Brew Review

A Trio of Ninkasi Hoppy Brews Reviewed


A while back, G-LO received his usual boozemail, while I received a few “Notices to Occupant” for a rug cleaning service and an online “college” that’s ranked jusssssst slightly below Trump University. While a home filled with hardwood floors might not be the best audience for a rug cleaning business, I’m always in the market for some additional education. And since this “college” swears to have only the bestest professors with the biggest brains, I filed that online “college” paperwork away for later. Enough about me and my endless quest for self improvement (like I’m EVER gonna improve! Just ask Benita. I’m beyond hope. And yet somehow, I’m her “Happily ever after…”), let’s get back to G-LO’s latest bit of boozemail which was quite a doozy.

This time around, G-LO received a mixed six pack from the fine folks at Ninkasi which consisted of three different beers. For those of you keeping score, we received two of each variety which of course means that we didn’t have to argue you about how to divy up the boozemail (or should we call it brewsmail?). I get one of each, and G-LO gets one of each; no tough division of labor problem here! As is usually the case, our only obstacles to getting our reviews done in a timely fashion are the Benevolents and the Urchins and the not to be trifled with monkey wrenches that they throw our way whenever we attempt to get some “work” done.

After several failed attempts at scheduling a research session, we were finally successful in arranging a Night at the Murder Table (which is almost as funny as Night at the Museum, but with more of a Godfather flavor. The night G-LO has cannolis and suggests a ride out to the country, I’m outta there!). With a trio of Ninkasi brews in hand, time to properly research them, and a somewhat hospitable environ in which to taste said brews all lined up, I sauntered over to G-LO’s to get some “work” done (I of course made sure to keep my LifeTime app active as I MUST get all of my steps in lest I get the hose).

The three Ninkasi beers that we tasted are the Yours Truly Easy-Drinking Ale, the Pacific Rain Northwest Pale and the Prismatic Juicy IPA. As far as the drinking order goes, we decided to let the ABV be our guide, i.e. we would sample the beer with the lowest ABV first and then take it from there.

With the excessively long backstory out of the way, let’s get on with the reviews…

Ninkasi Yours Truly Easy-Drinking Ale

Here’s what Ninkasi has to say about their Yours Truly Easy-Drinking Ale:

Brilliant in color, Yours Truly is crisp, and refreshingly effervescent. A dash of hops gives this beer a lightly floral, herbal, and fruity hop profile that subtly dances on the palate. Its sweetly-toasted malt profile carries notes of cracker, cereal, biscuit, and honey. With a smooth finish, Yours Truly leaves you ready for the next sip.

And here’s what we thought of it…

  • Appearance: Bright yellow with pale orange highlights [Editor’s Note: These are G-LO’s words. Is he describing a strawberry blond co-ed on campus, or a beer? I guess only he knows the answer]. Minimal head and lacing.
  • ABV: 4.3%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Malty, doughy, wet cardboard with a hint of allspice.
    • G-LO: Bright and citrusy on the nose with hints of orange and grapefruit zest and maybe a touch of mango. A bit of honey sweetness [Editor’s Note: This was also G-LO’s nickname at school] on the back-end.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Lightly carbonated with a big malty backbone, minimal sweetness and a slightly hoppy bite as it heads to a smooth finish
    • G-LO: Lightly carbonated [Editor’s Note: We finally agree on something!]. Not as sweet as I was expecting. A good bit of pithy lemon flavor at the start. Gets mildly bitter in the middle with a bit of astringency as you get to the finish. Ends with more of that lemony bite.

The Verdict

Limpd: Tasty, refreshing and certainly session-worthy. As we head into the warmer weather, this would be a nice beer for some weekend day drinking!

G-LO: Since I went into this beer completely blind, I had no idea what to expect. The nose messed with my palate at first (i.e. it didn’t taste like it smelled). But once I adjusted, I grew to like it. It was a bit too lemony in the end, but overall, an easy-drinking refresher of a beer.

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One down and two to go…

Ninkasi Pacific Rain Northwest Pale

A few words from Ninkasi about their Pacific Rain Northwest Pale:

This flavorful Northwest Pale Ale starts with a balanced, malty sweetness that lays the groundwork for profiling some of the most alluring hops around. Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Nugget hop varieties offer a captivating experience with flavor and aroma notes that are citrusy, tropical, floral, and piney. The residual sweetness rounds out the hop flavor making each sip as smooth and refreshing as the last.

And here are our impressions…

  • Appearance: Pale yellow-orange color with a 1/2 of foam that dissipates quickly.
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Citrusy (tangerines?) upfront with a good bit of hops and some malty sweetness.
    • G-LO: A bit maltier than the Yours Truly with a lightly sweet and biscuity malt coming through. Citrusy hops on the back-end with a bit of funk too (think a cycling jersey after a long ride). [Editor’s Note: Why? Why would anyone think of that? More importantly, why would anyone want to drink that?].
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Like the Yours Truly, the carbonation is light. Sweet and citrusy (lemonade and honey) with just the slightest hoppy bite in a bitter finish.
    • G-LO: Lightly carbonated with a medium mouthfeel. Nice balance of malts and hops with a nice wallop of bitterness (but, never overwhelming!) and a lightly bitter finish.

The Verdict

Limpd: Not as flavorful as the aroma had suggested. I thought it was a little muted; not bad, just a little too soft. I think G-LO screwed me; the beer was too cold (OK, so it was my own beer that I brought from home but G-LO took possession and possession is 99 44/100% of the law, or something like that, so G-LO is still to blame). Anyway, as the beer warmed, the flavors really opened up. Right out of the fridge, it was a little meh. As the beer warmed halfway to room temperature, there was a noticeable difference, with the hops taking more of a presence upfront and the balance of flavors becoming far more apparent.

G-LO: Nothing earth shattering going on here. Just a solid, easy-drinking beer that is almost session-worthy given its relatively modest ABV.

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And now for the big finish…

Ninkasi Prismatic Juicy IPA

Ninkasi has the following to say about their Prismatic Juicy IPA:

Full of juicy hop aroma and flavor, Prismatic’s colorful hop experience is citrusy, tropical and fruity with a subtly sweet malt and a balanced finish. Notes of pineapple, passion fruit and guava excite and linger on the palate.

Here’s our take…

  • Appearance: Lightly cloudy, golden-yellow color. Very little head or lacing.
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Most fragrant of the three. Very hoppy. Clearly an IPA. More grapefruit and resin with a bit of biscuits.
    • G-LO: Even more citrus than the first two beers with much more orange and tangerine coming through. Lots of biscuity malts too.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: As lightly carbonated as the others. Very malty upfront with a blast of hops that dissipates into some sweetness and then a bitter finish.
    • G-LO: Smooth and creamy carbonation. Nowhere near the bitterness I was expecting. Lots of lightly sweet and juicy citrus from start to finish. The finish is quite crisp and clean with some lingering citrusy hop bitterness. Also somewhat astringent.

The Verdict

Limpd: I had high hopes for this one but it left me a little wonting. I’m not sure if it was too cold or if the other beers were just more to my liking (I’m not the biggest IPA fan), but too me, this one was only ok.

G-LO: Easily the best of the three. Much like with the other two, not anything other worldly going on, just a well-crafted and very satisfying IPA. Think Comfort Beer.

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Final thoughts

Limpd: I really enjoyed the sampler. I found the Pacific Rain to be the most flavorful (once it warmed a bit), the Yours Truly to be one of the best session-worthy beer that I have had in a while, and the Prismatic to be only okay (as a sidenote, I recently had this one again and found that I liked it much better the second time around). Overall, as with the Sleigh’r, I say “Well done, Ninkasi!”

G-LO: As with our experience with the Sleigh’r, Ninkasi makes a variety of well-crafted, well-balanced and easy-drinking beers. Picking one over another is like picking your favorite child (Yeah, yeah, you love them all the same! Keep telling yourself that). While the Prismatic was my favorite, the other two really weren’t that far behind. It’s just that the IPA style is more to my liking.

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Many thanks to Ali Aasum of Ninkasi Brewing for sending use these VERY generous samples!

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