Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winter Beers — Ninkasi vs. Deschutes

Ninkasi Brewing Co.
(Dark Doüble Alt)
ABV 7.2%

Clear dark brown.
Smoke, chocolate and some dank funk.
Medium body, sweet and slightly smoky and meaty.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Burnt hop bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

ABV 6.7%

Clear reddish brown.
Aroma: Brown sugar, molasses and piney hops.
Flavor: Just like the aroma, rich and sweet.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Malty
Finish: Sweet malts slowly give way to mild citrus hop bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good +

Blow by Blow
Winter beers in fall? What the hell? Just as we were enjoying the fine array of fall seasonals we started to notice some winter beers forcing their way onto the scene. It's a disturbing trend that reminds us of how the holidays are starting to blend together with stores flooding their shelves with Valentine's crap on the day after New Year's. If breweries aren't careful this could escalate into some sort of crazy turf war between gangs of fall and winter beers (possibly a future Bottle Battle?). Despite our concern over this seasonal encroachment we are big fans of winter beers, so we waited as long as we could before giving in to the overwhelming urge to see what this year's crop of winter beers has to offer.

It was a well fought battle, with both beers displaying the big malty base and hearty alcohol content that you'd expect from beers that are supposed to help take the chill off of a cold winter's night. Both beers also offer up a nice hoppy bitterness to help offset the sweet, but the Jubelale's bitterness was mild and pleasant in the finish, while the Sleigh'r left us with a bit too much burnt hop flavors after each sip. The other difference was in the mouthfeel — the Jubelale was very rich and full-bodied and the Sleigh'r just didn't have the body to match up with it. So the Jubelale wins in a close one, but both beers will certainly serve you right on a nippy night.

Winner by unanimous decision: Deschutes.

In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC’s law, this battle features a sample bottle received from the Deschutes Brewery.

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