Prof’s Point of Brew: Mountain Goat Steam Ale
“I like ales.”
“I prefer lagers.”
“Por que no los dos?”
Well, not exactly. But what if I told you there was a beer that had a little of both?
In very broad terms, there are two strains of brewing yeast: ale and lager.
Lager = colder fermentation, longer maturation, cleaner, crisper beer.
Ale = warmer fermentation, quicker maturation, fruitier, bigger-bodied beer.
But, if you take a lager yeast and ferment it at warmer temperatures, you get a reasonably crisp and clean beer but with just a little of that slightly more bold ale character. Or, for the purposes of this column, a Steam Ale. In the cool mornings the brewing process would emit clouds of malty flavoured steam as the unfermented wort was pumped to shallow bins near the rooftop to be cooled by the chilly winds of the Pacific Ocean. You did this sort of thing before refrigeration was commercially available. Or, if you wanted to make a cheaper beer.
…an ideal session beer which will get you through to the fourth quarter while neither straining the palate nor leaving the thirst unquenched
Mountain Goat released their version in 2009 to replace the Pale Ale (since revamped and relaunched) and saw sales skyrocket as punters discovered a beer that was not too far away in flavour profile from some of the mainstream and imported lagers around but, at the same time, not as ‘confronting’ as the more hop-driven craft ales gaining attention.
A generous handful of wheat malt and plenty of the passionfruit-ily flavoured Galaxy hop makes this an ideal session beer which will get you through to the fourth quarter while neither straining the palate nor leaving the thirst unquenched. Widely available and reasonably priced – due, in part, to the beer first being ‘outsourced’ to the bigger Asahi brewery in Laverton and then becoming part of the Asahi stable when the boys sold the Mountain Goat business to the Japanese giant – it’s the perfect all-year-round “knock-off” beer for hard-working dads (and mums).
It’s certainly my “go-to” brew after a long day dealing with… well, beer.