Summit Brewing Company is celebrating the release of the third beer in their Unchained Series this week with events all over the Twin Cities metro. Following up on the success of the first two, German Style Kölsch and 90/- Scottish Style Ale, the third release is an India Style Rye Ale created by brewer Mike Lundell. According to Summit Founder and Brewmaster Mark Stutrud, “Mike’s India Style Rye Ale is a perfect addition to the Unchained Series and really speaks to Summit’s joy in knocking out bold, yet balanced flavor profiles.” I had the opportunity to taste it last night and will confirm that it is both bold and balanced. It upholds the high level of quality that has marked the Unchained Series so far. Here’s my notes:
India Style Rye Ale
Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota
Style: India Rye Ale
Serving Style: 12 oz. Bottle
Aroma: Malt balanced aromas of grain, bread crust and toast with hints of chocolate. Just the lightest kiss of caramel sweetness. Like rye bread without the caraway. Light lime/citrus hop aromas in the background. Clean, very low yeast-derived fruitiness.
Appearance: Dark amber and crystal clear. The full, fine-bubbled, off-white head collapsed fairly quickly into a fine film on the surface of the beer.
Flavor: Balanced with intense malt backed by a relatively high hop and roasted malt bitterness. A complex malty blend of flavors allows the spicy rye to shine. Toasted bread crust. Light chocolate and caramel. An assertive bite of roast in the finish. Caramel coffee notes become more pronounced as it warms. The roasted malt bitterness and rye spice complement the 60 IBUs of hop bitterness. Highly bitter but not so much as to overwhelm the malt. Hop flavors are restrained with just a very light citrus coming through. The well attenuated finish lingers on roasted rye and caramel.
Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Dry and crisp.
Overall Impression: The bottle says that this is an India Style Rye Ale and rye is indeed king in this beer. From the spicy flavors of the malted and flaked rye to the roasted notes of the chocolate rye this beer shouts and screams rye. And that’s a good thing. I was expecting a typical hop-bomb American Rye IPA. I am happy that it was hopped with a light hand, achieving a beautiful balance. If I were looking for a flaw it might be that the roasted character seemed a bit heavy, particularly as the beer warmed. But that was a minor problem in what is otherwise another brilliant addition to the Unchained Series line-up. Well done!
Disclaimer: I will be moderating a Q & A with Mark Stutrud and brewer Mike Lundell tonight at Tracy’s Saloon as part of the release festivities. I received samples of the beer from Summit and will be attending the tasting dinner at Tracy’s as a guest. This did not influence my evaluation of this beer.