Tartly Balanced Monk’s Flemish Sour Ale 

On 16th Street in Center City Philadelphia, you’ll see the black, red and yellow awning before you see the neon sign in the window:

Beer Emporium
Monk’s Café

Known as the soul of Belgium in the heart of Philadelphia, Monk’s Café is Tom Peter’s Belgian beer mecca, and possibly one of the most beloved craft beer bars in the city. Boasting two draft bars, a bottle list the size of a phone book and a top notch menu, Monk’s satisfies the thirsty and hungry, and is almost always packed.

But the Belgian bar takes it one step further: Monk’s Cafe has its own Flemish Sour Ale, brewed and bottled by Browerij Van Steenberge.

I’ve had the Flemish Sour on tap several times, but when I saw a bottle on my local liquor store shelf, I knew I had to have it for a night when I couldn’t make it out to Monk’s.

The beer pours a dark red-brown with virtually no head. There’s a nip of tartness in the nose, just to remind you that you’re drinking a proper Belgian sour. The beer is rich with plum notes and other fruit, and I was happy to see no strong traces of vinegar (I had a sour brown once at an Italian restaurant and the vinegar smell and taste were overpowering!).

According to the bottle, the beer is blend of young and old, which probably accounts for how balanced it is. At 5.5% ABV, the beer is a thirst quencher without being a stool-toppler. I think it would pair well with any red meat (perhaps steak frites?) or even venison. A must find if you’re in the Philadelphia area!

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