Supersonic molecular beams constitute a very powerful technique in modern chemical physics. They offer several unique features such as a directed, collision-free flow of particles, very high luminosity, and an unsurpassed strong adiabatic cooling during the jet expansion. While it is generally recognized that their maximum flow velocity depends on the molecular weight and the temperature of the working fluid in the stagnation reservoir, not a lot is known on the effects of elevated particle densities. Frequently, the characteristics of supersonic beams are treated in diverse approximations of an ideal gas expansion. In these simplified model descriptions, the real gas character of fluid systems is ignored, although particle associations are responsible for fundamental processes such as the formation of clusters, both in the reservoir at increased densities and during the jet expansion. In this contribution, the various assumptions of ideal gas treatments of supersonic beams and their shortcomings are reviewed. It is shown in detail that a straightforward thermodynamic approach considering the initial and final enthalpy is capable of characterizing the terminal mean beam velocity, even at the liquid-vapor phase boundary and the critical point. Fluid properties are obtained using the most accurate equations of state available at present. This procedure provides the opportunity to naturally include the dramatic effects of nonideal gas behavior for a large variety of fluid systems. Besides the prediction of the terminal flow velocity, thermodynamic models of isentropic jet expansions permit an estimate of the upper limit of the beam temperature and the amount of condensation in the beam. These descriptions can even be extended to include spinodal decomposition processes, thus providing a generally applicable tool for investigating the two-phase region of high supersaturations not easily accessible otherwise.