Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Wheat Monkey Ale

Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Milwaukee, WI

Style: American Wheat

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
• Halibut
• Salads
• Salmon
These are turbulent times indeed …

The U.S. continues to be at war on two fronts. International terrorism remains a constant threat. North Korea taunts the world with nuclear weapons and a new state-sponsored beer. Iranian elections were fixed, and resulting protests violently suppressed. Drug wars rage just south of our border, threatening to turn Mexico into anarchy. The global economy teeters on the brink, and the U.S. economy has been mired in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression for over a year now. Automakers, banks, mortgage firms, and mom and pop stores across the country are going bankrupt. Natural disasters are on the uptick. Global warming threatens to wipe us off the planet. Jon and Kate have filed for divorce.

I could go on for days about all the nastiness going on in the world around us. After being constantly inundated with bad news, followed by worse news, followed by apocalyptic news, it’s hard to find an escape. But alas, we can always turn to an old standby:


Who doesn’t love a good monkey? I’ll challenge anyone, right here, right now to watch a monkey for five seconds and not crack a smile. Monkeys are fantastic, and in times like these, we all need to remember our monkeys (but not spank them … that’s naughty).

Thanks to Milwaukee’s fun-loving Lakefront Brewery, we can now drink us some monkey. Wheat Monkey, that is, the first new release from Lakefront since early 2008’s Bridge Burner. Wheat Monkey is meant to be an American pale wheat ale, with the purpose of being a light, refreshing, crisp brew for the warm summer months. While this isn’t necessarily a go-to style for Nigel, I do enjoy the occasional nip of a light beer when the Midwest summer turns steamy.

The key to reviewing an American wheat ale is to take Oberon out of the equation. When a masterpiece of the style is created and discovered, it’s often easy to expect everything thereafter to follow in its footsteps. This is unfair both to the brewer of whatever example you’re currently drinking (Lakefront in this case), as well as to the folks at Bell’s. Oberon is a legend of the style, and Bell’s deserves credit for creating without having a bunch of copycats flooding the market. To expect another Oberon would be silly, and Nigel isn’t one for silliness.

Wheat Monkey pours a light golden brown monkey hue with a slight head of less than half an inch that instantly dissipates, leaving the slightest of lacing at the very sides of the glass. Yes, this Monkey is bald. A noticeable cloudiness is present as one would expect from a wheat beer, with some grainy sludge settling on the bottom. I will say it looks impressive in my official Wheat Monkey pint glass, but then again anything looks cool in a monkey glass.

The aroma is where this Monkey starts to fall off the limb. Part of the reason I’m not a huge wheat guy is that there’s often an overwhelming aroma and flavor of wheat malt, which I find stale. This is a personal taste on my part, but is the biggest reason why I only enjoy the style on certain occasions. Wheat Monkey isn’t as stale as some, but there is an dominant aroma of grainy, earthy, light wheat malt that doesn’t sit right with Nigel. Lighter citrusy notes of lemon, grapefruit, and banana help counteract the earthiness.

The flavor is best described as exactly what you’d expect given the style … nothing more, nothing less. Light and crisp, smooth and refreshing, it’s the epitome of a summer brew. Initial flavors are light, golden wheat malt; that is to say, it’s grainy and bready to the extreme. While it’s lacking anything in the way of hops (as it should), there’s still a slight bite to it that is pleasant; it aids in the crispness of a beer, which I find perfect for warm weather. Citrus notes are present as well, mainly in the form of light lemon, but with slight hints of grapefruit, orange, and banana. This is an American wheat, so it lacks much of the banana notes and spices that Bavarian-style wheats have, although the finish does reveal a touch of spice. Light in body and smooth on the palate with a low ABV, Wheat Monkey is a true summer beer, but is otherwise a pretty ordinary Monkey.

I’m lovin’ the monkey theme, but am so-so on the beer. Lakefront did a good job of creating a fun, refreshing summer brew but that’s about all I can say. I’m giving it three mugs because for the style, it’s just that … an average example. For a beer overall, it’s a two in my book … but again, it’s unfair to judge it based on those parameters. If you’re looking for a new summer brew, be sure to try the Monkey; it’s good enough for a trial run.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on July 14, 2009.
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