Ninkasi Premier Cru

Wild Beer Co: Ninkasi Premier Cru (England: Saison: 10% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy yellow with a large white bubbled head.

Nose: Cider. Belgian yeast. Lots of sour apples. Barley. Light banana sweets. Buttery shortbread. Toffee. Spirit air. Apple pie and sugar. Custard slices.

Body: Toffee. Apple. Toffee apple. Cider. Shortbread. Funky yeast, tartness and acidity. Lemon sherbet. Banana sweets. Apple brandy. Apple crumble.

Finish: Champagne. Tart apples. Cider brandy. Fudge. Vanilla. Drying and yeasty. Lemon. Cake sponge.

Conclusion: Barrel aged Ninkasi. This may be a problematic one to review. Why? Because if it does anything less than make my head spontaneously explode with pleasure, mop up the remains, then reconstruct my skull while apologising for the inconvenience then there is no way it can live up to expectations. It’s pretty much an impossible bar to clear.

So, attempting to ignore that, how high does it get? Well tons of apple, starting with an apple brandy aroma as soon as you pop the top open, and this continues throughout. There is extra layers of spirit touched fruitiness laced throughout every aspect of the beer.

The beers feel is much less sparkling than that of the original, but despite that loss you still get as much enjoyment from the feel of the beer as you do the flavour. There’s a sherbety feel, and funky Belgian yeast on the tongue ,a drying champagne like style on the way out. The elements are smoothed out with age to be less distinctive, but it still retains a lot of its charm. The changes make it more dessert like, much smoother and sweeter.

An example of this is that the time in the oak seems to have given vanilla and toffee flavour as well as the more expected apple brandy. Nice elements, if slightly out of place with the rest of the character of the beer. Not so much as to hurt the character, just enough to seem odd. Mainly however the change comes in the fruit flavours ramped all the way up. There are all sorts of apple elements, lemon sherbet, big and mouth filling, with apple crumble like dessert touches amongst the sweetness.

In downsides, well the extra alcohol is not unnoticeable, and gives a bit more spirit character than the beer needs, so that is an element it could do without. So not quite as unique as Ninkasi was. So, not perfect, but retains enough of that yeasty, fresh style and offers a huge weight of new flavours to make it a worthwhile experience.

Doesn’t clear the bar of expectations, but still puts on a hell of a show for the crowd.

Background: Ok, maybe not a saision, but that is what the base beer was so that is how I listed it. Ratebeer puts it under the kind of generic “Belgian Strong Ale”. Anyway, I loved Ninkasi. Loved it. This is part of Wild Beers barrel aged Christmas Trinity. In this case Ninkasi aged in Somerset cider brandy casks, which sounds cool. Base Ninkasi was an odd and great enough beer by itself so I was really looking forwards to this one.