Stowe, Vt., Shed Brewery and Restaurant brewery is shuttered, but its recipes live on. Otter Creek Brewing Company/Wolaver's has purchased the Shed brand, recipes and brewing equipment, and is now producing Shed beers.
Last October, while on a trip to Vermont, I stopped at a small general store in the middle of nowhere and found a growler of the Shed IPA.
I had heard of the Shed - it was one of the oldest brewing operations in New England, opening its doors in 1965, so I was happy to grab the half-gallon jug of beer to bring home with me. And when I tried it, I really enjoyed it. It was a good solid India pale ale.
About a week later, I heard that the Shed Brewery and Restaurant, based in Stowe, Vt., was closing its doors after owner Ken Strong was not able to renew his lease. I was a little sad that I never got a chance to stop at the restaurant to see what other beers they had to offer.
But there is a happy ending to this story. The much larger brewery, Otter Creek Brewing Company/Wolaver's, purchased the Shed brand, recipes and brewing equipment, keeping the brand alive.
And now, Otter Creek has begun bottling two of the most popular beers from the brewpub, the Mountain Ale and the IPA.
When I saw the two beers at the liquor store last week, I quickly picked up singles of each of them. I was really excited to see if the IPA was as good as it was when I tried it in the growler, and I was wondering if the recipe had changed.
I picked up no big difference, except the beer tasted fresher than when I tried it for the first time.
The Shed IPA comes in at 6 percent alcohol by volume, and it falls somewhere between an American IPA and English IPA. The hop bitterness is a little more in your face than a typical English IPA. However, the malt body and the use of English hops gives it the more British feel.
Either way, it is an enjoyable, easy-drinking IPA. It won't blow your doors off, but most IPA fans should enjoy it.
The other beer is the Shed Mountain Ale. The bottle describes this as a "Rugged Brown Ale," I didn't find this 7.4 percent ABV beer as "rugged." If anything, it was extremely smooth and easy drinking for such a big beer.
There is a lot of sweetness - both from malts and what tastes like the addition of brown sugar. There is little to no hop presence in the beer. For such a high-alchohol beer, you can't taste any booze, which can sneak up on you if you have a few.
This is a really solid beer - one of the better New England brown ales available.
I'm glad to see that Otter Creek/Wolaver's has decided to keep the Shed line of beers going. With the explosion of craft breweries opening throughout New England in the past two or three years, it is easy to forget about the history of New England beers and brewing and those that paved the way for the new breweries, and that should never happen.
I can't wait to see if the company decides to brew additional Shed beers. If they do, I know I'll be buying them.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out the Beer Nut blog at blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/realbeernut or on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/beernutnorman.