21st Amendment Brewing
San Francisco, CA
Monk’s Blood Belgian Strong Dark Ale
I’ve talked before about how 21st Amendment has been a consistently good brewery to me. I’ve made my way through all of their regular offerings except two: Hop Crisis, their oak-aged DIPA (which I’ll have to wait a few more months to try), and Monk’s Blood, their Belgian strong dark ale brewed with candi sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, figs and aged on oak. The brewery recently announced they would suspend production of the beer for a while to make room for other beers, so now seemed as good a time as ever to get hooked up.
Short review: Friggin’ amazing. It’s just … damn.
Slightly longer and more detailed review:
The beer pours this gorgeous deep ruby red color, almost a murky brownish color. There’s a really light brownish head on top, but I’ve seen it pour a lot thicker. There’s also an insane amont of carbonation along the side of the glass, but not much lacing. Not really surprising for an 8% beer.
The smell is so rich. The plum and fig scents prominent on most dark Belgian beers is very pronounced, but with a much sweet, sugary smell. There’s also a really slight burn on the nose from the cinnamon as well.
The taste … oh, damn, the taste. It starts with a really light nip from the carbonation, but that lightens up throughout the mouth. This thing just comes in waves of flavor from there on in. It starts with the vanilla, more of an extract sweetness than a smokey bean flavor. That gives way to the candi sugar and figs, along with the expected dark fruits. On the back, the oak flavors punch through. On the first few sips, it’s very pronounced and has kind of a burnt quality to it. But as you go along it becomes much more mellow. And then the cinnamon shines through on the back. It sticks to the back of your throat but doesn’t have that burning sensation. It all kind melts away into this mouth-coating taste of dark fruits and sugar.
This is one of the more complex beers I’ve had in a long time. Every flavor is punctuated and noticeable, but blends together to perfectly. At the same time, for a heavier 8% beer, it’s incredibly drinkable. If you have the chance, GET THIS (while you still can).