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 ZenAgnostic
4.41/5  rDev +25.6%
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.

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Photo of LXIXME
4.36/5  rDev +24.2%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.35/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Monk's Cafe, which seems an appropriate place to try this beer.

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a hazy amber color capped by a finger's worth of foam; a few sheets and a number of shards of lace are left behind

Smell: Light fruits and herbal elements combine along with a hint of toffee

Taste: Toffee malt, up front, with a developing light fruit flavor; hoppy bitterness adds balance, by mid-palate and although the hop bill is Germanic, they taste more English in style; there is a peppery yeast character that arrives, after the swallow, but the finish tilts toward the sweeter malt flavors

Mouthfeel: Very Belgian, with a light to medium body and a soft carbonation

Overall: A really nice hybrid beer, with elements from all of the major brewing traditions combined in a sessionable ale

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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 enbotellabuey
4.21/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

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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 Deuane
4.1/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Slightly hazed copper kissed golden yellow with a medium bright white head reduced to a thin cap and left attractive decorative lace.

S-Lightly sweet biscuit malt with pleasant notes of apple/pear and a rather sharp zing of dank, earthy hops.

T-Pleasant fruity notes up front with apple and pear being dominate with lightly hints of citrus rind in the background. Biscuit malt sweetness adds a pronounced bready profile and adds balance. This one is very unassertive and unassuming yet very enjoyable and interesting at the same time.

M-Medium-light bodied and rather sharp with lingering fruit notes and hop bitterness.

D-A simple, yet enjoyable and highly drinkable brew. I can see why the monks that make beers such as this keep it for themselves to power through their day! Possessing a low ABV with enough flavour to keep things interesting this is a brew that is easy to enjoy.

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Photo of meeekyh
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I heard about this beer from me friend in the retail beer business. He didn't recommend it but said it had been requested. I figured that trying it would be a good idea as it is Friday and I can.

I got a single 12oz brown bottle with an attractive label depicting a stained-glass-window and am pouring into a St. Bernardus chalice.

There is no indication of either style or ABV so I will be reviewing this one in a vacuum and not according to style guidelines.

The beer is a pale orange with a slight haze and a head that is tiny and light tan. Lacing is small and head dissipates quickly.

Smells are subtle and clean at the 45 degrees it came out of the fridge. I will give it some time as I am inclined that the ale deserves it. - Maybe a hint of orange-peel and violet...

The taste is lightly sweet, tart and only very slightly bitter. There are hints of dried fruits and a pronounced grainy/grassy flavor at the end.

Mouthfeel is smoothly full with a bit of sharp carbonation and a lingering, dry finish.

This is a winner of a beer. It is full and clean and refreshing and really just plain great beer. I can't remember the price but it is well below many of the other craft beers on the market today and outshines many.


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Photo of russpowell
4.04/5  rDev +15.1%
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 glid02
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 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 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 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 ZTex
4/5  rDev +14%
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 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 cowace2
3.98/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

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Photo of Kemmerlin
3.98/5  rDev +13.4%
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 woodychandler
3.97/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.95/5  rDev +12.5%
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 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 cooch69
3.93/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.92/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

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Photo of edisonst
3.9/5  rDev +11.1%
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 thekevlarkid
3.86/5  rDev +10%
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 Haybeerman
3.84/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Slightly hazy orange/amber color. Poured a 3 finger off-white head with good retention to a 1 finger cap. Lightly decanted. Sticky webs of lacing all the way to the end.

S: Yeast esters; light-colored fruits. Mild clove and pepper spices.

T: Sweet malt character up front. Transitions quickly to fruity yeast esters; banana and green apple. Clove taste comes to bear ahead of a mild, building finish of pepper and lemon rind.

M: Light to medium body; a little bigger than I expected. Moderate carbonation. Really nice balance of sweet fruit in the finish.

O: Solid representation of the style. Flavorful, smooth and balanced in both taste and feel.

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Photo of ranger7
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

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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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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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