Brooklyn Monster Ale | Brooklyn Brewery

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Brooklyn Monster AleBrooklyn Monster Ale

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.10%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
ABV varies a bit year to year.

Added by Todd on 11-26-2000

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 1,081 | Ratings: 1,862
Photo of marburg
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Too often, we beer drinkers are faced with terribly misguiding beer names and nicknames. To wit, we get things like "King of Beers" when it should probably say "The Chemically Treated Mutant Son of Beer." But as a name, Monster Ale is pretty appropriate. This beer's an ass-kicker.

Rum cake swimming in mild hoppiness that hints at a bitterness to come and thick, gooey alcohol aromas. Maybe a splash of Jagermeister and a hint of 151 on fire. OK, that's an exaggeration. But so is the beer. Deeply flavorful. Toffee. Mild roasted malts. Lots of caramel. Perhaps more accurately, freshly carmelized brown sugar being cooked to the point of blackening. A thick, sweet brew, the malt and alcohol assert themselves, but so do the hops. A really intense, slap-in-the-face sort of hop finish that seems too intense to be "balacing," but when you consider that the last thing you taste is sweet, maple-ish malt, you start to reconsider that point.

If I had more, I'd think about aging it. I bet it would smooth out quite nicely with 2 years on it.

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Photo of marc77
3.34/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 release. Fulgent garnet hue. Lean, spotty, light beige head tields loose lace. Pungent waft of black licorice and alcoholic fermented prune upfront in aroma. Mellows slightly as it breathes, with notes of bourbon soaked, burnt fruitcake emerging. Odd, unbalanced, but unique aromawise. In flavor, incipient is a lightly savory, salty dark biscuit impression. Notes of buttery, singed toffee arise mid palate only to be nearly overrun by a bittersweet, peppery, but solvent like ethanol and fusel combination. Earthy, almost dirty hop tones surface concomitantly with nutty, yeasty tones late. Lightly bodied, with a mouthfeel that is both lightly dextrinous but thinned by the high alcohol. Finishes with a snap of transiently drying hop bitterness, but otherwise with lingering burnt caramel hints. Monster 2003 is certainly rough around the edges and worthy of cellaring. A tasty brew with lots of potential. An intense barleywine, indeed.

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Photo of Lafe
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2003 vintage.

Poured a beautiful mahogany color into my goblet. Aroma was strongly of alcohol and fruit, and very apparent while pouring. No head to speak of, just a sheen of tan bubbles across the top. No lacing apparent.

First taste is strongly of alcohol and fruit, just as the aroma promised. Hop bitterness bites in, and the mouthfeel is somewhat thinner than I was expecting, malty sweetness is there but doesn't quite support the beer completely. Finishes dry and a bit astringent. As the beer warms, the malt becomes more apparent and the mouthfeel more slick. The fruit complexity is more noticeable at warmer temperatures, and seems to suggest raisin and plum. This is a nice beer, but I believe that it needs some more age before it peaks in flavor.

I'd recommend serving this beer warm, say, above 55F. Also plan to take your time, as the alcohol is up front and personal.

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Photo of CBFanWish
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2003 Brooklyn Monster Ale. Pours an absolutly beautiful copper colour with no head. The aroma was that of fruit. Much like an apple cider. Sweet and luxurious. Had a slight alcohol bite to it. The taste hoppy as hell. The biggest problem was the carbonation. Too much for my taste. I don't think this is something I could ever drink on a day to day basis.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.08/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 Vintage

Appearance: This brew poured a lovely, deep amber color. When held up to the light, it showed itself to be crystal clear with some red hues. The light tan head rose up to about two fingers and settled down quickly. In short order, only a thin ring of bubbles around the circumference of the glass remained. There was no lacing.

Smell: Right after the pour, the aroma was all heavy malt and a thick sweetness. After the head had settled down, the malt subsided and a nice sharp hoppiness bit at the nose. Also present was a dark fruit aroma, more akin to plums than anything else, but the fruitiness didn't come across as sweet. A hint of vanilla arose as the beer warmed up, along with some alcohol that grew as the temperature continued to rise. My only complaint about the smell was a watery, metallic component that was overbearing and very distracting. If that was eliminated, the aroma would be wonderful.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy on the front of the tongue. As it moved back in the mouth, it had a very nice coating effect. It picked up a little bit of roughness in the back of the mouth, and the alcohol provided some numbness.

Taste: At first, the flavor was very sharp and astringent. There were no big, round flavors, or anything at all soft and mellow. The beer seemed to hack and slash its way through the mouth. The two biggest components were a strong, vinous flavor and a lot of alcohol. Lying underneath were sweet malt and caramel, but they contributed very little to the overall flavor profile. The finish and aftertaste left a puckering bitterness in the mouth, not caused by any hops that I could detect. As the beer REALLY warmed up, the flavor did soften, but the astringent aftertaste remained.

I'm not sure if this is just really young or really not very good. I would like to have another bottle to put down for a couple of years, but the beer is not available here and this was my only bottle.

Thanks WesWes!

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Photo of Charthepirate
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured out dark almond into a belgian style chalice (I know, I know, I need a snifter), little head, and even less lace less behind. Near the top of the glass the beer was dark, and went down to light.

Smell was heavy with alchohol and mild esthers. Smell of alchohol is also noticable.

Flavor is moderate. It has a nice smooth alchohol flavor, tempered with they heavy, bready malts. Very subtle fruit and spice notes. On the back of the tongue I can taste the hops, bitter and slightly dry.

It's best feature is it's smooth, chewy mouthfeel. It's like eating my beer in a good way.

An interesting beer from the brewers at Brooklyn Brewery, but not the best barleywine I've had by any stretch.

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Photo of BeerFan
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This 2003 (bottled in the fall of '02) Monster pours a clear, deep mahogany w/ a small tan head, which disappears quickly, into my Brooklyn Brewery snifter. Absolutley no lacing. Huge malts. Aroma of sherry and citrusy hops. I can smell the alcohol daring me to try some. Hint of caramel flavors. Medium-bodied for such a high ABV beer, but it definitely warms the belly. Dry finish. I think I will continue to age the rest to see how it fares.

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Photo of bditty187
3.23/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Clear, shinny bronzy-chestnut hue, the off-beige head reached a half a finger for a brief moment before fading to a sparse soapy collar around the edge of the glass. This beer has an attractive color to it, to bad the head faded so quickly. No subsequent lacing. The aromas were noticeable once I popped the cap on the bottle but once I stuck my nose into the glass the bouquet was less impressive. The aura of the aromas definitely said “Barleywine” but I was distracted by how airy it was. Notes of raisins, earthiness, toasty caramel almonds, citrusy hops, and sherry/brandy-like alcohol all constructed a nose with minimal potency. I am disappointed with this aspect of the beer, I’m looking for a striking blow to my olfactory and I didn’t get that. The palate made me say “Whoa!” (Damn, now I have Black Rob in my head….) The punch of alcohol is very formidable and the massive sweetness from the malt is a little much and I am totally unimpressed with the Fuggle hops influences. The taste is way out of whack; the heat is nice but not in companion with the toffee sweetness. Fuggle and Willamette hops are great but I taste way too much earthiness. In the finish more notes of plums, raisins and old cherries are noticeable; it is too late to save this one though. A kiss of citrus is noticeable too. Frankly Monster Ale just does not standup to the countless great barleywines on the market. The belly warming effects are very noticeable, appropriately so. Medium-full in body, the carbonation is low, I enjoy the bulk in the mouthfeel and yet it isn’t sluggish to drink. Aside from the fact that I don’t really like the taste, it is drinkable, especially considering how much (obvious) alcohol is in the beer. My other bottle will be aged for a few years. IMHO, this beer is a dud. Thanks to Loki and PhantomVodoo for the bottle from each of you to sample!

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Photo of ark57
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 - It is orange-brown in color. The aroma has some muted citrus and herbal hops. It is full bodied with a fruity maltiness. It finishes with an herbal and minty bitterness. The alcoholic pepperiness in evident throughout as well. It probably could stand to age a while longer.

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Photo of Ellbert
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: A beautiful rocky off white head formed on top of an amber body. Very clear and crisp looking.

Smell: Very sweet with small amount of hops and alcohol poking through. The smell is almost one dimensional or stale.

Taste: Dissapointing to say the least. Very sweet with very little hop presence. The alcohol left a slight warming at the end but it was not very evident. That is amazing for a 11.8 beer.

Mouthfeel: Very thick and meaty. A very malty beer.

Not very drinkable mostly because of the ABV.

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Photo of Naerhu
3.04/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Initial tasting: Feb. 2004 (purchased Feb. 04)
Appearance: Thin off colored head on a brown-red body.
Aroma: Sticky malt aroma with some sort of dark dried fruit.
Taste: Holy thick molasses flavor ending in a harsh bitter flavor. Toffee and oak. An unpleasant earthiness. There is a harshness and solvent flavor I just cannot get over.
Mouthfeel: The alcohol is too apparent, with too much astringency to be enjoyable.
Drinkability: I love BB and I love barley wine, but this just rubbed me wrong.

Second tasting: Dec 2004 (purchased Feb. 04)
This beer ages beautifully. Almost all of the solvent
and harshness has faded and now this is a beautiful
malt monster and a joy to drink.

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Photo of Billolick
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Vintage 2003--at celler temp -pours dark almond brown, with only a wee bit of head, leaves some lace. This barley wine is quite sweet and lacks a hop punch in the rear to balance things out. It may just need some more time in the bottle to mellow. Alcohol very present. Later sips do reveal a subtle hop grainynes Bklyns BWine was really nasty a few years ago (too sweet-not enuf hops) I think its getting better, but its not up to the standards of there other creations

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Photo of Shiredave
3.93/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage
Cellar temp, slightl haze, deep orange gold color. Very lazy carbonation and a tight little tan head that makes you just want to pinch it. Thick, sagging lace clings as the rest of the foam says goodbye.
Aroma is sugary fruit and musty grain with higher alcohols that bite through the snot in my nose.
Flavor is intense - honey glazed oranges and peaches warmed in brandy.
Alcohol plays an important supporting role from start to its final dance with the hops down the throat.
Very full bodied with an incredible mouth feel as the heavy malt blends with the hops and alcohol to envelope the tongue in a flavorful full nelson.
A fine Barleywine that gets better ( usually) with age.
Very drinkable and well balanced this year.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.15/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage
It pours a deep, dark amber. An off-white head, although fast fading, can be achieved with a rather heavy pour. A surprising amount of lace (given the high ABV) sticks in sedimentary layers.
The aroma is mainly of rum-soaked fruit. A sweet malty smell, along with some fragrant hops follows. The alcohol hit is undeniable. The rich and sweet caramel malt is fairly oily in texture. Flavors run the gambit from sugary sweet, to sharp-edged citrusy bitterness, to a rummy and sherry-like alcohol fuminess. This brew is NOT for the faint of heart. I'd love to have another, but I have to go to work in the morning!

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 batch
Pours with an orange/red color, no head but tons of wee carbonation streaming for the top. No real lace evident but very good looking beer.
Aroma highlighted by prunes, sweet malt and a peaty, highly alcoholic note. Hints of rye whisky were detected. As it warmed a spicy hop profile also appeared.
Flavor was sweet malt front, dry spicy middle and a slighly bitter, large alcoholic finish. Did not distract from the beer but definitely made you notice you were sipping some powerful nectar. Almost felt like you were drinking a boiler-maker with a very fine ale and a great smooth vodka
For all the alcohol, mouthfeel was smooth.
Drinkability was good but this one is dangerous, one is enoough for most mortals.
Thanks to beerluvr for this monster.

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Photo of lou91
4.25/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 vintage. Poured nice with a red/brown glow and almost still. Rich malt flavors with a buttered rum nose and taste. The hops leave a clean hop bitterness but this a malt lovers barley wine, The alcohol is readily noticeable but doesn’t overpower the hearty malt character, An excellent barley wine.

2001 vintage in 2004. The beer gave off a nice whiff of carbonation and poured beautifully with nice tan bubbles, It was surprisingly clear with a red/amber glow. The nose was unique giving off apple brandy notes. The time has truly balanced the flavors –almost to its detriment. It truly was a monster in ’01 and now is a mellow friendly beast. There remain some great flavors of raisins, malt, honey and an alcohol aftertaste just to remind you what you are drinking. Taste fades too fast but this is a solid barley wine. A solid 4.0.

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Photo of kunzbrew
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This brew pours a deep amber color with red ruby highlights. A big tan head that last for a little while then reduces to a collar leaving a spotty lace behind. The sweet smell of caramel malt and strong alcohol. Hops are low in aroma. The first reveals a big alcohol flavor along with a caramel maltiness and earthy notes. This is a strong one to throw back fast. The drinkability is not so great but that ok for cold winter night beer.


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Photo of halfpgl
4.45/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was a nice suprise. I've just now started to appreciate Barley wine and I've got a nice 2003 Bigfoot to use as my "standard". This barley wine compares very nicely. The alcohol taste is not overwhelming and the hop dance nicely across the tounge. The aroma is what I've come to expect from Barley wine. I've had other less than overwhelming product from Brooklyn but I must put this one on the top of my list as a fine example of Brley wine.

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Photo of WesWes
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark amber color with a thin white head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It smells of hops and lots of malts. The taste is good, but the abv is noticably high. It is rich malts and hops. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking barleywine.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
3.06/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle of the 2003 edition served lightly chilled in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Clear reddish brown topped by a small off-white head. It's very thick and dissipates pretty quickly to a film and a ring. Small blotches of lace are left on the glass.

Smell: Potent smell of caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla. Mild whiffs of pine. Not very complex for a barleywine, in my experience.

Taste: A peppery and fiery taste of alcohol romps through the palate, giving way to butterscotchy sweet malts. Mild orange notes and a spicy hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Very warming due to the booze. Thick and viscous with long-lasting aftertastes.

Drinkability: Out of balance at the moment. I'll let the remaining 3 of the sixer age a bit and give them a shot. Seems more British in style compared to the other ones I've had, or at least not an über-Cascaded West coaster.

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Photo of jahred
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orangeish/reddish/brownish color, with a medium-sized head, though there seems to be a lot of carbonation in the glass. The scent isn't particularly exciting - just thick, rich malts and yeast.

The taste is the same - sweet, thick and malty, with slight orange notes and a pleasant hoppy aftertaste. But not much else. It's quite easy to drink and fairly pleasant, but very simple and a bit boring... I was looking for a bit more in my barley wine. I didn't notice the alcohol while drinking the beer, but it definitely hit me as I finished up the glass (11.8%!).

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Photo of counselor
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this right after an Old Horizontal and this is a wee bit short of that great beer. Pours a dark ruby with a thin head. Nice hop, malt and alcohol aroma. These well balanced flavors follow through in the beer, caramel, ripe plum, and dry hop flavors. the alcohol is well disguised. Overall a good example of this style that I am beginning to enjoy more and more.

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Photo of aracauna
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very balanced barleywine. The first sniff is of hops. The second sniff is of alcohol and the third sniff is of the fruit and malt. It's a very good flavor, really malty. This is a great beer. It has a copper body with a small head. This is what a barleywine should be.

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Photo of waughbrew
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very red with a tan head that recedes quickly to a lace. Very enjoyable color. Website says unfiltered, but it is very clear and so is the bottom of the glass, so I am not sure I believe that. (I realize it is conditioned for a long time). Aroma has big cherries and big alcohol. Sherry, brandy, and whisky come to mind. Toffee as well. Nice dose of aroma hops. Very promising. Great tasting smooth maltiness, nice earthy hop presence. Alcohol rides over the top. Flavors fail to evolve much. Finishes sugary-sweet on the tongue. Enjoyable, but taste does not live up to the expectations laid out by the aroma. Needs a more interesting finish.

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Photo of merlin48
3.1/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2003-04 edition. My first barley wine. Pours into a goblet a clear ruby copper with a minimal white head that quickly disappears into sheet lacing. Aroma of dark fruits(raisins), malt, and alcohol. Mouthfeel is heavy. Vinous and alcohol, with minimal carbonation. Taste is warming, with a big alcohol presence. Very much like a sherry. I can't detect any hops. As this is my first barley wine, I really don't know what to think of this one. Its characteristics lead me to believe that this would be much better after two or three years of aging.

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Brooklyn Monster Ale from Brooklyn Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 1,862 ratings.
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