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
86
very good

1,089 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,089
Hads: 2,701
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 75
Gots: 343 | 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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Reviews: 1,089 | Hads: 2,701
Photo of tjkinate
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One major problem.

A: Probably the best looking beer I've seen from this style or similar styles. A single fingered head formed that exhibited good retention finally settling to a soapy film atop this deep red transparent brew. It even showed solid amounts of lacing!

S: Cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, and cranberry notes are most prominent, but are followed nicely with tart and grassy undertones.

T: Follows the smell fairly closely leaving the raspberry and cherry flavors to remain most dominant. Sour funk follows nicely, unfortunately so does the metallic copper aftertaste. Really bummed me out, gonna try again later hoping for better results.

M: Well carbonated and lightly bodied.

O: Almost fantastic, but the copper flavor really just ruined it for me. (769 characters)

Photo of codewarrior
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

330mL from a 4 pack (17FJ 16:07), poured into a chalice

This beer, once upon a time, was my first sour ale ... on tap at Monk's cafe in Philadelphia a little-ways back. When I saw it sitting at Argonaut on Colfax, I jumped on it ... twittering with anticipation and chirping about it to my sweet lady.

A: Looks like mud mixed with blood (this is a good thing). Small amount of head, but thick.

S: Smells sticky and damp, like a frat-house basement ... except in a good-way.

T: Sweet up front, iron in the back. Very similar to the New Glarus Unplugged Enigma. Very.

F: Great! Thick and syrupy, but not over-much.

D: Nice all around.

Gonna let this do a turn in the cellar, see if it grows into itself a bit more. This is a delicious beer (vastly superior to the duchesse, to be sure), yet it doesn't stand up to other sours (Panil Bariqquee, Russian River Consecration, Supplication, etc). Yet. I have faith that in time, this baby will mature into a force to be reckoned with.

None-the-less ... friggin' tasty, seriously. (1,030 characters)

Photo of Tony49er
3.27/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Serving Type- Poured from a bottle into a Tulip Glass

Appearance- Tons of foamy brownish white head with an aggressive pour, dark ruby red color...just a beautiful looking Flemish sour

Smell- Funkyness, almost an effervescent character to the beer in the nose, fresh and dark cherries in the nose, light dark fruit character, some great barnyard funk to it

Taste- Effervescent quality in the front of the palate, dark cherries, fresh cherries, funk, light tart off dry sourness, very refreshing just a great sour no matter if you have had a lot of sours or you are new to the style

Overall- Just an awesome sour I have had this beer several times but this bottle has been in my cellar for a year or a little more and has not changed much maybe a little more funk but still awesome if you have never had a sour this is a great start I LOVE sours in my opinion they are the most under appreciated beer style by Americans....CHEERS (933 characters)

Photo of dejrrma
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

4 pack for about $14. 11.2 fl oz bottle poured into snifter. No date (that I could understand)

a- pours a deep amber, large off-white, froathy, buttery head that slides as i move the glass. a little lacing composed of foamy bubbles.

s- vinegary scent with notes of dark/red fruits (prunes, cranberries, raspberries). A hidden sweet aroma.

t- tastes like tart fresh fruits and balsamic vinaigrette. It's more sour than sweet, as I'd hoped, and but I wish it was more sour. Leaves a lingering earthy/metallic taste. Slight yeast

m- okay carbonation. Light and airy, and refreshing. A little watery as it warms .

o- Good, but not sure if I would buy again. (658 characters)

Photo of Zorro
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly cloudy reddish brown ale with out much of a head.

Smell is sweet and fruity with a slight acid edge. Mostly fruit scents of sour cherries with a sweetening of honey. Later one softer scents of brown sugar and rum appear.

Taste is a little sweet with a good sour pop of acid to more or less even the flavor out and leaves a lemony sour note on your tongue. Fruit flavor of sour cherries without going too sour. Refreshing but not real complex.

Mouthfeel is OK.

OK as the style goes. A sweet and sour ale that I really can't pair with anything except Sauerbraten. (590 characters)

Photo of stckhndlr
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark rusty brown with ruby highlights. Topped with a thick 1 finger head of very small bubbles. Creamy.

S- Smells like a sour apple cider. Picking up hints of bananas, cherry, maybe some dark caramel. There's a funkiness to this one that is hard to pin point. Almost like a wine that has been over exposed to air.

T- A mellow bitternesss with some sour apple, raisins, cherries, and a woody characteristic mixed in. Tastes like a mossy oak. A bit of metallic leftovers in the finish.

M- Medium creaminess, Not overly carbonated.

O- Kind of a bland sour. No big burst of smells nor flavors. Nothing that really stands out. Having a little trouble with this mossy funk it has to it. But I can't say I wouldn't try it again in the future. (743 characters)

Photo of Budinetz
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%

Poured from a cork and cage 750 ml bottle into a fegley's brew works snifter. Bottle is dated at 7/26/2013.

Pours a dark brown color with an eggshell white head that slowly dissipates.
No lacing present during consumption. Sediment is present from the yeast and crystallization from the hops.

Appearance is awesome. Pours as of it's one of the best Flemish browns I have ever seen. Unfortunately this changes and it seems to look sketchy as stated above.

Tastes slightly sour but nothing like it should for the style. Very disappointing considering this was brewed for Monk's Cafe in Belgium.
One would only assume that the best ingredients would have gone into making one of the best sours known to man. This was not the case.

Smells of maple syrup subtlety... Strangely enough. No other notes from smell.

Taste is interesting. Not sour as it should be but has the malt profile. Very strange profile for a Flemish sour.

Overall not the best Flemish sour I have ever had and it may actually be the worst I have ever had.

Due to he dating on the bottle I'm going to research this beer because the reputation is stellar and what I just drank was garbage.

TBD.

-Wade B (1,179 characters)

Photo of mortarit
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Having a real hard time getting into these sour beers. They really drive my pallet crazy. My whole face draws up like all of the air left the building, experience.

Overall, the everthing else about this one particularly looks great for appearance, color, and smell.

Maybe, I should eat more sour apples for practice. (320 characters)

Photo of OddNotion
3.23/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle poured into my Russian River Belgian style glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, yet semi transparent, reddish brown with a two finger light tan head that dissipates relatively quickly down to a cap on the beer with nice lacing.

Smell: Funkiness that turns medicinal, sour cherry alongside some bitter fruity scent. A little too reminiscent of robitussin, which gives me flashbacks of childhood and how much I hated that damn syrup, ergo its making it hard for me to want to take that first sip.

Taste: I let this beer sit until it warmed up from the fridge temp and I still get some metallic flavors. It is sweet, not sour at all, not even tart. I get some dark fruits such as figs, raisins, and even some molasses at the end.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light bodied and thin.

Overall: I guess its not bad for a beginner on the style. I am by no means a seasoned pro with sours, but this one just doesnt do much for me. It is not repulsive, but then again it gives me no reason to desire another one. (1,010 characters)

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.23/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance -- Pours a ruddy brown with ruby highlights, slight haze, with two fingers of tight beige head.

Smell -- Cherries, raisins, cider vinegar, some metallic notes.

Taste -- Ripe cherry, rich roast malt, under-ripened plum, some woodiness, and a cider vinegar tanginess that crescendoes in the finish. A bit of off metallic flavor.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to light in body, with an overabundance of fluffy carbonation.

Drinkability -- Overall, I thought this beer was just okay. Instead of a sour finish what is present is a general tanginess and an unpleasant metallic taste. Also, the carbonation could stand to be pulled back slightly. Doubt I'll try again, but still a noble offering. (694 characters)

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Grabbed this bottle from House of 1000 Beers in New Kensington, PA.

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Deep crimson body with ruby highlights - beautiful color. A finger of smooth, pillowy head that drops to a thin coating & coating. No lacing.

Tart cherry & orange peel in the smell with an overlying medicinal character, kind of like zinc lozenges. Somewhat metallic - good stuff in there, but those off-smells are hard to sift through.

Taste has pretty much the same notes as the smell, but the pleasant/unpleasant ratio has flipped to the point that the good outweighs the bad here by a little - the medicinal/metallic flavors are just trace.

Tart & acidic mouthfeel, medium-bodied, with just a little chalky sensation. As in the taste, the good's good & the bad's tolerable.

Definitely not my favorite for the style, but doable. I can stick with just one, though. (867 characters)

Photo of Psilo707
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I believe this is the first Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer I have ever actually reviewed (and in recent knowledge - have even tried), and I was not sure what to expect. The appearance is a very piney red, slightly brown, as it pours with a thick head into a glass. Lacing isn't as nice as the head, but it's present.

Smell is very strong and I like it much. A very cherry and exciting scent, much like a fruit juice but with alcohol.

The taste took me for a surprise and I had no idea it would be this much like a fizzy wine. Now I understand why it's truly called Sour Ale. I didn't dislike the taste at first, but it took me about half a glass to get into and understand more thouroughly. By the end, I was enlightened somewhat. Decent stuff.

Mouthfeel is bubbly and erratic; good overall. Drinkability a bit lower than the rest as I don't think I could continue with these for too long, at least not in my current experience.

Overall I would recommend, but be ready for something new if you've never tried a Flanders Bruin. (1,031 characters)

Photo of 1759Girl
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance> Mohagany in color. Little to no head. kind of lackluster, also.
Smell> Mmmm molasses
Taste> standard sour red. I'm not a fan of the type, but I've had enough to know what the good stuff is.
Mouthfeel> Too thin
Drinkability> if you like the style you will probably find this easy to drink. (315 characters)

Photo of McNealc31
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

The color is attractive. As close to brown as red can get. However, the giant chunks of sediment are a bit off-putting. Aggressive carbonation tingles on the the tongue. This is, indeed, sour, but not unpleasantly so. A touch of caramel and even a fruity finish. But sour is by far the dominating note.

I feel like this is going to be a hit or miss. You'll love it or hate it, depending on your individual feelings toward sourness. (432 characters)

Photo of benteach
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My first, and probally last, sour beer. I tried this style on the urging of a friend. I am not a big vinegar fan, maybe that is why I am not a fan of this.

Poured brown-red with a good, cream colored head.

Aromas of cider vinager.

Sweet taste. good mouthfeel. Hints of apple, cherries, citrus.

It is growing on me as I drink it, maybe it won't be the last. (362 characters)

Photo of jbschafer
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Served at the high end of cellar temperature.

Pours a hazy amber, brown color - even more hazy than I might expect from this style. Very limited amount of light let through to the point of looking like something is "not right." I do not detect any red as might be expected. Reasonable sized head, collapses down in about a mind. Nice mild lacing as you drink that saved it's appearance score.

Smell is a mixture of sour fruit and some kind of bathroom astringent. Not awful, but again, like something is not right.

By the time, I took my first drink, I was already wondering what I had gotten myself into. The first taste was a mixture of cloves and vinegar, and like several other reviewers, I thought - crud, a lousy beer. However, I never trust first impressions. The clove taste was gone by the third sip and replaced with something more like sharp rotten fruit (kiwi?). While that sounds awful, it isn't too bad, and it began to grow on me.

Mouthfeel is somewhat thin with a lingering flavor of wet beach sand and, again, sour kiwi.

I could drink one with a meal, but am not sure I would want to drink two or three sitting around with friends.

I am not sorry I tried this, but it doesn't hold up against several of it's peers (like an old lover, Duchesse was my first and remains my favorite). I will probably keep a bottle on hand in the cellar, but it won't be one I will reach for on a weekly basis. (1,463 characters)

Photo of orangesol
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a tulip.

A - Pours opaque reddish brown with a fizzy half finger tall off white head leaving little to no lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of tart sour cherries, oak, some lactic sourness, and a light sugary sweetness. Not as funky as I was expecting it to be, still a decent amount of sourness tho.

T - Starts off with a bright lactic sourness that fades quickly leaving hints of tart cherries, candied sugar, dry oak tannins, and some dark fruit. Finish is a mix of light sourness and sticky sweetness, lingering for a short time. This was ok at best.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Good amount of pucker initially quickly dieing down leaving a sticky sweet feel. Finish is a mix of light sourness and lingering sweetness.

O - This is far from a bad beer, but it really never wowed me. I liked the flavors but the sourness cut out far too quickly and you were left with an overly sweet red ale. (963 characters)

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. (651 characters)

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 (499 characters)

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 (328 characters)

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. (1,049 characters)

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. (466 characters)

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. (738 characters)

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). (1,415 characters)

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. (1,186 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,089 ratings.