If you caught the recent profile of Monkish founder Henry Nguyen in LA Weekly, you get a pretty fantastic picture of how the brewer approaches his business. Henry is a very low-key personality shying away from crowded festivals and has a distaste for marketing and promotion. In many ways it seems that Nguyen would prefer to stay below the radar rather than compete with the staggering expectations that popular breweries have to face.
So it should come as no surprise that this past weekend the Belgian-focused Torrance brewery added two bottles to their shelves without so much as a mention on twitter or instagram until this morning. Its no further surprise either, that both bottles are worth screaming from the rooftops about.
The first beer – Selah – is a beer that’s been making waves for most of the last 12 months. Named by many (including me) as the top LA beer of 2014, this dry-hopped saison spiked with brett is back and better than ever. For those that are out of the loop, Selah showcases a wonderfully complex brett character that is enhanced by a dry hop of galaxy, mosaic and the ever-divisive sorachi ace. Its a beer that has layers upon layers of flavor, yet still endlessly refreshing.
The second bottle release that hit the tasting room this weekend is Rara Avis (latin for Rare Bird). Originally brewed for the Rare Beer Club, Rara Avis is a blend of two saisons; one spelt and one rye. Its then dry-hopped with amarillo and galaxy and dosed with brett. Many may think its a slight variation on Selah, except that Rara Avis is actually the first Monkish release to be dosed with lactobacillus. But don’t expect a full-on sour – the brewers at Monkish are gentle with the lacto to keep the acidity subtle and discreet. Rara Avis is full of pineapple character, with a dry, grainy finish that shows off the blended spelt and rye. Hidden effectively in that finish is a tartness that will only grow with age as the lactic acid develops, so make sure you grab a few bottles for your cellar.
Both beers are $12 a bottle at Monkish Brewing Co., 20311 S. Western Ave. Torrance, CA 90501.