Ninkasi Brewing Company Beer Review

weekly beer review

Foreword: Today’s article will explore beer and theology. In other words, it’s virtually assured to piss someone off. I would remind any easily offended zealots out there that I am already 100% aware of my forthcoming damnation.

Unless you subscribe to the idea of Directed Pandrunkia (the hypothesis that ancient aliens planted alcohol on this planet so we’d be too faded to ask questions about the suspiciously advanced construction of the pyramids), historians generally agree that beer was the brainchild of the Sumerians about 6,000 years ago. They enjoyed the beverage enough to recognize it for what we see it as today – a gift from the gods.

Since ancient gods were too lazy to constantly snap beer into being, they instead mated to produce Ninkasi, goddess of alcohol and the original beer wench. Her name translates to “The lady who fills the mouth”, also making her the matron goddess of buffets and dental gauze. Archaeologists discovered her existence on a clay tablet that also detailed one of the first known beer recipes. Whether or not it contained evidence of the first hot wing platter as well is disputed:

Beer TabletAt least 4 different archaeologists had a slapfight over who got to translate this.

Ninkasi’s legend impacted society by initiating the grand tradition of giving alcohol a holy sponsor. Dionysus, Osiris and Tezcatzontecatl (pronounced just like it’s spelled) would all eventually follow suit. The most memorable of the group would have to be Radegast, the Czech God of beer and hospitality, who was primarily worshipped by early authors of X-Rated Thundercats fanfic:

beer statue“As Mumm-Ra peeled away his loin bandages, Radegast whipped out his throbbing Sword of Omens…”

Ethanol was no less important to the more modern Abrahamic religions. Jesus was known to convert water to wine (probably a nice buttery chardonnay to go with all the fish he was likewise conjuring up) when situations warranted it. Unfortunately the Bible seldom mentions beer, and the Koran outright rebukes drink, so its clear that the celestial love affair with beer cooled a bit over the years. I take some comfort in knowing that this much is still scripturally supported:

drinking is awesome

Oatis Oatmeal Stout (7.2% ABV)

Oatis Oatmeal StoutThe oatmeal stout is one of my favorite styles. It’s hearty and warming, not unlike oatmeal itself. Come to think of it, the backbone of beer is essentially boiled grains in the first place, so beer is really just absorbing the prep time for your standard hot cereal and passing the time savings along to you. People choosing that pasty sludge over a stout for breakfast is an obscenity.

oatmealPictured: Vomit. Or oatmeal. It really says something that you can’t tell which.

Oatis is an opaque coffee-brown brew that pours to a heavy finger of rocky, tan head. The roasted coffee and mocha smells come rushing out of this giving a real richness and sophistication. I just might have to put on my monocle.

The flavor is equally rich with roasted malts. I get nutty flavors in the middle and dry soda bread in the finish. The hopping here is noticeable, but perfectly restrained. It is surprisingly light and fizzy for an oatmeal stout, but it does have a lovely milky texture to it.

This would be an INCREDIBLE dry Irish stout, but it lacks some of the meatiness I look for in an oatmeal stout. And though it may have fallen a bit short of rocking my world, I have no intention of taking my monocle off.

Grade: A-

Believer Double Red Ale (6.9% ABV)

Believer Double Red AleI was going to introduce this beer as “The Believer”, but that name strikes me as odd. “The Believer” sounds like some uninspired TV drama that will get relegated to a terrible Friday evening timeslot and wither until cancelled. Unless Joss Whedon writes it. In that scenario it still suffers the same fate, but it will earn the distinction of having innumerable fanboys unable to STFU about the injustice of its cancellation into perpetuity.

FireflyI miss you, Boo.

The Believer has a webby, vanilla head atop a hazy, ruby-tinted ale. Floral and pine notes punctuate the aroma with a light, bready malt smell to it as well.

Biscuity malts and some light caramel notes have a short-lived tenure before they are overtaken by piney, grassy hop bitterness. There’s a mild peppery flavor hovering through it, but it’s not likely to punctuate the experience much.

For all of the hop presence, this finishes surprisingly light and resin-free. While refreshing, it simply lacks some of the punch that often accompanies a double red. To declare itself a double red and not deliver seems almost a bit subversive, but why else would it choose that descriptor? Easy – this beer is nothing more than a cunning tool to advance a radical communist agenda. Don’t take me at my word – do the math yourself:

Glenn Beck CommunistWhy do you hate America, Ninkasi Brewing?

Ultimately it was a tasty red that doesn’t quite make me a True Believer.

Grade: B

Total Domination IPA (6.7% ABV)

Total Domination IPAThe IPA is no stranger to bragging on how it will obliterate your taste buds, but “Total Domination” has a bravado that I’ve seldom witnessed. As such, I am going to primarily score this beer against its own metric.

The TDIPA is a hazy amber ale with ample streams of carbonation coursing through it. It summons a tall, cratered head that really clings to the glass. It’s hard to dominate glassware short of the beer causing it to shatter on impact, but TDIPA’s performance here is worthy of noting:

scorecardThe smell is a potent combination of a nectary sweetness and slightly perfumy floral hop. There’s even a little grapefruit in the mix. Impressive…:

scorecardIt’s one thing to dominate my nose. Well-placed flatulence can do that. Dominating my palate is really the gold standard to live up to and this does a middling job. The full, somewhat oily mouthfeel delivers a collaborative effort from a multitude of hop flavors. I notice citrus and floral notes with a very mild pine finish. It’s a good tour of what dimensions hops can bring to beer, but it’s hardly overwhelming. I know what domination feels like and this is no stiletto heel grinding into my testicles. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

scorecardIt’s delicious, no doubt, but it just doesn’t quite live up to it’s own hype. It’s like meeting a guy named Thor Rocketpunch and finding out he’s an accountant.

Grade: B+