Cheeky Monkey The Devil’s Carnival

I typically don’t write negative reviews on Hoppy Boston. Most of the beers I try range from solid to spectacular, for all of the bitching in certain segments of beer media the vast majority of breweries know what they are doing and make a quality product. Every so often I taste a beer with an obvious flaw (diacetyl, acetaldehyde, oxidation, etc.), and I dump the beer and send a quick note to the brewery to let them know. These notes have typically been very well received. Occasionally I taste something that is kind of a mess, a weird concept that didn’t come together, a poorly made beer, or a combination of the two, and I usually just dump it and move on. I’ve also visited a few breweries that clearly need to work on their craft, and I usually just don’t go back. I honestly hate writing negative reviews, I know that most brewers and brewery owners pour their hearts into their product and I don’t like to trash their work. I would rather that the majority of beer reviews on Hoppy Boston are recommendations, I love it when a reader says that they tried a beer after reading a review and loved it. I have caught some flak for this philosophy from certain people, saying that my grades are inflated and that I need to mix in poor reviews. In general I don’t care, it’s my site and I can write whatever I want, but I do understand the arguments for mixing in an occasional negative review.

I ran into this conundrum the other week when Cheeky Monkey Brewery sent me a sample 4-pack of The Devil’s Carnival, an IPA brewed for their Halloween party, which happened last weekend. I tried the beer and it was a mess, the aroma was immediately off-putting and I couldn’t get through more than a couple sips before I dumped it. I mused about the experience on Twitter (without mentioning what brewery/beer I had tasted) and asked my followers for their opinions on writing negative reviews. The overwhelming response was that I should write the review. So I opened another can this weekend and had the same experience. I know the beer is relatively fresh, it was sent to me a couple weeks ago and I immediately stored it in my beer fridge. I tried two different cans are they were the same. I also had my wife, I huge IPA fan, try it to make sure it wasn’t just me, she also found the beer to be undrinkable. This is my first beer from Cheeky Monkey, I had been hoping to check out their brewery near Fenway at some point soon, so I don’t know if this is a one-time issue or a common problem. I would be very happy to hear from others who have been and see what their experiences are.

Cheeky Monkey The Devil's Carnivale

Cheeky Monkey The Devil’s Carnival IPA pours clear light brown with a massive off-white head. The aroma is all caramel malts, zero hop aroma on the nose. The beer is also malt forward, flavors of malt extract, toffee and brown sugar along with a cloying sweetness. If you try really hard you can pick out a little hop flavor, the slightest hint of orange and grass with zero bitterness, you would never guess this is supposed to be an IPA. The Devil’s Carnival is medium-bodied and about average for the modern IPA style at 7.2% ABV. The finish is all malt extract and sweetness. I really hope this beer isn’t representative of what Cheeky Monkey does, or that something went wrong in the canning run. They clearly sent this out to a number of local beer writers/Instagram accounts to publicize the event, I saw some social posts but little commentary on the beer itself, so I am not sure what others thought of it. I am hoping this is just a bad day for the brewery and that the next Cheeky Monkey beer I try is much better, because this was a mess and the batch should have been dumped. Hoppy Boston score: 1.0/5.

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