Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Boon Lambic at Monk's Cafe; The Good Life
Sometimes all is just a-ok in the world. Last evening was one of those times. An easy train ride into Philly and an easy one out. Nice weather for a walk through the city. Sandwiched in between was a couple of quality hours spent at Monk's Cafe enjoying some highly sought after Belgian lambic. Oh, and a bit of a hopblast from Nodding Head's IPA while awaiting my train ride home didn't hurt either. The folks at Vanberg & DeWulf are on a U.S. tour of sorts with two unblended lambics (cask #17 & cask #52) from the Boon Brewery in Belgium. I can't hide the fact that I'm a relative newcomer to the world of lambics, esp. single unblended. My experience over the past few years has been limited to Cantillon, Hansens, Oud Beersel (as of this past weekend), and some U.S. interpretations. A big help to my experience was finding the Belgian offerings at last year's Ommegang BCTC event. But, last night, Boon was new to me. The real treat, I suppose, was that I found something that I hadn't known to exist in lambics. That is, a soft, rounded, quite drinkable beer. Yes, you still need a taste for these "different" beers. After all, it's not an amber ale. But, seriously, the flavors I have grown accustomed to in, say, a Cantillon were there (or most lately, Iron Hill's Cassis). Both varieties presented last night, though, were quite muted in their sharp tartness. This left a beer that you could easily find the funkiness and the subtle fruit flavors, without the lingering mouth-puckering that can often be found in lambics....at least in my experience. The funny thing is that the tartness found in many lambics, gueuze, krieks, etc. is just exactly what I like in those beers. Just now, I've found another way to enjoy and appreciate lambics. Apparently, from the literature passed out to the attendees, this is exactly what Frank Boon is going for. Just a couple of quick excerpts reveal that "...it is a strange idea for me to see the name "lambic" being used for any beer with fruit or lactic acidity...to know first hand the real thing...Lovers of Lambic in Belgium describe it as a drink that tastes between a chardonnay wine and fine whisky...this is the product I want to share with you..." The beers were poured for each customer to drink individually. I'm thinking the serving size was around 5-7 ounces, but can't be certain. Perhaps someone else that was there could take a stab at that one. The combined price for both was $8.00. It was suggested to try each one on their own, then to experiment with some blending. It amazed me how soft and subtle the beers and their flavors were on their own. When mixed, though, the flavors and the barnyard funk made themselves much more noticeable. The meet-and-greet was setup in the back bar area. Monk's kitchen offered up some plump mussels, smoked salmon pastries, sausage bites, and cheese to accompany the beer. It was helpful that there were a few friendly faces there who had much more experience with lambics than do I. The back room was full, but not crowded. That means there may or may not still be some Boon to find at Monk's. If you're in Philly today, it wouldn't be a bad decision to go check it out!