Ridgewood spans roughly 2 miles and straddles the line between Queens and Brooklyn. It borders the neighborhoods of Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale, and simultaneously Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Regarded by some as the next ‘it’ neighborhood in NewYork it is often referred to these days as ‘Quooklyn’ or ‘Ridgewick’. Not that you’d catch me calling it that, but it is a sign of the times changing, and change can be for better or for worse. Luckily recent changes have brought out a new wave of local community businesses that strengthen the ethos of this densely diverse conglomeration of nationalities that come together to comprise Ridgewood. One of these businesses happens to be the Monk, a not your average watering hole that hands down is one of the best Belgian beer bars in all of Queens.
This serene alehouse whose name is an ode to the legendary Trappist Monks and their historic brewing methods, has a laid back cozy vibe with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. They are eager to get you acquainted with a beer you may have never tried, or re-introduce to you to an old favorite. It’s dimly lit with a bevy of round wood tables along with a plush couch adjacent to the bar. There’s even a small intimate patio in the back that’s great for spring and summer time drinking. The ambiance is further enhanced by the music being kept low and the lack of big screens hanging from the walls, in fact there are no televisions at all.
It’s truly a place that puts beer in the center spotlight and urges you to savor the abundance of mouthwatering flavors that are on display.
You come to the Monk to have a flavorful and complex beer (or two, or three or four), many of which are served in specific designated glasses and you find yourself open to good conversation that can enhance your senses. The Monk pays homage to the beer bars in Belgium with a Queens, New York twist. Best of all it features well over 30 beers, many of which are Belgian brews, with a smattering of quality German, American and Canadian selections as well.
One of the co-owners Joe was gracious enough to host us and even have a beer or two with us. He opined quite earnestly on his love for the numerous Belgian styles and explained that his great appreciation for Belgian brews started years ago during his numerous trips to Europe. His experiences in Amsterdam and Belgium ignited the fire that flamed his passion that eventually birthed the fine establishment that is known as The Monk.
Beer Today Beer Tomorrow walked in and quickly set up in a corner towards the back of the bar. As is BTBT custom, we needed to grab a pre-show drink.
Rodenbach Grand Cru | Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V. is a medium bodied Flanders Red Ale with an ABV of 6.00% A shade of walnut on the pour, with notes of nutmeg, dates and a hint of cinnamon on the nose. Similar flavors and lightly sour on the tongue with somewhat of a smoky dry finish. We enjoyed this one from the tap. Founded back in 1821 by four brothers, Rodenbach brewery is located in Roeselare, Belgium. Despite being bought by Palm Breweries in 1998 it has maintained its specialization in the production of barrel-aged sour beers in the Flemish red style.
Our interests were peaked and our threshold for indulgence was high so we moved on to the next offering.
La Chouffe | Brasserie d'Achouffe – Golden Ale is an unfiltered blond beer with an ABV of 8.00%. Juicy fruits and coriander on the nose with a bit of a spicy/peppery kick on the tongue and a light malt finish. Located in the Belgian Ardennes this brewery was founded in the 1970’s by two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Chris Bauweraerts. Legend has it that they started the brewery with less than (the equivalent of) 5,000 euros. Today Achouffe is distributed in over 40 countries around the world and are instantly recognizable by their trademark gnomes on the bottle label. In 2006 the brewery was bought by Duvel Moortgat Brewery a Flemish family-controlled brewery founded in 1871.
Poperings Hommel Bier | Brouwerij Van Eecke N.V. The devastation of World War I left much of West Flanders in complete ruins but in the years that followed the area was rebuilt through hard work and dedication. The fruits of this labor led to hops finally being replanted in the Poperinge region. Subsequently in 1981 this beer was introduced to the world and we should all be thankful for it. Hommel beer is a refreshing gold colored ale brewed with Hallertau and East Kent Goldings hops with an ABV 7.5%. It’s billed as an IPA but I’m not so sure that this is the best way to define it; I can tell you that it is a distinctly un-American style IPA. This one is floral, spicy and hoppy on the nose similar on the tongue with some malt and a distinct crispness.
Westmalle Trappist Tripel | Brouwerij Westmalle is a glorious Tripel with an ABV of 9.5% that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. It is known by some as the ‘mother of all tripels’ and there’s justification behind that boast. It pours a golden orange hue and emits a cornucopia of scent; you get whiffs of clove, coriander and even some banana and apples. Similar tastes on the tongue, with a pinch of sweetness and a nice crisp dry finish.
Petrus Aged Pale | De Brabandere is a Belgian Pale Ale with an ABV of 7.3%. Fames Beer author, personality and craft beer hunter Michael Jackson actually named this back in the 90’s, and even sold it in his beer clubs. A multiple gold medal winner in various beer competitions, this one is aged in Oak foeders for over 24 months. Each Foeder contains 220 hecto-liters (a metric unit of capacity equal to one hundred liters) and is made of French oak. What’s fascinating about this process is that the microbiological flora in the wood reacts with the beer to produce the distinct sour flavor and aroma. This one has pear, apple and traces of lemon citrus on the nose and tongue. As it sits the complexities of the flavor profile evolves, as is the case with many of these fine Belgian beers.
For Belgian beer lovers, or those looking to be introduced to the fabulous world of Belgian brewing, stop in and check out the Monk located at 68-67 Fresh Pond Rd, Flushing, NY 11385.
Check out their website at: http://www.themonknyc.com/
Phone: (347) 987-4097
Monday - Thursday 5PM–12AM
Friday -Saturday 5PM–2AM
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