BEST LOCAL BEER Minneapolis 2010 - Summit Unchained Series
It's a great time to be a beer enthusiast in the Twin Cities. Surly rolls out a firkin of some new and magical quaff seemingly every week, new breweries like Fulton and Lift Bridge are popping up everywhere you turn, and IPAs and Belgian-style ales are nearly as easy to find as Budweiser. With all that activity, it might be easy to take the Summit Brewing Company, a longtime and consistent player in the local brewing scene, for granted. That would be a mistake. The company has been moving past its regular roster of seasonal beers into the world of small-production brews. It started with a marvelous Oatmeal Stout available on tap in many bars around town. And in mid-'09 Summit unveiled its ongoing Unchained series, a family of limited-edition drafts in industrial-chic packaging, with a roster of exotic ingredients that looks like a materials list for a chemistry experiment. The result is some pretty delicious examples of the brewer's art. Its first issue, Unchained #1, was a Kolsch-style brew that debuted to raves. That was followed by #2, a gorgeous Scotch ale with a dark, creamy, fruity taste ending with a shock of sharpness, reinvigorating a style that can be heavy and bland in the wrong hands. Brand new is the Rye India Pale Ale, a perfect mix of crispness, bitterness, hoppy static, and a surprising touch of richness from the rye. The beer world is already anticipating Summit's #4 and #5. Whatever their brewmasters conjure up, our glasses are ready.