Since the New Year, G-LO and I have regrettably been forced to work at our day jobs and attend to many a family obligation. While the former may be of mutual benefit, the latter is probably not so beneficial. In any event, our plates have been rather full, and our ability to break away for research has been sadly uneven. Fortunately, this past Saturday, when the dust had settled, we found ourselves with enough time to do a proper review of a beer that G-LO recently received from the folks at Ninkasi Brewing. I guess every once in a while, the stars do indeed align.
Ninkasi Brewing, the pride of Eugene, OR, is the brainchild of Jamie Floyd (the brewer) and Nikos Ridge (the money man), and like all good things, was dreamed up over a pint of Craft Beer. Taking its name from the Sumerian goddess of fermentation, Ninkasi has grown from rather humble beginnings in 2006 to maintain a lineup of 9 regular beers, 4 seasonals, 3 special releases, the Goddess Series and the R&D Series. The Believer, their winter seasonal, is a Double Red Ale, so there should be more of a focus on the malt flavors with the hops present but not overpowering. Additionally, the ABV should be more on the manageable side as this class of beer is in the 4%-7% range. At 6.9%, the Believer is at the higher end of the range and we’ll have to see if that affects the taste.
Before we get to our review, here’s what Ninkasi has to say about their Believer…
Unlike a typical Red Ale, Believer balances a rich malt complexity with a plentiful hop presence. Notes of caramel, toffy, fig, and date ease into earthy and floral hops, making this Double Red Ale incredibly drinkable and full-flavored.
In addition to being a delicious sounding beer, through Ninkasi’s Beer is Love donations program, a portion of the proceeds from all Believer sales will go to three national non-profits: Conscious Alliance (dedicated to hunger relief and youth empowerment), Team River Runner (helping wounded veterans) and Women Who Code (inspiring women to excel in technology careers).
And now for our impressions of this beer…
- Appearance: I went with a ruby copper color. G-LO offered that it was such a pretty shade of red! He thought of Rita Hayworth (as an aside, he really has a thing for Redheads).
- ABV: 6.9%
- Limpd: Sweet and aromatic. A nice balance of citrus and dough. Iced animal crackers.
- G-LO: Dense, resinous pine at the onset. Also getting some dark fruit and a bit of candied orange peel.
- Limpd: A bit sweet followed by a heavy, hoppy sharpness. Not quite bitter but there are pleasant, floral flavors coming through. The sweet and the mildly bitter flavors continue to meld into a long and somewhat, drying finish. The alcohol is way in the back and while that allows the malts and hops to do their thing, I think this could be a deceptively dangerous beer.
- G-LO: Lightly carbonated. Piney hops at the start, but not overly bitter – more of just the right amount of hoppiness. A bit of biscuity malts in the middle. The finish brings it all together and adds some of the dried fruit and orange from the nose.
- Limpd: During one of my business travels, I happened to meet a gentleman from Oregon. Naturally, as we chatted about Craft Beer, I sang the praises of the few Oregon brewers that I had tried. This man stopped me mid-sentence and proclaimed that the best Oregon beers are the beers that stay in Oregon. I was told that the few widely distributed brewers that I had mentioned wouldn’t crack any native Oregonian’s Top-10 list. Now, having had the chance try my first Ninkasi, I am inclined to believe him. A big fan of the winter warmers, I like a seasonal beer with a bit more heft in terms of both flavor and ABV. The Believer was every bit of that! Well-crafted and multi-faceted, this was so easy to drink and so well-balanced from start to finish. I will need to add Ninkasi to my list and seek out more their lineup.
- G-LO: This is my first Ninkasi beer and it was a good one. I really like how it perfectly balances the bitter and sweet elements. I hope to have more from this brewer.