Ok, so here’s a brew that isn’t exactly new to me but it may be new to some of my readers. The fact that one of two Flying Monkeys’ beers has been a staple in my fridge for the past three or four years should probably be as good an indicator as any that I quite like their brews – though truth be told, as much as I’m a giant fan of IPAs (you’ve probably figured out that through my clear obsession with reviewing them to start), I’m actually a bigger fan of the Flying Monkeys’ “Almost IPA: Hoptical Illusion.” However, its bigger brother is definitely no slouch either.
This is a brilliant IPA from almost every aspect. The amber’s ruddiness drifts into brown in some lights, a result of the malts which not so coincidentally gives this brew a good punch. For a bottled beer, this may have the best carbonation going around: present, yes, but it disappears in the mouth immediately. You have to take another sip to confirm that there really are bubbles. The “citra” hops (yes, you, along with me, are learning about hops in this blog) beautiful in this IPA and their unmistakable citrus aromas rush past the malt’s toffee smells to embrace the nose even before the first sip: soft, floral, and with a beautiful cleansing citrus, this is gorgeous. I personally detect a bit of lavender and some orange peel making this a beer you want to keep in the mouth and turn and turn … and you can actually do it and enjoy the taste because the carbonation doesn’t get in the way.
The after taste is clean, dry, and with the right bitterness you want to taste in what I’m learning is characteristic of a “Westcoast” IPA – this is a result of hop varietals from – you guessed it – the “West” which are notorious for their citrus and bitterness. And let’s face it, if you don’t like the taste of bitterness, you shouldn’t be drinking these hopped up beauties. My only and very slight detraction is that underneath this bitterness, there is that slightly tannic, and ever so slightly acid taste that lingers on the tongue – that chewed up paper towelette taste I mentioned previously. I’m trying to figure out if this is the tell of a good IPA or if there is something missed by the brewmaster when you taste it, so let me get back to you on this. I personally think it is so slight in this beer not to be noticed by most unless you’re looking for. Let me put it this way: even tasting it, it hasn’t stopped me from continually drinking this for years. Little detracts from this exceptional brew.
Before I leave this post, no write up about Flying Monkeys would be complete without a mention of their exquisite sense of humour – not surprising from a brewery named “Flying Monkeys.” I remember well the label on my very first bottle, and being totally absorbed in all the details, right down to the address Barrie, Ontario, Canada, Milky Way, Universe. And if they label itself and their turn of phrase didn’t have you smiling, the bottle cap will make you laugh for sure. I call these beers my hopped-up “fortune cookies” because under each cap, there is a playful and, yes, often childish, bit of play, just like each fortune cookie. Take a look at the picture for an example and enjoy….
Stats: IPA. 6% ABV. Barrie, Ontario.
Colour: Ruddy-Amber/Brown. Unfiltered.
Mouth Feel: Low-light carbonation which dissolves quickly.