Summit Unchained #12: 100% Organic Ale

Gabe Smoley is one of the newest brewers at Summit Brewing Company. Unchained #12: 100% Organic Ale is his first entry into the Unchained Series. He went all out to make a certified, 100% organic brew. Says he, “Most USDA certified organic beers on the market are about 95-99.9% organic because it is extremely difficult to find ingredients like organic yeast. This beer is made with 100% organic ingredients including malts, hops and yeast. Summit microbiologist James Fetherston and I worked together to create our own certified organic yeast strain to do this, as there are virtually no organic strains available from laboratories.”

The aim was to craft a light, yet bracing beer appropriate for spring; a move away from the heavy beers of winter, with a hoppy kick to mimic the lingering cold. Drinkers who are too tied to the style guidelines may take issue with calling this an IPA, but they do say “sessionable IPA.” Just drink it and enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be.

100% Organic Ale launches this week with meet-the-brewer events at bars around the Metro.

March 12: Release Party/Meet the Brewer – House of Pizza, Sartel, 5-7 pm
March 13: Meet the brewer – Brasa St. Paul, 6-8 pm – Brasa St. Paul and Minneapolis will also feature Unchained 12 food pairings from 5-9 pm
March 14: “Hoppy Meals” pairings – Republic Uptown, 4-6 pm; Republic Seven Corners, 7-9 pm
March 15: Firkin Friday with Organic Ale cask – Grumpy’s NE, 4 pm
March 21: Meet Gabe and sample Organic Ale – Four Firkins, 6-8 pm
March 28: Flight Night at Ginger Hop featuring Organic Ale. Flights include four Summit beers total.

Here’s my notes:

Organic-Ale-BTL-web2Unchained #12: 100% Organic Ale
Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota
Style: “Session” IPA
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle

Aroma: Big aromatics from a fairly small beer. Hops hit the nose first – floral and citrus. Biscuity malt comes in shortly to offer support. Nicely balanced between the two. An undercurrent of candied fruit throughout.

Appearance: Dark golden color and clear. The off-white head is full, creamy, and very persistent. Settled after a long while to a sustained film on the surface.

Flavor: Light and refreshing. Very dry with pithy bitterness that lingers well into the finish. Floral and lemon-lime citrus hop flavors carry through from beginning to end. Some peppery spice in there as well. The malt fills in lightly underneath with a biscuit character that brings a vaguely English flair. It offers enough sweetness to temper the hops, but not quite enough to balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium-high carbonation.

Overall Impression: This one leans a bit more to hops than I would like, but then that’s kind of the point of the beer. It’s close, but a hint more malt to back up the bitterness would have been welcome on my palate. Brewer Smoley says to drink this around 40°F. I would suggest a higher temperature to bring out more of the malt. While style-sticklers will have issues with calling this an “IPA,” it fits the brewer’s description of “sessionable IPA” quite nicely; light like a pale ale, but with a bigger hop load.

2012 GABF Interview with Summit Brewing Company

A lot has happened at the Summit brewery since I interviewed their brewers at the 2011 GABF. A pilot brewing system was installed, allowing their brewers to test recipes and get a little experimental. The taproom has opened for business and is going gangbusters. Ground was broken on a massive cellar expansion that will allow them to nearly double production. In this interview with brewers Eric Blomquist and Gabe Smoley at the 2012 GABF we talk all about these changes and what it might mean for the future of Summit.

As I was editing the interview I realized that I kept referring to the pilot system as the “toy brewery.” It made me laugh, but it also made me wish that I had explained myself. It almost sounds as if I am mocking the new mini-brewhouse. I meant “toy” as in a really cool thing that allows the brewers to play, much as a 1965 Mustang might be a “toy” to a car enthusiast. The Summit pilot system is REALLY cool. I want one in my basement.