Summa Down Unda
Like… soooooo cold….
Granted, Cape May is a little warmer than the -6° in Madison, Wisconsin right now, but bear in mind that we’re on a little, tiny cape jutting out between the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay: the wind whipping through the Cape May Airport is nothing short of life-draining.
We wish we had the foresight to winter somewhere warmer. Somewhere south of the equator, perhaps. Somewhere down under. Where it’s summer.
Instead, we brewed up a crushable pale ale with Citra and Moteuka — one of our favorite New Zealand hops with big citrus notes of tropical fruits and lemon zest — and a kiss of Kiwi juice as a nod to the Kiwis down under.
And, just to make sure everyone wishes they were relaxing on Piha Beach or exploring terrain that makes you think you just stepped into a Tolkien novel (or, at the very least, the Peter Jackson film adaptation thereof), we called it Summa Down Unda.
“It’s about this time every winter that people begin to get sick of it and pray every night for the cold to end soon and for the sun to bring its warmth back,” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm. “It may be the dead of winter here, but it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, which means it’s almost time for their hop harvest. Since this brew was going to be laden with Motueka and kiwi, it only made sense to celebrate that it’s at least summer somewhere!”
But don’t be misled. While we stuffed it to the gills with thoughts of New Zealand, it has enough body to get you through these bitterly cold winter nights.
“It’s a delicious and utterly crushable pale ale,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink, “timeless and perfect anytime.”
We used “an abundant amount of wheat” in the malt bill to kick up the body a bit. We’ve been using wheat more frequently these days than we did even two years ago — it really helps round out the edges and soften things a touch.
“It adds an extra bit of body as well as the perfect malt character for a citrusy and tropical ale such as this,” Jimmy says, “one that isn’t overly sweet and with just a hint of toffee. It also really helps to give a fluffy, pillowy head to capture all those lovely aromas.”
Much of that tropicality is thanks to the hops bill of Citra and Motueka. We use Citra frequently — it’s in everything from Aiding & A’Bretting to White Caps — but this is only the second time we’ve used Motueka.
“Motueka is a fantastic hop that we haven’t had the pleasure of using too much or too often,” Brian says. “The main usage we’ve had with it up until now was You’re Welcome, and it paired beautifully off Denali in that beer, so I was really excited to use it here with Citra.”
“They go together like peanut butter and jelly,” he says. “Together, Citra and Motueka make a beer so bright and vibrant with loads of citrus, tropical fruits, and lime.”
We paired these citrusy and tropical hops with a fruit you seldom see north of the equator, much less in a beer: kiwi. Yet, it’s a great fruit for brewing, complementing the fruit notes in the hops.
“These are very fruity and citrusy hops,” Brian says, “and what better element to bring it all together than with a nice fruity and citrusy-leaning fruit? A very brite and vibrant fruit, it carefully plays off the fruity nature of the hops.”
For all its citrusness, there’s a tartness to kiwi that gives the fruit its distinctive flavor.
“Kiwi has this great tropical-like note but with a tart kick and a dash of citrus,” Jimmy says. “One of our Brewers, Kevin Kately, suggested this brew. It’s a great plan if you ask me, and it came out superbly balanced for my preferences.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a fruit beer on par with Apple Bomb or The Bog. The kiwi addition here is more along the lines of squeezing a lemon wedge over a seafood dish: you can taste its presence, but its existence is meant to bring out the flavors around it rather than overwhelm the palate.
Nonetheless, the full experience of the brew will have you wishing you’d booked a flight to Auckland. (Only $1,188 round-trip from Philly.)
“With the combination of the wheat, the hops, and the kiwi,” Jimmy says, “you’ve got something that just screams summer and tiki torches and sandals and all that goodness we miss right about now.”
Summa Down Unda has Lab Manager Lauren Appleman looking forward to warmer climates, as well.
“Summa Down Unda is a nice pale ale,” she says. “It’s a change of pace from the tried-and-true winter beers that are usually dark and full-bodied or packed with alcohol to keep you warm. This beer still has a good body to it, but the ABV and hop/fruit combo allow you to have more than one without feeling weighed down by it. This is a beer to have while thinking about warmer times.”
But you can still get a taste of summer. Summa Down Unda is on tap now in the Tasting Room and is out for distribution to better bars and restaurants throughout the area.