From Eugene, Oregon comes Ninkasi‘s Doüble Alt Ale, “Sleigh’r”. Altbiers are a unique style that originated in the Rhineland region of Germany. Unlike modern monikers like Alt-rock, it does not mean alternative and no matter how many times I press the ‘alt’ key on my keyboard, beer refuses to pour from my computer screen. Suitably, ‘alt’ comes directly from the German word for ‘old’, since Altbier is considered to be one of the oldest styles of beer in the world.
What makes this style rather unique is in it’s brewing process. As a top-fermented beer this is most-decidedly an ale, however modern Altbiers are made with a lager yeast, fermented and aged at cooler temperatures, a process known as ‘lagering’. This process is what gives Altbier the crisp and smoothness similar to a lager. Although it finishes darker on the SRM scale (13-19), it is noticeably quite clear from the cold conditioning. How you ask is one of the oldest styles of beer in the world brewed with lager yeast, since lagers have only been around for 175 years or so? I thought you’d never ask. The process of lagering has been around much longer than the beer of the same name and has only been made with lager yeast since lagers were first produced in Germany when they became profoundly popular across the country.
Not to bore you any longer, I’d suggest you dig out the books and learn for yourself should you be so inclined. I’d recommend The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver or Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion for starters.
Sleigh’r is a Doüble-Alt which simply means it’s stronger than a basic Altbier. You will also see the term ‘Imperial’ used before a basic beer style (Imperial IPA, Imperial Stout etc), which means the same thing as ‘Double’ or ‘Doüble’ in this case.
Traditionally Altbier are enjoyed in a straight-sided glass known as a ‘stange’ (German for stick). However, in this festive season I chose something a little more fun. As this beer is a seasonal it won’t be around for long so grab one soon to try it for yourself.
My Rating: 4.0/5