In the lovely town of Spokane, Wash., No-Li Brewhouse has been brewing beer since 1993. Founder and head brewmaster Mark Irvin moved around a lot as a youngster being a military kid, and it was his time in Germany that opened his eyes up to what beer could be.

When it first started No-Li was called Northern Lights Brewing Co., but because of a nasty trademark dispute1 they switched their name by shortening it up. Another big change for No-Li was how it distributed its beer. For the first eight years of its existence it operated as a small production brewery primarily making kegs for local restaurants and bars that they self distributed. Then in 2002 they expanded to its current location and also added a pub element as well. No matter what No-Li is doing, whether it be brewing beer or making food, the brewery lives by the motto, “Globally inspired. Locally sourced.”

The first thing I noticed about Brass Monkey was the packaging, No-Li has very unique artwork on their bottles with a really modern and clean look. This beer is a loose take on the drink, Brass Monkey, made famous by a little ol’ band called the Beastie Boys.

The beer itself pours very clear and has a light head with various bubble sizes that linger on top and around the edges. It is a deep rich amber color with tinges of orange and red depending on how it’s viewed in the light.

The aroma is very malty, smells like a good amount of alcohol, more so than the advertised eight percent. There is a fairly strong potpourri scent; cinnamon, spice, citrus zest, heavy orange comes through to the nose with some bready yeast intertwined in there as well.

Brass Monkey tastes highly alcoholic, I would never guess this beer was under 11-12 percent alcohol. There is so much maltiness that the beer is really having trouble balancing itself out. The orange flavor is light and the Cascade hop profile gets lost in somewhere along the way. There’s a good amount of the potpourri spiciness in the flavor which isn’t terrible, but it really sat in the stomach in a way that was a bit much after drinking the beer for awhile.

 

No-Li Brass Monkey
BREWERY: No-Li Brewhouse
LOCATION: Spokane, Wash.
STYLE: American strong ale
ABV: 8 percent
IBU: 57
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASE DATE: April 2015
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
No-Li Brass Monkey isn’t bad by any means, but it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It's out of balance and not one I would likely go back to, nor really want to drink all of by myself. The thick, rich malts just completely dominate the beer, take over it and bury any chance this beer had of being great. It is an interesting take on a brew and I like the idea of it, but the beer was just out of whack, needs a tweak and then could ultimately be really solid.
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