Beer of the Weekend #622: Herkulean Woods

Shamefully, I have not kept up with Summit’s Unchained series. Case in point, the beer of the weekend — Herkulean Woods, brewed by the Summit Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota — is the sixteenth beer of the series. The last one I reviewed was number twelve. Number seventeen is featured on the Summit website.

Herkulean Woods is brewed with maple syrup and spruce tips. The maple syrup comes from Lutsen, Minnesota, and the spruce tips come from Iowa. When one thinks of agriculture in Iowa, spruce tips do not immediately come to mind.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The “ENJOY BY” date printed on the shoulder is “03/04/15.”

Appearance: Pours a clean, clear caramel color with an amber tint. Two fingers of dense, light tan head dissipates slowly and unevenly, leaving lacing along sides and spots of foam and bubbles on the surface.

Smell: It smells like a beer from Minnesota! The aroma is dominated by floral hops, which impart a metallic touch, and spice. Underneath is a base of toasted malt and caramel.

Taste: It is like a spicy, robust Anchor Steam. The mouthfeel is smooth and full. The spice is most prominent and really works the taste buds, as do the floral hops. Additional flavors include toasted malt, caramel, and a little maple syrup. The spice is a touch arboreal, but there is no bombastic spruce presence. Alcohol is also noticeable at the end of each sip; a little sting lingers on the tongue. Hop bitterness also lingers in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: Hmm… Though I love their beers, I sometime get the impression that a number of Summit brews are very, perhaps too, familiar, even though they have different names and labels. I get that impression with Herkulean Woods. It is tasty and drinkable, though not sessionable, but it seems like too many other Summit brews.

Fun facts about Herkulean Woods:

-Style: No specific style is mentioned by Summit, other than “lager brewed with maple syrup and spruce tips,” but BA classifies it as “California Common / Steam Beer.” It does use California Common Lager yeast, so I suppose it is a fitting classification.

-Price: $9.49/sixer at the Drug Town on First Avenue in Iowa City.

-Alcohol content: 8.2 percent ABV.

-IBU: 65.

-Description from the beer’s marketing PDF:


Herkulean Woods, #16 in the Summit Unchained Series, is very much a product of its
environment. With malts developed and grown in Minnesota. Maple syrup from Wild Country in Lutsen, MN. Spruce tips from Iowa. And a Lager yeast from the frontier days. All yielding a bold beer that lives large in both malt body and hop character with piney, earthy, spicy notes. The inaugural offering from Christian Dixon, the newest brewer at Summit.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B.

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