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.”

The Honey Launderers: Uncovering the Largest Food Fraud in U.S. History

Sauerkraut in supposedly LOCAL honey? For those of us who make meads, or use honey in brewing, this should prove interesting…-PGA

Photograph by Jamie Chung for Bloomberg Businessweek
Photograph by Jamie Chung for Bloomberg Businessweek
Magnus von Buddenbrock and Stefanie Giesselbach arrived in Chicago in 2006 full of hope. He was 30, she was 28, and they had both won their first overseas assignments at ALW Food Group, a family-owned food-trading company based in Hamburg. Von Buddenbrock had joined ALW—the initials stand for its founder, Alfred L. Wolff—four years earlier after earning a degree in marketing and international business, and he was expert in the buying and selling of gum arabic, a key ingredient in candy and soft drinks. Giesselbach had started at ALW as a 19-year-old apprentice. She worked hard, learned quickly, spoke five languages, and within three years had become the company’s first female product manager. Her specialty was honey. When the two colleagues began their new jobs in a small fourth-floor office a few blocks from Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, ALW’s business was growing, and all they saw was opportunity.

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