In Summit’s most recent Union Series Release, the Southern Cape Sparkling Ale, a drinker can find pretty much anything they want to find in it. Light in malt character with medium hop levels that permeate the beer from start to finish, the style-undefined ale is enjoyable, bitter, light, roasty, and smooth. The color of golden hay, it pours with a thick, almost creamy head, and, living up to its name, it glitters in the glass. Thanks to its lightly hopped nose, if you don’t think too hard about it, you might expect you’re about to enjoy a classic Pilsner Urquell.
The lightly roasted malts taste almost nutty, and the roundness of hop flavorings are subtle and on the sweeter side. While the description on Summit’s website says there are hints of pineapple and mango in the hop aroma, the fruity elements are mostly glossed over by the chilled bubbly mouthfeel. Best enjoyed on a warm day, the Sparkling Ale blooms in a hot minute, increasing the hop flavor but not amplifying it to a slap. Low in gravity, it can pass as sessionable — paired with its light body, it would be a good replacement for any of the summer favorites, be they Saison or Corona Extra.
With ingredients from Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa, the beer is a hodgepodge of terroir, but it’s united by the fact that they are all from southern hemisphere locales. This is highlighted in Summit’s description of the beer: “Go around the world in a pint,” a compelling extension of the Union Series in which Summit “scours the globe for new or obscure hops and malts.” Some craft breweries have made foreign-ingredient beers in an effort to bring more exotic flavors to the mouths of thirsty Americans (a la Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop IPA, which uses wet hops shipped in from New Zealand). But few have mixed many of them to create a unique hybrid beer that can stand alone like the Southern Cape Sparkling Ale.