Beer Review 0318: Brooklyn Monster Ale Barleywine (2012)
I’ve found that most lovers of good beer also have a deep appreciation for furry friends, whether that be dogs or cats. Today’s beer is named for Monster, Brooklyn Brewery’s departed brewcat.
Adopted by the brewery in 1999, Monster went on to become arguably the most famous thing about Brooklyn Brewery; he was featured in several magazines and even appeared on the cable television channel Animal Planet. Monster would greet patrons of Brooklyn’s tasting room; or he might perch himself somewhere high in the company store; or he might just be wandering the grounds.
Sadly, Monster passed away last summer at the age of 13. The cause was kidney failure. But this little character lives on in the beer that shares his name — Monster Ale, a big boozy Barleywine, is brewed with heirloom British malt and highly hopped with a dose of Willamette, Cascade, and Fuggle hops. The beer is aged for four months before bottling; it comes in at 10.3% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 47 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
Here’s a toast to Monster — check out his “Monster’s Log” over at the Brooklyn blog.
Unleashing this from the bottle gave way to a small, soapy, off-white head that was lasting. I noticed alcohol legs straight from the first diminish of the head. The color of the beer was a light amber-orange, with a slightly hazy body that was clear of particles and sediment. As I sampled, only a few bits of wispy lace clung to the glass.
The aroma featured a very nice balance between hops and malt; these days, most American Barleywines tend to be heavily-hopped. Nothing wrong with that, but the balance gives Monster Ale a unique and almost refreshing sense of change. There are plenty of hops, just restrained: orange, grapefruit, and Christmas tree pine. The malts are sweet and when meshed with the hops, become fruitcake-like; a decent amount of caramel, brown sugar, biscuit, and a pinch of cherry cough syrup. The alcohol grabs you by the sniffer, too. Warm and inviting.
Monster Ale surprised me by being exceptionally fruity up front, with touches of lemon peel, orange, and a candied grapefruit. The alcohol immediately warms the mouth; in rushes a cake-like caramel in the middle of the taste, combining with sweet bready malt. This beer finishes with a ton of sweetness that is cut by grapefruit hop bitterness, leaving behind a bittersweet flavor and a lingering alcohol. Monster Ale is full-bodied with a thick, syrupy mouthfeel that leaves the taste buds dry.
Again, while being a traditional Barleywine, that doesn’t necessarily make this better; what it does do is give you a nice change of pace and you’re treated to a pretty damn good beer. This could benefit from some age as it is alcohol heavy, but I tend to enjoy this style just as much fresh as I do cellared. Your mileage may vary; for the price, you can’t lose either way.
Monster lives on!
Brooklyn Monster Ale Barleywine (2012), 93 points. Price: $7.99 US for a four pack.