Blushing Monk (Belgian raspberry ale, 9.2% ABV), with its almost cult status, has made its second appearance, and the first in the brewery’s Backstage Series of the year.
It was the first Backstage Series release four years ago in July 2011, and it was four years prior to that when it was last brewed. This makes the 12th installment of the Backstage Series.
“It seems as though we brew Blushing Monk on a four-year cycle. Our cellar crew hates brewing it because it’s brewed with a different yeast strain from all of our other beers, but we think it’s worth the sleepless nights. It’s an absolutely gorgeous beer,” according to Founders co-founder and president Dave Engbers.
The most recent bottles were made available in Michigan this past Tuesday, March 2, and bottles have landed in Michiana.
After checking with some friends, I found out that bottles in the Kalamazoo, Mich., area as, well as Cleveland, Ohio, both sold out by the day’s end. Northwest Indiana sells quite a large volume of Founders beer, so we get a fair amount of their allocated beers, including Blushing Monk. That means that there is a fair amount of Blushing Monk to go around. City Wide Liquors, Chalet Party Shoppe, and Martin’s Super Markets are just a few places that it can be found. It might not be available at all locations of the stores listed above, so call ahead if you are heading out to pick some up.
Founders uses huge amounts of raspberries and a Belgian yeast strain to brew Blushing Monk. The raspberries are immediately noticeable in the pour, which is a dark red wine color. Aroma is very much full of raspberries with some earthiness and a hint of booziness. Not surprising, the flavor is mostly again of fresh raspberries, sweet on the front end with an ever so slightly tart finish. This beer is pretty much a showcase for the berries, so if you are not a fan of raspberries, this beer is not for you.
You can decide whether this is a dessert beer, or a beer to just enjoy on its own. In pairing, you could either go with likeness and pair it with a sweet cheesecake with fruit, or cut the sweetness by pairing it with cheese. Since I am a cheese lover, I always have some on hand. My favorites are Gruyère and Jarlsberg, but today I had some smoked Gouda. I particularly liked the smoky flavor paired with the sweetness of the beer.
Pairing beer and food can be lots of fun, and there aren’t really a lot of rules. There are plenty of books with good information on pairing including “Mikkeller’s Book of Beer,” which has a whole chapter devoted to this. The book is not available for sale to the general public until April. However, you can have the chance of winning a copy of this book in a free drawing this Friday at Goshen’s own Better World Books. March is Beer Book Month, so stop down to Better World Books and check out their wide selection of books on beer.
From the Founders website: “Blushing Monk is brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberries and with a Belgian yeast strain that keeps our head cellar operator from sleeping for a week. It pours a stunning deep berry red and, at 9.2% ABV, has a surprising kick. The perfect dessert beer, it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fresh cheeses, fruit, cakes and more.”