I have long since wanted to try a bottle specifically from Ninkasi. I have realized lately that this may seem like a funny thing to some of you. If you live in the area where they are brewed they may not be that big of a deal to you. My friend Gavin recently started doing a lot of cross country beer trading and told me that Heavy Seas Loose Cannon is great trade bait for brews we can’t get in our area. I realized that, while this seems somewhat strange to us who walk by it weekly without a second thought, others do the same thing with breweries we are seeking out elsewhere. I really want to have beers from Russian River and Three Floyds at my disposal here, so I will end up trying to do some trading to get some of those, but other people probably walk past their stuff everyday without picking it up. I guess it’s that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone (or never had it) mentality.
None-the-less, I’ve enjoyed a few things Ninkasi has been brewing, but I have never had a beer that is fully their own creation. I have had their collaboration with Stone Brewing and 21st Amendment, but I have never been able to have one that they brewed. A couple of weeks ago my brother visited from Astoria, Oregon. While he wasn’t going to even check a bag for the three nights he would be here, I managed to convince him to check a bag to get my beer here. Of course he gets to check bags for free anyway because he is “military”. Funny enough, when he got here they called his name over the loud-speaker at the airport while he was waiting for his luggage. He thought for sure the bottles had broken, and he would be taken into a room to get interrogated. They had just managed to lose his bag. Thankfully they delivered it to the house later that night.
Ninkasi is obviously a brewery out of Oregon who has a plethora of ample beers. I feel like I’ve only just made a little ripple in the great pond that is their line-up. (Wow that was deep huh?) They were named after the Sumerian goddess of fermentation, which I happen to think is a pretty awesome way to name your brewery. The particular beer my brother brought along was their Total Domination IPA. This seems to be their standard IPA release. It comes in at 65 IBUs with Summit, Amarillo, and Crystal hops. Having consumed this as I was using Amarillo hops in my saison, I became slightly worried I made the wrong choice, but I stayed with it. Thankfully, this was a really good beer to enjoy while I brewed as well.
This one pours out a rich red color with an ample amount of orange tinge to it. There is moderate head development on top of the beer. This also results in a very large amount of lacing and some nice sticky residue. There is some pretty good clarity to this one. I guess it’s a little hazy overall, but I expect that from an IPA. Looking at my bottles of Pretentious Hopster, I can already tell that I am going to have terrible clarity to mine. You can see a ton of carbonation in this glass with this beer as well. Overall, it’s every visual thing I want from a beer.
The smell may be the most interesting of the four categories for rating. You get a lot of citrusy lemon that combines with a lot of very herbal and floral hop aromas. The citrus has a lot of grapefruit and tropical fruit qualities to it as well. I almost think it has a little bit too much of the herbal aroma to it. I like a little bit more of the piney than the herbal floral in my beer. The beer has a very earthy aroma to it.
The taste is overall really well-balanced, but I think I got more out of the nose than I did out of the flavor. The beer has a really nice and moderate malt introduction. Shortly thereafter, you get a very big hit of the hops. The hops here are far more piney than I was getting off the smell. The bitterness manages to really hit right in the back of the throat. There is lots of citrus and grapefruit with some slight tropical fruits on the back half. I would have liked to see these slightly intensified, but they are a nice addition to the concoction. There is plenty of residual pine left on the aftertaste, but it gets a little more herbal as you let the beer warm up. I do enjoy that the beer has some complexity to it as it warms.
The mouthfeel has a lot of carbonation on the front half of the beer, and it manages to get slightly more syrupy on the back half. The hops seem to really kick up during the more syrupy aspect of the beer, which I think shows a really well constructed brew. There are plenty of hops and pine throughout the tasting which is exactly what I’m looking for on a good IPA. I do think the beer gets slightly lackluster in its finish, but I like the flavors and the balance overall.
This is the first real release I’ve had from Ninkasi, and I’m looking forward to a lot more of them. Of course, I have to manage to find a few other bottles of their stuff somehow. I would really like to try their Tricerahops, Believer Double Red Ale, or their Maiden the Shade. I’m sure there are some other really good beers in their line up as well. This is their standard IPA, and I may have allowed myself to hype this up slightly too much for myself; however, I’m really glad I got a hold of it. I doubt you can find this unless you live on the west coast, and then I’m jealous of you.
Teacher Grade: B+