Review: Monk's Blood, 21st Amendment


Monk's Blood
21st Amendment Brewery — San Francisco, CA

  • Style:  Belgian Dark Ale
  • Bitterness:  34 IBUs
  • ABV: 8.3%
  • Malts:  Belgian Pilsner, Two-Row Pale, Caramunich, Caravienne, Aromatic, Special B, Flaked Oats, Flaked Wheat
  • Hops:  Magnum, Centennial, Amarillo
  • Special Ingredients:  Dark Belgian Candi Sugar, Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean, Dried Black Mission Figs, aged on Oak
  • Sampled:  12 oz. can

Description:  "21st Amendment founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan traveled to Belgium to develop the recipe for this special beer, visiting small, traditional breweries in the hop fields of west Flanders, not far from the famous Trappist abbey of Westvletren. Monk’s Blood is designed to pair beautifully with rich winter stews, creamy cheeses, unctuous desserts or just by itself, in a Belgian tulip glass, with a good book by the fire." — 21st Amendment Brewery

Random thoughts:   This is part of my series on Belgian style beers.  I first learned about Monk's Blood when I interviewed 21A co-founder Nico Freccia last October.  I've been looking forward to tasting this beer ever since.  Monk's Blood was released in late winter in special 4-packs as part of 21A's "occasional release" Insurrection Series.  You probably won't be able to find it anymore, as it has been replaced by Hop Crisis.  Consider this an early review for 2012.

The tasting:  Dark brownish-red, opaque, with a long-lasting tan head.  Aroma of raisins, brown sugar, alcohol, along with some light banana and spice.  The flavor reveals itself in layers.  It starts with fruity plum and raisin.  In the middle, sweet malt and mild oak come through. It finishes with light candi sugar sweetness and warming alcohol.  Spicy notes of clove and cinnamon weave their way throughout the taste.  The vanilla doesn't stand out on its own, but there's definitely a lot going on this this beer. Monk's Blood is medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and has a creamy mouth feel.  Although this is a 8.3% ABV brew, the alcohol was stronger in aroma than it was in flavor.  

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   The aroma and flavor of Monk's Blood are quite complex.  This is a beer that you should sit down with, relax, and slowly savor.  If you have a smoking jacket, put it on.  As the beer warms up, different aromas and flavors rise to the surface.  While probably not a "go-to" brew for summer, this is one I'd like to enjoy again as we head into fall and winter.  Unfortunately, I drank my one and only can.   Guess I'll have to wait until next February...

Have you tried Monk's Blood or any other 21st Amendment brews?

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  1. I've been afraid to try this because of the high sticker price. I think I saw $11 + for a 4-pack. But I'm a big 21st fan. What the heck, I'll go for it...........

  2. If you like Belgians, I think you'll enjoy it. Very unique brew. Hopefully, you can still find it. I wish I picked up a few more for winter.

    Do you have any bottle shops or grocery stores (like New Seasons) in Corvallis that let you buy singles? I can't remember the last time I bought a six-pack of a single beer.

  3. I see it at Market of Choice. I was wrong about the price. It's $8+ for a 4-pk. I could buy a single can there, but I think I'll pass based on your comment. Not a fan of the Belgian style beer.

  4. Mark, if you can get a single can for $2, give it a shot. It's a very unique brew! :)

  5. I bought a can of the Monk's Blood and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the recommendation. I paid $2.69 for the can. Worth every penny. I didn't really get that Belgian flavor I was afraid of. And the spices weren't overwhelming, but subtle. It all worked. Still a fan of 21st!

  6. Really glad to hear you like it, Mark! It's a very unique beer. I have 21A's Hop Crisis in my fridge. Need to get to that one soon.

  7. That one's on my list too. Haven't found it in Corvallis yet. There's a great IPA on tap at Flat Tail called Hoposites Attract. I love the names these brewers come up with. It's half the fun. Well, maybe not half.


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