Friday, August 23, 2013

Summit Unchained #13: Another IPA

Summit Unchained Batch 13: Another IPA, British-style India Pale Ale. Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul, MN.

Appearance: Yesterday, I had a bottle that had been purchased at room temperature and chilled for only about an hour. The beer poured into the glass was clear. Today, I pour a bottle that had been in the fridge for 21 hours, and here is the haze. Dark amber coloring, nearly bronze. Creamy white head starts big, slims to a tight ring.

Aroma: Mild bitterness, softly emerging citrus notes, followed by slightly sweet caramel tones. An intriguing mix, just enough complexity to entice. Very likable.

Taste: Right away, a burst of hoppy flavors, and that mix of bright fruit flavors and darker malt complexities. Medium-bodied, with a long finish. Bitterness remains moderate but appreciable and stays long on the palate. This is what we want in an IPA. Flavor delivers throughout the length of the drink, and the lingering on the palate keeps it on the tastebuds and in the mind long enough to keep you wanting more.

When I had that bottle last night, I wasn't sure whether I like it or not. Edging towards "not". Ready to call this Unchained a wash-out, a disappointment, a failure, even. And really, it's name was not helping. This is brewer Mike Lundell's 3rd entrant in the series and his third IPA, and keeping in mind that Summit already makes both an English-style IPA and an American style IPA, it makes you really wonder why, "another IPA?"

Getting through this bottle, and enjoying it's contents more and more, I think it actually is unique enough to justify it's existence. The malt used seems considerably different from the original British IPA, and significantly lighter, lacking it's  earthy, herbal quality, and the hops shine a light of their own.

I've always had a soft spot in my beer heart for Summit, since they were the first American craft brewery I ever liked, since the first EPA I ever had. Their IPA, introduced in 1992, was the first of that variety I'd ever had, and I fell swiftly in love with it. In the intervening years, however, my taste, along with so many others, has turned to the newer American style of IPA. I'm thinking this has fallen into favor with me because it bridges the two so well.

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