Drink This Now: Down Undah Pale Ale at Cheeky Monkey Brewing
Fresh, unfiltered beer is the new tequila—at least, in a certain venue on Lansdowne Street it is. Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co. opened this week in Fenway, where the longtime, long-dull Tequila Rain nightclub used to be. Today, it taps its first house brew, the easy-drinking Down Undah pale ale.
“It had run its course,” owner Kevin Troy said of the former nightclub. He and his partners wanted to bring in a new concept that complements the rest of the building—the brewpub is attached to his other Fenway properties, Jillian’s and Lucky Strike—and keep it food-and-beverage-focused. Plus, “We are well-aware of the microbrew revolution in U.S., and worldwide, over the last decade,” he says.
“It’s followed the food trend,” he continued. “Not so many years ago, people were not so educated with their palates. Now, young people have grown up with more exotic foods. Their palates have changed when it comes to beer also: They’re seeking more interesting flavors, and fresher beer.”
That’s the key at Cheeky Monkey, which features a 4×10-barrel SmartBrew system of fermentation and holding tanks. The house brews are unfiltered, and unpasteurized, which means they’re not as shelf-stable as a case of mass-produced swill. That’s a good thing.
“We really want to create approachable beer, but really flavorful and fresh,” Troy says.
SmartBrew is a mostly automated brewhouse system that’s gaining traction as a cost-effective solution at 40 or so small-scale restaurant-breweries around the world, including Greasy Luck brewpub in New Bedford. A celebrity brewmaster, a New Zealander named Brian Watson, designs custom recipes for each SmartBrew client, and then someone locally manages the process on-site. At Cheeky Monkey, Jason McCloud is the beer assistant and in-house cicerone.
Watson’s first Cheeky Monkey recipe, Down Undah, features a popular hop from—you guess it—down undah. Australian Galaxy hops give fresh, piney, grassy notes, and a marriage with some American varieties keeps it light and floral. The 5-percent alcohol-by-volume brew keeps the night in check, too.
Down Undah is tapped and ready to go right now. Later this weekend, a blood orange wheat lager, and a refreshing blueberry wheat ale could also be ready for their on-draft debut, Troy says.
“Within two weeks, we’ll have six different beers ready,” he says.
Cheeky Monkey also has a dozen or so guest drafts—and if you really want tequila, there’s a full bar, too.
3 Lansdowne St., Fenway, Boston, 617-859-0030, cheekymonkeyboston.com.