Mike Lundell, a brewer at Summit Brewing Company, has a degree in History and German. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to anyone when they taste the 20th beer to come out as part of the Unchained series that Mike did his homework. After many long hours of research, many of which occurred in Germany, Mike decided on a Sticke (pronounced Schtick-uh) Alt.
This style originated in the Düsseldorf region of Germany and was a variation of the more common style called Altbier (alt means “old”). Sticke translates to “secret” beer according to the German Beer Institute. This name derives from the fact that German brewers kept the ingredients in this special beer a secret. Typically, this beer was brewed twice a year and released traditionally in October and January. Mike Lundell liked this style because stylistically, the parameters for this beer were a bit more wide-open than the standard Altbier. Lundell liked the idea that in the Sticke Alt, he could brew something that was a bit more hoppy and malty. He was very pleased with how the deep reddish color came out in the beer.
Mike’s inspiration for this beer came in anticipation of his upcoming trip to Düsseldorf where he couldn’t wait to sample many different types of Altbier. He also read a lot about the style and the appeal of brewing something for fall appealed to him. Then, started chewing on some malt sample and then got to work formulating a recipe. He brewed 4 batches and one of his coworkers said that he nailed it.
Mike targeted an ABV of 6.3% because that is his height with his boots on. He also targeted an IBU of 55. While both came in a little under the targets, they are perfect for this style of beer. He had fun picking out the malts, all of which were non-domestic. Mike used Hallertau, Mittelfruh and a few Herkules hops. For malts, Lundell used Czech Pilsner, Light Munich, Vienna, Caramunich, CaraAmber and Carafa 3 which gives it the dark reddish brown color.
Flavors that the drinker should pick up on in the Sticke Alt are toffee notes, a little raisin, caramel, letting it warm up with let the flavors open up a little. Toasted marshmallow might even be detected by someone with a very seasoned palate. Dark toasted malt flavor comes through in a fantastic way. Sticke Alt will pair well with game meats like venison, brats and smoked meats. It is a beer for hearty and meaty courses.
This beer is available in 12 oz. bottles around town at your favorite liquor stores that carry craft beer. If you want to try it on tap and meet Mike, here are some events coming up:
Thursday, October 15th at Libertine in Uptown from 6-9pm
Saturday, October 17th at the Summit Beer Hall 2-9pm Altoberfest with food provided by Black Forest Inn
Wednesday, October 21st 5-7 at Club Jäger in Minneapolis
Monday, October 26th Summit Beer Dinner at Eden Ave. Grille
Thursday, November 5th Devil’s Advocate Guy Fawkes Summit Tap Invasion
After hearing the specifics of the Sticke Alt, I was curious about Lundell’s career in brewing. He started at Summit 19 years ago. Mike said, “Like any good college student, I liked beer.” He had a friend who homebrewed and Mike really liked discovering different styles of beer to drink. Eventually, a friend of his who worked at Summit told him about an opening at Summit. Lundell quit his salaried job and started working part-time on the bottling line.
The Summit Unchained Sticke Alt is a beer meant to consumption. However, if you pay close attention to the beer as you drink it, you will see that Mike Lundell was drawing on his passion for German History when he brewed this beer. Not only am I glad that Mike was able to sit down with me to talk about a beer that he is very proud of, I am grateful for the lesson that this beer teaches. Mike has seen the MN craft beer scene change with the times and as someone who understands the importance of history, he has given us a link to the past while working at a brewery that is in every way pioneering a path to a prosperous future. Prost!