Ninkasi Spring Reign Ale

This is the final beer in the Ninkasi four pack. I saved it for the last, as I have a fairly well-known fondness for ales, and I thought this might be the best of them. The only thing that makes me hesitant at this point is the fact that it's a spring ale, so it's going to have flowers tossed in for no good reason.

The head is VERY thin, and dissipates quickly. The ring is left around the sides of the glass by some lingering bubbles, though. The color is a slightly cloudy coppery color. The aroma is all ale - hops and hops. There is a noteworthy amount of sediment at the bottom of this beer that would imply a certain amount of bottle conditioning was at play. I like a bottle conditioned beer, as they usually taste a lot more fresh than their clear and thin counterparts.

Even over there on my table next to my chair, I can smell the hops, and it's music to my nose. I'm heading in for a sip - wish me luck. Yup, those are hops. The trick to a good mix is to cut the hops with enough sweet malt to make the beverage tangy without a bite. There is a bit of a tart bite here, but there is also the mellowing of the malt. A floral note is persistent throughout the drink, but the issue is that the bitterness comes in waves as the beer is finishing, and the final wave is more bitter than the rest.

Maybe a big swig will give me a better understanding of this beverage. Come on - you know I always go for a big swig.

<takes a swig>

Okay, that changed the beer, but not in the way I had hoped. There's a sharpness at the top of the swig that is not optimal (could that be the malt?). At the finish, the waves become a single bitter stab that then has a lingering floral afterglow. When I change to something in between a proper draught and a sip, it has a much better effect. there's only one wave at the end, and the rest of the mouthful is simple and good. I'm not a fan of the floral note, but a springtime beverage without it is rare. When I let it warm up a bit, the whole thing becomes more muted, but the flavor (the real meat of it) stays intact. This is another beer I would hand to people cold and tell them to let it warm a bit.

All told, this is a decent beer. It's probably not the best of the Ninkasi beers that I've had from this four pack, but I can't say that I would be disappointed to have one of these at a bar or at a friend's house.

3.5/5

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