Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thelonious Monk(shine)

Ah, Utah. I've never been, but it's a state that has always intrigued me for a variety of reasons. While my parents say it's far and away the most beautiful state they've ever visited, I've always seen it as the place that's chock full of bizarre laws: boxing matches that allow biting are not allowed (sorry, Iron Mike), no one may have sex in the back of an ambulance if it is responding to an emergency get the picture. More importantly, and for our purposes here, the liquor laws have always been odd as well, with alcohol by volume maxing out at 4.0% for beer and private club membership being required for full alcoholic beverage service.

Thankfully, things have loosened up a bit for Utah residents in recent years. While taverns, restaurants, brewpubs and grocery stores can still only sell 4.0% ABV beer, private clubs have morphed into non-membership bars with full alcohol service and state liquor stores can also sell beers that weigh in over that 4.0% ABV threshold. This has really allowed Utah breweries to get their creative juices flowing, and one such brewery is, ironically enough, Four + Brewing out of Salt Lake City, which is a division of Uinta Brewing Company.

Monkshine is their approach to the Belgian style Pale Ale, and I have to admit that I was a bit shocked at just how well this one came together. There's a lot of sweetness to the aroma from the Belgian yeast that gives off a nice candy-like vibe, and it mixes in with some banana and citrus notes and a good dose of grassiness/graininess. There is also a slight tick of corn in the aroma which I have found to come out in this particular style from time to time. Nothing offensive and nothing negative about it, but it is there.

The flavor continues on with the aromatic characteristics, and pulls off a more bitter than expected finish to compliment the sweetness that lingers throughout. General candy gives way to a slightly more specific bubble gum vibe. Again, there are some nice grassy qualities here. Refreshing.

There's a certain wispy farmhouse quality to this one that was really quite enjoyable from start to finish. It actually reminds me of a specific beer, but I can't put my finger on which beer that is. I'm sure it'll come to me eventually. I would certainly pick Monkshine up again and would say it is absolutely worth your time to try a few bottles. It's not a big beer that will knock your socks off, but rather something that holds truer to the style and is highly quaff-able.

Hopback, beer, Utah, Salt Lake City, Four +, Uinta, Monkshine, Belgian, Pale Ale