Sour Monkey

Tripel Victory Brewing Company

2.5

Sour Monkey, a Belgian-style Tripel by Victory Brewing Company

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Sour Monkey is a Belgian-style Tripel brewed by Victory Brewing Company, and for the purposes of this craft beer review, the ale was served in a snifter from a bottle.

Packaging art for the Sour Monkey by Victory Brewing Company

Packaging art for the Sour Monkey by Victory Brewing Company

Appearance

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.

Aroma

The aroma is slight but offers a scent of lemon and a mild dose of Brettanomyces.

Flavor

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.

Mouthfeel

The feel is smooth and crisp with a body that’s just under medium and moderate carbonation. Its finish is astringent and grainy.

Label art for the Sour Monkey by Victory Brewing Company

Label art for the Sour Monkey by Victory Brewing Company

Overall

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.

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About the Tripel

The Belgian Tripel originated at the Trappist monastery Westmalle. Its color ranges from deep gold to copper with good clarity and effervescence. Its feel should be around medium with high carbonation and high attenuation for a seemingly dry finish. Though high in alcohol, the booze should be masked well. Its palate and aroma are spicy, fruity, with a well-rounded malt character and moderate bitterness. Comparatively, the Tripel is darker and fuller than the Belgian Strong Pale Ale with more pronounced phenols than esters. And it’s not as strong or full as the Belgian Strong Dark Ale or Quadrupel.