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
87
very good

2,674 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 2,674
Reviews: 1,105
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 13.51%
Wants: 74
Gots: 325 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,674 | Reviews: 1,105
Photo of Nick3
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat tulip shaped glass. Beer forms a nice 3 finger head and a cascade of bubbles keeps the head alive for several minutes or so. Dark reddish, brown in color and nice lace formation on the glass. This definitely looks like a quaffable libation! Smells like sour apples (think Jolly Ranchers) and that typical funk you get from this style. Smelled enticing but not nearly as pungent as I would have liked. The smell is a good harbinger for the taste . . . the flavors of sweet and sour come through with a cherry apple finish. It's a well balanced beer but the taste was just not quite as strong in those flavors as I would have liked. I wouldn't say the beer is watery but I wanted to see the flavor and the sweet and sour contrast come through with more ferocity. Alcohol presence is really invisible and that fact coupled with the subtle flavor composition makes it a beer that you can drink in high quantity if you're so inclined. Overall, I enjoyed this beer but it fell a little short of my expectations. If you've never had a beer of this style and want to start with something mellow, this is probably a good bet for you.

Photo of pschul4
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into my HotD taster courtesy of the man, the legend, Libbey

A- pours a red/brown. Ruby tones, if you nomsayin. Also carbonation explosion. Only can get 1oz in this 3oz taster

S- very sweet malts and a touch of acidic bite on the back end

T- mostly sweet, sour bite in the middle before being sweet again on the end.

M- not as prickly as i would have thought, surprisingly smooth for the style

O- good, not great. Probably wouldnt buy again

Photo of slackattack
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into red wine glass

A- first thought was dirty river water. Started off with about half a finger of tight foam, dissipated pretty quickly, lacing was not really present

S- red wine vinegar, sour cherries in your face. Bright and acidic and pretty awesome.

T- started off following the nose, then got away from the sourness a little. Fell off toward the end for me and got a little sweet, maybe it's supposed to, but I would prefer a little more persistent bit.

M- medium to medium-full bodied. There's a definitively detectable amount of malt that I feel like is responsible for the body, not great, not terrible either.

O- like I said, if the label says sour I want and expect sour all the way. The sweetness that came through about 2 seconds into every sip was unwelcome. Didn't hate it, won't buy again though.

Photo of krisandajt
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the first sour I've ever had. Just happened to see it on the shelf at my local beer store, and I wanted to try the style. I'm going to do my best to keep the style in mind as I review.

Appearance: Pours a nice clear red with a great deal of head that fades somewhat quickly. Does leave behind some nice lacing.

Smell: Smell is unique - sour.

Taste: Keeping in mind the style...this is a sour brew. In that regard, it excels.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat watery, but has nice carbonation.

Drinkability: If you like this style, then I would imagine this is a brew for you. Personally, this is something I wanted to try just to say I tried it...I don't see myself drinking many of these in my lifetime.

Photo of bum732
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown, coarse bubbly head that dissipates leaving great lacing. Smells of sour caramel, some oak, mild cherries, bourbon maybe, chocolate, cocoa, heavy earthiness, a lot going on here. Tastes of sour caramel/chocolate with some tart cherry present. To be honest, it almost tastes like coca cola. Not much bitterness and finishes fairly neutral. Good carbonation, again similar to coca cola. Mouthfeel is pretty thin.

An interesting beer, lots of smells and tastes packed in this baby. Not sure if it works though, different from other Oud Bruins, not as sour and a little thin in the mouthfeel. Interesting nonetheless.

Photo of aasher
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one pours a burnt amber in color with a one finger off white head. It smells pretty good. It smells extremely sour, in a way that makes you want to resmell to see if you got the first one right. The taste is oaky, sweet, and has the great sour flavor to finish off the taste and it's left in the after taste. I really like this one, although it can be overpoweringly sweet and eventually gives off a vinegar flavor that is kind of repulsive. It's almost mouthwateringly sour. This beer was really good the first time I tried but after a couple times it's losing its luster. The only knock is that it could be a little too sweet. It drinks pretty well but one is enough.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Monks Cafe Flemish Sour Red

Pours a reddish brown in color. Sour aroma, cherry, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar tones. In the flavor, malty, sugary sweet and sour. Belgian candi sugar, a present lactic tartness and sweet malt. Mouthfeel Is medium bodied and carbonation is low to moderate. I know I have come full circle, I tried this beer early in my beer journey and couldn't drink it because it was so sour and different. Now it's not sour enough for me, but still a nice Flanders style ale.

Photo of albern
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a slightly cloudy brown, with some lacing and foaming on the edges. There is a goodly amount of carbonation, and the smell has all the characteristics of a really nice sour Flemish red. But it stops there. Monk's is a little watery, has a subdued cherry flavor, with other citrus present, but lacks the sourness that one would come to expect with the style. Duchesse and Rodenbach this isn't, and too bad. I was looking forward to the tartness, the chartreuse, the sweet cherry and citrus flavors, but this is lacking in all of the above. It's not a bad ale by any measure, but it just lacks the complexity, the sourness, the chewiness of the better Flemish sour ales so representative of the style. This might be a good initiate into the style for those unfamiliar with the unique qualities of the Flemish reds, but beyond that, why stop at Monk's when there are better available.

I had this on tap at the Sunset Grill in Allston, MA, December 2007. This is a very nice ale on tap, actually much fresher, more refreshing, and eminently more sippable than what I experienced out of the bottle. I would add another full point to this beer on tap.

Photo of NotMyRealName
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is unusual. Although a Belgian ale, there's something that reminds me of a champagne. Fruity and smooth. Not hoppy. The flavor is not as complex as the best Belgian beers, but neither is it bland like Blue Moon Belgian White. Just like champagne makes a tasty occasional treat but is not an everyday drink, so too is Monk's Cafe.

Photo of zoolzoo
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Another good all around Oud Bruin, Im starting to get into this style a bit more lately.

Pours ruby red with a lively head. A high level of carbonation is apparent. The smell is of sour cherries, vinegar, red wine barrel, hints of sweet and sour, subdued yeasty funk. A little musty.

A ballad of sweet and sour. Well balanced, but sometimes I'm in the mood for a bit more of one or the other. Definitely tart, but also ripe cherries, malt base, and wood. Moderate acidity.

Mouthfeel is pretty much on the mark; light, relatively thin, and bubbly. An acceptable example of the style, but not my favorite Flanders.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliantly clear amber-ruby color with a thin tan colored head. The aroma is tart with notes of sharp cherry, caramel, tannic wood, and a light mustiness. The aroma is pretty interesting, I am definitely looking forward to the taste. The beer is fairly dry up front with a thin body. The taste has an appealing tartness to it that is a mix of a sour cherry-like fruitiness and a bit of acetic acid. The taste is a pretty clean mix of fruitiness, sourness and toffee malt notes. The taste is just a bit too simplistic and thin, did not quite live up to the aroma. Certainly drinkable and even a bit enjoyable.

Photo of Truh
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a few sips of this before the conclave on 4/22/2005. 11.2 fl. oz. bottle poured in an Allagash snifter.

Good bubbling, though forced, which settles to what is likely a more natural flat sheen with some piling on the sides. Deep orange to an almost brown hue with a fair amount of haze chimmy-changa-ing around. Lemon/cherry sour tart on nose with a hit of watermelon and a gangly malt; sour patch kid sweetness seeping in. Green apple tart on mouth with a candy apple twinge to it; some underlying yeast breadiness adds some body to an otherwise light profile; kind of a meringue-like feel to it.

Generally, this is not a style I would choose to drink or gravitate towards, but very enjoyable nevertheless.

Photo of Aguirre
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great looking pour. A thick, bubbly, lingering head, which I'm not used to in sour beers. Lacing all the way down the glass.

Smell is not impressing me. Basically just apple cider vinegar and malt.

The taste is better. The sourness is very mild and this beer is actually quite sweet, there's a strong brown sugar flavor coming out. I also feel like there's some spiciness (cinnamon?) and some sherry flavors.

It's nice and bubbly, but a sipper for sure. I found this beer to be too sweet tasting and too cider vinegary smelling to give it higher marks. It certainly wasn't bad, but I don't think I'll purchase it again.

Photo of TruePerception
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

(Previous review, transferred from beer journal)

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale: red sour; Appearance: dark amber; light raisin and tartaric acid; Taste/Mouthfeel: lightly bitter, very light sour, RC cola, pretty good, sounds like pouring ice cold soda.

Poured into a pint glass.

Photo of zachary80
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown Body. Very nice off-white head leaves great lacing
Smell is mostly tart, some vinegar, something that reminds me of leather
Taste is mellow. Slight sour cherry flavors. Somewhat sweet with a short drier finish.
Very drinkable beer.

Not quite the beer I remembered: don't recall the vinegar, and also thought it was more assertive. Still good overall

Photo of mjtiernan
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 fl oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Whoa! Got quite a bit of head. Should’ve slowed down on the pour. Still looks great though. Off white head and quite deep dark red body.

S: A bit musty. I get some sour sensation in my nose when I breath it in. Some vigorous swirling brings dark fruit and cherry notes. A touch of caramel.

T: Some cherry and oak barrel. Definitely acetic but not as sour as you might expect, especially in the finish.

M: Most of the sourness hits the sides of your tongue mid-palate and the finish is actually quite clean and refreshing. A very drinkable Flanders Red.

O: I liked it, but I have to admit that I was expecting more complexity. That said, I’d still be happy to have one anytime, anywhere.

Photo of Traquairlover
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2-oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A = Ruby red, good clarity, billowy off white head which leaves heavy lacing as it slowly dissipates into a small foam covering over entire surface.

S = Some light sour funkiness, slight smell of sea salt, cherries, salty Chinese candy, just a touch of sherry cooking vinegar.

T = The saltiness in the nose is also present in the taste. There are also tastes of cherries, oak, sourdough starter.

M = Really froths a lot when first taken into the mouth, almost like a softer version of a soft drink. Medium body, only fair mouthcoating which causes the tastes to disappear too quickly.

D = I would have a hard time drinking more than one of these, though there are definitely things to like about this beer, it just doesn't go down easily enough to be highly drinkable.

Photo of constahoogan
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep red and brown body with a rocky tan head with slightly red hues and nice sea foam-like formation lacing. It smeels like sweet red wine.
The taste is very interesting. It has pruney fruitiness and vinegar tartness. there's a bit of hop bitterness as it smoothes out at the back end.
The mouthfeel is quite good, a bit harsh to begin with, but there's a litttle bit of creaminess that comes in at last minute.

Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: nice mahogany red, gotta score high for color alone. fairly fluffy, cloud like tan head gets rejuvinated with a mere swirl of the glass. strands of lacing remain behind strewn all over the place.
S: sour fruits such as cherries and green apple. nice malt backbone.
T: pretty good mix of sweet and sour aspects. sour cherry up front, and sweetish green apple on the finish. after my palate gets used to the first few sips, the green apple really pulls through as a primary flavor. pretty enjoyable.
M: brisk carbonation slams up front and then gives way to somewhat of a smooth middle to finish. my mouth is left quite content after each sip, it really starts to grow on me.
D: i think the serving size for this beer is the right amount. i probably wouldnt move onto a second one, however the one i am enjoying now goes down super smooth and fast.

Photo of DogFood11
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a smallish tulip. Good looking brew. Red/amber body with a whispy head that leaves continental lace.

Certainly has a tart and sour edge but overall this has some balance considering the style. Some wooded backer adds to the depth. Cherries and sour apple enter the picture and the tart edge has some similarities to sweet tarts candy. Some hints of Rhubarb here and there with a touch of ripe grape. Pretty dry finish.

Notes: I liked it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Blending old and young beers when done right is awesome. This one is not in the elite category to me but more of a nice representation that stays in the safe zone.

Photo of Franky3
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a darkish red/brown but when held in light seems to actually be a beautiful shade of cherry/grape ruby red. The head was thin leaving a fairly uniform ring around my glass. Bubbles looked somewhat like the craters on the service of the moon which then shifted into thin blotches.

Smell- Somewhat tart with a facewarming sourness. Notes of cherry grape apple vinegar earthy browness.

Taste- Could have been better...It is a bit to flat and syruppy where I feel it could use sourness and refreshing dryness. Just my thought..Lots of tart aged cherries, very old style and good taste for what they are probably aiming for.

Feel- when it first hits your mouth it does deliver a fresh tingly carbonation.

Overall- I like the beer, there is no doubt it took time and hardwork to produce and they certainly came out with an impressive Flemish Red. However, I would leave it at just a Flemish Red, upon a taste you will find there is nothing very sour about it.

Photo of stewart124
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

POurs a dark brown with ruby highlights and a fluffy tan head.

Smell is that of tart fruits and floral notes.

The taste is some is something you don't get often. Yum. Refreshing notes of tart cherries and a syrupy sweetness. This is a very tasty and refreshing beverage and my first taste of something in this range.

I could drink more of this tart beverage but I am not sure if I could drink a number of them in one sitting.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Almost a dark brown color, looks a lot like Duchesse du Bourgogne off the taphead actually. Pretty hazy, with a reddish tint to the large tan head that sticks a while.

The aroma is quite nice; lots of pleasingly sour and tart notes like green apple, tangy pear, etc. Very clean, not too earthy or dusty here.

Strangely strong on the vinegar end. I've really enjoyed this from the bottle before, but it tastes dramatically different here. Quite sour, but not as clean as the bottle: seriously strong vinegar flavor keeps coming back.

Still a lot of fruit, good tanginess, and puckering in the finish for days, lightish body but not too bad. I'm not hugely pleased by the overbearing acidity here. I guess go for the bottle, unless you're near Philly and you know you're getting a good fresh keg.

Photo of cavedave
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed live

A very dark ruby, clear, sporting a finger of dark beige head for a moment, then a partial cap. Having this one in a wine glass and there is plentiful lace cling.

Low/med. strength aroma, sweet with some fruity vinegar, hints of herbs and grass.

The sip starts sweet, with some strawberry, mineral, and light vinegar flavors kicking in. It finishes with just a bit of spice and herbal bitter joining in for a juicy finish that doesn't go off the rails.

Mouthfeel is pleasantly viscous, low carb., decent finish, showcases the flavors well.

Overall this is a pretty good beer, but not one I will try again as it is a bit too sweet for me.

Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a beautiful rusty/brown with a small 1/8 inch tan head. Smells of sour grapes/apples and wine. First sip is sour and sweet with cherrys grapes being the dominate fruits. A carbonation consistency and mouthfeel of a wine cooler. This is a refreshing sipper and was much enjoyed.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
87 out of 100 based on 2,674 ratings.