Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quick Sips: Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

Ahh, sour beers. This ancient Belgian style is sort of the trend these days. They are not THE trend in the way IPAs and barrel aging were, but they're definitely a hot commodity right now. (I will post what I think is the new up and coming trend soon.)

In the U.S., there are few places more renown for being a mecca for Belgian beer as Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, a cramped, cozy little headquarters for some of the best beers on the planet.

And lo and behold, they have their own beer, Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale! Well, sort of. It's actually part of the regular lineup of Brouwerij Van Steenberge, packaged with some Monk's branding. The nice thing is, this beer is affordable. Thanks to the care it takes to make, special facilities to separate it from other beers, and the required aging, sour beer is EXPENSIVE. Yet this one is in line with other pricy craft beers, expensive but affordable.

If you spot Monk's Cafe sour and want to drop the roughly $20 it will cost for a four-pack, you should expect pleasant tartness and acidity in the nose, with just a mild hint of the vinegar-like qualities common to some sours. The aroma is not going to impress.

Once it hits your palate, the sourness of this beer is only mild, very mild, accentuated a bit by the brisk carbonation but falling far short of mouth-puckering. A nice sweet note carries throughout the entire sip.

What this beer is is drinkable. It has some sourness, but it's not the aggressive sour pursued by sourheads. It has nice fruit and sweet flavors, in fact. Probably a great introductory beer to those new to sours, and in a way the ultimate session sour. You could put these down all day and your palate would be fine.

But once you've had a few sours, you'll drink this wishing your mouth would pucker. For me it scratches an itch, but only just barely.

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