Summit releases newest creation from NR native
For the third time since he started at Summit Brewing Co., New Richmond native Nate Siats will have one of his specialty brews featured by the company as part of its Unchained Series.
“The first time I made my own creation it was an Imperial Pumpkin Porter. Then, my second one was a Belgian Style Abbey Ale, and this time I made a Fest Bier,” Siats said. “It is a clean, crisp beer that has a lot of flavor and is lighter with a slight caramel malt. It has a pronounced aftertaste that is bitter.”
A special tapping of Siats’ newest creation, Unchained Series #15 - Fest Bier, will be available at a “Meet the Brewers Night” at Brady’s Brewhouse from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15.
“We chose to do the event at Brady’s for a few reasons; first and foremost, they are colleagues and contemporaries,” said Joe Shipley, who is the Wisconsin Market Manager for Summit Brewing Co. “They understand and respect the process of making great craft beer. Brewing is an art form and they get that. Just try their stuff, it’s pretty obvious. Second, they pour quite a bit of Summit beers as guest drafts. Chris and the gang have been very good to us and we like to repay the generosity whenever we can.”
The Fest Bier is a limited release and when it is gone there will never be any more made.
“We made four batches of my new beer and that will make about 1,200 kegs of beer,” Siats said. “But when it is gone, it is gone. We will never make it again, but we will move on to another new brew and try to make something different again.”
Siats graduated from New Richmond High School in 2004 and went on to attend the University of North Dakota before transferring to UW-River Falls. He got hooked on homebrewing during his sophomore year and took a trip to Ireland, which was when he became certain that he wanted to become a brewer.
“I did a lot of research on where would be the best place to study and I ended up picking the American Brewers Guild, which I was able to do online, and I got my diploma in brewing science in 2008,” Siats said. “When I finished my degree I started as an intern at Summit and they hired me a couple of months later. This is my sixth year working there now.”
The Summit staff includes seven brewers, all of whom are allowed to work on their own brews and then put them out as part of the Unchained Series. According to Siats, there is usually a new brew out about every three months.
“Different people have different preferences for which seasons they want to make a beer for or what style they want, so that kind of dictates what order we go in,” Siats said. “So about every year and a half to two years it is your turn again to make something new. I started planning this beer last fall.”
When the idea for the Fest Bier came to him, Siats knew right away what he wanted to try in his newest brew and how long it would take for the whole brewing process to be finished.
“I began with a style of beer in my head, then I had to contact the malt and hops dealers to get samples of different varieties that I might want to use,” Siats said. “I taste tested all the malts and hops to pick the ones I wanted and then analyzed them to see how they go together in order to develop a recipe. The whole process is very math oriented.”
A batch of beer takes about eight hours to brew, according to Siats, and then another week or so to ferment. After it is done fermenting, they chill the beer down to stop the fermentation process and then drop the yeast out and lager it. Siats’ current batch had been lagering since Jan. 4, until just a few weeks ago. Lagering is used to age beer usually by storing it in tanks at just-below freezing temperatures for several weeks or months.
“I think what makes Nate really good at what he does is his willingness to take risks while brewing,” Shipley said. “Whether it be his Imperial Pumpkin Porter, brewing an extremely technical Belgian-style beer or brewing a fest bier (traditionally a fall beer) in the spring, he thinks outside the box. When you pair fundamentally sound brewing skills with an appetite for experimentation, great things happen. Nate has all those skills and isn’t afraid to be a little whacky.”
Even though he just finished creating his last beer, Siats already has a few new ideas in mind for his next beer when his turn comes around again to make a new brew.
“I have a few ideas right now, but I still want to play around with some things and try some different ingredients,” Siats said. “We try not to overlap ideas, so I’ll have to wait and see what some of the other brewers come up with before I make too many plans.”