Brew Review

Sour Monkey Business!


Here are a few facts about the super rare Golden Monkey that hails from China:

  • There are four different species: Golden Golden Monkey, Yunnan Golden Monkey, Guizhou Golden Monkey and Tonkin Golden Monkey.
  • These monkeys inhabit China’s Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.
  • Golden Monkeys eat lichens, sprouts, fruits, seeds, buds, leaves, bamboo shoots, flowers, as well as barks and roots.
  • Rumor has it that they served as the inspiration for the Peter Gabriel song  “Shock The Monkey“. These rumors are largely unsubstantiated.

The wild animal version of the Golden Monkey is extremely rare and you have to travel all the way to China to see one. The beer version of the Golden Monkey (it’s an Abbey Tripel) is much more accessible and can be experienced in many forms, i.e. 12 ounce cans or bottles, a 750 ml caged-and-corked bottle, or if you happen to be at the right bar at the right time, you can even have this on draught. While Victory’s Golden Monkey isn’t quite as good as an honest to goodness Abbey Tripel from Belgium, I would never turn one down. My Father-in-law, a dyed in the wool Yuengling drinker, is a big fan of this beer and enjoys its high-octane, yet easy drinking nature. His review of this beer goes something like this:

“I really like that Golden Monkey. I get pretty banged up after drinking 3 or 4 of them”.

How’s that for a no nonsense review?

In 2015, Victory Brewing Company released a sour version of their popular Golden Monkey which they called Sour Monkey. Here’s what they have to say about their 2016 version

Sour Monkey incorporates multiple fermentations – the first of which incorporates Westmalle yeast that lends itself to the traditional ‘monkey’ character for which it’s named. The sour, Brettanomyces-infused Tripel is a transformation of Victory’s beloved, Golden Monkey. Sour Monkey combines whole flower hops with Pilsner malt and coriander before adding the fun and funk of non-standard yeast varieties. These yeasts are known for their volatility and are often left out of the brewing process due to their hard to control nature. However, the brewers at Victory have harnessed the power of the yeast with a unique recipe, fermentation control, and final blending within the brewing process, to create exciting, savory nuances.

That’s enough monkey business. Let’s move on to my impressions of this beer…Victory Sour Monkey

  • Appearance: ‘Twas quite the loud and fizzy pour! Copper / orange color with no head or lacing whatsoever.
  • Aroma: This might have been a bit too cold because I’m not getting much on the nose beyond some citrus (mostly lemon) and clover honey sweetness.
  • Taste: Medium bodied, i.e. a bit viscous and syrupy with a soft and fizzy carbonation. Definitely has oodles of sourness with lots of lemony tartness, but not in an overbearing way. This is thanks to that mild honey sweetness which helps lends some balance. The tartness intensifies at the finish and some funky notes come through too, i.e. something akin to a stinky cheese. The aftertaste is quite astringent with a lingering lemony bite.
  • ABV: 9.5%

The Verdict

So did I like the Sour Monkey? Yes, I really did. Victory’s Sour Monkey is a tart, tasty, and surprisingly easy drinking high octane brew. I totally recommend it. Now if you happen to order one of these delightful brews, please drink responsibly or you may wind up acting like one of these cheeky drunken monkeys…


Many thanks to Victory Brewing Company for sending us this very generous sample!

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