Lake Stevens Brewing’s Hard Monk Life is a Belgian dark strong ale brewed with juniper. (Aaron Swaney)

Lake Stevens Brewing’s Hard Monk Life is a Belgian dark strong ale brewed with juniper. (Aaron Swaney)

Beer of the Week: Lake Stevens Brewing’s Hard Monk Life

The Lake Stevens brewery brewed this Belgian dark strong ale just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Hard Monk Life

Lake Stevens Brewing, Lake Stevens

Style: Belgian dark strong ale

Stats: 7.7 percent ABV, 25 IBU

Available: On tap at the brewery.

My thoughts: Everybody loves candy for Valentine’s Day.

But what about candi?

Candi sugar is a Belgian sugar commonly used in brewing Belgian-style beers like dubbels and tripels. Lake Stevens Brewing brewers Brock Duerr and Jason Parzyk used extra dark Belgian candi sugar to create this beer just in time for Valentine’s Day.

To give it a fruity and floral feel, they soaked dry juniper in vodka and then dumped it in secondary fermentation. The juniper gives the beer a slight nose of gin and a flavor of berries on the back end.

Up front, though, the beer, thanks to those candi sugars, has that classic rich malty sweetness that Belgian dark strong ales are known for. The dark malty flavors and low bitterness give the juniper an open stage to show off.

Duerr said the two made a similar beer with blueberries last spring, and a similar version to this one that turned out a little tart. After lessons learned, this beer was a natural evolution and really showcases the deeper flavor and subtle sweetness from the candi sugars. The key, Duerr said, was turning the temperature up on the mash.

Hard Monk Life will be pouring this Saturday as the brewery hosts a Beer My Valentine event. There will be free chocolates and candies to match with different beers, including a porter, winter warmer and schwarzbier.

From the brewery: Brewed with an extra dark Belgian candi sugar and macerated juniper berries, this beer pays monastic homage with a Northwest flair.

More new releases

Zombie Jazz Hands IPA: Brewed to celebrate season five of the zombie TV show “Z Nation,” this deceptively drinkable IPA is a dry and assertive West Coast IPA. Available on tap at The Independent Beer Bar and Chuck’s Hop Shop Greenwood.

Lapsed, Skookum Brewery: The Azacca, Amarillo, Mosaic and Blanc hops in this beer provides a lupulin punch, while flaked maize, spelt and oats give it a gentle malt flavor with a bready, slightly sweet grain finish. Available on tap at the brewery.

Parlor Trick, Skookum Brewery: A Neapolitan milk stout made with cocoa powder in the whirlpool, pureed strawberries near the end of the fermentation and whole vanilla beans in the brite tank. Available on tap at the brewery.

As You Were, At Large Brewing: A hazy New England-style IPA made with El Dorado and Amarillo hops, this beer has a smooth mouthfeel and flavors of fresh cut oranges and mango. Available on tap at the brewery.

Twang Banger IPA, Dreadnought Brewing: Copper-colored with a balanced malt backbone, this IPA has strong citrus flavors from Amarillo, Cascade, Magnum and Citra hops. Available on tap at the brewery.

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