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Critical Hit | Ninkasi Brewing Company

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82
good
31 Reviews
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Critical HitCritical Hit
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
ninkasibrewing.com

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by barleywinefiend on 03-22-2010

BEER STATS
Reviews:
31
Ratings:
93
Avg:
3.61
pDev:
24.38%
 
 
Wants:
16
Gots:
25
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 31 | Ratings: 93
Photo of biboergosum
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2014 Reserve - very Dungeons and Dragons in its theme, which makes my eyes glaze over, before I've even approached this one's heady measure of ABV.

This beer pours a clear, bright medium red-brick amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and lightly bubbly tan head, which leaves some limestone grotto lace around the glass as it slowly sinks out of sight.

It smells of semi-sweet, grainy caramel malt, a touch of biscuity toffee, reduced brown sugar, some candied citrus notes (think of those discount store 'orange' slices), some prominent leafy, earthy, and piney green hop bitters, and a loitering metallic booziness. The taste is bready and doughy caramel malt, some lessened toffee sweetness, a still rather sweet citrus and pome pithiness, further muddled dark orchard stone fruit, some subtle earthy mustiness, and more evolving leafy, floral and certainly piney hoppiness.

The bubbles are pretty understated in their quotidian frothiness, the body a solid middleweight, if one harbouring some heavy-set aspirations, and generally smooth, with a wee creaminess arising as those fridge temperatures ebb a little bit. It finishes still sweet, the big-ass malt, meandering fruit, and hard to pin down booziness sealing the proverbial deal.

Overall, this could be considered a big-ass Yankee DIPA, sure, if no one was looking all that closely at it - big malt, big fruity and verdant hoppiness, and yes, big booze. I get that the delta between the two styles is minimal, but this is the example that proves the point, if there is even any merit in doing so.

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Photo of Gubbser2
3.41/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Recieved a 2013 bottle as a gift from a friend, very excited ad I have recently had some barley wine that I really liked and wanted to see what the local brewer Ninkasi had to offer. Looked great and smelled sweet as it poured with nice head and lace. Once settled noted many "floaters". Wish the taste matched the smell! Had a strong roasted barley taste with a touch of sweet, then the hops kicked in with a strong bitterness. Feel is sticky everything but the actual taste of this points to sweet is it hiding behind the hops? Definitely glad I didn't drop spend the $15 for this as I am disappointed.

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Photo of ivehadthatbrew
3.56/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2014 Edition, bottle #14972/20000

Look (4): Pours a pretty blood red hue. Filtered, white/tannish head that retains well.

Smell (3.5): Malty biscuits, big piney hop resin and bitter aromas. Boozey flavors really come out that I had to blow off.

Taste (3.5): I definitely opened this too early. There is a boozey and malty taste that's unbalanced with some major bitterness that's a bit much. As it warms up it gets a bit better, caramel syrup like. Has some spicy pepper components at the end.

Mouthfeel (3.25): Medium plus to full bodied. Think feeling with some stickiness. A dry ending.

Overall (3.75): I should have waited to open it. At least one to two more years. I'll have to go buy another because I can almost imagine it getting more mellow and balanced out.

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Photo of arizcards
3.59/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bomber from TW Arrowhead at the end of October for $13.99. This is the 2013 version, bottle 3760 out of 10000. This is 10.4 % abv, 100 IBU.

Beer poured amber-brown with a beautiful head upon the initial pour.

Nose is slightly boozy but nothing much beyond that.

Taste is very unbalanced. Initially the traditional barleywine malt bill was there but be prepared to be slammed by mega alpha hops. I suspect if you aged this beer another 4-5 years it could be pretty good.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and somewhat smooth.

Overall not a bad beer but not worth the price of admission.

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Photo of stevoj
3.62/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Brewers Haven, 2013 vintage. Big malt bomb. Hazy dark copper body with small creamy, soapy head. Aroma : malt; taste : malt. Big hop finish coupled with slow building warmth. Medium weight, silky feel, bitterness lingers, coupled with pleasing simmering heat. Nice warmer.

 287 characters

Photo of Hootie159
3.89/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hoppy barleywine. If you prefer the English traditional this is not for you. I do prefer the English but there are a few merits. The bittering juxtaposes, but works with the sweet malt. The heavier carbonation helps the favors bite into the tongue.

 248 characters

Photo of GoneARye
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage, bottle.
A murky brown pour. Pillowy head that fades quickly to a thin rim of lacing. Aromas of toffee, burnt sugar, malt, and brown flavors. Taste follows nose, adding sweetness and raisins, with a string dose if bitterness, almost too much for the style. Mouth is mildly alcoholic, with a spreading warmth and mild carbonation. Would buy again, but hard to truly classify as a barleywine to me. Sort of its own thing. Would be interesting to taste fresh given the aggressive hopping.

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Photo of Hop_God
2.97/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Wow. What a let down. I can't believe this POS cost 16 bucks. This is embarrassing. 2013 reserve. Overly bitter. Unbalanced. Truly sad. I may be done purchasing ninkasi brews because of this. They should be ashamed.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.82/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Verdugo Bar in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, and candied citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, brown sugar, candied citrus zest, and grapefruit juice flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and dry mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty, but it is quite bitter with the hop additions used.

Serving type: on tap.

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Photo of pat61
4.06/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the 2013 version, bottle 1605 out of 10000, 10.4% abv.
A: Brilliant deep copper gold under a thin, copper head that produces spots of lace. Does have legs.
S: Not a big nose – slightly darkened sugar to caramel with some wine notes.
T: Malt and light fruit introduce the palate leading to a lingering bitter finish that is more quinine than citrus rind or roast. The bitterness becomes bigger as the beer warms.
M: Starts a little thin for a big beer, medium low carbonation. Mild alcohol warming. O: A decent but not outstanding American Barleywine.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

as much a double ipa or something as a big barleywine. i feel like this is as much about the hops as it is about the grain, if not more so, which sort of turns the american barleywine back into the ipa range. its pale in color too, less of the caramelized toasty toffee barley we usually look for in the style, and not nearly enough body to get there either. the hops are nice though, pine forward and sticky, and also impressively bitter, more than enough bitterness in this one to balance out the residual grain sweetness, which again i think doesnt necessarily lend itself to the style, but is well resolved here. carbonation is also really high, much higher than barleywine in truer forms really needs, but with all the hops it makes sense, really carries the beer, and gives it a much quicker finish than most. the alcohol shows through a lot, largely i think because it is so light and thin, but i do kind of want to taste it in this style. i like the beer pretty well, but i dont think its up to the ninkasi standard for quality, and i definitely dont think it satisfies the palate looking for a true american barleywine, but perhaps we have defined the style too narrowly, and this takes it to a new place...

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Photo of woemad
3.78/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber of the 2010 vintage. According to the label, this was bottle # 647 out of a total of 5,000. I have no idea where I purchased this, but there’s a price sticker indicating it was for $13.99. If I had to guess I suppose I bought it at either Enoteca or Huckleberry’s.

Poured a dark amber color that took on a more orangey color when held up to light. Big, creamy beige head that hung around for quite a while and left lots of lace on the sides of my glass.

Surprisingly “hot” aroma from this – I had assumed it would be mellower after 4 years. Piney and citrusy hops were the primary aroma – the hops did not seem to have “faded” to any great degree. When this was fresh, it must have been an absolute hop bomb. Biscuity malt aromas rose to be detected once the beer had warmed up a bit.

Surprisingly bitter hop blast up front, and more herbal than the nose indicated. Quite boozy as well – yes, there’s still quite a lot of “heat” to this one.

Full bodied, with a prickly, coating mouthfeel.

Bigger and brasher (is that a word) than I expected for something that’s been laid down for several years. I can only imagine how big this was when it was fresh. Unless I were to somehow discover that this bottle was an aberration, I would sit on a similarly aged bottle for a while longer before I tried it.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.37/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

22oz bomber share courtesy of RateBeer's one and only dcschiller, thanks again Dave. It pours with a murky amber body that has some golden hues and supports a tan head of foam. The aroma offers up big musty malt sticky pine hops, a sliver of grapefruit and then some molasses. The taste has a nice mix of resiny pine hop heavy bitterness and then streams of molasses to midway. Malts bubble forward for a moment before the resiny pine hop bitterness and a sliver of sweetened citrus hops take over and bring this to a rich rewarding finish. Solid bold American style Barleywine. Wow!

 583 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.38/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle.

Appearance - Deep orange. Small white head. Retains well.

Smell - Citrus hop. Grapefruit. Slight oxidation. Sweet caramel malt. Smells like a standard barleywine.

Taste - More of a balance to the hops and malt. Grapefruit. Sweet caramel. Oxidation. Bitter.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Medium carbonation. Tastes like it's getting old.

Overall - Generic, but it's tasty.

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Photo of Smurf2055
3.41/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of a four way blind barleywine taste test.

Pours orange-tan color. Pretty murky.

Smell is a bit mild, somewhat malty.

Taste was bitter, a bit boozy, but good balance between malt and hops. Fruity and spicy, and a good bitter kick.

Very drinkable considering abv.

Decent, but nothing over the top. Probably not worth the money though. Better than Dick's, but not as good as Green Flash or Full Sail.

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Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The 2009 version, on tap at Bier Stein the other day.

The beer pours a somewhat darker, copper amber color with good head retetention and lacing. The nose is impressive in this one, as I get considerable malt, dry citrus, vanilla and brown sugar. This beer smells like a big old, hoppy barleywine. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, and put me in mind of an aged version of Bigfoot. There beer has some nice, slightly oxidized, aged ale flavor components that is pretty nice, which blends well with the brown sugar, sweet malt and considerable hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel is fairly full in this moderately sweet beer, and the finish is long and fairly dry, due to the considerable boost of hoppy bitterness. Alcohol is noticeable, but this beer is not at all hot or tiring on the palate.

A fine beer, but I was happy with the small taster I got of it at BS. That's really all I needed.

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Photo of davey101
3.42/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Reserve, Bottle #2503/5000, 22 oz bomber into a Bolt Cutter glass.

A - Has that perfect barleywine look to it. A nice burnt amber body that is slightly hazy and three fingers of dense light khaki foam with large bubbles that just coats the sides with killer lacing when swirled.

S - Very boozy with dark fruits, some faded piney hops, and lasting toffee and caramel. Pretty rich and bold, but really just too much of an alcohol presence.

T - A muted combination of toffee and faded piney hops. Slick and oily which is great given the style but everything is just so boring here. Finishes with a high level of bitterness and an unpleasant booziness. Mouth feel is nice and creamy though.

O - This left a lot to be desired. Not sure if its the age on it, but its just not a very interesting barleywine. A bit too boozy and the hops flavors are mostly faded but the bitterness is still kicking around. Meh...

 916 characters

Photo of Kerfluffel
3.41/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2011 Vintage. 22 oz served in a snifter.

a: deep garnet with a tinge of brown. Head off white that dissipates quickly leaving tight lacing and sticky bubbles on the edge of the glass. Lacing lingers all the way through

s: aroma starts with burnt sugar, almond toffee, toasted grain, dried black mission figs, and a spicy, earthy, and herb note from the hops. Is that a mushroom note in there? Undertone of alcohol and a whiskey like pineapple note.

t: flavor starts with a bright citrus with notes of toffee, caramelized sugar, dates, figs, earthy and spicy hops, bitterness is clean, strong but soft and lingers on. Alcohol noticeable.

m: medium full body with very low carbonation (acceptable to me in this style). Lingering bitterness that shows its age and a fairly dry finish.

o: good barleywine but not as profound as I had expected. Nice and rich full flavor with a great nose.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.55/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

2010 vintage #2279/5000

A: Poured a sherry-orangish color with good carbonation and a dirty white head. Quite a bit of lacing on this one

S: Faded pine, some citrus and cardboard with some bread

T: initial taste of citrus followed by a dash of heat and then some dish soap, cardboard oxidation, faded hops and a long bittering presence on the end. Really hard to get pass the dish soap and cardboard.

M: Mouthfeel is bitter, well carbonated, medium-big to big body with pine, a tad bit hot.

O: It was not that great fresh and now its just plain harsh. Not a candidate for aging.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.82/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 properly cellared bottle poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours a reddish coppery amber with a thin off-white head that dissipates to a thin persistent film and lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, sweet dark fruit and a hint of citrus. Flavor of mellow caramel malt, dried dark fruit, alcohol and grassy hops. Finish is somewhat abrupt, but leaves a long lasting grassy, earthy hop bite. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. Initial flavors are well balance, but subdued; the finish is hot and hoppy. A decent barley wine that could use a bit more balance between the malt/fruit components and the finishing hops and alcohol heat. I'm glad I cellared this for a couple of years, I think the hops would have been overwhelming in the fresh bottle. I will cellar another bottle for a bit longer, I think it will stand up to more aging nicely and may bring better balance.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
3.76/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009 served on tap into a stemmed ale glass

A- Poured a reddisgh brown color with a big frothy off-white head that left glass coating lace

S- Very sweet aroma, blueberries, molasses, lots of alcohol, very strong aroma

T- Big sweet blueberry and berry sweetness, rich toffee, lots of breadiness and alcohol. There is a certain taste I taste in all barleywines and this one definitely has it . This is pretty sweet and boozy

M- Light alcohol burn, huge alcohol warming, fuller bodied, soft carbonation. Not as sticky and burning as other barleywines. This actually has a really nice mouthfeel.

O- Barleywines are just not really my style, but I really do enjoy this better than most. The flavors are pretty nice and the mouthfeel is great. Still pretty sweet and alcoholic for my palate. I like Bigfoot better but this is still one of the better barleywines I have had.

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Photo of mactrail
2.61/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a hazy dark reddish amber in the Duvel tulip. Plenty of foam but it does dissipate down to zero lacing before too long.

Murky flavors. Quite bitter. A stew of muddy tastes. About as undrinkable a Barleywine as I've had. Caramel apple taste with a little wintergreen and yams. So sweet plus the hot alcohol taste. Bitter aftertaste is not pleasant with the sugary rush. Woody with burnt sugar.

I call it a Critical Miss. I don't know what's wrong with Ninkasi, they seem to always have variations on dirty, earth, murky flavors. From the 22 oz bottle bought at Beer Revolution in Oakland.

 596 characters

Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy amber-orange color with a finger of frothy off-white head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel malts with some brown sugar, grapefruit and pine hops, and some booze.

T - Starts off with some sweet caramel malts and caramelized sugars with some brown sugar, a touch of dark fruit, and some grapefruit and citrus hops and bitterness. Through the middle, some pine hops come through with some more resiny bitterness with some more caramelized malts. The finish is a mix of sweet caramel malts, caramelized sugars, grapefruit and pine hops, some bitterness, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet, bitter, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice big bold barleywine with a surprisingly high level of smoothness and drinkability.

 868 characters

Photo of Aml42000
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Very pretty dark amber with a two finger head. Beautiful lacing.

S- Caramel and orange zest with some hop aromatics.

T- Some honeyed citrus flavor, unfortunately a touch medicinal, and loads and loads of hops. Searingly bitter.

M- Soft with medium carbonation and a medium body. Lingering hoppy aftertaste.

O- An aggressively hopped, well intentioned American Barleywine which is really more like a Triple IPA. I like this brewery and like to support them, but drinking this makes one wonder why I'm not just enjoying a Bigfoot or Old Guardian as they pull this style off a bit better. I do love the name and label.

 626 characters

Photo of Briken
2.51/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, dark copper and thin tan head with good retention. Caramel sweetness and floral hop aroma. Hop bitterness up front with citrus and floral with caramel and a subtle chocolate in the middle. Long hop linger. Slick, sticky feel.

This seems to be a basic but very over-hopped Barleywine that must have been hopped 6 ways from Sunday to be this hoppy after 2 years. There’s no good combination of flavor and the hop bitterness just overpowers any flavor in it. Maybe this will be better in another year or 7 and definitely needs more of a complex malt combination because otherwise it seems more like an Imperial IPA. This is way too expensive and a poor beer as well. Just goes to show, throw a cool label with a serial number on it and some wax on the top and suckers will shell out $13 for a crappy beer.

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Critical Hit from Ninkasi Brewing Company
3.61 out of 5 based on 93 ratings.
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