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Beer Reviews

Dunkel Weizen

Summit Brewing Company
St. Paul, MN
USA
http://www.summitbrewing.com/

Style: Dunkel
ABV: 6.0%

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


Comments:
Pair With:
• Goulash
• Hummus
• Tongue
• Turkey
• Veal
• Venison
• Walnuts
April in Minnesota, like many Midwestern states, can be a month of contrasts. Case in point: leaving Milwaukee on our western jaunt on April 15th, it was pushing 80 degrees with some nice early spring sunshine. As we approached the Twin Cities five hours later, it was raining with some thunderstorms in the area and by the time we arrived, temps had dropped into the 50s. With the rain stopping and the wind picking up, the night proved to be a brisk drop into the 30s and the only full day we spent in Minneapolis ended up a balmy 42 degrees … on April 16th. Yikes.

Suffice it to say, St. Paul-based Summit Brewing may have hit the nail right on the head with the spring release in their Unchained series of specialty brews, Dunkel Weizen. Dunkels are versatile brews—dark enough to drink on a cool night, but with enough wheat malt to make them refreshing on a warm summer day, and an ABV that is typically mid-range (this one is 6 percent right on the nose). To prove their diversity, I drank a Summit Dunkel on tap that chilly night in Minneapolis and enjoyed it. The Summit Dunkel I brought home from Minnesota was consumed on a hot July night during the summer of ’12, which, though not yet over, will surely be remembered for decades as one of the driest, hottest, and harshest on record. And I still enjoyed it.

As stated in my previous review, which was for fellow St. Paul brewer Flat Earth, Summit is the largest and best known craft brewer in the state of Minnesota. What had always been a solid but unspectacular lineup has improved in recent years, with the addition of the very tasty year-round brew Horizon Red, as well as the aforementioned Unchained Series of specialty brews. Dunkel Weizen is Batch 09 in this line, and like the rest is a very good, if not great, interpretation of the style. While I wasn’t looking to bring back any Summit from our Western jaunt, we did hit up a liquor store in a suburb of Minneapolis on our way home and I grabbed a sixer of Dunkel Weizen, only to find it all over the damn place when we got back to Wisconsin. Even as the dog days of summer begin to fade, I’m still finding Summit Dunkel at numerous local purveyors of fine suds.

Summit Dunkel Weizen pours beautifully for the style. A deep coppery hue, it’s highly carbonated but the head doesn’t overwhelm on the pour—an entire 12-ounce bottle pours into a pint glass without overflow if not poured too vigorously. The initial cloud quickly dissipates to a creamy head, which then slowly dissipates into a very nominal fizzy lace. Cloudy with plenty of sediment, this is a textbook example of what this traditional German wheat should look like.

The aroma of a good dunkelweizen should be noticeably complex, and Summit does not disappoint. A blend of banana, clove, citrus zest, and some light sugars give the scent a little bite and again demonstrate the diversity of a brew that has plenty of components both light and dark. The dark wheat and yeast comes through as well, further adding to the complexity. It’s an aroma that while not overly strong, is pleasant enough and adds to the overall session.

Flavors back up the initial impressions, as it is complex, balanced, and tasty in a variety of environs. As with any German-style Weiss beer, there is a strong flavor of banana followed by lighter, more effervescent hints of citrus zest. A spicy hint of clove is present throughout, giving Summit Dunkel Weiss a number of unique flavors that are found in the best examples of the style. As you would expect, it skews darker as the beer warms and the roasted malt characteristics really begin to come through. At the end of the session, this is a true dark beer that warms with notes of toasted malt but still holds on to enough of the initial effervescence to remain refreshing. Thus the true “all season” beer. Medium bodied and smooth on the palate, Summit Dunkel leaves only a slight aftertaste.

Perhaps I’m skewing a bit positive due to actually experiencing this beer in two very different circumstances … fresh on tap soon after its release on a cold Minnesota spring eve and out of the bottle months later on a scorching hot Wisconsin summer night. However, while nothing about Summit Dunkel Weiss will necessarily blow you away, its overall balance and diversity pulls out an impressive four mug rating. Worth a try for sure, even if the thermometer continues to push 100 in the Midwest.

Cheers!


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on August 29, 2012.
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