Beer Me at the Mayor of Old Town: Monk’s Café from Van Steenberge

Gabe Pocrass

Video by Gabe Pocrass.

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I am pretty sour about this week’s beer review.

I hope that caught your eye because what I meant is that I am reviewing a sour beer this week. The pun fit too well not to use it. The name of the beer is called “Monks Café” and the brewery is Van Steenberge.

This is a Flemish Sour Ale, which basically means that it is a sour from Belgium, and more specifically, Lindelaan, Belgium. This brewery has been around since 1791 and Monk’s Café was like no other sour I have tried before. It is 5.5 percent ABV and it had a nice dark red and brown semi-translucent color to it.

Now, the first thing I think of when I think of sour beers is tart. I guess I always figured tart and sour beers went together in order to derive the sourness out of the beer. For Monk’s Café though, there really wasn’t much tart in it and it was actually pretty nice. The main flavor I really detected was similar to that of a vinaigrette type of taste. I know that may sound like a funky flavor to drink in a sour beer, but it really wasn’t bad. It was actually quite refreshing by the end and it helped the beer stand out.

While I don’t want to say there wasn’t any tart in the beer (because there was a little), the vinaigrette and citrus flavors were the core. However, with those flavors, it allowed Monk’s Café to have another unique trait: sweetness. This beer had a really interesting balance of both sweet and sour. It had some very pleasant sweet and fruity undertone that sat alongside the sour essence of the beer. It was almost like a mix between a wine, a cider and a sour.

The next thing I liked about this beer was the aftertaste, and this is where I pulled the cider reference. It had a dry aftertaste, similar to a dry cider. I must say that was my favorite part of this beer and I wish more sour beers would implement this characteristic. Having this dry aspect to it, it not only gave the beer more personality and dynamic, but it helped the lingering sourness subtlety leave your taste buds.

A lot of times with sour beers, the sourness sits in your mouth for a while and you have to really be prepared for that. It was nice with Monk’s Café because it didn’t do that and that made the beer pretty easy to drink.

Overall, because I liked the unique sour-vinaigrette taste, the sweet undertones that complimented the sourness and the dry aftertaste, I give this beer a 9/10. The Mayor of Old Town was on a pretty similar page as me as they gave it an 8.6235/10.

Collegian Beer Reviewer Gabe Pocrass can be reached online at blogs@collegian.com or on Twitter at @gpocrass.