Summit Hits New Heights with Union Series

Jim Lundstrom

Meridian Session Ale, a Belgian-style session ale from Summit Brewing Co. of St. Paul, Minn., is part of the brewery’s Union Series, a limited edition series that will use “the latest hops and malts in the industry.”

Meridian Session Ale was brewed in 2013 with Concerto pale malt from the United Kingdom and Meridian hops from the U.S. Until I picked up the bottle, I’d never heard of either of those ingredients, and I decided not to look them up until after I had a few sips of the beer.
Yum, from the first sip I know this is one great session beer. Each sip is like a bright explosion of in your mouth. I tasted a biscuitiness in the malt (which English malts are known for, so no great leap there for me to say that) and a quick, lemony-spicy hop finish (I believe that is what delivers the bright pop in your mouth).

As I’m drinking this beer, I’m spinning a great hunk of vinyl by Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Gospel Train, 1956), and, as I take a sip, she ends a song with the line, “I’m ready to believe there’s a heaven somewhere,” and I can only toast in her general direction and say, “Amen, Sister!”

A beer this good gets you thinking there must be a higher power because man alone can’t possibly be responsible, can he?

Well, enough beer theology, back to those new ingredients Summit enlisted.

All I could learn about Concerto pale malt is that it is a spring malting barley (the famous English ale malt known as Maris Otter is a winter wheat), and, according to one of its English producers, it “is the only variety fully approved by the Institute of Brewing & Distilling for brewing and malt distilling.”

There was a better story available for Meridian hops. Its life began with an Oregon company called Indie Hops, which was working with a local hop-breeding program to bring back Columbia, a long-lost sister of the West Coast Willamette. Tests found that the new hop had no relationship to Willamette, so was declared a new variety and was named Meridian by Indie Hops. It has been described to impart lemony, fruit punch flavors.

Summit is at the top of its game with this beer. Find it and enjoy!