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Reviewing The Summit Unchained 04 Belgian-Style Golden Ale

Rohit Naimpally

Pol Sci, Econ and Cricket geek who loves a good pint

One of my best friends from college is huge fan of Duvel. He has often asked me for beer recommendations based on this preference; Summit Brewing Company out of St. Paul, MN may have made my task a little easier.

Summit recently sent me some samplers of their Unchained 04 Belgian-Style Golden Ale, a strong Belgian Blonde Ale that is very much in the brewing tradition of beers like Duvel. From the brewery's official description:
Light golden in color, pours effervescent with a thick, rocky head.  The aromas of fruity esters produced by our Belgian yeast strain dominate, while a subtle spiciness from the Czech Saaz and Styrian Golding hops linger in the background.  Brewed with 100% Belgian Malt and tons (literally) of Belgian Candi Sugar, the body was lightened, and the alcohol increased.  The end result is a sublime drinking experience!
I think that sums the beer up rather nicely, without too much embellishment while highlighting the brew's strong points. It is perhaps a little less effervescent than Duvel, but one would be well advised to pour it into a Duvel glass, or any other tulip with embossed writing on the inside that would amplify the effervescence of the beer. The esters hit you right up front and dominate the aroma (pears seem to be the dominant fruit), along with a heavy yeastiness. The alcohol is definitely there as well- as with Duvel ("Devil"), the devil is in the drink and designated drivers would be advised to take this one slowly. The flavor holds an almost sour yeastiness; bready and heady. The use of Candi Sugar complements the grainy malt-character rather well, lending the beer a decided "chewiness" in the mouth.

All-in-all, a beer that hits all the notes the brewer's were aiming for and can hold it's head up high in any conversation about the style. Duvel lovers can rejoice at a local option that affords them many of the same delights.

I'll be posting my review of Charles Bamforth's book next week, as well as a two or three-part interview with him. He had plenty of interesting stuff to say, so you'll want to check that out. The newest addition to our blog, Matthew Horn, will also be putting up his first post at some point next week. But more on that then. For now, see if you can have someone from Minnesota get you a six-pack of the Summit Golden Ale to toast the last few days of summer (I refuse to accept that summer is over). Have a good weekend; prost! 



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