I’m sure many of you have experienced this musical common occurrence before. You’re at a concert or a bar, patiently waiting for the band to hit the stage when a (usually) unassuming man with an all-access pass walks up to the mic and starts…well, god knows what.
Sometimes it’s just a simple droning of single words. Sometimes it’s a collection of bizarre, jungle like sounds. Amidst all of this, he continually looks towards the sound board, making thumbs-up-down type gestures until finally he’s excised whatever acoustical demons are living in the venue.
And of course, without fail, the crowd makes fun of him as he does. After all we’ve all experienced the mike check enough to know that it’s an important part of any performance, but it’s become so cliche that it’s hard not to heckle the man as he does his job.
Old Dominion Brewery, in collaboration with the folks at Dawson Liquors have decided to release their previously keg-only beer Monk Czech, a play on the words “Mic Check”, in 22oz bottles. The beer, billed as a Belgian-style pilsner, has its very own website, complete with photos, beer finder and a rap video, and sports a label with a monk holding a microphone.
But after the mic check is over, what type of beer steps out on the stage to perform. Are we talking Slipknot? Or James Taylor? Let’s listen.
THEM: Monk Czech is brewed with Pilsner Malt, and utilizes Saaz, Tradition, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin Hops. The beer is then fermented with the Chouffe yeast strain to an ABV of 5.2%. The hops balance the beer out at 45 IBUs.
ME: Hazy pour, coming in a notch or two above golden in the glass. There isn’t a very substantial head, but it does end up with a nice, fine layer on the surface that leaves some very nice lacing on the sides of the glass as you drink. The nose definitely speaks of Belgian beer with all kinds of fruity, spicy, Belgian yeasty aromas moshing around. The first sip is …………. WHOA!!!!! Holy……. OK, the front has a nice touch of malt and citrus, but the back end initially is overly bitter, as dissonant as a band with an out of tune guitar. Tracey noted the face I was making and when she took a sip she commented, “That’s the taste I hate in hoppy beers,” with a face that screamed “Never hand me a beer that tastes like this again. EVER!” I really thought this was going to end up being to unbalanced and totally disappointing, but thankfully after a few more sips my palette got adjusted to it and once it did, the beer became much less striking and much more enjoyable.
In the mouth, Monk Czech is light and clean, with lemon and grapefruit crowd surfing an enthusiastic audience of malt, spurned on by the beat of the Chouffe yeast influence. The finish (once you get accustomed to it) leaves a little bite on your cheeks which is not at all unpleasant, and a light grapefruit rind sensation in your mouth that serves as a reminder of the experience like that slight ringing in your ear after a live concert. As one would expect, aiming for a summer beer, it’s definitely not Mayhem or Slipknot (hell it’s not really even Poison) as the flavors aren’t outrageously bold like some other Belgian hybrids there, mainly because the base beer here is a pilsner, not an IPA.
All totaled, Monk Czech is a pretty decent beer. I’m going to chalk that initial slap in the face to my mouth having had something in it that didn’t play well with the beer (I don’t know what, it wasn’t like I had just brushed my teeth), and I’ll definitely try it again to see if that was the case. As far as anything else, it’s a pretty interesting conglomeration of a pilsner beer with Belgian influences and a sprinkling of “down under” hops. Nothing really surprising, and pretty much on point with the target. Maybe not for everyone (if you don’t like the taste of Belgian-style beers at all, then go see who’s playing across the street), but I’m willing to bet it makes an appearance at more than a few summer parties. Accessible, straightforward and uncomplicated, with an underlying raw edge. Let’s call it CCR.
Yes. After a whole review of music analogies, I obviously meant the car. Anyone willing to give a slightly used editor a good home?
Time for another beer.