Bitter Monk

Anchorage: Bitter Monk (USA: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Huge loose bubbled white head that descends down to just an inch.

Nose: Peaches. Vanilla. Cheesecake. Wine and white grapes. Strawberries and cream. Lemon sherbet. Cinnamon. Melon.

Body: Nicely bitter. Lemon meringue. Wheaty. Vanilla ice cream. Avocado. Grapes. Kiwi and strawberry. Light fruity esters. Watermelon. Funky feel. Creamy.

Finish: Dry bitterness. White wine and grapes. Avocado. Spritzy feel. Wheat flakes. Carrots.

Conclusion: What is it that Anchorage does with beer styles? Belgium Style IPA, or Double Belgium Style IPA in this case. I know them. I’ve had them. This aint it. This is something else. The mix of wheat and bitterness is closer to a hopped up Belgium wit than what I would expect of their IPA. By the way, I need to emphasise that this disagreement in beer style is not meant to mean the beer is bad. Not by a long shot.

This is funky and full of light fruit esters. Melon and strawberry as subtle notes over white wine sharp grapes and moderate bitterness that kicks up into heavy bitterness for the finish. Very wheaty and very yeast influenced.

Dry for the most part, in part the influence of the wheat feel of the beer and in part the flavours. These combine to create an environment where you are quite unprepared for the bitterness when it hits, even moderate as it is mid body.

While the bitterness can rise in the finish to be pretty heavy none of the flavours follow suit. You need to pay attention to find the intricacies such as subtle melon and green fruit with dry cheesecake sweetness mingling. Another beer for slow contemplation. Definitely drink it as your first or only beer of the night, if it has to fight with other beers it could easily disrupt the subtle harmony of flavours.

A quirky beer, while it is bitter I would say it has very little crossover with expectations of the IPA style, Belgium, imperial or otherwise. Again, a thing of its own, the yeast and barrel ageing very evident in feel and flavour. By about half way through the beer does smooth and become more recognisable as a Belgium IPA, but it still has as many differences as similarities.

Only drink if you are in the mind to do the examination it demands to be truly enjoyed. Challenging in its dryness and its mix of bitterness, tart and hops. I think it is a beer that will split the crowd but for me it is a great beer to be sampled but rarely but enjoyed thoroughly when you do.

Quirky, odd and challenging. Put me down as a fan.

Background: Ok, where do I start on this one? A double IPA, fermented with Belgium yeast in French oak loudres (Even after a google search I have no idea what loudres is, if you know help me out please) Then fermented with Brett in Chardonnay barrels (Brett being the yeast often used in sour and lambic beers), then bottle conditioned with more yeast. After Anchorage’s previous odd IPA I just had to give this one a try. I was going to save it for review 900 but I felt like treating myself. Drunk while listening to Bad Religion: True North, which I had just received in the post.