Two new Summit beers just hit the market: Honeymoon Saison, the seventh edition of the brewery’s Unchained series; and Silver Anniversary Ale, which marks the brewery’s 25th year. Both beers are well-executed, exciting versions of two vastly different styles.
The Honeymoon Saison has been written about more extensively than past Unchained releases, likely because of the cute backstory of brewer Sam Doniach making it prior to his wedding. Yet it’s no more remarkable than past Unchained varieties, because each, including Doniach’s, has been a splendid take on an unusual or often-overlooked style of beer, whether last fall’s fantastic Imperial Pumpkin Porter or the most recent, the dazzling Gold Sovereign Ale.
What Honeymoon Saison has going for it, though, is that its crisp, slightly bitter flavor hits the market in the dog days of summer, just when overheated drinkers want something easy-drinking yet flavorful. Also, since there’s a local favorite already available (Lift Bridge’s Farm Girl Saison), it’s worth a guess that Farm Girl fans will take a chance on Summit’s saison as well.
Doniach’s beer bursts with effervescence, and its orange and grapefruit hop characters don’t overpower its fresh, malty exuberance. The most notable tasting note, though, was the absence of honey flavor. Our tasting panel uniformly noticed honey in the beer’s aroma, and slightly on the aftertaste, but there is barely a trace of honey taste in this beer. It’s as though honey was the straw that stirred Doniach’s drink, pulling the yeast, hops, and malt flavors together but overpowering none. Overall, Honeymoon Saison is a fine summer brew that will appeal to all sorts of drinkers.
The Silver Anniversary Ale takes Summit’s flagship Extra Pale Ale up a notch, made, according to brewer Damian McConn, with “unique, modern hop varieties and aggressive dry hopping.” Indeed, the dry hopping creates a strong, orchard-like aroma, but the flavor remains smooth and citrusy, not overpowering.
The hop flavors are mellow and smooth, but more enhanced than regular Summit EPA, going up a notch toward a hoppier IPA without losing drinkability. The aftertaste is reminiscent of citrus and malt, creating a quite refreshing experience for so hoppy a beer.
An unpretentious, entirely solid ale, Silver Anniversary will blow no one’s mind yet remains a classic example of what Summit is known for: high-quality, drinkable beers. For a 25-year celebration, Summit did the right thing by not straying too far from the herd, which most true fans of the brewery will appreciate.
Summit’s Unchained Honeymoon Saison
Color: Deep Gold
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Honey, Wheat, Oats
Hops: Crystal, Liberty, Mt. Hood, Nelson Sauvin
OG: 12.0 degrees Plato
Summit’s Silver Anniversary Ale
Style: Extra Pale Ale
Color: Light bronze
Malts: 2-Row Harrington, Crystal 60
Hops: Citra, Centennial, Cascade
Yeast: American Ale
OG: 14.5 degrees Plato