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Beer Reviews

Golden Monkey Tripel

Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown, PA

Style: Belgian Ale
ABV: 9.5%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
Before I begin, let me state my puzzlement at the name of Victory Brewing Co.’s Belgian Tripel Ale: what the hell does a Golden Monkey have to do with Belgian beer? Victory’s little story on the side of the bottle describes a “magical, mystical Monkey whose golden soul glows with the wisdom of the ages … our Golden Monkey is both playful and delightful and profoundly satisfying”. Uhhh … what? Apparently they’re smoking some seriously primo chiba out in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, which, if I’m not mistaken, is near the heart of Amish country. Yeah, Nigel is as confused as you. (Please note: Nigel is not a total moron and does realize that the idea behind the name is that it’s a spicy, golden Belgian ale. Still don’t make the connection? Spices come from the Far East, which is also home to many a monkey, and the beer is golden. Got it? Good.)

I actually picked up a bomber of Golden Monkey the day after Nigel took his better half to the zoo a couple of weeks back. As you may recall, Nigel recently moved out of Purgatory to a real city where we actually have, you know … things to do. Nigel’s better half is the cutest of nursing students at a prestigious engineering school (yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me, either) right next to his new pad. Being a good student and possessing the checkbook for the schools nursing fund, Nigel’s Danish Princess (the country, not the pastry) decided to skip class on a fine September day so she could treat him to a day with the monkeys (Nigel also likes penguins and giraffes, and Nigel’s Danish Princess wanted to see cows … who goes to the zoo to see cows? Nigel lives in Wisconsin, so he sees cows walking down the street all day long). After many an hour in the monkey house, we saw all sorts of fun stuff: monkeys peeing, pooping, picking fleas off each other, and sticking their fingers up their … uh, you know. How cool is that? No Golden Monkeys at the Nigeland Zoo, but a fun time was had by all nonetheless.

As for Golden Monkey Tripel, it’s fun, but definitely not on the level of a horny chimpanzee. Victory seems to take pride in the fact that Golden Monkey is an “ale brewed with spices” … “exotic spices from the East” to be exact. Honestly, I can’t argue with that. Nigel would love to marinate some chicken breasts in his Golden Monkey (please, ladies and gentlemen—let’s be mature about this), because that combination could give Kenny Rogers and his lame-ass Roasters a run for their money. However, there is such a thing as too much spice. Belgian ales are typically heavy on the spice, namely cloves, coriander, and orange peel. Golden Monkey is a bit much, however, and when combined with its heavy sweetness, it makes for a good brew that is weak when compared to the all-around quality of other craft tripels.

As stated previously, Nigel’s Golden Monkey came in a 23-ounce bomber rather than a 12-ounce bottle. Bottle conditioned and corked, Nigel’s selection says it was bottled on July 10, 2007, which makes it a mere two months old. Perhaps my Golden Monkey should age for a bit, which might ease the zing (again, let’s be adults about this). A vigorous pop of the cork unleashes a heavy fog and an overwhelming aroma of spice hits immediately, combined with citrusy tones of grapefruit and orange. Not only are cloves and coriander present, but Nigel senses a bit of black pepper in this aroma, which is a bit unusual. Two other harbingers of things to come: a yeasty aroma and a bit of that all-too-unpleasant alcoholic zing.

The pour is atypical of a tripel: despite the heavy amount of air bottled up, it’s not overly carbonated. The first thing that stood out was that there was no foam: a slight soda pop-like fizz for sure, but no beer-like foam. The fizz evaporated almost instantly, leaving a brew with a rich, golden hue and no lace to speak of, with only a few bubbles surfacing during the drink. Poured into a snifter-style glass, GM maintained the initial aromas to a lesser extent, but for the most part was a lifeless, cloudy, golden ale. It also should be noted that a good amount of sediment remained after the bottle was emptied into my glass, meaning Jug has some seed for his next homebrew.

The taste was a bit too much for Nigel. Spicy is good, but, as you may have noticed, I like a well-balanced flavor; if you’re gonna be overloaded on anything and expect to please Sir Nigel, it had best be hops. Golden Monkey is loaded—I mean loaded—with spice: typical Belgian flavors of cloves and coriander, along with a zip that is equal parts peppery and alcoholic (not pleasant, in my opinion). Fruit is also on overload, with grapefruit, orange zest, and banana dominating the scene. Not much for hops or malt that I detected, though there is a bit too much of that bready, yeasty flavor that should be tempered more. GM is a sipping brew, not only due to its high ABV, but also due to the fact that it’s somewhat of a tough drink. While I have yet to meet a tripel that would qualify as a session brew, some are deceiving and lead you to believe you’re drinking a mild, tasty brew, when in reality you’re getting extremely drunk extremely quickly. GM won’t do that: while medium-bodied, it’s far too spicy to go down in a hurry, so you’ll have no problem sipping this guy.

All in all, Golden Monkey is a decent tripel, but nothing to get too excited about. Have a few before your next trip to the zoo, however, and you’ll likely have the best monkey house experience ever. Give it a shot if you’re up for it, but don’t be in a rush to sample this oddly named brew from Victory.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on September 23, 2007.
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