When Ninkasi released their barley wine “Critical Hit” two things on the label art caught my eye. A dodecahedron and 11.70% ABV. With its latest release I took a little time to really appreciate the artwork. A dwarf wielding a staff topped by the dodecahedron, the 20-sided di that Dungeons and Dragons players all know very well. Here is the 2010 label:
What impressed me most was the detail. This is nerdy done right. While the height of the bearded character isn’t certain the raised staff might make him a wizard. But the hammer-wielding says dwarf to me. He also carries a Mead Horn, or in this case, a barley wine horn. All of this alone is very nerdy and done well. When we get to the background and the map we see the attention to detail that really went into this artwork.
The dragon is standard fare and so are mountain ranges. But look closely at these mountain ranges and you will see the words “Whiteaker” and “Eugene” with Eugene looking like a city. Even Fern Ridge is on the map. And to the west the Coastal Range Mountains are present.
Critical Hit: “A hit that strikes a vital area and therefore deals double damage or more.”
All of this comes together perfectly.
We do have a few other beers in town that have nerdy inspirations. For example, the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from Falling Sky, dedicated to Douglas Adams’ classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Hop Valley Alpha Centauri Binary named for the brightest star (actually two stars, hence the binary) in the southern constellation of Centaurus. Great names for both beers, but the nerd in me loves the extra mile of the Ninkasi label.
As if that wasn’t enough Ninkasi included a character sheet on the bottles.
It’s all done so well I am sorry it took me so long to really appreciate it. My hat is off to Ninkasi and the nerd or nerds that designed this.