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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: 2,741
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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,095 | Hads: 2,741
Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of oldsailor
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of vrazionale
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

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Photo of sirtomtom
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

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Photo of midaszero
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
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..

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Photo of ThomasMetal75
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

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.

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Photo of jmvecchio1
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of threeviews
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of PatandDavid
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a murky brown color with ruby hues, fizzy two-finger white head that dissipates quickly, leaving just a ring around the rim

S- light sour lactic notes with some grape juice, sweet malty character, fruity esters, light vinegar, woodsy with a slight adjunct-like aroma

T- tart and fruity cherry and raspberry notes, virtually zero bitterness, very dry tartness with just a hint of lactic flavor

M- medium body, very low carbonation, trace of fizz on the mouthfeel, bone dry finish

O- pretty easy to drink, dry and bitter but surprising very drinkable. A nice option if you want to switch it up a bit

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Photo of webmanspidey
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia.

This was the first beer of this style I have tried, and it was definitely something unlike anything I had tried before.

Dark red/brown appearance. Smell to me was like pure vinegar. Not appealing at all, and takes you back at first.

Taste not as strong as the smell.. kind of a sour apple taste that reminds me of a hard apple cider. Very lactic.

Definitely something worth trying to me, but wasn't something I particularly enjoyed.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This red ale is brown in color with a nice head. It is very cloudy and full of small, tight bubbles.

Smell – The sour aroma is rather dull and muted by a malt that almost smells toasted in a way. I can pick up some darkly sweet citrus notes as well, giving this one a decent nose.

Taste – The sourness really kicks things up at the taste, to the extent that it’s about all I can distinguish. The light fruiting wants to come out and play but is squashed like a small bicycle seat engulfed in the ass of a circus fat woman.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation is the strong point of this barely-legal medium-bodied floozie. Otherwise this tease disappoints.

Drinkability – This sour ale went down OK but was nothing special and came in a tad under par for this prolific Belgian brewery.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330 mL bottle poured into a goblet. Served one to my brother-in-law (Raul) to try to get him into some sour styles. It didn't work.

Appearance - Deep amber body with a huge head. More than half the glass is foam. Sticks to the sides of the glass and leaves a nice layer of foam throughout the drink.

Smell - Not much sour, mostly funk. Some cherry and light vinegar aromas. A bit of sweet malt behind what Raul described as "the smell of vomit from a tequila hangover."

Taste - Not very sour at all. Just a hint of tartness followed by a cherry sweetness. There is some malt sweetness, but it isn't cloying. It's too much sweetness, really, but it isn't sickly. Tough to describe. I get a lot of oak, as well. I look over to see Raul drinking it as fast as possible to avoid a gag reflex. What a waste.

Mouthfeel - A bit too sweet in the finish and that makes it feel heavier. It isn't heavy, it just feels that way. Not as easy to drink as a crisper acidity would have allowed.

Overall - Not bad bu nothing spectacular. Good flavor, but just not sour enough.

Mouthfeel -

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Photo of Gattopardo
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Lovely dark red copper color with a small but solid head and good lacing.

Smell: The aroma of sour apples is the most prevalent smell.

Taste: The carbonation is low and the most significant element of the taste is definitely the sourness, particularly at the back of the throat. I quite like the bite of the sour, but I can see how it could be considered overpowering. Hop content seems low.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, not too chewy.

Drinkability: I did enjoy drinking this beer from the tap at Monk’s in Philadelphia, particularly with their chicken-and-apple sausage sandwich, but I have to wonder if I shouldn’t expect more complexity from a sour ale. The sour flavor is very prevalent, and I would likely get it again but probably not often.

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Photo of HopsKeepDroppin
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into maudite snifter.

A- Pours an opaque dark red-brown color with a monstrous beige colored head.

S- Smells really sour and some vinegar, cherries. Very complex.

T- Really sour cherry.

M- Really tangy feel that almost makes me pucker

O- This was interesting. Really nice sourness with some cherry flavors.

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Photo of AudioGilz
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm not that well experienced with the flanders red ale style, so I didn't know what to expect with this one. I am certainly glad I picked this one up though.

It pours with a high amount of carbonation, yet there is no head to speak of, just a small ring of lace around the top; liquid itself is an enticing dark translucent ruby.

I can't get much out of smelling this beer, hints of sour candy, and old musty aged lambic character.

Immediately puckering on the first few sips, the brew presents a high amount of carbonation, and strong sour fruit character. I can't really pinpoint one particular fruit, it's just more of a general sour candy kind of feel.

The finish is dry on the palate with just enough sweetness to make it interesting and actually quite pleasing after the first few sips. It definitely becomes much more enjoyable as it warms a bit and you work your way down.

My first experience with this style is definitely a good one and I recommend this beer.

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Photo of KajII
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Best served in a Tulip glass]

The pour was a murky dark reddish brown with a large (2-3 finger) light brown rocky head that receded down to a thin cap, which did create some excellent sheeting of lacing.

The aroma was of a funky horse blanket Belgian yeast and a dark bread malt with notes of dark fruit (black cherries, plums and grapes) and a mild red wine.

The taste was sweet and a tad tart with a big dose of dark fruit throughout and a strong winey sour yeast presence towards the end. The flavor lasted an average duration after the swallow with a fruity sour wine finish.

Mouthfeel was light in body and semi-dry in texture with a good strong carbonation.

Overall a very satisfying Wild Ale with just enough fruitiness, which allowed for a robust fruity beginning and a slight wine finish...

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Photo of Ransackingpete
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A light reddish but mostly brown ale with a light, bubbly head. A solid sour smell and a very sweet and sour taste. I was reminded of kambucha with a sweeter taste. Occasionally I do think of vinegar at first taste.

Surprisingly it is pleasing overall and refreshing, as it advertises. I would drink this again if I wanted something light but adventurous.

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Photo of kruthar
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - dark brown in color with red highlights, extremely coarbonated with twice as much head as liquid as im pouring. creme colored soup sud head the diminishes extremely quickly.

S - A very sweet smell, very fruity with hints of the lactic acid sourness.

T - A carbonation that immediately attacks the tongue, so much so that the real flavors don't come out until you swallow. the after taste has a sweet lingering with a very mild sour bite.

M - ATTACK! this beer bites your tongue all the way down and should not be taken lightly.

D - Not terrible, but i would definitly not want more then one of these a night.

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Photo of davey101
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Allowed to warm up.

A - Clear dark red/brown body with a creamy 3 finger off-white, pink hued head. Settles down to a nice cap with thick edging and great lacing.

S - Light sour cherries and malts. Some lactic and oak notes. Pretty boring and one dimensional.

T - Very tame and light on the flavor. Slightly sour cherries with an oaky finish. Some very light lactic notes, but otherwise this is very easy drinking. Mouth feel is creamy and well carbonated.

O - A pretty average oud bruin. Low on the lactic and sour notes. It has some nice flavors, and is light enough to be quaffable, but its not my go to for the style.

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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.