Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd met at a bottle shop one night in Eugene, Ore. As they started to talk, the conversation shifted to what they would do if they could open their own brewery. One thing led to another, and in June of 2006, the new acquaintances started brewing together and brewed their first beer, Total Domination IPA.

Things moved quickly, and before you knew it, real estate was purchased in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood and Ninkasi Brewing was born in 2007. Since then, Ninkasi has undergone four expansions, which has landed them in their current brewing environment, a 55 barrel and 90 barrel system, distributing to 14 states and Canada.

They now brew eight year-round beers plus four seasonal, two special release beers and seven in its Rare and Delicious Series.

Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis bottle

Today, I am offered a brew from its year-round release schedule, Vanilla Oatis, an oatmeal stout brewed with fresh vanilla beans.

I open the 22-ounce bottle to little fanfare and hear nothing, not even a touch of fizz or carbonation. I proceed and anticipate a much more exciting beer, hopefully with lots of vanilla goodness and malt flavors.

A deep, chocolate brown pours from the bottle, with a full finger of caramel head, with minimal carbonation and almost non-existent lacing, that leaves less than desirable spottiness that timidly slinks back into the body of the beer like it is being chased by a predatory animal.

The aroma stands up with lots of sweet caramel, some vanilla and a slight medicinal burn. Carbonation is very light and the flavor reigns of caramel, imitation vanilla extract with a big malty backbone.

Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis

Mouthfeel is coating and creamy, slightly chewy and flat on the palate. Unfortunately, the watery feel dominates and takes away from the body of this beer. Overall, thin and lacking the full body that I would have expected for a vanilla-infused oatmeal stout.

Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis
BREWERY: Ninkasi Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Eugene, Ore.
STYLE: Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 7 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASE DATE: 2009
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Overall, a decent vanilla oatmeal stout, but just too thin to be a player. This could have been a winner with more of a backbone, and definitely more of a bold character and depth and balance. A decent beginner oatmeal stout for the newbie, but not enough complexity for me.
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