August 3, 2018 — Happy International Beer Day, everyone! It’s a real thing! Established in 2008 and celebrated the first Friday in August in over 200 cities globally, International Beer Day “is a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders and rejoice in the greatness of beer!”
Beer lovers? That’s you. That’s us. That’s Homer and Barney and Lenny and Carl and Norm and Cliff and Laverne and Shirley. It’s the guy in cargo shorts sitting next to you at the bar. It’s your brother and dad and mom and maybe even your sister, even if she’s actually more of a wine person, you just need to keep on her about the hot new IPAs. She’ll come around. It’s the girl you dated briefly in college, you know, the one who teased you for ordering a simple domestic lager that one time. “Get something with more flavor, won’t you?” she said. But you didn’t know any better, and thank goodness she did. Look where you are now. You’re a beer lover! We’re so happy to have you in the club.
Now, in this club, we have national drink beer days and American beer days and national IPA days — heck, that last one was just yesterday. But an International Beer Day, that’s something different. It’s something special.
That’s because we’re a bit of a diverse bunch here at Summit Brewing Co. Our Founder and President Mark Stutrud calls himself a stubborn Norwegian. Our Head Brewer Damian McConn was born and educated to make traditional, honest-to-god beer for beer lovers in Ireland. Our authentic, all-copper brew house comes from Ansbach, Germany. A bunch of our barley comes from North Dakota. And our flagship Summit Extra Pale Ale, a classic British-style pale, has been brewed here in St. Paul, Minnesota, since 1986.
We believe the best people, the best ideas, the best ingredients, the best processes, equipment and technologies — the best beer, bottom line — can come from anywhere. And here, we work to put it all together under one roof, under one bottle cap or 6-pack holder, making sure it’s perfect before finally putting it into your hands. You’re a beer lover, after all, and you deserve the best.
But wait, what about that authentic, all-copper brew house from Ansbach, Germany? We want to talk about that piece a little more. That’s where everything starts for us and our beer.
You see, not everyone has a copper brew house. In fact, very few brewers do. The copper kettles make us unique. They make our beer unique. For starters, copper ions offer an important nutrient for yeast. It’s so important, actually, that even brewers who use stainless steel brewing equipment — “less expensive and more efficient,” they say — will often line a portion of their brewing equipment with copper to ensure their yeast gets exposed to those nutrients.
These copper kettles were hand-formed and hand-hammered nearly 50 years ago for the Hürner Brewery, a family brewery that made beer for 200 years before running out of family in the 1990s. As they closed up shop, they sold their brew house and grain elevator to Mark Stutrud in 1994, and Mark spent six weeks in the village of Ansbach to supervise its disassembly and shipment to the states. He kept it all in storage for two years before breaking ground in 1996 on our facility here in St. Paul, building the entire brewery around this copper brew house and keeping alive a long, deeply treasured brewing tradition that began over 4,300 miles away and a couple centuries in the past. These things don’t just come together by accident.
This story, this truly international heritage, this brewing tradition — it’s important to Mark Stutrud. It’s important to the beer lovers here at Summit, every one of us. It’s an important part of the tours we offer at the Summit Ratskeller. And we hope it’s important to you. Next time you visit us for a beer, wander over to the northwest corner of our Ratskeller. Take a peek at the shining copper kettles and the brewers at work. Look up toward the ceiling and check out our tribute to Hürner Brewery, represented by a map of upper Bavaria and Franconia that connects Summit Brewing Co. in St. Paul, Minnesota, to our heritage and the international beer lovers living a world away, celebrating the very same beverage you hold in your hands. Now go drink it, would ya?