The Ninkasi Hop Cooler is latest addition to the company’s Seasonal Release Series. The Hop Cooler is a Citrus IPA consisting of four different malts (2-Row Pale, Vienna, Acidulated and Honey) and four different hops (Equinox, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra).
Citrus IPAs (and fruit beers in general) seem to be popping up all over the place lately. I’ve become a sucker for them. If you come out with a citrus IPA, you’re guaranteed to sell at least one bottle to me. I’ve become a bit of a sucker for Ninkasi too.
Based in Eugene, Oregon, Ninkasi has eight different offerings in their Flagship Series along with several different limited releases. I am drawn to their beers, but I tend to find them hit-or-miss. Why am I drawn to a brewery that I feel has an up and down track record? Look, it’s not in my nature to be mysterious. But I can’t talk about it and I can’t talk about why. Ocean’s Twelve was actually a pretty good movie. But, as usual, I digress. I couldn’t say why I am a sucker for Ninkasi. Maybe it’s because their Vanilla Oatis is legit, or because Dawn of the Red is one of the better India Red Ales that I have ever had. Traditionally, their IPA’s are pretty solid, so when I saw the Hop Cooler on the shelf, I had to bring one home.
Ninkasi Hop Cooler
Style: American IPA
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Vienna, Acidulated, Honey
Hops: Equinox, Simcoe, Amarillo andCitra
Availability: Limited (January – May, 2016) – Draft and 22 oz bottles
MSRP: $5.99 22 oz bottle
Brewer: Ninkasi Brewing – Eugene, Oregon
Beers consumed for review: 1 – 22 oz bottle
Nose: In a stunning turn of events, the Ninkasi Hop Cooler smelled like hops and tangerines. It IS a citrus IPA after all. But seriously, the hop aroma was crisp, clean and intense. Notes of tangerine, grapefruit and lemon influenced the nose as well.
Appearance: Nowhere does it say that the Hop Cooler is unfiltered, but one look at the photos above will tell you all you need to know. It’s unfiltered and it was dry hopped, so there was some serious haze going on. I call it a hazy pale amber (SRM 9). It poured with a few inches of foamy, white head and strong lacing. It looked an awful lot like a Hefeweizen.
Flavor: Not only did the Ninkasi Hop Cooler look like a Hefeweizen, but it had some wheat flavor to it. The strong hop aroma did not lead to an overly hoppy IPA. The flavor profile was hoppy up front with a lot of citrus (tangerine, grapefruit, orange peel, etc.), but the mouthfeel was on the lighter side. There was some hop bitterness on the finish that lingered a bit, but the beer was not overly bitter. It had a wheat-like texture to it that I found rather pleasant. As far as IPAs go, the Hop Cooler is on the lighter side.
Overall Thoughts: The Ninkasi Hop Cooler is refreshing citrus IPA perfect for a warm spring day. It’s not the best IPA in the world, but it has a lot going for it.