Well, gang, here we are in 2014, nearly halfway into January, and I'd like to reveal my New Year's Resolution to you all. Here it is: to continue this blog! Though, perhaps not at the rate I originally envisioned. When I started this thing up in earnest over three years ago, I intended to do a beer for every day of the month, every month of the year, probably inspired by a blog called 90 Beers in 90 Days. (Which I never read, but I'd heard of it.) Or was it 30 beer in 30 minutes? I can't really remember. Since I'd done 3,000 reviews so far on the other sites (BeerAdvocate.com, ratebeer.com), I thought it be a cinch if I revisited beers I'd already reviewed, using those old notes, as well as keeping up with new releases (and there are more than ever these days!)
So how has that worked out so far? In 2011, I had 447 posts (included ones which weren't beer reviews, but that would only be less than a dozen, maybe), so good score there. In 2012, it slid back to 383 posts in total, so we still hit more than 365, made the goal and then some. In 2013, not so much. "Only" 352 post in total. But, who am I complaining to, and about what? That's a ton of beer, no doubt about it. My New Year's Resolution, then, is to try, but not to worry about it. (Although, of course, I do. It's day 13 and this is only post #5? I'm 8 behind! Oh, no!)
There is a New Year's Resolution #2, as well, as concerns this blog, and that is that I will strive to tighten my focus on the local beer scene. This means that when I go shopping at the local beer store, I'm picking up anything made in Minnesota first, until I nailed them all. It means making an effort to visit more local breweries, brewpubs, and tap rooms. And that may mean taking notes while there, which I normally don't do, in order to include material on those beers here in this blog. I can't take home growlers sometimes, and can't afford to, other times. It's amazing how much bigger last year was than anyone expected, and I can only wonder if 2014 will surpass that. I'm ashamed that I still haven't visited every brewery in Minneapolis, the city I live in, but it shouldn't take too much effort to close that gap. (Boom Island, I think, Northgate, plus the newly opened Freehouse. )
To this effort, I look ask myself the question of which beers haven't I posted notes on from which breweries, and when the brewery is Summit, I can come up with these: Hefe Weizen (which they haven't released locally in years), Maibock (I had some last year, but never bought any, nor took photos of the ones I did drink. Note to self: take care of that this year), India Pale Ale, and Great Northern Porter. (There are also beers listed on BeerAdvocate that were special limited taps, like 10 Cubed, Tudor Ale, Hops Like A Kangaroo, and 2 Gingers Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout...come to think of it, Oatmeal Stout, too, but that's tap only. Anyway, I can't be at every special release party/event, scribbling notes. Not.gonna.happen. So, who cares?)
Anyway, to make an effort towards this end, I went in search of a Summit Sampler Pack. The current Winter edition includes the flagship EPA, Horizon Red, Winter Ale, and IPA. Why no Porter? That one must have been in the Autumn Sampler.
Enough of my pointless palaver, here's where I talk about the beer: (with more rambling. I wouldn't short you on that end.)
Summit India Pale Ale. I'm just going to jump right in and share the notes that I took nearly 10 years ago, in June of 2004, unedited and uninterrupted:
"Caveat to any concerned: this is a long-time favorite, and one of the first beers I really fell in love with, long, long ago. However, I've had many other, sometimes better IPAs since, and must strive for objectivity in this examination.
Appearance: cast in a bright, ruby-red hue, with a 1/2 " layer of fizzy off-white foam, leaving small traces of lace.
Aroma is at first bitter, coppery, but boldened by an enticing dark fruit character, over all big and spicy, though less like a Pacific Northwest hop profile, closer to an English-style.
The tastebuds are led by the nose, urging my lips closer to the glass...Taste is bitter, yet slightly sweet, with a caramel-y essence, perhaps the malt speaking up. Tons of fruitiness, cherries, and berries, but almost candy-fied with the sweetness. Body is medium, finish more mildly bitter, but persistent, riding comfortably along on the palate, never quite quitting the mouth. A thirst-quenching, totally tasty treat, even if it's no longer my favorite IPA, I'm still plenty pleased any time I'm in it's company.
I thought that this more recent examination would cause a decline in my ratings, especially as other, hoppier offerings have seen higher rankings from me..however, I can't find find flaw in the numbers, it still pleases, and I'm always happy with it, and will quaff them aplenty, for as long as I can!" (Again with the exclamation points!)
Now, an examination of those notes: There's a chill haze that I didn't note there, nor did I mention anything about the clarity. Don't know why I said "dark fruit" character, clearly I didn't have a handle on that yet. I did have the English versus American IPA aspect nailed, though. Other than that, I stand by this one, though I can't say it thrills me as much as it used to, for I'm just like all the other beer geeks, seduced by the citric west coast hops. English IPAs are fine, and they were my first, but they don't grab like they used to.
Finally, just a little more background. The first beer I ever like was Bass Ale, for it was the first beer I ever had with any kind of hop flavor. I stuck with that and Guinness Stout for a while, until I discovered Summit Extra Pale Ale. The India Pale Ale was released in 1992, shortly after I became a Summit fan, and it pleased me in every possible way. I was fascinated with the color, entranced by the hops. The fashion of the day favors less malty, more hoppy IPAs, and the Saga IPA fits that bill so well that I'm surprised that it (meaning this one, the original, now sometimes called True Brit) is still around. If this one every gets discontinued, I'd be saddened some, but not surprised.
Halfway into the glass, I'm liking it more and more. Beers don't have to be mind blowing, we have to remind ourselves, they can just be reliably delicious. Nothing wrong with that.