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Schwag | Ninkasi Brewing Company

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4 Ratings

Brewed by:
Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.70%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by msubulldog25 on 10-23-2007

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Ratings: 4 |  Reviews: 3
Photo of RedDiamond
3.01/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I've had worse, but Schwag is just too schwaggy for me. The first question is: ale or lager? Answer: Schwag is a lager that drinks like an ale. The clean, dry refreshment of a lager is in short supply. It is pale yellow - not exactly clouded, but with high humidity - but lacks the clarity of a lagered beer.

Schwag Light isn't an ideal choice for luring the light beer set into the realm of craft beers, for the key to a successful schwag is to not make it taste like anything. Make it so devoid of flavor that people will drink it with minimal awareness of the fact that they're drinking a beer at all. This is the formula that made Bud Light the King of Schwag. At the very least you need to keep it clean. If it hangs on the tongue as Ninkasi Schwag does without cleansing the palate, you won't win converts or satisfy the lawnmower imperative.

It's mid-July as I write this and I've been dinking schwag beers - a.k.a., craft lagers or blonde ales - as standard call for lunchtime table beers. Ninkasi's model is admirable for its persistent release of CO2 and the dry cereal aroma it releases. The flavor also has an ideal quality of cereal malts with informal bittering. Its chief detractions are its lack of clarity, its refusal to showcase even the slightest measure of suds, and its dogged aftertaste that haunts the tongue like a frozen yawn.

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Photo of BGP
3.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brewed with pre-used grains, Schwag is Ninkasi's green, economical alternative to mainstream American-style lagers. Given the nature of its origin, the beer certainly has its faults: it won't satisfy seasoned lager drinkers, nor, for that matter, will it win over serious ale partisans. That said, if one is short on cash, the beer is an inoffensive, mild alternative to any of the other lighter beverages on tap, and, as such, is eminently drinkable.

Appearance: golden, cloudy, with minimal head retention (★★½)

Tastes like: a mild lager should - a touch malty, but none too bitter, with only the faintest hint of hops present (★★★)

Overall drinkability: at the end of the day, Schwag clearly bests any and all of the low-end macro-lagers which one may find on the tap; it's a pleasant alternative for both the thrifty and the hop- and dark malt-averse (★★★½)

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Photo of Kopfschuss
3.25/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of msubulldog25
3.6/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I first heard of this limited-release newbie from Ninkasi around the end of August. Took nearly two months to track some down, but found it recently at Bailey's Taproom in downtown Portland. Got a 10 oz. glassful...

Here's the hype I snagged off of Ninkasi's MySpace page:
"Introducing: SCHWAG! Our deliciously cheap light lager
That's right, we have concocted a lager that is easy to drink and easy on the wallet.
It's locally made, none of those nasty rice and corn fillers, and great for social nights on the town.
Schwag, deliciously cheap."

A: Golden, a bit fuzzy-looking - it's a bit of lightly unfiltered haze and it's a whole bunch of tiny carbonation. A lid of creamy whiteness, no more than a 1/2 finger, fades fast. Lace cobwebs down the glass.

S: Subtle malt aromas, hinting at cereal, corn-pops and biscuits.

T: Pleasing taste of malted grain, starting with a sweetened coating and finishing more crackery-dry. A trace of saltiness? Hops are very light and very clean, offering almost no lasting bitterness - rather they deftly limit the sweeter maltiness.

M: Light in body, generally crisp and clean. Lively mouthfeel of active carbonated fizz settles within seconds to a smoother finish. Little lingering aftertaste, a modest level of sweeter, lightly sticky malty residue.

D: Made for session drinking and well-suited for it. As intended by the brewer, not a complicated lager - pretty well-balanced, easy-drinking, clean. Wonder if this will make regular appearances in Ninkasi's annual lineup; might drink it again.

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Schwag from Ninkasi Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.26 out of 5 with 4 ratings
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