Monkish Brewing

With over 11 years of steady innovation, various incarnations, and now multiple locations, Monkish Brewing has become a stalwart brewery, vitally important to the development of craft beer in Southern California and the West Coast as a whole.

Opening their taproom in March of 2012, Henry Nguyen and his wife Adriana’s Monkish Brewing was one of the earliest small breweries to open in Torrance, California and one of the first on the west coast to specialize in Belgian-style ales. Originally bit by the Belgian-beer bug while studying in Cambridge in 2005, Henry began homebrewing once back home in LA’s South Bay a few years later.

The early days of Monkish saw the couple working in every aspect of the operation – from washing kegs and pouring from a make-shift draft system in the taproom, to brewing, doing sales & delivery. They were so busy that Henry could only brew batches overnight because it was the only time he had left to create the lifeblood of the business. And that was only the first year…

Imagine how much everything changed in 2016 as they slowly began to brew test batches of Hazy IPA. According to Henry he first had a New England-style IPA when Monkish was set-up alongside Tree House Brewing at the LA Shelton Brothers festival and he tried Julius for the first time. While he did occasionally enjoy IPAs from time-to-time from other breweries, the bitterness wasn’t quite to his liking, so these juicy creations were a whole new thing.

Later in April they released their first IPA, a collab with Other Half Brewing called First Things First – it sold out in under an hour. Before they knew it they were setting up hop contracts and ever so subtly took down the comical “No MSG, No IPA” sign the taproom was known for displaying.

As a result, Monkish quickly became known as the first west coast brewery to fully understand and dial in the New England-style IPA. The number of passionate beer nerds that would fill their parking lot for a can release on a given Saturday numbered in the hundreds. Demand for these new offerings from beer traders all over the country were piling on to the already freakish local demand. We’ve come to think of Monkish in a similar context as Stanford, which has become known as the “Ivy League of the West Coast,” so too has Monkish become synonymous as best New England IPA brewer on the left coast.

While navigating the challenging waters of the Covid-19 pandemic by having to shut down their Torrance taproom for over a year and selling their beer via Curbside Pickups on Saturdays, they were also working to open up a new brewery taproom and beer garden in Anaheim’s Packing District, located just down the road in Orange County. First and foremost, this new location allowed for abundant indoor seating, a permanent patio set-up, and a small production brewery – all things tougher to come by at their original location. This new location came to fruition in December of 2021.

Now in their 11th year, Monkish has created over 866 unique beers according to untappd and to no one’s surprise, the most often created style is the Hazy Double IPA (179) with Hazy IPA, Hazy Double IPA, and Hazy Triple IPA styles collectively constituting 322 of their total output (37%). Still, a visit to either location will present you with 3-4 Belgian-styles (including the OG Feminist Tripel w/ Hibiscus), 7 to 10 various takes on the IPA, and 5-6 other styles including lagers and fruited seltzers, as well as stouts and porters.

During the month of May, Monkish will be taking over NW Portland’s Function PDX event space for their first real, albeit limited, drop in the state of Oregon. While Day One is playing it’s part in the process, what we’ve learned from owner Casey Armstrong is that the “styles will range from lagers to IPAs (singles, double and triples) to blondes, reds, and even a few bottle offerings in their Belgian and barrel-aged varieties.”

Having received our first shipment, what we’ve received is as follows: just over 100 cases of everything from Pilsner & an Amber Ale to Double and Triple Dry-Hopped Hazy IPA, Double IPA, and Triple IPA. They’ve also received 25 different kegs, plus limited bottles of a Belgian Quadrupel (Keys to Heaven) and Juteux, a mixed-culture Saison aged in oak barrels with Apricots. No matter what, it’s certain to be a month of surprises with a wide variety of cans available during this first-of-it’s-kind appearance by Monkish Brewing in Oregon.

Content for this article sourced from Monkish Brewing, Daily Breeze, Good Beer Hunting, Craft Beer & Brewing Podcast, and Orange Coast Magazine.

Header image courtesy of Greg Nagel – Orange Coast Magazine.

Published by Warren Wills

Operations & Marketing Manager - Day One Distribution

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