In May 2014, the Firestone Walker Brewing Company announced that its Stickee Monkee beer would be returning, this time in bottles. According to a press release, which featured the line, “Hey, Hey it’s the Monkee,” the name of the beer is a mishmash of the Sticky Monkey flower, which blooms along California’s Central Coast, a nod to Belgian monks and fanciful spelling apparently inspired by the pop music group The Monkees.
Originally produced in 2010 as part of the company’s Proprietor’s Vintage Series1, Brewmaster Matt Bynildson describes the 2014 edition of Stickee Monkee as a “sweeter sticky beer,” a result of using Belgian candi sugar to give it a “signature molasses sweetness.” The ingredient, he says, is “like something you want to pour on your waffles in the morning.” While the recipe for the beer is based on a traditional Belgian quadrupel, the added twist of a barrel treatment coupled with the beer’s regional connection to the aforementioned flower led the brewery to refer to it as a Central Coast Quad.2
Indeed, waves of rich molasses are what you first notice in this beer, followed by strong aromas of leather, raisins and a cola-like character. Barrel notes of bourbon, oak and vanilla are prominent as well, the result of the beer spending up to fourteen months in spent casks from the Woodford Reserve, Elijah Craig and Four Roses distilleries.3
Assessing drinkability, Stickee Monkee is full-bodied, with a slightly chewy feel and a hint of alcohol in the finish. While the latter might be viewed as an imbalance in other beers, a boozy tone is expected in a well-crafted quad. It’s also something that leaves you with a noticeable impression of warmth, which lingers along with the full array of flavors well into the aftertaste.
Ultimately, though, it’s the overall balance that sets this beer apart, as there’s nothing overbearing about it in either taste or aroma. Where other beers fail in being too barrel-forward, Stickee Monkee maintains its well-rounded complexity throughout. Other than a slight adjustment to the carbonation, which bites a little right out of the bottle, there isn’t anything else I’d do differently in this beer. That said, it does smooth out after a few minutes resting in the glass, so it could be that the beer just needs time to breathe, as it were, though a more vigorous pour would probably work just as well.