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Monks' Ale - Abbey Beverage Company (Monastery of Christ in the Desert)

Not Rated.
Monks' AleMonks' Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

71 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 71
Hads: 154
Avg: 3.49
pDev: 19.48%
Wants: 3
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Abbey Beverage Company (Monastery of Christ in the Desert) visit their website
New Mexico, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Domingo on 04-24-2007

Monks’ Ale is distinctly fruity and spicy. The yeast lends a note of clove and in combination with the malt, hints of plum and apricot. The malt itself provides a honeyish quality up front, a round fullness in the middle, and the hops, together with our pure brewing water, lend a clean, dry finish.

18 IBU
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Reviews: 71 | Hads: 154
Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From beernews.org: It's along the lines of the beers Trappist breweries produce for the monks themselves to drink but don't sell commercially (such as Westmalle Extra and Chimay Doree). A 1.052 (13 degrees Plato) beer, it's 4.7% abv and 16 IBUs. The grain bill included two-row pale, honey malt and aromatic malt, and Monk's Ale was hopped with Hallertauer, Styrian Goldings and Czech Saaz.(Brew Like a Monk Sept. 25, 2005)

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico, U.S.A., was founded in 1964 by Fr. Aelred Wall, OSB, with monks of Mount Saviour Monastery in New York state. In 1983 the Monastery of Christ in the Desert was received into the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation as a Conventual Priory and in 1996 became an autonomous abbey.

On-tap at Monk's Café.

Pours a hazy yellow-golden color with a one-finger bright white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of light malts with crisp medium fruits - pears mostly - and moderate amounts of earthy hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Neutral light malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by smooth and light medium fruit flavors. Slight amounts of breadiness work their way into things midway through the sip, as do earthy and light citrus hop flavors. The hops carry through to a crisp and mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a smooth thickness with active carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I had no problems finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this was a solid beer for the style, it didn't try and do too much. A simple and fairly drinkable beer that's worth a shot.

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Photo of ocelot2500
2.9/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy slightly orange gold color with a tight white head that leaves little lacing.

Smells of pale malts, spice, and some fruitiness.

Tastes of not much. Some fruit sweetness comes through, but is very light. Spice is not as evident as in the nose. Pale malts are evident.

Mouthfeel is light with a very small amount of carbonation.

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Photo of tempest
3.57/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had a glass at Monk's Cafe for $3.50. This is an interesting Belgian ale, it sort of came off like a Belgian-style bitter or extra pale ale. My only complaint is that there's a slight vinegar taste, a sort of dry astringency that takes away from the mouthfeel. Still, there's a lovely candied fruit aroma with toasty malt below that carries over into the flavor. It's a light and drinkable beer, but needs a touch more sugar.

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Photo of BARFLYB
2.95/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from Capone's, I've been seeing this pop up all over the city.

A- Comes out the bottle looking a nice shade of orangish copper with barely any foam being produced, even with a hard pour I only got sparse bubbles, no lace, looks dead.

S- The smell does not quite jump out at me, but with some sniffs I can tell there is nothing really to smell. Small traces of earthy hops under adjunct smells of corn and grain, not a good look.

T- I thought this may have some type of yeast giving off some type of flavors, but im left with a boring beer. It's a belgian pale ale alright, but the worst one i've had to date. This bottle is fresh and it just does not deliver. Im talking about adjunct tastes here, corn dammit. Sweet malt, grain.

M- Less than medium and kinda dead with the carb. There is a little prick here and there but this is virtually flat.

Im glad I gambled on only a bottle of this. It's not that good. I could drink this off the tap at a few local spots right now, but what's the point, this beer is not worthy. The bottle said this is brewed with care and prayer, I think next time they should put some more traditional brewing ingredients or change the recipe. I wish this brewery would pull out of PA, it's crowding the shelves and taps of other better beers. A huge let down.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.6/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Thanks to papollo for this bottle!

This may be the end of my brief New Mexico excursion courtesy of papollo. (I love how I don't know for sure...) It pours a cloudy reddish-amber topped by a half-finger of white micro-foam. The nose comprises sweet sticky toffee and caramel and some slight orange-y citrus. The taste is similar, but the emphasis has shifted away from the maltier notes and more toward the citrus, particularly orange and orange rind. The body is a light medium, with a very light carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, a solid brew, a bit of a weak example of a BPA, but pretty tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of EgadBananas
2.92/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice light amber in color, off white head with predominant lacing. Looks damn decent.

Smell is a lot underwhelming with some sweet malts and soapy undertones. Not horrid, but very lackluster.

Taste is much of the same with the malts righting the majority. Theres not much else to fall back on. Hops are not much there.

The feel is a little more comforting, medium and smooth.

There is nothing wonderous about this brew, but it was a pretty decent offering. I think theres much room to work on with the belgian front for this brewery.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.8/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle without a freshness date pours a very light copper color with a creamy off-white foam. Does not have overly great retention but does leave some nice lacing.

Surprisingly, the nose is decently Belgian. Rock candy and brown sugar, little bit of doughy yeast and rum-spiced soaked raisins.

Spicy and doughy yeast flavors are pretty nice and meld well with some sugary sweetness. I am tasting spices in here, perhaps lavender, licorice and/or chamomile? There is a nice hop bittering that is noticeable on the finish. Yea, it's a pretty tame interpretation of a Belgian ale, but it is pretty tasty and goes down easy. It's a good buy at 7.99 a six pack and would certainly warrant a six-pack purchase every now and again.

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Photo of ZTex
4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found a six pack of this brew in Pecos, NM at Adelo's store. It is a joint venture by the Monks from Pecos Abbey and Monastery of Christ in the Desert Abbey.

Prayer on the box says:

He who drinks ale sleeps well.
He who sleeps well does not sin.
He who does not sin goes to heaven,

This is ale is very light and bubbly. the first bottle seemed very carbonated. Poured with a nice two fingered head and bubbled the whole time. Quite fruity with tastes of lemon and a touch of banana. Feel was, like I said, light and bubbly but not in bad way.
Very drinkable, in fact I had one before dinner and another with my chicken and veggies. Very nice, warm glow after dinner.

Before leaving the mountains, I bought another six pack to take home to Texas.

Great to see the Monks brewing this good stuff.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.38/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried 11 May 2008.

Medium sized tan fluffy head. Well carbonated. Clear bright chestnut copper color. Aromas of caramel, ethanol and some resin. Starts somewhat sweet and buttery. Caramel and a little sour through the middle. Finish is slightly bitter with some oatiness. Medium body. Medium ethanol.

Decent but doesn't really seem like a belgian pale ale.

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Photo of thekevlarkid
3.86/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From the hills of Pecos New Mexico came this beer I sampled in Santa Fe. Out of a bottle the liquid was a hazy copper/amber color with a two-finger khaki head. The retention was very good as a cap and the lacing was like a fishnet stocking with a lace top. Yes, I am a lingerie junkie as well as a lush. The aroma was slightly musty with a light citrus hops and some toasted malt. The flavors were at first toasted malt that then became a nice blend of floral hops and caramel malt. As it warmed up I got more lemon notes a touch of Belgian yeast. Nice balance with a pleasing sweetness. The mouthfeel was semi-creamy, the carbonation perfect and the body medium but a little watery. Better than most of the adulterants that come out of Pecos and legal too!

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Photo of rowew
3.48/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 pz longneck - "made with care and prayer," but no other information about the beer - style, ABV, date information are all lacking.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color, average head with good retention.

Smell: A bit of candi sugar, some toffee, and a slight belgian yeast funk.

Taste: Thin body, something strange in the taste that I can't identify. It has many flavors in common with a tripel, but seems lighter.

Overall impression: Far from perfect, but this beer has some interesting flavor notes, and is plenty drinkable. Interesting to see an American group of monks producing beer.

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Photo of Kemmerlin
3.98/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Cloudy golden color with a thick head and sticky lacing.

S: Provides a very sweet malt and hop ale smell with good amount of yeast aromas coming in the back.

T: Kinda tastes like a belgian tripel but only lighter. Slight banana with crisp malts and light yeast tastes in between.

M/D: Slightly watery and light bodied not the best feel for the taste and smell you receive. The drinkability is good and pleasant but could be better with an improvement in the feel department.

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Photo of bleeng
3.75/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the restaurant in Albuquerque. Served in their glass=nice. Light brown and filtered and a bit too cold. Nose is malts and sweetness-this has all the makings of a dubbel. Taste of malts, candi sugar, lightly spiced, alcohol is present but not overwhelming. Body is light and fluffy, very drinkable. Goes down very smooth and the flavors really come out after the beer warms up. Will search out this in bottle.

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Photo of edisonst
3.9/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer out in Santa Fe recently. It is only available on tap now and I wanted to say that I have read the previous reviews for this beer and they do not do it justice. I have had hundreds of belgians and american micros. I feel this was the best balanced, most drinkable and finest crafted beers I have had on tap in the U.S.. Maybe I just had a good keg or the fact that there are few places in Santa Fe that have great beer. But all things considered I was very jazzed to have an american Monk Ale and I was not disappointed. I am proud to have enjoyed their holy brew!

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Photo of vurt
3.38/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased in Albuquerque, NM, at Kelly's Liquors on Coors Rd. Enjoyed in a Lucky Baldwin's 8th Annual Belgian Festival snifter.

Attractive copper-orange color, very clear but still showing a bit of hazy glow when held up to the light. The head is ivory white and a bit sticky, clinging briefly to the glass and leaving small flecks of foam behind.

Lightly honeyed bread, with notes of sweet orange and pear skin and some peppery spiciness. There is also a pleasant herbal hoppiness and some alcohol (a bit surprising, as this is not a strong beer).

Flavors follow the nose, but are much milder than I was expecting. Orange honey on bread, with some banana character and a little spice in the background. The flavor drops right off in the middle. There is some fruit and malty sweetness in the finish, which doesn't last long.

Light-bodied and a bit frothy. The beer's texture runs out right about the time the flavors diminish, leaving the rather odd sensation that the beer has evaporated in your mouth.

I have no problem with subtle beers, but this one starts off intriguing and winds up bland. Doesn't do anything particularly wrong, but doesn't do enough right to have me looking forward to another one.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.95/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this bottle in a trade with russpowell. Thanks Russ!

It pours a clear and very bubbly orange amber witha 3 finger head of foam that I was afraid would overflow but...it didn't. ;^)

It smells of fruit and yeast with a touch of caramel malt.

The taste is also fruity; I think I pick up notes of tangerine, some yeasty flavour, and honey with earthy notes. Fairly light bodied and medium to lightly carbonated, the finish falls fairly flat and becomes somewhat watery but before I get to that point, it's a pretty good sipper and quite drinkable but it is not quite what I'm used to when I think of Belgian Pale Ale.

Btw, the second pour was equally clear and the head retention was above average with some good lacing.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
2.9/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Monk's Ale, made with care and prayer.
Abbey Beverage Company, Pecos, NM
Hazy, rosy orange-ish color, tangerine and peach...small head.
Sweet nose, plenty of fruit, and a hit of spice. Lively yeast. Apricot and orange, and a little straw.
In the mouth, it's ...it's.. ah, ...eh...oh.
Bleh, to be succinct.
Thin bodied, small in flavor, lacking a lot. Drinkable, inoffensive, but lacking in charm, to say the least. Passable, at best, with hardly anything Monk-ish or abbey-like at all. Hardly even interesting as a pale ale.
Can't really hate it. Can't like it, either. Sorry.

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Photo of russpowell
4.04/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Based on notes, picked this up in Las Cruces, NM

Poured an effervescent amber with a very modest white head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Fruitty with some musty notes

T: Apricots & peach, plus some honey up front. Lemony hops & honey malt as this warms. Finishes dry with peppery & lemony hops & fruitty

MF: Chewy with moderate, but assertive carbonation, skews a tad malty for the style

Drinks pretty good, reminds me of Duvel, minus some hops

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.38/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, slightly darker amber. Minimal head. Has a slightly sweeter edge with a nutty tone and deep body. Full and frothy on the mouth. Might be a bit too heavy for some for a session beer.

Overall I can't say I was entirely impressed by this production. In no way did it remind me of a Belgian brew at any level. (though before I departed the NM area for good, someone told me they changed the recipe...so maybe it will be better) It will be the first brew to be produced by an American monastery in 100 years when they get their facility set up on the grounds, but I can't say I felt there was anything special about it. I am wondering if the tap I had it from was not the best at the time. I plan to try it again and keep an eye out for other productions from the company/monastery.

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Photo of Zorro
3.63/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up at Kelly's in Albuquerque.

Gemstone clear copper colored beer with a decent tan head.

The scent is mild and sweet with the unmistakable scent of coriander and spice, as you would expect from a Belgian style beer. Lots of herb and spice scent are present, pretty much your standard Belgian Pale Ale scent.

The taste starts malty with coriander and malt being the dominant flavors. Herbal and woody in the mouth this isn't an over sweet ale. Not a lot of nuance just mild and fault free Belgian Pale Ale flavor in a dry rendition.

The mouthfeel is good.

Very drinkable ale here for those that like them mild and dry. When I got this it was just as a wild gamble I never expected this to be a good beer or and accurate one to a style. Mild and Dry Belgian Style ale from an unexpected source and place.

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Photo of Domingo
3.69/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Interesting that there aren't more reviews of this. This is relatively common (bottled) in the Santa Fe area.
I'm honestly not sure what to think of this brew because I'm not sure what type of style they're shooting for. The original reviewer went with Belgian pale, which is as good of a guess as any.
Pours a light copper color. It's more red than a typical Belgian pale ale, but it's not quite the color profile of a dubbel, tripel, or quad either. Head's minimal, which is typical for the bigger styles, but not necessarily the pale ale.
Smell is of a Belgian yeast strain for sure. This always comes across as a corn smell to me personally. It reminds me of a typical brewpub's attempt at a tripel by the nose.
Flavor starts off sweet, nutty, and and yeasty, but fades and the finish is minimal. It's certainly enjoyable, but the abrupt finish is unusual. Considering the warm location, this isn't necessarily bad. It pairs well with the local food, but it definitely doesn't have as much depth as you'd expect.
As it warms, a little more flavor comes through, but it almost seems to be missing something.
It's a little thin, which might be the culprit, but it's pretty drinkable. For a warm climate with really complex food, it actually makes a very good pairing with red or green chile. By itself it's only average.
If you're in Sante Fe, grad some of this and see what you think of it. It's certainly not bad, but it could be better. I'm sure as the NM monks become more adept brewers, we could see some amazing results based on this first attempt.
If you're in the area, you might try a bottle or two of this, but I prefer to stick to the Sante Fe Brewing Co. items.

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Monks' Ale from Abbey Beverage Company (Monastery of Christ in the Desert)
80 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.