Just out the Keg; Monk’s Cafe – Flemish sour red ale
Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. The “Just out the Keg” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.
By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio
Commercial Description: Monk’s Café is a private label beer brewed for the actual Monk’s Café in Philadelphia by the family owned Van Steenberge brewery, just outside of Ghent, Belgium. Lucky for the rest of us, this beer was so yummy and popular, it has become available all over the country. Medium body, red color, somewhat fruity nose, malt flavor with a slight lactic sourness. A real thirst quencher and palate cleanser.
Appearance: The beer is a red, coppery color that has a one-finger head. After a few minutes the head dissipates into a very light head with lacing.
Smell: At first, sour cherries were all I could smell, but after a few smells, a bitter apple aroma came through.
Taste: Sour upfront then gives way to a fruity/malty finish with the slightest hint of sour lingering on the tongue.
Drink: I am not a huge fan of sour ales, but this is pretty well balanced for a sour; the sour notes are not overpowering. On that note, one would be enough for me as I think it’d hinder my taste buds for other beers later in the day/night.
Here is a picture of the outside of Monks Cafe in Philadelphia. If you find yourself in Philly, you must go there!
Look:The beer is brownish and red in color with a higher carbonation head at first which dissipates into small lacing.
Smell:The smell is your clear indication that this is a sour ale. I get strong hints of dried bing cherries and I would swear some tart apples.
Taste: The taste really does set you up for the full flavor of this beer. It is a sour upon initial contact with the tongue and also on the finish. However on the near end of the finish you get the malt backbone that should be expected in a red ale. Drinking this beer made me think of fall afternoons spent watching college football.
Drink: Once you get accustom to the sour aromas and taste, it’s a nice drinking beer. However, I wouldn’t classify this beer as thirst quencher, but something to slowly sip. While the beer is marketed as a palate cleaner, I found myself tasting the sour an easy 10 minutes after the beer. So unless you plan on sipping on one or two of these beers, I’d suggest getting a hop heavy beer afterwards to shock your palate back to reality.
About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.