Sour Monkey (Victory Brewing Company)
Style: Mixed Fermentation American Tripel
Hops: Tettnang Tettnang
Brewery’s Note: “This electrifying transformation of our famed Golden Monkey may just blow your mind. Tastefully twisted to offer nuances of sweet fruit and a sharp tang of tartness, this exhilarating combination of flavors makes this brew a Monkey all its own. Respect the Monkey and Taste Victory!/ Flavor: Aroma is very varied with lemon, sour, and mild brettanomyces notes. Flavor follows with a tart acidity. Not dry as it finishes with a malty grain flavor./ A result of the visionary enthusiasm of Victory Brewing Company’s brewers, Sour Monkey playfully tantalizes taste buds into a electrified frenzy by combining juicy Tettnang and Hallertrau whole flower hops with Pilsner malt and coriander seed before bringing in the fun and the funk of unique yeast varieties. With an ABV of 9.5%, Sour Monkey delivers a punch with the pure taste of Victory.”
The beer pours a burnished golden color, with a small, snappy head of clear, white bubbles that fizzle off to just a scrim, though more are seen jutting up to the beer’s surface throughout its body. The beer is clear, clean, and translucent, for the most part. It has a definite haze/cloudiness, however, that does obscure the eyes a tad, and it leaves as the beer warms so I’d have to see this as a chill haze… On the nose, the beer smells of tart fruits, lychee, heavy pool water, and some chemically scent that toes the line of being unpleasant. There are vinous hints too, suggest an acidic sweet white wine, unfermented white grape juice, and just a touch of dry mead. As I dig, I detect hints of cidery-brett, and just a hint of musty grains. On the tongue, the beer tastes quite tart with acidity, puckering the tongue, and building some complexity in the finish. The acidity is mostly citric in nature, but has definite divulgences of a lactic nature, and perhaps just a kiss of malic green apple, too. Outside of the center-stage acidity, the beer seems sweet, and towards the finish actually reveals cidery sweetness, just a faint tingle of herbal hops, and a citric pop that finally peters into subtle warm grain sweetness. The flavor is of slight pool water, definite lactic acid milkiness, citrus/generic lemon, and lychee fruit. The aftertaste is really where the base Golden Monkey shows the most for me, and I like that the most. There is warm baked bread, cereal grain notes, a touch of hay, and so much more as the acids calm down… I kind of wish they didn’t put any souring bugs in this and just let brett and the regular yeast tango into something interesting. In the mouth, the beer feels deceptively medium bodied, with just a touch of weight on the finish. Carbonation is crisp and crackling, and along with the acidity, leaves the beer with a lightly puckering, fizzly/bordering on fierce crispness. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly burnt between carb and pucker, with a slight ache through the middle. The mouth is surprisingly dry, with just a touch of spittle squirting from the lower gum line. Overall, this beer does not live up to its base. The sour character is overpowering some of the subtler nuances, and leaving me wishing for a regular monkey… It’s not terrible, but it just leaves me saying ‘meh.’ I’m also curious why they don’t mention any souring bacteria in the commercial description. This really seems to not be just a case of brett and brewer’s yeast, as the acidity is far too high for brett alone. I’m curious what the history of this beer was? Was it an accident? In the future, I would be curious to see Golden Monkey get a well-thought out introduction of brett in select barrels or something along those lines, but I really don’t see the beer benefitting in any way from the aggressive souring it has received.