Brewery Profile: Ninkasi Brewing Company
Ninkasi is a name familiar to Oregonians, but has gained a nationwide reputation for brewing hop-forward beers, especially IPAs.
Founded in 2006, by two friends who shared a passion for craft beer, they created their first batch Total Domination IPA from a garage in Eugene, Oregon. Total Domination is Ninkasi’s flagship beer and launched them to national prominence.
Ninkasi’s lineup rotates like other top-rated breweries, depending on the season, but they have seven standbys that they brew year-round. Total Domination, the big one, hits you with a mouthful of citrus and floral hops, but rounds off the kick with 2-Row Pale, Carahell and Munich malts. Registering an IBU of 81 and a 6.7% ABV, this beer pairs well with seafood and is just light enough for you to quaff a few of them in a session.
Tricerahops is not an IPA to mess around with. Featuring Chinook, Cascade, Summit, Centennial, and Palisade hops, its IBU of 84 and ABV of 8.0% make it “deceivingly smooth” to drink. Which is no tragedy as long as you’re a fan of big, piney IPAs. It’s got enough zing to use as a base in salad dressing, especially with citrus such as grapefruit or lemon.
A nod to the zombie film classic, Dawn of the Red is a less bitter, more drinkable IPA/red ale fusion than its hoppier cousins. With a milder IBU of 66 and 7.0% ABV you can get away with eating spicy food such as Thai or Mexican and not worry too much about having your tongue sting.
More of a summer beer, Hop Cooler is a hoppier version of shandy, with bold orange and grapefruit flavors melding perfectly with Equinox, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra hops. When it’s served straight out of the freezer on a hot sunny day, this IPA is almost impossible to put down.
Easy Way IPA is the closest thing to a lager that Ninkasi makes (apart from their lager, that is). At 4.7% ABV and 44 IBU, it goes down easy and pairs with just about anything. A comfortable blend of malts and easy-going hops makes for a drinkable IPA. Just a little bit bready and not too hoppy, you can’t hate on Easy Way.
Helles Belles is *gasp* an actual lager brewed in the Munich fashion, with Bohemian Pilsner malts providing a little bit of sweetness and a bunch of German hops you can’t pronounce. The result: A wunderbar lager beer that, at 5.3% ABV and 28 IBU can keep you going all night long.
The last one on Ninkasi’s list of beers is Vanilla Oatis, the oatmeal stout of your dreams. Unless you don’t dream about an abundance of roasted coffee, nutty chocolate, smooth vanilla, and sweet malts—then you probably want to stay away from this deliciously complex, swooningly decadent beer.