Metal Monkey | Cherry Balloon Head
Remember going to arcades? A few still exist. You always wanted to strike a balance between the video games and the redemption games (like skee-ball). You knew you were never going to get enough tickets to get those high value items (or never had the patience to do so) but you’d still play them anyways. And you’d spend them on the little things, like candy. Candy like Balloon Head.
Metal Monkey’s attempt at capitalizing on my nostalgia is their Balloon Head series. It should mimic – don’t know if I can type it or not, but here it goes – an Airhead candy by using a Berliner weisse base and adding the appropriate fruit. In terms of selling them, Metal Monkey did a very smart thing. They offered their Balloon Head beer in 4-packs of one flavor (at the brewery only as far as I know) and then a very limited distribution of mixed 4-packs with one of each flavor they brewed. These mixed 4-packs contained the exact four flavors you’d get in an Airhead 4-pack – one each of Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, and Mystery.
So I had to pick one. When redeeming at the arcade, I always went with a two-to-one mix of cherry to mystery (with grape being a substitute if one ran out). So as much as I would have liked to review the Mystery (and I might later), Cherry wins out. Cherry Balloon Head – as stated on the can – is “inspired by one of our favorite tangy, chewy, taffy-like candy.” Yes, I purchased this just because it was supposed to be an Airhead beer. They got me.
Cherry Balloon Head pours a light red color – IT HAD BETTER – that in certain light looked pink. Held up to its inspiration, it skewed lighter, which makes sense in that water is present. What began as about two fingers of pink head slowly reduced to pink islands of bubbles. It passes the first test.
The tartness of the Berliner base dominated the nose. Cherries are present, but only slightly, and there’s a note of cinnamon as well. And it smelled of actual cherries, not cherry extract. Thankfully Metal Monkey decided against making this an overfruited beer. It would’ve probably just been straight cherries with nothing balancing it out. The cherry Airhead smelled of sugar and artificial cherries, with a hint of plastic. Everything’s looking good so far.
Cherry Balloon Head is a beer first. The tartness from the Berliner shines, while the cherries are there to support it. Sweetness exists as well, but not as much as the cherry Airhead. If anything the cherry Airhead has more sweetness and tartness to it. But since both the candy and the beer both balance these flavors, they both work. The mouthfeel is very light; a cherry robbery – it hits and then it’s gone.
Which will be exactly like your can or pour of it. At only 3.9%, my can vanished before I knew it. Extremely easy to drink and refreshing, it reminded me of either a Jolly Rancher dropped in a Zima or a lollipop. The slight cherry note combined with the tartness made this one go down too easy and kind of left you wanting more. I’ll admit, it was the gimmick that roped me in to buying it, but Metal Monkey nailed it by keeping it a beer first with the tartness and then adding some cherry to the proceedings.
This could’ve gone off the rails at so many points but it didn’t. Metal Monkey did not ruin my childhood/adolescent years for financial profit. I’m seriously jazzed to try the Mystery flavor. (I wonder if they just blended the other three flavors, much like the Mystery Airhead.) And I’ll be enjoying it while remembering playing Daytona USA, Revolution, and Ehrgeiz in the arcade.
Metal Monkey is located in Romeoville, IL. You can purchase merch and beer, including the Balloon Head mixed 4-pack mentioned, here.