It’s been awhile since I’ve received an email update/newsletter from Summit Brewing, and it shows in the length of the one I just received. Wow! Lots to report. Some of it has already been posted, but some of it is new. I especially enjoyed Mark Stutrud’s explanation of the agriculture crisis facing brewers.
Well, enough editorializing…..
Greetings from Mark
Hello everyone. Thanks for tuning in again. I’m sure that most of you have already heard or read the news about the astronomical increases in the price of hops and malt. The media has done a pretty good job of covering this market/agricultural issue. However, I thought that it would be appropriate to add our viewpoint and a few additional details.
During recent history, the brewing industry has never experienced this combination of events. As little as three to four years ago, surpluses of hops and malting barley existed. Today several varieties of hops and malt have increased in cost anywhere from 150 to 300 percent. Some varieties of hops will just not be available in 2008 and 2009. What happened? Well, this is a “crash course” of global supply and demand.
The number of acres for cultivation of barley replaced by corn for the production of ethanol has received a lot of attention. Although this reality has contributed to the present market condition, this factor is not the primary demon. It just represents a superficial reality. (Tonight I won’t distract myself on the danger of the policy of solely relying on corn based ethanol as the singular solution to global energy needs.)
The bottom line is that farmers are faced with many choices. Is it corn this season? Or soybeans? The future for durum might be good. Sugar beets are a main staple to our table. And, by golly, that corn may be more profitable livestock feed than that barley variety…
Hop farming is drastically different than grain farming. The hop farmer carefully nurtures a single variety of a perennial vine for up to three years before the blossoms are commercially viable. This is a long term strategy for success for the hop farmer. Simultaneously, the hop grower’s success is dependent on the demands of the large global brewers. Is it a specific aroma variety the next six years? Or is wise to consider those new high alpha types that are in demand today?
These choices of cultivating specific varieties, responding to demands of the market, and planning a strategy for future profitability represent a normal environment.
Maybe it’s because I have been cooking more lately that I’ll represent the environment of today in this kind of mood…
Let’s look at this recipe for “abnormal casserole”: Begin with a couple of poor hop and barley harvests in North America. Add a pinch of the hop warehouse fire. Next, blend into this recipe a three year retirement of some hop fields due to lack of demand and surplus of inventory. As this mixture rests, reduce the capacity of the malting industry by three years of constriction and plant closures. Finally, before folding these ingredients into the processor, add two heaping amounts of hop and barley failures on other continents. If desired, a whipping of corn based sweetener can provide a topping.
The reality of small scale brewing has many dimensions. We are more labor intensive than the national/global brewers. We pay a premium for raw materials. Bottling our beer is the largest cost of operations. During the past eighteen months, our cost of hops and malt has nearly doubled, closely equaling the cost of packaging.
We support honest market prices for the hop and grain farmers that are a part of the brewing industry. Furthermore, we support the margins of the maltsters. Beer will not be cheaper in the future.
Obviously, we will be raising our prices in early 2008. However, we will do this modestly to offer the fairest value to you. We will be searching for efficiencies in our brewery. We will not indulge in any brewing shortcuts or “dumbing-down” of any formulations. We will be here for you – as consistently as we have been in the past.
So, as we celebrate the Holidays, let’s be thankful and pray for better harvests.
Is it Hockey season yet? Yes! Summit is excited to sponsor the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships again this year. Register for a team or just come watch, January 18-20 at Lake at Nokomis in Minneapolis.
Cask Ale Nights-Want a really special treat? Come to a Summit cask ale night and try an unfiltered, cask-conditioned ale. These don’t happen every day, so check our website often to find out the next one near you.
Wednesday, December 19
1834 St. Clair Ave, St. Paul
Thursday, December 20
498 Selby Ave, St. Paul
Friday, December 21
22nd Ave & 4th Street, Minneapolis
Ed’s Bar in Winona, MN
New Year’s Eve
Prizes and merriment throughout the night!
Summit is proud to sponsor the Live at the Guthrie Concert Series. Come enjoy a show in their lovely new theatre and have a Summit while you are at it! Upcoming shows include Dark Star Orchestra on February 4, Shawn Phillips on February 25, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars on March 3, and Gaelic Storm on March 17.
Summit Sampling at The Smokehouse in Cambridge, MN
Saturday, January 5, 5-9pm
Flight Night-Did you know that the Groveland Tap on St. Clair Ave in St. Paul serves a Summit tasting flight? If you have never been, check them out tonight, December 18 when the flight is on special for $5. Yep, $5 for 8 different Summits, 4 ounces each.
Axel’s in Milwaukee will be featuring EPA on tap and bottles of EPA and Porter as their January Beer of the Month. Register to win a swell Summit hockey jersey while you are at it.
Summit Medallion Hunt and Hammerschlagen at Mount Kato Ski Resort in Mankato, MN.
Saturday, February 2, 1-4pm
Featuring a 20-ounce special on Summit Winter Ale!
(Hammerschlagen inside the chalet bar, Medallion hunt out on the slopes)
Figlio’s Happy Hour
$2 good $2 be true!
Featuring Extra Pale Ale, Winter Ale, and Oatmeal Stout on draft
Stop by for a $2 pint at this Uptown favorite!
First news first-our News and Events page on www.summitbrewing.com is now being updated on almost a daily basis. Be sure to visit for the latest and greatest!
Have you visited our new website yet? New videos are being posted all the time on www.thesocialelement.com. Could your group be next? Check it out and tell us your story.
Visit our gift shop area for last-minute holiday gift ideas! Get Dad a BEER IS MY LIFE tee and a set of pint glasses for his collection. Pick up an EPA tap handle for the friend with the bar in his basement. Grab a long-sleeved tee for the lady in your life. And heck, you’ve been good; get yourself that hockey jersey you’ve been eyeing for so long! Order soon to get your merchandise in time for the big day.
Due to popular demand, we will be offering a second Saturday tour starting in January. Now you can come see how the magic happens at 10:30am and 1:00pm. You’ll still want to call a couple weeks in advance though, they are booking fast! Ring us up at 651-265-7800 or visit www.summitbrewing.com for reservations. Have a free afternoon during the week? We still offer tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:00pm, and no reservations are needed for these weekday tours.
22-ounce Summits are finally here! We packaged the first round last week so you should start seeing the Extra Pale Ale bombers any day now. In a couple months you’ll see Maibock in a bottle to share as well!
A Major Award – It has been awhile since we last attended the Great American Beer Festival. The wait was well worth it- we came home with a Bronze medal in the Classic English Style Pale Ale category for our flagship Extra Pale Ale! Kudos go out to those hardworking brewers for making such a fine brew!
Fall in love with Oatmeal Stout all over again! This creamy stout is currently available on draft at the following places:
Muddy Pig, Groveland Tap, Green Mill (Hennepin), Mackenzie’s, Figlio, William’s Pub, Stub & Herb’s, 8th St Grill, JJ’s Clubhouse, Old Chicago (Roseville), Big Dog (Mankato), Pizza Luce (Duluth), Patrick’s (St. Peter), Idaho Chucks (Hudson), and of course, during brewery tours.
by Damian McConn
‘Tis the season.
The cold months of winter provide the brewer with an opportunity to produce richer, fuller bodied beers to help ward off the chills of the season. Somewhat subjectively, these beers can be broadly categorized onto two overlapping strands; Christmas beers and winter warmers.
As the name implies, Christmas beers tend to involve a host of specially brewed beers sold exclusively around the holiday period. These beers often vary slightly from year to year, sometimes depending on the whims of the brewer. These are truly celebration beers that seek to defy style characterization, and may involve the use of spices such as nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, or unique brewing sugars such as black treacle, molasses and candy sugar. Other beers may employ certain malt types or hop varieties in order to achieve specific flavour and aroma attributes. Herbs are also used by some brewers to achieve a desired effect.
The term ‘winter warmer’ is somewhat ambiguous, although originally it referred to strong, malty and relatively sweet English ales. Today it has become a catchall for any beer that happens to be of above-average alcohol strength, in addition to being fairly rich and full-bodied in nature. Adopting a broad approach, a fair range of beers could thus be included in this category, such as strong Scottish ales (90 shillings), imperial stouts, some Belgian-style ales such as dubbels, certain German-style bocks, and barley wines.
Summit Winter Ale could be included in another group of winter warmer-type beers; English-style old ales. These vary in strength from 5.5 to 11% alcohol, and in colour from dark amber to almost black. They tend to be rich, full bodied and malt-accented, with notes of biscuit, caramel, spice and dark fruit. Hops are present usually only in quantities sufficient to balance the malt. Their common thread is the extended time required for maturation, traditionally in wooden vats but nowadays more commonly in conditioning vessels, bottles, casks and kegs.
As a traditional brewer, we here at Summit, seek to emulate the winter warmers of years past with our Winter Ale. No spices are added, but a combination of pale, crystal and black malts provide a rich backbone balanced by woody, spicy and floral hops and our fruity house yeast. Hopefully it will aid you in your efforts to stay warm during this festive season.