The first of my recent purchases that I tried is Monk's Blood, brewed by 21st Amendment Brewing in San Francisco. Founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan spent time traveling to Belgian breweries in order to develop the recipe for this fine brew. The result is an Abbey-style ale that pays homage to the monks of Belgian monasteries who, during times of fasting, subsist entirely on "liquid bread", a.k.a. beer. Monk's Blood features a unique mix of malts along with Magnum and Centennial bittering hops, Amarillo flavoring hops, and Abbey ale yeast. Special ingredients include dark Belgian sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and dried figs. The final brew is aged in oak, has 34 IBU's, and is 8.3% ABV.
Part of 21st Amendment's "Insurrection Series", Monk's Blood comes in uniquely designed, sealed box of 4 cans. The cans themselves are jet black with white and red lettering. I had heard of 21st Amendment Brewing before but never tried anything from them. Aside from simply wanting to try one of their beers, my attention was grabbed by the unique packaging and also its name, which reminded me of Devil's Milk from DuClaw Brewing.
Monk's Blood pours a deep mahogany color with a hint of red. It is medium-bodied, with a smooth, creamy texture and light hazel colored head that dissipates quickly. The taste of the figs and raisins is immediately noticeable. Although strong in alcohol content, the alcohol flavor is not overbearing, and instead adds to the overall taste rather than standing out or detracting from it. The aroma is sweet and fruity, and the oak aging is obvious, although it reveals itself as a slightly nutty aftertaste rather than a full on flavor. Overall, Monk's Blood was sweeter and less bitter than I expected, but then again, it's not a typical Abbey ale. It's a great beer, complex yet easy to drink, with stronger hints of spice uncommon in its more traditional counterparts.