"A threat the brothers were sure would lead to the spilling of..."

Welcome to the first ever post in my series of reviews with friends!  In this series, I will be tasting beer with my “unseasoned” frienditos and posting their thoughts along with mine.  The outcome?  A look into the world of craft beer through different tastes and styles- all in the same post!

To start this series off right, my buddy Damon (the charming man who made me those delicious fajitas during my Nectar Ales’ Black Xantus review) and I decided to try our hand at 21st Amendment’s Monks Blood.  Something I love about 21st Amendment is their penchant for cans- it’s refreshing to see something out of the mold and something about a can makes the brew more approachable for the novice.  (For more on the great can vs bottle debate, see this post by Grapes and Grains NYC.)  The other great thing about 21st’s cans is the attention to detail paid on the design of the can.  Sometimes, when I can’t decide exactly what kind of beer I’m looking for in the store, I go directly off of the packaging.  (I know, I know, bad practice, you should use your beer descriptors, yadda yadda, but honestly, sometimes I just want to try something new and don’t mind if it’s a Pils or a Stout).  My favorite part of reviewing this beer was actually trying to read the “Old English” style font scrawled around the can which tells the following story:

“Legend has it that in the evenings the monks would retire to the chambers and settle in with a few passsages from the Good Book – but Brothers Nicolas and O’Sullivan has other plans.  Working in the brewery all day, they were forced to repeat the same old recipes the elder monks had invented years before.  They needed a little diversion.  And found it in the cellar of the monastary with a fresh twist they put on the beer and the way they enjoyed it.  Brother Nicolas (or Nico to his close friends) brought some hand rolled cigars.  O’Sullivan, the outspoken one, broke the vow of silence by spinning a remix of some Gregorian chants.  Together, they’d throw down a couple more hands of Texas hold ’em and savor the handcrafted brew they created in secrecy.  Everyday was good.  Or so it seemed.  But deep in his heart, Nico knew they were drifting into the ‘darkside’ of beer.  Next thing you know, they’d be skipping Lent.  Then one night they’d fare the Judgement for their actions, with a hard knock at the door.  Outside, the Abbot and elders would be holding stones in the air.  A threat the brothers were sure would lead to the spilling of Monks Blood.”

(Blogger’s Note: Damon and I actually read this story aloud on the Subway ride back from Whole Foods Bowery Beer Room.  People stared.  It was awesome.)

At 8.3% ABV, this Belgian style Dark Ale hailing from Cold Spring, MN is at the top end of the alcohol content for its style.  The pour is a dark chocolately brown that boasts a whopping head (3.5 fingers at least!)  For me, the smell came off as pure fig, which turned me off from the bat.  Damon took a sip of his first, stating that he tasted chocolate and cinnamon.  My tastebuds picked up on some oaky vanilla flavors, but definitely was feeling the cinnamon kicker.  We both liked the medium viscosity of the brew; a nice combination with the medium carbonation.  Damon commented on the sweet and sour aftertaste, stating that there also was a lingering citrusy feel.

Overall, Damon was more into Monks Blood than I was.  Although I compared the brew to a black and white cookie (one of my favs!) because of the dichotomy of the strong chocolate and vanilla tastes, Damon was convinced it was like drinking a fig newton.  Together, we both agreed that Monks Blood is a strong brew and that, although it wasn’t our go-to beer, we could both see ourselves drinking it again… and make no stones about it!

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