Weekly Beer Review: Golden Monkey

author-pic at The Weekly Beer Geek  

Golden Monkey
Belgian-Style Tripel with Added Spice
Victory Brewing
$3.19/Bottle (12 oz)
Grade: A-

The Beginning:
I’ve had an awful lot of beers that involve Monkeys. I’m not sure what the “correct” number is, but I’ve had Monkey King and Flying Monkey and Red Monkey and Golden Cap (which has a PICTURE of a monkey) and now Golden Monkey. I’m also reading three different comic series right now that feature at least one gorilla. I’m not sure if there’s a connection there, but I assume so. And yes, I KNOW that gorillas aren’t monkeys, but do the brewers know that? Anyway, this is a nice spicy Belgian-style, so that sounds good. 

The Brewer’s Pitch:
Golden Monkey is a Golden Ale (I like to think those are completely unrelated) in the Belgian-style. The yeast and malt are imports, but it’s modified from the traditional Belgian Style to give it a lighter, more effervescent character.

Coriander and full wheat notes are present but Golden Monkey adds focus on deepening the elements of herbs and fruit to create a beer that can really be savored. They also recommend leaving the dregs rather than swirling the bottle to get the yeast sediment out- not my usual style, but sure, why not.

The Beer:
Golden Monkey pours, well, golden. It’s a deep yellow with glinting orange highlights and an aggressive foamy head of pale champagne gold. The nose is very subtle, bringing hints of floral hops and coriander along with the barest hint of wheat. The beer is quite light and extremely bubbly- the bubbles alone really bring a tingle to the palate, and there’s a quick initial burst of bitterness that amplifies it. The beer is quite light, a bit thin and coarse (from the aforementioned carbonation).

It carries some of the full wheat base of a traditional Belgian Tripel, but it carries less heft because the beer is so much lighter. Where earthy, subtle coriander and mild hops would dominate a textbook Tripel this beer is defined by the herbal notes. There’s a sappy, sticky backdrop that is cut by a spicy and peppery taste that burns all the way down. The aftertaste is a stronger remnant of the wheaty body with the coriander finally noticeable as the sharper flavors slowly fade.

The Breakdown:
This is one of those weird beers that isn’t MY favorite, but I’m going to rate very highly anyway. I’m a big fan of beers where the malt character is at the forefront, and this one rides the hops and herbs a little hard. Still, I can usually recognize quality when it’s inside my mouth, and this is no exception. I love Belgians but they can get a bit heavy and cloying.

This one starts with the Belgian character as a base but then livens it up, giving it plenty of bite both in texture and in taste. If you’re a fan of Belgian Ales, you owe it to yourself to give this variation on the theme a taste. Likewise, I’ll be recommending this to my IPA-drinking friends to see how they like the move from hoppy to herbal and spiced bitterness.

The Bottom Line:
In addition to recommendations about sediment and temperature, Victory suggests you serve in “wide-mouth chalices.” I drank it from a pint glass because I’m not a millionaire, I don’t just have chalices hanging around.