Nothing works up more of a thirst than a good hike, and we may have found the perfect place to rejuvenate after an climb at northwest Phoenix's North Mountain.
At North Mountain Brewery, located at 522 East Dunlap Avenue, you'll find a cool, inviting space with a high ceiling-ed main room. The bar, which is situated in this room, is shaped in a way that makes conversation easy despite the bar's large TVs, and a second room and a patio provide plenty of room for overflow or private events.
On a recent visit the brewery offered twelve house brews that ranged in style from the expected to the original. This brewery seems to love to brew amber/copper-colored beers as six of the twelve beers available fell within this color spectrum. Additionally, the brewery tends to feature beers of relatively high alcohol content. Nine of the twelve beers checked in at 6.0% ABV or above, many of which were significantly above. The brews we tried weren't a hit across the board, but they were, as a whole, very solid.
The five most intriguing selections are discussed below.
Hefe Ending: 4.9% ABV; 13 IBU
This is an extremely well crafted traditional Bavarian hefeweizen. A soft wheat base leads with a very balanced yeast display of banana and clove, appearing together in harmony and balance. Completely refreshing, this brew is one of the better hefeweizens made in Arizona.
Spiral Man Oatmeal Stout: 6.0%; 32 IBU
The flavors and aromas of a Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar lead, with background notes of coffee and slight roast in supporting roles. Oats are present aromatically, in the flavor, as well as in the mouthfeel of the beer, where they provide a silky smoothness. Alone, this is a perfect dessert beer or would be ideally paired with a raspberry dessert.
Grooving With A Pict: 6.3% ABV; 21 IBU
This Scottish-style ale features rich caramel and toffee malt aromas and flavors. There are no perceptible hops; only enough to achieve the proper balance. The beer is nicely attenuated and not too sweet despite clearly being a showcase for malt flavor. Subtle alcohol is present and lends complexity without distraction. There is another quite popular Scottish ale here in the Phoenix market, and this one holds its own against it or any others. The beer is great on its own accord but made even better with the Pink Floyd reference.
Mild Child: 4.0% ABV; 19 IBU
Mild ales sometimes get a bad rap for being a "boring" beer style because they're light bodied, un-hoppy, and not all that complex. However, a mild ale brewed properly can be quite a treat, and this is a perfect example of that. Toasted malt notes; a copper color; and a clean, crisp, but not bitter, finish create a very drinkable ale. Think of it as a smaller version of a traditional brown ale.
Belay Slave IPA: 8.0% 83 IBU
No review would be complete without talking about the house favorite, the IPA. Using Columbus and Summit hops to dry hop this brew, the brewers achieve a big pine and citrus fruit blast aromatically, which carry on into the flavor, alongside hints of onion. This beer is full bodied and almost "imperial" in size at 8.0% ABV. It packs such a hop punch that it's as cloudy as a traditional wheat beer due to all the dry hopping. Hopheads unite!
North Mountain Brewery is open seven days a week and has a full food menu. For more information check out the North Mountain Brewery website.