Ninkasi Brewing Company is smartly named for the Sumerian goddess of fermentation, whose credo dictated that making, enjoying and sharing beer enlightens us (we agree!). Not long after founders Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd began brewing out of a German restaurant in Springfield, Oregon in 2006, the duo started hand-delivering kegs to local establishments. Being extremely connected to their community has proved to work well over time—Ninkasi is one of the most popular breweries in the Pacific Northwest these days, generating 95,000 barrels per year!
We got our hands on a few bottles during our recent trip out West and tasted Mosaic, a Single Hop Pale Ale; Total Domination, an American IPA; Dawn of the Red, an American Red Ale; and Vanilla Oatis, an Oatmeal Stout.
Take a look at our tasting notes from the session and let us know your own thoughts in the comments!
Our Ninkasi tasting started with Mosaic, a Single Hop Pale Ale from the brewery’s Single Hop Series. This golden straw-colored beer was clear and filtered, and retained a fine white head with a fair amount of carbonation. Brewed with a mélange of malts (Pilsner, Flaked Barley, C15, Carahell) and hopped exclusively with Mosaic hops, there were aromas of key lime and sweet apple, as well as a flutter of passionfruit. The flavors were juicy on the front, with tropical fruit, new world Riesling and carrot coming through. Mosaic had a slightly bitter finish, calling to mind arugula and chicory.
Ninkasi’s first beer and part of its Flagship Series, Total Domination perfectly embodies the West Coast IPA. It is very clear, and the beer’s color was called marigold, table varnish, and day bright. The aroma was pungently orange grove, with hints of bergamot, clove and allspice. Total Domination had strongly bitter flavor, and tasted of pine, orange pith and sap.
This seasonal American Red Ale is part of Ninkasi’s Special Release Series and packed with five different hops. The copper color of Dawn of the Red reminded us of bourbon and candied orange rind, and it had bone china-colored head. Caramel apple really came through on the nose, and we were reminded of a minimally-aged spirit with the beer’s bitter finish.
We really enjoyed Vanilla Oatis—an oatmeal stout brewed with vanilla—which is another beer from the brewery’s Flagship Series. A deep reddish brown coloring was described as black cherry or an americano. Among its varied and complex aromas, we noted charred marshmallows, chocolate milk, and a whiff of sunscreen. There was also the scent of a Black Russian cocktail in this boozy beer. With a good amount of vanilla up front, Vanilla Oatis had a silky smooth mouthfeel and some meatiness to it, as well as flavors that brought to mind a campfire.