Hard Reviews: Full Sail LTD 03 and Ninkasi Radiant

[Note. For about ten minutes, my post appeared in a wholly scrambled format--a technical glitch with some precedent. I wrote it last night, and somehow its digital tenure overnight in The Dalles scrambled things. It's now fixed.]

For quite different reasons, I've been avoiding reviewing these two beers. Let's start with the Full Sail, which I liked a great deal. It's a pretty straightforward German pils--a softer, less aggressive style than its Bohemian forebear. At least the problem there is my own failings.

LTD 03
The difficulty here is in describing the beer in a novel way. It is a pretty classic version of the style, differing in only a couple, also quite traditional ways, from the standard. LTD 03 is hopped with Sterling, a cultivar mainly of Saaz, and bearing most of the very classic Saaz character--but with just enough floral German parentage (one-eighth) for you to smile in appreciation. It's a wee bit strong for style at 5.6%, but you have to account for local tastes. It is a leggy blond with a gentle perfume and is exactly what you hope it will be. Beyond that, I got nuthin to tell you. Good stuff.

Moving on to the harder one, telegraphed by a few comments on yesterday's post. I have had this beer twice, once at the Brewers Games, and once from a bottle a few nights ago. I had no real opportunity to study it in Pacific City--just gulp it down appreciatively. From the bottle, well ... Eugene, we have a problem.

(But first, a necessary parenthetical. In yesterday's post I also mentioned that Ninkasi's line-up is one of the only intact family of beers I know. Jamie Floyd likes to brew big, booming ales that are almost winking stereotypes of an Oregon beer--fruity and saturated with hops. You could say they're all the same, but for Ninkasi fans, favorites are spread out pretty evenly among the different beers. They're variations on a theme, but they are variations and everyone loves that theme. I've heard critics deride them as a one-trick pony, but I don't share this view in the least. You could as easily dismiss Frank Boon if that were your sole criterion.)

That out of the way, to Radiant. The problem here is not the recipe. It's aptly named; the beer seems to exude an inner warmth. The balance between a rather sweet, caramely body and the usual thick hopping produces the sense of liquid sunshine. The problem: there was a lot of diacetyl in the glass I had from the bottle. If there was diacetyl in the one at Pelican, it was so mild that I didn't notice it in the hurlyburly of the day--and in any case, at levels that low, it would be a permissible or even welcome note. And although some commenters claim (anonymously, which demonstrates a lack of courage, if not candor) other Ninkasi beers have had diacetyl in them, I've never tasted it.

Let's hope the bottle was an anomaly. I'll keep sampling it and report back in a few weeks.