I went with the family up to the western part of Maryland to Deep Creek Lake. This spot was a childhood favorite of mine and I am happy I get to expose my children to this wonderful place. Ski season is over due to the unseasonably warm temperatures here in Maryland. Typically up in the mountains in March you are talking 30 degrees and a foot or two of fresh powder on the ground. No so this year in 2012, temps were in the mid 70's up there this week and the snow was all melting on the slopes. The place we stayed was a ghost land, we were the only people in the restaurant for breakfast and it was very quiet - all good things for us.
Wednesday night we were looking for some grub and encountered Mountain State Brewing Company. It's located right down the road from the resort we stayed in so it was very convenient. They lay claim to really good wood fired pizzas and they did not disappoint on that front at all. The beers on the other hand leave a little to be desired.
I sampled two brews the other night, one was an IPA and the other an oatmeal stout. I left highly disappointed because I felt both beers lacked character and while drinkable were really nothing special. The brewery itself is somewhere in West Virginia and this is just a pub which serves the beer and their wood fired pizzas. I first had the Oatmeal Stout. It was thin and lightly carbonated. Color was spot on looking jet black and it poured with a decent brownish head. There wasn't much hop character to speak of and it didn't have a lot of alcohol taste. I understand it's no imperial stout but i expect a certain level of alcohol warmth. Overall, it wasn't a terrible beer or anything but not something I really cared to have another of.
The second beer I tried was the IPA. It wasn't high in bitterness, it had some slight citrus notes in the nose and poured with a nice white head. It tasted like it had a lot of C hops like maybe Cascade, Chinook, or Centennial. I am used to having an IPA that is 6+% or even 7+% as a normal rule of thumb. Their menu said this beer was something like 5.4%. I was really irked by this and couldn't figure out why. None of their beers were over 6% ABV. That seemed really strange to me and I set out on a quest to figure out why.
In the good state of West Virginia they apparently have a law still that limits beers brewed within state lines to be less than 6% ABV. It also limited the sales of beers that were over 6%. So no Loose Canon, no Digfishhead beers? What gives West Virginians? Luckily in 2009 they changed the law and now they can go up to 12% safely. That begs the questions though......it's been 4 years since that law was changed, so why is Mountain State Brewing still brewing up sub 6% beers? I suppose it could be the sales and not having enough folks buying the stronger beers but I'd think in this day and age craft beer aficionados are more and more plentiful around the country. I am hoping next time I head up there that the IPA is more like 7% and maybe a little over 6 for the oatmeal stout. I think both beers would improve by improving that malt bill just a little bit.