Saturday, August 8, 2015
"Herkulean Woods" Summit Brewing Company
"Herkulean Woods" Summit Brewing St Paul , MN
Lager brewed with maple syrup and spruce tips
Hard to believe that this is already batch 16 in the unchained series that started back in 2009. In this innovative series Summit gives the brewer artistic license to brew whatever style and with whatever ingredients they want (within reason I assume)! For his turn in the spotlight North Carolina native and Summit journeyman turned brewer Christian Dixon has created one of the more fascinating brews with his interpretation of an Imperial Californian Common * (scroll to the bottom for some serious beer geek-ology)! He adds a unique Midwestern twist with the addition of maple syrup (440 gallons total to be exact) sourced from Wild Country in Lutsen, MN and spruce tips farmed in Northern Iowa.
Spruce tips may seem an unusual addition to the boil but they have been used in brewing for centuries long before the discovery of hops. Rich in vitamin C they were used by indigenous tribes in North America as a cure for scurvy during winter months when fresh fruit was not available - later European explorers discovered it and used it on sea voyages. Alaskan Brewing's popular Winter Ale and,closer to home, Olvalde's "Ode to a Russian Shipwright" are some examples of beer brewed with spruce tips.
Herculean Woods derives it's name from the use of the Herkules hops from the Bavarian hop fields of Hallertau, a spicy floral hop that is more typically found in German style ales, along with the more traditional bittering hop Northern brewer that is standard in many steam beers. A California Common yeast strain that works well at higher temperatures complete this Herculean effort(!).
The beer pours a deep amber with a vigorous frothy head and a nose that suggests roasted caramel or sweet toffee and that follows though in the taste. Robust and hearty, the maple lends a burnt sugary complexity to the beer while the young spruce wields a piney citrusy spicy element - the lager finishes clean and tangy that invites having another, expertly concealing the substantial 8.2% ABV.
*California Common/Steam Beer is a uniquely American style lager born in California in the late 1800's before refrigeration was common. Shallow fermenters (cool ships) were used to cool down the beer. The result is a hybrid beer that is a lager that exhibits some ale characteristics - it's essentially a well hopped lager that is fermented at high temperatures. San Francisco's Anchor Brewing began making steam beer in 1894 and was the sole producer of the beer after prohibition closed it's competitors. The brewery trademarked the term "steam beer" resulting in other brewers adopting the name "California Common" to refer to this unique beer style.
"Herkulean Woods" is available in six packs for $8.99, get it while it's still available!