Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Horizon Red Ale

Summit Brewing Company
St. Paul, MN

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 5.7%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

To me, it was big news when I heard Summit was releasing a new year-round beer, Horizon Red Ale. First off, it represented their first new offering in three years. Second, its creation was in response to customers requesting something a little hoppier from the St. Paul brewery. Summit is ancient for a craft brewery (in other words, they’re over 20 years old) and their lineup consists of flawlessly executed takes on usually pretty traditional styles. They aren’t known for going crazy and cranking out double-ABV death stouts or tongue-incinerating hop bombs. So I knew that this new offering from them, if anything, would be measured and expertly crafted. The only thing I didn’t know was how good it would be.

And I would like to be the first to congratulate Summit: Home. Fucking. Run.

From word go Horizon Red Ale impresses. The color is a perfectly clear, flat-out gorgeous auburn that just glows when held up to the light. The head is perfect: thick, sticky, and oh-so-barely off white. Lacing clings to the sides of the glass throughout the drink.

Likewise, the aroma is enticing: a vibrant and effusive bouquet of citrus and pine, with deeper sniffs yielding hints of maltiness underneath. Really deep sniffs pull out an almost minty spice note. Pretty damn wild.

A hard, sharp mouthfeel introduces a medium body that even leans toward light. Opening flavors are a very light maltiness, so light as to be almost a taste void. But before panic can set in, a wall of bracing, slightly peppery bitterness sweeps over the tongue, woven underneath with a complex weave of bright resiny and citrus notes. Some sugary maltiness sits way in the background, adding another level of complexity. The finish is long, bitter, and immensely flavorful.

Summit used distinctive, exuberant American hops—Amarillo, Cascade, Summit, and Horizon—to weave this extraordinary new entry in their lineup. They call it a red ale, but, folks, this is an IPA. It’s not the biggest IPA or the bitterest, but is right up there with some of the best in the Midwest.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on May 11, 2009.
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