As summer winds down, I am really trying to push through all of my summer beers I have remaining in my collection at this moment. I guess there would be nothing wrong with popping the top on a summer ale in January. Sometimes it’s nice to have the option of drinking something a lot lighter. However, I don’t want to be left with any misfit beers this year. Anyway, I received this beer in a recent beer trade with Megan vs Beer. As I’ve already reviewed one of the beers from the trade that immediately caught my eye, I jumped to this one second because of the style. Friday I got home from school, looked through my big bottle options that were cold, and I went with the most refreshing looking one. As this is my 4th different bottle from Ninkasi I’ve reviewed, you’d think this was a really easy brewery for me to get a hand on. Guess I just have some awesome people helping me.
Ninkasi describes Maiden the Shade as a salute to the playful side of summer. I am personally not a big fan of the summer. As a teacher, I love that I get time off from work and can travel a bit more; however, I find it to be a miserably hot experience most of the time. I love the winter. None-the-less, I’m glad to see this particular playful side coming out of Ninkasi. Typically when I brew, I try to make sure I have a variety of hops in my beer to give it character. Ninkasi decided to really add some depth and character to this beer with 7 different variety of hops. They have included Summit, Centennial, Simcoe, Columbus, Crystal, Palisade, and Amarillo. It seems like it would be a crazy double IPA or hop bomb with that many different competing hops. Instead, they used a light hand to create a well balanced hop forward summer IPA. Since I’ve really never had anything other than hoppy beers from Ninkasi, I’m not terribly surprised by the hop forward take on this summer beer.
This one poured out a very light golden coppery color. There was certainly a very nice fluffy white head that built on top of the beer that lasted and lingered for quite the extended period of time. There was some really great lacing that developed on the sides of the beer with a ton of sticky residue. There was some very clear clarity working here, and you can see a very ample amount of carbonation in the glass as well.
The most significant aroma you get is a ton of really fresh hop scents. The hops have a slight pine smell with a lot of the floral scents as well. The tropical fruit aromas are quite big here. You get light pineapple, citrus, and other more topical aromas. The maltiness takes a back seat for big hops; however, you do have some slight sweetness. Overall it smells quite fresh and crisp.
While the sweetness of the malts doesn’t really come across on the aroma, you certainly get it at the onset of the flavor profile. The sweetness is quickly overrun by some great pineapple, citrus, and topical fruit flavors. This helps to bring a nice summer freshness to the beer, and it also helps to transition into the plentiful hop flavors. The hops have an overall big fresh taste to them. They start a little piney and are actually a little jarring. The pine might be a little strong for a “summer brew”. Regardless, I’m quite a big fan of the flavor. The hops move from that jarring pine to a much more subtle floral flavor. The hops mellow toward the end of the beer as the citrus kicks back up for a floral citrusy hop finish.
The mouthfeel starts somewhat syrupy; however, the carbonation builds as the hops gain momentum. The carbonation and the hops reach the pinnacle at the same time. It finishes with a lot of hops to help it feel fresh from nearly start to finish. While there is a section right in the middle of the tasting that seems a little too piney for the style, I’m quite a big hop head, so I’m certainly pleased.
I have a feeling I say this almost all the time, but I’m sure this one will be hard to find if you’re on the east coast. If you happen to know where some is, rescue it from potentially being left behind some big malty pumpkin beers. I have a feeling this one could make a great beer for a warm labor day!
Teacher Grade: A