Odd: Otter Creek usually does a great job.

I really can’t recommend this, and the sad fact here is it is much more promising than other browns often brewed by mega-brewers who disguise their mega-ness under fake brands. I’m going to go with 3, on the PGA scale, though I’d rather do a 2.5. But the attempt is worthy of 3 or maybe even 3.5. At least the brewer attempted to step out of the bland box, and wasn’t way off like some mega-brewer attempts.

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”