Summit Brewing Company
Brewery of the Month – November 2016
Written by Alex T. – Happy Harry’s Brew Crew
This year, Summit Brewing Company is celebrating 30 years of business. To celebrate three decades of business they are releasing four limited edition beers. The next one is an English-Style Barleywine Ale set to be released this month. Like most breweries they started off small but Summit has grown to be one biggest craft breweries in the United States. Based from beer sales volume, Summit ranks 29th in The Brewers Association Top 50 Craft Breweries of 2015.
Summit was founded by Mark Stutrud, a Wahpeton, ND native, back in 1986 in Saint Paul, Minnesota despite the Brewers Association of America advising him not to. Mark was in his early 30s and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. But Mark did have a love for beer and was an avid home brewer; and after hearing that other people like him were opening craft breweries he started researching what it would take for him to do the same.
First he wrote to the Brewers Association of America asking their thoughts of him opening a brewery. They advised him not to saying that is a long hard road to go down. Despite their recommendation he pushed on and researched, planned, and did a couple of short apprentices at other breweries.
In 1986 he remodeled an old truck parts building, located on Saint Paul’s University Ave, and opened Summit Brewing. The first beers he brewed were only in kegs and were the ever-popular EPA and the Great Northern Porter. A year later they started bottling their beers as well.
It didn’t take too much time for their beers to catch on and from 1991 to 1995 Summit had to expand the brewery 3 times to increase their production from 5,000 barrels a year to 34,000. Even after those expansions they were hard pressed on space and couldn’t keep up with demand
In 1996 Summit purchased 4.2 acres in Saint Paul and started construction on a new brewery. By 1998 they had completely transitioned to the new brewery. From there business continued to grow.
2009 brought the start of their exciting new series, the Unchained Series. This series is a limited release batches of beer that are created by individual brewers at Summit. They are currently on batch number 23 which is called Dark Infusion: A Coffee Milk Stout.
Eventually they ran out of production room at the new brewery and had to expand once again in 2013 which brought their production up to 240,000 barrels per year. This expansion also allowed them to add a canning line in 2014.
Nowadays, Summit remains true to its passion of brewing with old world traditions and ingredients. This passion is also shown in Summit’s love for the community and family where they continue to help in any way they can. Whether it’s promoting local musicians, purchasing their barley from Mark’s cousins back in his home town of Wahpeton, or hosting their annual Feed My Starving Children event.
Beer Tasting Notes
Summit’s Extra Pale Ale is one of their most awarded beers throughout the years. It is a gold amber in color and has notes of sweet caramel and citrus in the aroma. The taste is similar to the nose with the caramelapparent right away and fades to a light citrus with a little bit of hops. Other flavors noticeable are bread, malt, and a touch of honey. It is a very drinkable beer with great flavor making it very enjoyable. ABV – 5.2% IBUs – 49. Beer Advocate: 83 points-good.
The Great Northern Porter is named after the railway that runs from St. Paul to Seattle. It is also one of the first beers brewed by Summit. Its color is deep black with a hint of brown and has aromas of roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. The taste begins with coffee and leads into burnt toast, dark chocolate, and a touch of sweetness at the end. Very well balanced Porter and very tasty! ABV – 5.4% IBUs – 51. Beer Advocate: 87 points-very good.
It is named after the Norse goddess Sága. It pours an orange gold color and has orange peel, citrus hops, and brown sugar on the nose. The flavor profile is hop forward with mostly citrus hops and some piney hops. It also carries flavors of orange, lemon grass, and light malt. Overall it is a superb IPA that all beer drinkers can enjoy. ABV – 6.2% IBUs – 80. Beer Advocate 89 points-very good.