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

Not Rated.
Monks' AleMonks' Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

133 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 133
Reviews: 70
rAvg: 3.47
pDev: 13.83%
Wants: 3
Gots: 4 | 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:
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

(Beer added by: glid02 on 10-31-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 133 | Reviews: 70 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rinhaak
3.55/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was extremely excited to find this beer at the Belgium Cafe in Philadelphia. I've been tremendously curious about the beers from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert for a long time, and anxiously poured the beer into the goblet.

Unfortunately, the beer didn't quite live up to my expectations.

I was initially struck by how little it resembled a Belgian Pale Ale. The Belgian yeast flavor was tucked in the background behind a huge upfront caramel and grainy malt flavor. I was similarly surprised to discover the beer has only 18 IBU, as, at least to my palate, it seemed surprisingly bitter, with a long grassy hop finish. Mixed in was the flavor of a cardboard cereal box.

This wasn't a great beer, though it was certainly drinkable. I would be tremendously curious to learn their recipe, as it was so markedly different than what I expected from the style. However, it wasn't so unusual that I don't want to try the other offerings from the monks.

In short, if you see it, go ahead and try it. But don't go to far out of your way to track it down.

rinhaak, Mar 31, 2012
Photo of Stinkypuss
3.3/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Monk's Ale

Pours a medium amber/brown color, short livid off white foam and little lace. In the aroma, expressive Belgian yeast strain, caramel, and suggestions of wort. In the taste, mellow abbey yeast strain with a soft fruityness upfront. Caramel and raw grain flavors. Most flavors are complimentary but mild. Highlights the yeast pretty well, with a very light noble hopping and light grain bill. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a touch thin and carbonated well. Overall, an OK sessionable, no frills Belgian style brew.

Stinkypuss, Mar 19, 2012
Photo of Redstar137
3/5  rDev -13.5%

Redstar137, Mar 09, 2012
Photo of OneDropSoup
3.1/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Transparent reddish-amber body with gold highlights under a finger of loose, frothy head that drops to a thin coating & leaves some webbed lacing around the crown.

Smell is of a thin, Juicy Fruit kind of fruity bubble gum, with a little bit of pepper & a flinty, metallic sort of ring. A little pineapple, slightly musty.

Taste starts off with the fruit gum character again, then cuts it off halfway & turns to a kind of weak graininess, corn-like, even, with more flintiness. Finishes with a dull kind of orange, maybe a little tea. Nothing offensive but pretty flat & hollow.

Medium-light-bodied, some sweet body but coupled with that flinty flatness that's not so great.

Taste qualification pretty much sums it up: Nothing real offensive here, but in a lot of ways resembles macro taste & feel. Reminds me of a faux-craft brand attempt by the big boys.

OneDropSoup, Mar 03, 2012
Photo of bugbear
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

bugbear, Feb 10, 2012
Photo of enbotellabuey
4.2/5  rDev +21%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think that this beer is a bit underrated. It is listed as a Belgian Pale Ale, putting it in the same style category as Orval, Rare Vos, and other heavier more complex Belgians. I think that it is supposed to be a simple Trappist Enkel, which isn't listed as a style in advocate. The characteristics of this 'Enkel' are similar to a Dubbel or Tripel--only lighter. It is lower in alcohol than either of these, likely due to an absence of candi sugar.

I drank this beer on Super Bowl Sunday in a New Belgium globe with the laser etchings on the bottom. The head retention was good, keeping a solid 1/4" or so the entire time. This helped bring out the aroma a bit, which is somewhat subdued compared to the bigger Belgians.

The flavor of the beer, while not overwhelming, was very pleasant and Belgian-like. It has the clove/fruit taste that is common in many Belgians, along with the peppery bite from the Saaz hops. It apparently uses the Orval yeast, but without the Brett. So, no barnyard or medicine.

The mouthfeel was very good--again similar to a Dubbel or Tripel.

It pairs pretty well with food, although the Belgian quality is subtle enough that it is somewhat lost with heavy or spicy foods.

I will definitely buy this beer again. I would even like to try to brew a clone if I can get the recipe.

enbotellabuey, Feb 08, 2012
Photo of Pegasus
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazy reddish-golden in color, with a large, persistent white head, slght carbonation, and fine Belgian lacing.

Aroma: Sweet malt, spicy hops and coriander are notable in the aroma, as well as apricot rinds, and citrus.

Taste: Opens with a mildly sweet note, and prominent fruit notes of apricots, and oranges. A bread malt backdrop is present throughout. Later in the taste, earthy and spicy hop notes appear. Finishes with a mild, lingering herbal hop bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, quite pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: I rather liked this, perhaps its not strictly to style, but it is is till very pleasant and drinkable.

Presentation: Packaged in a twelve-ounce brown glass long neck bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a standard Pilsener glass.

Pegasus, Feb 05, 2012
Photo of hopfacebrew
3.13/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a bottle at the build your own six pack section at Lukas in Lonetree. Bottle appears to be dated 0211. Poured to snifter glass.

A - The beer pours a perfectly clear slightly light amber color. No sediment. A very small 1/4 finger white head with little retention though decent lacing.

S - The belgian yeast is most dominant though also a slight fruity ester. Not a lot of aroma though not terrible.

T - The beer starts with a sweet malt character. The belgian yeast comes through with a strong clove flavor, a bit of banana, apple, and spice. The middle of the beer brings an odd off-flavor. The beer started quite pleasant but finishes anything but. The beer finishes with what can best be described as skunky. It's odd and out of place. The beer seemed fresh.

M - Decently carbonated and light mouthfeel.

O - Pretty average brew. I wish I knew what caused the off-flavor on the tail end of the beer. If not for the skunk it would have been pretty solid.

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 03-26-2011 18:19:23

hopfacebrew, Jan 26, 2012
Photo of Jspriest
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Jspriest, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of Brueghel
3/5  rDev -13.5%

Brueghel, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of OWSLEY069
2.68/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clean orange-ish color with an off white head. In the aroma, light fruitiness and small notes of caramel and nuttiness. In the taste, light caramel, nutty, and a small fruity sweetness. A small bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry fruity caramel in the aftertaste. Too nutty and caramel for a Belgian pale, eh!

OWSLEY069, Nov 13, 2011
Photo of SWMeyer4141
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Left at the house...Poured into a tumbler...

Appearance-A hazy dark yellow body with a 2 finger nice frothy off white head. Pretty nice retention and lacing on the glass.

Smell-Sweet malts, lemon, and some spice.

Taste-Very earthy beer. Grassy, Grainy, taste's like the outdoors kind of if that makes any sense. Sweet malts and some subtle lemon flavors.

Mouthfeel-Light bodied, Pretty highly carbonated, but very easy to suck down.

Overall-With whats on the market not sure if I'd purchase this again, but I would prefer this over alot of gas station/grocery store beers.

SWMeyer4141, Nov 12, 2011
Photo of cowace2
4/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks like a hazy pale ale, very nice and hearty. Smell isn't anything special.

Maybe the most flavorful low ABV beer I've found. Great balance and a great malt mix. A bit lighter than I like from the style. The low ABV is kind of nice too if you're looking for something to drink all night.

A better than average beer; I have to give it some extra love for how and where it is made. It comes from a real functioning abbey, it is so genuine and humble. It is the polar opposite of AB/Coors/Miller/et al and I love it for that.

Quality is great for the price also, $7 for a sixer at the store and $3.50 for a bottle at the local bar.

cowace2, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of ZenAgnostic
4.43/5  rDev +27.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tapped into a tulip. The bartender told me it was a Flemish Sour Ale, and so I graded the beer under that (apparently false) assumption.

Appearance - Dark ruby clear body. Tight one finger off-whtie head with great retention and low-decent stick.

Smell - Sour. Tart. Vinegar. Raspberries.

Taste - VERY sweet. Bitter. Metallic finish. Tastes like cranberry and grape juice.

Mouthfeel - Starts out with a clean, very refreshing body. However, the finish is thick and kind of syrupy. It does the opposite of thinning out. Very strange dynamic, but I'm not saying it's a bad thing.

Overall Drinkability - Very good. Very flavorful. Delicious. Can get a little too thick over time, but fortunately the next sip promises to start of refreshing. It's a... viscous cycle. Get it? Haha, I make the best puns.

ZenAgnostic, Oct 28, 2011
Photo of Rayek
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured carefully into one of my favorite glasses, Monks' emerges a slightly hazy orange tinged amber. A small eggshell head falls fairly quickly to a ring a the beer's edge and leaves just a bit of lace.

Monks' is mostly fruity, with pear and green grape. A light clove and pepper spice offsets the sweeter aspects of the beer. A hint of bittersweet toffee, plus a light sourdough note rounds things out. Warming the beer improves things considerably. The light body could stand a bit more carbonation.

According to the brewery's website, the yeast strain comes from Orval, which explains some of the beer's characteristics. Overall, this beer slowly grew on me as it warmed over time. It was a nice pickup.

Rayek, Oct 17, 2011
Photo of Mebuzzard
3.43/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bright brassy color pour. Clean and clear. White foam seemed to be confused as to settle down or stay. Splotchy, and I like that.

Spice up front on the nose. It's quick and tingly. Biscuit is next, rounded down with some citrus and zest.

Biscuity is the first thought on the taste. Wet dough. Spices break this up and allow the hops to attack the palate. Perhaps attack is too strong of a word, but they are there. Lemon and orange zest. It seems the monks should receive an 'A' for effort, but I think they have some tweaking to do. The flavors are there, just chaotic, imho.

Mebuzzard, Oct 14, 2011
Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Possible freshness date on label, but it is not clearly marked.

Pours with a slightly cloudy amber/orange body under a finger of white head that rather quickly fades to a thin layer on the surface. This looks rather lackluster compared to an actual Belgian Pale ale from Belgium, but it looks fine for an American version.

Smells of light juicy-sweet hops, light sweet pineapple, and with some swirling, a touch of golden toasted malt.

The taste gives center stage to some bready, yeasty, (and rather rich) malts. These are paired closely with some Belgian yeast notes (slightly phenolic). The hops that were so prevalent in the nose (maybe that was partly yeast?) are subtle here, and they add a small measure of bitterness.

The mouthfeel is smooth and forgiving, with lighter medium body and soft carbonation.

Conclusion: First of all, let me say I really like this beer. It isn't the usual take on a Belgian Pale Ale, and since the Belgians themselves care so little about the mundane idea of "style guidelines" I will choose not to as well when I review a Belgian style beer. This isn't like other Belgian pale ales I have tasted, but it is good and interesting, and thus I like it.

allforbetterbeer, Sep 25, 2011
Photo of LXIXME
4.38/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an inch or so above the glass leaves a big off white to light tan head that settle into bubbly sort of carbonated lacing or decent worth above a clear coppery to reddish which also seems to have a golden glint to it, very appealing.

A mixed citrus fruit hops aroma with a little something in the background, a light toffee maybe caramel.

A medium bodied beer that has nice mix of sweet caramel malts and citrus hops taste with a very pleasant slightly dry aftertaste.

It seems to me to be very fresh or something, as if this was just sent out recently or if this has been sitting it sits very well.

I was very pleased with this beer, I'm gonna have to grab some more of these for sure.

LXIXME, Sep 06, 2011
Photo of cooch69
3.95/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one pours a clear copper with some amber and a small one finger white head.

Nose is'nt that big or exquisite. It features mainly floral hops and a light bisquity maltiness. Tangerines immediatly come to mind as well.

Taste is pretty light, yet satisfying. A straight up sessioner. This beer is Extremly soft in the mouth. The hops are at a pretty low level yet still contrast the maltiness because it is so light and soft.

This beer tastes to me like if an English man tried to create a Belgian Ale. It did'nt really come out according to a particular style, but it still came out pretty awesome.

cooch69, Sep 06, 2011
Photo of Nerudamann
3.08/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into an oversized wine glass.

Look – coppery in color, somewhat murky, with very little foam.

Smell – herbal type of smell, and more malty than hoppy. Hints of some sort of caramel. Maybe even a little on the worty side. Also a little musky.

Taste and Mouthfeel – slightly warming Mouthfeel. Definitely a little musky and sweet. Not a whole lot of bite. Texture is pretty well balanced.

Overall – not a horrible brew. It tastes rather homemade versus specially crafted. Not terribly interesting though.

Nerudamann, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of ranger7
3.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

A - Pours a very nice golden amber color. A good, white head as well.

S - A light, sweet aroma. Maybe a hint of hops, but not too strong.

T - Good. Overall it's pretty balanced with a bit of a hops note combined with a good, light fruitiness.

M - Not much carbonation, fairly smooth. Not much of an aftertaste.

Summary - Monk's Ale was a really nice surprise. A balanced Belgian Pale Ale that isn't overwhelming, I would definitely have another one.

ranger7, Jul 26, 2011
Photo of woodychandler
3.98/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another interesting beer brought to me courtesy of local trader, tone77.

In my field persona of Brother Woody of the Order of Disorder, I am a Trapped monk, so this ale must be for me.

From the bottle: "made with care and prayer".

My pour resulted in a finger of tawny head with very good retention in the face of today's heat and humidity. Color was an oh-so-slightly hazy orangish-amber. Nose had an almost perfume-like tropical fruitiness with notes of mango and orange. Mouthfeel was fairly full with a mild tropical fruitiness on the tongue. Finish was fruity and refreshing, very pleasant on this hot day.

woodychandler, Jul 21, 2011
Photo of awmiller
2.4/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This brew poured up a very hazy apricot-colored body with a minimal head and no lacing (at least in this sampling). Citrus-y scents waft about immediately upon opening and plenty of hops as well. Lots of fruity flavors (mostly apple) and citrus-y flavors as well. There's just a tad bit of sweetness in the background but lots of hops hits you right off the bat. Not too much, not too little.

awmiller, Jul 21, 2011
Photo of Coplains
3.35/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up on a trip to Santa Fe. Pours amber with very faint haze moderate carbonation. Somewhat Belgian in style. This beer drinks pretty smooth but
No attributes stick out. Like the story of the monks in the monastery making it, would buy again if in Santa Fe but wouldn't seek it out

Coplains, Jul 17, 2011
Photo of corby112
2.2/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a cloudy, bright goldn orange/tangerine color with a one finger yellowish off white head that quickly settles into a thin ring. Not much in the way of lacing.

Slightly earthy and spicy aroma with faint hints of light and citrus fruit. Some floral, piney hops countered by pale malt, pepper and orange peel. All of these characterisitics are minimal and the nose of this beer is pretty bland.

Thin bodied and kind of watered down with some grassy hops and zesty spice up front that linger over the pale malts and subtle fruit notes into a dry finish. Hints of apple and orange peel as well as some booze toward the finish. Again, as in the aroma, it's a bit of a stretch to pull these flavors out even after the beer warms. Mediocre and not very interesting. I was excited when I first heard about this brewery but Monk's Ale was a disappointment. Hopefully their other offerings are an improvement.

corby112, Jul 01, 2011
Monks' Ale from Abbey Beverage Company (Monastery of Christ in the Desert)
79 out of 100 based on 133 ratings.