British breweries still have a little something to learn from their US counterparts; we may have imported their hops, their “craft cool” and even their cans, but so far we don’t seem to have embraced the “brewery tap as restaurant and tasting experience” to the same extent as our American friends.
Blue Mountain Brewery is a case in point; sat in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains (which seems to be the backdrop to half the booze-producers in Virginia!) their brewery contains an excellent restaurant where you can sit in the sun and take in the views, while enjoying some tasty food and, of course, beer.
Ok, so most British breweries can’t compete when it comes to mountains, but I’ve also never been faced with such an extensive taster flight either; 10, 70ml samplers across their range and an inhumanly large pizza? Surely every beer lover’s dream!
Of course, 2.5oz of beer isn’t going to make for the most extensive tasting notes in history, but here’s a quick dash through the best that Blue Mountain have to offer.
Classic Lager, 5.3% ABV, 22 IBU – is what it is; a perfectly decent, softly fruity pils.
Kolsch 151, 5.0% ABV, 16 IBU – a lighter beer than the Classic Lager, with a more pronounced hoppy character despite the slightly lower IBU.
365 Shandy, 5.0% ABV, 12 IBU – in terms of flavour, a classic shandy with a sticky sweetness and a nice kick of lemon. At 5% though, it’s the strongest shandy I’ve ever had!
Wallonia, 7.5% ABV, 36 IBU – a very Belgian saison, with that slightly spiced banana aroma; dangerously drinkable for a relatively strong beer.
Lights Out, 7.0% ABV, 27 IBU – Blue Mountain’s Holiday Ale, it’s malty and sweet and full of rich red berry fruit.
Hibernator, 7.6% ABV, 19 IBU – clean and malty, this Doppelbock manages to be rich without getting heavy or sticky and is simply delicious.
Full Nelson, 5.9% ABV, 60 IBU – this is what you automatically think of when talking American Craft Beer; a big pale hop bomb with an aroma dripping with floral notes, like sticking your head in a hop sack. In the mouth, the bitterness comes through more than the flavour of those hops, which is a slight disappointment.
Barhopper IPA, 6.8% ABV, 60 IBU – a more balanced hop bomb; less aggressive on the nose, but much more pronounced hop flavours. Smooth, refined and well balanced.
Local Species, 6.6% ABV, 24 IBU – a deeply unusual beer, described as a bourbon barrel-aged Belgo-American ale. It has a light fruit nose – reminiscent of a vineyard – and a smooth, creamy and green fruit flavour, with a gentle bourbon background, and an edge of wet wood.
Nitro Porter, 7.6% ABV, 24 IBU – coffee and toasted oak, it’s a great hommage to that well known nitro-powered Irish stout!
Overall, it’s an impressive range and despite its breadth they all manage to be quite distinct. Yes, some are more successful than others, but they’re all pretty tasty (and well matched to huge pizzas!)