Thursday, September 05, 2013

What's Jayme drinking?

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
What's Jayme drinking? Well, I'm glad you asked. After the fun time I had during the LoneStarCon 3 literary beer with Mark Finn, I figured I might as well have more fun sharing my various adult beverage adventures with a wider audience. This evening at HEB, Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale caught my attention. I was in the mood to try something new, and as I'm not terribly familiar with Flemish sour ales, I decided now would be a good time to rectify that situation. Although it's labeled as a product of Belgium and stocked beside--and in a corked bottle similar to--traditional Belgian Trappist ales, this Flemish is a very different animal, indeed. But I'll get to that in a moment.

The cork comes out with a satisfying pop, followed shortly by a curling fog of CO2. The ale pours as a reddish caramel that gets very dark in the glass. Like a good barleywine, it is dark but clear, without the opaque tones of a bock or stout. It forms a modest, creamy-tan head that shows dignified restraint and impressive persistence--I'm 15 minutes in now, and there's still an eighth of an inch of head left. Lacing is moderate on glass. The scent has a bit of sour apple to it, with the faintest hint of yeast. The malty overtones I'd expected with a beer this dark are absent. The taste is equally unexpected. There's a strong apple overtone here, to the point of the flavor being very cider-like. Contributing to the effect is the fact that this is a very "thin" beer, extremely light for all it's dark color with an almost effervescent mouthfeel (although to be clear, it doesn't actually effervesce. But I suspect it wants to, or would if it could). There are hints of raspberry and vanilla, along with a faint, earthy portabella mushroom taste as well. If there are any hops here, I can't taste them. This is a lightly sweet ale at it's best cold. As it warms, the sourness grows more pronounced and lingers longer on the tongue. The 5.5 percent alcohol is lower than I'd expected as well, almost invisible amongst the strong flavor profile, but in an ale with as light a mouthfeel as this, more alcohol would not be a good thing.

This is not a winter dark. The cider-like quality makes this an ale best suited for drinking on a blisteringly hot summer afternoon. I'm not one to buy into the thirst-quenching properties of beer, but I can see how this Flemish sour would fit the bill. It's very mild and inoffensive, an exotic beer for people whom beer begins with Bud and ends with Light. Certainly not in my top 10, but I wouldn't be opposed to enjoying it on occasion.

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