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Victory White Monkey
Where in Town: Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, 5544 Connecticut Ave. NW
Price: $10.99/750 ml
The craft beer industry shows a unique enthusiasm for Frankenstein-like experimentation. In addition to the ever-growing list of style mash-ups (have you tried the latest dry-hopped black wheat saison?), creations like Allagash’s Interlude, Russian River’s sought-after Supplication, and the more widely available Goose Island Sofie exemplify how brewers are blurring the boundary between wine and beer. How? Some, like Dogfish Head, use wine must—a freshly pressed mixture of grapes, stems, and all. But most are aging brews in retired wine barrels to add vinous characteristics. The result is a gateway style I like to employ when trying to interest my Pinot Grigio-guzzling girlfriends in beer.
Barrel of Monkey
One of the better wine-barrel-aged beers I’ve had recently is Victory White Monkey. The limited release from Downingtown, Pa., is the brewery’s Golden Monkey Belgian-style tripel aged for three months in oak Chardonnay barrels from Wente Vineyards of Livermore, Calif. The original beer’s intense sweetness and banana and clove flavors fade in the barrels, giving way to juicy white grapes, smooth vanilla, and a touch of old wood. You still get the kick from this strong 9.5 percent alcohol brew, but White Monkey’s pleasantly dry finish and spicy aftertaste linger, thanks to the beer’s more wine-like mouthfeel. Ready to put it to a test? Throw together a cheese plate, queue up a romantic comedy, and pop open a bottle with your next potential convert.
Photo by Tammy Tuck