Monk's Blood | 21st Amendment Brewery

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Monk's BloodMonk's Blood

Brewed by:
21st Amendment Brewery
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Belgian Strong Dark ale brewed with cinnamon, on oak chips with figs.

Added by taxguyjase on 09-10-2009

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Reviews: 526 | Ratings: 1,412
Photo of SomethingClever
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz can poured into snifter

A: dark brown brackish in color nice head

S: figs, dates, some honey, a little oak smells boozy

T: vanilla, a little sourish figs, raisins boozy

M: nice medium feel

O: this is a pretty good beer it's like a quad with attitude I wish it were thicker but otherwise it was pretty amazing

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Photo of jcruelty
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Shout out to my friend Sandeep, the only person who reads these reviews. Sandeep try this beer. It's my fave from 21st Amendment, aside from Hell or High Watermelon which is more of a river beer.

I always try to write down thoughts on beers and end up with the same generic adjectives. "Smells yeasty. Head: good. Pours a nice... brown. HINTS OF VANILLA?" It's always vanilla. Or else pineapple (or maybe cherries)

Maybe I'm just swayed by the packaging. I like how 21st Amendment does everything in cans. But, the text on this can is written in an archaic old-timey font where r's look like f's. I couldn't read it all so I googled it:

"Legend has it that in the evenings, the monks would retire to their chambers & settle in with a few passages from the Good Book. But Brothers Nicolas and O’Sullivan [21st Amendment partners] had other plans. Working in the brewhouse all day, they were forced to repeat the same old recipes the elder monks had invented years before. They needed a little diversion. And found it in the cellar of the monastery with a fresh twist they put on the beer and the way they enjoyed it. Brother Nicolas (or Nico to his close friend) brought some hand-rolled cigars. O’Sullivan, the outspoken one, broke the vow of silence by spinning a remix of some Gregorian chants. Together, they’d throw down a couple nice hands of Texas Hold’Em and savor the handcrafted brew they created in secrecy. Everyday was good. Or so it seemed. But deep in his heart, Nico knew they were drifting into the ‘dark side’ of beer. Next thing you know they’d be skipping Lent. Then on night they’d face the Judgment for their actions with a hard knock at the door. Outside, the Abbots and elders would be holding stone in the air. A threat the brothers were sure would lead to the spilling of Monk’s Blood."

Cheers if you made it through that. I didn't

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.26/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

21st Amendment Brewery "Monk's Blood"
12 oz. can, "Canned on: 03/04/15 2346" = fresh
$3.99 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

Wow, I had no idea this was such an expensive beer. It must be the figs, right? There's also oak chips, vanilla, and cinnamon added - which are pleasantly kept in check. The figs are right upfront in the fruitiness, but the oak is probably the most dominant of the 'extraneous' ingredients beyond that, and it can somewhat overlap with the vanilla. The cinnamon gives a pleasant bite and flavor in the back, and beyond that there's a very nice 'red fruit' fruitiness and soft smear of yeasty phenolics. It's a darkish beer and there's some caramel, brown sugar, and even a hint of molasses to it, but they just become equal components within the overall flavor; and with that said, it's remarkably well-rounded given everything that's going on within it - it would have been easy to let a beer like this jump the rails, but they've thankfully kept it in check.

When I sat down to review this I saw it was listed alongside Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue) and I was somewhat surprised and assumed it just got lumped into the category, but having tasted it I see how it totally fits. I've always put quality over price, and I'll say that this one is totally worth the cost. Absolutely worth trying! Don't miss out on this one!

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, murky, medium brown producing 2+ fingers of moderately lasting, tan, frothy head that leaves nice strings & rings of lacing. Aroma pumpernickel, dark fruits, roast, molasses, faint cocoa & floral hop tones. Taste is similar but more robust with cherry, coriander, hints of anise, cloves & more cocoa than in the nose. Finishes very peppery/spicy with a chocolate cherry cordial, molasses, coriander aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation, silky/creamy but with a light spice bite in the finish.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.14/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Review taken back in 2014 from extensive notes in my book.

12 oz blackest of copper cans that even looks deep ruby at times. A pretty awesome color anyway. Artwork displays some sort of monk drama if there is such a thing. Overall good artwork. Poured into a stemmed goblet.

A - dark and deep ruby red with hints of deep brown red mahogany to it. Head poured with some good size and settled quickly into a thin ring of sticky lacing.

S - yeast notes are wonderful and make me wonder if this strain was indeed made by the monks themselves. Dark fruits and ripe fig, some belgian spice with cinnamon notes creeping up. Sweet sugary malt and warm vanilla notes are a base layer. Even an Oaked character to this with hints of caramel.

T - candied sugar, small hint of sweet chocolate, vanilla, fig and dark fruits such as ripe dates. An oakiness to the sweet malt backbone. Dark Belgian spices and cinnamon lay over note after note of a well created profile. The Oaked staples a complex yet inviting flavors together. Very nice offering.

M - this was the only blem in this ale. Medium bodied with an American style texture which isn't underwhelming but while the monks pull off less thick big bodied beers the stickiness and flavors cling to every inch of the mouth. This was sort of there and gone but still good. Not great just a good feel. As this warmed I gave the slight booziness an open armed greeting as it only added to its superb flavor.

O - the mouthfeel really can't stop one from not enjoying such a good flavored and tasty ale. This is Belgian inspired with American style and one I would drink again in the future. If you have the chance grab a few of these. Monk's Blood is worth the buy.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark maroon/mahogany color with a little under 2 fingers of head that fade down to a thin ring of lace

S: Belgian yeast, spices, vanilla, oak, and dark fruits all stand out. Mix of cinnamon, vanilla, and oak are most up front

T: Starts off with the vanilla and cinnamon, and then goes into the yeasty notes that provide more general spiciness and some fruitiness. Oak comes out a little dry, along with some of the lightly sweet dark fruits. Finishes with some nuttiness and cherry notes with lingering yeast/spice notes

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: A nicely layered American-made BSDA with plenty going on. Drinks very easily for being 8.3%, with the alcohol being hidden mostly by the yeast and complexity. Definitely worth picking up if you're into BSDAs, as it's interesting to compare to the Belgians

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4.24/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark red with about a finger of off white foam. Good amount of effervescence. Smells of toasted grain, prune/raisin, hint of vanilla. Tastes malty, sweet forward without being overpowering, dark fruit (prune/fig), nice mid note twang, almost metallic taste, bit of oaky, vanilla notes and transitions a pretty clean finish. Carbonation more appreciable as it warms, as is the complexity of the flavors. Medium bodied and very smooth. Well balanced overall. Purchased in a pack of four – good price point for a solid and tasty beer. ABV well hidden. It reminded me a bit of Three Philosophers – another great beer.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.62/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a half finger of head on a dark straw body.
The aroma is clean dark fruits and grains. Nice.
The taste has a mild caramel sweetness start, metallic bitter middle, ripe fruit finish.
The texture is thicker with low carbonation.

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Photo of deschutes_fan
4.04/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aged this can for a year (canned March '14)

-Smell is mild vanilla and cinnamon
-Taste is of a malty cola, not much hops left and quite smooth.

Overall a solid and unique beer. The name is more fitting when fresh, as it is more viscous and "blood-like", but the flavor is a bit raw then. With a year on it, it is still a solid beer, but I would probably prefer it at the 6-9 month mark the most.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.79/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Surprisingly tight aroma for style. If dig deep can find some soft and rich dark malt with hints of darker fruit. Surprisingly there is a lack of yeast character in the aroma.
Head is dark and medium size but it leaves rather quickly. Deep red to brown and largely clear.
Flavor carries more of what I expect and am looking for. Nice richness with some sweetness but not crossing any threshold. Lengthy dryness (it starts early and finishes late). Some fruit, but more straight malt character. Yeast offers some contribution with mild phenols, but really not too much other than that. Opens up with time to take on some enjoyable flavors -toffee, pleasant alcohol and I think the figs kick in. I don't get much for spicing and the vanilla and oak lurk in the background, but do contribute to the overall complexity, but this grows with time and becomes more apparent.
Highly carbonated with a bit of a bite when drinking and seems a little light underneath.
I can't complain too much as the price is not excessive for this, but this isn't a top notch version of style. Great name.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to my buddy for sharing this one with me. cool beer with oak and cinnamon and vanilla and figs. all of those elements are in play in this burgundy cherrywood colored brew. the vanilla is most abundant in the nose, i hardly get the cinnamon at all there, and the figs are enjoyably forward too. not a lot of fig beers out there, so this is fun. i wish for more carbonation right away, it looks flat in the glass, and feels heavy on the palate because of its lack of bubbles. the flavors are great though, all united and mellowed by the oak, the vanilla is nice, and the cinnamon is a subtle accent that works really well with the figs and gives the whole thing a very winter seasonal feel. very holiday. its thick beer, enhanced more by its stillness, its palate coating and belly filling, but in a great way. the figs are distinct, especially in the finish, and all of the elements come together expertly well i think. cool beer, not hot on the booze at all, and very unique. good stuff, but i wouldnt do more than one can in a single sitting.

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Photo of ZebraCakez
3.99/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a nice red - brown color with a tan one finger head.

S: The aroma of cinnamon and fruit stand out clearly, with a nice roasted malt undertone. Very appealing.

T: The dark fruits are very prominent. The cinnamon spice is there, but we'll balanced with a pleasant sweetness. The malt element is smooth. The alcohol adds it's own kick towards the end.

F: Smooth and creamy, but not too heavy. A nice level of carbonation.

O: A great brew, one totally worth trying. The fruity and spicy notes keep this beer relevant in a world full of great beer, this one has plenty of character.

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Photo of logicalparadox
4/5  rDev +5.3%

A: pours nice and frothy. Head is mortal, or maybe ephemeral would be a better choice of words. It. It ascended to heaven and left me with a dark lagoon in my glass. Like Nietzsche said of the abyss, if you stare long enough, this beer seems to stare back. Could mistake this for a porter easily enough.

S: Smells of an abbey ale. Reminds me of the better examples with boozy fruit cake, molasses, and ginger bread notes.

T: Again, follows the profile of an abbey ale. With dark brown sugar (perhaps even some hints of palm sugar or date sugar), dark dried stone fruits, and a sort of ooey gooey thing going on, like ginger bread cookie dough. Sweet, but the dark malts and hops balance out with a mildly bitter finish.

M: Less dense than might be expected, but somewhat rich and viscous. A medium body designation seems fair to me, but might not do it justice.

O: You've got to give at least a few points to 21st Amendment for the packaging here. The can itself is worthy of some praise. The story printed along the outside draws you into the experience of the brew. This is a good beer for a cold, cloudy, contemplative day when like the monks you want to reflect upon the profound.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%

Pours a one finger off-white head that fades quickly leaving no lace. Dark brown color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Burnt dark fruit nose and flavor is roasted malt and hints of brown sugar. $3.99 for a 12oz dark brown can from Julio’s Liquors Westborough, Ma. Canned Mar 3, 2014.

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Photo of NinjaJesus
4/5  rDev +5.3%

I am not usually a fan of dark beers but this Ale was surprisingly delicious. The notes of vanilla and figs added to the malty sweetness of this delicious brew. A higher ABV than expected, these cans pack a punch. Definitely worth a try

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Photo of Immortale25
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Poured into a Chimay goblet. No readable freshness date.

A- Pours a reddish medium brown color with a 1/4 inch light tan head that doesn't retain long before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of surface foam.

S- Solid aroma of Belgian yeast, candi sugar and assorted spices.

T- Flavor mirrors the smell with some cinnamon and raisin coming through. More Belgian yeast and candi sugar. There's a noticeable alcohol presence throughout but is suitable for the overall profile. I feel like the yeast is the key player here and it's appropriate given the name of the beer. The spices complement everything but it's that Trappist-like yeast that's prominent throughout.

M- Somewhat chalky and dry but it works. Medium-low carbonation and a fullish body.

O- I know for a fact that this can has been sitting around for at least a year but time has actually done it justice. It's not outstanding by any means but it's a serviceable Belgian strong that has a good amount of character and is quite drinkable.

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Photo of pat61
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%

Dark malts, dried fruit, spice and faint vanilla dominate the nose.
Brilliant ruby brown under a 1/2" finely buddle dense lightly tan tinted foam cap. Lacy, slight legs.
Palate begins with mild dark malts, very slight roast - more dark caramel, possible chocolate, dried fruits - figs and dates. Mid-palate cinnamon and dried fruit interaction becomes more prominent with vanilla notes. Finishes with a touch of astringency from the spice, light hop accent.
Lingering aftertastes of malt and dried fruit.
Medium full body and medium to medium high carbonation, oily with a slight slickness in the aftertaste.
Good bitter mixed drink substitute.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
5/5  rDev +31.6%

12 oz can, 2014 edition, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a pretty, completely opaque, dark mahogany color, with an eighth of a finger of white head that completely dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Roasted malt, dried stone fruit, such as raisins, prunes and figs, dark molasses, Belgian yeast and candied sugar. Very nice.

Taste: Delicious! Strong notes of roasted malt, followed by dried stone fruit, such as raisins, prunes and figs. I also get notes of vanilla, candied sugar-like sweetness, and a touch of Belgian yeast funkiness. I love it!

Mouthfeel: Medium to slightly chewy. Very smooth, as there is practically no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 8.3%, there is a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Another homerun from 21st Amendment, and one of my favorite American versions of a Belgian strong dark ale. Absolutely delicious!

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Photo of patre_tim
4/5  rDev +5.3%

A: Medium dark brown, 4 fingers of beige head. A fair amount of fine bubbled carbonation rising within is seen more as a movement with the glass due to the colour. Horizontal, chunky lacing.

S: Vanilla, figs, dates, brown sugar, cinnamon, coke, very sweet and candy like. Very enticing.

T: Vanilla, candy, like strawberry Charleston Chews, Roman candles, or salt water taffy. Figs, raisins, clean linen, light bitterness on the end. Crème brule. really well balanced and melds together well. Overall, reminds me of Gulden Draak.

M: Thick but smooth body, medium high foamy carbonation.

O: Really well done brew. I now appreciate the diversity this brewery produces, from IPA’s to saisons, to Belgian dark ales. This brew is up to standard. Bought at Bruisin Ale’s in Asheville, NC, now drinking in Kunming, China.

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Photo of OldeSchool
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%

A: Pours dark amber with a big, fizzy head that dissipated very quickly. It looked a lot like a cola to my eye.

S: Fruity with a bit of vanilla and spice. Pleasant.

T: Dark fruit with some hints of vanilla and a flavor I'm having trouble describing; the can says it's brewed with figs, so that might be it.

M: Medium; it isn't as heavy as some higher ABVs I've tried, but far from watery. Not bad, overall.

O: Very interesting beer; I would definitely recommend it if you're in the mood for something flavorful and just a bit different.

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Photo of Scrapss
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

This was poured from the can to the weizen style glass, almost a nonic.

A: Dark, nearly opaque, looks like cherry coke. minimal lacing, with a 0.5 mm ring left from a minimal 1 finger head that disappeared very quickly.

S: It is yeasty cherry coke. Sopt on this profile.

T: Follows nose, with a bit of puckeryness. Cherry coke notes with yeasty underbite.

M: It is on the lighter side of medium full. Dry puckery notes from taste are left with a chalky undercurrent and that ephemeral cherry coke hit on the aftertaste. Faintly dry.

O: Definitely worth a quaff. Has some interesting flavors and follows the style within a shadow of a reason. The cherry coke and yeast are what I get from most belgian dubbel and this does not disappoint.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%

Thanks to eyebereej for sending this one! Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. can into a Florida Berliner Bash snifter.

A: Very hazy brown, with a thin white head and visible carbonation on the low side. 3.75/5

S: Malty, sweet, ethanol burn, oak tannins, and some dark fruit - figs/dates/raisins, and some spices. 15/20

T: Sweet toasted malts, big dark juicy figs, sweet ethanol booziness, oak dryness with vanilla, and a light cinnamon near the swallow. Finishes with sweet sticky fruits and boozy sweetness but still dry - very well-attenuated. 34.5/45

M: Medium body, carbonation sensation average to a touch low. Seems hotter than the listed ABV, but isn't obnoxious about it. 7.5/10

O: This was a solid, tasty beer - if nothing truly great. An unusual style to have available in cans makes it stand out some. Recommended for a change of pace on the golf course or the beach. 14.5/20

Estimated final score: 3.83
Calculated final score: 75.25/100
Old BA score: 3.76

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Photo of utopiajane
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours honey brownish with a ruby tint to it. Slight haze pretty glow. A fat head of tan foam that falls quickly and leaves a ring but no lace. Nose is soft malt with a light caramel over it. Touch of brown sugar on the nose. Soft bread and dark fruits. raisin and date, there's even some bright cherry. A touch of wood and a bit of spice. Drinks just like that. With a creamy supple mouthfeel punctuated by a touch of carbonation. It has a good lightness in the mouthfeel that I was not expecting for so high an abv. It is medium mouthfeel. A bit of alcohol grazes the palate before this sweetened bread with all it's fruit finishes dry and with a bit of earthy spice. It does finish a bit sweeter than I would like but overall very good.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.51/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Canned on 3/3/14.

Appearance: Intense dark brown with a touch of red and quite murky, although it didn't look like much sediment came out of the can. About one finger of light tan froth. Patches of effervescence stuck to the sides of the glass about halfway down. Doesn't look super appetizing but doesn't repulse me either.

Aroma: Clean yeasty bread. Bit of dark belgian malt depth and a hint of vanilla. Some deep red wine notes.

Taste: Very sweet up front. A mix of raisin and fig flavors combine with the malt to deliver a serious sweet liqueur flavor. This nearly cloying flavor is broadened during the finish. A more subtle red wine flavor really deepens the experience and carries through the aftertaste. A moderate bitterness appears in the aftertaste as well and is the last thing to fade. Don't detect the vanilla or oak chip additions but this is still a full flavored brew. Slight warmth from the 8.3% ABV, which only heightens the experience.

Mouthfeel: Full in body with unobtrusive carbonation supplied by very tiny bubbles akin to the belgian style. A bit below average in drinkability because it feels so viscous from all the sugar.

Final Thoughts: While it's very good, I have a hard time rating Monk's Blood as exceptional. This is due to the almost dabilitating amount of sweetness in this beer. Wish the oak chips could have shined through to bring a little balance. As it stands, Monk's Blood is just too sweet to be completely enjoyable. Would I drink it again? No, but I would recommend it to fans of the style.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Monk's blood has been a go to, over the top Belgian style for me for years. It is a great example of A,merican brewers doing Belgian better than the Belgians.

It has that red tinge that have it a banner. The aroma is fruity and real.

The taste bites nice and big, like a double should. The aftertaste is log lasting and slightly sour.

This is a beer you will want again and again, as I do.

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Monk's Blood from 21st Amendment Brewery
3.8 out of 5 based on 1,412 ratings.
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