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Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale - Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery

Not Rated.
Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale AleFlying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

233 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 233
Reviews: 103
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 11.14%
Wants: 9
Gots: 28 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
32 IBU

(Beer added by: bobsy on 05-23-2009)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 233 | Reviews: 103 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cratez
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle from a 6-pack purchased at the Wellington & Bradley LCBO. Bronze orange in colour with golden hues, a ring of cream white head, and speckled lacing on the shaker. Smell and taste are green, grassy hops, fruity and floral aromas, biscuit, caramel backbone, a bit toasty, spicy hop finish with a mild malt astringency. Almost no bitterness, which is exactly what the brewer intended. Mouthfeel is light side of medium, good hoppy bite, tangy carbonation, tartly malted aftertaste. Bursting with Amarillo qualities on the nose, yet somehow isn't bitter. Presto change-o indeed! Bottom line is, Illusion can satisfy a hop fix while still being accessible to your non-beer geek friends. In that regard, it's a rare achievement in brewing. Keep up the great work, Peter!

EDIT (May 2011): this beer has improved substantially since it was first released and is now one of the better APAs available in Ontario. Lots of grassy, floral, citrusy, and fruity hops on the nose and palate with a balancing caramel sweetness, slight trace of diacetyl, and some tea-like flavours from the malts. Body and mouthfeel seem beefed up as well, the hops are more juicy, punchy, and resinous than before. Great thirst-quenching ale.

Photo of ecoastman
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's better than I expected and I'll look for it in Ontario bars and restaurants. Hoptical Illusion is an overall good "local" hoppy beer.

The colour is a slightly hazy chestnut and provides a silky head which recedes and leaves some nice spotty lace through the drink.

As expected it has a bolder nose with spicy and citric hops with some sweet malt in the balance.

The taste is good and similar to the aroma. A touch grainy and some slight courseness from the good carbonation and citric bitterness in the dry finish. The aftertaste is a nice balance of the spicy hops and sweet molasses.

Photo of berley31
3.33/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured with a small-to-moderate, white head that diminished pretty quickly to a thin film. Body is amber colored and slightly hazy. Not much lacing.

S: Aroma had very slight hop presence... a bit of a soapish smell to it as well, but this may have been due to the glass at the bar.

T: Flavor was mostly malty and slightly caramelly at first, then finished slightly dry with a bit of a hop bite. Not high on the hops for an APA, but maybe that's where their name is coming from.

M: Light-bodied, moderate carbonation, thin texture.

D: Drinkable, but definitely nothing special.

Photo of TheHammer
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I bought a six pack of this before I knew that this beer would be in the OCB mix pack #4. This would make it the fourth out of the six.

Appearance: Pours with a deep amber color that is a bit darker and on the brown side. Only a pinky finger of head, but it retained exceptionally well and produced some lacing.

Smell: Nice floral and citrus hops dominate the nose, but it's not out of control like an IPA. I'm also catching the barest notes of sweet caramel malt in the background.

Taste: Starts with a bit of a floral malt taste that the carbonation seems to enhance a bit of a spicy note too. It then shifts to a more toasted grain with a touch of pine and ends, rather whimsically with a well reigned in floral hop aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: The transition between the middle and end of the beer, seems to come out of nowhere, which is odd but not unpleasant. Carbonation seems to help out the start of the beer, but not so much the end. The hoppy aftertaste is nice and subdued well enough to not linger.

Drinkability: Well, it is still a hoppy beer, but it's not out of control like an IPA. It sits well in the stomach and is surprisingly refreshing but the hops make you give this beer a bit of space. Still, I don't feel cheated out of the extra six that I have in my cellar, so I'd say it's better then average.

Final Thoughts: This beer is weird, which is really what I think the brewery was going for. I've never had a pale ale (or almost pale ale as it markets itself as) seem so whimsical and tie several characteristics you wouldn't think would work together so seamlessly. I can see this not being for everyone, but I liked it and I would recommend it.

Photo of hegelec
3.78/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a nonic pint.

Clear, somewhat bleached-out amber with a finger and a bit of off-white head that sticks around for a while. A nice collar and very decent lacing.

Aroma is beautiful. That signature amarillo perfume that screams refinement. Solid caramel there too.

Taste-wise ... well this is why it's the "hoptical illusion". All the insanely spicy and flowery hop off the nose, which sets you up for a bitter-as-fuck, resiny brew, leaves you completely dumbfounded. This is only a lightly bitter, balanced, somewhat lemony ale. What this means is that the beer is *insanely* dry-hopped for aroma only. Genius. I'm still scratching my head over the incongruousness of this. The beer is a showcase for hops, but definitely not in the way you'd expect. A pronounced, tannic-like astringency on the finish is also a surprise, but not all-together a pleasant one.

The beer is thin and metallic in the mouth. However, there is a really nice, spicy carbonation that pricks and melts away.

This one is a real genre-bender. I like and will buy again, not only to revel in its weirdness, but also to snuggle close with Amarillo and take in all of its complex, aromatic qualities. The hops are the centre of attention here, but as I've said, not like you'd expect.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a copper color ale with a generous head with good retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of medium bitter hops with some floral notes is actually better then I had hoped. Taste is also a very nice balanced mix between some caramel malt notes with a nice touch of citrus and bitter hoppy notes. Body is just about right with good carbonation. Well done for the style with good quaffing quality.

Photo of NightINgale
3.45/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Copper body with a nice creamy beige head. Some lively carbonation can be seen. Decent head retention and pretty good lacing.

S - Pretty solid pine-like hoppiness, with a touch of citrus, and a good malt backbone, with toffee and caramel notes. Smells like a real APA to me. A little bit of spiciness and grassiness can also be noticed.

T - Starts out with a moderate hop bite, with some resinous pine notes and a bit of caramel. The finish, however, is rather bland and watery, with a little bit of bitterness lingering on.

M - Light-to-medium body, but closer to being light. Some effervescence and a hint of peppery spiciness on the tongue.

D - Good, being quite light, this is a decent session APA.

I think of it as a toned-down version of Mill St Tankhouse ale.

Photo of seand
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent reddish amber with a small amount of off white head. Just a little bit retains, not much lacing.

S: Light hops, somewhat sweet.

T: Light citrus, slightly sweet and finishes slightly hoppy. No real heavy flavors, reasonably well balanced.

M: Medium to light carbonation, medium body.

D: Drinks fairly easily.

Overall a decent beer, but not exactly exceptional.

Photo of grub
3.23/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. sampled feb 6/2010.

pours deep orangey amber with just a hint of haze. a small dense off-white head forms, dropping slowly and leaving lots of lace behind.

aroma is nice. light herbal and spicy note. hint of citrus. wheat bread. cracker and a touch of biscuit. light alcohol. bit fruity.

taste is ok. what happened to the hops that were in the aroma? i mean, they weren't exactly dominant there, but now they've completely evaporated. the bit of biscuit character is more of the dog variety - yeah, i've chomped on a milkbone at some point, who hasn't? touch of alcohol. light caramel.

mouthfeel is good. medium body. medium-light carbonation level.

dirnkability is pretty good. nice balance, pretty good aroma... the taste was a letdown. when are ontario brewers really going to start USING hops?

Photo of ludachris
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep slightly hazy amber with a 1 finger quickly dissipating off-white head that leaves some patchy lace behind.

Piney hops, caramel, buttery malts, and a hint of vegetables in the nose, which is a bit of a turn off. Seems somewhat subdued for the style.

Herbal piney hops meshed with some toasted buttery malts, hints of caramel and a bit of biscuit. Tasty, but not overly so.

Mouthfeel is light bodied and a tad watery. Decent balance and an easy quaffer, but nothing special.

Overall, a decent brew and much better than their Confederation Ale. It's a solid alternative to macros and the generic imports, but not a standout in the style.

Photo of Long813
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off I want to say the look on the bottle is beautiful. Nice psychedelic colours and presentation.

G: Duvel Tulip

A: Dark caramel coloured body with no head and the most minimal lacing.

S: Sweet caramel malts, biscuity, citrus and pine hops all blended well together. I do feel the aroma is quite low though

T: Same as the smell with caramel upfront and biscuity flavours. Hints of citrus and pine.

M: Medium bodied and medium-low carbonation. This beer leaves a malty finish and some dry-bitterness too.

D: Nothing offensive here, but there also isn't much that is special. Everything seems quite weak and bland. I'd much prefer to drink something else.

Photo of Gosox8787
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into my snifter glass.

Appearance is deep ruby and mahogany with a one finger beige head. Good retention as a nice lacing is present throughout the entire brew. Smell is caramel and pine. The bitterness of each is utilized, but teh sweetness of the malt and the citrus of the hops are underrepresented. Taste is a lot more complex. The first flavor to hit is nice mild malt and citrus hops. Taste becomes more bittering toward the end of each sip. Leaves a nice bitter after taste. Some licorice is even present in small doses. Mouthfeel is light and crisp, a nice combination for this type of beer. Drinkability is good, solid flavors and low ot moderate ABV make this really drinkable.

Overall, a really sessionable brew with some great hop and malt interplay. My biggest criticism is that a beer with this beer should be hoppier.

Photo of Beers
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I like that I see this beer around. I live in Barrie, and it's often around in restaurants etc. It's nice to be able to buy something a little different on tap around here. Barrie is not a huge beer town.

This beer definitely has its merits. Not exactly in the box so to say.

Decent color. Not quite a huge fluffy head. Not a head that sticks around. smells of hops. A bit of malt.

Taste. This beer is covered in hops. I like hops just like the next guy. I also like a little more malt along with them. The hops wait it out and chill with the residual sweetness. This beer is like a shirt that is incorrectly buttoned up. The top and bottom aren't quite aligned correctly, and as a result the whole thing is just a bit uncomfortable. It's still a nice shirt, but it was done up a little hastily and is being worn incorrectly. At least it's not inside out.

Photo of clockwerk
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm breaking form on this review, because this beer really pissed me off. Frankly, it symbolized everything that is wrong with Ontario brewers. Why? Well, because it's a pretty good beer. It's also quite boring in my opinion.

Off the bat, the packaging had me intrigued. Excellent catchy phrases and bright colours adorned the bottle and box. Once, poured, it showed good head formation and was a nice clear copper. It looked quite the winner.

Then it all started to go wrong. I couldn't help it, try as I might, but the smell and taste reminded me of a craft brewed version of Bohemian. That same smell and flavour, just better brewed. There's simply nothing interesting here. Almost Pale Ale? Come on guys. The brewers obviously have skill, and the beer is really quite good, just unexceptional. There's nothing here to capture my interest, or convince me to pay a premium for it. When I can get 6's of DFH or Rogue Dead Guy, why would I choose this? If I'm the type of drinker who is looking for something on the "easy drinking" side, I'm going to save my money and buy a 12 of Bohemian instead. It hurts to say this, because the beer is very well brewed, just boring.

The mouthfeel and drinkability were spot on however.

The bottom line for me, is that despite the flashy packaging, the beer is anything but flashy or interesting. If you're going to talk about illusions and magic, you'd better back it up with something that surprises me.

Photo of ericj551
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was looking for a good hoppy beer so I picked this up at the suggestion of some other BA's. It pours a clear light amber with a thin head that doesn't stick around. The aroma is a bit of citrusy hops with some dry, toasted malt aroma. The flavor has the same citrusy hops upfront with a hint of sweetness. The maltiness is dry, with a bit of caramel and some nutty, toasted flavor maybe from a small amount of chocolate malt. Overall this isn't a bad beer, but the hops and malt don't really blend well together.

Photo of barleywort
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a light coppery colour, more orange than red in my opinion: akin to your favourite pumpkin ales. Off-white head that takes on a bit of the orange colour itself; poured a thicker head than expected, but dissipated quickly, leaving only thin cover to shield what was beneath. Impressive staying power for the beer lace.

Smell: Biscuity sweet smell, with slight caramel tones. No real indication of citrusy hops, which is interesting given its "not quite" pale ale status. A bit lacking in this department, and definitely not indicative of the taste (whether that's a good thing or bad thing is open to interpretation).

Taste: Initial buscuity malt taste gives way to a slight citrusy grapefruit hop taste that lingers momentarily and disappears behind a number of other fleeting flavours: grassy tones, sweet licorice tones (typically not a fan, but this taste is inoffensive), even hints of bubblegum at points, a la Karmeliet.

Mouthfeel: thin and crisp are good words to describe this beer. What can only be described as "expertly carbonated" because it gives the impression of high carbonation at first sip, but that is far from the case.

Drinkability: Not something I would session personally, but it offers an interesting take on the typical (and crowded) American pale ale style. That being said,

Photo of mrmanning
3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle- A deep amber pour with a nice foamy cap of froth. Good lace here. Nose is floral and hoppy with the Amarillo really coming forward. Good earthy malts and fruit too. Sweet fruity flavour with caramel malts and good fresh floral hops and marked bitterness. Well balanced and very tasty. Ill be buying more.

Photo of GodOfBeer
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I saw this box sitting on the shelves, this beer called my name,I just had to buy it, the artwork is fantastic.

The beer pours a nice dark copper red with a thick off-white head, lots of lacing, very nice looking beer indeed.

Smells hoppy upfront, some toasty grains, caramel malt undertones and some citrus notes to finish it off.

Nice and malty to begin with, some breadiness and a citrus nice hop finish. Considering the name of this beer, I was expecting it would be a lot hoppier, but I was wrong. Still a very decent and balanced beer.

Nice smooth mouthfeel, and this is a highly drinkable beer which could compare to Mill street Tankhouse really well.

Photo of Ralphus
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first Flying Monkey's brew and it's decent. That's a good sign.

It pours a dark amber brown colour, clear and with a finger and a half of foam which dissipates to a ring. Nice lacing is left down the glass as I drink.

I read that the brewer kept upping the amount of hops in each batch and given that mine is a bit later I think it's probably changed from the earlier reviews. This one has surprisingly pine like smell for an APA - I think I'd probably guess it smelled like an IPA if it was in a blind tasting. There's not much fruit to speak of.

Taste is quite light initially. Some bready malts and it finishes with a crisp hoppy bite. Again, very little fruit which is something that I quite like in a pale ale.

Mouthfeel is fairly light and I think this would aid the drink's sessionability. You could have a bunch of these in a sitting without the taste getting overwhelming.

Photo of mintjellie
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep copper bodied with two fingers worth of retentive beige head leaves behind a pretty lace. It smells toast, pine, citrus, and caramel. Nice caramel malt base, slightly nutty, with lemon and grapefruit in the finish. Bitterness is toward the lower end of the scale, but has a nice lingering quality to it. Medium-bodied with somewhat light carbonation. It feels smooth and leaves your mouth feeling a little bit resinous after swallowing. Having been previously disappointed by their Confederation Ale, I approached this with low expectations. This has won me over though. Monkeys aren't the only thing flying high at the old Simpson brewery.

Photo of biegaman
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Illusions, Micheal! Tricks are something a whore does for money."
- GOB Bluth, Arrested Development.

Almost? Hoptical Illusion isn't even close to being pale. It is a classic, toasty mahogany stain that, despite its near flawless clarity, should not be considered anything less than deep-set with reference to colour. This looks as though it should be a most hearty and flavourful beer. And it's quite attractive too, even despite its rather inconsequential capping.

The aura of rank citrus and budding resins is definitely no misconception - that's the smell of Amarillo hops. While it is a more restrained dosage than the often typical administering of this pungent variety, a rather brawny fruitiness still protrudes. The bouquet suits well the caramel malts and naturally fruity strain of ale yeast.

The taste captures a lot more hop character than the aroma (which is funny because I believe it may be dry-hopped). Quite vivid flavours of candied grapefruit, chocolate covered orange peels and brandy-macerated plums give this a deliciously citric persona. The hops also lend a distinctly floral tinge, imparting a slight resemblance to green tea.

Those fruity and floral flavours, as well as the light biscuity and toffee-like ones of the malts, are easily appreciated because of the unusual lack of bitterness. An uncommon sweetness prevails which, along with the appropriately set level of carbonation, makes for an exceptionally sessionable ale. Hell, I'm ready for another one already!

I guess that's why they call it 'Hoptical Illusion' - it seems hoppy but it's only a measly 18 IBUs! I must confess that at first I thought the idea of marketing a beer with artisan level hopping and industrial level bitterness had 'marketing ploy' written all over it (just like the brewery's coinciding name change from 'Robert Simpson Brewery' to 'Flying Monkeys'). Turns out I was wrong - this is surprisingly good and I like it. A lot.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Although not yet pictured on BA, this bottle features a very psychadelic funky-looking label that I initially mistook for an American import - unusual for an Ontario beer label, kudos to the Brewery for pushing the envelope on that one. The appearance of the beer when poured was also pleasing: an amber colour, one finger creamy tan head with large bubble presence and good retention. The lace slid down the glass in ribbons and a lot of it stuck to the glass. Moderate carbonation. So far, so good.

Smell and taste, however, distinguished it from its more hoppy American counterparts. Although there was a fruit zest, orange peel smell, it was generally subdued by comparison. Taste of tangerine, just a hint of grapefruit, and bitterness on the low side. Moderately hoppy presence in the mouth with a creamier texture than I expected, smooth with just a bit of spiciness in the background and a mild, earthy finish. As far as smell, taste and mouthfeel are concerned, I found it hard to decide on 3.5 or 4.0, somewhere in between would have been closer to the mark. However, since it really tasted quite good, I was more generous on that score to reflect that favourable impression.

Overall, I was pleased with this purchase. It does not match similar beers from south of the border but it stands out in Ontario as a nice alternative when the other worthier and hoppier craft brew products remain not all that accessible. Easily a session beer and something I would definitely buy again.

Photo of allergictomacros
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper with solid foam. Nose is caramel, some fruit and light lemon/citrus hops. Buttery, nutty flavour. Husky grain, mild hops and a hint of toast. Mouthfeel is dry and somewhat oily and good carbonation level isn't too fizzy. Overall, a fairly easy drinking brew. Not quite what I expected, but tasty enough. Could use a bit more sweetness.

Photo of EatsTacos
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The packaging almost put me off and made me not buy this beer, it was a little too gimmicky for me. That being said I also had a negative image of Robert Simpson beers being pretty bland

That being said this is a well crafted beer and I'll be getting it again. Good balance and certainly shows off some hops. This isn't meant to be an IPA and it isn't overly hoppy or bitter.

Good drinkability and one of the better Ontario microbrews i've had lately. Recommended

Photo of biboergosum
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 16oz Yankee pint (wait, what?) at C'est What in downtown Torranna.

This beer appears a clear medium reddish brick amber hue, with a single skinny finger of bubbly, foamy, and somehow creamy off-white head, which leaves a broken wall of pockmarked lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of biscuity caramel malt, a pithy lemon and orange citrus fruitiness, and earthy, weedy hops. The taste is gritty pale and lightly toasted caramel malt, a touch of stale lemon juice, and oily, bitterly herbal, leafy hops.

The carbonation is a bit high, the body fairly round, medium-light in weight, and somewhat tacky in its smoothness. It finishes dry, with a light puckering effect from a Hail-Mary-like rush of what seems like piney, IPA-worthy hops.

Overall, I'd have to say that this is a decent pale ale all on its own, yet one aspiring a little too hard to be an IPA. Hard to tell where this one ends, and Smashbomb begins, unless I were to have a sample of both, side by side. Meh, I'm a hop-whore, so I'm sure I don't really freaking care.

Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale from Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 233 ratings.