Sour Monkey is a Belgian-style Tripel that’s brewed by Victory Brewing Company. For the purposes of this craft beer review, the ale was served in a snifter from a 12 oz. bottle.
What You Need to Know
The Sour Monkey is a variant of the Victory’s popular Tripel, Golden Monkey. The Sour Monkey is brewed with Brettanomyces and then aged in Chardonnay barrels. The result adds flavors of vanilla and oak to complement the beer’s sour lemon flavor and dry finish. So how was it? Let’s get to the review.
The ale pours a slightly cloudy marigold color and is topped by a finger-thick cap loose, bubbly white froth that dissipates rapidly. Following the reduction, a thin ring collars the glass but doesn’t leave behind any of the trademark Belgian lace. Only a bit of residue is left behind. A few bubbles trickle upward.
The aroma is slight but offers a scent of lemon and a mild dose of Brettanomyces.
The tasting begins with a flavor of white bread that turns sour with a taste of crab apple and lemon that lingers on into the finish. More soft wheat bread ties the palate together.
The feel is smooth and crisp with a body that’s just under medium and moderate carbonation. Its finish is astringent and grainy.
Because this brew mixes styles it can be expected that certain aspects of a Tripel wouldn’t be retained. But it doesn’t seem as if the Sour Monkey kept any of the Tripel’s characteristics. It certainly would be nice if the appearance showed better head retention and its feel had more carbonation. And then regarding its aroma and palate, the use Brettanomyces dominates both. And with a name like “Sour Monkey” that isn’t too surprising. Again, though, this brew doesn’t smell or taste anything like a Tripel.
So what is it really? The Sour Monkey should be recategorized as an American Wild Ale. Yes, this brew is a variant of Victory’s popular Tripel, the Golden Monkey. But its use of Brett changes the beer entirely. So shift this beer to a Wild Ale, and it’s a pretty good brew. One of the pluses is that in spite of a relatively high ABV, this brew tastes lighter than it is and is easily quaffed.