Open your mind and your wallet
The Victory Brewing Company's Golden Monkey Ale, boldly claims "The tripel (no that is not a typo) do you good." While it may not boast psychedelic hallucinations, you may find yourself tripping over yourself to go to the liquor store just one more time to pick up another six-pack of its hoppy goodness.
In honor of the recent hard-alcohol ban, this golden, Belgian-style Ale boasts a relatively obscene alcoholic content-9.5% alcohol by volume-but goes down with little-to-no gag reflex. (Just a quick aside: currently, the world's strongest beer is 55% alcohol, costs $765, and comes inside a dead animal. So, maybe Golden Monkey has higher-or lower-places for which to strive, but at least it affords you the opportunity to keep your liver and still have some bite in your drink).
The first thing our group of reviewers noted were the similarities between Golden Monkey and its pale lager cousin Heineken. While Golden Monkey claims to be the first Belgian-style ale brewed in the States (Downingtown, PA), it's hard to distinguish this slice of Americana from its low-country cousin.
Off the bat, the aroma was immediately reminiscent of Heineken: a malty scent with a slightly alcoholic smell ultimately winning out. The taste is where this beer starts to branch out, becoming surprisingly tangy yet fully enjoyable.
The brew claims to have "spices from the far east," but when asked to name what specific flavors anyone could discern, reviewers came up short. With little confidence, the reviewers agreed nutmeg was a suspect, but that was little payoff in our effort to confirm its exotic branding strategy. We'll assume they dumped some allspice into the brew and we'll move right along.
One thing was clear among taste-testers: the sugary taste of molasses lingered as a pleasant aftertaste. One reviewer, after his first sip, described Golden Monkey as a "lovechild" of Heineken and Sam Adams' Octoberfest, but "respectable and enjoyable, nonetheless." Another reviewer noted hints of fruit in the smell and taste, while also likening it to "burnt" bitterness of an India Pale Ale.
Now, it's important to know that this isn't some sketchy microbrew from some random town in the backwoods of Pennsylvania (a town whose claim to fame is the fact that The Blob was filmed in and around its neighborhoods). Golden Monkey has won several international awards, distinguishing it from the very large pack of alcoholic creations lining the shelf of your local liquor store. In 2004 it won a silver medal at the International Beer Competition in London, and in 2008 it won the Bronze Medal at the Australian International Beer Awards. Considering the fact that it competed against thousands of other brews, that's impressive.
Another thing to note: if you're feeling adventurous, try a Monkey Julius as your weekend eye-opener. On its website, Victory Brewing Company dictates 1 part Golden Monkey, 3 parts orange juice and splash of champagne to boot (and rally). Economical, classy (or slightly trashy), and unique, this drink reveals the versatility of Golden Monkey's taste.
Overall, this was a pleasant beer and the reviewers decided that they would drink it again. While some may find it tough to pay close to the price of a 30-rack for only six bottles-I guess we're in a recession, right?-our reviewers suggest you pop open a bottle and find peace of mind in your cup. Imbibe and be well.