Ninkasi Sleigh’r Dark Doüble Alt Ale

Reviewed by on November 24, 2014 in Holiday Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Ninkasi Brewing Company

  • Origin: Eugene, OR, US

  • Rated On: November 23, 2014

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 7.2%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Altbier

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

As we roll into American Thanksgiving week, the Christmas brews are starting to take over the beer store shelves, including this one from Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing.  Nice combination of odes – the traditional holidays, esoteric German beer styles, and heavy metal. Oh, and I do loves me some thoroughly unnecessary umlauts!

This 22oz bottle pours a clear, dark red brick amber hue, with two Santa’s belt-worthy fingers of densely foamy, puffy, and rocky ecru head, which leaves some decent bands of cobwebbed lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of bready, crackery caramel malt, biscuity toffee, dry cocoa powder, edgy black domestic and Middle Eastern fruit (sounds better than plum and fig, eh?), wet ash, thin red wine must, brown sugar extract, and weirdly prominent leafy, earthy, and weedy hops. The taste is much more sharply hop-oriented – the metallic leafy, underripe melon and citrus, and wet pine needle sort – before that heady grainy, bready, and biscuity caramel malt pops its head up, alongside a reduced dark fruitiness, needling spiciness, a touch of benign yeast, hints of cold coffee grounds, and a sidling booze warming. The carbonation is fairly understated, with a bare, unassuming frothiness for the most part, the body an adequate medium weight, and a bit too cutting on the high and side palates to be deemed particularly smooth. It finishes less sweet than I was expecting – the alcohol, dry maltiness, and strangely subsumed spices ruling the day.

A strange, and very American re-telling of an old European story – y’know, boozing and hopping up an Altbier, not to mention trying to pass it off as a holiday seasonal. Well, they seem to have succeeded on all fronts, as despite this one’s weird astringency, it still goes down well in the face of snowfalls and stupidly overcrowded shopping expeditions alike. Oh, and I suppose I can let some “Bloodline” play on the stereo, in honour of punny names everywhere.

Brady White

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