Thursday, April 17, 2008

On Tap - The Thirsty Monk

Time for another round of On Tap. Okay, so my other On Tap posts have never left the confines of Barleys, but this time I wanted to turn my attention to a bar that has added a whole new element to the Asheville beer drinking scene. I will admit that I have not been going to the Thirsty Monk nearly as much as I would like, but personal circumstances have limited my budget so far this year, and I have really missed going into one of Asheville's best beer bars. The Thirsty Monk seems to be doing really well, and that is a testament to the great beer drinkers in this town.

On to the beers. Upon quick glance at their beer menu, I noticed two special beers that are available for a very limited time. The first beer I tried was the Ichtegems Grand Cru, brewed by Brouwerij Strubbe in Ichtegem, Belgium. This is a Flanders Red Ale, a Flemish sour beer that is a blend of an oak aged beer with a young beer, with the intention that the taste will be both sour and sweet. This beer is much like a Duchesse de Bourgogne, with a playful mix of sweet and sour, with a slightly more dry finish. It's a beer to have your wine drinking friends taste, as the interplay of the flavors only heightens the complexity.

The second limited-time only beer was the La Rulles Triple, brewed by Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles. Belgian Triples (or Tripels) are beers that are light in malt but full of flavor, deriving their higher alcohol content from an addition of Belgian candi sugar. The taste profile of this style is often spicy and fruity, and this beer was one of the more flavorful varieties that I have tried. It has a wonderful finish that had a hint of bubblegum (in a good way), and the soft water used to brew this beer created a great mouthfeel to go with the slightly spicy, earthy finish.

My last beer there was not a limited release, and is a beer I hope to see as a regular in their rotation. The Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel is an amalgam of beer styles, combining the aforementioned Tripel style with an American double IPA. The result is a heavily hopped Belgian ale that perfectly melds the pioneering spirit of both American and Belgian style beers. This is definitely a beer to seek out if you are a hop lover, a Belgian beer lover, or both.

I'm hoping my next visit to the Thirsty Monk is sooner rather than later, and you should hope that too.

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