California's Firestone Walker Brewing Co., known for its exemplary barrel-aged beer concoctions, recently released Stickee Monkee, a Belgian-style quadrupel that was aged in former Bourbon barrels.
Firestone won't divulge the hop varietals or malt types that go into Stickee Monkee, but it is saying that the beer sees time (up to 14 months) in Bourbon barrels from Four Roses, Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig.
While Stickee Monkee isn't exactly a new offering, this is the first time Firestone Walker has put it in a bottle. The brewery originally created the boozy quadrupel as a component beer for its lauded Anniversary Ale, which is a blend of barrel-aged beers that Firestone has released annually since 2006. According to brewmaster Matt Brynildson, Stickee Monkee was created because the Anniversary program needed a quadrupel style in its portfolio.
Firestone says Stickee Monkee was originally fermented with Mexican brown sugar until 2012, when Brynildson switched to Belgian candi sugar, a brewing adjunct common in strong Belgian beers such as dubbels and tripels. Candi sugar is more fermentable than malt sugars, giving brewers the means to create high-alcohol brews with a lighter, albeit drier, body. Stickee Monkee showcases the ingredient well, as it remains a surprisingly drinkable beer given its huge 13.4 percent alcohol by volume strength.
Firestone has released 3,500 cases of Stickee Monkee for 16 states.
Stickee Monkee: 2014 Vintage (13.4 percent abv, $16.99 per 22-oz. bottle)
APPEARANCE: Pours carbonated out of the bottle, but the head vanishes quickly and there is almost no lace retention. Color is dark brown like molasses, with a ruby-hue showing when held up to light. As the beer warms up, the liquid actually leaves thin legs on the sides of the glass, much like a Bourbon.
NOSE: Burst of alcohol, rich vanilla and an aroma that can only be described as the moment a molten chocolate cake is cut open.
PALATE: Ultra-sweet notes (root beer candy, molasses) layer the tip of the tongue. As the velvety liquid spreads, a fleeting hit of hops shows, but is then covered up by rawhide and boozy Bourbon notes—clove, toffee—before a warming, tongue-numbing alcoholic finish akin to Bananas Foster.
CIGAR PAIRING: Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Bon Chasseur (5 3/8 inches by 52 ring gauge, $10.00, 89 points, December 2013 Cigar Aficionado) Firm to the touch, this dark robusto starts out strong and tangy, showing some spiciness and dried cocoa powder flavor. The cigar cools the alcohol in the beer and sends out zesty, citrus notes. The cigar's spiciness in turn becomes more nuanced and changes into a distinct clove and graham cracker taste. Malts and sugars stick nicely to the smoke and bring out a chocolate cake flavor.