The American-style IPA has been done to death, is there any way to
re-invent it? I think that’s what Shipyard’s approach to their Monkey
Fist IPA was. It’s sort of an Americanized version of a contemporary
English IPA, but that’s just a guess. In fact I’m not entirely sure what
this beer is supposed to be other than a sharp bitter bomb.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It cost $2.80 ($0.23 per ounce).
Appearance: Opaque rusty orange/burnt sierra hue. Forms an
average-sized, white, foamy head which leaves minor lacing on the glass.
Smell: Flowers and soap with a subtle sweet malty scent.
Taste: The American IPA style is known for being deliberately unbalanced
and hop-forward. However, intense bitterness does not a good beer make.
Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA uses Warrior, Glacier and Cascade hops - two
of these which are not often used that often because they do little more
than provide for raw bitterness. Just one sip into this beer proves
that. Yes, beers of this style are supposed to be bitter, but they’re
also supposed to be flavorful. While the Cascade hop does impart minor
pine and citrus notes, the other hops create for a sharp, very dry
bitterness. It’s akin to saltwater or an IPA that has gone bad (this
bottle still had a few months of freshness according to its nicked
Needless to say, this is a rather one-dimensional palate. Sheer dry
bitterness from beginning to end. There’s a subtle caramel or honey or
other pale malt presence through the middle, but it’s not enough to
offset the cloying aspects of the hops. To be fair, it’s at least a
drinkable brew and hopheads will likely be able to appreciate it.
Drinkability: As much as Monkey Fist IPA smells like soap, the intense
bitterness and dryness reminds me of trying to drink from a glass that
wasn’t rinsed properly after washing. The mouthfeel is quite intense,
even if the body itself is rather normal in terms of carbonation and
texture. The lingering bitter aftertaste induces palate fatigue rather
quickly. Though this would probably be ideal to pair with spicy food. It
wouldn’t seem to be as big as its 6.9% ABV weight would imply, though I
don’t see many drinkers throwing back multiple servings of this.