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Monkey Knife Fight

Beer Review: Rubicon Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale

Monkey Knife Fight

A couple of weeks ago I received a 22-ounce bomber of Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale. Monkey Knife Fight is an American Pale Ale coming in at 5.4% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). Rubicon Brewing Company calls it a “quintessential session beer” despite it’s >5% ABV (I’m not complaining) and an “example of the Modern American Pale Ale.” They say it is brewed with 2 Row light crystal malts, Mt. Hood hops for balance, and then dry hopped with Cascade hops, which is common in West Coast pale ales to give it a dry, crisp, floral taste.

I poured this into my favorite snifter and was blown away by its appearance. Monkey Knife Fight poured a beautiful copper in hue with a thick, creamy white one-and-one-half finger head. This beer was very hazy and I noticed plenty of yeast left in the bottom of my glass. I adored the retention of the thick head and lacing throughout my entire tasting. This is, without a doubt, one of the best looking beers I’ve had the pleasure of tasting and earns a 4.5/5 in its appearance rating.

The aroma on this brew was very fresh, yet subdued and citrusy in the initial nose, but turns more floral the further into the beer you get, courtesy of the dry-hopped Cascade hops. Though it was a pleasant scent, I was not blown away by it and would have liked the initial nose to carry throughout more of the tasting. Monkey Knife Fight gets a 3.5/5 for its aroma.

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My first sip was a bit confusing. I tasted some sweet biscuit or bready malts and it was nothing like the nose led me to expect. The hops hit you up front, but the malts sooth you on the back end. Overall, Monkey Knife Fight had a very balanced malt/hop profile as neither take a real commanding role in the flavor, which was strange based on my understanding that West Coast pale ales are generally much more hop dominant, oozing with citrus and floral notes. I’m all for refusing to be confined to arbitrary boundaries and categories, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Like the aroma, it was pleasant, but I wasn’t blown away, so Monkey Knife Fight receives a 3.5/5 for its taste as well.

Monkey Knife Fight felt crisp and exceptionally carbonated for the first few sips, but eventually started coating my mouth. A little further in, the coating grew stickier and thicker, before thinning out. And then towards the end I noticed that it was getting stickier and thicker than before. I’m usually not for beers coating my mouth, but the fluctuating waves from full and sticky to dry and crisp was a neat experience. In the mouthfeel department, Monkey Knife Fight gets a 3.5/5.

rubicon-brewery

Overall, I was torn in many directions during my tasting of this beer. Since Rubicon Brewing Company is from Sacramento, I expected a much hoppier, citrusy, piney, floral taste, but was given bready malts. With a name like Monkey Knife Fight, I was expecting absolute chaos on my palate, but that was not the case. Instead, this was a very mellow, easy drinking, sessionable brew, like Rubicon advertises! Maybe the inspiration for the name was drawn from the play between hops up front countered by the malts on the back end. Regardless of what I was expecting from the name, Monkey Knife Fight, as Rubicon claims, truly is a “quintessential session beer” and earns a 3.75/5 for its overall rating. I look forward to trying more brews from Rubicon Brewing Company!

Ryan Moyer

Ryan Moyer is a graduate of Indiana University. If you’re interested in more of Ryan’s beer musings, check out his and his friend’s craft beer exclusive Instagram account @maltedhopballs .

Note: Rubicon Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale is now available in a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles in the greater Sacramento area.

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Man on the Moon

Beer Review: Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale from New Glarus Brewing

Moon Man

While I was spending my summer in Bloomington, Indiana, a good friend of mine, Eric, visited for the Fourth of July weekend. He and I are what some may call beer snobs. We prefer the term beer geeks, however, because at the end of the day, we really don’t care what people are drinking so long as they are enjoying what they’re drinking. We both wish we could expose others to craft beers, help guide them through what they’re tasting, and see their reaction to major hop bombs or big roasty stouts. But that’s not what some people are into. Again, what separates us from the snobs out there is that we really don’t care what people are drinking so long as they are enjoying themselves.

Eric was visiting from Gurnee, Illinois, located near the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. He knows how much I enjoy New Glarus beer, and seeing as it has very limited distribution, he picked up some six packs and headed down. When he arrived, he showed me his mini haul; a six pack of Spotted Cow, a New Glarus classic, and a mixed six pack consisting of Moon Man and a few others.

Being an American Pale Ale (APA) lover, the first beer I wanted to try was Moon Man, and I was not disappointed in the least bit.

moon-man

The appearance of this beer threw me off. It poured rich gold in color, which is a little light in color for the style and there wasn’t much head and the little there was dissipated rather quickly. What saved its appearance rating was the great lacing it left in the glass. Although it may not look exactly like what I think an APA should look like, its appearance is the least important quality of the beer. I rate its appearance as a 3.75/5.

As far as aroma is concerned, this one packs a very fruitful, floral aroma. Some citrus notes – grapefruit, I believe. Very bold. Not very piney, which is a characteristic common in APAs, but I was completely OK with that. This beer gets a 4.5/5 for its fresh floral and citrus aroma.

Regarding taste, balance is the name of the game with this brew. It has a very sweet malt profile that contradicts the hops. It’s definitely not the hoppiest pale ale out there by any stretch of the imagination. You get the sweetness up front that is finished off with an acute burst of hops on the way down. Not too sweet, not too bitter – BALANCED. This one easily earns a 4.5/5 for taste.

When drinking, this is a very smooth beer. It leaves a hint of dryness on the back half, but overall it’s very crisp and nicely carbonated. For the mouth feel I’d say it deserves a 4.25/5.

MoonMan-cropped

Overall: I was incredibly surprised by this brew. Moon Man is fully unassuming and a phenomenal representation of the style. APAs are my favorite, and this one is at the top of my list. Moon Man has a nice malty presence that works well with the hops providing perhaps one of the most balanced beers I’ve ever had. This is a great beer and one that I feel may be under-appreciated due to its limited distribution. If I lived in Wisconsin, I’d be drinking this every day. As an overall grade, I rate this beer a 4.5/5.

Update: Although I had this beer a couple of months ago, I went recently to Wisconsin and stocked up on it. It’s a beer I will buy whenever I can get my hands on it, and I highly recommend that you do the same. Although it may not be a total hop bomb, it’s a cool, relaxed beer that plays to the characteristics of its style. I am very grateful that Eric shared this beer with me, and I hope my recommendation will influence anyone reading this to give it a try.

Eric and I are in the process of creating a blog dedicated to our love of craft beer and we have an Instagram exclusively for our journey through the world of craft beer. If you want to check us out, you can find us on Instagram @maltedhopballs.

Ryan Moyer

Ryan is a graduate of the University of Indiana.

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