Summer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry | Almanac Beer Co.

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Summer 2010 Vintage - BlackberrySummer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry
Very Good
81 Ratings
Summer 2010 Vintage - BlackberrySummer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry

Brewed by:
Almanac Beer Co.
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our golden ale reflects a dueling love of classic Belgian ales and American hops. We balance two row barley, pilsner malt and wheat with a touch of Magnum bittering hops added at the beginning of the boil, and a California-sized addition of Citra hops added at the end of the boil. This late hop addition adds a delicate grapefruit-peel aroma. We then age the beer in used oak wine barrels from California wineries with two hundred pounds of fresh Cherokee Blackberries, and another fifty pounds of Marion, Ollalie and Boysen Berries. All of our berries were hand picked at the family owned and operated Sebastopol Berry Farm.

After six months of barrel aging with the fruit, we blended the barrels back together with freshly brewed "base-beer" to reinvigorate the citrusy, hoppy aroma. Blended beer is re-fermented in the bottle to provide a final layer of complexity. Bottle conditioning provides a natural carbonation of superfine bubbles, similar to classic sparkling wines. The finished bottle is alive, and will continue to evolve and change over time, gaining nuance and character for years.

Added by nataku00 on 02-20-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 81 |  Reviews: 50
Photo of ScottMansfield
4.92/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thick head on the pour. Deep peach color; fairly clear for a bottle conditioned brew. Solid cooperation of oak, grapefruit, and berry tang. The oak holds to the finish. Lots of flavor but not overwhelming. Dry and crisp; would not know this had fruit in it, but there is certainly another dimension besides malt, hops, and oak. Get this while you can.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.85/5  rDev +27%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Bruery fluted goblet to produce about a half inch head. Body is a hazy apricot color and the head is a foamy and a luscious eggshell white. This looks like a Belgian golden ale, and leaves some soapy lacing on the glass, but the lacing is more motile than dry and sticky. Has decent head retention to the end of the glass.

This smells of sweet malt, citrus rind, berry fruit--subtly, but definitely smells of blackberries to me--as well as cinnamon spice. There is a nice strain of Belgian yeast used in this.

The taste is wonderful but also a challenge to describe. Tastes first of Belgian bready malt sweetness and yeast. It has that special combination of malt and Belgian yeast that many a good Belgian golden ale possesses. A more bready Duvel base, the malty sweetness coats the tongue. Then the blackberries and other berries come in with a lovely but different sort of dark berry sweetness. Finally, this ends with a spicy finish, like Supplication--I wonder if Pinot barrels were used in aging this. Also a pleasant toffee note in the finish. There is just enough alcohol in this to make it a strong ale without being overpoweringly boozy. But the main sensation overall is the wonderful berry fruit that lasts and lasts in the long delectable finish. This is so nicely balanced.

Body is medium, and the carbonation is prickly, producing a nice creamy mouthfeel. Sort of like a champagne combined with a fruit nectar.

This is a wonderful beer. I had a barrel sample at a party last fall but I couldn't predict then how well this beer would come together as a finished product with superb bottle conditioning. This beer is very fresh and pleasant to drink; it has no off-flavors at all (to me), and lives up to its billing as a good summer ale. As a first product, it hits so many good notes. This beer will surely accumulate some medals. Wonderfully drinkable and satisfying.

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Photo of CCohen
4.83/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had Almanac's Vintage Summer 2010 offering from two different bottles now and have been so pleased with it that I thought I needed to post a review.

Appearance -- it's a gorgeous straw color with a hint of red from the fruit, slightly cloudy presumably from the fruit pectins. It produces a nice head of very fine bubbles that sustains itself as you drink.

Smell -- the nose has a wonderful funky belgian yeast aroma combined with soft fruit. Very nice.

Taste -- what the nose promises the taste delivers. It's very clearly a top of the line Triple/Belgian Pale beer at it's base, with hints of clove and other spice, as well as a little Belgian funk. The fruit was surprisingly subtle and nice, not at all overwhelming of the other flavors, just sort of tickles the tongue and makes you search for it. The oak barrel aging comes through toward the finish but like the fruit, is not overwhelming. It is a nice surprise is how woody the oak is, rather than being purely vanillin in character, as is so common in many barrel aged brews. Here the oak comes through in a full form and complements the other flavors in a very balanced manner.

Mouthfeel -- Light in body considering the high gravity, reminiscent of a Triple. Medium carbonation. Great balance of tart and malt.

Drink -- This is a very drinkable and superb beer all around. Almanac struck a perfect balance between the Belgian base beer, the local fruit, and the oak aging with this one. After having my first bottle I picked up several more to sit on to see how it will develop over time. It's a real winner for Almanac's first offering, looking forward to future releases.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.72/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle #2000 into an oversized wine glass. Pours a deep gold with a slight pink hue. The head is a good two fingers to start, leaves quick, no lace.

Pale malts, a hint of wheat, berries and a bit of wine barrel. Smells only slightly of citrus as it warms. Very inviting.

The taste has a nice bread and lemon start. Sweet berries and a slight red wine tartness. The finish has a slight oak, berry and citrus mix. Top notch all the way through.

A great barrel aged (at least partially) brew. I hope I can find the funds to get another for the cellar.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%

Photo of ngeunit1
4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a opaque orange color with a bit of red mixed in and a finger of frothy white head atop. The head fades down leaving behind some nice lacing on the glass.

S - Aroma is a nice mix of Belgian elements including yeast and banana with some spices, and the fresh sweetness from the blackberries.

T - Starts off with some yeast flavor followed closely behind by fresh blackberry flavor. Not the sugary syrupy flavor, but the real deal. Through the middle, the spices kick in and the yeast gets a bit stronger. The oak flavor from the barrel also becomes a bit more noticeable. The finish is a mix of sweet blackberries and yeast that lingers nicely.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth and remarkably well balanced. The finish is a perfect mix of sweetness from the blackberries and Belgian elements.

D - Very drinkable. The flavor are all remarkably well balanced between the Belgian Ale base, and the effect of the added blackberries and the oak barrel aging. Really enjoyable beer.

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Photo of dgilks
4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly cloudy golden colour with a big, fluffy white head. Good head retention.

Big, spicy aroma with a light tartness. Moderate berry note. To me, this is like a great dry white wine with a great spiciness.

Smooth, light malt with a big dose of attenuated berry flavour. Plenty of spicy coriander and clove and a pleasant bitter back note. Mild drying tartness.

Medium body with moderately-high carbonation. Really lovely and well suited to the beer.

A really great fruited Belgian ale. The subtle fruit notes and great yeast character combine with the malt in lovely ways. Excellent.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #1713

A-Pours hazy light amber with rusty copper highlights and an inch of foamy, eggshell white head. Leaves sheets of intricate, soapy lacing down the side of the glass.

S- Musty, tart aromas of blackberry, citrus rind, vanilla and horse blanket. There’s a hint of funk, but it remains on the periphery.

T/M- The first sip is tart on the tip of the tongue, with a mouth coating wave of slick, earthy yeast. The berry flavor comes in residually, with a backbone of delicate citrus, most likely attributable to the Citra hopping. The finish is a soft decrescendo of zested grapefruit skin and subtle bitter hops. Mouthfeel is bright and refreshing, with balanced, somewhat prickly carbonation.

O-Really nice stuff, in the vein of the better Jolly Pumpkin releases. I look forward to seeing what these guys come up with next!

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Photo of Trilogy31
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle number 1674. Pours a pretty sunset orange with hints of red, with a creamy two fingers of head that leaves nice lacing. The nose has almost a souffle egg quality to it in a pleasant way. Also yeasty spice, sweet vanilla malts and vinous dark fruits. Very similar to me in the way of dfh red and white in nose and taste. The taste brings a nice creaminess along with dusty spices, hints of vanilla and dark berries, along with a touch of bright citrus at the end. The mouthfeel brings oaky tannins as well as the abv being somewhat noticeable which really makes me look forward to trying this with some bottle age on it. Call it bay area homerism if you want but i find this to have some striking similarities to red and white another beer i love.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
4.37/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to leschkie for the extra! Bottled 5/29/11, Bottle 767, poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A - Hazy golden yellow, with plenty of carbonation bubbles rising inside of it. Pretty thick white head that lingers and does some lacing. Small head sticks all the way through tasting, impressive.

S - Nice floral aroma, with sweetness from the wine barrels. The fruitiness of the beer from the blackberries is apparent, and makes this beer very appealing to take a taste of. This has a good aroma, and the berries and wine aging give it more punch than most.

T - Delicious sweet berry flavor along with a nice crisp Belgian flair, and ending with some of that wine coming through and a little heat. As it warms, some oak shines through and adds even more complexity to the taste and aftertaste. Has a light malt to give this some backbone and not make the taste so front loaded. Very complex and well developed. The flavors compliment each other very well.

M - All the berry and wine sweetness makes this sit a little heavier, but that's the sacrifice when there is so much loaded in the taste. Carbonation is good all the way through.

O - Wonderful. Crisp flavors along with some sweetness that created a bold and complex taste. Great balance between the Belgian side, blackberries, and wine so that they played more with each other than dominated one another. I'm looking forward to more from this brewery after this offering.

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Photo of claytong
4.29/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - strong pale ale typical minus a decent head and lacing.

smell - cheese and wine

taste - oak, wine, hops mmm nice. some tannins

mouthfeel - quite smooth. quite drinkable. quite interesting.

i found out this was around 20 a bottle and while i would have a hard time dishing out this kind of doe, it is still a terrific beer.

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Photo of ibbjamin
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this 750ml bottle as a present and I let it sit around for a few months before pouring into a large snifter to review. Bottled 5/29/11 and bottle number 2624.

Light and fizzy white head of about an inch after a gentle pour. Great layer of retention. Head reminds me a bit of a tame saison, but the color is more of a pale IPA; cloudy and golden yellow. Some lacing.

Aroma is vinous and light fruity. White grape, blackberry, vanilla, oak, banana, butterscotch, white pepper, clove and Belgian spice all are detected. Nods at a Belgian Tripel with wine country aesthetic. Complex, pale, clean and inviting.

Taste brings on a rummy booziness to add to its complexity which is more warming than I would have anticipated with this being at what many in its style consider a modest 8%. Quite vinous, with taste bringing on an equal balance of red and white grape.

Prickly mouth from high carbonation. Not quite dry, but on its way there. Medium body and medium length rummy / vinous finish.

A great beer to enter the market and certainly one I'd recommend. I eagerly await #2 for them. Cheers!

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Photo of DJButters
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

Photo of brotherloco
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml capped bottle. Bottled 5/29/11. Bottle No. 2281.

Poured into tulip. Very much golden ale in appearance. Slightly hazy gold with a couple fingers of off-white head. Head fizzes away pretty quickly to a ring w/ islands of foam. Medium lacing in the glass.

Smells very fruity. Citrus, apples, pears. Some red wine tannins and touches of oak and vanilla. Definite spicy Belgian yeast presence as well.

Taste is nicely blended sweet and sour fruit. Starts off mildly sweet and then swerves in the middle towards the sourness and dries up. Acidic tartness emerges but softens quickly. Wine barrel presence is there with the same touch of oak and vanilla from the nose, but is nicely restrained. A bit of citrusy hops in the finish. No real sign of alcohol to me.

Body is medium with slightly below medium carbonation. Very nice overall.

I'm impressed with this local product. Got another bottle down in the cellar for future enjoyment.

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Photo of FrogOut69
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

Photo of leschkie
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a striking autumn gold with an overall body that contains just enough haze to sufficiently scatter the backlit rays of the setting sun. Does not disappoint. A nice frothy and foamy glacier-colored head lingers about perhaps a little too long as I sit in anticipation for it to finally recede to a level where I can finally take a sip on this warm July evening. Pieces of broken delicate lacing are left behind as the head dissipates.

Smell: Typical Belgian pale aromas at the start including funky yeast, lemon, light honey, and breads. Shortly following, however, is where this one for me really distinguishes itself from the traditional Belgian strong pale. Pleasant scents of the oak barrel (some type of white wine) and vanilla eventually make their way into the aroma. Difficult to detect any of the berries.

Taste: Amazing, simply amazing! I've never had a Belgian strong pale with such complexity. Each character presents itself individually at the start, and then begin to merge into one another with subsequent tastes. Flavor profile started with the traditional Belgian pale (yeast, lemon, honey, breads) which eventually faded into the taste of the barrel (white wine, oak, vanilla), which then transformed into the sweetness of the Sonoma berries. With each sip that followed, all 3 components seemed to merge together rather than stand out on their own. I truly feel sorry for those reviewers who got a "metallic" taste. Luckily, my bottle was absolute perfection.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with a fairly decent amount of carbination. Spot-on for the style.

Overall: I am so glad I left work early to make the drive up to the North Bay to get my hands on this limited release. I'm typically not a huge fan of Belgian pales because they are a little too light and watery for me and, quite honestly, a bit one-dimensional. But this one just blew me away. Strong, complex flavors that continued to evolve in the back of my throat even after the swallow. If you can get your hands on this, do it! You will not be disappointed! I'll definitely be hanging on to my remaining bottles to see what surprises await as they sit in my cellar.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.19/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Borrrle... Bright golden body, light tan head... Really nice nose of berries, white wine, a touch of oak, really well rounded... The front of the taste is sweet light blackberry syrup with an oak finish, super drinkable, no detection of the abv, a touch

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Photo of seand
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a bubbly clear amber with a mountain of dense foamy off white head. Quite a bit retains well, and leaves thick walls of lacing.

S: Thick, earthy sweetness, with notes of citrus, vegetation, and funk.

T: Subdued and balanced, tart fruit with yeast notes leading into a lightly bitter finish.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation.

Overall very nice. It doesn't do anything too crazy, is well crafted and balanced, and yet is also unique.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Huge white foamy/soapy head. Mild lacing remains on the glass. Medium viscosity.

S - Very dry and champagne scented. White grape and bitter berry. Berries open up when the beer comes to room temperature.

T/M - Very dry (think champagne). No heat whatsoever. Huge white grape from the oak barrels. You can tell Chardonnay barrels were used. The berries have fell apart by this point and are very bitter and hard pressed. Perfect carbonation.

O - This is definitely the champagne of beers...The closest i've ever had... A unique brew, not for all, but quite complex and enjoyable, in a weird way. I really wished this beer was tart and forward. All-in-all, a very enjoyable beer! Thank you dsgolovin!

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Photo of vfgccp
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled May 2011, opened May 2013.

A – Bright, opaque, dusty honey body. Fine, bone-white head has ok retention and lace.

S – Sweet honey, banana pudding, mixed berries, vanilla, sweet rice.

T – Sharp acidity. Lemon-lime Gatorade, fermented berries, honey, wheat, touch of oak.

M – Big carbonation on a smooth, medium frame.

O – A few years did this bottle well. Great integration on an excellent flavor profile. Another great beer from Almanac.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 3,444

From the first time I saw the Almanac website, which was my introduction to the brewery, this beer was at the top of my list of ones I hoped and wished I would get to try.

Looks very interesting on the pour. Nose is soft. Flavor seems to have many things coming together and then hitting you at once. I want to say that the variety of berries in this beer creates a somewhat muddled delivery. There is no distinct character showing through over any other. There seems to be a mild funky thing going on so far in the back of this that you have to wonder if it's waiting to make a grander appearance. I will assume that this is from the barrels. Interestingly, I had this in a wine fridge which didn't chill it down to being cold, and after it warmed up it seemed to open a bit and get more interesting.

Overall, this is a pretty good belgian ale. I think that aging this one may produce some interesting characteristics; but who can guess what that may end up being.

Beautiful design on the label too, by the way.

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Photo of biegaman
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Funny that a beer made with blackberries - and aged in red wine barrels - should turn out to be so orange; this California beer could be an export poster for Florida. Regardless, it's a fairly remarkable looking specimen, with a hard, flashy glow but little actual transparency and a skim, sandy head that is apparently a talented abstract artist at heart.

The barrel has made its mark. Red wine murmurs like a voice in the distance while musty, mildewed wood ruffle the sinuses. Although four different varieties of blackberries were used, there is little to nothing sweet about this aroma - Citra hops, with their screamingly high acidity and lemony citric overtones, is about as close as we get to fruit.

Barrel notes notwithstanding, the aroma first struck me as that of a strong brewed Belgian farmhouse ale - imagine Duvel had a cousin from the countryside. (Note: it turns out they used the Duvel yeast strain.) The intensity in the nose tips you off about its true strength. It is overtly yeasty and has lots of barnyard must. (I don't think berry fruit has any chance up against this kind mustiness.) Its spiciness is peppery enough to make you want to sneeze.

A cross between Belgian golden ale and saison, with moderate alcohol presence and tart sourness, this turns out to have more orange-y and lemon-y citric fruit flavours than it does blackberries. The alcohol is perceived but never tasted, due to industrious carbonation, effervescent spice and a dry, bitter aftertaste. This could surely hold up some time in the right conditions (although I'm not sure ever we'll see more fruit flavour develop).

I love the idea of releasing only seasonal beers brewed with locally sourced fruits, but my two cents: if Almanac Brewing really wanted to make a time capsule of the Sonoma summer, they'd have been wise not to use such a ferocious Belgian yeast strain - 250 pounds of hand-picked blackberries are lost. Aging such a pale beer in red wine barrels was a risky maneuver too, although I'm happy to report that that flavour is only accessory.

Is California just a giant incubator where styles mutate? Despite its uniqueness, I found this beer to be above all a refreshing treat - but a $17 price tag kind of puts just sitting back on a Sunday afternoon and enjoying a few out of the question (for most of us, anyhow). And given that the beer is - despite all the theatrics that went into making it - surprisingly comparable, I'm not even sure I'll bother stocking the cellar with another.

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Photo of nickd717
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

Hazy orangish-golden color with a small white head that leaves some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of blackberries, pepper, honey, oak, red wine, and some farmyard notes.

The flavor is very nice, with a touch of sweetness and a mild tartness. The yeast profile is distinctively Belgian with maybe even a touch of brett, and there is a peppery/spicy character to it. Blackberries are somewhat assertive and there’s just a hint of red wine. Decent oakiness.

Great mouthfeel with lively carbonation and not too much heft to it given the ABV.

This is a nice beer that has evolved in the bottle in the few months since it was released. If you didn’t care for it when it first came out, I recommend giving it a second try. Jesse and Damian are doing great things with this brewery and they’re definitely one to watch.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to dsgolovin for this brew.

Green Foil
Bottled: 5/29/11
Bottle No.: 143

Poured into a chalice a very nice cloudy golden yellow color, nice carbonation, with a nice one-finger foamy white head, which leaves a huge oil slick in the middle of the glass. The nose is malty, yeast, with some nice slightly blackberries, peppery, licorice notes. The taste is malty, slightly sweet, yeasty, nice little blackberry notes, licorice, lemon, and some pepper notes. Medium Body. This is a very tasty brew, glad to have gotten a chance to try it. Thanks Dave!

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Summer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry from Almanac Beer Co.
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 81 ratings