Name: Ninkasi Brewing Company
Location: Eugene, OR
Available in DC Market: No
What you need to know: In 2006, Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge opened Ninkasi (named for the ancient Sumerian goddess of creation and brewing, as you doubtlessly knew already); the company has been growing ever since, jumping from 32,000 barrels in 2010 to 56,000 just a year later. At the moment, they only serve Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and San Francisco – and the occasional Alaska Air flight – but they’re already planning to grow by a further 16,000 barrels in 2012, so keep your fingers crossed for serious expansion. Ninkasi has deep Oregon routes, brewing in “the Northwest style” and sourcing ingredients from the nearby Willamette Valley. Even the water is special, coming as it does from the pristine McKenzie River. So if you’re looking for a taste of the great Pacific Northwest, look no further.
Beer #1: Total Domination IPA (American IPA / 6.7%)
Notes: Unlike so many other West Coast IPAs, which often vault past 100 IBUs with ease, Total Domination evinces an appreciation for restraint. Copper in the glass, it blends aromas of pineapple, orange, and pine with a hefty dose of malts and an almost creamy texture. When the time comes for you transition into palate-wrecking IPA mode, make sure Total Domination comes before some of its meaner cousins; despite its name, this beer is about balance and moderation.
Beer Advocate: 84 (241 reviews)
Rate Beer: 95 overall, 92 style (345 ratings)
Beer #2: Believer Double Red (American red/amber / 6.9%)
Notes: Ninkasi was serious about the “double red” thing – Believer pours what is variously described as “burgundy,” “opaque umber,” “mahogany,” and “dark ruby amber” with solid head retention and lacing. Caramel, toffee, and toasted grain are offset by a quintessentially Northwestern citrus-resin kick. It’s a balanced affair, but as is so often the case on the West Coast, the flavors (and the alcohol) are ratcheted up a hair. Still, Believer remains quaffable in the utmost.
Beer Advocate: 86 (138 reviews)
Rate Beer: 95 overall, 71 style (229 reviews)
Summary: On paper, there are a lot of similarities between Ninkasi’s two SAVOR beers: both are year-round flagships, brewed since year one, with upper 6% abv, IBUs in the 60s, OG in the upper 1.060s, and all northwest hops – even the ratings are similar. Believer is definitely more malt-forward, but both are fairly subdued in the hops department, at least by West Coast standards (seek out their big bad DIPA, Tricerahops, if you want wall-to-wall hoppiness). At SAVOR, Ninkasi’s shooting for complexity and proportionality, and it looks like they’ve got good aim.
This profile is a part of the DCBEER.COM SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2012 SAVOR participants.
Beer Review Disclaimer: The beer reviews found on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do not represent the opinions of this site. We provide these in the hope that they will serve as a resource showing what some craft beer fans have thought of the beers. These reviews can be a helpful guideline, but are not the be-all end-all about a beer’s strengths or weaknesses.