Every few months, a Summit Brewer gets a crack at crafting a unique, one-off beer all by their lonesome. No rules, no budgets, no outside influences. These beers, which are known as the Summit Unchained Series, celebrate the brewers’ skill and creativity. Brewer Nick Hempfer brewed his first Unchained beer in 2015 — an ESB made with Earl Grey tea — and ever since he’s been eager to tackle another.
While developing Summit Unchained 26: Westie 7th, a Belgian-Style Dark Ale whose name is a nod to our St. Paul brewery’s neighborhood, Hempfer discovered the delicious world of Belgian candi syrups — an ingredient often used by Belgian brewers to increase the fermentable sugar in their beers.
In addition to boosting a beer’s booze content, Belgian candi syrups also offer complex flavor profiles. Sacrificing his blood sugar, Hempfer sampled seven varieties before landing on a dark candi syrup with rich notes of dark fruit, dark caramel, and — lucky us — rum. A blend of specialty malts supports and highlights these flavors, while subtle, noble-type hops lie back and let the candi syrup shine. Finished with a Trappist-Style Ale yeast, you can expect traces of fig and raisin to round out the beer.
Pouring rich mahogany in color, Westie 7th represents a style that, years ago, caught Hempfer by surprise. “During my early craft-beer drinking days,” Hempfer says, “my exposure to Belgian beers was limited to brews with overwhelming banana and clove profiles — flavors I personally don’t enjoy.” Later on, however, a friend poured Hempfer a rich quadrupel, surprising him with raisin, caramel, and fig flavors. “I was hooked,” says Hempfer, “and I have since sought out these rare, seemingly mythological beers brewed in monasteries.”
- ABV: 7.5%
- IBU: 25
- Color: Rich Mahogany (40 L)
- Malts: Pale, Moravian 37, Simpsons DRC, Weyermann CaraAroma, Weyermann Melanoidin Hops: Hallertau Mittlefruh, Saaz
- Kettle Additions: Belgian candi syrup
- Yeast: Trappist-Style Ale yeast
- Serving Tips: Serve at 55–60ºF in a snifter glass. Pair with roasted meats, pork loin, ribs, brisket, charcuterie, cheese, baked brie with figs, or crème brulee.
Summit Unchained Series
Launched in 2009, the rotating Unchained Series allows Summit brewers to explore their craft and pretty much brew whatever the heck they want. “We’re fortunate to have phenomenal brewers at Summit,” says Mark Stutrud, founder and president of Summit Brewing Company. “The Unchained Series allows them to showcase their artistry. There are no budgetary restraints, no outside influences from a sales team, and the brewers are free to collect ingredients from anywhere in the world. As long as it’s legal, they have complete autonomy.”
Summit Brewing Company
Founded in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1986, Summit Brewing Company has remained close to its roots, refreshing thirsty folks throughout the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions. Currently available in five states, Summit now produces seven year-round premium craft beers, seven occasionals, four seasonal brews, and the limited-release Unchained Series and Union Series. Since our inception, we’ve been a consistent pioneer in the craft beer movement. For everything Summit Brewing, visit summitbrewing.com.