Burnt Mountain Brown Ale

The Zion Canyon Brewing Company in Springdale, Utah, makes some delicious brews. No trip to Zion National Park is complete without a stop at their brewpub at the mouth of the canyon. There really is nothing like a cold draught beer after a good hike. I have tried several of their beers, and I am always impressed. One that I hadn’t tried (a style that I am not generally fond of), was their Burnt Mountain Brown Ale. It was a very pleasant surprise, being very approachable and flavorful. It was served on tap, in Utah, so it was more akin to a session ale (meaning lower alcohol content) but it was delicious nonetheless.

The color was a rich chestnut brown. I found the color appealing, but it was very cloudy, likely from being unfiltered. While this may not be desirable to some, it didn’t bother me. If there aren’t large particles floating around, I don’t mind it. Cloudiness can also be an indication that there will be a creamier mouthfeel.  The head retention was poor, even after agitating it vigorously, only sticking around for a minute.

The aroma consisted of dark components like coffee and toast at first. There was a sweetness in the aroma that manifested as pomegranate at times, and dried fruit, like dates and apricots. The aromas seemed to morph quickly into other things. The hops came through in a vegetal note of alfalfa or grass. The aroma was sweet, suggesting burnt sugar, honey, and caramel at times. It was interesting to experience the aroma profile develop as I continued to approach the beer. At first, it seemed a little boring, but it quickly opened up as I continued to agitate it and get some of the aroma compounds floating from the bursting suds and into my nose.

The flavor was surprising because of the sweet and fruity aromatic notes. It was much drier than I expected, which was pleasant. It makes it a great beer to pair with food. Coffee and toast were the main flavor components. There was a yeasty component that came across as tannic. Briefly, I detected a black tea element in the flavor. Chocolate and bread flavors followed that, with brief hints of pomegranate. The pomegranate flavor came on the heels of the tannic, black tea notes. It tasted a lot like the pith of pomegranate, but very subtle. It had a good solid mouthfeel. The finish is where the hops became evident. It had a very long finish that was pleasantly bitter and clean. Green strawberry lingered on my palate and gave me the urge to go back in for another sip.

While this beer is not a powerhouse of bold flavor, it is reasonably complex and enjoyable. It is a great beer for a good pizza. Stop by River Rock Roasting Company and have it with one of their pizzas. While this beer is a safe bet for food pairing, I would be careful not to pair it with bold foods. Anything that has a hint of sweetness and acidity, would be great. Your standard autumn fare is great for this; soups and brothier stews would pair well.

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