It’s safe to say that if your particular taste is for murky, juicy IPAs laden with insane dry hopping to accentuate the New England style then you won’t have struggled to find something to your taste in recent times… but what if you crave the old school? Something clear and bitter?
Enter Northern Monk. While constantly pushing themselves to create bigger and bolder flavours through their Patrons Project, they’re also grounded in tradition – both with their local population and brewing – and here we have Honour, a triple West Coast IPA, coming in at 10.5% in a 440ml can.
We aren’t totally convinced by the new core branding by Northern Monk; it’s more streamlined, and in keeping with design trends but we feel they’ve lost a bit of their panache in the process. Having said that, the Patrons Project artwork remains right up there with the best in the UK and gives a good counter-balance to their core styling.
Anyway, the beer! As we opened the can, the lack of intense juicy hop aroma was noticeable but only because we feel programmed to expect it. The beer poured a beautiful golden colour to match the packaging, with a lively, fluffy white head which released aromas of pine and candy floss – none of your tropical fruit smoothies here. The beer didn’t clear completely; it was opaque with a light haziness but never hinting at murk.
🏳️ HONOUR 🏳️
A 10.5% West Coast TIPA with a big upfront bitterness and huge piney hop character ⚡️
Launching exclusively online and at @NMBCoRefectory and @NMRefectoryMCR tomorrow, alongside another new release that we’ll be revealing soon… pic.twitter.com/Pup1pgEJna
— NORTHERN MONK (@NMBCo) January 24, 2019
The first sip was grassy and piney just as you’d expect, before developing flavours of jammy apricots and tinned peaches in sugar syrup, mixing with more earthy flavours – the big malt bill has given this beer a sticky sweetness that may divide opinion but it balances the bitter hops and helps to make this really drinkable, even at 10.5% in a 440ml can. It finishes with a crisp bitter edge and a white pepper spiciness that helps round the beer off nicely.
We really enjoyed this beer and found it an interesting take on the West Coast style. If we’re being fussy, we’d dial down the sweetness to leave a more bitter bite and a drier finish OR… go the other way and throw even more oats in there and thicken it up… but then it wouldn’t be West Coast, would it?
This beer reminds us of a beer that has now become an annual institution in the UK – Chubbles by Cloudwater in collaboration with The Veil. It has the same background of flavours albeit in a more subtle (yet boozier!) format – if you haven’t been able to track down a can of Chubbles, you could do much worse than give this a try to tide you over.