Taste: It’s hard to screw up the barleywine style. There’s so much malt
used in these types of beers they lend themselves to complexity. And
while I wouldn’t say Brooklyn Monster Ale is in any way bad, it’s
definitely not on par with some of the greats on the style.
Like most barleywines, Monster is an especially sweet beer. The malty
character creates for a taste akin to pure toffee syrup. There seems to
be a bit of peanut brittle or other nutty character as well, which
imparts some rustic, slightly astringent flavor. I’m not sure how old my
bottle is, but I’m surprised to find the hops are still quite strong.
There’s a strong bitterness on the finish along with some dryness from
the alcohol. While these two components of the palette are indeed
enjoyable, they’re not exactly delicious. It’s also rather repetitive -
no new flavors develop as the beer warms (believe me, I waited). I could
see being a good complement to the right dessert or cheese, but on its
own this is just plain good.
Drinkability: I think the name Brooklyn Monster Ale is a bit of
hyperbole, since that name would seem imply a beastly brew. In
actuality, this beer is quite tame and calm. The mouthfeel is a little
thin, though it’s extremely smooth going down. In fact, the aftertaste
is rather clean with just some residual dry bitterness. At 10.1% ABV,
this beer should feel like a liquid brick, but it drinks like something
much tamer. There’s only mild warmth and actual alcohol character to the
body. Though one serving is quite satisfactory.