Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Noir Milk Stout

Two-fisted or two-bit?
Standout, or stoolie?
I love me some Film Noir. Are you familiar with the genre? You probably are, even if you don't know exactly what I'm talking about. Wikipedia gives the following definition:

Film Noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly such that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.

Film Noir literally means "Black Film" in French. Although most of these movies are filmed in a dark, bleak, gritty visual style; noir refers more to the pessimistic, cynical, existential themes than the look and feel.

Examples of American Film Noir Classics are 1944's Double Indemnity, 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1941's The Maltese Falcon, and 1946's The Big Sleep. These films rarely have a typical Hollywood "happy ending" and often center around an "anti-hero"--a seedy crumb-bum with few redeeming qualities that we end up rooting for anyway.

My favorite Film Noir classic is 1947's Kiss of Death. Young Richard Widmark turns in one of the most memorable performances of his career as psychopathic killer Tommy Udo. Man, oh, man, is he EVIL. How evil? Check out this clip: 

Don't be a squealer!

I was greeted by the typical, gray Portland sky when I stepped outside my front door this morning.  The oppressive, invasive dampness went straight through my Pendleton and into the depths of my soul--like I said, typical Portland. I drove over to the local QFC to pick up snacks for the Seahawks v. Ravens game (Go Hawks!), and by snacks, I do mean alcohol. Portland is a city fueled by beer and booze and I'm not one for bucking the system, especially one that fits so well into my lifestyle.

I was looking for a beer on sale in the cold case and spotted a red tag in front of Ninkasi Brewing Company's Noir Milk Stout. The deco-inspired label beckoned me to plunk the bomber into my rusty, wobbly-wheeled grocery cart. The shapely, brunette liquor manager was giving me approving glances as I wobbled and squeaked past her. "Nice choice," she said. I grunted my response without giving her the once over. Kick off was in 10 minutes and I didn't have any time for dames.

The beer poured from bomber into my stout glass a dark brown color that was almost as black as my ex-wife's heart. A creamy, mocha head rose up to about an inch tall with just a little coaxing. No threat of a beating was necessary. I had a pair of brass knuckles handy, just in case, and I was glad I didn't have to use them. The head dissipated at a moderate rate, leaving a light ring of foam behind.

Aroma was coffee, cocoa and roasted malt. Vanilla and toffee notes in the background. It immediately reminded me of her. Poor kid always took her coffee black--with lots of cream and sugar.

Taste was bitter, French roast coffee with sweet milk chocolate following it up. Roasted malt. The creamy lactose sweetness was nicely balanced against that strong coffee bitterness. Hints of toasted nuts and toffee. Ah, French roast. For a second, there, I thought I was hallucinating. Paris. I guess we'll alway have Paris...

Medium to full mouthfeel with a smooth, creamy finish. A bitter coffee and chocolate coating was left pleasantly on my palate at the end. Yeah, all good things have to come to an end. That's the way the cookie crumbles--or the way the bottle empties, as the case may be.

Overall, Noir Milk Stout is a keeper. Loads of flavors that somehow remain distinct and appropriately complimentary at the same time. I like it--and it's been a long time since I've found anything I like. I'm giving this brew a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. It's probably more like 3 and 1/4 cans, but I'm not feeling very generous today. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the dames.

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