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

Not Rated.
Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,097 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,097
Hads: 2,760
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 81
Gots: 373 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website

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.
View: Beers (92) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,097 | Hads: 2,760
Photo of Onibubba
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark reddish brown with a small white head. Smell is all sour apples. Has a much more pronounced sourness than I was expecting. I thought this would be along the same lines of a Rodenbach or a Duchesse. However, there is none of that sour cutting sweetness present in this beer. Reminded me somewhat of a La Roja, but without the complexities. Mouthfeel was OK. For this degree of sourness, a bit more carbonation would have been nice.

Drinkability is not high. This is not a bad beer, but it is a sipper, maybe even a transitional beer. Would be nice to have before or after some sweeter reds, but 2 of these is a row would be a bit much.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Poured into a lindemans pilsner. Clear rusty brown with a fairly large white, sticky head. Decent retention.

S- Vinegar, apples a musty earthiness, blue cheese and funky mold.

T- Gets more sour as it warms. Apple sweetness, lactic sourness towards the end. Some funk and barnyard from wild yeast.

M- Slick and oily. Thin body. Mild yet sharp carbonation.

D- A sweeter take on a sour ale. For me this is better in small doses. It gets rather cloying and begins to be too much after about half

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled in flared sample glass @davewhite4, the third of a sour beer trilogy.

A: thin head, but very active carbonation; cola color; snowglobe effect from all the yeast floating about
S: not much aroma; opens up into some vinegar
T: very flavorful; sour cherry dominates; good malt presence

Good specimen of a sour beer

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Photo of Brewsephus
3.19/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

11.2 oz bottle poured into tulip glass.

A- Pours a off-white 2 finger head. Head lasts longer than a minute and leaves very delicate lacing on inside of glass. Beer is a very dark red, almost opaque, held up to light reveals a deep ruby color. Small/Medium bubbles on surface.

S-Sour fruit, lemon, unripe plum, cherry pie.

T-deep cherry, baked pie, sweet resinous fruit, nectar. Very subtle malt sweetness. Sourness approaches the front of the palate, but is not sharp or vinegar. Just unripe fruit. A little band-aid flavor on the finish into aftertaste.

M- Carbonation is nicely effervescent, at first I thought it might take away from the wonderful flavor, but it would be too viscous and syrupy with all the fruit and less carbonation. Body is light, but not lacking in mouth-feel. Alcohol is unnoticeable.

O- This is one of my first Flanders and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. I enjoy the fruit characteristics, and while not puckering sour it is a lot more tender than I anticipated. A really nice, but not great, nuanced sour.

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Photo of dude
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Huge, duvel-like head of foam. Liquid is reddish-brown and clear. Aroma is acetic and fruity, like a vinegar made from wine and apple cider. Taste initially is sour, but this leaves quickly leaving a lightly sweet cherry flavor. It tastes nothing like beer I'm used to. No malt or hop notes. Finish is clean with almost no aftertaste. Mouthfeel is slightly flat. Maybe I poured it wrong I don't know. I'd drink a second bottle if one was available, but then move on.

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Photo of mlazzaro
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

11.2oz bottle from portland wholefood

a- pours a reasonably clear brown ale, with a tan colored head. healthy carbonation + good head retention.

s- smells of sour funk and maltiness. I usually associate this aroma with fruits, it is odd smelling the funk standing on its own. a unique aroma.

t- I do enjoy the sourness, but it feels naked without the fruitiness. not a traditional lambic like I was half hoping for. low hop profile. acid flavor, highly carbonic.

d+m- carbonation reminds me of a soda more than a beer. thin body from bret I believe. full flavor that dissipates very rapidly. not my favorite beer. I hardly cared to finish the bottle. might not be my preferred style of brew.

tastes like an accidentally soured beer.

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Photo of Satchboogie
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Pours dark blood red/brown, 1 finger off-white champagne like head that disappears almost as quickly as it forms. Almost completely opaque.

S: Slight vinegar is the first thing noticeable, followed by sour apply, "funky" lactic flavors, a little alcohol, and something in the background that resembles a beer.

T: Well, I don't hate it... not yet. At first it tastes like a sweet tart soda, then after the carbonation starts to clear the vinegar and funky sour flavors start to come in. Candy our apple and slight vinegar seem to be the dominant flavors. Very sweet like candy sugar, seems to get a little more lactic as it warms.

M: Carbonation is champagne like, light body, crisp, refreshing. Aftertaste is tart, sour, and a little puckering.

D: While the lactic and vinegar aren't to pleasant, I do like the sweet candied sour apple flavor. the mouthfeel is refreshing and has me reaching for more despite the somewhat unpleasant finish. Strange, but it works.

It's important to note that this was my first taste of a sour Ale, not having had a wild ale or lambic either. Overall, I thought it was interesting but honestly it is a style I probably wont be visiting again anytime soon. It's not terrible, I just don't find the vinegar and lactic qualities that enjoyable and don't think of the flavors or mouthfeel as "beer" (I know it is an ale by definition).

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Photo of darky
3.17/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a bottle into a Saxo tulip/snifter

A:deep ruby reddish brown, thick, persistent white head and ample carbonation.

S: Tart fruits, and an astringent lemon-y scent.

T: Fruit punch at first, followed immediately by grapefruit, grapes, alcohol and a sour finish backed by strong carbonation. This is not a great example of this style. While different, and enjoyable, the flavor is really not very refined. The flavor of this beer has loads of character, but the component flavors are all fighting attention and fail to make a cohesive statement.

M: While the carbonation is strong, it pulls off a really nice smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel, that really benefits this beer overall. A definite strong point.

O: This is about third time I've had this beer, and I'm drinking this one a little warmer than before, probably around 45-50 degrees F. That said, this brew is better consumed a little colder. If you are introducing someone new to Belgians, by all means, do NOT start them out with beer. I think it would be very interesting to throw this brew into the mix in a blind taste with others of it category, but at the end of the day, your money is better spent elsewhere.

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Photo of rugbyfan13
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Dark hazelnut brown on top fading into a dark red on the bottom. Tan, 1/2 inch head. Head turns into a thin cover on top. Medium lacing.

Smell: Cherries, wood, yeast funk, much less palpable than a Saison funk. Hints of garlic at the end that become more obvious as the beer warms up, but it still remains muted.

Taste: Oaky and funky, once again, similar to a Saison, lightly sour. Alcohol warms the burns the mouth as you drink it.

The main problem with this beer is that water hits you first. While I can tell there are strong flavors in the beer, the water just made the rest of the flavors have to overcome the watery-ness of the beer, and thus, diluted them.

Mouthfeel: Too damn watery up front. Similar to the taste, the water creates an obstacle for the mouthfeel and makes it seem weak.

Drinkability: I love yeasty funk, and I like sour beers, so I could drink more. Its an unremarkable beer.

Seeing how much I paid for the beer, I won't be trying this again.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip glass and allowed to warm up to cellar temp before drinking.

The body is crisp and clear. A deep ruby red that borders on garnet, it is topped with a fluffy white 1 finger head that leaves sticky streaks of lacing, as well as some spots of foam, all over the sides of the glass. This looks absolutely gorgeous.

The aroma, unfortunately doesn't live up to the high expectations set by the appearance. There is a light acetic quality to the aroma, but more so, there are sour cherries, some cocoa powder, and an underlying sweetness. The presence of a ton of residual sugar is evident on the palate. The sweetness is high, even for a Flanders Red, making this one a bit tough to drink from the outset. Cloying from the start, the flavor has a long way to go to impress me. The dominant flavor outside of the sweetness is red wine vinegar, which is accompanied in the finish by some more slight acidity and some sour cherries.

Slick and heavy on the palate despite being sour, this beer just didn't really impress me all that much. There are far better representations of this style out there, though I can see the value in this beer. It would be a good training wheel sour for someone just getting into the expensive habit.

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Photo of MLoxxer
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

I enjoyed this beer on tap at Yia Yia's in Lincoln Nebraska. Although the head consisted of larger bubbles retention was very good. Living up to its reputation its flavor does have a very lambic-like start with a sour finish. Mouthfeel is moderately tanniny. I could detect no malt or hop character which leads me to believe the base is wheat and fruit. This isn't a beer for everyone but it does have an adventurous flavor.

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Photo of Alequine
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brown in color with no clarity due to the roasted malts – no see through but an attractive beer. Slight white quarter inch head after the pour. I would describe the body more as light. Even lacking substance. Slightly aromatic fruity character but too light to define. No hop taste, low bitterness, slightly vinegary, sour going in with a slight sweet finish. What was lacking in the substance I also noted in the finish. The first, second and third times that I drank this beer prior to this the beer was enjoyable. Today I drank this beer back to back with a 2011 Rodenbach which left me dissatisfied with this beer. It lacked flavor and mouth-feel and even in aroma. It is a good light bodied beer for the summer.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a two-finger white head that fades quickly to a ring leaving no lace. Cloudy amber color. Light bodied and light carbonation. Nose is sour cherry . No sweetness here starts and finishes with a sour cherry taste. Clean, tart finish. $5.25 for a 330ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.14/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle picked up at Rick's in Alexandria a little while back. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Thought it was an appropriate time to crack this after getting home from my first visit to Monk's.

Pours a nice crimson color with some really nice lacing after a white head falls down. Not much light makes its way through. The nose has some mild cherry character plus some sweet malt. There's a touch of oak there along with some light acetic character. A bit of sweetness carries through. The flavor is somewhat tart with a bit of acid, along with a mild acetic character. A bit of oak and cherry. The mouthfeel is medium and has a dry finish. A decent example of the style, though nothing too memorable, unfortunately.

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Photo of billshmeinke
3.14/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One inch fluffy white head.

Ruby red body with some golden highlights. An inch of cream colored fluffy head.

Smells really fruity. Kind of a fake raspberry scent. Not too pleasant.

Tastes like raspberry and blueberries. Nothing really sour about it. Kind of fake fruit tasting... don't really know how to describe it, but a bit of a bummer.

Super well carbonated. Light bodied. Fairly dry.

Kind lame. Fake fruit tasting. Not buying again.

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Photo of Cresant
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured this 11.2 oz brown bottle into a Triple Karmeliet glass. No date. Moderate off-white head faded to a ring and island. Color was prunejuice, brown with mauve tints. Cloudiness cleared as the sediments settled. Foamy splotches of lace stick to the sides.

Smell was metallic at first. Mild, aged balsamic vinegar. Sugary sweet. Not especially pungent.

Taste reflected the smell. Woody and vinous elements were evident. Refreshingly sour, but not as sour as other Flanders Reds I have tried. Plesant but not as extreme as many.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and effervescent. Nice.

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Photo of gfreed
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

If you've ever dyed Easter eggs, you'll immediately recognize the vinegary, hard-boiled-egg aroma that launches itself from the bottle and sticks to everything in the room. It's powerful, but doesn't assault as much as the taste which is acidic enough to etch your kitchen table, so be sure to use a coaster under the glass. There's a sour apple-raisin flavor somewhere in there, too, but you'll have to work hard to separate it from the vinegar. Worth trying just to compare it with better examples of this style (e.g., Bockor). For me, though, it was a puckering struggle to drink the whole thing.

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Photo of cjacobsen
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(A) Pours a clear, deep red with a small off white that diminishes quickly to nothing.

(S) Slightly tart. Sweet. Cherry. The nose is more of a fruity blend with Cherry taking the lead.

(T) Not very sour or tart, but it's still present. You have the slight vinegar and then packed with cherry flavor.

(M) Very flat and ended dry despite the oily, fuller body mid-taste.

(O) It wasn't terrible but I've had far better Oud Bruins. This one was rather weak and more of a tart and amped up grape juice, just with a cherry spin on it.

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Photo of marikoangel
3.11/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tall Saison 1900 tulip glass at Amsterdam

A: It poured a deep dark red. It was clear, but hard to see through. There was a nice little head that retained a nice thick lacing on top of the beer.

S: Light scents, a little metallic sour, cherries.

T: It started with a crisp zing to it but smoothed out quickly into a juicy mild. There's a nice sour finish to it. The flavors are light, and there is nothing bold or catching to it. It has almost a watery aftertaste. Sour cherries.

M: Crisp but smooth

D: It was very disappointing. I love sours, and felt this was a weak representation. I've had beers not in the sour category that had more sour to them. It might be a good beer for someone who is just getting into sours or just isn't looking for that wonderful kick you can get from them. As a whole it is drinkable, even if it's one I wouldn't have again.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.09/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Deep strawberry/cherry juice color. Very clean and opaque. Nice billowy off white head in standard Belgium style. Seriously great looking beer.

S: Yeasty with notes of sour grape, wet oak, cherry vinegar.

T: Not nearly as pungent as I was expecting. Bit like watered down cherry juice. Minor sour notes with out much twang. Not nearly as complex as some of the other Flanders out there.

M: Bit thin and prickly from the carbonation.

D: I was disappointed by this beer. Its ok and certainly drinkable but nothing I'd be compelled to try again. Oh well, they can't all be Rodenbach.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a sampling glass.

Pours a clear red color with a very small light brown color head. Nose is vinegar and funk. That's really it!

Taste is also quite tart and vinegar-y, very sharp and a bit unpleasant. It's got a fairly sharp mouthfeel due to harsh carb.

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Photo of imasloth
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Based on other reviews I look to be in the minority here but ...

A- Dark brown with red tint when head to light. Thin almond-coloured head with notable lacing.

S- Sweet malt with slight sourness.

T- Some sourness but not much else. A bit of malt in aftertaste.

M- Light-bodied with a dry, alcohol feel in afterfeel.

O- As my brother said, meh. Not the best of the Belgian brews or even sours by far.

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Photo of esv
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Flemish, from Flanders - a region that covers portions of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The head stands at about 1/3'' and I can hear it. It's like a snap, crackle pop sound or like a soft, white noise or a soda. The head flattens fairly quickly but lacing sticks around.

The beer is dark with a deep brownish red glow around the edges. Light doe not hardly pass through the bulk of the beer.

I can smell sour before I even lift the glass to my nose. The nose is both sour and sweet and it truly reminds me of a Chinese sauce.

There is a thin but syrupy-sweet taste and then sour. The beer is really quite sweet and certainly tangy. There is a hint of bitterness that becomes more detectable as the beer warms. It is almost like the bitterness you might taste from a cup of hot tea, when it has been allowed to cool and the teabag was left to sit in the cup. It is a dry bitterness.

The mouthfeel is thin.

I must admit, this is the first sour beer I've had and it will take me some time to purchase another bottle. It was not easy for me drink.

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Photo of dogfooddog
3.07/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

bottled version. pours 20% light tan head. smells sour and oaky, pleasant nose

taste is a bit weak, confirming an impression I had when I drank this on tap. there is a taste and smell that reminds me of german weiss beers. This beer does not make you pucker from sourness - it is subtle. It does taste a bit watery as well.

Overall this is probably my least favorite of the flemish red style I have tried to date. The bottle does note that this is a light version of sourness etc., but being a fan of the style I would prefer a full-blown sourpuss beer like duchesse de borgoune or rodenbach grand cru.

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Photo of ajcormier
3.07/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured from bottle into small tasting tulip.
A - Looks great, reddish brown with creamy colored lacing.

S - Smelled good but lacking in a real sharp tart note I was hoping for. Plums, raisins, cherry and lightly toasted biscuits. Slight musk.

T - Disappointing a suppose. As with the smell I was really hoping for something a bit more puckering. Tasting was similar to the smell but sweeter than I was anticipating.

M - Good bubbles and slightly coating. Dry finish but residual sugars were there.

O - Eh, had way better. Good but not worth buying again.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,097 ratings.