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: 522 | Ratings: 1,394
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz can picked up Saturday at Brewforia... Cool to see this one. Poured into my Delirium goblet.

1" lite tan head goes away pretty quickly... the brew is very deeep red.

Nose is mild dark fruits.. lite caramel.. raisins and mild fig blossom a bit with alot of warmth... so do some tannic elements... just sooo mild.. I can't go higher than a 3.

Is this brewed with a Belgian yeast? Mild dark fruits remind me of sweet cherry essence and some old raisins.. something that reminds me of black tea tannins.. none of the advertised spices are crossing my palate.. and really, none of the expected phenols or esters are either.

No alcohol to really be found ... Body is about right for the style but the carbonation is too light .. the overall lack of an sort of Belgian complexities really make me turn my shoulder on this brew... that said, I is pretty okay for what it is, but to allude to any "Belgian" characteristics is a bad misstep. The bad thing for me, is the drinkability is actually pretty high if I look beyond my above negatives.. this would be a great camping beer where I want something different without having to think too much.

I appreciate ALL American breweries that are experimenting with Belgian styles, but this seems like it was brewed with a clean American yeast and then tried to mask that folly with spices and oak.


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Photo of meatyard
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a mostly clear, dark ruby color with a short head that quickly falls to splotches of foam. Has a fairly active carbonation stream.
The smell is ripe but sour plum.
The taste includes sweet & sour dark fruits, red wine and some fruit skin bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium, slightly carbonated and drying.
Drinkability is fine, alcohol is not hidden but it's not in your face apparent and it's not a beer that I'd drink two of at a time but would have one at another time. It doesn't seem like any other BSDA though fits some characteristics. I would recommend giving it a try though it may not please a lot of people.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.23/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After Med invites me over, feeds me beer and tolerates me singing Iron Maiden on Rock Band, he still has the decency to send me home with a can of Monk's Blood. What a guy. Cheers to Med!

Well, it's red. That's a relief. I was a little worried, what with the name and all. Actually it's a ruby port color with a dull brown to it. This one has just a slight haze. The head here is an irregular tan film with a thick collar.

Smells of dark dried fruits and a hodgepodge of light but pungent, earthy herbs. There's a touch of charred sugars here too with a touch of distant sour.

Tastes of an eclectic buzz of flavors. There seems to be a sour snap running down the middle with some soft sweetness off to the sides. The sour is a touch of plumb skin, rhubarb and under-ripe strawberry that fades to tobacco. The sweet picks up on this too with similar sweet fruity notes that fades to light garden flowers and a touch of birch bark. There's quite a bit going on here.

Feels dense but slick and smooth with a very softly stated carbonation.

Very nice. Definitely one to share with wine-snob friends who think beer lacks character, especially coming from a can! Maybe a little too busy to drink many of, but it is quite an accomplishment.

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Photo of beer2day
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This came from a can?!?!?

Pours a deep mahogany red. Thin head, very little retention, but nice lacing. The color is extraordinary.

Nose is extremely complex. Lots of fruit here. Reminds me slightly of aged SA triple bock. Plum, fig, black grape, all ripe and all present. Bread and yeast slip in there, too. Candy sugar rounds things out.

From the nose, I was hoping for something more palate-wise. I'm gettin the ripe fruit from the nose, but not much else. Weaker taste profile than expected. It's not bad, just leaves you wanting more of what's offered.

Very smooth up front. Slight fizziness midway through but finishes more syrupy. Body is pretty much right on.

Easy enough to drink for a beer as heavy as this style is. Definitely one to try, but maybe more of one to share.

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Photo of jmalex
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yay 21A! This has got to be the most intense beer I've ever had in a can.

APPEARANCE: Pours into my New Belgium tulip a deep ruddy amber with a moderate off-white head. It gradually shrinks to a full unbroken cap with a few curtain-like patches of lacing.

SMELL: Quite bready with only a moderate Belgian ester profile. Some dark fruits come out as well as the slightest hint of vanilla and spice. Not particularly intense though, at least at first. As it warms, some woodiness starts to come forward, but just a bit.

TASTE: It takes a while to get going, but finally a nice burst of fig and cherry fruitiness fills the flavor. Some really authentic Belgian yeast breadiness carries through to the finish alongside before giving way to a smooth dark chocolate flavor at the end. Any oakiness is quite subdued (in stark contrast to the draft version), but some light vanilla manages to come through slightly.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium bodied with a lower carbonation. I'd prefer a bit more bubblage, but this isn't too bad.

DRINKABILITY: Very nice, and it hides the 8.5% exceptionally. I'd gladly pour myself another can.

A fine, fine beer, though it falls short of the upper tier of the style. It's certainly worth trying if you come across it, and lovers of the style should consider seeking it out. A nice choice!

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Photo of Katahdin
4.64/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very rich, garnet red color which easily makes one think of the beer's name right away. A joyous bouquet of fruits such as grapes and plums mixes with spices and earthy aromas of malt. Very inviting in the mouth as the tartiness of the fruits combines with the malt to balance out perfectly. An aftertaste of plums and chocolate or maybe cocoa beans keeps the bigness of the alcohol well hidden. Goes down very easily with a crisp, fruity, slightly tangy finish. Very enjoyable!!!

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Photo of HopHead84
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Thanks for the extra, WorldWideStout. Poured into a snifter from a can, the beer is deep reddish brown with a frothy one inch head, good retention, and minimal lacing.

The nose is rich and of sweet plums, grapes, figs, cocoa, and spices. It's lightly tart, and there's a substantial bready malt base. Alcohol is evident in the aroma at a low level.

The flavor is lightly and pleasantly sour with a bready malt foundation and a prominent dark fruit presence in the form of plums, grapes, prunes, figs, and dates. Cocoa is evident, and alcohol is well hidden. Alcohol is most noticeable in the lightly tart dark fruit finish. A solid Belgian Strong Dark.

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Photo of thequeen711
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Scary name...Monk's Blood...the hop profile is more subtle...dark Belgian candy sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and figs.
Dark ruby red pour, leaving a beige head..Aroma is very sweet, hints of candy and figs, rich fig aftertaste. Rich, full-flavour brew with a hoppy mouthfeel, but the aftertaste is sweet figs!!!
How Healthy!!!

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Photo of kiddynamite920
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Nice dark, cherry brown color with a tan head. Some copper/red shimmers. Nice and deep looking.

S: Smells a bit hot, alcohol is definitely present. Sweet cherries and oak, some vanilla and sweet fruits. Very nice hoppy presence as well, quite citrusy.

T: Quite citrusy for a BSDA, very sweet as well. Almost cloyingly sweet. Almost has a grapefruit soda taste. Feels like the sugar is fizzing on your teeth. The dry fig really comes through strongly here. Very different for a BSDA, nothing like any I've had.

M: A bit thin and a tad fizzy. So sweet that it slips around the tongue too much.

D: Quite delicious, easily drinkable and the alcohol is hidden well on the palate.

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Photo of Errto
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a wine glass. Served with Chinese food as suggested by an article I read somewhere.

Appearance is dark, ruby red. Looks opaque from a distance, but up close it is perfectly translucent - no haze or sediment. Head is small but it lasts.

Smell is fruity, a bit sweet, small but noticeable alcohol presence, and that "Belgian-ness" that I assume is from the yeast.

Taste is actually a little on the sour side, not what I expected from the smell, sort of cherry-like, especially at the finish. Also sweet as expected, and just a touch of hop bitterness, barely noticeable. Alcohol was if anything less present than in the smell.

Mouthfeel was remarkably light for a Belgian Strong Dark, which was kind of a nice surprise. Carbonation is quite good.

Overall, this was a rather drinkable beer considering the ABV, the main thing that's stopping me from having another one right away is the sweetness. This style category is pretty competitve, and this probably isn't my favorite, but I'll certainly have it again, and I'm happy I still have three cans left.

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Photo of Philabeerphia
3.01/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Can pops open with a nice carbonated hiss. I pour this can's contents into my snifter, revealing a dense, cola-colored beer. Light can move around well enough through this body: the beer possesses good clarity, but is so deeply shaded that only around the ruby edges is this quality apparent. Up top, a tight bone colored head appears but almost instantly fades into only a wisp, and then disappears completely. As you might guess, this beer leaves legs, not lacing on the side of the glass.

On the nose: The sharpest notes are like a root of some sorts, ginger-like almost, surrounded by rum soaked cherries. A yeasty spiciness warms things at the back. Otherwise this beer is floated by a backing of generic sugary syrup - bright and slightly cloying.

On the tongue: A heavy smothering of sweet rhubarb and cherry filling catch me by surprise on the first sip. Not sure I want to go back for a second sip of this "pie"... but I do and I find it better with each. Sweet, hot and messy... but also full and complex. Minced meat, flaky dough and raisins. Opens up into some tantalizing smoky and tart notes towards the back of the tongue. There is salvation in that finish, providing enough dry balance to render the glass palatable. The echoes of darker fruit are promising, but never fully develop. For each weakness there is a strength here. One of it's strengths is the full feel of carbonation and body, without too much coating.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. can into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown with a hint of red when held up to light. Had a very nice head, about1-2 fingers with great retention.

s - Smells of fruit, bread, and a little bit of alcohol at the end.

t - Has a largely fruit taste, cherries and plum jump out. Also has a sweet molasses taste to it. Very nice.

m - Medium body that was a little lighter than I was expecting. Small amount of carbonation, feels great.

d - I really liked this dark ale. It not only looked, smelled, and felt great, but had a very complex taste that was unique, but tasty. I would definitely try this again.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark reddish brown with good carbonation and a small white head Nose is dark fruits. Taste is grapes, booze, rum, figs, raisins and very good at that. Alcohol definitely shows through towards the end. Very goos overall and would drink again and recommend.

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Photo of BasementBrewerSF
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Due to a winter cold that wont go away I am unable to smell this beer but will review on the senses that are still available.

The color of Monks blood is dark amber/brow, fairly opaque and instyle with a dark Belgian. I would have liked to see a really deep red color instead of a brown (with the names "Monks Blood') and really wanted the raisin taste from Dingimans Special B malt which also gives a rich red color.

The head is lacking. I expect a rich hearty two finger head and even when pouring almost half the can from a 90 degree angle, I am left with litter more than a thin white ring around my chalice.

The taste is sweet and complex, figs hitting the back of the tongue in the aftertaste. Very malt and candi sugar forward. Light hops, almost none detectable.

Very light on the mouthfeel. Not too heavy, not thick like a stout or porter, and espically since the alcohol level is fairly high (8.3%abv) the syrupy maltiness in most high abv beers is not there, only a crip clean dark ale.

I especially enjoy dark Belgian ales and find this one of the better lower priced varietys that is constantly delicious and always hits the mark.

I also really like 21st Amendments canning process. They are bringing back the can and putting craft beer in it. Respect!

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Photo of indiapaleale
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour - deep dark plum in color but glowing blood red when held to the light. Head is fizzy and about an inch to start before it slinks away rather quickly and leaves just a wispy ring around the inside of the glass.

Aroma - dark cherry, bitter fruits, caramel/brown sugar and some sourness.

Taste - starts off sweet and estery/fruity (sweet dark fruits like plums and cherries) with a crisp tart finish. Vert smooth but without the spices I was expecting. This is actually a very subtle beer with a lot of nice flavor, it's almost juicy tasting with some hints of vanilla. It all comes together very nicely and even at 8.5% this is a beer that drinks well below its weight.

Overall - one hell of a canned beer. This is such a departure from 21st Amendment's other canned offerings. I really like how all of the flavors and spices come together not to produce something extreme but something very easy drinking and flavorful. I am looking forward to trying their next limited canned release.

Would I buy more of it? - possibly, this is a great canned beer with a very unique taste.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Gilmango for bringing me a couple cans of this.

A: The pour is a dark, reddish-brown color with perhaps a hint of orange. The head is fairly fluffy and off-white in color.

S: There is quite a bit of spice (cinnamon) in the nose, along with some dark fruits as well as bready malts.

T: The flavors were a bit disappointing, to be honest. Plenty of caramel malt, alcohol, spice, and overly sweet. The fruits were not as "real" as I was hoping, but more of a sugary, fake fruit flavor.

M: Decent enough body (medium) with a fairly high level of carbonation.

D: Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high for this one. I found it to be alright, but not amazing, and the alcohol presence doesn't really make me want to drink a significant amount of this.

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Photo of tigg924
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: red/brown in color, 1/4 inch head, clear, moderate carbonation

Smell: bread and alcohol

Taste: bread, dark fruit, spice, alcohol, and sugar

Mouthfeel: very sweet and sticky, moderate carbonation, medium bodied

Drinkability: A nice malty, bready Belgian treat that I want more of. The alcohol is there but not overpowering. The best of what they have sent east so far.

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Photo of mikedashg
4.37/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours very dark brownish mahogany slight ruby orange murky with a small to medium sized tan head.

S - Dark fruits, figs, prunes, red wine

T - Similar to nose, dark fruits, figs, prunes, raisin, sort of tart zippy/spicyness, sweet red wine. Dark malts and molasses. Really good complex flavor.

M - Moderate to moderately high carbonation, crisp finish

D - Easy drinking, moderate ABV from a can with tons of flavor. Can't go wrong here.

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Photo of Brianmerrilyn
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up on Tommy's recommendation at Skibbo's. While I normally don't drink out of a can anymore, besides Oscar Blues, I felt this one was worth the shot.

A: Poured into a wine glass to reveal a rudy red and brown color with a finger plus tan hole laden laceless head. Empites out to the edges of the glass at mm lenght.

A: The nose was, as advertised on the can, filled with dark fruits vanilla and spice. More spicey than sweet.

T: Smooth and creamy tart cherries moving toward a sharp cinamon prolonged burn.

M: Medium at the start and thinning out somewhat but keeping a syrupy viscosity in a good way.

D: A great creation on the American side and perfect cordial style beer.

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Photo of rapidsequence
1.4/5  rDev -63.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

12 oz can.

Appearance: Looks pretty good. A clear, dark ruby, almost purple. The head is light brown without much retention. Good looking beer I guess, but not for a Belgian dark.

Smell: Ugh. Is this a sour. Smells like vinegar. Sour cherries and vinegar.

Taste: Tart and vinegary. I get the sense that there's an ok beer behind it all.

Mouthfeel: Cant even tell. I need to wash my mouth out.

Drinkability: Pouring it. I tried to give it chance and kept tasting it over an hour or so. This seems like a different beer than what everyone else is reviewing, so I assume this is a bad can. How "can" that be?

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Photo of dubinsky
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep and dark Mahogany brown with some slight red hues and just a one finger head that dissolved quickly.

S: Hints of Raisins, Dark Cherry, Prunes, Molasses and other dark fruits.

T: AMAZING! This beer is delicious. Like one reviewer said, tastes like black forest cake. Extremely balanced and creamy. Tastes of dark cherry, raisin, plums, malt molasses. One of the best dark ales i have ever had the pleasure to sip

M: Smooth and balanced. Medium bodied with smooth, light rolling and creamy carbonation.

D: Do i really need to go any further? Its a great beer. I don't understand the lower ratings. Even though its a high ABV, its masked well in how drinkable it is.

I tried this at the 21st amendment brewery on Tap as well and found the can to have slightly higher carbonation and sour punch in the end. Overall i found this to be a wonderful beer that i will stockpile assuming it ages well. Perhaps its my naivete or lack of experience/knowledge with BSDA's but i think you will regret not trying this one.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
2.55/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12oz. can into a Blue Point snifter.

A: Standard pour creates a 1 finger light brown coarse head with rather poor retention. Brew is a clear, deep, almost opaque amber. Lacing is stringy and sparse.

S: Nose is sweet vanilla, figs, grape, can't detect the cinnamon or the oak that is claimed here.

T: Opens very sweet. Grapes, booze, a bit of spice. Gets a bit syrupy towards the middle and the end and just kind of dissipates. No evolution of flavor here although there is a slight sweet and tart kick just as it finishes.

M: Light to medium bodied, relatively coarse for the style as a result of high carbonation here. Finishes relatively messy but the aftertaste is not overwhelming which is a plus.

D: Light bodied and not overwhelmingly complex, this is not close to a good representation of the style. Its not bad by any means but I expect a lot more complexity and exhilaration from a BSDA. No Belgian yeast flavor or nose, no complex fruitness, no life in this one. I'm not gonna have this one again.

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Photo of jgasparine
3.33/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Note: this beer was served very cold on draught, and I allowed it to warm considerably before imbibing.

A- Poured from the tap with a thin khaki colored head, which quickly receded to a haze layer and a collar. The body was a bright reddish mahogany color with no visible carbonation. Pretty to look at, but incomparable to other Belgian Quads I have seen.

S- Smells like Fruit Loops cereal drizzled with a Belgian Dark Strong Ale... the fruitiness on the nose is perceived akin to the synthetic fruitiness of Fruit Loops, and it also exhibits the excessive sugary aromas of the cereal as well. I actually like Fruit Loops in my cereal bowl, but I'm not sure what to make of it in my beer glass... not sure how to mark this one, even as an "American Twist" on the Belgian style... we'll call it average to be fair.

T- Interesting. The flavors on the palate are very bold: caramel malt, the aforementioned synthetic fruit and sugariness... which finishes with a faint alcohol burn. I like having some maltiness here, and it doesn't taste 'bad' per-say, so I suppose we'll give it a half a mark above average.

M- A nice medium-large body... somewhat oily in texture with a wonderfully delicate soft carbonation. Could use a bit more backbone, but the carbonation characteristics were indeed impressive.

D- Again, I'm torn on how to rate this in terms of drinkability. It isn't 'bad' per-say... but it isn't great either... and it certainly doesn't adhere to the description of a traditional Belgian Quad... average drinkability score to be fair.

Note: I would recommend that everyone try this at least once.

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Photo of Newkie
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark ruby-brown, but lighter than expected. Not much head to speak of. Anything that's there disappears rather quickly.

S: Sweet cocoa, sour candy, some bready malt, cherry.

T: Sour flavor giving way to lots of raisin like flavors. Some molasses in there. I can taste the vanilla and fig, and some oak, but not really getting the cinnamon they claim. Overall, rather nice, but not as complex as I expected.

M: Lighter mouthfeel and very smooth. Carbonation is a touch low for my liking.

D: Very drinkable and hides the alcohol as well as, if not better than, any other 8.5% beer I've had.

Not a bad beer. A different and interesting attempt from 21st that I may revisit.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to exiled for sharing this can.

Pours dark red/brown with a khaki head. The aroma is a mix of dark fruit (figs, prunes) with a sour note, not what I was expecting but still a good smell. The flavor is more of the same with dark fruit and vanilla with some sour aspects, but not quite as much sourness as was in the aroma. The vanilla is strong in the aftertaste. Medium mouthfeel and lower carbonation.

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Monk's Blood from 21st Amendment Brewery
3.8 out of 5 based on 1,394 ratings.
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