Beer of the Week: Ninkasi Radiant Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I like Ninkasi beers – they tend to be solid and drinkable, easily available and priced at a point that you won’t break the bank drinking them. A while back, I realized that there were a handful of their beers which I hadn’t tried yet, so I decided to give them a shot. Radiant Ale, their summer seasonal, was one of those beers. The beers run around $5 in a 22 oz. bottle (which is what is being reviewed here) and are generally available just about anywhere you can buy beer. The beer clocks in with 40 IBU and a 6.0% ABV.

From the Ninkasi website:

Earthy and floral hops balance this Northwest-style pale ale, with a touch of Crystal and Vienna malts for flavor. Crisp and flavorful, Radiant Ale is a clean-finishing summer offering in the Ninkasi tradition. The smooth malt character is balanced by an elegant hop bitterness, the perfect complement to a glorious summer day.

Tasting Notes:
A touch of Crystal malt is used to sweeten-up this beer in addition to some Vienna malt for balance. The multiple hop varieties are grassy and earthy in tone and differentiate Radiant from most of the citrus forward Northwest Pale Ales!

Food Pairings:
Fish, Poultry, Tomato Sauces, Rustic Breads, Toffee, Cookies

The beer pours orange, almost tan in color with a fizzy, light cream head. Light amounts of hops and citrus appear on the notes with a fair amount of grain in the mix – reminds me slightly of a lager (possibly from the Vienna malt). A good bit of slight bitterness on the initial sip (not sure if that was a good or a bad thing), with a nice crispness which fades into a long, grain heavy finish. I really couldn’t find any defining notes in the beer – not a ton of hop flavor and not an overly complex beer, almost like an ale on training wheels. It felt like a beer that was designed for people who like lighter beers. That being said, it would be a fine beer to sip on a warm summer day on the back deck with a friend.

Ninkasi Radiant Ale orbits into the picture with a bright 3 masses of incandescent gas out of 5.

In case you don’t get the reference, They Might Be Giants can help you out:

Beer of the Week: The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone More Brown Than Black IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

More Brown Than Black IPA is a collaboration beer between The Alchemist, Ninkasi and Stone Brewing and was brewed in November of 2011. It comes in at a hefty 7.4% ABV and 80 IBU and was brewed with a veritable kitchen sink of hops (Super Galena hop extract for bittering, Nelson Sauvin and Delta for flavor, dry-hopped with a blend of Citra and Galaxy) and malts (Maris Otter Pale, Light Munich, Carafa III Special Dark, and CaraHelles) The notes on the beer from the Stone website:

Tasting notes, provided by Brewmaster Mitch Steele

Appearance: Deep brown, a bit hazy, with tan foam.
Aroma: Whoa! This beer is all about, resiny, piney, dank and citrusy hops! The first shot is intense blend of pine and orange rind, and then as your sense of smell just starts to recover, the dankness and resiny herbaceousness come through with hints of grapefruit. This is a powerful hop blend!
Taste: The hops also dominate the flavor of this beer. Orange and grapefruit rind take center stage in the flavor, followed by, you guessed it: piney / resiny notes. The beer has a modest body…not sweet at all…and has a lingering bitter, drying end. Beyond the bitter end there are light hints of roasted malt and chocolate in the finish.
Overall: The hop character in this beer is unique and very pronounced. Galaxy is a newer hop variety from Australia that we think has strong tropical fruit and stone fruit characteristics. Citra and Delta are newer American hop varieties — Citra possesses strong citrus and dank flavors, while Delta has a milder profile with melon and berry notes. And of course Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand has its intense namesake’s white wine notes along with—surprise!—more dank notes. They all blended together well in this beer, a tribute to one of our favorite styles.

The beer was available in 12 oz. bottles for around $4 at the end of 2011. The beer that I consumed had been sitting in the cellar since then and I figured it would be a good idea to break it out to see how it held up.

The beer pours dark brown with a brown head. Hops and citrus permeate the nose on this beer – there is no doubt that this is an IPA. Slight hints of malt play hide and seek with your nose, but they are definitely there. Citrus and resin dominate the palate but they are balanced with the malt and grain. A slight malty sweetness quickly yields to green hops, resin and earthy citrus in a very long and not at all bitter finish. At no point in this beer does the alcohol dominate the flavor. As the beer warms, a slight smokiness shows on the nose and briefly on the palate. I had this beer fresh and it was a complete hop bomb and I think it is still enjoyable despite the recommendation to drink it fresh. The beer is slightly more restrained in its aged form and I think more approachable to the average beer drinker who is just beginning to cut their teeth on very hoppy IPA’s.

This beer was great when I originally had it and great when I had it a year later, which is unusual for an IPA. The character on this beer is amazing and I really wish they would brew it again.

More Brown than Black gets 4 Kumbyas out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Ninkasi Imperiale Stout

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Ninkasi Brewing is located in lovely Eugene, Oregon and makes a wide range of beers, including a couple of pretty stellar IPA’s. The Imperiale Stout is a special release available in 22 oz. bottles and on tap; we consumed the beer in a bottle, and, as I didn’t purchase the bottle, I am not sure what the beer ran price wise. According to Ninkasi’s website, Imperiale is:


Strong, dark and brooding, Imperial Stouts were originally crafted by the British to survive the long journey to Russia through rain, sleet, and snow. Full bodied and surprisingly smooth, Imperiale Stout has a big roast hit up front, and rich, dark malt flavors balanced by ample hop bitterness.

  • Statistics
  • First      Brewed: 2011
  • Starting      Gravity: 1090
  • Bitterness:      70 IBUs
  • Alcohol      %: 9.1
  • Malt:      2 Row Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Crystal Malt, Carapils Malt, Flaked Barley,      Roasted Barley, Black Malt, Carafa Malt
  • Hops:      Nugget


This is a big beer, perfectly suited for a cold winter’s day. The beer pours jet black with a brown head. As you would expect, there are tons of roasted malt and chocolate on the nose. The initial taste yielded a beer that was more subtle than the nose suggested – very dry with hints of chocolate and roasted malt on the front of the palate, fading quickly into a smooth, milk chocolate like finish, that unfortunately disappeared more quickly than I would have liked. The beer stayed pretty consistent as it warmed, with some notes of toffee starting to show up at around 50 degrees. The beer lacked any real alcohol burn for being over 9% and lacked any real hop personality despite its 70 IBU. I actually had no idea the IBU was that high until I looked up the stats for this review; they are just about completely lost in roasted chocolate depths of this beer.

Impreiale was not an unpleasant experience – if you are looking for something dark and roasted, I would definitely give this one a shot. If you are looking for dark and hoppy, look elsewhere.

Imperiale generates a rating of 3 Sumerians out of 5.