Hefe Yes!

I’m adding this review a little late in the game, but then again that’s how life is sometimes.

The Hefe I had came from the Groveland Tap, which carries ALL Summit products.  Our tasting was September 29th, well into Fall and out of HefeWeizen season.  Not surprising, We could definitely taste the difference with this beer.  The typical refreshing phenolic fermentation character had turned to a slight sharp clovey tang.  My Hefe was served with a lemon slice, which was just right to balance against the phenolic bite.  Also present were intense orange and citrus notes, and a slight banana flavor and aroma.

We are pretty lucky to have a local brewer with the guts to present us with such an authentic interpretation of this beer.  My hats off to this Summit beer!

Close But No Cigar

If you like Summit and want to try their beers, there is no better place than the Groveland Tap, which has THE distinction of carrying EVERY Summit product!  So my friend Carol and I visited the Groveland for a pint of Summit Oktoberfest on September 29th, the eve of the end of Oktober.

At the outset, you have to understand that Marzen or Oktoberfest is probably my favorite kind of beer.  This style of beer gets it’s unique flavor from decoction – a special, laborious brewing process that sqeaks every bit of malt sugar out of the barley.  The decoction process also creates melonoidins – complex roasted sugars that impart that thick malty taste to your Oktoberfest.  Decocted beers takes a long time and a lot of work to produce, so very few brewers use this process, and instead use meloniodin malts instead – and this is the case for Summit’s Oktoberfest.

This is a malty slightly sweet beer that does finish dry, with a clean crisp lager finish.  It does have a little malt complexity, but not the full-tilt over-the-top feel of the real thing.  I’m very busy doing research all over this town to find the BEST Minnesota Marzen-Oktoberfestbeer, I just hope that this is NOT it.

Don’t get me wrong here, I LOVE a number of Summit beers, especially the Oatmeal stout, Great Northern Porter and the ESB (English Special Bitter).  But the Oktoberfest is just not that caliber.

Moderate Pleasures

This is my first review, so I will probably over-do this, and make the other reviewers angry.  Sorry, hopefully we can have a beer together soon and make amends!

I was lucky enough to have picked up this beer on Friday night as one of my staples, so having it available to review was just good luck. I found it at The Four Firkins an incredible beer resource in St. Loius Park on the corner of Texas and Minnetonka.  If you haven’t been there, check it out.

My first exposures to Brau Brothers was pretty rocky, about a year ago I had some of their beers with definite issues and fermentation infections.  However, in the last 6 months EVERY Brau Brothers beer I have had has been excellent, with NO cases of infections or off-flavors.  This beer was no exception.

  • Aroma – Sweet and chocolaty, with prominent complex sweetness.  No hop notes, no off-aromas present. Also no bitter or astringent roast aromas.
  • Appearance – Dark, but not close to opaque.  Small very dense moussy head that has lingered for about 15 minutes unchanged!  Low carbonation.  Beer appears very clear.
  • Flavor – Sweet dark malt flavor (low) without any roast malt character – kind of a mild disappointment after the aroma buildup.  Hop flavor is very low with no distinguishable hop characteristics.  Hop bitterness is also low and earthy, with a hint of US hop resininess.  Malt flavor clearly dominates over the hop flavor and bitterness, but the malt flavor and sweetness is medium to low and not excessive either. Finish is slightly sweet, and supported with a very low almost inperceptible lasting hop bitterness.  Fermentation character is very clean, with very slight fruity esters.  No off-flavors.
  • Mouthfeel – Body is medium to medium low, in line with the moderate flavor impact of this beer.  Carbonation is low.  Beer has a clean crispness that does not feel warm or ‘thick’. No astringency.

Overall Impression – As a Sweet Stout, this beer falls in the lower half of the category, lacking the thick-sweet-chewy feel and a more pronounced roast malt character.  If you are looking for the quintessential sweet stout, this is not it.

BUT – for what it lacks in density, it makes up for in clean and crisp presentation!  This is a really well made beer.I take my hat off to the Brau Brothers on this one.  As a small brewery they have done an excellent job creating a REAL cream ale that fits the sweet stout category.  Creating those big chewy beers takes lots of raw materials, which is pretty costly to a small operation like Brau Brothers.

Instead of the defacto favorite for the catergory, think of this as the perfect transitional beer – serve this to your American Lager drinking friends to win them over to real beer.  Flavors are moderate, and provide a great example of diverse flavors presented in balance to each other.

Another take on this beer is a term that my old brew partner and I used – drinakability – you can pound a bunch of these and ask for more.

Over-The-Top Pleasures – Nay
Moderate Crowd Pleaser – Yeah

Well done Brau Brothers!