In the mood for a brewery tour during the 2014 Christmas break, Bucky and company set sail for Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, located at 107 Dunlop Street East in Barrie, Ontario. At the time of writing, the brewery was running tours Monday through Friday at 2 pm; Saturdays at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm; and Sundays at 1 pm and 3 pm. Tours are free, and much more importantly, so are samples of the brewery's wares.
Diving straight into the free samples with some time to spare before his tour began, Bucky began with the Chocolate Manifesto, billed as a Triple Chocolate Milk Stout. The beer lives up to its billing with three different chocolate tastes discernible, an overall sweetness and very smooth mouthfeel. Bucky was sorely tempted to buy a bottle from the brewery's on-site retail store, but was scared off by the price; $11.95 for a 750 ml bottle. While a very tasty beer, it should not be priced at a premium to the best Belgian Abbey beers. Having previously tried many of Flying Monkey's hop-centric brews, Bucky went next to their Oatmeal Stout…another solid, enjoyable brew. It's good to see Flying Monkeys stretching themselves beyond the hop bombs that originally made their name.
While the samples were first rate, the tour itself could use some improvement. Sadly, the brewery was undergoing some construction during Buck's visit, consequently, a good part of the brewery was off limits. Learn from Bucky's experience and call ahead before your visit to specifically ask if any part of the brewery is out of bounds that day. Flying Monkeys is situation right on Lake Simcoe which would make for a nice after-tour stroll…in the summer time. Overall, a worthwhile experience.
The origin of Flying Monkey's Craft Brewery dates to its foundation in 2005 under the name Robert Simpson. Now doing business as Flying Monkeys, the brewery is known for the use of psychedelic artwork on all its bottles and draft taps.Flying Monkeys is located at 107 Dunlop Street East in Barrie, Ontario. Though I've been wanting to try their Hoptical Illusion ("HI") Almost Pale Ale for quite a while, quite frankly the psychedelic label turned me off. Doing my best to ignore the graphics (after all, it's what's inside that counts), I picked up HI in a brown 341 ml bottle, bottled Jan. 14, 2012 from my local LCBO. Hoptical Illusion is 5.0% alcohol by volume and cost $2.15 per bottle.
HI poured a clear dark amber colour with plenty of visible, fast rising bubbles. Pouring produced 1/2" of yellow/white head that died down within two minutes, leaving behind a collar of foam and thin film that left considerable lacing and some spotting down the glass. As soon as I opened the bottle its strong aroma hit me...a dominant pink grapefruit, with undertones of pine and what I believe is orange. A wonderful aroma. It's taste very much followed the aroma...pink grapefruit up front, followed by pine and a slightly sweet orange flavour, ending with a hop bitterness and a bitter aftertaste that lingered for several seconds. As the beer warmed, it's sweeter elements became a bit more noticeable. Thankfully, this was not the hop bomb that I was half expecting given the beer's name. HI had a smooth mouthfeel, appropriate carbonation for the style and was light/medium bodied. Overall, a fairly complex, hop dominated beer that doesn't go over the top with its bitterness...I very much enjoyed the citrus aromas and flavours, and Hoptical Illusion represents respectable value for money.
Having enjoyed Flying Monkey's Hoptical Illusion, I picked up a 355 ml bottle of their Smashbomb Atomic IPA ("Smashbomb") from the LCBO. The bottle was stamped with a March 6, 2012 production date and Smashbomb was 6.0% alcohol by volume.
The beer poured a dark amber colour with hints of yellow at the very bottom of the glass, and took on more of an orange hue when backlit with much more visible yellow toward the bottom. When backlit, I could make out a steady stream of rising bubbles. Pouring produced 1" of yellow/white head that lasted for about 5 minutes, resolving itself into a thin film and foamy collar that lasted all the way down the glass, leaving behind a decent amount of spotting and lacing. Its aroma was primarily of grapefruit and pine, with some sort of underlying tropical fruit...possibly lime, but the dominant grapefruit made it difficult to identify. Smashbomb's flavour began with grapefruit and pine, again with a tropic fruit presence that I couldn't quite nail down, and finished with a bitter/grapefruit flavour which continued as a distinct, long lingering aftertaste. For me the balance is a bit off...somewhat undermalted and just too bitter on the finish, not taking full advantage of the tropical fruits...and the aftertaste overstays its welcome. Smashbomb was medium bodied with a relatively light, but appropriate level of carbonation. The beer is reasonably priced at $2.15 per bottle, but overall I much preferred the brewery's Hoptical Illusion.
Curious as to how a "Dark IPA" would taste, Bucky bought a 355 ml bottle of Flying Monkey's Netherworld Cascadian Dark Ale ("NCDA") from the LCBO. The neck of the bottle was stamped with "bottled Nov 27, 2011", and NCDA was 6.0% alcohol by volume.
NCDA poured an opaque cola brown colour, with some modest ruby highlights when backlit. An aggressive pour produced about 1" of dense, light tan coloured head with a bit of a yellow tint to it, the head lasting for about 3 minutes before fading to a thin collar of foam. The head left some nice lacing down the glass as it receded. Its aroma was dominated by grapefruit, with noticeable pine and roasted malt elements in the background. NCDA's taste very much followed its aroma, beginning with a dominant grapefruit, which gave way to a slightly sweet pine flavour followed by deep roasted malts. A bitter grapefruit/burnt malt aftertaste lingered for a few seconds, but didn't stick around so long as to be offensive. NCDA's bitterness was not as extreme as Flying Monkey's Atomic Smashbomb IPA...the dark malts served to mellow the bitterness of the hops, giving the beer a much better balance. I would describe the beer as light to medium bodied, with an average level of carbonation and quite smooth. At $2.10 per bottle, Netherworld Cascadian was reasonably priced, and given its label and name would be a good accompaniment to an episode of "The Walking Dead."