Reviewing beer is such a subjective matter. Every beer lover I know has their own tastes – I definitely have mine. There are some beers I’ll never try or drink again. But that doesn’t mean that the beer was necessarily bad – it just wasn’t my cup of tea – or pint being the case.
Sure, you’ll still get the occasional beer review from me – Lord knows I drink and sample enough of local beer to do so – but I also want to shine the light on lesser-known local brewers, cover local beer news, and even step out a bit of the Portland metro area. And, as a history nerd, I’m always curious about the buildings that house our local breweries – Green Dragon’s re-use of the wonderful Q-Hut building, Hopworks’ eco-renovation or the Muddy Rudder’s labor of love in Sellwood.
Beers of the week
Three-day weekends [or any weekend for that matter] are always a great time to catch up on some napping, do chores around the house and try new beers. Here are two beers I sampled [and by "sample" I mean chugged] over the recent three-day weekend:
Total Domination IPA
Two winters ago I think I tried a pint of Total Domination IPA from Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing at the Victory on Division. At the time I thought it was a special holiday beer on tap. I remember thinking it lacked the spice but had the hops and didn’t exactly resemble a holiday brew.
And since this was during my pre-note taking days I can’t be too sure.
But, according to Ninkasi’s Nikos Ridge, they were distributing Domination IPA in Portland back in July 2006.
[Update: Scratch the above - it was Ninkasi Believer I sampled two winter's ago!]
Anyhow, this has been on my list of beers to try [or re-try as that might be the case] and I recently picked up a few 22-ouncers of their Total Domination IPA.
There are some beers that can be sipped and not really noticed. I drink a lot of those kinds of beers – like during the summer at an all-day event when a cold, refreshing beverage is needed but when one doesn’t want to be overwhelmed with taste or flavor [or get loaded by mid-afternoon].
Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA is definitely not one of those beers. And that’s fine with me. The flavor, from the moment it hits your tongue to the aftertaste, demands and then commands your attention. If I had one word to describe the beer it’s “pucker.” Or better, “dominate.” Hence the name.
It poured nice, and had a tremendous, hoppy, citrus smell. And, man, was it fresh. That was a tease though to the first sip. Unlike the everyday beers I tend to stick to, this is a beer with an aggressive taste and multiple flavors. It might even surpass Great Divide’s Hercules Double IPA as a hop favorite of mine.
You can pick Total Domination up in 22 ounce bottles around town – I’ve seen it at New Seasons and picked mine up on sale at Wizer’s in Lake O near my work. It’s on tap at various pubs as well. I need to find their Tricerahops Double IPA on tap in Portland and give it a go. I won’t forget my notebook this time.
The Internets gave Total Domination a B+:
I’m not a fan of seasonal spicy beers. Cinnamon, cloves and berries are for baking or for pies, not for beers. Just a personal preference of mine – or maybe my palate just isn’t sophisticated enough for the different tastes. The one berry-flavored beer I have enjoyed was at Boston Beerworks a few years ago across from Fenway Park – the bartender poured a nice American Ale then dropped a handful of blueberries in the glass. Nice.
Come Oktoberfest, most brewers roll out their spicy or fruity beers [pumpkin?!] so it was with some caution I ordered Widmer’s Okto at Flying Pie Pizza near my house [they also have Terminal Gravity IPA on tap -huzzah!] I thought I might get a fruit-flavored beer but was pleasantly surprised by the taste – it was nice and malty and not dominated by triple-hop action in the recipe.
Widmer uses Alchemy hops for the bittering; Mt. Hood and Tettnanger for aroma. And there’s just the right amount of hint of them. No sign of a fruity taste.
Okto is a fine, fine ale with a mild bitter flavor. I found it quite enjoyable and thought it was new, not so.
I’d recommend trying it on tap first. It’s a perfect early fall staple, until the dark beers start making an appearance. And that, like the changing colors of the leaves, is one miracle I always look forward to each fall.