Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

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BA SCORE
86
very good

1,089 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,089
Hads: 2,700
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 75
Gots: 343 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Flanders Oud Bruin |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003

Brewed for Monk's Café in Philadelphia, but also available for retail purchase elsewhere. Oud Bruin in style; a traditional blend of young and old beers.
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Reviews: 1,089 | Hads: 2,700
Photo of stingrayvr6
4.97/5  rDev +29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had at Local 44 in Philly. Poured a dark reddish purple into a tulip with a two finger cream colored head which was very resilient. The smell was unlike any other beer I have ever had, very fruity yet crisp and dry at the end. Smell of apples soaked in Brandy, grapes, cinnamon and spices. More like a desert wine or fine liquor than a beer in smell. Taste was similar with very fruity, sour apple taste at the front, then crisp, dry and bitter spices at the end. Carbonation was medium and pleasant. I just wanted to swish it around my mouth and keep it there to have that phenomenally complex taste with me forever. My new favorite beer, too bad this is so hard to find because it is other worldly. Truly a unique and beautiful thing. (736 characters)

Photo of Mises85
4.92/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is the first sour beer/flanders ale I have tasted. Served in a tulip glass at around 45 degrees.

Appearance: chestnut brown (I was expecting a red color) with 2-3 fingers. Head retention was quite good and didn't dissipate quickly.

Smell: What a delight! Cherries, touch of vinegar, some creaminess, red wine, some sourness, soda water.

taste: effervescent, seltzer like, cherries, mild acidity, winey, some sourness, touch of oak.

Mouthfeel: light and refreshing.

Verdict; What an amazing beer and unbelievable flavor! This is something I could kick back on a slow day. Not hoppy at all but was amazed that even an extreme hophead like me could enjoy this. Definitely not the last sour beer I will try. (713 characters)

Photo of TexIndy
4.92/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Re-review on 8/5/08. Original review at bottom.
Shipped back from my trip to Indiana. Poured from a 330ml bottle with a coded date on the label into my NBB snifter. It had a deep ruby color. It had a small fizzy head that quickly dissipated into nothing. Some carb but no lacing. The aroma was strong sour cherries. Since my original review, I've really grown into this style and absolutely love the aroma on this one. The taste was also incredible. It had a great sour bite that sticks throughout the whole drink. Ends with a sharp pucker. The mouthfeel is great with the sour and carbonation. Overall, this is an excellent beer and I'm so glad that I got to try it again. Originally I wasn't in a rush to try again but now I'm already thinking of ways to get more. Strongly recommend.

****original 12/25/06 review below****
Poured from a 330ml bottle with a coded date on label. Had a decent head that eventually become a thin constant film that also left lacing throughout. Was a medium mahogany color. The smell was strong with the sour cherries and definitely let you knew what was coming. The mouthfeel was good. This was my first sour ale so a whole new experience. Overall, I'd say I liked it but not sure I'm in a rush to get another one right away. This style for me is probably something to try every so often and see if I grow into it. I'd recommend trying this beer as it is top 10 in the style so a good intro to it. (3.5, RB, T, Y) (1,448 characters)

Photo of mattgreger
4.92/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the first sour I have ever had, it was a great pick up at Capones Bottle Shop in East Norriton.

The pour on this brew was fantastic. It poured a deep brown with ribbons of red throughout when held to the light. For such a dark brew, it actually quite bright brew. It had about a half inch off white head that faded rather quickly. It also has a little bit of web like lacing that stuck to the walls of the glass.

The aromas the hit you right of the bat is that of vinegar and fruit tarts. Dark fruits that just float out at you as you pour the brew. There is also some aroma of wood and some brown sugars as well.

Never having a sour before, this brew started off with a great sweet flavor that I somewhat smelled in the aroma. It filled with brown sugars, strong vinegar and maybe some tart juices. It then moves into some darker dried fruit flavors, giving some sweetness, but a bit more tart. As the brew warms a bit more it begins to fall more into the flavors that I somewhat expected. It has some great touches of wood, older wines, and some nice musty flavors that just tingle the tongue more.

The mouthful on this brew was decently light bodied, with a nice carbonation. It had some nice heavy flavors, but it actually was quite refreshing to drink.

This is a great brew anyone who wants to dabble in the sours. I really liked this brew and plan on trying others like it. It had a nice light body that had a very complex palate of flavors that made it a great drink to enjoy. Its never an overkill, it actual quite refreshing throughout. (1,561 characters)

Photo of drperm
4.9/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at the Raleigh Times Bar, 11 July 2009.

This is an all-around impeccable brew: for me, the new benchmark brew for this style. I was tempted to give it all 5's but had to go slightly under-bar somewhere, simply because, even thought it is a life-changing brew, it is not completely perfect. But almost.

My glass of Oud Bruin displayed a resplendent russet glow. The wonderful aromas and tastes of balsamic and rice vinegars kept me quenched and served to be a most excellent aperitif beverage. As I drank the beer, I kept thinking, "teriyaki chicken...prosciutto salad....cheeseburger..." but the brew continued to be self-sufficient on its own.

For any who love the Oud Bruin style, this is not one to be missed! One of the most well-rounded and nuanced beers I've had of any style, but damn near perfect as a sour ale. (830 characters)

Photo of wattoclone
4.87/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this outstanding Oud Bruin at Monk's Cafe in Philly. Dark reddish brown with large short acting head. Aroma of malt and vinegar with cherries and dark fruits. An excellent sour ale. Fruity and malty sweet with a tart sour finish. Perfectly balanced and the best Oud Bruin (of 3 tried) to date. Superb and very sessionable. If you like Sweet-Tarts candy you will love this beer. (381 characters)

Photo of JuliaCoolia
4.82/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is my first and only sour so far so it's hardly fair for me to judge. However, it's one of my favorite beers to date. It's crisp and acidly with a little fruity flavor. Bonus: your friends won't steal your beer. (216 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.82/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 fl. oz. bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A - Pours a malt vinegar copper color with a big foamy head that fades to a small cap. Lacing on this beer is quite good.

S - Smelling it right out of the bottle it smells like sweet vinegar. After pouring into the glass I get a sour fruit essence. It smells very much like some lambics I have had in the past.

T - Taste is of tart fruits (sour cherry/raspberry) with little bitterness. There is a sour aspect to this beer but it works well with the sweetness to create an even taste. The taste reminded me very much of lambics I have had in the past.

M - Great carbonation and dryness create a refreshing beer. Drinks down very smoothly.

D - This is a terrific beer that I purchased on a whim. I will definitely be purchasing more of these. (791 characters)

Photo of BeerSnobLeprechaun
4.8/5  rDev +25%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served in snifter at Craft Ale House (Pottstown, PA).

L- Transluscent brown with light receding lace around perimeter.

S- Huge malt vinegar nose with a hint of sweet fruit in background, a bit of dirty bar-skunk beer in nose.

T- Great brown ale flavor in front then a blast of HUGE malt vinegar flavor resides to a sweet finish. This taste I have only found in the kegged beer. The bottle has a much thinner ale taste and a mush lesser acidic character. I have yet to understand how this is so, except that the kegged beer is still 'alive' whereas all aging has been stopped by bottling.

F- Flat mouthfeel and minimal carbonation..

O- My favorite Belgian sour of all-time. There are always a few lingering in my bar for that special occassion and always Monk's Cafe (Philly) and Craft Ale House (Pottstown) are always on my travel destination when I'm in eastern PA just for another precious sample of this amazing creation. (929 characters)

Photo of boddhitree
4.77/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

WOW. They say it was brewed for them outside Ghent; it was super lovely malty, tasted like lots Special B.

Hops were light in the background. The foam head's creaminess was almost eternal. It stayed tight through almost to the end of the glass.

It tasted like Kriek (cherry), but not overly sweet. I detected virtually no sourness, neithr lactic nor acetic, as advertised on the menu. But it was still there slightly maybe, probably held back the malt and fruit sweetness from being overpowering. This was my favorite beer of the night. It was the perfect dessert, though it wasn't a dessert beer. (601 characters)

Photo of ThrewRedButter
4.75/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L - Ruby Red with egghell head

S - Balsamic vinegar, flowers, cherries, raspberries, sour character

T - Sour jolly rancher, noticeably sweet and beautifully tart

F - Good carbonation, heavier than abv would suggest

O - Delicious. Sweet, tart, and refreshing. (262 characters)

Photo of dmarch
4.74/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep garnet in color with an off white head. Aroma is of sour fruit like cranberries and cherries. Taste is more sour than it is sweet. Very light in body, which makes me want to drink a lot more of them than I probably should. Hopefully we'll see more of this style popping up in America. (289 characters)

Photo of Trombone69
4.74/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. A little bit of head, that dissipates fairly quickly. Beautiful Reddish, maybe maroon, and copper color.

I am no expert on sours , but this is really enjoyable. Tart, fruity, yummy! (222 characters)

Photo of PatrickJR
4.72/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into red wine glass.

A - Clear, right in the middle of red and brown. Rust colored comes to mind but it's a bit brighter and less orangey. A finger of off white, slightly tan head rises with moderate retention. Some lacing.

S - Vinegar and tart fruit are the obvious aromas. Like the similar Flemish Reds, raspberry vinegarette comes to mind. There is also a touch of brown sugar and something that comes close to woody and leathery aromas.

T - Vinegar soaked fruit with a sprinkly of brown sugar dominate early and mid palate. Monk's Cafe starts off with an amazing sweet flavor best described as a mild mixture of brown sugar and vinegar, or even a tart apple juice. Indistinct berry flavors enter into the mix mid palate contributing both more tartness and more sweetness. Sweetness fades a touch while the tart fruit juice lingers on the edges of the tongue. Musty flavors begin their ascent with hints of wood, leather, cork, and oxidation. In some ways the finish resembles an older, fortified wine. Finishes with some residiual sweet and sour and a lengthy drawl of musty, minerally, cellar-esque flavor.

M - Fairly light in body with moderate carbonation. Despite the seemingly heavy and intense flavors, it's quite refreshing.

D - This really couldn't be any easier to drink. The light body and immense complexity of flavors make each sip exquisite, and there's new tastes to pick out each time. Extremely interesting, but tame enough that it never becomes overpowering. Another great experience with a Flemish sour. (1,560 characters)

Photo of YankChef
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a la fin du monde glass

Appearance: hazy ruby red with amberish copper.rust hues. thin white mucky looking head that just sticks to the top

Smell: Stinky, almost brie like aroma type funk maybe a little lactose (says so on the bottle) the wild yeast is really in your face. On the end there is certainly some big time fruit, mystery berry and cherry

Taste: Big and rich on the front of the palate cherry sourness, there is tons of cherry throughout, I would almost think it was actually in the beer if I knew it wasnt. Explosion of just sweet and sour and then lots of big fruit flavor and then and almost cheese finish, hmmm gruyere? Only complaint is the finish is very short which makes you want to keep on sipping

Overall: Excellent beer and an excellent sour, Rodenbach grand cru is in my opinion the benchmark for the style but this beer is much more approachable. Big on flavor without the rip your tounge sourness of RGC, balanced even. If you can find this stuff pick it up! (1,014 characters)

Photo of HossMcGraw
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Monk's.

Dark red, almost brown color with small head and awesome lacing. The aroma is sour cherry and mustiness with some slight malt sweetness in the background. The flavor is phenomenal.

I'm new to sour ales so there are probably better examples out there, but for me, this was perfection. Not too sour but enough to keep you on your toes. Also quite musty and woody with a bit of malt sweetness in the background. Finish is bone dry and makes this ridiculously drinkable.

Mouthfeel is my only complaint. A bit flat for my tastes. Overall though, one of my new favorite beers. I hope I can get this in Lancaster. Planning on buying a case. (661 characters)

Photo of kwill
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A great sour beer. Not quite as good as Duchess, but for the price ($5 on draft) I haven't found a better Flemish ale. I didn't give it a 5.0 because it is a bit less intense than other sour beers (which might be good for some drinkers), and when I want a sour beer then I am looking for a sour beer. (300 characters)

Photo of martyl1000
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Cooper's Tavern and at Mason Lounge. I can't stop drinking this stuff, and every time I order something else, I regret not having ordered the Monk's. I guess I'm even more a sour fan than I thought; used to think I was a malt guy, period). The aroma isn't great, smells like vinegar, actually. But I could drink ten of these in a row. Any other favorites I have -- Founders Imperial Stout, Southern Tier Jahva, Mikkeller Black Hole, Tyranena Dirty Old Man -- I can only drink two or three before feeling "up to here" (holding open hand at mid-throat). I can and want to drink as many of these sours as possible.

Note: I love this stuff, but I'd better adjust my original numerical rating (4.88), since I have very little experience with sours. From what I can see in other reviews of sours, this one is not an elite form of the style. I shouldn't be so affected by such things, but I don't want to be a grade-inflator. And its absolutely true that this beer isn't very complex. (But it's so damn drinkable!) (1,018 characters)

Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I bought this on draught at the Cafe Bruges in Carlisle, PA. It was a deep crimson red with a nice tannish head that sank bit by bit into the liquid, leaving a gentle bubbly mixture on top. The aroma was earthy, with just that hint of tartness I was expecting. When I tasted it, my taste buds just exploded. Now, I should be honest and say I haven't really tried sour ales before, so I had no real comparison to go on at the time. But that initial taste was enough to tell me I had found a real winner. It has a smooth texture to it, and it lingers on the tongue for quite a while. I like the medieval appeal of this ale, and I would definitely get it again and again. It was a real treat. (697 characters)

Photo of ranchosdancingbull
4.64/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid sour ale. Very refreshing. Poured a fluffy, Light tan colored head that shrank down to about a quarter inch and lasted the whole way through. Great way to get chicks away from drinking nasty hard ciders. (209 characters)

Photo of doppelmeup
4.63/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed this beer, from start to finish.

Poured a beautiful deep mahogany into my glass. Unbelievable pillowy head and incredible chunks of lacing all the way to the bottom.

Nice aromas of tangy cider vinegar, dark fruits, and some slight yeast.

Flavor was similar to Flander's Red Ale. Tangy, slightly sour but with enough sweetness to balance, plums, raisins.

Mouthfeel very light and satisfying. Perfect feel for when you want a very flavorful beer but one that is not overly heavy.

Highly recommended. Would definitely drink again. (549 characters)

Photo of nortmand
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear ruby red with a 2 finger tan head that leaves nice lace.

High lactic acid in the nose. Also a ton of fresh strawberry aroma. Awesome.

Sweet mixed berries on the tip of the tongue. By mid tongue there is a mild lactic astringency. Very light bitterness as well.
Leaves a metallic twang aftertaste.

Low to medium bodied, a refreshing, lightly "sour" beer. (375 characters)

Photo of ryantaussig
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Leaps and bounds better on tap than it ever was in the bottle. I'm so sad the keg at The Good Life was kicked. While very similar to the bottled version. The freshness of it from the keg made for a significantly more sour experience. Same look (although lacing was better), better aroma and flavor. A great beer, especially on tap. (331 characters)

Photo of JoeMayo
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a dark reddish amber with a very small head.

S- Apple Cider vinegar hits the nose first, but is actually a welcoming smell. Sweet apple cider, caramelized sugar and brown sugar also come through.

T- Sweet and Tart. A mix of granny smith and Fuji or Gala apples come through with notes of honey. Tart cider vinegar comes through with a slight funk in the background.

M- Light body with a lovely effervescent carbonation.

D- This one goes down easy and is incredibly pleasant to sip on. (497 characters)

Photo of nppeders
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance - brown with a reddish hue when held up to a light. extremely clear.

smell - tobaco?, chocolate, sourness, vinegar, sweet cherries.

taste - apple, cherry, vinegar, tastes like balsamic vinegar, definitely more vinegar then I've had in any beer but i really like it. Literally tastes like a fine balsamic vinegar. Some sweetness combines with tartness. reduce this with some berries and serve over ice cream and damn..that's a fine Italian dessert

mouthfeel - thin mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

overall - this is a fantastic Oud Bruin. Sour, tart, vinegar, apple, dark cherry. (594 characters)

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,089 ratings.