ya I steep in 2.5 gallons for 45 mins @ 155 degrees.
There are only 2 ways you can try the original; the first being that you have to go to Stowe Vermont where they're located and buy it at the "Shed" and the second option being that you know someone that can buy it there for you and ship it to you. Unfortunately Vermont law doesn't permit the Shed to ship their product. It's a cash & carry deal.
Having said that, what does it compare to you ask? Nothing I've ever had. Me and almost every other non dark beer drinker I know avoid dark beers due to their inherent tendency to be extremely bitter. In fact I had the original Shed Mountain Ale in my hand for a half hour before I got desperate when I learned there wasn't another beer at the party so I took a swig. I was instantly impressed and in love. It was the best beer I've ever had. The flavors I got from it were/are: Chocolate, Caramel, Coffee, Cream & Vanilla. As you can see it would be very difficult to describe that in a style or single flavor. This recipe comes close to the original but is still lacking the magic the original has (probably has to do with the difference between this being an extract brew and the original being an all grain brew). When I convince other non dark beer drinkers to try this beer they're also very surprised at how good it is then they sit and rethink their boycot of dark beers and wonder what they might be missing.
I try to describe it this way.....some people like Starbucks Coffee, very bitter coffee. Others prefer a very rich, smooth, non bitter coffee and that's where my taste lies. This beer is the rich, smooth, non bitter type...