AFTER A SLIGHTLY touch-and-go autumn seasonal in the Oktoberfest, Summit regains sturdier footing with their Winter Ale, though its bland name does nothing to dispel the sense of obligation that characterizes all of Summit’s part-time brews. A little strangely, Summit’s winter warmer is actually weaker than their autumn Märzen (6.1% vs. 6.6%), but is still formidably stocked with a tangy interplay of darkened caramel, some spiced nuts, and cocoa (Carafa II being the malt bill outlier, joining the usual suspects 2-Row Pale and Caramel). Beneath that fireside blend is a brief bloom of citric hops in the aroma, which correspondingly show up towards the latter half of the flavor before a fair bite of alcohol in a layered aftertaste. A rich dark brown in color with respectable lacing and head, moderately dry and medium bodied, Summit’s Winter Ale is a comforting companion for the last throes of fall. But after the first blizzard knocks out the power one might prefer to reach for something sturdier.
Served: 12 oz bottle best by 04/03/12*
* – Worth noting that this beer had passed its best-by date, but if any beer should stand up to some extra cellaring it should be that which can formally be called an ‘Old Ale’.