Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mountain Livin'

Sunny afternoon, threatening rain, lawn still without sight nor sound of a lawn mower, and I'm in the mood to sit at our garden bench thing and have me some ale. I picked up this Mountain Livin' back when my drinking partner was up for a weekend of ales (see here) and he insisted on buying me a bottle at my local bottle shop - having already sampled the delights of the Burnt Pig - and who was I to argue. I'm not usually a fan of pales but I saw that this was a Statesian brew and at 355ml and thought, why not. And why not indeed. Brewed by Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. up in Colorado (I think). So I sat near the cat-scarer and poured me a glass.

Some big pigeons dropped by to wish me well as I poured and there were wasps out and about near the rather beach-coloured fence panels. Would you like to know more?

Thick malt on the nose with a close yeast-y spice that eclipsed any kind of hops action. Carefully poured at first before I threw caution to the wind and went for a bit of a head (and boy did I get some head) and then it all went wild. Mainly heavy yeast with a malty backdrop by the time I got round to having a look at the orange-hued liquid that sat in the glass with a fair bit of bottle-conditioned carbonation at play. There was evidence of plenty of yeast in the bottle on the glass and a goodly amount of brewing sugar had plainly been used in production. I could see one or two flecks of the yeast in the glass itself but these were no bad thing, after all, this has been imported all the way from the states by a company in the UK that appears to be owned by the brewers. I am prepared to let them off the occasional bits of yeast that make it through even on my over-cautious pour.

The heavy soap of the aroma, for soapy it is, gives way to a brief burning sensation of yeast on the lips and into the first element of the taste, big carbonation and a big malt, which is a surprise for such a thin-looking ale. Then it mounts and the yeast and malt do battle as it reaches the centre of the mouth, filling the whole space and rapidly bringing that feeling of heavy alcoholic content that some palwes do manage quite well. At 5.2% ABV you feel the strength of this one and there's no way it can be accidentally sessioned, this is a fairly strong pale that doesn't mind you knowing it and gets on with the job of blasting your tastebuds back whence they came. Big and heavy on the yeast throughout and it takes the lead into the rush to the aftertaste where it burns briefly at the back of the throat before relinquishing its strangle hold as it slips down to the belly.

It lacks that warming sensation of the Breakfast Stout (see here), as one would expect, and, insttead, goes all in for the yeast and the carbonation taking the main role. A goodly amount of hops are added but the combination of yeast and malt pretty much renders them moot in my opinion. Hard to place anything particularly hoppy in this pale. And I am surprised by that, because I hear often how much the Statesians love their hops and love that fruity hop-headed ale that does so well. This is brewed in the mountains and, between the name of the brewery and the imagery on the bottle, it is plain that this is an integral part of their image and ethos. To that end, this is a mountain ale. It is dry at the sides of the mouth and dry on the aftertaste, it is full and rich and yeasty on the tongue with a big hit of malt on the nose so that you know exactly what you're dealing with. There is a big soapiness to it that makes me wonder if I have ever used that term correctly in the past.

Coming after a stout and with the weather slowly turning to a better sort with less wet and more sunshine in the offing I am not sure this is the ale for me to be championing and enjoying as much as I could. As the second ale in my garden this year I certainly can't complain and I have enjoyed the experience, but I'm not itching to get down to the bottle shop and buy more before they run out the way I was with the Billionaire (see here) for example. Decent enough and you may prefer the yeasty-malt that this is awash with. If pales are your thing then I expect that this is an ale that would have you very pleased. I imagine that it does well in beer festivals with people that aren't me and aren't diving into the stouts and the IPAs with gay abandon.

Enjoy this best on a mountain hike above the conifer line, where the deciduous trees fail to colonise and the animals fear to tread. Wind is shielded by the densely packed needles of pines and conifers in the high altitude and there are few roads. Nevertheless, there is sunshine and a brisk scent in the air as you sit by the side of the trail, rest your weary legs and take a few moments to bask in the achievement before pulling a brace of these from the pack, opening them with the attachment on the Swiss Army knife, and then sharing them with your walking partner. There's a full afternoon ahead and you know it will increase the amount of water that is needed, but that's no bad thing.

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