Ninkasi Radiant Pale Ale

ninkasiBeer season has been slowing down a bit in recent days, thanks to the holidays being complete and the need to get back to work. But luckily, there is still time to shop for new brews and seasonal releases which are arriving just in time to toast the ending of winter and the coming of spring. And today, I happened to find a bottle of something left over from last summer, a beer which I enjoyed at the time, but neglected to review.

ninkasi_radiantSo in this post-holiday lull, I thought I would give it sampling and follow through with a proper review. It’s known as Radiant Pale Ale, a summer seasonal produced by the Ninkasi Brewery out of Eugene, Oregon. As far as Pacific Northwestern breweries go, this is one of my favorites. There flagship lineup of beers is tough to beat, consisting of a wide array of American Pale and India Pale Ales, as well as a good smattering of other British, European and American styles.

In this case, I found the Radiant to be a well balanced customer, consisting of a good combination of Crystal, Vienna and Northwest hops, as well as a smooth array of pale malt. One can instantly taste the summery influence of the beer, being just light enough to be refreshing, but with a dry, bitter finish that is appetizing and sure to slake a heat-induced thirst!

Appearance: Medium amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, crisp hop nose, mild grassiness, slight floral texture
Taste: Smooth, amber-like malt, good tang, earthy hops, slight bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

I can recall sampling this beer alongside another seasonal release last summer. It was their Maiden the Shade IPA, another beer I failed to review at the time. What was I thinking? Guess I’ll just have to wait another six months before I can that one it’s due as well, huh?

Ninkasi Babylon Double IPA

ninkasi_babylonHello again and good day! It’s the weekend again and I am back with some more new and exciting examples of craft brewing from my local beer store. And today, it’s another visitor from south of the border, Eugene, Oregon to be specific. And I’m rather lucky in that my local store has chosen to stock tall boys of Ninkasi’s Babylon Double IPA, a special release beer which is typically available only in their mixer pack. Nothing wrong with those, but if I’m going to sample, I want to sample big!

And as the name would suggest, this double IPA is quite the heavy hitter. In addition to some high-gravity malts, it also weighs in at a hefty 9.1% alc/vol. And as could be expected, it also boasts a high concentration of hops, 100 IBUs worth to be exact. As a result, the alcohol, malts, and hops achieve a certain high-concentration balance. Rather than any one aspect of it being overpowering, it’s all overpowering at once!

Appearance: Deep orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, sweet malt, hints of grassy and tropical hops
Taste: High-gravity malty sweetness, notes of passion fruit and grassy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt flavor, hop bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Yes, this beer is not for the faint of heart, uninitiated, or weak of taste of buds! Like anything with the words double and IPA in it, it should only ever be enjoyed by those who have a deep and enduring passion for strong ale and a hefty dose of bitterness!

The Season of IPA’s, Cont’d

wash_breweriesSpring, or as I’ve come to think of it, the season of the India Pale Ale, continues with more samples procured from my faithful local purveyors! And since I’m apparently taking on more new beers than I can review at any one time, I’ve decided to do another two-fer today, acknowledging two distinct examples of brewing excellence. And though they come from vastly different places, one the very farthest outpost on the West Coast (Tofino), and the other nestled in the very heart of Cascadia (Eugene, Oregon), I found them very similar in style, taste, and their dedication to Pacific Northwestern brewing.

Tofino Hoppin Cretin’ IPA:
hoppin_cretin3First up, a long-awaited second helping from the Tofino Brewery, which I got a chance to sample well over a year ago during my wife and I’s summer visit. Unfortunately, I only ever got to try their Tuff Session, and lamented that we couldn’t stick around long enough to do a little brewery tour. I tell ya, its about time Tofino had its own brewery, and one that bore its name proudly!

And I was quite impressed with this installment in their lineup. Boasted strong malts, a variety of hops (and plenty of them), and a solid alcohol content (7.5% alc/vol), it’s got pretty everything you’d expect from a good India Pale Ale. But there’s still room for pleasant surprises, like how the hop profile is well balanced between tropical, piney and citrus flavors.

Appearance: Deep amber, cloudy, good carbonation and foam retention
Nose: Notes of tropical fruit, pineapple, pine and a hint of citrus
Taste: Strong burst of citrus, followed by strong, slightly coarse malts
Aftertaste: Dry finish, lingering bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA:
Tricerahops-Double-IPA-A-20073PNext up is another faithful addition from the Ninkasi brewery, which once again impressed the hell out of me with their Tricerahops (very punny!) IPA. Much like their standard IPA, it combined a good dose of tropical hop aroma with citrus and pine. This also came through in the flavor, which was varied and very powerful, especially when combined with the high gravity malts, semi-sweet, viscous malts.

This is the result of multiple varieties of malt and hops – which in the former case include Pale, Munich and Carahell, and in the latter Summit, Amarillo, Centennial, and Palisade – and a hefty dose thereof. Overall, this beer rates at a hefty 100 IBUs, a Starting Gravity of 1080, and an alcohol content of 8.8% alc/vol.

Appearance: Golden-amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Floral hops scent, tropical fruit, pine, citrus
Taste: Strong hop burst, immediate citrus bite, giving way to semi-sweet malts
Aftertaste: Malt coarseness, lingering bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale and Total Domination IPA

ninkasi_breweryHello great state of Oregon! It seems I have another two-fer that is the product of mere chance and good fortune. Recently, my local beer store began carrying some of Ninkasi’s product line, and given that I’ve seen it around several of my other haunts, I decided to give it a spin. In the past week, I’ve tried two of their regular lineup, a double red and an IPA, and was pretty impressed with both.

ninkasi_believerFirst up, the Believer Double Red Ale. As I said before, I was quite impressed with this first installment from their lineup. Immediately I noticed the interesting floral and sweet bouquet, which was also present in their IPA. And the flavor was consistent, delivering a hop flavor that smacks of your traditional Centennials, plus the Summit variety which are largely used in Barley Wines (another aspect that is apparent from the get go).

Combined with a deep, rich malt profile, this beer packs a bit of a double-whammy. It begins with a deep malty taste that is slightly sweet and syrupy, also reminiscent of barley wine, and a complex hop flavor that’s both citrusy and grassy. The flavor then transitions where the malts and hops deliver in the aftertaste department, becoming coarse and bitter respectively.

Appearance:
Deep red, high gravity, transparent, good foam and carbonation

Nose: Rich malts, discernible hoppiness, floral and citrusy
Taste: Deep malt flavor, slight sweetness, citrusy and grassy, then bitter
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, coarse malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

ninkasi_total_dominationSecond, there is the Total Dominion IPA. Of the two, this was my favorite, though only by a small margin. Much like the Believer, it is a complex beer boasting a good strength (6.7% compared to the red ale’s 6.9% alc/vol) and a combination of hops that lend it a distinct aroma and flavor. But unlike the Believer, it is lighter in terms of appearance and malts. Light in color, relatively light in malts, the main thrust of this customer comes through in the hops.

Rated at 85 IBUs, its no secret that this IPA has a bitter hop profile! However, said profile has many layers to it and this is noticeable in the smell as well as the taste, consisting of Summit (once again), Amarillo and Crystal hops. In terms of taste, this results in a citrus bite, followed by notes of tropical fruit (I detected passion fruit and pineapple), followed by a long, lingering bitter finish.

Appearance: Deep gold, transparent, mild foam retention, good carbonation
Nose: Floral hoppy aroma, citrus, tropical fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of bitter and citrus hops, giving way to passion fruit and pineapple
Aftertaste: Bitterness once again, long and lingering
Overall: 9/10

Not a bad start for this operation, located in Eugene, Oregon and not far from where my sister and brother-in-law live. Perhaps I shall arrange for that road trip sooner other than later 😉 And that’s all for now. One of these days, I really MUST find the remaining beers on my winter list and polish that long document off! Otherwise, I’ll be transitioning into Spring seasonal beers before I ever complete it. How humiliating would that be?