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 twelvsies
3.54/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I haven't had a lot of flemish reds, but what I have experienced of the style I love. So I'm trying to branch out a bit and explore. Picked this up out of the blue. Beautiful color on this one, cabinet brown with red hues, but really no head at all, reminiscent of a gueuze. I don't particularly know if this style is "supposed" to have a decent head or not, but I'm thinking no since it's on the sour side. Smell is all over the place. Sour cherry comes to mind first, with other sweeter fruits backing it up. Taste is ok - a little bit of a let down from the smell. Tart, but not overly so, but all of the sweet fruity complexity in the smell is absent in the taste. A little watery to be honest. I'm not one of those guys that needs their taste buds destroyed by every beer at all, but this tastes a little bland to me. The smell is making me crave something better that I can't get in the taste. I think if they stepped this up a bit - a little more sour, a little more complex - it would be great. Not a bad beer, drinkable, but doesn't hold my interest.

Photo of tdm168
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - dark amber with a reddish hue; huge, soft, dense, foamy, offwhite almost brownish head that has great retention

S - a bit musty, faint fruit, some grainy sweetness

T - berries, mildly lactic, some caramel, mild bitterness in the finish

M - medium bodied, sticky, smooth, crisp

I'm not sure how I feel about this beer. It's not really bad, but it's not really great either. It has a decent enough flavor though the fruity notes are mild and there is very little if any sourness. The nose is a bit off putting with it's graininess. Overall, not a bad beer, but I've had better in this style. It was nice to try once, but I won't be seeking it out again.

Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Muddy Pig in St. Paul

A simpler sour ale than some of the other's I've tried, but at the same time it's the most drinkable I've had. It comes off with a juicy tart sourness that tastes slightly like sour cherries, but not much else. The flavor here is a little mellow and relies mostly on the sour tang to carry the beer. I've call it a starter-sour ale.

Photo of rodkin
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown, with about 2 fingers of light tan head. Reduces slowly, but a bit remains.

Smell is some dark fruit, mostly some cherry. Some tart acidity, slight funk. Nice, but kind of one dimensional.

Taste is some acidity upfront, A bit of the dark fruit, a little funk. Maybe a bit of citrus or oak. Kind of acidic, but not super sour. Slight wine taste. Nice, nothing special.

Okay mouthfeel. A bit thicker and less dry than I'd like. Decent carb.

Alright sour, tasty enough. Good value at $3.50 a bottle.

Photo of sfoley333
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of 12oz bottle into Duvel snifter. Poured a dark reddish brown with a medium lacy head. Smell has acidic vingear with some wild sourness. Taste cherries with baslamic and oak finished with a slight nuttyness. Mouth feel is on the low end of medium body. Carbonation is there but not overpowering the dryness. Could drink a few because its light dryness, low alcohol content, and not overtop sourness.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured to a murky brown, with okay head but little lacing. Aroma was the usual vinegary smell, but nothing else seemed present. Flavor was extra sour, and while I detected a hint of fruit, it was difficult to really tell what it was. Other Flemish Sours tend to be sour, then slide into a sweet aftertaste. This hits you with very sour start, and then sweet, with little transition. It also tended to be a little watery. I really have learned to like Flemish Sours, but this one, while good, was not one of the best.

Photo of hoplover82
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear beautiful cherry red with very good retention and lacing.

Smells of simply sweet green apples. That's it it seems.

Taste is pretty simple and one dementional as well. Only green apples to me. Afte hearing my friend say that buckeyenation got cherries in this, I can see that too. I aslo do get the cherries indeed...

The mouthfeel is kinda rough around the edges to me. This is the first sour I've had. Maybe this could be aged a little more. It has a medium body and the sourness seems to excentuate the carbonation and give it a bubbly mouthfeel.

And it's ok in drinkablilty.

Photo of woemad
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle purchased at Total Wine in Spokane for $3.79. Sadly, there’s no obvious freshness date.

Poured into a Chimay glass, there was a big tan head that dropped somewhat quickly yet left a fair amount of lace. The beer itself was a dark, cola-like color that lightened up to a rubyish hue when held up to light.

The aroma was faintly fruity and malty. Frankly, I was surprised there wasn’t more going on.

The flavor was of faintly sweet yet tart fruit, like raspberries, and a somewhat mild sourness. Not much else was happening.

Medium bodied, with a slick, coating mouthfeel.

I suppose this could be a sour beer for beginners, as it’s rather bland. On the other hand, not many people are impressed with blandness, so I think I’d introduce someone to sours by utilizing a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne.

Photo of kmpitz2
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber color with a minimal sparse head over top with no real carbonation bubbling up. Clarity is excellent. Nose is very interesting. I get a bit of cherries and tartness, but it is also moderately grainy. Its lacking that good acetate blast that I like in my flanders red brews. It is also pretty unintense in the nose as well. Flavor is a little better. Initial taste is a very sharp, almost biting tartness. This moves to a sour cherry with a moderate acetate. Flavors are just a bit thin for what I like. Its not really grabbing my senses as other have. Feel is on the thin end of moderate with a light carbonation of tiny bubbles. This is an okay brew. Nothing really makes it pop as a stellar example. I'd like a fuller flavor on this. Seems just a touch watery.

Photo of Neecee513
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

A: Deep red, slight tan head and retention.

S: Sweet, but sharp vinegar like smell - perhaps like an apple cidar vinegar.

T: Sour fruit, grapes.

M: Low carbonation, dry and frothy on the palate.

O: I'm not too excited about sour ales, but the elements of the beer came together nicely for this style.

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tumbler glass.

A: Pours a reddish chestnut color with low translucence. The head is a two finger offwhite color featuring nice retention and a wonderfully frothy texture, leaving prominent patches of lace on the glass. The head settles down into a one finger size.

S: Surprisingly malty, and even a little grainy in its aroma - but luckily, the lactic sourness comes to save the day. A bit fruity, too. Kind of expected more from a Flemish-style sour.

T: Sour enough, but rather restrained in its strength. There's enough sourness on the opening flavors to satisfy, but I don't like how it vanishes after the mid-taste, leaving the malt backbone to do a lot of the heavy lifting, while the aftertaste is even a bit hoppy. There's a little bit of a lactic cream flavor on the finish. Good, but it could have been great if the tartness extended more strongly past the mid-palate. In particular, it lacks the subtle complexity of something like La Folie.

M: Has a medium texture with moderately strong carbonation. Drinks quite easily, but somehow isn't quite as refreshing as it could be.

O: It's a nice beer, to be fair, but after coming to the realization how much I love sour ales - this isn't quite cutting the mustard. On the plus side, it's cheap-ish, and VERY approachable to beginners. Worth a shot.

Photo of thecheapies
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle. From what I know about Van Steenberge, I think the bottling code ('08KK') indicates that this bottle is from 2008? Not sure, not official. Bought it out of a bar's cooler today. Here goes.

Pours a very deep red; so dark, it looks almost black from afar. Nice fluffy beige head towered over the lip of my Duchesse glass before dropping slowly. I'd rate it even higher if it didn't look thin.

Soft aromas of tart and somewhat metallic cherry, some lactic brightness, and elixir-like qualities.

Refreshing cherry, almost in lozenge form. Some steely lingerings. Fruity, but not bursting. Semi-sour, as in, there is a noticeable acidity present. Not the balsamic notes I was looking for. Musty, tinny, and a little yeasty for the style. Estery, but not nutty. I'm crossed up. I'm trying really hard not to use one particular word... 'bland'.

Medium carbonation, or maybe a little lighter. Medium-light body. Not watery, just kind of thin.

I must say that I enjoyed this much more out of the imperial wine bottle that I had had about six months ago. I had a chance to have this at Monk's in Philly awhile back, but went for other draft selections. No bother. It's not terrible. It's just that there are so many other fruity and sour options out there. If it peaks your curiousity, buy it and try it. If you love the style, definitely try it. I'll leave it at that.

Photo of oldsailor
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad sour but also nothing spectacular about this one either. Nice red coloring with a light head. Green apple tartiness comes to mind when drinking. Carbonation is higher than most sours in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing but hurts its drinkability. This is definitely a one beer tasting so the four pack we got ours in is holding up longer than some.

Photo of bennetj17
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber, with glowing haze in the light. Half-inch tan head with lasting retention. Smells of sourdough with some sweetness but mostly it's tangy tart fruit notes that dominate with a vinegary sourness.

More sweet than tart in the taste, with juicy cherry, cranberry and grape notes carrying on into a finish that is pretty much unchanged from the start. With only suggestions of vinegary oak, I am wishing this had a more sour bite at the end to round things off. As it stands it's pretty one dimensional. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, yet slightly syrupy. The carbonation is very prickly yet the bubbles are thin/fine.

This beer is very consistently decent, but there are much better options out there for the style. It always leaves me wanting something more.

Photo of vrazionale
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 fl. oz. bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a snifter.

A - Body is dark brown with a reddish hue when held to the light. The head is one finger thick (at best), but quickly fades to a light lacing with bunches along the edges.

S - Dark chocolate, alcohol-soaked cherries, vanilla, clove, molasses, anise, sweet bread, roasted nuts. Smells pretty boozy. The nose pretty much exclusively tends towards sweet aromas, but they seem a little disjointed.

T - Again, the flavors here come down on the sweet side of the spectrum. Oaky vanilla flavors come to the fore alongside those alcohol-soaked cherry flavors. There is also a pretty distinct sweet combination of molasses and dark honey. The finish is lackluster and disappointing, though.

M - This brew feels a little sticky and clumsy to me. The carbonation doesn't make itself well-known, and the flavors, while varied and interesting, don't feel right together.

D - Not my thing. I would certainly like to point out that there is a lot going on here, both on the nose and on the palate. But it doesn't work for me. I expected it to have more of a lactic sourness, but all I picked up here was sweet flavors and aromas. This is my first experience of this style, though, so perhaps I will grow to appreciate it more.

Photo of Reedbrew
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Decent but not my favorite example of the style. Though refreshing, the flavor is a bit flat and not notably sour.

Photo of sirtomtom
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a nice clear dark brown with two fingers of tan head.

S: Very mild scent, a bit of tart apple and a light funk.

T: A very mild flavor. Tart apple and berry. Mildy sour with just a touch of wet blanket funk.

M: A bit watery finishing nice and dry.

O: This is a great sour to start with. Lightly sour, very simple, easy drinking, not very complicated. The touch of funk helps ease people into sours nicely. Paid $3.99, well worth a try.

Photo of midaszero
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Clear and dark ruby red with three fingers of head that left behind good lacing

S - Sour and vinegar

T - Malts and vinegar a little sour. Would probably get better with some age on it

M - Medium body with light carbonation

D - It is okay but I would definitely want to throw some more down and see what it does with age..

Photo of ThomasMetal75
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

A- Dark maroon/brown/red color. Lots of sediment! Khaki head. Was big when poured down the center of the glass, but died to one fingers worth.

S- Vinegar and lactic sourness. Dark raisin, plum, or fig type smell. Yeasty, earthy, funkiness. Light biscuit notes as well.

T- Great beginner sour ale for sure. Tart and lightly sour. It does have that yeasty, earthy funk. Not over the top at all. Dark fruits as well. Everything is done very lightly (as light as a sour beer can be).

M- Medium towards light bodied. Slight oily slickness is detected, but it mellows out a great deal in the finish.

Overall this beer is very well done. It reminds me of the first time I had Sam Adams Boston Lager. To most of us, it was a gateway beer from American adjunct lagers into beer with more flavor. This is a good gateway beer into not only sour ales, but Belgian beer in general. I'd say try it.

Photo of jmvecchio1
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: The beer is brownish and red in color with a higher carbonation head at first which dissipates into small lacing.

Smell:The smell is your clear indication that this is a sour ale. I get strong hints of dried bing cherries and I would swear some tart apples.

Taste: The taste really does set you up for the full flavor of this beer. It is a sour upon initial contact with the tongue and also on the finish. However on the near end of the finish you get the malt backbone that should be expected in a red ale. Drinking this beer made me think of fall afternoons spent watching college football.

Drink: Once you get accustom to the sour aromas and taste, it’s a nice drinking beer. However, I wouldn’t classify this beer as thirst quencher, but something to slowly sip. While the beer is marketed as a palate cleaner, I found myself tasting the sour an easy 10 minutes after the beer. So unless you plan on sipping on one or two of these beers, I’d suggest getting a hop heavy beer afterward to shock your palate back to reality.

Photo of mithrascruor
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a reddish-brown color with just a ring of off-white carbonation around the edges.

Smell: Aroma of apple cider vinegar and tart cherries.

Taste: Really a lot like the smell, with malts. Very little yeast or other flavors. Aftertaste is very vinegar-like.

Mouthfeel: Light- to medium-bodied with a tingly but soft feel.

Drinkability: Strong flavor, so drink it slow, but nothing problematic.

Not bad, but it just tastes rather one-dimensional, especially compared to other similar beers.

Photo of threeviews
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviews vary quite a bit for this beer, so I do not know what to expect...poured from a 11.2oz bottle (no bottled on date), slightly below cellar temperature into a Duvel tulip glass.

A- Pours a with a deep, red/mahagony with a 2-1/2-finger, kahki colored head possessing moderate retention

S- Mild fruity notes: cherry, (red) apple and pear along with some hints of lactic acid. As the head subsides, a more geuze-like, barnyard funk is apparent. However, the overwhelming (and tart) apple cider vinegar aroma present in Rodenbach's Grand Cru or Lindeman's Cuvee Renee is not present.

T- Not at all that I was expecting (and pleasantly surprised)...mild apple cider vinegar sourness up front followed by some geuze-like funk and then a bit of chocolate/cherry sweetness on the back end. Really nice..

M- Copius, yet smooth carbonation gives this brew an effervescence that makes it refreshing. Couple that with a semi-dry finish and it makes Monk's Cafe a highly drinkable brew.

O- Not my favorite sour, but (as others have mentioned) a great entry into the style and certainly worth trying. I would like to say this might be the perfect amalgam between a geuze and sour, as it possesses traits of both.

Photo of ybnorml
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A cloudy Dark, almost brown, amber ale with a small light brown head. Has a very distinct tart sour apple aroma. Slightly fruity flavor at first that gives way quickly to a sour tartness which is followed by a very puckery dry finish. This is my first try with this style. I could drink it fine but would not want more than one. Also the bottle I have is labeled : "Monk's Cafe" Flemish sour ale. I hope this is the right beer.
Note; The website lists the ABV at 5.5 and call it a "Old Brown Ale.

Photo of PatandDavid
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of this at AC last weekend. Overall, an alright beer drinker experience, but not enough to make me ooh and aah. After being poured the beer looked like balsamic vinegar, and frankly, the aroma was also pretty reminiscent of the same. A thin white head topped it off. Medium in mouthfeel, I got some faint kriek like notes (aka sour ones), along with some dried fruit. Not as complex as anticipated, even the 'sourness' seemed a bit tame.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on draft at The Thirsty Monk in Asheville, NC. Pours a ruby red color with a small white head. Large vinegar aromas alongside strawberry fruitiness. More tart vinegar in the flavor; a little too vinegary in my opinion. Slippery mouthfeel with okay drinkability. Certainly different than most other styles. This is one of the first one of the style I have had and my interest is piqued.

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