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The Funky Monk

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Having neglected my all-important beer education for most of the summer, I knew I had to attend last night’s beer class by Tom Peters—the renowned owner of Monk’s Cafe, the premiere Belgian-beer destination in Philly (which is really saying something in this Belgium-crazy city)—at Tria Fermentation School.  Peters wanted to show off sour flavors, and he brought nine examples.  I’d tried four or five of them before, but it was still a real pleasure to be able to easily compare and contrast so many sour ales.

Of the nine, I’d say the biggest revelations were the Goudenband from Brouwerij Liefmans and Russian River’s Supplication.  I hadn’t heard good things about Liefmans previously, but the Goudenband, a classic Belgian brown ale, was absolutely delightful.  The “sweetest” beer of the evening, it was still sour enough and offered up some interesting wine and cherry notes.  I’d have to describe the Supplication with similar terms—in that it’s made with sour cherries and aged in pinot noir barrels—but it struck me as a lot more wine-like than the Goudenband.  Sour and delicious, that’s for sure.

On my next pilgrimage to The Beeryard in Wayne, the beer distributor of my dreams, I may be bringing a case of the Goudenband home with me.  The Supplication isn’t generally available west of the Mississippi River, but I believe it can be had in the Philly area, too.  Those crazy West Coast brewers have realized what a market we have here….

Of the beers I knew already last night, my favorites were the Cantillon Gueuze and Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen’s Kriek.  The Cantillon is one of those beers I’d put on my desert-island list (i.e., what five beers will you take with you to the desert island along with the sexy, athletic nymphomaniac?).  I liked the Kriek from 3 Fonteinen much better than I did a few months ago when the brewery’s Armand Debelder was in town for Philly Beer Week.

So I enjoyed myself last night.  I have to say, though, that I’m sometimes a little bit uncomfortable with the way that beer snobs (and I say this with love, as a bona fide beer snob myself) fetishize some flavors, like sours, over others.  I like sour flavors as much as anyone, but it ain’t heroic of me.  If you listened to some of my classmates last night, you’d think that only the most gauche beer drinker in the world would enjoy sweet flavors.  Well, hmph.  Different types of flavors are just different types of flavors.  Can’t we enjoy sour flavors, bitter flavors, and—hey—even sweet flavors sometimes, too?

P.S. I really enjoyed one of the cheeses provided by Tria last night—Beehive Cheese Company‘s Barely Buzzed, a cheddar cheese made nearly irresistible with a coffee rub.  Put some of that in my fridge, ok?

Written by Jimmy

September 17th, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Beer,Food

2 Responses to 'The Funky Monk'

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  1. Wish I’d known you were going. I thought about it & now wish I had. I really should think about a fermentation & consumption graduate program!

    Jeremy Fountain

    17 Sep 08 at 11:03 pm

  2. I can’t say we have a similar beer program here in Manila but I’ve never tried any of the beers in your post 😀 I must go out and drink more often.


    28 Sep 08 at 11:53 pm

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