Believer | Ninkasi Brewing Company

very good
185 Reviews
no score
Send samples

Brewed by:
Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
An Imperial American Red Ale.

Ninkasi website:
"6.9 % alc./vol. 60ibus. Always available in 22 oz bottles, and on draft."

Added by Cascadia on 06-23-2007

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 501
Photo of BikeChef
4.01/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Definitely on the malty side, with toffee and caramel notes blending in with a good dose of hops. A very solidly made beer that's balanced well. Don't expect a double red IPA, though-- this is more of a malt-focused winter brew, which I appreciate it.

 254 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle - It says "seasonal" but no reference as to which season. No freshness date, but it appeared recently on the shelf at Winco, Bremerton, WA from what I noticed.

Pours deep ruby tinted crimson with a fluffy off-white head that leaves lacing.

The smell is of soft caramel with a subtle earthy, musty touch.

The taste is of caramel/toffee with a hint of dark fruit (fig). Leafy, floral spicy hops gives it a dry balance in the long finish.

It is very smooth. Just about full-bodied. Alcohol very well-hidden. Refreshingly balanced.

Malt-forward, but with a nice hoppy dryness in the finish. A pleasant red ale with a boost of extra flavor and body. Very nice!

 676 characters

Photo of Libeertarian
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From notes taken 04/19/16:

I've had this one for just under a year. Relatively high alcohol, proper storage. I've had this fresh and I remember it was good but I think it is better slightly aged.

Mostly clear but incredibly dark brownish copper. Much more opaque and variegated in the light on the second pour. Vigorous pour, yet only two-finger head. Fine, foamy, film-forming and then almost creamy tan, good retention and lacing. Dates, dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar, toffee aromas, perhaps hint of resinous, leathery hops. Very sweet-smelling. Plums, dates, earthiness, toastiness, berries, toffee, brown sugar, resin, and leather to the taste. Excellent flavors. Extremely sweet, barely enough hops to prevent cloying. Full-bodied, but lighter end of it, syrupy, smooth, lots of softer carbonation. Mouthfeel is perfect for the palate. Alcohol isn’t extremely high for this style, but what’s there is well-disguised. Solid 4.25 across the board.

 959 characters

Photo of stevoj
3.29/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

On tap at Applebys. Dark amber with thick, foamy head. Sourish hoppy nose. Taste has a metallic tinge with dry finish. Good, but not best, still recall the metallic tinge to this day.

 183 characters

Photo of elNopalero
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is malty sweet and somewhat sharp. Rough edges meet a hint of cloying caramel and somehow play nice. Style bias aside I can remember a time when I would have been excited by this beer.

 189 characters

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours brilliant reddish brown under a 1” persistent white to cream colored foam collar that clings to the side of the glass. Rich and malty nose, creamy, malty, tastey palate with a decent hop balance. A little above medium body and a little below medium carbonation.

 269 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

1 pint 6 oz. poured into a nonic. A dark reddish mahogany brown with two fingers of very creamy, frothy beige head. Leaves some lacing that looks like a map of the world (I shit you not, would attach a photo if I could!). Color falls exactly between an amber and a true brown ale.

Aroma is unassuming and mellow but pleasant enough, some candied pineapple, papaya, white grapes, and toffee coming through. Slight chocolate. Taste is far toastier and nuttier than the nose would suggest. Big toasted biscuit flavor coupled with oily walnuts, baker's molasses, orange and grapefruit rind, canned pineapple rings, caramels, nectarine, tannic black tea. Hops are bold but fall just short of a "red IPA" level. Some of the dry bitterness tastes malt-derived.

Body on the thick side, with rather subdued carbonation. Finish is where the citric and tropical hops really shine. More puckering tea-like tannins with a squeeze of lemon and lime. I am appreciating this red ale. Robust toasty malts with fruity hops providing a foil. Flavor develops nicely as the brew warms. Sweetness, toast/nuts, and hops nigh perfectly balanced.

 1,124 characters

Photo of Beer-Revelry
3.71/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a deep and dark mahogany ruby red. Forms a half finder of light rusty brown head that quickly dissipates down to a film.
S - Sweet hops upfront, sweet malts in the back. At first it could've fooled me for an IPA, coming back for another smell, it could now fool me for a porter. Quickly and constantly developing beer as the temperature rises. Quite complex.
T - Lightly sweet and bitter hops upfront and the same with malt in the back, like a perfect mix between an IPA and a porter somehow, surprisingly complex and in-depth, especially for the style it is.
O - A damned good and pleasantly surprising red ale. Will definitely have again if I get the chance to do so.

 682 characters

Photo of FLima
3.79/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Quite reddish color with a thick beige head with great retention and leaving a wall of laces.
Aroma of red fruits, pineapples and caramels.
Sweet, but Increasingly bitter flavor with notes of apple juice, toasted malts, spices, American yeast, tea leaves, grapefruit, soap and dark fruits peel.
Quite dry aftertaste with a nice bitterness.
Medium body with milder carbonation. Alcohol of 6.9% is well hidden in its body.
Pleasant Double Red Ale, fruity and flavorful, but it could have a lower body or even more hops to tame its body and make it less balanced, or more, depending if it is a hop head judging it... In my opinion all Doubles should use hops freely.

 663 characters

Photo of utopiajane
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a sultry and seductive brick orange with shades of reds browns and rust. Has fiery golden yellow highlights as well. Tan head of creamy foam that lasts and leaves lace. Good clarity . Nose is firm with caramel. It's hard to explain but this is firm caramel. Not soft, not too sweet. It has a lovely biscuity malt scent and a beautiful orange peel on the nose. A wild bit of herbal and a touch of brown sugar. As it warms some needle like pine come s to the nose. Taste is seductive with malt that sports more complexity than I would have thought . it is a creamy biscuit, it's dry and crisp and it has this firm caramel. it's not terribly sweet. And for even the little bit of sugar it is still not awfully sweet. It is powerful malt presence in this beer. The hops are grand with a dry powdery floral and a bit of herbal. There's tangerine and the fruit and the pith of the tangerine. It's the sweetest thing. This fruit presence and yet it's shy and hangs back a bit. The beer finishes with a lovely bit of resin to coat the palate and leave behind that needle like dry pine in it's and that brilliantly complex malt in it's biscuity glory with that firm caramel. Like I said it's not too sweet and the bitter is outstanding. A moderate bitter takes hold and flourishes in the aftertaste.

 1,308 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle. Believers? I believe I'll have another beer, I do.

This beer pours a mostly clear, dark red-brick amber hue, with one fat finger of puffy, bubbly and generally frothy tan head, which leaves a thick band of snow rime lace around the glass as it evenly sinks away.

It smells softly of semi-sweet biscuity and bready caramel malt, a small, sort of sour dark orchard fruitiness, and leafy, weedy, and weakly piney hops. The taste is more pastry-like grainy caramel malt, biscuity toffee, bruised apples and pears, overripe orange and lemon rind, tart maraschino cherry, and a further tame earthy, floral, and perfumed hop bitterness.

The bubbles are average in their fizzy demeanor, and mostly just fulfilling their contractual support role, the body a bit on the light side of medium weight for the style, and perhaps a touch too strident in its edgy 'smoothness'. It finishes off-dry, that biscuity caramel malt sweetness persisting, alongside some mumbling and bumbling mixed hop bitters.

A bit too metallic and tight seeming overall, even if the underlying flavours have got it all going on - given that the ABV is a bit on the low side for anything deemed 'double' or 'imperial', that should not be a problem. Anyways, drinkable enough, I suppose, once that craft brewer awareness cognitive dissonance kicks in.

 1,334 characters

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.39/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a super deep mahogany color bordering almost on brown with a one finger head of thick off-white foam. The head sits there with tons of retention, fading over ~ a 10 min time frame to eventually leave tons of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is heaviest of a toasted malt smell with a large showing of caramel and brown sugar. Along with these aromas comes some lighter dark fruit smells of cheery and plum as well as a little bit of a more grainy smell. Some hop aromas are present in the nose as well with bot a citrus and earthy aroma being mixed with the rest.

Taste – The taste begins with a rather heavily roasted malt and relatively caramel and fruity (cherry and plum) flavor. There are some lighter hop flavors present at the start with both a grapefruit and earthy flavor being on the tongue. Some more grainy and more fruity flavors join the tongue at the middle, overall sweetening the taste a bit. In the end the bitterness really steps it up, bringing on much more dank earthy and piney flavors to the tongue, and while I would normally like that, they don’t seem to meld with the other flavors in this one, creating a somewhat unbalanced and slightly off flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thicker and creamier side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. The thicker body and lower carbonation seem to up the off dank flavors at the end, and in conjunction with the rest of the flavors, accentuates the mix of rather odd flavors a bit too much.

Overall – Nothing too spectacular here in my opinion. The flavor profile was a bit off with no real melding and complementation. Some may like, but I will likely pass.

 1,806 characters

Photo of BrewtalHonesty
3/5  rDev -21.3%

Seemingly balanced initially, though strong lingering bitterness.
Edit: Originally rated 2/5, though increased to 3/5 upon tasting second bottle straight from fridge. This beer benefits greatly from being imbibed cold, and suffers greatly from being imbibed slightly warmed.

 274 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%

A well made beer but one that doesn't all the way jive with my tastes personally. It's brick red with a yellowish frothy head with superb retention from the tap. What I like about it is that it's loaded with caramel red malt favors but remains rather dry compared to other beers in the style. That's the good for me. The bad is that it seems overhopped from a bitterness perspective, and has a lot of body for what it is, making it a real slow sipper for me, and it doesn't warm up all that well. Soapy feeling on the tongue but bubbles are good. Usually I like how hoppy their stuff is, but this seems out of whack a little bit.

edit: this is far better in the bottle than it was from the tap in my experience. more balance, more hop character rather than bitterness, and a less sweet malt base. maybe it has been tweaked, maybe that keg was old, but its a lot better for me this second time around. bumping up a few scores to reflect that.

 942 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%

22 oz shared bottle.
Nice clear red-amber color.
Rather ordinary aroma but a very rich flavor with enough hop balance to leave a mildly bitter finish.

 152 characters

Photo of toxicmash
4.54/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A:poured from a 22oz bomber bottle into a tiny 5.5oz tulip filling it with the deep amber leaving an in of headspace for the light caramel colored head to climb to the apex of the glass. Head dies down to about a quarter of that as it leaves a very bubbley intricately lacing the glass S: Lingering And complex fruity notes of pear and mellow citrus (almost peachy) soar over a presence of caramel and brown sugar, very pleasant hop aroma. T: Very similar to the aroma with an addition of molasses to boot, a very well rounded and firm balance of flavors with neither hop nor malt outdoing the other. Caramelized brown sugar and mellow fruit wash down the tongue harmoniously giving no clue as to the high alcoholic profile, almost refreshing M: bright and bubbley yet not lacking in body this stupendous amber is a exceptional vision on the classic that will certainly get you drunk off your head x_X

 901 characters

Photo of Antnego
4.63/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this beer is way underrated.

A: Pours a deep, red amber with a thick, two-finger head with excellent retention and thin lacing. Looks gorgeous.

S: I get brown sugar, caramel, maple and citrusy hops on the nose.

T: Taste largely follows the nose. This is a complex brew! I get maple, caramelized brown sugar, molasses, and grapefruit. Finishes with bitter hops and a very slight sour tang (almost undetectable). Simply wonderful.

M: Lots of refreshing carbonation, medium body, goes down easy. No booze detected.

O: BA has got this one seriously wrong. RateBeer scored this a 95, an excellent rating for an excellent beer. This brew is so rich and refreshing, with complex hops and caramel interplaying on the palate. It easily rivals Russian River's best offerings - I hope it gets the recognition it deserves on this site, Ninkasi should be rewarded for producing this beer.

 886 characters

Photo of Giftpilz
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: I have no fancy glasses to pour properly, but it poured very similar to every other description. That delicious amber color, with a nice off-white, almost cream colored head. Looks quite nice to have a few sittin up on the balcony, having a smoke and watching the people go by.

Smell: As a lover of amber and red ales, I found it hard to complain in any way of how it smelled. It was decadent; citrusy and bitter, but round on the edges because of it. Each individual aroma of the beer adds to its fullness, and you have the pleasure of enjoying it on each and every sip.

Taste: It was perhaps a little bitter to my taste, but it only has 60 IBUs so it can't be too overwhelming. I found the flavor entirely satisfactory when the brew is particularly cold. I would highly recommend drinking it fast or in a chilled glass, as the flavors sort of muddle together as you finish.

Mouthfeel: There was a slight pastiness I felt, but it goes away quickly. The bitterness likes to linger, so if you're not a fan of that you might want to shy away like a puss. All joking aside, the flavors and its highly bubbly nature finish well going down; it's hard to not gulp it!

If you're bouncing back and forth between an IPA for bitterness, and an amber ale for that rich and robust flavor, this should be your go-to choice. This is a front-runner in my book of best red ales.

 1,378 characters

Photo of magictacosinus
2.71/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

This was one of the many beers poured at the December Albany Taproom bottle share. Whoever bought it, thanks! Poured out of a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. This was 60-90 days old, so keep that in mind as I review.

Pours a darkened reddish amber color - looks a lot like your typical English bitter, mind you, if it weren't for the off-white fizzy looking head that I've typically seen in all of this brewery's beers. Some bubbles stick to the sides of the glass upon the initial pour, and while it seems relatively lively it isn't enough, apparently to solve it from completely dissipating overall. Slightly viscous in appearance, but otherwise pretty average for the style.

Smells slightly citrusy, with a mostly earthy grainy and spicy yeasty feel overall. In other words, this is how MOST hoppy Ninkasi beers have been for as long as I can remember. Some orange peel, big pine, and maybe some grapefruit, but it's otherwise very earthy, spicy, and grainy, with some light soapy notes as well. Something's really up with whatever yeast they're using, because it's really disjointed overall.

Tastes equally earthy, and while there's a better dose of citrus and pine here, it ends up feeling very peppery and soapy. Granted, this bottle may be slightly past its prime, but I have no idea what this probably tasted like fresh. Maybe a little bit juicier? Regardless, there's nothing more here than some dried citrus rinds, pine, pepper, and some slight earthiness, with a biscuit caramel backbone that becomes excessively overrun by the soapy properties. Finishes pretty astringent and malty, and the floral soap notes become stronger at the finish as well. It's slightly refreshing, but mainly while it's cold. As it warms up, it gets progressively maltier, much to its disadvantage. It's not the worse, but not a very good interpretation of the style.

Something's up with Ninkasi - I've been drinking their beers for a while, but a lot of them have gotten yeastier, earthier, and soapy in the past year or so. This is a prime example of many things that are a little strange with their beers these days, and I'm not sure if it's just my changing taste buds, or something particularly worse. Otherwise, I had some trouble enjoying this, which is bizarre as this is merely an amber ale! Not very recommended, but okay if you're just starting to get into amber ales.

 2,371 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.71/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at The Glendale Tap in Glendale, CA.

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus zest and herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a better hop presence in the taste.

 558 characters

Photo of vkv822
3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz : tulip

Pours a clear, dark amber red with a foamy, toffee colored head.

Big caramel, toffee malt notes upfront, with floral, citric and herbal hop note highlights. The malts are more robust in the nose, while the hops come through more in the taste though they are fairly balanced in the big picture.

Medium bodied, light, foamy carbonation.

The malts and hops both have equally big, impressive profiles here, and they compliment eachother quite nicely.

 463 characters

Photo of souvenirs
3.34/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

650ml from a combo park of four different beers from Ninkasi.

A: Chestnut brown and clear, with about one finger of tan head.
S: Grapefruit, melon, a bit of nuttiness and caramel.
T: Mostly bitter, especially the aftertaste, to the extent that it's unpleasant. This bitterness lingers in my mouth for a long time.

It smelled so good! The taste was a disappointment. I definitely will not get this beer again.

 411 characters

Photo of cherche
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer has been such a hit or miss with me I just don't know how to rate it. The color is an dark copper and the head is thick and foamy. The first time I had it I thought it was one of my favorite beers I had had in a long time and definitely a top red ale...the second time I still liked it but a little less, the third was about the same as the second. All three were on tap...I might have to revise my rating after the next time I try it but for now I still think it is a great beer. Pretty malty and not something I would have more than 1 - 2 pints of but a flavorful red with some uniqueness to it. I am excited to give it another try and really try to focus to figure out if I love it or hate it :)

 708 characters

Photo of LampertLand
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Ninkasi Brewing 'Believer Double Red Ale' @ 6.9% , served from a 650 ml bottle purchased for $6

A-pour is dark amber from bottle to glass with a medium size off white head leaving a streaky lace along the stein

S-nutty malts & grassy hops

T-slight sweet start but is really bitter from start to finish

MF-low carbonation , medium to full bodied

Ov-ok beer , just to bitter for me

prost LampertLand

 404 characters

Photo of JasonLovesBeer
3.99/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nose: Sweet. Vanilla and caramel and even some molasses. I can't find any of the hops in the nose, even though I know they're there.

Palate: Mouthfeel is quite thick. Vanilla and toffee sweetness to start, very malty, bready, and sweet. The hops come through shortly after and linger through the finish. Earthy and piney hops. No floral or citrus notes from what I can tell.

Finish: Ends bitter - 20 seconds in, you might as well have been drinking an IPA despite the hugely sweet malty start.

Conclusion: This is a pretty darn good red ale. I tend to forget about this style of beer because it's.. well, forgettable usually. However, it does fill an important segment, somewhere between the IPA and the CDA. This is 6.9% ABV and 60 IBU which makes it accessible but not boring. I think this beer strikes a pretty good balance. Colour me satisfied.

 854 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Believer from Ninkasi Brewing Company
3.81 out of 5 based on 501 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.