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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ninkasi Sleigh'r

I suppose we should get this out of the way first: I am not comfortable with the allusion by Ninkasi's Sleigh'r to the thrash metal band Slayer. Afficianados of heavy metal will assure you that Slayer is full of more thrashy goodness than the competition (Metallica partisans notwithstanding). I am not an afficianado. (I'm more of a Ponytail, Eels, Tom Waits, Miles Davis kind of man.)

But I can forgive Ninkasi their musical tastes. Beer, they say, unites all. Sleigh'r is, unexpectedly, a double alt. Ninkasi, like--well, like a heavy metal band--tends to stick to a narrow range of beers. The Ninkasi standard is an ale, large, loud, and muscular. They have dabbled in variants before--Schwag, for example. Sleigh'r is in this mode, a fun one-off.

I have to confess, I judged this beer by its label. I didn't expect much, yet it was absolutely gorgeous pouring out. You think it's chestnut brown until you hold it up to the light and see the Christmas cranberry. It produces a lush, rich head and gives off a wonderful malty nose. In the end, it's a pretty straightforward interpretation of style (which also caught me off guard). The malt body is rich and clean, and there are nicely insistent hops. They're not showy or funky, just assertive, as you'd hope for in an alt.

Overall, very nicely done. I'd give this a B+.


Generik420 said...

Being a fan of both Slayer and craft beer.. I think I must find a way to get a bottle of this shipped to Indiana!

Bill said...

I only had a small taste on draft, but I agree with you that it nails the style.

How would you compare it to other recent double alts: Widmer 84-09 and Hopworks Secret Alt?

Jeff Alworth said...

I haven't had the Hopworks, but Sleigh'r is a bit--and I have a hard time believing I'm writing this--more modest than Widmer's. It is a big beer that treats you gently and rewards careful study of its nuances. Ninkasi!

Eddie said...

I am a big fan of Ninkasi. Oatis, and especially Summer Radiant, both have that very flavorful, simple yet nuanced thing going on. I love Total Dom and their double red too, though the red can be a little boozy for my tastes. I've only had Tricerahops twice and I'm pretty sure the bottle was skunked both times...need to give that another go next beer run.

Kevin said...

I think Sleigh'r is a fine representation of it's style, but it just has never wowed me. And I've drank a lot of Sleigh'r. Being in Eugene, it is THE seasonl most bars in town have on tap.

I haven't actually tried Sleigh'r this year, but I've been told that the recipe hasn't changed. It is on my short list for part two of my winter taste-off.

As a side note, does Oatis get served in Portland when it is not fall/winter? It is available year round on tap, but it seems like the bars/restaurants in town only serve it while it is also available in bottles.


Eddie said...

Hey Kevin I think I had it at Bye and Bye on Alberta during July; could have been August.

Jack R. said...

@Eddie, re: Tricerahops
If you get to the provincial capital, Tricerahops is permanently on draught at Venti's Cafe, Salem. The customers demand it.

re: Sleigh'r
At Venti's, the keg of Ninkasi-Sleigh'r was depleted in a week. Other winter seasonals lasted 2, 3, 4 weeks; in alpha order: Cascade-Defroster Scottish Winter Ale, Dogfish Head-Punkin Ale, Elysian-Bifröst Winter Ale.

Anonymous said...

Anyone had problems with skunky Ninkasi bottles lately? I'd like to start drinking their beers again, but got burned a few too many times.

Kevin said...

I've noticed some Total Dominiation bottles have been unusually buttery.

I wonder if they haven't been letting the batches rest long enough, so a high amount of diacetyl makes it into the bottles. Not sure if that is the "skunky" taste you are talking about, but it is something I've noticed.


JW said...

Cheers to Jamie for staying true to himself and his beers...and not "wussing" (if that is even a word) with a crapy half hearted winter ale called Deck The Eels or Santa's Long Ponytail...or Miles Davis' Xmas Trumpet.
Sleigh'r is everything I look for in a winter beer. Strong and hardy.
Cheers to Ninkasi (both of them)!

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