Monkish Brewing // IPA Intelligent Embellishment

Beer trading has been a huge part of the craft beer scene for quite some time now, and if you’re not familiar, it’s time you get acquainted. Basically, as I’m sure you’re aware, there are a handful of breweries that are more sought after than others and as are their brews. If someone is lucky enough to live near one of these coveted breweries, they will usually attend bottle/can releases and purchase enough to keep a few and then use others as trading incentives. You’ll often see breweries like Other Half from New York or Maine Beer Co. from Freeport, ME sprinkled in among several other breweries that have created some sort of buzz online in forums for trading. The only downside to this is that it does get a little expensive. Some of these coveted bottles or cans can reach a pretty high price tag, so you’ll have to reciprocate the offering with something as equally sought after or a collection of brews to make the trade legit. I say all this to bring you to the beer that’s the basis of this review. A friend of mine received a few cans of Intelligent Embellishment from Monkish Brewing out of California. They’re creating quite a stir with their juicy IPAs and Double IPAs. So, he tossed a can my way and I am forever grateful for that, because this thing is top notch. Here are my thoughts:


First of all, let’s talk about the can. I hate it. I’ve never been a fan of this type of space odyssey design and I don’t think I ever will. Maybe if the can was an all over print it would look a little better rather than just a sticker, but I just can’t get behind it. Luckily, the contents in the can were much more appealing.


The color of the beer kind of threw me off a bit, because it’s so much lighter than most IPAs I’ve been drinking lately; it almost looks like carbonated orange juice. It poured a very light yellow-orange color with a fast dissolving fluffy white head. There’s a good bit of cloudiness to the beer, but not quite opaque.


The aroma of this beer was to die for. I’ve seen some people talk about how they couldn’t really detect a scent, but they must be smell blind. Right off the bat you get strong notes of grapefruit and citrus paired with a bit of earthiness. This is truly a wonderful smelling beer.


Tasting this beer put me at a loss for words at the time. Now that I sit and reflect on it, I can come up with a few. At first, you’re bombarded with an intense tropical and citrus flavor that is more intense than I’ve ever tasted in any other beer, and just to clarify, this is all from hops. About half way through, you can begin to pick up some of those earthy and pine notes from the nose that begin to balance out the beer and clean up the intense fruit flavor. Toward the end, you get a real taste for the alcohol, but not in a bad way by any means; it’s 6.5% anyway. The way these flavors blend together makes it exceptional and a testament to the incredible things that people can do with just hops and no added flavors. When I say this beer tastes like juice, I am not kidding in the slightest bit. There’s no overwhelming front end bitterness that you get with a lot of IPAs because this one has most of the hops added toward the end of the boil to retain all that beautiful citrus and tropical flavor. Expertly done, Monkish.


Mouthfeel is great, because the carbonation isn’t quite that high, so it lets the hops and the flavor of the beer shine through much easier. As the beer warms though, it does get a bit heavier on the stomach. But if I was drinking this from the can, I wouldn’t be able to let it get warm and that’s a fact.


Overall, this is an incredible beer with some incredible flavors. There’s something mystifying about the world of hops and the flavors they can impart on a beer. With all the tropical citrus flavors mixed with the piney notes, this one is extremely balanced and well done. I could tank an entire case with ease if left alone with it, but unfortunately, this is one you’ll have to do some digging for. Or you could just trade that one special bottle you’ve been holding on to for so long. You won’t really miss it after you’ve had this one.



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