Summit Black Ale | Summit Brewing Company

very good
71 Reviews
Summit Black AleSummit Black Ale

Brewed by:
Summit Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jera1350 on 10-31-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 152
Photo of LCB_Hostage
4.62/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served from a 12 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass

A: Deep, dark black with so much head I thought it might be infected. Even with a glass giving and extra 8 oz. of space, it took me 10 minutes to pour this all in the glass. strong lacing throughout.

S: Had precisely the effect you want a beer's aroma to have -- an instant desire to tip it back and taste some more. A rich, heady combination of coffee, vanilla and caramel.

T: Glorious. So rich it transcended an ale and jumped straight to stout. A marvelously complex blend of coffee, vanilla and caramel with a bitter bite on the back end.

M: The head did not eat all the carbonation, which made the amazingly rich taste of this brew refreshing and surprisingly light. A heavy tingle on the tongue and a clean, crisp aftertaste.

O: I'm thoroughly disappointed to learn that this was a one-off and won't be available again. A thoroughly unique and tremendously enjoyable beer. If you happen to stumble across some left on a shelf, snap it up. The carbonation and complexity indicate it should survive some age and it's well worth trying if you haven't already had the pleasure of doing so.

 1,153 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.62/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, dark clear auburn body. Very little light transmits through, but it does shine a nice auburn hue in the light. Thin light brown head leaves patchwork, spiderweb like lace about the glass walls as I drink. Awesome aroma of rye, chocolate malt, and grundgey pungent hops. (This is the closest aroma I've smelled to the original black IPA that was so incredible that I had 6 or so years ago...Alpha Klaus). The taste follows suit with the nose....very, very nice. Perfect blend of hop bitterness, hop flavor and roasted chocolate malt notes. This is a great one. Take note, Cascadian Dark Ale/Black IPA lovers.

 613 characters

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From tasting notes. Had this on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl. It pours brilliant black with a hefty cream to light tan foam collar. Tastes like an ale version of a Schwartz beer with the dark roast flavors and aromas of a stout or a porter but none of the body. Nothing burnt or harsh. Very drinkable.

 300 characters

Photo of tempest
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow this is a good. A little research shows this is the same brewer that made up the very very tasty India Rye Ale last year. This beer does what many dark ales fail, or at least fail to master, the balancing the lighter upfront hoppy notes with the rich dark malts. This beer smells like fresh grapefruit and citrus fruit sitting on top of toasty cocoa barley. Yum. The flavor follows up with a bigger malt kick and hint of wheat and caramel sneaking in as the pine and orange peel build on the chocolate malt throughout the finish. This is one of the best black IPAs I've had, right up with, maybe above, Deschutes' Hop in the Dark.

 634 characters

Photo of KarlHungus
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a clear black color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes slowly into a qaurter inch cap of solid foam that lingers. The aroma is of roasted malt, grapefruit, pine resin, and chocolate. The taste is similar to the aroma. There is a nice balance of roasted and chocolatey malt, and citrusy hops. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth texture, and light carbonation. Overall, this is a really well crafted beer that I will be drinking a lot of while it is around.

 491 characters

Photo of momoagogo14
4.46/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, almost black. Thick, creamy tan head that lasts. Strong retention

Smell: Dark, roasted malts; piney; some faint hop aromas, not as smell-icious as I was hoping

Taste: More dark malts; herbal with distinct pine, maybe even mint...tastes foresty. Hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thick with some carbonation and a dry mouthfeel. It might have had more carbonation if I had drank it sooner. I have a feeling this is past its prime since it’s off most liquor store shelves and Summit’s next Unchained Series beer has been available for a long time.

Overall: I would have loved to have tried this back at its peak freshness, though it’s still a very good beer. Good balance of malt and hops and a fun, herbal taste.

 753 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: A dark brownish black with a tint of ruby red at the edges of the glass. Lots of rising bubbles and a big five finger light tan foamy head with very good retention. Lots of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Strong aroma of citrus and pine hops with notes of grapefruit, orange, and pine resin. Very noticeable smell of dark roasted malts with hints of caramel, toffee, burnt coffee, and dark chocolate. Smells bold and balanced.

Taste: Like the smell leads, a very good combination of bold hops and dark malts. Big taste of citrus hops upfront with notes of grapefruit, orange, and mango is followed by a solid presence of pine resin. Midway the dark elements come with some roasted malts. Hints of caramel, toffee, bitter dark chocolate, and burnt coffee. The malts add a little sweetness to help balance the bitterness. Pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Somewhat bitter but still pretty creamy and smooth. Finishes fairly dry.

Overall: A very good black ale and another great beer from Summit's Unchained series. Flavors are bold and very well balanced.

 1,179 characters

Photo of Ungertaker
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a deep black with crimson light penetration and a khaki-colored, one finger head adorning the top. Lacing is left with each sip.

S- Hops, chocolate, and malts

T- Chocolate up front, bitter hops, then more chocolate with a hint of coffee at the finish.

M- Light to medium with a fluffy, almost nitro-like carbonation.

O- One of the best two beers I have had from Summit (and I have tried everything they have bottled). The only one I could put ahead of this (my opinion, of course) is the Unchained #3 (the Rye).

 551 characters

Photo of Phocion
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours jet black with a huge, frothy light-brown head and excellent retention. Thick, sticky lacing.

Roasted and chocolate malts are at the forefront of the aroma. Piney and citrus hops as well as a subtle rye-like spiciness.

The aroma was malt-forward, but the flavor is definitely more hoppy. Pine with a slight citrus background. The malts are still here, of course, and provide an excellent contrast, balance, and complexity. Roasted, chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Interestingly, it almost tastes like there's a bit of wheat used in the malt bill as well.

Medium body and carbonation. Finishes dry.

Overall, this is an incredible beer. Balanced, drinkable, and full of flavor. I'm sure it won't score that amazingly on here since it's not a DIPA, Quad, sour, or RIS, but I really wish this could be added to Summit's year-round line-up.

 889 characters

Photo of JackieTH
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bacio in Minnetonka.

Glass of beer arrived with a half inch of dark khaki foam over a translucent dark brown/black body. As the foam receded it left nice rings of lace.

Taste was roasted malt, caramel, orange pith, raisin and citric elements. Taste was grapefruit citric hop, even a bit tropical, nice. Very tasty IPA like until a mild wash of sweetness and firmly roasted malt notes appeared late. Mouthfeel is medium, finish is dry and mildly bitter, lingering, and unexpectedly refreshing for a dark ale.

Overall the one is tasty and I'll definitely keep buying until its no longer available. I'd like to see summit bring all of their unchained series back for round two.

 687 characters

Photo of BierStein711
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draught in shaker pint glasses

A: Four finger head, jet black with white head
light carbonation

S: See taste below

T: Herbal, piney, malty, and boozy=pure pleasure

M: Heavy, filling, and a tad overwhelming.

Overall, this is an excellent beer that is well worth trying. I hope this is made available in six packs soon.

 323 characters

Photo of ZAP
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Black with brown hues...nice tannish fluffy head..

S-Roasty....some java notes...a bit of dark cocoa...

T-Roasty again...more of a milk chocolate impression on the taste rather than the dark cocoa noticed on the aroma...hops lend a light juicy dimension...

M-Medium bodied...creamy feel..

O-Quality brew...I love the use of the new obscure hops in this but they are bit overshadowed by the dark notes....still for what this is meant to be this is great....well done..

 473 characters

Photo of FightingEntropy
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Jet black ale, but a bit light is getting through the thinner part of the pint glass so that it looks like a dark brown. Hop spice fights through the burnt toast, black dirt and charcoal malt (and that's a compliment in case you missed it). Very nice nose that is unique and very interesting. Analogous to Aecht Schlenkerla for the type of smell coming off the top if this black ale, but not the same smokey smell or intensity, but similar in the raw aromatics wafting up. While I love Summit, it has, historically, not always pushed the envelope to the danger zone, so I was going to be satisfied with a good nose and a thick rocky tan head that' leaving a nice lace. Some assertive hop and charcoal taste, but the mouthfeel is a bit thin to support the flavor. Going to get a six pack of this one to savor for a bit while it's available.

 839 characters

Photo of Humulus85
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

50th review! Summit EPA was one my first craft beers, so I thought this limited release would be appropriate.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Darkness snifter.

Thick, cream, two-finger head with a relatively aggressive pour. Solid retention and some pretty nice lacing. Very dark, but not opaque, lets a bit of light through on the edges. Good start.

If I couldn't see this beer I would say its a slightly malty IPA: fruity and piny hops with nice caramel malt backing. Interesting.

Loads of juicy hops upfront, than a smack of deep roasted and caramel malts. Moderately dry throughout. I think I had this one a bit too cold as the malt really is starting to come around now that it's warming up, with coffee and chocolate notes.

Great carbonation, not too heavy but still has some substance, and a wonderfully dry finish. Very drinkable for the style.

Overall this is a nice Black Ale, and another hit for Summits Unchained series. Enjoy it on the warmer side and the malt comes through better. I'll get some more of this before it's gone. I highly recommend it to all MN BAs, and any fan of Black Ales, if you can find it.

 1,134 characters

Photo of kjyost
4.29/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Undated 6 pack (coded 12911140) bought at Happy Harry's Grand Forks (South), poured into a clear plastic glass.

Summit Unchained Black Ale
A: 5 - Opaque black with loads of tan head and massive amounts of lacing. A beautiful beer. 
S: 3.5 - carbonized malts with a bit of citrus hops hiding there, with orange zest being prevelant
T: 4- Certainly not an IPA that has merely been blackened. Lots of roasted notes, a biting bitterness and some good hop flavour in there. Hop flavours are once again citrusy...
M:4.5 - strong bitterness that linger with a creamy flavour from the head. Stellar. 
O:4.5 - what a great beer. A lovely take on the style, with great roasted notes and hoppiness. Just great. 

 705 characters

Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The eighth installment of Summit's unchained series is a Black Ale. The beer pours, well, black with some ruddy brown hues glistening near the edges. The foam is a dense creamy mixture which sticks to the glass. A very nice looking brew here. The aroma is a very nice mixture of deeply roasted malt and grapefruit citrus. The combination, not intuitive, plays off of each other beautifully. Creamy and full of body as it swirls along the contours of my mouth. The biggest flavor is a blast of grapefruit from the hops. The hops may be the star of the party, but an underlying coffee-like malt background complements it well and provides the rails for the hops. This is a well constructed, tasty brew---hoppy and drinkable.

 722 characters

Photo of wrycon
4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quite attractive. Very dark, near-pitch black with a healthy header of pearl-white foam. Solid lacing as the foam recedes. Smell is good and standard for a black ale - roasted malt with a piney, hop underpinning. Very smooth at the start, velvety with just a touch of bitterness. The mid is dominated by a robust, roasted malt fullness. Tastes almost smoky. Final third is hops, which blunts the roast and creates a clean, but flavorful mouthfeel. This is a great black ale. Strong character and tasty throughout.

Like It? Yes I Do

 532 characters

Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

LOOK: Opaque, nearly pitch black with a great looking tan lacing

SMELL: Dank hops, hemp seed, resin, pine, faint smoke, mild char, burnt raisins, plums

TASTE: Very smooth, medium body, brown malt, toasted bread, hop resin, spice, slightly bitter, burnt sugar, minty, drying semi-charred finish

Excellent job, this one really helps define this beer style. They should brew this one up more often.

 441 characters

Photo of jimmah120
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, enjoy by 3/18/12 printed on side

Pours an almost black, dark mahogany color with a 2cm mocha head. Smell is toasty malt, grain, wet resinous hops, and a slight chocolate or caramel scent. Taste is bitter hops, dry cocoa powder, stale bread, caramel malt, with a toasted burnt feeling. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, but with a slightly unpleasant lingering bitterness.

Really enjoy what's going on with this black ale. It's dark and roasted, yet piney and tangy. Deep flavor, great brew.

 503 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.23/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle.

Dark cola brown body. Clear. Two fingers of thick, fluffy, light sandy brown head. Great lacing. Nose of roasted barley, dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, tobacco, and some herbal hops.

Nutty, toasty malts up front. Roasted barley and coffee bitterness follow. Bitterness becomes woodier, with herbal tendencies. Singed caramel, cocoa, light molasses, and winy fruit notes provide a malty backbone to balance the bitterness. Dryish finish, with lingering herbal and coffee bitterness. Medium-bodied with a nice, creamy feel. Another very good Unchained beer from Summit!

 581 characters

Photo of bmike86
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a 6 pack from M&M Wine & Spirits in Maple Plain.

Appearance --- a dark, dark brown, potentially black in color… with about 1 finger worth of a light golden brown head, with a very minimal amount of suds left lacing the glass while drinking.

Smell --- can notice the aroma of hops & roasted malts, a bit of citrus, and some sort of earthy herbal

Taste --- more complex than aroma would lead… a bit of the citrus & earthy herbal… although I could not smell it, had a taste of some sort of caramel, chocolate and/or coffee roasted blend.

Mouth feel --- medium bodied… surprisingly less hoppy taste than the aroma, which I do not mind. Not very bitter, definitely smooth & crisp with a clean finish

Overall --- I was fortunate enough to find a 6 pack of this stored in their coolers, so thankfully it hasn’t aged as much as it would have if it were to have been stored on a store shelf. This is one of my more favorite Summit’s… I would clearly rate the Summit’s Oatmeal Stout higher than this offering from them. I would recommend keeping this one around, but I would not know how it would fit in with the new Saga IPA being released, and this style does not quite strike me as a seasonal. It will likely be the end, but it was a pleasure to try… and would be open to trying similar black ales in the future.

 1,341 characters

Photo of bsp77
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Dark reddish brown (not quite black) with a moderate, light tan head and a single lacing ring.

Smell: Very tropical hops over caramel, chocolate, molasses and light smoke.

Taste: Definitely tastes more IPA than Black. The hops are fairly tropical (grapefruit, mango) but are more spicy and metallic than the aroma indicated. The malt body is relatively light with bittersweet chocolate, caramel and a touch of coffee and smoke. Fairly bitter on the finish.

Feel: Moderate carbonation with a medium body. Very dry. Feels like an IPA. Not as smooth as some American Black Ales.

Overall: Another winner from Summit's Unchained series, who are about 6 for 8 in my book. For a moderate alcohol Black Ale (many are really Doubles), this is among the best. I also appreciate the use of unorthodox Southern Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand) hops.

 917 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at Cheese Cave in Faribault.
Fruity, spicy aroma in a hops sort of way. Pleasant with minimal malt background.
Very dark with 1/2 inch off-white head (not really tan, more grey). Held in light showed dark red highlights and seemed quite clear.
Interestingly hopped with again a spicy and fruity (but not citrus) quality with an earthy green herbal plant quality. Roast flavors in an ample malt foundation. Roast flavor comes and goes, but strong enough when present to be clearly known (don't have to search for it). Bitterness is known, but actually kinda' subdued for an IPA of sorts. Drying was on the mild side too.
Smoothly and fully carbonated. Moderately light body.
This is a nice beer. Reasonably high drinkability with full flavors and mild alcohol.

 766 characters

Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saw this available at ShopRite Liquors and decided to give this a go since this was pretty popular on here. I don't drink Black Ales a whole lot, but this beer was so nicely balanced between the dark and roasted aspects and the quietly strong hops that I think this deserved its own category on here. The alcohol is a bit strong but it fits in nicely with this beer's profile and on a cold winter's night, this was good to have on hand!

The pour to this was nice with a solid, dark brown hue and garnet edges. The head was frothy and the accompanying aroma was the best aspect of this beer. Lots of hops, coffee, and just a hint of alcohol combined for an alluring smell that was repeated in the taste. The first impression I got of this beer was that it was a strong IPA with a full body, but then this took on the characteristics of a Coffee Porter, with a strong amount of espresso and a bit of licorice in the back. The carbonation was just right as it added to the mouthfeel without detracting from the taste.

A beer like this needs to be bold in the alcohol department and this fit the bill well. Hopefully, more of these will be made and this will be given its own category soon. It's always refreshing to see American brewers push the boundaries and this was a great example of something new that could easily become an old favorite. No doubt that this will become part of my winter rotation in the future!

 1,417 characters

Photo of Beerdregs
4.17/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours into a pint glass with moderate amount of head forming as I pour. Color is a very dark brown (not quite black). light brown creamy/frothy head.

Smell: coffee and chocolate first then picking up faint fruity hops .

Taste: Good malty sweetness which accentuates the chocolate and coffee aroma but the hops seems to be playing hide and seek with the malt and then making a strong showing at the back end. The hops leave a bitterness on the back of the tongue revealing plenty of bittering hops in this beer.

Mouthfeel: The is a well balanced beer (in terms of hops and roasty maltiness. Moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall: This is a great beer and probably the best unchained series beer to date. I would definitely buy this again.

 756 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Summit Black Ale from Summit Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 152 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.