Last week I was with family at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos. Since we are there with family, I try to cater to their taste buds, so I bought a six pack of Bell’s Oberon and a variety pack of Brooklyn Brewery to try and make sure I got something in there for everyone. Ultimately, it means that I really didn’t drink anything that I wanted to blog about. Therefore, I had to have something good this week to talk about. Then, to top it all off, I got an email from Beer Advocate telling me today is IPA day! If you’re a regular reader here, you have to know I am quite a big fan of hops. I would have loved to devote an entire month to the style like I did stouts last February; however, I’m plenty happy with recognizing it for at least one day. Of course I’ll be having a couple other IPA’s today to celebrate, but here is a review to say happy IPA Day!
I’ve done a review of the regular IPA from Ninkasi before; however, I don’t remember being 100% impressed with it. Going back and thinking about it again, I’m not sure why I was kind of down on it. I’ve realized that I hold beers I can’t get in my area on a pedestal. It’s not that they are a second-rate brewery, it’s just that they are a good brewery in a different area. I guess I’m just saying I need to make sure I’m fair and not think every hard to find beer is going to be Pliny the Elder.
I’ll also let you know that I am eagerly awaiting a beer trade with fellow blogger Meganvsbeer. She is sending me a few things from her area of Oregon and she is getting a few things from me in DC. Therefore, I may have another one out of Ninkasi coming to you pretty soon. Looking at their line up, there are definitely a few beers out of Ninkasi I would be interested in trying. For now I just wait in great anticipation.
Talking about the pour is kind of a two-fold story. The initial pour has a really nice reddish auburn color with a kind of copper hue. This of course doesn’t really change too much throughout the various pours it took to fill my new Victory Brewing tulip glass. Additionally, you consistently get a nice fluffy head, light lacing, and very slight sticky residue. The big difference from the first pour to the last is in the clarity. The first pour was really clear; however, the final pour was super cloudy. I know DC Brau tells you to give their Imperial IPA a little shake to mix up that sediment before you pour their beer. Cloudy or clear, it doesn’t really make a difference to me, but it was just something I noticed.
The smell was dominated by a nice floral hop aroma with some very light pine scents to it as well. The floral is certainly more dominant on the nose than the pine. Mixed in with the hops are some nice sticky sweet malts. The big sweetness of the malts almost challenge the big hop smell, but it is clear we have an imperial IPA with the hops winning out. Mixed in there is some very rich citrus and tropical fruits as well. The hops seem to go a little tangy in the aroma as well.
Just like with the pour, you kind of have a tale of two stories with the flavors as well. This is set again not all that different from some other beers in the style. If you drink this while it’s cold, you have a clear malt start and a clear hop finish; however, if you let it sit a little while, the two distinct flavors start blend together. Most of my tasting was done cold. There is a big hit of sweet malts at the start of the beer. The hops start somewhat floral as they mix with the malts. The floral flavors combine with the citrus and tropical fruits as the hops begin to develop. As the citrus and floral drops off, the big pine comes in. The pine has a slightly tangy flavor. Cold the malts really back off and let the hops in the driver seat for the finish, but as I worked my way through the bottle, the malts come back to create a nice blend of hop and malt finish when warmed.
The mouth has lots of carbonation at the start of the beer to help give a little bit of body to the big sweet intro, then the sweet syrupy nature comes in to do battle with the hops. They really got the composition right with the hops and malts. Overall there is some really nice balance. The flavors all work really well together, and the big malts work with the big hops to create a fairly easy drinking imperial IPA.
This isn’t really available on the east coast, so I think a lot of my readers will have a tough time finding this. If you happen to come across something from Ninkasi I would certainly pick it up. I’ve really enjoyed the few beers I’ve had out of this Oregon brewery, and I’m hopeful to experience a few more. But, if you happen to find this particular bottle, you need to let it warm up a little to really let the malts and hops blend.
Now go out and have an IPA to celebrate the holiday!
Teacher Grade: B+