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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

1,095 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,095
Hads: 2,740
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 79
Gots: 365 | FT: 5
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 (91) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,095 | Hads: 2,740
Photo of aasher
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of albern
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of NotMyRealName
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of Truh
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of Aguirre
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of zachary80
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
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

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Photo of mjtiernan
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of constahoogan
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of DogFood11
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of Franky3
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of stewart124
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of cavedave
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of whartontallboy
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on tap at Monk's for the first time today. Pours deep red-brown with a small white head. Smell is sweet and a little sour and funky. Flavor is extremely tart with some funk sourness. Bit of fruity cherry flavor to it as well. Malt presence is strong and pleasant.

Overall: This one is interesting. I didn't like the first few sips, but after I got accustomed to it, I really enjoyed the sourness. Quite a nice one to have on tap.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle, no bottle date. Poured this into a Lost Abbey tulip.

A: Pours a very clear blood reddish amber color. Three fingers of off white, fluffy head. Nice carbonation for sure. During the sip it leaves a good amount of lacing.

S: Hard to smell through the thick head, but initially...not as funky and tart as I was expecting. There is some mild horse blanket and dark cherry but don't get tons.

T: Very surprised by how not sour it is. I get some mild tart cherry up front. And then a little oak hint. But there really isn't any super tart or balsamic character to this one. No where close to a Rodenbach or Red Poppy or others highly ranked.

M: It's fairly light bodied. Very refreshing.

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Photo of errantnight
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Well... not sure what the difference is between an oud bruin and Flanders Red... but... by all accounts this is an oud bruin.

Pours beautifully into my Corsendonk tulip: Three fingers of head with a tenacious head, a deep ruby brown.

Smell is wet horseblanket (finally! this is it! i found it! wet horse blanket!) with some rich malt sweetness and some old vinegar. It's... well... as much as I love these notes in moderation and in combination with other things, together... this isn't my favorite.

But in the mouth... whole different story. The sweetness is there and a little cloying, a little more candy cherry/raspberry than the nose seemed to imply, and the vinegar comes through a bit too much... but the sourness is spot on, a touch of oak, beautiful astringency/dryness. Maybe some tobacco/leather around the edges?

A lil rich and sweet, but well balanced, nice carbonation and full mouth.

Definitely give this a shot, but there are better takes.

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Photo of MisterClean
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz from Total Wine

A - Dark auburn to light brown in color, no head.

S - Cherries, plums, brown sugar, and caramel.

T - Dark cherries, sugar esters, very syrupy-sweet.

M - Salty, super-syrupy, a little too cloying for my taste.

D - As long as you sip this beer it is good. The mouthfeel is disappointing, do not gulp.

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Photo of IKR
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear medium reddish brown color with a generous off-white head.

Smell: Mainly bready yeast notes.

Taste: Fruity and mild bready notes. The beer is tart in the middle with a slightly sweet finish. I thought the taste profile was lacking in complexity.

Mouth-feel: Body is on the light side with a fairly high- level of carbonation.

Overall: Possibly a sour to introduce someone to sours or one for those who dislike an upfront sour taste but I found this one lacking in the sour department with a simple fairly muted taste profile.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.