Beer Review: Ninkasi Brewing’s N10 Anniversary Imperial Blended Ale

A couple of months ago, I managed to break all of my previous cycling records. I completed a 255 km ride, a 473 m climb, and during the month cycled a total of 3350 km with 22,102 m of climb.

To celebrate this exhausting achievement I treated myself to the most expensive beer that I’ve ever bought: Ninkai Brewing‘s N10 anniversary imperial blended ale. When I say most expensive, it was $35 for one bomber bottle!

As the name implies, N10 is a special brew that Ninkasi produced for their 10th anniversary. It sounds like a strange concept, but the beer is a blend of all of the imperial ales that the brewery has made during it’s first decade. Here’s the stats:

N10 is crafted of:

  • 50% Imperial Stout
  • 10% Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
  • 12.5% Imperial Total Domination IPA
  • 12.5% Imperial Maiden the Shade IPA
  • 15% Critical Hit Barleywine

So how did that taste? Let’s find out.

Official Description: N10 commemorates ten wild and wondrous years of independent brewing in Eugene, Oregon. Crafted with Imperial Stout, Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, two Imperial IPAs and Barleywine, these five heavy-hitting beers collide to celebrate one unforgettable decade. Big and flavorful, our N10 blend offers a striking hop intensity followed by a rich backbone of caramel and roasted malt. Enjoy now or save for later, this beer is crafted to change over time in the most delicious way.

Ninkasi_N10_Bottle-Box.JPGBottle: 650 ml

ABV: 10.0%; IBU: 100; OG: 1096

Price: $35

Tasting notes:

The beer pours out a dark caramel colour with a thin beige head and minimal lacing

The nose is hop bitterness with hints of pine, citrus, malted barley, coffee, and cocoa.

The palette starts out with the intense citrus and grassy hop flavour of the imperial IPAs, but this soon subsides and gives way to the coffee and chocolate notes from the imperial stout, this then gives way to a sweet and cloying caramel from the barleywine. The aftertaste is a bit of a weird mix of all the aforementioned, but is mostly lingering hop bitterness.

It’s a very intense and potentially overpowering experience. The combination of very different, and all boozy, styles is a little confusing on the pallet. I drank the bottle over three days, resealing it and drinking out of a sample glass. This is definitely not one you want to chug.

The best way I can think to describe this beer is that it’s how I imagine the three-course meal chewing gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to taste.

It’s an interesting experiment, but I think the blend could have done with a little less hops, as they seem to overpower the more subtle malt flavours. It’s made from 25% imperial IPA and 15% Critical Hit barley wine, is notoriously hoppy unless it’s been aged a few years.

I would like to have aged a bottle a couple of years to see what affect that would have, but alas, at $35 a bottle I couldn’t really afford two.

Rating: 4.25/5