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Beer Review: Victory Brewing Company, White Monkey

Mar 29, 2013

Ding Points: 54.00

Pour: 60.00, Nose: 60.00, Palate: 50.00, Mouth:, 60.00 Global: 50.00

Tasting Notes:

I hold my hand up here and admit that I screwed up.

The thought of Golden Monkey aged in white wine barrels was definitely something that I would be very interested in. I tend to gravitate toward some of the white wine options for barrel aging, and Golden Monkey strikes me as beer that would do well, and be suited to such a treatment. However, I failed to read the label correctly, or do the research properly, and when I found that we were talking about oak here, my heart immediately sank.

Victory Brewing, White Monkey

Victory Brewing, White Monkey

Oak in beer I can pretty much universally do without, so I had I been paying closer attention I would have most likely passed on White Monkey. Anyway, I didn’t, and at $7.99 for the 750 mL bottle it’s not exactly the end of the world, so press on we must. Apparently this has spent 3 months adjacent to the oak.

Orange golden body with a medium, one finger head. Retention is not stellar, but there is a little lace and thin film forms on the surface of the beer.

Nose is where the problems begin for me. There is a pretty strong oaky, sweet element that is tinged with alcohol, and the oak immediately lends a non-cleanliness to the beer. To me it seems muddy and ill-defined right out of the box.

Tastes follow suit with the nose.

For a second, upfront the beer tastes like I thought it was going to. A nice, alcohol based vinous touch that has a clean edge and nice acidity. Unfortunately (but predictable once I had read the label), the oak cuts across the beer, giving a sweetness that dulls the sharper edges that I seek. As is its want, the oak lingers too, and the whole beer goes to places that I didn’t want it to.

Victory Brewing, White Monkey

Victory Brewing, White Monkey

There’s a not unpleasant, light burn in the back end and the oak never gets too strong, but the fact that it is there is enough for me.

A shame. This would be so much better without the oak IMO, and the blurring of lines takes so much away from what I thought it might be. This could have been SO much better and perhaps one day will be see a white wine, barrel aged version of Golden Monkey that stays well away from any oak.

Other: 9.5% ABV. Tripel.


  1. Hart

    I’m curious to know what kind of white wine barrel treatment doesn’t include an oak barrel. Are non-oak barrels that prevalent in the wine industry?

    • Ding

      Actually, I think that the answer to your second question is ‘no’ (if at all), and that your criticism of what I wrote is (largely) quite right. (Some wine-making uses stainless steel of course).

      Now, the degree to which the oak enters the taste profile can vary quite a lot, and I suppose what I was really saying was that I was hoping for a final product that had lower oaking. I think it is possible to have white wine, barrel-aged beers that have (relatively) very little oak character.

      I suppose a better way to articulate what I was looking/hoping for would be to say that what I was seeking a ‘white wine influenced beer’ without the the oak profile. Almost like a stainless steel fermented Chardonnay had been added to the beer! I think that this is what a beer like Noble Rot DID achieve in its taste profile, and I guess I was thinking about the way that Golden Monkey would work well in that regard. I know Noble Rot is not ‘barrel-aged’, and as I say in the first line of my review, I think I screwed up and read ‘White Wine’ and ignored ‘Barrel-aged’. As mistake on may part, as I acknowledge immediately.


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