Well, aside from the fact that both cities share the regional designation of “Capital District,” not too much. Let’s face it, Brussels has us beat: international home to the Belgian Waffle, home to some of the world's finest chocolate, and home to a host of internationally acclaimed breweries.
But, luckily enough for us here in New York’s Capital District, all is not lost. As we’ve seen over the years, the demand for Euro-style brewpubs in Albany has led to a beer renaissance of sorts. Take a walk down Broadway, for instance, and you might find yourself drinking a pint of English Ale, German Pilsner, Irish Stout, or maybe all three if you can deal with the hangover. The point is, we have options now, which is why it’s only fitting to add a Belgian brewpub to the growing list of malty Euro-style institutions in downtown Albany.
Enter The Merry Monk, a bona fide Gastropub with undeniable Belgian flare, albeit a little kitschy. Along with all of the usual suspects, (ie. Chimay, Duvel, Palm) the Merry Monk serves up nearly every Belgian-style ale from Cooperstown’s celebrated Brewery Ommegang. But the appeal of the Merry Monk goes beyond the beer. The Monk also serves up a mean burger, and a fat one at that. Word to the wise: Don’t miss out on the Bacon Cheddar Ale Burger. Should I say it again? Bacon. Cheddar. Ale. Burger.
The rhetorical zest of the Monk’s menu goes beyond just burgers. You won’t find French fries on this menu, only frites. Talk about culture, man. Make sure you choose the appropriate “dipping sauce,” which is really just a nondescript term for flavored mayonnaise. I happened to choose the Chipotle Mayo, which was hot, but tasty nevertheless.
My only issue with the Merry Monk: work. How would I ever finish those TPS reports after drinking a snifter of Belgian Ale? I wouldn’t, and so I will be back my Merry Monk friend. Keep the beer cold for me.