BEST LOCAL BEER (1999)
Summit founder, president, and head brewer Mark Stutrud may descend from Norwegians, but his ales usually owe something to the Germans (Hefe Weizen, Heimertingen Maibock, or his fall seasonal Alt Bier) or the British (Great Northern Porter, India Pale Ale or Winter Ale). Stutrud does not take his commitment to Old World brewing traditions lightly; much of the equipment in Summit's shiny new St. Paul plant comes straight from Bavaria. The brewery's brands have increased in popularity since Stutrud started out in 1986, but they've lost none of their small-batch quality--making it hard to pick just one favorite Summit beer. If forced to, we'd have to go with the dark beauty of Summit Winter Ale, a strong "winter warmer" (6.2 percent alcohol by volume) to get you through the holiday season. When it is gone from the shelves in spring, there's always the Extra Pale Ale, a sturdy, heavily hopped, bronze-toned thing of beauty. Thankfully, the retail beer shortages felt by many faithful customers in 1998 are a thing of the past now that Summit has completed the move to its new home.