Summit Brewing – Sága IPA

PURPORTEDLY NAMED for a drinking companion of Odin, Summit’s Sága IPA just as likely got its name after someone in marketing plugged the words ‘beer’, ‘mythology’ ,and ‘cool’ into Google. Simply calling it ‘Saga’ might have made more natural sense, given its world-spanning combination of coveted hops and generous hand in dispensing them.

Either way, the beer was launched in 2012 as the brewery’s second year-round IPA (out of six total). It’s also one of relatively few Summit beers to be explicitly American in style, dialing back the malts for a lighter body (and color) and upping the IBUs to 80 for an assertively bitter beer with a proud head, decent balance of body and carbonation, and dwelling hop bitterness in the finish. Centennial hops are used for this role, but Sága isn’t defined by resinous pine or floral bloom characteristic of American varieties. Instead, Sága’s cup runneth over with tropical, nearly sweet, and slightly dank combination of Amarillo, Citra, and Rakau, all of which were used in dry-hopping. Each of these three could carry a beer’s aromatic duties on its own and in Sága they create a fairly complicated bouquet that implies a lot of complexity without overstuffing the palate. Those Centennial hops do begin to accumulate on the back of the tongue, though, slowly winning out against slightly underpowered malt bill, and after a couple bottles would need something else to relieve the palate. A session ale this is not.

For the most part, though, the flavors blend together rather well in the medium body, where carbonation sits back a little so as not to overwhelm a simple caramel foundation. Alcohol of 6.4% is the same as Summit’s standard English-style IPA and is not significantly more prominent in Sága. One might have wished for a little more counterpoint in the finish: some spice or more interesting ‘second act’ other than more hops, for instance. Sága is still a fairly interesting beer, though, and a step up overall from their slightly staid (or comfortably balanced, depending on your perspective) IPA of yore. One suspects a fresher bottle would also have yielded better results.

Served: 12 oz best by 8/17/13

Rating: 86

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