I think this beer was pushing around 9%, but I did not notice. There was so much going on in the flavor department, that I missed the fact that my legs were being dissolved. Glad I walked. This one is really complex, and I really liked the contrasting flavors of the cranberry and chocolaty malt.
“Surly, two years old/ not ev’ryone’s cup of tea / as this beer will prove.” Haiku #4, you’re welcome. I had the first taste of this when I tapped it on the 23rd of January, (at the Blue Nile) and I sipped it and raised my glass and smiled. The bar was surrounded by throngs of Surly fans, and I didn’t want to spoil their enthusiasm. It didn’t win me over with the first slip down my lips, unlike Surly Furious or Darkness.
(I’ve heard this from other folks since then, that the first sip is not the best.) By night’s end, though, when I got a chance to relax and take my time, I was won over. Deep black, with crimson tinges, cocoa-tan head, with purple tints. Fruity nose, matched with roasted malts. Lightly sweet, with a side order of tart.Taste: there’s the tannins. I heard Todd Haug talk about why cranberries have that tannin feel we know from red wine, but I forgot most of what he said. Damn. Something in the bogs, I guess. There’s a flash of sweet, met with a smack of tart, a fun little jitterbug on the palate, followed by some black and chocolate malt flavors. A very unusual brew, closest I’ve encountered has been Bell’s Cherry Stout…never heard of one done with cranberries. It’s probably been done, heck, just about everything’s been done with fruit and beer by now, but I haven’t had it, yet. More I drink, more I like, not too sweet, not too dark, not too rich, not too tart…an intriguing blend, very fresh and lively, a labor of love to commemorate two fun years of great beer. I can certainly see how opinions here will divide on this one, and the extreme flavors, and high alcohol will surely temper enthusiasm. It’s not a session brew, and maybe would be best enjoyed as a dessert brew. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with “one and you’re done”…although I could go for another. But, just one more. So, don’t knock this for what it’s not. You can only enjoy it for what it is.
Summit Winter has a strong look (a very dark brew), a strong smell (heavy malts, caramel and hops) and a strong taste (thick and a little flat). As I write this review it’s 3 below outside and somehow that make this beer more enjoyable. As a newcomer to the “winter” genre of beers I feel like this Summit must be a good example to judge other “winters” by, but I invite the more experienced members to suggest other worthy contenders.