Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Critical Hit Barley Wine Ale

Dragon slayer?
First things first: I don't know very much about Dungeons and Dragons. My son is a big RPG aficionado, so what I do know is just from being on the periphery--watching the kid play with his friends and listening to him describe long, detailed, incomprehensible play by plays of his late night D&D sessions. I know a little about Halflings, Paladins, Rogues, Necromancers and such, and I attempted to play a game once, but it was just too damned complicated for me. I prefer a game with as little rules as possible.

When I spotted a bomber of Ninkasi Brewing Company's Critical Hit Barley Wine Ale, I had to pick up a couple of them--one for me and one for my D&D loving son. Hey, there's a 20 sided die on the label and a wizard doing some wizardly type stuff. What sealed the deal was the D&D Character Sheet hanging from the neck of the bottle. The stuff wasn't cheap--$12.99 at Whole Foods. The label advised that it was a 2012 batch. So how was it?

The beer poured into my snifter a hazy, medium brown color with a minimal tan head. The head disappeared pronto and only a light ring of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was brown sugar and toffee over indistinct citrus hops. A bit boozy. Dark over-ripe fruit. Raisins and dates.

Taste was citrus hops up front. Grapefruit and orange. A bit piney. Definitely different for a barley wine. When the initial hops bitterness faded, there was a healthy dose of sweet, bready malt. Light molasses. Booze. Dark fruit.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel with light carbonation. A bit of an oily, tonsil-coating finish with noticeable alcohol at the end. Citrus flavor was present throughout the drink and that was the last thing left on the palate.

Clearly a Pacific Northwest style barley wine. I'd drink it again, but I'd definitely have to be in the right mood. The pricetag would prevent this brew from getting any kind of regular consumption in my house. However, I'd like to put a bottle of it my "cellar" to see how it ages.

I'm giving Critical Hit a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


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