Brewsters Blue Monk 2014

Reviewed by on February 19, 2015 in Local Heroes Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Brewsters Brewing Company

  • Origin: Calgary, AB, CA

  • Rated On: February 19, 2015

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 9.5%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: English Barleywine

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Blue Monk is one of Brewsters’ long-running winter seasonals, and is a barley wine, coming in at near 10% ABV.  It was the first version of the style that I ever tried (and tried, and tried), and now they have taken to bottling it, along with a number of their offerings, for broader retail distribution.  The 2014 edition comes sealed with a rather thick and sturdy layer of blue wax.

After a bit of surgery, this 355ml bottle pours a clear, bright orange brick amber hue, with one fat finger of weakly puffy, loosely foamy, and somewhat fizzy ecru head, which leaves a bit of herringbone lace around the glass as it quickly recedes.

It smells of bready caramel malt, biscuity toffee, saucy dark fruit – raisin, date, and cordial cherry – sort of acrid metallic alcohol, a wisp of earthy yeast, and leafy green, floral hops.  The taste is more dense, rich caramel malt, still abetted by that additional toffee/treacle sweetness, fresh black orchard fruit (plums, cherries, and bruised pear), further canned fruity syrup, a tame spiced nuttiness, leafy, weedy, and floral hops, and a sidling, but not particularly pushy booziness.

The carbonation is light on its feet, and plainly frothy for the most part, the body a solid medium weight, with aspirations of moving on up, and generally smooth, the embedded alcohol perhaps not the nimblest party guest.  It finishes on the sweet side with the usual suspects, sure, but balanced well enough by that weirdly unsung hop and booze quotient.

Overall, a pleasant, well-made barley wine, one which, given its hop profile (and label proclamations) falls easily into the English side of things in this iteration.  It’s young, so the expected musty or cellar-like characters won’t have had a chance to evolve just yet, but that’s exactly why you should buy at least two bottles of Blue Monk if you happen to come across it.

Brady White

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