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Tasting Summit Triumphant Session IPA Like a Craft Brewer

As the number of beers available to drinkers across the globe expands exponentially, so too do the flavors we’re told we can experience from these beverages.

As craft beer fans, we know you appreciate learning all the subtle and nuanced notes your beer can provide. As Summit beer fans, we know you want to learn what those flavors can be attributed to. That’s why we’re chatting up our brewing team to get a glimpse of tasting beer through their lens in the “Tasting Like a Craft Brewer” segment!

Given the breadth and depth of the IPA style, we’re continuing to explore how the countless combinations of different hop and malt varietals creates unique beer flavors. Next up, we’re tasting Summit Triumphant Session IPA.

Summit Triumphant Session IPA 12pk of 12oz cans

Released in June 2020, Triumphant Session IPA flew under the radar for quite some time. This light, effervescent IPA weighs in at 99 calories, 3.5 grams of carbs, 1 gram of protein and 0 grams of fat per 12oz serving. It is also just 4 percent ABV. While this may not seem like a difficult task, getting an IPA specifically to be low-cal, low-carb and lower in ABV is especially challenging. Yet, this beer offers drinkers everything they should expect from the style – a bright, white head; fruity notes of pineapple, grapefruit and citrus; flavors of light bread-crust; and a clean, bitter finish.

Once again, Chief Brewing Officer Damian McConn weighs in on where to find each of these specific flavors during your sip, and just why this beer should be revered.

Summit Triumphant Session IPA 12oz Can and Pour Shot on Table
(credit: Summit Brewing Co.

To start, can you explain a bit why creating a low-cal, low-carb IPA is more challenging than other styles?

Low-calorie, low-carb beers are inherently subtle in nature, and the brewer cannot rely on copious amounts of malt or an aggressive hopping approach to achieve a complex profile. Achieving true complexity and depth while retaining that low-calorie specification requires an understanding of ingredient integration, appropriate recipe formulation and a keen eye for detail.

Speaking of the subtleties of this beer, a lot of times drinkers conflate “hoppiness” to “bitterness” when they are two different features. Can you explain how they differ? Where would you find the hoppiness in this beer? The bitterness?

Hop character or “hoppiness” describes the flavor characteristics provided by essential oils prominent in certain varieties, while pure bitterness derives from the alpha acid or bittering power traditionally associated with higher alpha varieties. Bitterness in beer comes primarily from the addition of hops to the beginning of the boil. The vast majority of the hops in Triumphant are added towards the end of the boil, in the whirlpool (for maximum hop flavor) and on the cold side to the fermentation vessel (for pronounced hop aroma). Thus, there will be more of the hop characteristics that come out throughout the beer than straight bitterness.

So, when we’re describing the flavors of Triumphant Session IPA they can sometimes be attributed to the hops used? For example, Triumphant is described as having tropical notes, specifically pineapple, grapefruit and apricot. Do those come from the hops? Where can you taste them best in the sip?

Yes, they do. We use a complex blend of European and American hop varieties to provide distinct tropical notes in Triumphant. While perhaps more prominent in the aroma, these notes are certainly apparent in the overall flavor profile of the beer.

Triumphant is also described as having a “clean” finish. What should that taste like? Do IPA’s normally have it?

India Pale Ales brewed with high quality, low co-humulone hop varieties should have a very clean bittering profile and be devoid of any metallic, resiny or astringent off-flavors.

Finally, other than the notes described above, what flavors do you get from Triumphant Session IPA?

Toasted malt, slight caramel and toffee, stone fruit and fresh berries are certainly part of the overall profile, as well.

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