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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: 13.54%
Wants: 79
Gots: 364 | 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: 2,741
Photo of jeonseh
2.13/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle poured into a GI Matlida glass

A- deep, burgundy color with a light gold color to it. It's opaque and a bit hazy with a small white head that is comprised of small bubbles

S - smell is tart, reminds me of sour cherries with hints of balsamic vinegar. There is a slight farmhouse aspect to it. I also note hints of lemon peel. It also seems to have a slight metallic twang to it

T - taste is definitely tart at first. As it goes on, there is a nice cheery sweetness that comes through and reminds me of the taste of cherry pie filling. There is also a nice lemony aspect that cuts through the sweetness. There is still a strong metallic taste that comes through and reminds me of copper. It lingers on in the finish as well which just makes the aftertaste unattractive.

MF - Surprisingly creamy. Nice carbonation to this that lends to the body.

O - overall, a decent Flanders beer if it wasn't for the metallic taste. However that metallic taste and smell was too much for me to take. I've had other sours before and this is the only one where this came out so strong.

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Photo of ChadQuest
2.13/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Looks nice, smells pretty fine too with some fruity notes, but there is way to much sweetness for what i wanted. The medicinal sweetness all but masks the characteristics that could be present. Like Cherry Nyquil. wanted a dry puckering finish, but this leaves with just a wisp of tartness and lets you keep the residual sweetness to stick in your mouth. The 12oz bottle in my snifter is more then enough for me, but i am still glad i tried it for more Oud Bruin experience for only 2.99.

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Photo of scottfrie
2.2/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

330ml bottle into Delirium Noël glass.

A: Pours an extremely dark ruby red with a thin bubbly light pinkish-brown head that faded into a fuzzy film
S: Smells strongly of sweaty socks with a touch oak and maybe a hint of cherry syrup.
T: Not sour at all. Maybe a touch tart, but for the most part this tastes like overly carbonated fruit punch. Very sweet on the palate, but luckily the finish dries up and a bit of the oak comes out. Aftertaste isn't syrupy, but there is a weird synthetic fruit flavor to it. Not particularly funky at all.
M: Tons of soda-like carbonation froths up in the mouth and then dies down into a slick, viscous finish. Off-putting.
D: Extremely disappointed by this one. The syrupy fruit flavors are almost medicinal and not pleasant. I love all styles of mouth puckering beers, but this one is just not for me.

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Photo of colt45n
2.28/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a nice red/burgandy hue, light buggly white head.

S: Not really sure what flavors im getting here there is definitely a sour sweetness to it, but also something dirty or spoiled fruit about it.

T: SOUR omg was not expecting so much sour, also the spoiled fruit there as well.

This might be a liitle over my head, but my palete could not handle this one.

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Photo of Pahn
2.29/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

11.2oz bottle into a wine glass. Illegible code on it might tell someone when it was bottled, but it doesn't tell me anything.

Appearance: Free pour yields a 3/4 inch fluffy white head that dissipates steadily leaving swatches of lacing along the side of the glass (as does the beer itself). Pours a semi-translucent brownish red.

Smell: Very sweet. Sort of a candy, Belgian yeast smell, along with clove, fig, and off-putting funk and phenolic notes.

Taste: Sweet and funky but very unpleasantly chalky and bitter (also unpleasant is the fact that it isn't at all sour). Some disgusting notes lurking around, similar to nutrasweet. There's some clove and raisin, but mainly it tastes like sickly sweet medicine, or a thin Belgian dubbel that's gone bad. Some cologne-like notes and cinnamon. At its best, a sip is "not good, not terrible," while at its worst I want to pour the beer into a toilet.

Mouthfeel: On the thinner side of medium bodied, low carbonation, semi-dry finish.

Drinkability: The best I can say for this beer's drinkability is that I was able to finish this 11.2oz bottle.

The label mentions a mildly lactic sourness and a sweet and sour finish. In fact, the word 'sour' is used 5 times in the 3 sentence description. For some strange reason I expected the beer actually to be sour... instead it's sort of like a chalky, oily, Belgian dubbel soda (gone mostly flat) with a bunch of aspartame and cough medicine poured into it. Bad.

Since I generally don't like slamming a beer, I'll point out as a postscript that this brewery does make good beer, for example Augustijn Ale, which I gave a solid A (including a 4.5 score for taste) in my review of it. I hated Monk's Cafe however.

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Photo of mcallister
2.31/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Murky burnt opaque raspberry lavender. Small white quick to fade head leave some faint lacing. Not too appetizing.

Violet, sour cherry, yeasty, burnt dried berry varieties, hints of wheat germ, other tart fruits and a odd sweetness follow up the aromas.

Very weak flavors and laid back. Balance is non existent, and just a wretched lack of depth. Hints of strawberry and raspberry, bitterness is mild and really hurt this beer. Mouthfeel is thin and weak and there is virtually no length to the finish.

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Photo of Doomcifer
2.37/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Appearance - pours an extremely murky/ruddy brown color with slight mahogany hues when held to light. Slight head that fades away quickly.

Smell - Smells like balsamic vinegarette, sweet, tart,

Taste - Extremely sour, taste is there in the background, kinda bland, and is overshadowed by the extreme sourness.

Mouthfeel - light bodied, champagne-like carbonation.

Drinkability - I couldn't take more than one of these. One is more than enough.

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Photo of AgentMunky
2.45/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a brandy snifter. Stamped 08KK 17:46.

A: A finger and a half of rich head bubbles and collapses on itself fairly quickly. The beer is barely translucent mahogany brown.

S: Poop, metal, dead skunk, and spoiled wine. This is utterly abysmal. The worst smelling beer of all time? It has not a single redeeming feature.

T: I don't like it...I wonder if something is the matter. The first 2/3 of the flavor is metallic, thin, sour, and poor. However, the last third of the taste really opens up. Fruit (grape soda), wine, tasty sourness, and candy sweetness. The aftertaste is lingeringly (sour) yeasty and perhaps the best aspect of the beer.

M: Smooth (like juice) with a tinge of carbonation. Decent. Grape juice is a recurring theme.

O: I am a pretty generous reviewer, but this is just...unacceptable. Maybe it's better on tap? At any rate, definitely NOT recommended. I will never drink this beer again.

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Photo of Mavajo
2.51/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep mahogany, reddish color with a mild eggshell head. Aroma of vinegar and cherries. Not bad, but something just seems "off" about it. The taste is tart with a vinegar sourness, backed up by big cherry notes and hints of apple. Sweet. Big, big carbonation that tingles all across your mouth. Clean after-taste and cleanses the palate pretty well. I'm sure the huge carbonation has a had in that. I'm perplexed by some of the reviews that mention "mild carbonation" -- this is one of the most overcarbonated beers that I've ever experienced. If you try to swish it around, you end up with a mouth full of fizzy foam.

There's something just cheap about the aroma/taste on this one, and the over-the-top carbonation just really kills it. Reminds me of a Lindemans/Cheerwine blend, pumped full of carbonation. Seems more like a sparkly wine cooler than a beer.

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Photo of BMMillsy
2.54/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark red with a fizzy head that recedes quickly. Smell is faint and not what I wad expecting. Smells like a weak dubbel or belgian strong dark. Not much sour on the nose. Flavor tastes like carbonated artificial cherry drink. No real sour flavor to be found. Not what I wanted, and rather disappointing. Finishes as clean as a Bud Light. Doesn't taste terrible, but misses the bar as a beer. Maybe okay as an energy drink or coming out of a Capri Sun package. Wtf is this?

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Photo of treyrab
2.56/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Was in the mood for a light sour, so I grabbed this one off an Ohio beer store shelve and poured into my glass...

A: Pours a very clear ruby red with a nice off white head. Look is very nice with ruby, crystal clear hues with plentiful carbonation and a very nice, creamy head.

S: Red wine vinegar up front with some underlying flavors of cherry, and some spice, but vinegar is by far the most prevalent.

T: Light sour grapes with vinegar. Not very good, very light. The grapes are putrid and the vinegar is watered down into the grape taste. Not pleasant.

Overall, this was vinegar galore with some underlying flavors that could not pass the vinegar taste. Not recommended.

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Photo of katybee
2.56/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

My first sour ale...this might take a bit of getting used to!

Pours a clear amber brown, and light frothy head which quickly dissipates.

Very light smell, but distinctly not hoppy...somewhat like an aged browned apple.

As an ale, this tastes very different from barley-hops beer. For me, it was similar to a fermented apple cider with less apple, and a little vinegar tartness. Unusual. Very soda-like, with a musky off taste on the tongue. Not as fruity as a [raspberry] lambic, but with no barley or malt character like a wheat beer. No real spiciness I could detect.

The carbonation gave a very soda-like effect, but like soda, and not like champagne. Very light-bodied.

Fortunately, this beverage was alcoholic, which gave a purpose to the drinking of it. The ale might blend well with cheeses and pie or crackers, and as a desert on its own, however the off-ness of the taste, and mild sweet carbonation for me wouldn't sit well with other meals (hamburger, pizza, chicken) and a definite no-no to doritos, onion-flavored chips and barbecue!

A quality taste experience, but not one I'll likely repeat!

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Photo of daftafne
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: beautiful dark brown liquid, a finger of light tan head which dissipates quickly

Smell: Vinegar

Mouthfeel: Bubbly, crisp, medium-light body

Taste: sour apples, vinegar, raisins, dates

Drinkability: Not really my type of beer. I have had the rodenbach red and really loved it (similar type of beer though not as overwhelmingly vinegar-esque). Low alcohol so you could have a few if you like the taste. I havent had many of this type so I cant really say how it compares to other sour ales.

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Photo of Floydster
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pint at Naja's Place

Very very sour, old beer takes over taste of the younger one

Vinegar, cherries, and a little citrus in the taste, but the aroma is mostly vinegar

Very carbonated with a reddish brown color

Buddy had one with me and enjoyed it more than I did, thought it was a little sweeter than most sours, but I thought the opposite

Not my favorite flanders style

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Photo of ryanonline
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

looks like a nice brownish red flemish ale, lots of tan head and decent lacing. sort of opaque but just barely has some clarity to it.

smells light and sour, no hop presence and light on the sweet malts. maybe a slight bready yeast aroma.

the tast is rather off putting. It has virtually no real sour elements and is still very light on hops and malt, I practically taste nothing. Very odd.

the mouthfeel is thin and watery with a dry finish and a bit of foamy yet non aggressive carbonation.

drinkability is fairly high, due to the light nature, but it is not very tasty and, as such, i wouldn't want more than one.

overall, this beer sets you up to expect good things, but it kind of lets you down.

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Photo of JDV
2.6/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of Humulone_Red. Thank you!
Pours a dark maroon color with an offwhite head. Smell is mild cherry kriek like tartness, but a bit too mild. Taste is like a thin kriek with very light tartness and sweetness. Thin body and carbonation. Just not enough flavor or umpf

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Photo of russwbeck
2.62/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Clear red pour with a fizzy white head. I was quite surprised at the vigor with which the head rose from the brew. Lacing is spotty, and retention is not great.

S: The smell is quite interesting and complex. The sour and funk rest in the background of a sweet and fruity nose. Cherries, oak, malty. Sort of strange.

T: Not what I was expecting, again. No sourness, sort of vinegar-like, no funk. Lots of fruit. Apples, cherries, raspberries, very sweet. Plastic-like finish.

MF: Creamy body, medium, with a high carbonation. Dry and weird aftertaste.

O: Very disappointed here. Well below average, just not very good.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
2.62/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

At recommendation of a colleague I picked up a 4-pack, a little pricey ;(. Anyhow, poured from undated bottle to a Duvel tulip the beer pours a deep copper brown color with some ruby red edges in the light. A small 1/2 finger white bubbly head with some retention and lacing, but nor much. The nose is in my opinion the best aspect of the beer with a detectable sour funk that melds well with the sweet fruity banana, apple, and cheery fruity character. Vinegar type aroma is detectable but not a deterrent. Hints of caramel malt sweetness. The flavor starts very much the same but is immediately overpowered but a strong sweetness that ruins the balance of the beer. Fruity and caramel sweetness dominate the funky sour flavor and mellow characteristics the nose let on. Disappointing. Hints of dark fruit such as raisin in the tail end. Finishes sweet. Medium bodied and decently carbonated. Overall, I feel the sweetness was way too much for this beer, which is really too bad. I sampled 2 bottles to ensure I didn't get a bad one to start, both were the same. I will not be back. It was hard to finish 2, but I felt obligated after such a nice review by a trusted peer. Perhaps this is a bad batch? I will have him sample one of the last 2 and see.

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Photo of ATraurig
2.63/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Brownish red color with a thin white head.

S:The wild yeast smell is most prevalent but not a sour smell. Hint of overripe apple. Not a very complex scent.

T: Reminds me a lot of Duchess (which I don't care for). I think "sour ale" is a bit of a misnomer. I wouldn't descride the taste as sour at all (can't even be said in the same breath as say, La Folie). Has a sweet, slightly cheap-tasting aftertaste.

M: Very effervescent and light. The carbonation tickles the mouth and nose.

D: I don't think I can get through a full bottle! Probably going to be a drain ale.

Overall: Not impressed at all. Like a cheap version of Duchess.

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Photo of CADETS3
2.69/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

probably gonna get bashed for this, but I currently have 2 bottles of this stuff left in my fridge and all I can taste is wine! the beer was ok, i was not impressed. all i seem to taste is whine like flavors and smells.

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Photo of mooseo
2.71/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle poured into tulip. This was my first sour, so I was not sure what to expect.

A - Deep red brown with a decent head that fades quickly.

S - Vinegar and malt, with a hint of sourness and some cherry. Funky and not very pleasant.

T - Sweet dark fruit (mostly cherry) at first mixed with some vinegar and yeast. Just a bit sour, much less than I was expecting.

M - Light bodied with average carbonation.

D - This is my first sour beer and I'm not sure what to think. It wasn't very enjoyable but not horrible either. The vinegar aroma really turned me off, but the taste wasn't as bad. This style seems like an acquired taste, and I'll have to experiment with some more examples.

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Photo of rinhaak
2.72/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Judging from others' reviews of this beer, it is entirely possible my beer was poured terribly wrong. However, I can only judge my own experience.

That said, Monk's Café poured with absolutely no head. It had a dark reddish hue, similar to a Dr. Pepper. In fact, not only did the color resemble Dr. Pepper, so did the visible carbonation bubbles, the mouthfeel, and – to a large extent – the taste.

This beer was very sweet with a sour twinge running parallel. This balance reminded me of Panda Express' sweet n' sour sauce: really sweet, with a hint of vinegar. There was a distinct cherry flavor, which added to its soda pop character.

Overall, I was tremendously disappointed with the brew. It was imbalanced towards the sweet side of the spectrum, and didn't have much, if any, depth of flavor. It go down easily enough, and if you are looking for a sweet, easily drinkable beer, this might be for you.

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Photo of lhaqq
2.73/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear brown body with a semi fluffy tan head.
S: A little bit syrupy, lots of sweet light fruits, sourness comes out pretty strong in the smell. The initial smell reminds me, not unpleasantly, of watered down vinegar or mop solution.
T: Not as big of a flavor as was expecting from the smell. Starts off with some strong sweet and bitter apple and red grape. Peaks a little sour but not very strong, and finishes with little flavor, maybe some apple core bitterness.
M: A bit too light and watery.
D: Not a very high abv; drinkable I guess for a sour ale. At $2.99, was worth giving a try but won't get again. At least it puts a sour ale within the price range of most other beers.

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Photo of hayesez
2.75/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Been on a real sour kick lately and have been picking them up whenever I find a new one. On our recent trip to Texas I saw a bottle of Monk's and figured I'd give it a shot. I was in Philly last month and was hoping to try it right there at the café, but wasn't able to make it - the bottle will have to do.

Poured into a wine glass producing almost zero head. A thin ring of fizzy bubbles surrounds the surface, but that is about it. Absolutely no lacing left behind. Sitting on the table, it looks just like a glass of iced tea...color is spot on, and there is no head.

Smells quite strongly of vinegar. Also a slight hint of sweet fruitiness, but definitely hard to get past the vinegar. Zero funkiness.

Ok, the taste of this thing caught me way off guard. You'd think that after smelling the strong vinegar, I'd be ready for the taste. However, after talking with people who have had it in the past, and reading some of the reviews, I was expecting a bit more tart unripe fruit. I was wrong. Apple cider vinegar. Frankly, I'm having a really hard time getting past this. I drank an entire glass being as open-minded as possible, but I have to admit, I am quite disappointed. Hidden through several layers of vinegar, there is a bit of sour fruit taste in there, but that is about it. Mouthfeel is actually ok with a decent amount of carbonation even though this wasn't evident from the pour.

Overall, I was really disheartened with the whole experience. I'm kind of thinking there is a chance that I got a bad bottle. I will definitely give this a shot again down the road, and if different, I will certainly come back and alter the review. That being said, this is going to go down in my books as one of the lower ranked sours I've had.

Consumed: 04/08/10

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Photo of MoreThanWine
2.76/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a modest 1/2" head, and it's more of a stout brown than a red ale as the label says. Kind of like a lambic it's sour, although at least it's a cleaner sour than the raw hamburger taste I got in the last lambic. In fact the best descriptor for the Monk's I'd say would be pickle juice.

Hey, this is probably a excellent example of this type of beer. Honestly it's just not my thing.

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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.