Victory Golden Monkey

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by bubseymour, Jan 15, 2021.

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  1. bubseymour

    bubseymour Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    So this beer has been around for at least 20 years (added to Beer Advocate way back in 2001). It is a 9%+ ABV Belgian Tripel. Victory makes a wide portfolio of solid beers across many styles. Various IPAs including Lo Cal and NEIPAs and hazies, Prima Pils is among the better widely distributed pilsners out there.

    So the question is how is a 9% Belgian Tripel their best selling beer in 2020 (when they make lots of other solid beers in more "2020" popular/trending styles? I thought I've read somewhere that this Belgian Tripel accounts for 70% of their total sales (but someone please fact check that...I had no luck on internet searches myself). I don't know if that is Golden + all the variants of the Monkey, or just Golden either.

    Any theories and thoughts on how a Belgian Tripel is dominating a respectable brewers sales volume? Thought this would be an interesting conversation for "Beer Talk" forum, so have at it.
  2. officerbill

    officerbill Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    That's a good question. It's odd that a tripel is the backbone for what isn't considered a “Belgian-style” brewery.
    The only thing I can think of is Victory capitalizes on being distributed to stores and areas that don't stock any other Belgian styles (my usual grocery carries 3 Monkeys, and a .75L Ommegang dubbel that's it for Belgian styles), I've even seen it at gas stations.

    Golden Monkey is a pretty good Tripel, nothing to write home about, but a solid representation at a reasonable price.
    Sour Monkey is surprisingly good, I wasn't expecting to like a sour Tripel.
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yes, Victory has been around for a long time but today's Golden Monkey is quite different from the Golden Monkey of a decade ago. Golden Monkey from 'back in the day' was a syrupy mess IMO. A few years go (5-6 years ago?) a newly hired brewer to Victory went to his bosses (Bill & Ron) and asked them if he could 'clean up' Golden Monkey. Bill & Ron granted permission and this 'new' Golden Monkey is a much improved product. Much drier in comparison to what is was before.
    This is not just a 2020 thing. I ran into a Victory Sales Rep 4-5 years ago at my local Whole Foods beer store and we chatted as I drank a draft beer. He informed me that the number 1 selling beer for Victory down south (he made specific mention of Texas) was Golden Monkey. I replied my shock in hearing this. He went further to say at that time Golden Monkey sales were growing faster than any of their other brands in all of the distribution footprint.

    I have heard multiple beer store owners opine that the selling feature of Golden Monkey is the fact that is does have a lot of alcohol and within that context very reasonably priced. Is this the 'answer' to your question?


    P.S. Just two days ago I had a conversation with the owner/manager of my local Retail Beer Distributor. He related to me that he has one customer who comes in every day to purchase a six-pack of Golden Monkey. My reply: "Wow, that is a lot of alcohol there!". He shrugged his shoulders and stated: "It is not my place to judge my customers."

    P.S.S. FWIW my favorite locally brewed Triple is Weyerbacher Merry Monks. It has been over a year since I bought a six-pack of this beer. Maybe I should buy another for this weekend as I watch the NFL playoffs?
  4. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    :astonished: You say that like it's a bad thing.

    Kidding. I know how you meant it. Why don't you ask Westmalle? :wink:

    Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. :wink: The beer probably deserves a bit more credit than it gets around here. Like @JackHorzempa mentioned, I always figured that the sales success of the beer was partially related to the amount of alcohol for the price (and I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment).

    To a certain degree, you might be looking at things from within the BA bubble too much. Some Belgian-ish beers have found great success as flagships that live beyond certain trends (Fat Tire, Allagash White, Blue Moon)... and then there's something like Firestone Walker 805 - the incredible success of which probably makes zero sense to someone who'd check Instagram for teku pictures.

    What's the secret formula for Golden Monkey and the beers I just mentioned that makes them click with consumers rather than disappear like other beers? That might be tricky to really pinpoint, but having a strong brand identity probably helps a lot. Salesforce muscle, long-term determination and luck must factor in to varying degrees.
  5. gyorgymarlowe

    gyorgymarlowe Aug 24, 2019 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I don't drink it very often, but it is a fairly unique take on the style. I think it's a really good beer that drinks easy for a high ABV. It was a party beer for my group of friends for a long time. A twelve pack or case is good social lubricant for a larger group.

    Alongside that, it has had good marketing: the labels have always had an alluring quality.
    #5 gyorgymarlowe, Jan 15, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
  6. EddieDog

    EddieDog Jun 25, 2020 New York

    Just here to support the love and we need more like this regularly available. Barleywines and Belgians are more approachable than people give them credit for. We haven't seen them represented correctly beyond straightjacket.
  7. bubseymour

    bubseymour Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    My son, a recent college grad stated the exact same 2 points you made. He said that while in college, not many kids drank craft beer, but the few who did were into Golden Monkey. His theory was the great label art marketing, along with accessability (found most stores) along with the drinkability for a high ABV beer and combined with reasonable price. College kids are always on the lookout for a good value-buzz that doesn't make them gag in disgust. Alot less headache and better taste than Boone's Farm, MD 20/20, and various 40's of malt liquors from back in my days.
  8. Soneast

    Soneast May 9, 2008 Wisconsin

    Golden Monkey is the only Victory beer I ever see in my local stores these days, maybe that's why? They push it at the expense of their other beers? Or maybe it's the only beer that sold well here, so they just dropped everything else? Either way, it sucks. I miss me some Hop Wallop and Prima Pils.
  9. rudiecantfail

    rudiecantfail Aug 9, 2011 Pennsylvania

    "Any theories and thoughts on how a Belgian Tripel is dominating a respectable brewers sales volume?"--------Yeah, it's really goddamned good. It was one of my gateway beers to craft beer and I just bought a single this morning that I'll be drinking this afternoon because I love it so much. I mean, it's really, really good.
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    And I view that as a 'side effect' of the popularity of Golden Monkey (and the other Monkey beers). I live not too far away from the Victory brewery(s) so I am fortunate that all of their packaged beers are available to me but for much of the country it appears they only distribute the Monkey beers. An unfortunate situation IMO since many of their other brands are very worthwhile.
    As do I. This beer should be out right now (a Dec - March seasonal last year) but they made a decision to discontinue Hop Wallop and replace it with Citrus Wit.

    Non-cheers to discontinuing Hop Wallop!! :angry:
    Morag_MacGregor and hillind like this.
  11. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    It's also nice to see beers like this in an affordable price range; it doesn't really have to be 'the best' to still make for a nice change of pace.

    Sour Monkey ain't too shabby either.
  12. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    I remember Bill Covaleski of Victory discussing this phenomenon on the Good Beer Hunting podcast. I just went back and listened to it again. He said Golden Monkey accounted for 28% of their sales (that was back in 2016). Here are some of his quotes as to why he thought that was the case:
    • Very few people actually characterize Golden Monkey as a Belgian tripel.
    • People get acclimated to it at a young age because it is high ABV, relatively inexpensive, has a cool name, and is delicious; and then continue to drink it through adulthood. (I think @rudiecantfail just proved this point in post #9 above :grin:).
    • They sell a lot of it at grocery stores where he believes people buy for parties because they know their guests will enjoy it.
    Rug, mikeinportc, bubseymour and 2 others like this.
  13. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 May 30, 2005 Michigan

    That's the way I remember ittoo, probably from 15-20 years ago. I'll add the word sweet in front of your syrupy word. I don't think I've had one since then because I was so turned off to it. it

    I'm glad it was reformulated along the way. I'd go out to get some and try the new version, but I can't recall seeing it in my stores. Maybe because I'm not looking for it, or perhaps Victory no longer distributes to Michigan.
    BruChef likes this.
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Victory does partner with one Wholesale Distributor in Michigan:

    Imperial Beverage
    3825 Emerald Dr.
    Kalamazoo, MI 49001

    Does Imperial Beverage deliver to your local beer retailers? If so, you should be able to locate Golden Monkey. If you want some other Victory brand (e.g., Prima Pils) you likely are SOL.

    mikeinportc likes this.
  15. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    They have a Golden Monkey flavor for every color of the rainbow.
    Ok. I'll give them the Sour Monkey.
    Not bad. But stop with all the stupid flavors already. They keep screwing up a good beer.
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  16. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Well I'll be damned! Imperial is only 18 miles away and I know they deliver other brewery brands to my stores. I'll definitely take a look on my next beer run. Thanks for looking that up, Jack.
    Ozzylizard likes this.
  17. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    *Monkeys are all danger beers. IMO, very drinkable with danger ABV.
  18. bubseymour

    bubseymour Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    Golden Monkey is a decent tripel. La Fin Du Monde is a world class tripel and quite amazing (and pretty easy to find and pretty cheap as well). And those bottles are very sophisticated looking. At college, you'd be hooking up with Stiffler's mom easily with a La Fin Du Monde bottle in your hand.
  19. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Golden monkey is the most popular beer we sell at work. Everybody drinks it. It’s affordable. It’s strong. We get people saying they want something like it. The price is why I’ll say. And I’ve heard “black people love the golden monkey”. From African American people. Which is a big demographic here as well it’s a fact. I recommend river horses triple horse to monkey fans but they always come back. It’s just truly a great beer. The definition of a drinkers beer and we can never order enough.

    long story short. It’s become culture in philly and jersey. An affordable strong beer that doesn’t taste offensive. Easy as that. Golden monkey is “good beer”. You drink bad beer or good beer here.
    #19 Urk1127, Jan 15, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
  20. Giantspace

    Giantspace Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I too remember GM being quite a mess back 10 plus years ago. I had one sometime last year and thought it was quite good, not the beer I remember it being. GM is in almost all the mix packs, in all stores as well. I really do not see Prima, lager or Hop Devil anyplace but beer distributors. I was in Puerto Rico 6 -7 years ago and a beer store I was in told me Golden Monkey was the Best seller in the shop and most of the island, the reason was high ABV and good price.

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  21. guzzleacoldone

    guzzleacoldone Feb 3, 2007 Ohio

    Same here. It's the only Victory I see in my neck of the woods. I miss the others. Prima, Dirt Wolf, etc.
    Morag_MacGregor likes this.
  22. DavetotheB

    DavetotheB Sep 30, 2017 Pennsylvania

    True story right here. I had Sour Monkey about a month ago. A sour wouldn't be the first style I'd reach for, but it was really good and VERY drinkable. 9.5% abv...
  23. SILVER

    SILVER Jan 3, 2007 Florida

    Well, I'll have to give the Golden Monkey another try. I did have it when it first came out, but didn't quite go for it.
    Victory did or do make some solid beers, but as has been stated, they are not in distro everywhere. I used to be a big fan of their saison. Good solid ale for the style and great price. I haven't seen it for ages. The last time I had it I had ordered a case, just so I'd have it in stock. Can't even remember the name!
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  24. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

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  25. SILVER

    SILVER Jan 3, 2007 Florida

    Thank you!
    I think it was about $4.- for a bomber.
    I liked the taste and the price was excellent.
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  26. bret27

    bret27 Mar 10, 2009 California
    Society Trader

    What’s kind of funny is, this made me curious and I searched my local online liquor stores inventory. None to be found.
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  27. YamBag

    YamBag Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I agree 100% with sweet. Back in the day, I use to buy a lot of Victory variety packs and I'd always have random bottles of golden monkey left in the fridge. Over time, those bottles tasted good, but were never my first choice in the case. About 2 years ago, I was at a party and it was the best option and I was surprised at how good it was. Definitely a better beer now than originally, which is not normally the case.
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  28. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I do believe honestly the majority of those drinking go straight from the can or bottle which would give a triple a different perspective. The fact that one could get you drunk and it’s $10 for 6 is why it’s so popular. Sure there are the people still buying steel reserve but when they realize the monkey tastes a thousand times better then they spring the extra $4-$5
  29. surfcaster

    surfcaster Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina

    True story. When NC allowed >6% beer in 2005, I strolled into my current local go to store and the guy handed me a six of Golden Monkey to try--my first higher gravity NC purchased brew. I grabbed a pizza on the way home, popped open the first and started watching football and 3 beers and one 4 hour nap later, I was hooked. Had no idea what I had gotten into.Whew!!!

    Agree with sentiments above. Beglians are perhaps the perfect first forays into beer as so easy to drink. Allagash white may the perfect "intro" into American craft.

    After my enjoyment of my first Golden Monkey, I tried Merry Monks not long after-was excellent. Have not had in a while and not seen Weyerbacher in a bit in NC. in the 2005-7 timeframe, I thought they were very cutting edge.

    This at a party would bring it down like a ton of bricks!
  30. bubseymour

    bubseymour Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    Yeah I guess when I started drinking craft, Belgian beers were my favorite styles as well. So perhaps Golden Monkey is just one of those rare word of mouth / cultural anomalies for the segment of people who don’t necessarily explore into craft beer like we do, but latched on to an easy drinking/sweeter one they were introduced to early and then noticed it was highly visible in stores for repeat buying and have been on the beer consumer autopilot for future years. Just a guess.
  31. Ozzylizard

    Ozzylizard Oct 5, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    As I've mentioned before, two of my best friends REALLY liked Golden Monkey - I consumed (over time) several cases trying to either a) develop a taste for it or b) to determine why they liked it and I didn't. I never succeeded at a) and but b) seemed to be because it was too syrupy. That was several years ago and I haven't tried it since. Maybe it's time to throw good money after bad and try it again.

    Incidentally, I always thought Weyerbacher's Merry Monks was superior to Golden Monkey.
  32. mikeinportc

    mikeinportc Nov 4, 2015 New York

    Yeah, I was thinking that also.
    Plus, it holds up well for a long time, as opposed to something hoppy with a similar price/abv range. A first-time imbiber of it, grabbing one from the (usually old) singles rack , will get a beer that is what it's intended to be +/- , and will likely come back for more at some point.
    bubseymour likes this.
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I would suggest you give the 'new' Golden Monkey a try. It is not a syrupy mess like the 'old' version.

    Since this version will be a new beer for you, perhaps discuss it in the NBW thread?

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  34. pbrian

    pbrian Feb 8, 2001 Connecticut

    Interesting thread, didn't know Golden Monkey sold so well, but reading this, I can see why. I can't tell you the last time I had Golden Monkey, but it was well over 5 years ago. Didn't even know it was reformulated. I normally don't drink beers > 8%, just because, but I'm going to purchase this next time I see it for shits and giggles.
    beergoot likes this.
  35. thedaveofbeer

    thedaveofbeer Mar 25, 2016 Massachusetts

    Man-Those Victory mix 12 packs were a saving grace of drinking on a budget. I went through plenty of them in leaner times and still felt that I got some quality beers. I still occasionally buy one when I have spent too much money recently on beer and am I still feel good about the victory beers, especially after a golden or sour monkey !
  36. KingforaDay

    KingforaDay Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey

    Victory has done a good job of getting Golden Monkey into chain restaurants which I think helps push GM sales greatly. I don't think I have ever been to a PF Changs where Golden Monkey was not on the beer menu whether it was in NJ, FL or CA. It's on the beer menu in other chains too and the fact these are non-craft type beer menus and GM is usually the best choice for craft beer drinkers makes it a no brainer when ordering a drink for a lot of people.
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  37. beergoot

    beergoot Oct 11, 2010 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Just reviewed my first try at GM. I may have had it back in the day, but fuzzy to no memory about that doesn't really resolve anything.

    On the off-chance I had it near it's beginning, and assuming it was a 'syrupy mess', well, no wonder I haven't had it in a while. Hot, treacly, sticky and sickenly sweet beers just never grabbed me.

    My neighbor Tactical Bob included a recent sampling in a birthday six-pack he gave me. I must say, I'm rather impressed with it. Balanced and refined in short. It still wouldn't make my short-list of must-have beers, but it was worth an overal "4.0" rating to me (if I recall correctly).

    I know I loved the balanced malt sweetness, the tasty, prominent yet not overly-aggressive spiciness, and the subdued booziness.

    It works for me...
  38. jkrich

    jkrich Nov 1, 2001 Florida

    I always see this one at the local Publix and cannot help but wonder why I can never find Victory's Primo Pils down here in Florida. What a shame!
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  39. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Yep, Golden Monkey has been one of my favorites for years too. I remember when it used to get a lot of hate here.
    Morag_MacGregor and jonphisher like this.
  40. ESHBG

    ESHBG Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I feel it is because it has been around forever, has a high ABV for a good price, and both beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers like it.
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