A First Visit to Monkish Brewing Provides for Some Interesting Beers
Last week, along with a few others, I visited a few breweries in Torrance to experience the brewing going on. We started off with Monkish Brewing. While, at first, it’s hard to find, we were able to turn around and locate it inside an office park. Walking into Monkish Brewing, one walks right up into line to order and notices a No IPA sign (as well as a No MSG), alerting customers to the intentional absence of IPAs (IPA-drinkers beware!).
With a dozen beers on-tap, our crew of four decided to get everything, simply sharing all of the offerings on-tap in taster glasses. This, I must say, was a tiny bit of a logistical challenge, as, inasmuch as they offer tasting flights, they only hand out one glass at a time, while passing out tokens for customers to redeem for the remainder of their flight, one beer at a time. This would be frustrating for someone to try to contrast and compare beers. However, we were able to order three flights, so we got three glasses.
In no particular order, we started off with the Crux (5.4% ABV), a single with elderflowers, which was nice and flowery. The Saison de Lilah (6.4% ABV), a saison with lavender and lemon peels, I found to be pleasant. The St. Amarillo (6.4% ABV), a hoppy pale was light and lemony – while I didn’t think much of it beyond that, my compadres found it to be noticeably hoppy.
The Koine (7.7% ABV), a hoppy golden ale, with quite a noticeable amount of Amarillo hops was very pleasant, crisp, and a noticeable amount of spicing from the hops. The Spiritus (6.6% ABV), a saison with citrus peels, had a tart lemon peel on the nose. The Apricot Kisses (5.9% ABV), a barrel-fermented saison with apricot deliciously dry and sweet! The Selah (6.8% ABV), a farmhouse saison with brettanomyces, had a really funky pineappley nose, yet a decent palate taste of pineapple and papaya that was not as funky as the nose.
The Shaolin Fist (7.0% ABV), a dubbel with Sichuan peppercorns, was quite different than the above beers. It had noticeable peppercorn nose, which carried onto the palate, and was not only malty on the palate, but quite smooth, as well. Feminist (9.4% ABV), a tripel with hibiscus, was fine, and, despite my being a tripel fan, I didn’t care for it, but it had a nice pleasant fruitiness. A dark beer that we drank was Anomaly (8.5% ABV), a strong dark with oats and wheat, was dark and curiously fruity, which was strange to me for such a dark beer.
The final two beers, however, were our group’s favorite beers – they’re really great: the first of these was Seme Della Vita (9.8% ABV), a tripel with pistachios and vanilla beans, which blew me away. This was a very special beer!!! Suffice it to say, it was also my favorite beer of my visit. The vanilla beans are noticeable on the nose, but palate – wow! – the beer is creamy, smooth, some nutty, a little vanilla-y and just ever so delightful! The Caffe Della Vita (9.8% ABV), a tripel with pistachios and vanilla beans and coffee, which looks, on paper, like it should be similar, just add in some coffee beans, yet it’s not. The coffee beans take over. While this yields an incredibly delicious coffee nose (my favorite nose on a beer for the whole evening) and the coffee is great on the palate, the coffee also takes over, along with the vanilla. I enjoyed it, while there were others in my group for whom this was the best beer of this visit (and, perhaps, of the whole evening).
I think I can say for the whole group that Monkish Brewing is doing some special things with their beers, especially not going for the IPA thing. However, I will say that I was able to get my hop fix on with the Koine, which was my favorite beer earlier on, while the Caffe Della Vita and Seme Della Vita were really special beers and were my favorites of the evening. I hope that Monkish Brewing continues brewing more great beer!