Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beer Maturity

So as we were getting ready to brew our second batch of beer (New Low #2, for those of you keeping score at home), Emma and I were having a discussion about different beers and flavors. We stumbled across a memory from what I think is winter 2004 (possibly early 2005). Emma and I were in our Bynner Street apartment and our friend Sara Tunstall came from Portland, OR to visit. Sara, please confirm any of this story if you can. As part of our celebration we were like "Yeah, lets go get some beer!" So off we go to the store, and we look for a beer with a cool, funky, colorful design on the 6-pack box. Yes, I know that this is exactly how you are supposed to pick beers, just like how you pick a book based on its cover design (or at the very least, reading the back ). We ended up picking out Victory Golden Monkey. We had no idea about beer, and when we got home and cracked it open...well I'll make a long story short: I hated it. If you read the review you'll get a sense of the types of flavors to expect from this beer. I was not ready for anything like that.

I think I only drank about 1/2 the bottle and then I was ready to pour the rest of the 6-pack down the sink. I have since assumed that all Victory beers were going to be terrible, and had never drank another one since that fateful day.


We were at our local beer store, saw another Victory beer, and I wondered, since I've been doing more beer tasting, if I would like it any better than I did before. They didn't have the Golden Monkey, but they did have the Victory Hop Devil IPA. I thought it would be good to try and dissect this beer while brewing our own.

And I am happy to report that this Victory beer experience was much better than the first! Granted, this was an IPA and the Golden Monkey was a Belgian Tripel, so it's not apples to apples (it might be more like grapefruit to potatos). But the IPA definitely gets a thumbs up from me, and Emma liked it too.

This IPA had a pretty good amber color and a strong hops aroma. The taste of the hops was balanced out by a round of malt flavors. I was very surprised at how the beer finished; I was expecting a bitter kick at the end, but instead it was smooth and not overpowering. This beer had about a "medium" carbonation to me, which I thought was a good amount for the overall feel of the beer.

I've had a few IPA's now (I mean in my life, not as I'm writing this) and this was a good one. I would have it again. Our local brewpub, the Columbus Brewing Company, brews their own American IPA, but they also brew a seasonal double IPA that I will have to try.

Now that I'm over my irrational fear of Victory Brewing, I'll have to give the Golden Monkey another try. It's only fair. For all I know it's an incredible beer and my ignorance just wasn't prepared for such a spiritual experience that the Monkey was offering me. With a little more age and wisdom under my belt, I might be ready.


  1. I'm very impressed with your willingness to try things that you already know suck, allowing for yourself to realize you're wrong.

    Or something that sounds more uplifting.

    I personally think that hops are gross. That is why I prefer beer of the root variety, and am essentially still a child.

    I like that you are describing beer so intricately.

  2. Here's what I have to say about this. I had absolutely NO memory of any such beer-drinking occasion, and frankly, was terrified to see my name appear on your blog.

    *Oh my god. Scott's getting his sweet revenge for the wedding speech.*

    Then I clicked on the Golden Monkey link and it all came flooding back. That label!! I realized that I've seen this beer a number of times over the years and have just always thought "Napped there. 2004. Sucked". Perhaps I too will raise a glass of Golden Monkey and think of you. Or, perhaps we'll just let bygones be bygones.


  3. I was at Bukowski's last weekend and tried myself some Golden Monkey (complete coincidence, as I hadn't read this posting...actually I was mooching off my friend Mollie's beer, as I had ordered myself some Thanksgiving Ale (REALLY bitter), but I digress...) and I really liked it. My vote is to give it another shot at the title.