As the sun slowly sets on a hot Montreal summer day, I pull out my headphones and bottle opener. It’s time to unwind with the melodic tunes of City and Colour and the velvety smooth maple notes of Flying Monkeys Imperial Maple Wheat ale. A collaboration between Dallas Green of City and Colour and the brewers at the Flying Monkeys craft brewery. Where normal is weird and in the case of this beer, exotic is delicious.
Part of Flying Monkeys treble clef series comes their second collaboration beer. A large Imperial Maple Wheat extra strong beer. Brewed with Ontario Maple Syrup, fair-trade organic bourbon vanilla pods, wheat, malted barley, yeast and water.., and music.
Gracefully cursed / I thirst. Luscious. Viscous. Voluptuous. Melodic. A brew with its own emotional strength in an often over-looked style. The North American Imperial Wheat Ale is akin to a barley wine, but the wheat lends a silken mouth feel and lingering finish. At 11.5% ABC, this sweet and big-hearted Imperial Maple Wheat Ale is meant to be shared.
I finally cracked open this beautiful and mysterious ale from Flying Monkeys. A bottle that has been sitting in my fridge for way too long asking to be leisurely imbibed. I turned on the latest City and Colour album to enjoy with my ears while my tongue does the dancing.
Appearance: Off the top I think it needs to be noted that the packaging is absolutely beautiful. From the outer box containing the large 750mL bomber to the bottle itself. I’m a firm believer that we taste as much with our tongue as our eyes and nose. It’s why we put so much emphasis on the look of the beer in the glass. Before even making it’s way into the glass I’m transfixed by what is to come.
This beer is a clear, brilliant ruby red when held up into the sun and a deep dark mahogany otherwise. It pours with a finger of a slightly brown slick head which will dissipate quickly into a thin layer. Not much alcohol legs to notice but it leaves a beautiful sparkling lacing on your glass with nice micro bubbles. When held up to the sun it just simply sparkles.
Aroma: Sweet, tart maple smell. The smell that is familiar with a true maple ale. The maple really jumps out at you and fills the surrounding area with a natural maple syrup bouquet. There’s also more of a maltier than wheat aroma and a bit of vanilla as well. Behind all of that is the hint of alcohol. I would expect it at 11.5% ABV. As the beer warms it becomes a bit more woody and alcoholic.
Taste: First thing you notice is how smooth this beer is on your lips. It is velvety. It silks over your tongue. Maple and vanilla notes all the way. Alcohol hotness at the end and a lingering tart flavour akin to maple ales. Very sweet and sugary like a maple syrup but with enough of balance at the end to round it out. It feels sticky on the lips and glass. A boozy porto like taste at the end as this warms up making this a delightful dessert beer.
Overall: I’ve never had a maple beer that tastes on point like this. I’ve had a few that tasted too artificial or too cloying without the higher alcohol to round it out. Flying Monkeys knows what type of beer they have here. A high alcohol, slow, moody, sipper. Definitely a beer to share with friends after a light dinner. I understand how this can be a bit too sweet for some or too high in alcohol for others, but in the right environment I think anyone can slowly enjoy a half pint. It’s an interesting beer that would fit well in any cellar for the right occasion and I’m curious if this will age well after a year.
At first I was a bit confused about the timing of the release and thought it would be a better spring or late fall beer. I started drinking this before dinner which might have been a mistake since it was so hot and humid outside. As the sun dipped and the air cooled the intention become apparent. Have this beer at sunset as the air begins to cool. Pour into a tulip or snifter and sit back in your chair. Relax. Sip. Share with friends. Enjoy.
This is a limited edition brew that probably won’t last long. I would recommend the drive to a local LCBO or the brewery to pick one up if you can. Flying Monkeys is located at 107 Dunlop Street East, Barrie Ontario Canada, L4M 1A6.
Disclosure: Flying Monkeys provided a free bottle for me to taste