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

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Monks' AleMonks' Ale

Brewed by:
Abbey Beverage Company (Monastery of Christ in the Desert)
New Mexico, United States

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

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

Added by Domingo on 04-24-2007

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Reviews: 76 | Ratings: 163
Photo of Dodo2step
3.81/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- cloudy orange amber color with minimal head and minimal lacing.

S- plum, apricot, honey and sweet caramel malts.

F- taste mimics the nose with the plum and dark candied fruit coming out stronger on the back end. there is honey that comes through just enough to complement the rest of the notes nicely.

M- sweet and bitter but not bittersweet if that makes sense. chewy medium bodied and very tasty

O- a great belgian...i want more! Everything is well complemented and not too dominant.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.79/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium coppery amber with a fine half finger off-white head with great retention and lots of lacing. Aroma of bready malt, dark and light stone fruit, Belgian yeast and spicing. Flavor is bready malt, clove, light stone fruit, plum, Belgian yeast with a hint of honey; flavor dries and thins out in the finish leaving a mild aftertaste of clove and light hops. Medium bodied with light creaminess and a bit of stickiness on the lips. A nicely made, light domestic take on a Belgian pale ale. Probably would not be mistaken for a continental one, but covers all the flavor bases nicely. The finish is a little stark, but otherwise quite enjoyable. My sister brought this to me from a trip to New Mexico and if I get the chance, I would like to try this breweries other offerings.

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Photo of Radome
4.18/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tasted from a 12 oz bottle bought in Albuquerque.

L - Color is deep gold to light copper. Lots of orange. A bit darker than expected. Crystal clear. Head off-white and solid but not spectacular.

S - Aromas are all about the yeast, are clean, and are distinctly Belgian: light fruit (plum and raisin), honey, black pepper. Low bready malt is just detectable. No hops apparent, as expected.

T - Again the yeast notes are out front, with pepper and spice. Fruity notes are more muted. There is a cracked grain note and a bit of honey in the finish. Again, very clean. Crisp bitterness keeps the flavors sharp.

F - Light to moderate body. Moderate, prickly carbonation. Low alcohol presence.

O - This is a crisp, clean beer with lots of Belgian yeast character. Nicely made!

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Photo of ArchimedesSox
4.27/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Deep orange to red color, 1 inch off white head, great lacing

S: Spices, honey, plum

T: Clove with some sweetness, a little caramely malt, and slight hop bitterness but it is ever so slight.

M: Medium but still very drinkable.

O: I like this one. This is right up my ally with the sweet malts and little hop presence. Good beer.

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Photo of Tone
3.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, copper color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of strong sweet malt, caramel malt, slight pale malt, hint of yeast, and a hint of earthy malt. Does not seem to fit a Belgian Pale Ale category since there is a complete lack of hops. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, pale malt, slight earthy malt, slight yeast, and a hint of caramel malt. The beer is not a Belgian Pale Ale, but just a Belgian Ale. Therefore, the rating will change, and the almost complete lack of hops will not be a detriment.

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Photo of Auraan
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a pretty cloudy amber with no real head. It looks nice in body, but it does lack that Belgian head that is always a joy. Scents of candi sugar sweetness, spicy Belgian yeast, slight bubblegum and some faint apricot-like fruity esters. A good aroma profile, very true to form for a Belgian Pale and very nice. Flavor begins with a nice sweet malt, mingling with flavors of clove, white pepper and citrus. The middle lead into more clove and white pepper, with some slight hints of citrus peel and alcohol. Finish is medium-dry with notes of clove, white pepper, a hint of alcohol and some citrus peel with a bit of bready malt. A good flavor profile overall, quite true to form for a Belgian Pale Ale. Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied with moderate carbonation and a slightly smooth feel. Very nice, quite true to style. Overall a nice Belgian Pale Ale, with a nice aroma and flavor profile and a good mouthfeel. Not the best example of the style, but still quite nice.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.36/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle marked 0114 at 45 degrees into standard pint glass
Faint aroma of spice and fruit
Head average (3 cm), off white, creamy, slowly diminishing to 2 mm layer
Lacing spotty
Body clear, light amber, some bubbles but not really sparkling
Flavor very muted non-specific fruit and slight spice
Palate medium, oily, soft carbonation

To me, this is a good looking ale which doesn’t have the flavor or aroma to support the appearance. While I think it’s admirable that some US abbeys are entering the abbey brewing market, I just don’t feel that this ale is a good representation of the style.

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Photo of stevoj
2.71/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Weak and watery. Initial flavor dissipates to nothing, and no aftertaste either. Looks like a Belgian, but in this case, looks are deceiving. Was hoping for a bit better.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Monk’s Ale has a thin, almost nonexistent, white head, a mostly clear, orange-gold appearance, with tight bubble streams and no lacing left behind. The aroma is of rich, sweet fruits, sweet bread, and spice. Taste is the same, with low bitterness and no cloying aspects. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Monk’s Ale finishes crisp, refreshing, and highly drinkable. A very smooth, Belgian-style ale. I give this a strong recommendation.


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Photo of DoubleJ
3.29/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Total Wine sold single bottles and was left with one less. I consumed this New Mexican blonde with a pork tenderloin dinner and served in a La Trappe chalice. On to the beer:

Its burnt orange color fills the glass and is topped with a small head which dissipates to a lace. Not much lace hangs around the glass. With a few whiffs through the nose, there's potential. The smell of clove, toasted brown sugar, and a kiss of mandarin orange make a good starting point for the blonde to take off from.

Starts off with a solid taste, although part way through it's missing something. Modestly spicy with a bready base and a hint of citrus. There are at brief moments which I also believed that I was drinking spiced air. Perhaps the touch of watered down body played a part for that. In a pinch, this is a decent Belgian styled beer. On an expanded menu, this is one that would probably be passed up.

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Photo of BrewAskew
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out to a frothy buff head with good retention and a bright copper color. Aroma is cloves, spices and bubblegum and caramelized malts. Flavor is much like the aroma, with a grainy, biscuity finish. Mouthfeel is light-medium and "smooth". Overall a very good beer.

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Photo of mhaugo
2.34/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle decanted into a tulip glass. 5.1% ABV.
Appearance: The color of an aging penny. Overcast inside. It’s got the suggestion of a head that never really becomes one. The cloudiness clears up as it gets closer to room temperature (2.5/5).
Aroma: Prunes and figs. There’s some bready malt back there too. Sadly, I’m getting a lot of “wet cardboard” as well, which tells me its oxidized (2.25/5).
Taste: Oh, boy… is this oxidized and infected? It’s got a wild yeast dryness to it. I get some raisins, some plums, and maybe some vegetables too? I swear I taste a little bit of carrot and cabbage. This is all followed by a harsh bitterness. I guess this could be an early hop charge, but I’m not entirely certain it was intentional. It tastes out of place, as does everything else (2.25/5).
Mouthfeel: Light body, light carbonation. Very thin and slightly astringent (2.5/5).
Overall: So, this is probably another victim of poor retailer storage, but I’m guessing there are problems with this beer that predate the distributor. It doesn’t taste to style, nor does it taste like something I’d ever want to drink again. It’s just generally unpleasant. This is the first beer I’ve had from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, but after this one I’m not sure I’ll be racing out to get any others (2.25/5).

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Photo of lancecenter
2.53/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 mL bottle purchased at the local HEB.

A - translucent copper color, a couple fingers of head, average retention and lacing.

S - typical Belgian profile, just muted. Phenols, cloves, bananas, and pepper.

T/M - and this is where it falls apart. The taste kind of follows the nose, but there's just not much there. Way too watery and not enough carbonation.

O - I see why this stuff is so cheap now. I thought I'd rather have a bad Belgian over a good adjunct, but I'm not so sure anymore.

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Photo of bmwats
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a footed tulip.

A: Dark amber hue. Pours a 1 finger, tight, foamy, white head. Settles quickly leaving a thick beer ring. Thick beer ring lacing.

S: Grass, a little citrus zest, a slight hop, a touch of honey, and coriander.

T: Cardboard, lightly sweetened hop, coriander, and pepper. A bit of a butterscotch or caramel, but very light.

M: Earthy and grainy. A little shallow. Synthetically sweet feeling finish.

D: Session.

Atmosphere is pretty solid. Dark hue, tight foamy head, and plenty of thick persistent lacing. Nose is grassy more than grainy, accentuated with a little citrus zest, hop, honey, and coriander. Cardboard and white bread, with a slight sweet hop bite, and spice. Overall, this is a pretty good quaff.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Kind of orange-tan with a little haze, 1/2 finger head that left an off-white sheen and some decent lacing.

Aroma is pretty yeasty, along with fruity, and with a touch of caramel malt.

Flavor is very Belgian yeast forward, with a pretty good fruitiness, some clove, some pepper, and some non-distinct spices, The malt base provides a solid background for the other flavors, lending a nice caramel malt/bread/light toast note.

Body is very full and rich, and leaves a malt base/caramel malt/Belgian yeast blend of aftertastes.

It's an interesting brew, and was certainly worth the price. I'd have it again.

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Photo of Bockrules
3.79/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from the bottle into tulip glass

A - Pours a hazy golden amber capped by a dense, creamy tannish head. Numerous columns of small bubbles are seen rising up through the glass. Head stays intact all the way down the glass and leaves behind splotches of lacing on the top half of the glass and a thick complete ring of tiny bubbles on the bottom half.

S - A mild apple cider spice upon opening the bottle. In the glass a bit more green apple yeast notes come out on an inviting caramel and biscuit background.

T - Caramel malt upfront. The body is an intriguing blend of yeast and light apple notes on a light caramel and biscuit backbone. More caramel and a flash of green apple as the beer passes over the back of the tongue leads to a bitter caramel granny smith apple finish.

M - On the slightly heavy of light bodied with ample carbonation. Seems to suite the style well enough and is a tad bit fizzy as the beer goes down.

Monks Ale came in a summer beer pack I purchased at World Market a few years ago for $7.50 (12 beers). Given the low price tag and how well this beer seems to have held up, I'm going to go ahead and pull the trigger on a 4 overall. The green apple and caramel flavors are unique to me and I like the somewhat light body and darker color. This may not be the best crafted beer, but it is interesting, unique, and possibly cheap enough for me to consider getting it again.

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Photo of Oakenator
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark amber to brown with a finger of head. Head lingers a bit and leaves nice spotted lacing on the glass.

S: Malty.

T: Definitely a good amount of malting in this beer but also getting some molasses on the finish. Flavor of an Belgian Dubbel without the ABV.

M: Good heft to this brew for a 5.1 - really nice flavor.

O: Good beer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.47/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, candied fruit, yeast, and spices. Taste is much the same with spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that tastes better than it smells.

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Photo of nach0king
3.46/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Quite light for a Belgian pale ale but one that, if you like spice, will grow on you:

A: The head went a bit too quickly but it was lovely before that, and even after there was some creamy lacing. A deep, metallic copper.

S: A little bit of spice and grains - nothing bitter on the nose at all.

T: You can tell it's quite heavily hopped but at the same time there's some clove-y funk and a great deal of spice. Really this rounds all the bases. Gets better as you drink it.

M: Tiniest bit of effervescence gives way to chewiness.

This would be readily sessionable. As it stands I want to try their other stuff.

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Photo of beergoot
3.32/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at Eske's Brew pub in Taos, NM...

Crystal clear amber; very thin head. Slight fruity esters and light bread notes in the smell. Taste was very mild. Some banana and clove with a faint biscuit flavor. Off-kilter, light bitterness. Light, water consistency.

I couldn't get too fired-up about this beer. Seemed bland and non-distinct overall. Not a bad beer, just blase...

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Photo of soulfly1492
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: Nice aroma, starts out with mild fruity esters, some spicy phenols. Some banana and clove. Big bold flavor overall. Moderate pine and citrus hop bitterness.

Appearance: Deep gold with orange highlights. Hazy. Small yellw and light orange head dissolves after 60 seconds or so. Some lacing.

Taste: Fruity esters, apricots, spicy black pepper, moderate clove. Hops are mostly citrus. White sugar. Malty sweetness, nutty malt flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Creamy, slick and oily. Finishes mildly dry, expecting dryer from the moderate hop bitterness and spicy phenols. Low carbonation.

Overall: Savory brew that's easy enough to drink. The hops and spice are a bit high, but the esters help to balance.

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Photo of DavidST
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass, couldn't find a freshness date. This pours a dark amber color with an okay off white head. The smells are of light hops and belgian yeast esters, but mostly of malts. The feel is okay medium. The taste is okay also a slight hop bite and some yeast esters, mostly malts though.

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Photo of rinhaak
3.55/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.33/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
3.13/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

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Monks' Ale from Abbey Beverage Company (Monastery of Christ in the Desert)
3.51 out of 5 based on 163 ratings.
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