“New sells.” is the response I got from one Minnesota brewer when I asked about the plethora of new brews our legacy brewers are pumping out. Indeed, in today’s market it’s not enough to stand on your laurels. Innovation is the key to staying relevant.
Enter the Union Series from Summit Brewing Company. Union Series beers will be released “every so often” according to the brewery’s press release. For this series the Summit brewers are exploring the innovations being made in other sectors of the industry – malting and hop farming. Each beer will make extensive use of “new (and sometimes rare) hops and malts.”
Meridian Session Ale is the first beer in the series. As concocted by Head Brewer Damian McConn, it is a Belgian-style single (think a sessionable version of a Belgian tripel) that is brewed with Concerto malt and Meridian hops. Concerto is a pale malt from Norfolk, the prime barley growing region of Southeast England. It is said to deliver bready and toasty qualities. Meridian hops were discovered accidentally by an Oregon hop grower attempting to resurrect an older sister variety to Willamette. They are said to bring flavors of lemon and fruit punch.
Here’s my notes:
Meridian Session Ale
Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota
Style: Belgian Single
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle
Aroma: Full-bore nose emphasizing grainy and sugary malt and yeast blend with tantalizing toasted notes. Malt dominates, but hops lend a wisp of lemony citrus and herbs, underscored by hints of stone fruits.
Appearance: Deeply golden with a slight haze. Dense head of fluffy, white foam that sticks around and around.
Flavor: A delicate balance of malt, hops, and yeast. Malt gives sugary sweetness and dry toast. Bitterness is moderate, but accentuated by the desert-dry finish. It tarries a while after swallowing. Hop flavors stress lemon zest. Tropical fruit punch comes in the middle and it really does taste like fruit punch. Belgian-yeasty, cotton-candy character and spicy black pepper rounds things out. Sometimes each flavor stands out alone. Others times they all meld into one.
Mouthfeel: Light body. Medium carbonation. Slight astringency.
Overall Impression: Very refreshing, but with intriguing depth. Will be a nice springtime beer if spring ever arrives. If I had any criticism it’s that it could maybe stand a touch more carbonation. This is a great beer to pair with spring veggies like asparagus and ramps.