Gobblers Knob is either the most awesome, or most funny named peak in the Central Wasatch range. But despite its strange moniker, the peak is among the most prominent mountains that lord over the canyons of Big Cottonwood and Millcreek. “The Knob,” as we locals are fond of calling it, is a popular destination peak to “bag” for summer hikes. Multiple trailheads in two canyons will get you there, with varying degrees of difficulty from the easy Butler Fork ascent, to the brutally steep stairmaster in Alexander Basin. The top of Gobblers Knob is also a magnificent place to enjoy a summit brew, like the new Big Cottonwood Amber Ale from Squatters.
Although I’ve made several ascents of Gobblers Knob from every possible trail, on this day I chose the more mild Butler Fork approach. I wanted to run my hike, so the near-vertical faces in Alexander Basin were certainly out of the question. The Butler Fork trailhead is located eight miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, and begins at a dirt pullout on the north side of the road. The trail is marked by a large sign. As I ran, the path meadered along a stream and crossed a wood bridge. From here, the hike immediately got steep as it rose above the creek on the side of the drainage. Too steep to run. At the top, the trail leveled out for a long time as it crossed another footbridge which marked the entry to the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area.
From this point, the hike got really pretty, really fast. Huge aspen trees extended into the Utah sky, surrounded by a blanket of wildflowers and bushes. The trail forked left toward Mill A Basin where it soon switchbacked several times (again the running ceased) until it topped out on a ridge of Circle All Peak. An impressive view of Mill A Basin and Mount Raymond deserved a pause in the action for some photos and to smell the multitudes of wildflowers.
After a short break, I continued toward my goal by following the trail as it traversed the south flank of Gobblers Knob through more aspen forests. Another fork appears here, with the left turn taking hikers to the summit of Mount Raymond (a peak for a future summit brew for sure.) But with Gobblers the destination, and a Big Cottonwood Amber warming up in my pack, I made haste to finish the hike.
Steep and rocky is the name of the game on the ridge that gets hikers to the top of Gobblers Knob, and I hammered my thighs up the grade. This part of the hike was aggravating, as several false summits tricked me into thinking the end is near, only to discover there is more to go. (of course I already knew this, but it’s fun to pretend you’re climbing a peak for the first time and hopefully see things with fresh eyes.) Eventually, the real summit of Gobblers Knob came into view and a short traverse on the ridge got me to the point where it was impossible to climb any further – the summit.
At the top, I found a rock seat, cracked open my Squatters Big Cottonwood Amber Ale, and took in one of the most amazing 360-degree views in the tri-canyon area.
Squatters Big Cottonwood Amber Ale
The Big Cottonwood Amber Ale is the latest concoction from the mind of Squatters Brewmaster Jenny Talley. It’s described on the label as, “inspired by one of Utah’s most magnificent canyons… a robust, deliciously balanced, Cascade dry-hopped amber ale with floral citrus aromas [and] layers of malted barley flavors.”
I have to admit, I was excited to try this new take on the classic American-style amber ale, and it sure didn’t disappoint, especially when enjoyed on a mountain top. Up front, the brew tastes like a typical amber full of malty goodness, but it’s remarkably balanced with the malt flavor. But what really sets this amber ale apart from the crowd (and is my reason for peeing a little when I took my first swig) is the bang at the end. The Big Cottonwood is very hoppy for an amber, yet somehow the hops don’t overpower the malts. Rather, the hop profile gives the beer a citrus nose that stands out even more when it warms up a bit. Overall, it has a fun mouthfeel with hops dancing around on the tongue.
In a glass, the Big Cottonwood Amber Ale pours with an average head that disappears quickly. Some lacing sticks inside the glass while it’s ravenously consumed. The beer has surprising clarity for an amber ale, especially considering the amount of malt and hops that goes into it. The color is a deep red, the true definition of amber. When holding it up to the light, I could imagine a jurrassic-era mosquito encased for eons within an amber shell of the same color.
The Squatters Big Cottonwood Amber Ale is now one of my new favorite amber ales, and it will most defenitely find a happy home in my fridge.
Available in Utah State Liquor Stores, the Utah Beer Store, and at the Squatters Brew Pubs in Salt Lake City and Park City. 5.75% alcohol by volume. For more information, visit www.squatters.com