The first time I tried a Ninkasi beer I was on holiday in Palm Springs, California and found a bottle of Oatis at the local grocery store. Ninkasi is a larger craft brewery located in Eugene, Oregon and is named after the Sumerian goddess of brewing and fermentation, Ninkasi. Unfortunately I would have to wait 4 years for Ninkasi to finally import into Alberta. Oatis was stuck in my head as the epitome of a creamy oatmeal stout with a moderate bitterness and full body flavour. Since Ninkasi started hitting the shelves in Alberta I’ve been lucky enough to try nearly a dozen of their brews and even attend a sensory class with Ninkasi founder Jamie Floyd. The Devil Went Down to Oregon is a collaboration brewed with Roseland, Virginia’s Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Stylistically, “The Devil” is a Imperial Dark Rye or Roggenbier brewed to 72 IBU’s and 7.2% ABV with Northwest hops and an Alt style yeast strain.
Pouring out a dark, opaque blackish brown with a thick, puffy head of off white that does not subside but rather coats the entire glass in lacing. The aroma is heavily malted with spicy, bready notes of rye and biscuity crystal malts that give in to solid caramel and toffee malt sweetness. A bit of a nutty aroma with a hint of vanilla blends with the notable hop aromas. Light citrus fruit and a pinch of pine resin adds a Northwest twist to the staunchly German style malt profile. The first sip comes across rather sweet and a bit fruity with caramel and biscuity malts with a spicy twist of rye malt. Citrus zest and tart hop flavours build towards the finish with a light pine resin and lingering astringency. The malts and the hops are both blown out of proportion but also balance out well in the middle. An interesting mash-up of styles with the hop content expected from Oregon with the malts of a traditional German alt or roggenbier. A very peculiar brew overall.
Over the past weekend I along with several friends went on a celebratory trip to Las Vegas, Nevada the so-called Sin City. After my friends missing their flights and myself arriving 7 hours earlier than their deferred flights I found myself wandering into a Pub in Monte Carlo. This aptly named “Pub” happened to have a hell of a tap list and had six Left Coast beers on $5 pint specials for the afternoon. I surely couldn’t miss that offer. After a quick google I learnt that Left Coast Brewing Co. is a chain of Brewpubs and pizza restuarants with four locations in California. The first beer I decided to try was the Hop Juice Double IPA which was chosen for obvious reasons. The Hop Juice is a hop heavy San Diego style Double IPA brewed to a whopping 9.7% ABV with 82 IBU’s through the addition of Cascade, Mt Hood, Centennial, CTZ and Simcoe hops. Hop Juice is also dry hopped for two weeks with Centennial for extra hop power. The pour is a glorious bright orange in the body and has a thick and sticky frothy head that coats the entire glass after a few sips. The aroma is pronouncedly resinous including noted herbal and pine scents and fresh grapefruit zest notes. A rather full and floral nose with heavy tropical fruits and mild toasted caramalized malts atop the heaps of hop aromas. My first few sips were quite sweet and resin forward with enhanced bitterness and dry astringency after a few more sips. The bitterness and resinous smack is long lasting and adds a few tropical pineapple and grapefruity citrus flavours into the mix. The boozyness goes unnoticed with a prolonged bitterness stealing the show.Light floral notes and subtle toasted malts are subtley shoved aside in the heavy hop centric flavour profile. Overall, a nice Double IPA overall with a heavy staying power and big bold hops throughout.
The smaller and equally powerful cousin of the Hop Juice is the Trestles. Trestles is single IPA brewed with CTZ, Chinook and Simcoe hops as well as dry hopped with Simcoe and Centennial to 92 IBU’s and 6.8% ABV. Trestles pours a brilliant gold with a hue of light orange in the body and a thin creamy off white head that somehow looks out of place. The aroma much less brutal and intense with poignant pine resins but with mild citrus and light floral accented hops aromas. There are a few mild grainy malt and toasted malts notes in the aroma despite the rather golden appearance. Sweet citrusy hops in the first sips with more caramel malts than expecting adding sweetness and a good balance. Mild resinous and piney flavours add an interesting character to the mix with moderately heavy bitterness shortly following. The finish is overly astringent but a solid aftertaste of resinous hops is present. Not exactly tasting as much bitterness and drying hops as expected but a nice well balanced hop heavy brew none-the-less. Overall, a solid brew I am glad I tried. Unfortunately I wanted to try the Voodoo Stout after this but the keg ran dry.
The newest beer from Deschutes Brewery to reach Alberta is the well lauded Hop Henge IPA an 10.6% ABV Double IPA with copious amounts of Millennium, Delta, Mosaic, Cascade, Centennial and Citra hops to 95 IBU’s. In addition, Hop Henge is brewed with a blend of Pale and Munich malts which should prove to give this beer a biscuity flavour profile. This beer was brought into Alberta with extremely limited quantities so I am grateful to try it so fresh.
Hop Henge pours a bright sparkly orange with a heavy fluffy off white head that leaves a tons of lacing on the glass. The nose has a bounty of citrus hop notes with a prominent resinous pine and overbearing grapefruit aroma. A small dose of floral and grassy hops are mostly subdued by the shock of huge citrus hops. A bit of forward sweetness on the first sip with mild caramel and toasted malts slightly calming the hop profile. Massive citrus and resinous hop notes overpower the finer and more subtle flavours leaving a heavy astringency. The bitterness lingers for quite a while but is not entirely overbearing on the palate. As I continue to taste Hop Henge a mild herbacious and floral flavour sits at the back of my palate in the aftertaste; a bit odd stylistically. Overall, a smashingly good Double IPA with a bit of uniquye twist.
Grade:90/100 Price: $10.49 (22 oz)