This is an interesting choice for a seasonal by the folks at Ninkasi. Altbiers, similar to our brown ales, are conditioned for longer periods of time to mellow out fruity flavors and promote a smooth malty taste. The extra conditioning is probably why so few have gone this direction with their seasonals. However, Ninkasi has done a great job developing a mellow yet rich brew worthy of the season.
There's the smallest bite on the front end that opens the flood gates for sweet malts to come pouring through. It's a little challenging to describe what it is in the taste that actually makes this beer so delicious, but the darker roasts with the lighter body really makes for a wonderful wintertime seasonal. Altbiers are supposed to be well balanced and I certainly think they've achieved that. In addition, there's a mix of old world and new here as Ninkasi has taken a German style, doubled it, and made it their own through west coast style brewing. Plus the shout out in the name to 80s hair bands of old doesn't hurt either. Well done.