There was once a time I thought all saisons tasted like ditch water strained through a used gym sock. I hated them. I REALLY hated them. I would sooner go thirsty than ask for a saison, no matter what prestigious local brewery it hailed from. Looking back, it’s likely that my dislike of these beers could be blamed on a less refined beer palate. Hell, I used to hate sours as well, and I’ve found some of those that are actually drinkable. Perhaps the establishments where I was being served these glasses of dirty cellar water were using vile beer lines in need of cleaning. Or maybe every saison I tried just plain sucked.
In the years since I started on my craft beer adventure, I’ve come to admire and enjoy a large variety of beers, many time learning to love and appreciate styles that I didn’t particularly relish the first few times I tried them. With that in mind, I thought it was fitting to give Monkey King another try.
Monkey King Farmhouse Saison Ale from New Holland Brewing was one of the first saisons I ever tried. I hated it. A lot. If I remember correctly, I drank about 4 sips before promptly handing it off to a friend and ordering something else. Let’s see if I feel any differently about it now.
Poured from a 12oz bottle, this beer is a straw orangish-yellow in color with a moderate amount of happy little bubbles. There’s a little bit of head in the glass that slowly subsides, but those bubbles just keep on rising. From the looks of it, this beer has a ton of carbonation.
After the abundance of bubbles, the next thing I notice is the smell… that familiar funky farmhouse smell. This beer smells very yeasty, like a glass full of old bread. Is this a good thing? If you’re a fan of musty old bread, then yeah, you’ll love it. While I’m not finding the smell terribly appealing, I figure I’ve come this far… down the hatch!
Huh. Not that bad. Not that great either, but not the murky puddle water I remember so unfondly.
Monkey King is heavy on peppery spices, cloves and some slight citrus and banana notes and it certainly has a bit of farmhouse funk. Even with that funk, the flavors are pleasantly muted and nothing seems overpowering or particularly strong tasting. Malty, dry and medium-bodied. My particular bottle had a ton of carbonation, which I’m not sure is the norm. Overall, it was a fine beer. I even drank the whole thing.
While saisons will likely never be topping my list of go-to beers, I can confidently say I’m open to giving them more of a chance in the future. Let’s get funky.