Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pale Ales — Ninkasi vs. Elysian

Ninkasi Radiant Ale
ABV 6%

Elysian Loser
ABV 7%

It was with a little trepidation that we included a beer called "Loser" in a bottle battle. To make matters worse, the opponent was a beer with one of the most uplifting and positive names around, the brightly colored Radiant from Ninkasi. However, if the Loser could prove to be a winner wouldn't it be an inspiring story of a beer overcoming unthinkable odds to triumph over adversity? Here's how it all unfolded:

Both beers were dark for pale ales, falling more in the brown/orange category with the Radiant being a bit lighter in color. The aroma of the Loser was kind of a vegetal honey that wasn't off-putting, just not very hoppy. The Radiant was very perfumey with tropical fruit and a touch of that graininess you get from macro lagers. Flavorwise the Loser was smooth, sweet and fruity while the Radiant was fairly straight-forward and citrusy. The Radiant finished way more bitter while the Loser had more of a malt-driven finish with just a touch of bitter for balance. 

Stylistically, I suppose the Radiant tasted more like a traditional pale ale. However, it was not our favorite. It was just too simple with nothing to really distinguish itself. The Loser, on the other hand, was a really nice beer. And although it didn't taste much like a Northwest pale ale to us, we were both impressed by the smooth, rich fruitiness of it. To us, despite Elysian releasing Loser as a summer seasonal, the darker hue and malty character of the beer makes more sense for fall. Get some for these final days of grilling before we lose daylight savings and retreat indoors to huddle around the hearth for some stout or barleywine.  

Unanimous Decision: Elysian Loser Pale Ale