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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ninkasi Spring Reign

An IPA by any other name is ... a session ale to Ninkasi's Jamie Floyd. Thus we have Spring Reign, which the brewery's website describes as:
Notes of toasted malt up front, finished with a bright and refreshing Northwest hop aroma, it’s a session beer that everyone can enjoy!

6% alc./vol. 38 IBUs
A six-percent session? That's some serious style creep. Admittedly, it's also not a proper IPA, either. On the other hand, there's no way on earth this beer is 38 IBUs. Having recently tasted the almost wholly bitter-free Widmer Drifter, a lighter beer listed at 32 IBUs, I'm guessing somebody's equipment is off-base. (Perhaps both breweries.) Then again, calculating IBUs is mostly an art, anyway.

Never mind the name; for folks who love vivid, sticky hopping, Spring Reign will be just the ticket. The mixture of Simcoe, Santiam, and Ahtanum produces a piney, resinous hopping, and the malts provide a sweet caramel base. It's frothy and creamy and leaves attractive tracery in the glass. Overall, a beer of instant familiarity, a classic Northwest ale.

I am reminded of the experience of hearing a song for the first time on the radio that I feel like I should be able to identify. It's not original, doesn't reinvent rock, but it's well-done and entertaining. Spring Reign is like that, and I suspect it will be received warmly by people whose tongues are already attuned to this style--or to those whose tongues will, having been weened on Spring Reign, become attuned to the style in due course.

3 comments:

Jeremy in SE PDX said...

I just picked up a bottle at Belmont Station this afternoon after having some of the really fine Pliny. I bought the Spring Reign on the strength of the vivid shade of green used on the label.

Your review is hopeful; I'm looking forward to trying it out for myself later this week.

--JT

brew said...

IBU should not be looked at in a vacumn. What is the AE, ABV, tasters individual pallette and preference. A drier moderately high alcoholic beer may be percieved as more bitter, even though it register lower on the IBU scale. And so it goes.

Jeff Alworth said...

Brew, you're right, and part of the reason it's inconceivable to me that this beer is 38 IBUs is because at 6%, it's no shrinking violet. It has a nice malt backbone with a sweetly caramel quality, which would further dull the effect of the alpha acids (but not the hops' flavor and aroma).

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