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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,057 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2057
Reviews: 1017
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 14.1%


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:
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.

(Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003)
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Photo of hopfacebrew
hopfacebrew

Colorado

2.55/5  rDev -33.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2012 12:44:30 | More by hopfacebrew
Photo of Floydster
Floydster

California

2.58/5  rDev -32.6%
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

Serving type: on-tap

09-09-2007 01:06:39 | More by Floydster
Photo of JDV
JDV

Texas

2.58/5  rDev -32.6%
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

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2008 19:41:08 | More by JDV
Photo of daftafne
daftafne

Illinois

2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 00:43:11 | More by daftafne
Photo of ATraurig
ATraurig

South Carolina

2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2009 01:26:26 | More by ATraurig
Photo of JBogan
JBogan

Nevada

2.68/5  rDev -30%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A nice looking ruby color body topped by a very thick off white head fills the tulip glass. The head remains thick but leaves only minimal lacing. Still, an attractive brew.

An aroma of cherries and musty vinegar. It actually smells better than the description.

Now comes the taste, and it is quite a letdown after what the aroma suggested. Very little sour character about this beer, in fact it seemed much sweeter than it did sour. There was still a hint of cherry, but it was muted by the sweetness. I really can't put a finger on any other flavors, it just had sort of a blandness to it.

Mouthfeel was thin and very slippery. It was also somewhat lifeless and uninteresting.

While I usually enjoy beers of this style, this is one I'll be passing on in the future. Other than the appearance and to a lesser degree the aroma, this beer had nothing about it which beckoned me back for more.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2009 01:44:00 | More by JBogan
Photo of hayesez
hayesez

Indiana

2.68/5  rDev -30%
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

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2010 03:02:12 | More by hayesez
Photo of beerwolf77
beerwolf77

Wisconsin

2.68/5  rDev -30%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A: dark rusty brown red, two fingers of light khaki head, thick lace webs remain

S: sour cherry is the most abundant aroma along with a strong vinegar back bone maybe a touch of barrel

T: light sweet cherry and vinegar mixed with a load of musty wet carboard and cough syrup, not much sour at all, actually rather sweet

M: light body with a decent amount of carbonation

D: overall very big let down, this stuff is not good, there are much better beers out there to represent this style, It will be a struggle to finish this bottle

Serving type: bottle

08-26-2010 23:21:33 | More by beerwolf77
Photo of mooseo
mooseo

Pennsylvania

2.7/5  rDev -29.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2011 04:40:08 | More by mooseo
Photo of rinhaak
rinhaak

Massachusetts

2.7/5  rDev -29.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-31-2012 14:33:54 | More by rinhaak
Photo of lhaqq
lhaqq

California

2.73/5  rDev -28.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2009 06:05:04 | More by lhaqq
Photo of MoreThanWine
MoreThanWine

Massachusetts

2.73/5  rDev -28.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2010 23:02:22 | More by MoreThanWine
Photo of JLeege
JLeege

Illinois

2.78/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- ruby red in color, big foamy off white head, good lacing

Smell- cherry, other dark fruit, a bit of vinegar

Taste- Follows the aroma, a bit tart, very sweet, lots of vinegar, vinegar overload

Mouthefeel- light body with medium carbonation

Overall- To much vinegar, not to much else going on

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2010 03:06:54 | More by JLeege
Photo of GermanHero
GermanHero

Vermont

2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle
Drunk without food

Smells great. Has a nice feel in the mouth, but when it hits the back of the palette the sourness of of the beer comes out very strongly. I loved the way it smelt and the way it tasted initially but after it hit the back of my mouth it was overpowering.

Would drink again, but should be paired with food, something to counter act the sourness.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2010 18:50:18 | More by GermanHero
Photo of beeragent
beeragent

Texas

2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured into a glass from a bottle.

A - Pours a medium brown with redish hues. Sode pop like carbonation creates a 1 inch head which faded immediately. No lacing on the glass.

S - Strong sour aroma with a noticeable vinegar presence throughout.

T - The sour fruit is the forefront of the flavor, with the vinegar taste coming through in the finish. Light malt body mixed throughout, but the sourness/vinegar hides all other flavors.

M - Medium bodied with quick soda carboination which leaves the beer flat quick. Aside from the lack of carbonation, the body is smooth and clean.

D - Unique flavor and aroma. I'm not sure if the body is the way it should be. A good doorway into sours, and one I will continue to explore.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2010 03:07:52 | More by beeragent
Photo of kbuzz
kbuzz

Pennsylvania

2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750mL into my trusty snifter and a tulip - splitting this review with my brother. Only legible stamp was "15GJ 14:44"...whatever that means...

A: Pours a light brown, cranberry, ruby mahogany...with a massive three finger egg-shell colored head that faded instantly.

S: Sweet and tart...vinegar and cherries...mostly just vinegar sourness.

T/M: Very thin...highly carbonated...gives more of a champagne quality than a sour yeast...lacks body. Apple cider...not very complex. Just fizzy.

O: More fizzy apple juice than sour beer. Lacks body. More sweet than tart...a bit dissapointing.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2011 03:59:14 | More by kbuzz
Photo of tgbljb
tgbljb

Pennsylvania

2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a deep red-brown color with sparse, slightly-off white head. Smell is very tart and fruity. Taste is somewhat of a shocker. Extremely tart and sour, enough to make my mouth pucker. Finish is more tartness. Had trouble finishing half a bottle. Not my style of beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2005 18:08:54 | More by tgbljb
Photo of SpdKilz
SpdKilz

Illinois

2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

[update from December 2011 - My sister bought this by mistake (told her to get another beer) and my brother-in-law and I opened it up one night. I told him of my past bad experience with it, and stated this was recommended to me by a beer store employee as a "gateway" sour and it almost ruined sours for me in that I wanted to stay away from them. Since it was my first "sour" I thought it was worth a revisit since I did not like it at all a few years ago. Needless to say, I still hate this beer. It is disgusting.]

Appearance - Poured relatively hard with the outcome being only about a finger of head which quickly dissipates and leaves lackluster lacing. A copper/red hue shines through when held up to the sun.

Smell - The very first thing I notice about this beer is the overwhelming cider/balsamic vinegar smell. Can also smell black cherries and obviously a hint of apple.

Taste - Not hoppy in the least. Honestly, it tastes how it smells to me - almost how I would imagine sour cider vinegar to taste with some alcohol added to it. After this initial flavor, it most definitely ends on a sweet note.

Mouthfeel - Relatively thin and carbonated. Aftertaste is quite sugary, a bit tart even.

Drinkability - Not very for me. This is my first sour and it was nothing like I expected, and sadly that is not a good thing. I would describe myself as someone who normally likes tart, bitter types of food so I naturally thought this would be something I would enjoy. As of now, it is not. I may need to give it a few more chances (I still remember when I could not stand hoppy beers like Stone and now I enjoy them thoroughly). Overall not horrible but somewhat disappointing.

Serving type: bottle

07-25-2009 23:36:42 | More by SpdKilz
Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
WilliamPhilaPa

Pennsylvania

2.85/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Nice deep burgundy color, with a decent white head which dissipates to a good rim lacing.
Smell: Sweet cherries....sour berries, red wine and oddly (to me) vinegar
Taste: (only took 4-5 sips) Short and simply put....very sour and nasty tasting. A few sips and I knew I would not be able to finish this brew.
This is the first flemish sour I ever had and it will most likely be my last.
Kicked: Perhaps a desired then aquired taste for certain sour ale drinkers....and this is probably very good brew in it's category/style but it's just not my style....take this review w/ a grain of salt.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2005 00:59:04 | More by WilliamPhilaPa
Photo of LiquorLockerVP
LiquorLockerVP

Rhode Island

2.85/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Tried this at a private office function, poured from an 11.2oz bottle.

Appearance:
A dark garnet, like slightly red cola. It had a non existent head which was quickly chased away by an almost hissing carbonation. Interestingly, after letting it sit for a while, the remnants of the head formed little islands that looked hauntingly like leering skulls.

Smell:
At first, it was a phenol bomb bringing to mind the dreaded low totem poll halloween "Good n Plenty"s of younder years. Despite my disdain for the candies as a kid, this smell was really pleasing. As the brew warmed up, this candy smell transformed into an nose full of apple vinegar. It was a unique transformation that I found interesting.

Taste:
I recently tried a Geuze, and recognized some of the champagne qualities I picked up in that in this beer. It almost tastes like a marriage between cola and dry spanish cava all built on a backbone of sour dough bread. Very unique, pretty sweet. (sugary sweet, not sweet as in cool). After taste is very much champagne.

Moutful:
The hissing carbonation I mentioned earlier set upon my tongue and sizzled on its surface. Thin and driven by carbonation. Very gaseous and fizzy.

Drinkability:
A little too sweet to do more than one. After sitting out for a bit, its carbonation dulled accentuating the cola taste even more so. Nice beer for an experience, and would work well as a toast, but as far as sessioning it's just a bit too unique.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2009 02:44:30 | More by LiquorLockerVP
Photo of mrandypandy
mrandypandy

Georgia

2.88/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

750ml caged and corked bottle purchased at Specs, in Temple, TX.

A- Pours a crystal clear brownish red. Amber almost. Minimal off-tan head on pour which quickly dies.
S- Fruity sweetness, almost like golden raisins. Definately not tart our sour.
T- A hard brew to describe, and not really in a good way. Slight vinegar sour/tart flavors are apparent, but very subdued. They are overshadowed by the fact that it tastes like overly carbonated, slightly acidic apple juice. I'm getting shades of Lindemans Faro, and that's not a compliment.
M- Highly carbonated, medium body, "zesty".
D- Low. Not a great beer or a great example of the style. A 12oz bottle would be OK, but a 750 is overkill. I would split this with friends except that I actually LIKE my fiiends...

Overall- I've had this beer on-tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelpia, and bottled. Either way, you lose. While not a bad beer, it is incredibly average.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2010 02:00:34 | More by mrandypandy
Photo of paganbeast
paganbeast

Texas

2.88/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is one of the first sour ales I've had, and I liked it fairly well.

The appearance is very reddish brown and actually quite appealing with a nice sustained head and delicate lacing.

The smells are almost overwhelming at first, as there is so much going on. Initially the sour cherries come barreling towards you followed by an entourage of sweet and sour notes.

It tastes quite sweet on the tongue and the sourness permeates the rest of your mouth. There's a feeling of drinking balsamic vinegar at times.

Has a very sticky and lasting mouthfeel, very difficult to shake.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2011 01:25:35 | More by paganbeast
Photo of Beaver13
Beaver13

Colorado

2.9/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle. Pours reddish brown with a big fizzy light tan head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is tart and sour cherries with some woody cardboard and some acidity.

The flavor is sweet and tart sour cherries / raspberries with a little woody funk. The mouthfeel is light bodied and very watery.

Overall, an interesting sour. It's sweet, but not too much so. It is way too watery though.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2013 00:13:53 | More by Beaver13
Photo of waughbrew
waughbrew

Massachusetts

2.93/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Murky acorn color with no head, just a collar. Smells of cherries and cider. Flavor is bright fruits that quickly swirl into a tartness that is very present but not extreme. Woody notes add depth at the beginning but disappear as it becomes more tart and dry. Thin body and low carbonation makes this seem like a relative of red wine. The finish does not seem very interesting or complex and fails to really inspire another sip. A pleasant beer that could serve others as a decent introduction to the style.

It should be noted that this beer was the first ever to have devastating effects on my digestive system. You have been warned.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2004 03:13:39 | More by waughbrew
Photo of shbobdb
shbobdb

Indiana

2.93/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Meh.

It pours a niice red-brown with a rose head.

The smell sets up the taste, it is weak. Some sour, some sweet but nothing too much.

The taste is very meh. It reminds me less of a Flanders Red, it tastes more like a Dubbel with a slightly sour finish. Not bad, if you like Dubbels. I don't. It is also very sweet. Very sweet. I like a nice, crisp sour finish and this beer doesn't deliver.

The mouthfeel is bad. It reminds me of a quad -- both thin and thick at once. I don't like the feeling at all.

Drinkability? I'm having a hard time finishing a >12oz bottle. Would I drink it again? I could get two of Bell's Expedition for the price of this bottle, or half of Cantillon's Organic Gueze. 'Nuf said.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2006 01:38:49 | More by shbobdb
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,057 ratings.