The Brew Sherpas headed to NYC to Tørst for the Monkish Brewing Co. tap takeover during the 2018 NYC Beer Week. It’s nearly impossible to sample Monkish beers unless you travel to their brewery in Torrance, California or have a friend generously share one with you. Having neither, we had the perfect opportunity to sample Monkish beers near home.
NYC Beer Week’s Opening Bash (sponsored by the New York Brewers Guild) brought us into the Big Apple, starting at Other Half Brewing on Friday night, February 23, 2018. Although we were too late to sample the Monkish-Other Half collab pours, we didn’t miss other fantastic Other Half beers in their recently expanded tap room. The weather was a bit chilly and rainy, but even at 8:30 pm, there were the beginnings of a line for the following morning’s Other Half can release. The NYC beer scene has changed vastly over the past 5 years, dramatically for the better, with a bevy of world-class beers brewed in our local area.
We had the privilege of meeting one of the owners of Monkish Brewing Co., Henry Nguyen, at the Opening Bash. He and his wife, Adriana (the other owner), would be at the Tørst event. For those of you who know Henry or have read about him, you get a sense that he is very spiritual and that spirituality attaches to his beer and his process, none of which includes boasting or pretense, only solid zen-like dedication to quality and process. The line at the Brooklyn EXPO Center for Monkish beer was longer than all others, and not surprisingly, the beer kicked early. So having not tasted Monkish beer at the Opening Bash, our anticipation was heightened for the Tørst event.
The Brew Sherpas coordinated with Mike Amidei, Beverage Manager at Torst to prepare for the Monkish Brewing Co. event. Mike says:
“In terms of the conception of the event, I’ve wanted to work with Monkish for a while, but since they don’t distribute to NYC it was always going to be a one-off type of thing. I sent Henry an email many months ago saying we’d love to do an event. I also CC’d Fernelly Sarria who knows Henry from a previous trip to Monkish when he travelled back home to visit family. Henry got back to us saying he’d be in for an event built around his trip to NYC for beer week and a few collabs.”
Our plan was to hit the Monkish Brewing Co. tap takeover at Tørst on Sunday morning, February 25, 2018, well in advance of the 12:00 pm opening. Unfortunately, Mike Amidei had the flu, but Dave stepped in and helped us to set up before the event and watch it unfold. So another chilly and rainy day in NYC brought out some of the most fervent beer aficionados to Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s stalwart beer bar, Tørst. Torst is owned by Danish brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, who also owns Evil Twin Brewing.
A tiny hole-in-the-wall storefront devoid of identification already hosted a line for the takeover at 10:45 am.
Inside, the activity level was that of organized chaos, with racks of glasses being washed and set up, tap lines tested, beers pre-tasted, menus placed, wrist bands labeled, take-out food to feed the staff. At slightly past 12:00 pm, the doors were opened and thirsty guests were allowed entry 10-at-a-time for bottle and draft pours.
The crowd was diverse in age, gender, beer t-shirts, and ethnicity, however the level of enthusiasm and anticipation was universally high. As the seats at the bar were filled, the taps started flowing. We heard discussion about everything beer.
The tap list was impressive:
- <Insert Hip Hop Reference Here> collab w/ Trillium 10% ABV, DDH TIPA. A triple variant of Trillium’s Street IPA which is double dry-hopped with 100% Galaxy hops. An all Galaxy triple IPA.
- Glamour, Glitters, & Gold. 8.3% ABV, DDH DIPA. A DDH DIPA with all Citra hops.
- Tom, Dick, & Henry. 10% ABV, TIPA. A triple IPA with Motueka, Mosaic & Vic Secret
- Smarter Than Spock. 7.1% ABV, DDH IPA. A double dry-hopped version of Sprocket IPA with Galaxy hops.
- Year of the Juice. 8.4% ABV, DDH DIPA. DDH IPA with Citra, Vic Secret, Galaxy and Mosaic
- Monktiki Tiki. 8.1% ABV, DIPA. Tiki inspired DIPA with lactose, coconut, pineapple, orange, and nutmeg
- Spectacles, collab w/ Other Half. 6.8% ABV, Saison. Barrel Aged Saison with guava
But it was the bottle list that blew us away:
- Torrance. 6% ABV, Saison. Barrel aged wild ale
- Mas Juteux. 8.5% ABV, Saison. Barrel aged saison with apricots
- Haiku de Saison. 6.3% ABV, Saison. Mixed-fermentation saison aged in oak wine barrels
- Black Kisses. 7.7% ABV, Saison. Barrel-fermented saison with blackberries and black currants
The Brew Sherpas were most impressed with the saison called Torrance (in honor of Monkish Brewing Co.’s hometown), as it was such a complete and well-balanced beer aged in oak. The IPA’s were, as Monkish is known to do, all excellent, and many as “east coast” goes, comparable to our regional bests.
So who was there? Margo and Lars arrived at 10:45 am and were the first on line for the event. Margo loves beer and Lars loves mead. They support each other in their adventures. In fact, they arrived at the Other Half can release at 3:00 am on Saturday morning, only to find that there were 300+/- people ahead of them. That being said, they survived the night and were still the first on line at Torst.
Henry and Adriana Nguyen arrived at 12:30 pm. Henry graciously recalled both my name and Keith’s, and introduced us to Adriana. Henry appears introspective and reserved, and Adriana is his perfect counterbalance, charming and extroverted. That balance is what makes Monkish Brewing Co. 100% family-owned, so unique.
The Monkish meet Tørst. Tørst, meet Monkish event was a phenomenal success.
Mike Amidei of Torst recalls:
“The first Monkish beer that kicked was the Trillium collab <Insert Hip Hop Reference Here> at 2:30 pm. All the kegs were sixtels and we only had one of each. Most everything was gone by 5pm, and the last keg kicked around 7pm. It was a lot of beer to go through in one day! We also poured nearly all of the bottles, except a couple that we reserved to pour at our Anniversary party in April. In terms of beers it was 7 kegs and 4 different beers in bottles (750’s) from which we offered bottle pours.”