Being known as someone who writes about beer (modesty prevents me from calling myself ‘a beer writer‘) makes me one of the easiest people in the world when it comes to gifts, while visitors to our home often bring my wife gifts of flowers or chocolates, I usually receive gifts of unusual beers.
And so it was when my nephew called round recently, bearing a gift of brews from his preferred local brewery ‘Blue Monkey’ in Giltbrook, to the north west of Nottingham.
The brewery was originally founded in 2008 in the nearby town of Ilkeston, moving to its current premises in 2010. Blue Monkey takes its name from Ilkeston’s industrial heritage, the town’s blast furnaces were coal fired, creating blue flames known locally as ‘Blue Monkeys’.
Of course Blue Monkey also leads itself to some creative brew naming, and this one, ’99 Red Baboons’ references the English language version of the song ’99 Luftballons’ which was a hit single back in 1983 (catch the video here)
There’s more to it than fancy primate puns, since 2009 they’ve won over twenty SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers – formerly the Small Independent Brewers Association) and CAMRA awards, indeed their ‘Ape Ale’ gained a silver award in the ‘Strong Bitter’ category at the Great British Beer Festival.
Anyway, back to ’99 Red Baboons’
It pours a dark garnet colour, with no discernible head, despite the roughest of pours into a spotlessly clean glass. The brewery describes it as “A dark and interesting ale, combining fruity hoppiness with a dark, malty side” the label also poses the question “Is it sort of a porter or maybe a mild? You decide!”
Well, it’s certainly malty, there’s very few hops in the nose, while the flavour is predominantly dark and malty with gentle hints of burnt toast, topped with treacle toffee – that’s dark toffee made with Molasses.
So, it it a porter or a mild? Well I wouldn’t describe it as a porter, at 4.2% ABV it’s neither full-bodied nor strong enough to make it into my personal ‘porter’ category. While 4.2% is a bit on the potent side for a ‘mild’ – they usually come in under 4% ABV – maybe this is an ‘Imperial Mild’?
Overall, while I don’t want to be seen looking gift horses in the mouth, as it were, I was slightly disappointed with this, and can really only justify 2½ Brewclub stars.
Never mind, I have a couple more Blue Monkey ales to try.