Friday, December 18, 2009

Beer of the Week (Vol. XXXIV)

Another special edition of Beer of the Week brought to you as always by the festive folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits. They're the ones who make these beer reviews possible and they can help make your Christmas and New Year's events merrier than ever. It's about more than just beer too. Dan the owner is actually more of a wine guy and is a noted connoisseur (and consumer) of the finest fruit of the vine. He'll take the time to assist you in picking the perfect wine to compliment your holiday meals. If you're looking for a gift for the guy who has everything, you can't go wrong with a good whiskey. And Bill at Glen Lake has years of expertise and experience in recommending the right bourbon, Scotch, or rye to satisfy the pickiest whiskey palate.

Glen Lake Wine & Spirits is conveniently located right on Excelsior Boulevard in beautiful downtown Glen Lake. Easy to get in, easy to get out, and easy to get what you want. All Christmas shopping should be so simple.

This week we have a special beer double feature with both attractions coming from hometown favorite Summit Brewing Company. Summit's Winter Ale was probably the first winter beer that I ever tried. It definitely was the first one I ever truly enjoyed. I can recall looking forward with anticipation to the appearance of the distinctive red-labeled bottles on liquor store shelves as fall faded into winter. While the label has changed over the years (regrettably), the beer has remained one of my all-time favorites and I always make sure that I savor it as much as possible during the all-too-short season.

Stout brown Summit bottle with engraved logo. Label is the standard Summit format with light-brown color, faint St. Paul backdrop, logo, and beer name set diagonally in red rectangle.

Beer Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by Volume: 6.2%

COLOR (0-2): Dark amber-brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Sweet malt with a little hoppiness at the finish. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light tan and creamy. Not huge off the pour, but lasts nicely. 2

TASTE (0-5): Again mostly roasted malty flavor with a touch of hoppy bitterness. Hints of coffee and caramel. Medium-bodied. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth and creamy. 2

OVERALL (0-6): I've been a fan of Summit Winter for so long that it's hard for me to be objective about this beer. It's not a heavy hop hitter or a big bold beer, but its flavor is rich and full while remaining quite drinkable. It pairs well with many of the comfort foods of winter (especially chili) which makes it an excellent seasonal selection. After all these years it still holds a warm place in my heart. And taste buds. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 17

Our second beer today is the second in Summit's Unchained Series:

Welcome to our new line of limited release beers called the Unchained Series. The series is an opportunity for our brewers to show off their skills and creativity. Each beer in the series will be presented by an individual brewer-the style is their choice and they are running the show!

The first beer in the Unchained Series was Kolsch, which was excellent. It's been followed by the 90/- Scottish Style Ale:

We're excited to introduce the second beer in our new Unchained Series: 90/- Scottish Style Ale brewed with heather. Named after the old practice of taxing beers based on their strength, 90 Shilling is a traditional Wee Heavy style from brewer Eric Blomquist.

Usual brown Summit bottle. Label follows the Unchained format with black and white industrial craft look. Green Summit logo with brewer's signature set in black on bottom.

Beer Style: Scotch Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 7.0%

COLOR (0-2): Dark brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Rich malty aroma. 2

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color, but not much volume. 1

TASTE (0-5): Excellent taste combo with roasted malt with smoke and even a little peat flavor fitting the name. Not much on the hop side. Medium bodied. Frankly, I'm not sure if I could pick up the heather or not. Whether its noticeable or not it definitely works in this beer. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): The finish is a little dry, but well rounded. 2

OVERALL (0-6): This beer sneaks up on you. At first glance and taste it doesn't appear all that exceptional. But the more you drink the more it grows on you. Its flavors are complex and rich. The timing of the release is perfect as its just the kind of hearty beer you want to enjoy in winter. Summit scores impressively again by breaking the chains. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

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