Making beer with Outer Range Brewing Co. is an annual delight |

Making beer with Outer Range Brewing Co. is an annual delight

Summit Suds: Beer news, reviews, recipes and more

Secret Parties is this year’s Summit Club beer made by Outer Range. Club members voted on what hops to use in the recipe.
Jefferson Geiger/Summit Daily News

I have homebrewed exactly twice in my life. It was a lot of fun, yet the time, energy and fridge space it took has unfortunately kept my kit on the shelf collecting dust.

Despite my inexperience, I have also collaborated with Frisco’s Outer Range Brewing Co. for specialty releases twice — sort of.

Though I physically didn’t take part in the actual brewing process, I and other members of the brewery’s Summit Club voted on what ingredients should be used to make a double dry-hopped double India pale ale. It gives average folks the chance to get a taste of what goes on behind the scenes while learning more about beer.

The idea for the collaboration by committee came about last year when the brewery was figuring out how to engage the community during the pandemic. Outer Range simply gave members the exclusive Summit Club beer at the 2019 party, but the team got creative when 2020 meant no parties.

So people instead were sent hop samples and participated in a virtual sensory training where they smelled the different hops, took notes on the aroma, described the hops in a survey and voted on their top three. The positive reception brought the event back for another double IPA this fall.

“Double IPAs do tend to have more flavor than single IPAs, but they’re more approachable than a triple,” co-owner Emily Cleghorn said of sticking with the style. “When you go beyond double dry-hopping, you really start to get into diminishing returns. The double dry-hopped is that sweet spot of flavor.”

Released Oct. 2, 2020, the first beer was made with Citra Cryo, Strata and Talus HBC 692 hops, with Wai-iti, Hallertau Mittelfruh, Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic unchosen. The end result was still tasty even though I voted for Talus, Hallertau and Nelson.

This year’s beer, called Secret Parties, was canned exclusively for members and is currently on tap for the general public following its Nov. 5 release. Outer Range sent out fewer hop samples but switched things up by allowing the base malt to be voted on.

Pale malt beat out Pilsen at 57.4%, whereas the popular Galaxy hops got 50 votes and El Dorado and Columbus both got 34 votes each. Motueka and Tettnang, which I voted for alongside Galaxy, only got 27 and 17 votes, respectively. And though I wanted Pilsen to win, it turned out that this was the first Summit Club beer to be brewed with a malt other than Pilsen, so it was neat to see how the flavors changed based on the recipe.

When I tasted my own allocation, I got the sweet Galaxy hops upfront followed by the slight balancing bitterness of the other two. I find Columbus to be piney, whereas El Dorado is more of a down-the-middle mix that contains a combination of tropical notes with some pine flavor.

The end result makes it more complex and savory than the juice bombs that are becoming standard in the beer world. It is a solid hazy, New England-style IPA like anything from Outer Range’s repertoire, but knowing I had a hand in it makes it that much sweeter and refreshing.

Want to make your own Outer Range beer? The 2022 Summit Club membership goes on sale at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 26, online or at the taproom, 182 Lusher Court, Frisco. For $325, people receive one free four-pack per month, the next exclusive double dry-hopped double IPA and sensory training, glasses and a Topo Designs bag.

New this year is a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout and the choice between attending a party in September or cashing in a “golden ticket” that replicates the party’s unlimited beer for two people for those who can’t make it. The stout will also have member input, as partygoers can pick their favorite desert of the day to be an ingredient.

Also available is the $125 can club, which includes only the monthly four-packs.

Jefferson Geiger

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