[Update 2009/04/07: Alas, Nine Muses is no more. The new place, Duke's Landing, does not look very auspicious. Big Bud Light banners fly outside, and today instead of tables out on the patio, there was a very sketchy-looking secondhand sale.]
I haven't been to Ninkasi's headquarters in Eugene, but I well remember my first taste of their beer. My neighbor Lindsey got me to go to the pre-brewfest Brewers' Dinner in 2006, and the knockout beer served that night was a Ninkasi IPA. "Where is this brewery, and what's with the Japanese name?" Turns out the name is ancient Sumerian, and the beers keep knocking me out.
So Dave and I were excited when Corey alerted us to the wealth of Ninkasi waiting for us just a few blocks from home. The Nine Muses is in an old house that used to be the beloved -- if dumpy and stinky -- neighborhood video rental place. They fixed it up pretty nicely, it's a comfortable place. Too smoky for me to be a regular there, but at least it's not the Horsebrass level of smoke. And I can definitely picture myself outside at one of the picnic tables come summer.
We started off with a Tricerahops, the full and flowery IIPA, which is sold in a 10 oz. glass due to its 9.5% strength. Of course we had to have a Believer, the dark and delicious double red ale. And somewhere along the way was a Total Domination, another fine IPA. Oh, that Tricerahops is nice. The other ones they have on tap right now are the Oatis Oatmeal Stout, Schwag Light Lager, and (embarrassment) something I can't remember, Pale Ale maybe?
They had a few other respectable brews on tap, Lompoc Strong Draft (get it? hippie pub? LSD? hahaha), Bridgeport Hop Harvest (good move!), and a couple of Fearless beers.
Other places to get Ninkasi
The Green Dragon, being the guardians of good taste that they are, usually has a Ninkasi on tap, a couple weeks ago it was Believer. Non-smoking!
The Horsebrass usually has one or two on tap, if you're lucky they'll have one on cask. Had a cask Believer there during the summer. News flash: had some cask-conditioned Tricerahops there on 2007/12/20! All the pretty flowers, a little less sweet than the regular.
The Blue Monk had Oatis on tap, 2008/01/18. Non-smoking.
Every few months I torment myself by going to Henry's Tavern at 12th and Burnside. How can they have such a respectable beer list, but no one waiting tables knows a single thing about beer? That includes what quantity of beer you are ordering. "Is that served in a pint glass?" "Oh, yes." And here he or she comes back with a little round glass. The bar staff seems to think anything stronger than a "Hef" has to go in a little glass. Still, they seem to keep one or two Ninkasi beers on tap, if you don't mind a small serving.
Ninkasi's MySpace blog now has a list of Portland Ninkasi taps.