Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Beer Month: Ninkasi Critical Hit

When I think of the beers that sustain me and provide me with comfort and cheer in the cold winter months, one of the genres I jump to is barley wine. Despite is name, barley wine, being made from fermented grains, is in fact a beer. Because it rings in at much higher %ABV, wine is traditionally included in the name. I first had barley wine when I lived in London, but I have really come to enjoy it to the fullest here in the Northwest. I enjoy the powerful and complex flavors, the malty roundness, and the hoppy variations that occur in craft, American, barley wine. Also, because I tend to be more of a sipper than a drinker, the higher alcohol content simply encourages me to share!

And share I did, splitting a bottle of Critical Hit by Ninkasi Brewing Co.. I picked this citrusy and mellow barley wine because I so enjoy what Ninkasi puts out...but even more importantly, because of the wonderfully nerdy label. I even worked to photograph it so that light radiated outward from the many-sided die...yep, I am a geek.

Beyond the label, I totally geeked out on this brew. The nose was sweet and malty, with high notes of citrus and vanilla. At first taste, it is lightly sweet and vanilla, with just a hint of hops, moving into a central theme of grapefruit and a bitter finish. This barley wine is a winter warmer that I suggest is sipped at a less than ice-cold temp in order to promote the full complexity of flavor and aroma. I also recommend that you split the bottle with your favorite snuggly nerd, and pair it up with some strongly-flavored cheese, and salty charcuterie.


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