The beers of Summit Brewing have a special place in my heart. I went to college in the state of Minnesota and it is in college where my taste in beer truly evolved. Some would say devolved when witnessing my love of cheap American lagers on hot summer days, but I digress.
Along with New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Newcastle Nut Brown Ale, Summit’s Extra Pale Ale was a local craft beer that you drank on those occasions when Busch Light from a cobra tap was not going to cut it for some reason. Over time as I have widened my beer horizons and as the number of breweries has exploded in the U.S. I have forgotten the great work being done by the long time craft brewers at Summit.
No more! With my keezer out of commission due to a faulty gas setup and no homebrew available to drink I trudged off to the liquor store in search of brewed wares. My eye fell to the Summit section primarily because of Frost Line Rye:
Brewed as a seasonal in late winter, Frost Line Rye is a heavily rye focused beer—as opposed to beers that use a little rye—and it has a unique hop profile. Rye is said to give beers a spicy or peppery profile. I have brewed many extract rye recipes and used rye as a steeping grain. I have not, however, really noticed a pronounced spicy or peppery profile from these beers. Frost Line Rye did not have that flavor profile either. It was however dark, but not overbearing, with a unique body, attributable to the heavy rye influence, that was a nice springboard for the hops.
Frost Line Rye incorporates three different hops in two different ways. Summit and Citra are employed traditionally in the boil to give the beer its bitterness, which at 55 IBU counters the 5.8% ABV nicely. Citra and a so-called Experimental Hop #01210 are dry hopped to really bring out a bouquet of hop aromas that would be lost in the boil. Citra is one of my absolute favorite hops to employ by dry hopping. I find that it actually loses a lot of its characteristics when used in the boil, which is something I am going to talk about when I discuss my latest attempt at a house ale recipe.
Overall, Frost Line Rye is a good beer that an aficionado of dark and hoppy will want to give a go.
Summit India Pale Ale’s presence in my cart was something of a surprise as I could have sworn that I grabbed the Extra Pale Ale six-pack. Not a bad surprise, just not what I was expecting when I got home and stocked the refrigerator. Oh well. What about India Pale Ale:
Apparently, India Pale Ale is no longer brewed and has been replace by True Brit IPA. All right. So, I either got an old six-pack of beer or I am drinking one of the last examples. Interesting.
India Pale Ale pours like an IPA. What I mean by that is you get to see the copper orange color and in a moment the first hop aromas hit your nose. There is absolutely nothing unexpected with this beer. It is a textbook example of an IPA. The American IPA is synonymous with the rebirth of brewing and the growth of craft brewing in the U.S. It is wicked easy to understand why this style was such a departure from the pale golden swill foisted upon us by the macro-lager overlords.
It’s thicker in body with an almost bread-like quality that lingers in your mouth while the hop aromas hit your olfactory senses full steam. After you swallow there is residual hop bitterness. Can you imagine what it was like to be the first people throwing down pints of a beer like this when the rest of the world thought that beer was a choice between Miller Lite or Bud Light? Michelob if you were feeling particularly rakish that evening.
Like Frost Line Rye this is a well-done beer.
After realizing my error in not grabbing Extra Pale Ale, which was the beer I remember drinking on summer nights during college, I know that I will have to make a return trip to the liquor store.