By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers
Greetings, and welcome to Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford.
Well, we did not get one darn trick-or-treater this year, and my wife was very disappointed. Lisa, who is still a kid at heart, loves to see the little ones come to the door dressed up. Maybe the cold and windy weather had something to do with it, or as I mentioned last week, maybe this is a tradition that is fading away. Well, I’m still in the Halloween mood, and I decided I would like to highlight a beer I picked up the other day. The beer is a robust porter called Zombie Monkie, and the brewery is Tallgrass Brewing Co.
Robust Porter is a descendant of the brown or standard porters of 18th-century England. Whereas standard porter was a workers’ session beer, robust porter is much darker in color, texture and flavor, making it more of a sipping beer. Its richer body, resembling a stout more than its ancestor, is intended more for the connoisseur beer drinker, not for guzzlers.
In early 2007, Tallgrass Brewing Co. was founded in Manhattan, Kansas, by Jeff Gill. Manhattan is a town in the Flint Hills and surrounded by the Tallgrass Prairie. Jeff and his wife had always wanted to settle in this area to raise their family, and it just so happened that the water was excellent for brewing beer. In 2010, Tallgrass began packaging its beers exclusively in 16-ounce cans. Tallgrass beers are now sold in cans and on tap in 14 states. They have six year-round and three seasonal beers.
Zombie Monkie, a seasonal offering, is an interpretation of robust porter from Tallgrass. The website describes this as “A dark, rich porter, carefully brewed for the post-apocalyptic world to come. Crafted with lots of roasty dark chocolate and specialty malts, inoculated with enough hops to add a floral/citrus character in the finish. It’s hardy, complex, and interesting, because you might be drinking it for a long time.”
I will use my tulip glass for this tasting. The can has some pretty cool artwork with a textured feel to it; looks like an energy drink should be pouring from this can instead of a beer.
The pour is an opaque dark brown with a creamy three-finger tan head that takes its sweet time to settle, leaving an appealing sticky lacing behind on the glass.
The aroma is roasty and robust, driven by the dark malts. Coffee, dark chocolate, toast and brown sugar mingle nicely with hints of citrus and earthy grass. It is bold, but also shows depth and character.
Big taste of dark-roasted barley and coffee, with cream and brown sugar sweetness. The dark chocolate makes its presence on the swallow, along with light citrusy and floral notes. Not bitter at all; definitely a unique finish. Mmm, this porter shows some nice depth and flavor.
Mouth feel is quite smooth and creamy, with moderate carbonation, making this beer quite drinkable with a nice, dry finish.
Overall, this is an absolutely delicious beer. It is complex, bold and highly drinkable at 6 percent alcohol by volume. It seems more like a stout than a porter, but it is an amazing beer regardless. If this is what I am left to drink post-apocalypse, I will be damn good, along with my trusty shotgun to keep those zombies at bay.
Michael Sears is the president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a home-brewing club dedicated to the art of finely-crafted beer. The club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Street. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue