A few months back, we put the gloves on two imperial stouts and had them slug it out. The offering from Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Co. got whipped and had its lunch money taken.
We weren't all that charitable, and a few Victory fans rushed to the brewery's defense. That episode was on our mind the other day when we swung by the D&Q to check out the selection of individual bottles and saw Victory's Golden Monkey, a spiced Belgian tripel-imitation.
Though the description was corny ("a magical mystical monkey whose golden soul glows with the wisdom of ages"), we picked it up anyway and were glad we gave Victory a second chance.
We're often wary of the sour flavors that brewers seem prone to emphasize in Belgian imitations, but we needn't have worried here. The yeast esters were there, more bitter than sour, in that welcome Belgian way, but this variety rose beyond that with more flavors and better balance than most.
For the malty, sweet notes, this did what a tripel should do and shared some fruit. That said, this wasn't one of those malty, boozy candy-bar Belgians.
In fact, this is one of the few tripels we could possibly recommend for the summer. It's no "light beer," but despite the 9.5 percent alcohol, it finished crisply (with a few nice flavors hanging around). The alcohol itself was more sharp than lingering.
We're awful at naming spices, but they're certainly there. The brewery termed them "exotic spices from the east." Um...yeah.
Probably ought to just try it yourself.
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