Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Ninkasi, All the Time

It's weird, sometimes the name of one brewery pops up over and over in the course of a few days. Last week, Ninkasi kept invading my consciousness:
  • The brewery started shipping 6-packs of Total Domination IPA and Spring Reign Pale Ale.
  • The East Burn Beer Belly Dinner for March featured Ninkasi.
  • One of my favorite beers at the Lucky Lab Barleywine Festival was Ninkasi's 2010 Critical Hit.
The ticket pictured above is from a 6-pack commemorative party two Saturdays ago.  Heh heh, "drinketfaster".  Take that, Ticketbastard.  I heartily applaud Ninkasi's move to six-packs.  The $12-13 SPE price on Total Domination 22-ounce bombers always rankled me.  It looks like the six-packs are going to have a regular price of about $10, usually on sale at $9?  I'll take it, especially if Believer gets down to that price.  By the way, the other day Zupan's -- which I always think of as having ridiculous beer prices -- had Ninkasi bombers for $3 (SPE $9.82).

A few days after that, this past Thursday, Carla and I went to the Ninkasi dinner at EastBurn, hosted by brewer Jamie Floyd.  If you haven't been to one of these monthly dinners, pick a brewer you like and go to one.  $35 gets you a really nice 5-course meal, 5 or 6 beers, and congenial company on the back porch.  Proceeds benefit Ride On.  Thursday most of the Ninkasi offerings were pretty standard:  Spring Reign, Believer, Total Domination, Tricerahops.  The dessert was served with side-by-side samples of Oatis and Vanilla Oatis, the latter dry-hopped with vanilla beans, which add a delicate sweetness to the already smooth oatmeal stout.  We also got a taste of Ninkasi's 2011 entry in Eugene's KLCC Collaboration -- a sessionable pale ale that Jamie hopped with Hop Union's Falconer's Flight hop pellets.

Friday I snuck over for a brief session at the Lucky Lab's Barleywine Festival.  I hope to write a little more about the fest in a couple days, but as I said above, one of the winners in my book was Ninkasi's 2010 Critical Hit.  It was a classic take, located on the Old Foghorn/Bigfoot branch of the barleywine family tree, with decent but not overpowering alcohol heat and massive hops.  I preferred the fresh article to the 2009 version, which was still good, but quite a bit cloudier and with less distinct flavors (maybe a little oxidation already creeping in also).

Speaking of Critical Hit, I won an EastBurn hoodie at the dinner Thursday night by answering -- close enough -- Jamie's trivia question about how he came up with the name Critical Hit.  Luckily, Jeff Alworth had mentioned that bit of information to me recently:  it's a Dungeons and Dragons double-damage dice roll.  Pretty cool name for a barleywine, actually.  Er, not cool, but apt.

Just four years ago, who could have foreseen Ninkasi's meteoric rise to become the brewery with the biggest-selling IPA in Oregon?  That is, who besides Jamie and company?  Keep your eye on them:  the six-packs are going to propel them even further in their goal of Total Domination.


  1. I've been noticing recently that beer prices at Zupan's have gotten more reasonable. I'm guessing that enough people have taken notice of the selection and prices at the nearby Freddies that they had to bring them back in line.

    I'm curious to see if the bomber prices on Ninkasi drop everywhere... can people do the math to figure out that $4+ is not a good deal?

  2. Love their beers but $9+ / 6 is a bit much. I was psyched to see the Spring Reign sixes pop up, and then bummed that I was only buying one 6 pack (maybe ever) at those prices. Cheers!

  3. @Mark, $9 six-packs seem increasingly the norm for craft beers (with sale prices of $7-8).