The advent of cold weather means that it’s nearly storytime again in Minnesota, time to stop doing things, and to start, instead, talking about the things that were done. It is therefore the perfect opportunity for the release of a beer like Summit’s new Herkulean Woods, a lager brewed with spruce tips from Iowa and maple syrup from Lutsen.
The name promises adventure; the marketing suggests a story in a glass, its ingredients exotic but familiar, suggestive of an Upper Midwestern epic. An adventure is what you get: the piney bite of the hops and spruce stretched taut, a bright, celestial tightrope walked by the big, caramel-kissed malt body of this beer.
Every sip we tasted felt a little different from the one before. As Herkulean Woods warms up toward room temperature, it mellows, and the maple note goes from a faded myth on a fragment of broken urn to an “oh, yeah, there it is” reality. This is a beautiful beer, with as many layers of flavor as Hercules had labors. Its amber color is a mirror of the season and its ingredients an echo of the Midwestern map. You can’t ask for anything more.