Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

Fourth of July, 2008:  The Vinman and I load our bikes on the back of his Honda and drive to Philly for one of our urban bike tours.  As we head across the Ben Franklin Bridge, I begin to direct the Vinman to a parking lot on 15th and Spruce.  I want to park there because it is a central location and will give us easy access to the sights we want to pedal to, but there is a more important reason which will be evident later.

We bike up to Independence Hall, which is packed for the Fourth of July holiday, pay our respects to the Founding Fathers, catch a quick glimpse of the Liberty Bell, talk to some tourists, and then head out on the bike trail that snakes along the Schuykill River, stopping in Manayunk at the brewpub for lunch.  The Vinman begins talking to our bartender, and she tells him that Valley Forge is less than twenty miles from the bar.  The Vinman turns to me and says, “Do you want to make that ride?”  At this point we had already ridden about ten miles to Manayunk, and still had to ride back, so I mumble “no frigging way” between bites of my burger, before taking a big gulp of my beer.

We head back to Philly, taking a meandering route that swings us past the Philadelphia Museum of Art, before we turn to head back to the car.  I make sure that we head down 16th Street, so we can “accidentally” pass Monk’s Cafe.  As we pull up to the front of the bar, I say “Hey, wanna grab a beer before we go?”  The Vinman agrees and asks where?  I shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know, how about this place that we just happened to stop right in front of?  It looks pretty good.”

Monk’s Cafe has the best selection of Belgian beers outside of Belgium.  It is so renowned that a Belgian brewer, Brouwerij Van Steeberge, brews a Flemish Sour Ale for Monk’s.  At the time, it was available only on tap at Monk’s, and that is why I made sure that the Vinman parked a block away from the bar.  I wanted to make sure I got to try it before we left Philadelphia.  It poured a beautiful reddish color, with a fluffy head, tasted of sour cherries and tart green apples, and was a wonderful way to quench my thirst after a long hot bike ride.  We finished our beers, and the Vinman said, “should we have another?”

“Nah, let’s head out.” *

Flash forward to the spring of this year, and the Vinman comes down to Texas for a visit.  I see a bottle of Monk’s Flemish Sour Ale and grab it.  It was not as sour as I remembered the draft being, although the sour cherry and green apple flavor was still there.  The bottle was a bit of a let down when compared to my memory of the draft, but it was still quite nice, 7/10.

*Note the date: July 4, 2008.  That was the first and so far only time when I was the responsible adult in this situation.  Normally, if someone asks “Should we have another?” I say “HELL YES!” and am on my feet flagging down the bartender before the question is even finished.

July 4:  The anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence; Louis Armstrong’s Birthday; and the one time I was The Responsible Adult.

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