Summit’s Unchained Series Debut: Kölsch

Kate NG Sommers
Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

The first thing that jumps out at you about the new Summit “Unchained” release is the packaging. Sleek and simple, the natural look of the hand-stamped box is telling of the theory behind the new triannual, limited-release beers, which appear in stores next week. A traditional German Style Kölsch kicks off the collection.

The brew is smooth and clean with a lingering bitterness. Considered a session beer (meaning you should drink a few more than two), it pairs well with both the lingering heat of the summer and bratwurst on the grill. (If you’re feeling truly adventurous, head to Kramarczuk’s and pair up your Kölsch with some blood sausage.)

Kate NG Sommers
Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

The word itself is derived from the French and German names from the town of Cologne (or Köln). Only a handful of American versions are available of this obscure beer style. So why Summit, and why now?

The beer springs from the concept behind the Unchained series itself; the new line of beers was developed with the idea of letting the creativity of the six Summit brewers shine through, while developing the company’s green identity. Brewer Mike “the Miz” Miziorko was first to take up the reins of the Unchained series, choosing to make Kölsch his debut creation.

Kate NG Sommers
Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

It was made clear that the Unchained series is not meant to be wild and crazy experimentation on behalf of the brewers. Rather it encourages the brewers to focus on recreating their favorite esoteric regional styles and to then prepare them using traditional methods. In the case of Kölsch, great attention to detail went into selecting ingredients true to those found in Kölsch Appellation Controlée, a tightly controlled and regimented German beer classification as well-respected as other European appellations such as Champagne and Chianti. Miz assures that all the ingredients were truly authentic — from the 100 percent imported German malt, to the hops from Hallertau in Bavaria, to the Kölsch yeast sourced from world renowned yeast banks (yes, there is such a thing as a yeast bank). All were also combined in accordance with German beer purity laws.

The next beer in the Unchained Series — the style has yet to be announced — is expected to be available in November.

Summit Unchained German Style Kölsch
OG: 11.5º P (1.046 s.g.)
Color: Golden
IBUs: 25
Abv: 4.7%


  1. BrianJ

    Nice write up Kate!

    I look forward to trying this. I think Summit is a little underappreciated by Twin Cities craft beer drinkers and I applaud them for doing a special release that isn’t just a high ABV, high IBU brew. There’s nothing wrong with those but there’s already enough of them.

  2. Chris E

    Sounds great! I have been looking forward to this rumor coming true. Kolsch is my favorite and I hope it makes it way down to the Chicago area!

  3. Amy P.

    I like Lake Superior Kayak Kolsch, I wonder how this will compare to that. Where will this be carried – all places that sell Summit or just a few selected stores?

  4. BrianJ

    After Lake Superior lobbied against allowing brewpubs to bottle their beers I have been boycotting them. Too many good breweries in our fine state to tolerate an anti-competitive one. You’ll also notice they are the only MN brewer of note to not join the MN craft brewer’s guild.

    If you want to compare Summit’s Kölsch to another local brewer’s give your money to the good folks over at Schell’s.

  5. Kate NG Sommers

    Amy- It will be fairly limited in distribution, but will be well distributed in the Twin Cities market in both bars and liquor stores. Chris- I’m researching the Chicago possibility. It might not be “local” enough…

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