Mount Wire is a small mountain that overlooks the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. From afar, this brown mound isn’t much to look at. Hell, most people don’t even know this unassuming peak has a name. But what Mount Wire lacks in prestige, it more than makes up for with steep trails, nice views of the valley, and a roomy top with plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy a relaxing summit brew, like the Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale from Pike Brewing.
The hike to Mount Wire begins at the top of Research Park at the University of Utah near Red Butte Garden and the new Utah Museum of Natural History. Most people park their cars on the street and take one of many trailheads to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Just as there are options for trailheads, there are also many ways to ascend to the top of Mount Wire.
The day I hiked to the top, it was ahead of a winter storm heading toward Utah. The goal was to get one last hike in before the coming of hard winter. So I grabbed the dog, packed the brew, and set out to hike Mount Wire on a trail I’ve never used before.
The typical way to hike Mount Wire is via the famous “Living Room,” that ever popular setting half-way up the slopes of the mountain where furniture built from stone provides a comfortable place to watch the sunset with a picnic or bottle of wine. From there, the trail continues up the small valley behind a sub peak where the Living Room resides, then around the north side of Mount Wire to the top. This standard route is less steep than other paths, but longer.
Due to a lack of time, I needed a quicker way, so I marched up a trail that climbs straight up the mountain’s west face. And damn is it steep. Steep and loose. In fact, the route is so steep, that I wished I had brought my trekking poles along just for balance on the crumbling dirt. But the trail certainly was direct, and Lucy and I quickly found ourselves far above the valley floor.
Sage and Gamble Oak litter the sides of the mountain, leaving open views of the surrounding Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains. The Great Salt Lake glittered in the distance, and the low hum of a teeming city provided the soundtrack of a bruiser of a leg-burning stomp fest.
After about an hour and fifteen minutes, we reached the 7,137 foot summit of Mount Wire. Two defunct passive microwave repeaters are the main feature of the summit, which were once used to bounce radio signals over the mountains to remote parts of Utah. Also at the top is a old air beacon used long ago by pilots flying over the area. After taking pictures of these structures and having a snack, it was high time to break out the beer and toast the coming of winter with a Summit Brew.
Pike Kilt Lifter Scotch Style Ruby Ale
Kilt Lifter Scotch Style Ruby Ale comes from Pike Brewing Company in Seattle, Washington. Right from the first sip, you can tell this beer builds its flavor on malts instead of hops. In fact, the malt profile is so complex and layered, it almost tastes like you’re drinking a loaf of flavorful, yeasty bread. Other prominent flavors are of caramel with a bit of a nutty taste. The Scotch name is true, as the brew is remeniscient of scotch with a subtle smoky tang. There’s also a distinct alcohol presence in the back of the throat. I also like the very smooth mouthfeel and clean finish with just a touch of bitterness.
In the glass, Kilt Lifter pours without much head, yet is a surprisingly heavy beer for the style. The label says “Ruby,” which suggests a reddish color, but in the glass it’s more of a cloudy brownish/tan color. There’s not much lacing on the sides of the glass thanks to the lack of bubbles or even carbonation – overall the beer is a little flat.
Really, if you’re a malt head instead of a hop head, then this beer is tailor made for you. Drinking it makes me imagine I’m in a smoky, wood paneled bar in old London with walls covered in dusty books and literature professors arguing in the corner beneath a stuffed, mounted deer head over a stone fireplace. In that way, Kilt Lifter is somewhat comforting, like warm bread on a cold day.
Pike Brewing Kilt Lifter is 6.5% ABV and 27 IBU.
Fore more from Pike Brewing, visit than at www.pikebrewing.com