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

1,088 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,088
Hads: 2,699
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: 1,088 | Hads: 2,699
Photo of blgianbeer
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I just got back from a trip to Philly and my obligatory stop at Monk's. Trying this ale was on the top of my "to do" list given the absence of any Rodenbach products in the market.
I was not disappointed. I would put this somewhere between the rather unremarkable Rodenbach and the spectacular Grand Cru. Not quite as complex and aromatic as the GC, but much more sour and flavorful than regular Rodenbach.
This beer is not unlike Van Steenberge's Bios (which I loved and brought several bottles back from Belgium). Well worth the price of admission. (554 characters)

Photo of kleffman
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay glass. A very dark amber brown color with ruby red when held up to the light. Poured a small tight head with great retention and lacing on the glass.

Aroma immediately hit me with vinegar and that's what I expected out of the taste. Tart fruits and something funky in the nose that I couldn't place until I read a review below saying "wet horse blanket". While that sounds absolutely disgusting, it's sort of true and I'm going to go ahead and say I enjoy this most interesting aroma.

Taste is fantastic. The mouthfeel is divine, more on that later. Flavors of both sweet and sour cherries, plums, and other over ripe fruits. Slight woody character. Quite acidic and sour but not overpowering like many Flanders Reds tend to be. Maybe that's what makes this an Oud Bruin style? The bottle however claims it's a Flemish Sour Red. Definite lacto presence and a little vinegar even though the aromas could've fooled me into thinking it was dominated by vinegar.

Mouthfeel on this is by far the best I've experienced from the Flanders style beers. It's a rather nice medium body with plenty of carbonation helping it finish quite dry and wine-like. I think without this mouthfeel it wouldn't be the same beer at all.

High on drinkability if you enjoy the Flanders beers. It's a new style for me but they're quickly growing on me and I'm trying to really open my mind to them. I wish I could find more of this one, but there was only one bottle left where I got it.

Bottom line is if you come across this beer it's most definitely worth a shot. I only had to pay $2.50 for it, but I would spend more than that. (1,631 characters)

Photo of djbreezy
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to snifter.

In my search for reasonably priced sours, this one is coming on top thus far. Very cheap for a bottle (in comparison) and remarkably balanced and flavorful.

appearance - pours a rich ruby red with some transparency, head settles quickly but retains on the sides of the glass, some land mass formations from the aerial view of the glass, strong lacing

smell - fruit, oak, cherry, bitter, sour, wood

taste - sour but not too sour, dark fruits including cherry, apple, grape, flavors of wood, smooth finish, lacks the sharp tartness of better sours but amazing flavor

mouthfeel - full bodied for 5.5 abv and heavily carbonated, smooth and big (663 characters)

Photo of RodBurg
4.29/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, deep red color with a thick off white head and some spotty lacing.

Smells tart and fruity. Grapes, plums, and cherries.

Taste is pretty outstanding. Sweet apples and cherries with a slight sour finish. Very crisp with an intense carbonation.

Very good stuff. Now I know what I'll be drinking on New Year's Eve instead of Champagne. (351 characters)

Photo of farrago
4.29/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a thin head which eventually falls into a sheet over most of the liquid surface, lacing runs up the glass in veins. Brown to burnt orange in hue, more yellow at the rims, while deep it is also clear enough to view the bubble beads. The nose is broad and you feel the beer's presence in your nostrils, however, it's not trying to bowl you over, beyond the dense candied cherry and green apple fruit scents and damp forest floor matter, it's a man of few words, any vinegar notes subordinate to the fruit, freshly rolled bread dough and dried orange peels about the whole of the rest. Medium-bodied, streamlined and without any fat on the bones. The carbonation disrupts the sourness as it enters the mouth and lets it soak in before you start to pucker. The cherry, apple, apricot fruit remains the star of the show and sweetens the lemon, orange citrus appreciably. The uncooked dough element there, very, very lightly spiced and, again, the vinegar component barely registers. Full through the finish, lingers tactfully. For its type, could put down a few in a row. (1,077 characters)

Photo of GDBEERMAN
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle into snifter.
A: A deep reddish, amber body, pours with a light cream head. Head retreat thin layer, while the lace that is left is a spotty, that is spot on representation.
S: The aroma denotes a sour brew that shows a hint of sweet cherry.
T/M: The front of this beer is a mellow start of subtle cherry, that exceeds to a blast of sour, but not over powering the limit. The finish is a smooth and nice off for the style, a relapse of sour that lingers nicely. The mouthfeel is a nice and smooth sensation that forms a nice silky effect.
D: I find this to be a bit overly drinkable, a bit too smooth and tasty. The alcohol is barely present at all and is a delicious sour brew. (692 characters)

Photo of GRG1313
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bit brown but clear with a short white head.

A wonderful integration of balance and flavors! Refreshing, drinkable in the extreme. Sweet and sour and very well balanced, hint of hops, nice light sugars. Nice drink, for summer. Like an adult soft drink with noticeable bretanomyces character with undertones of balsamic and red wine vinegar, in the most pleasant sense.

Nice. (386 characters)

Photo of TheDTrain
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a deep red, good retention. Aroma is a bit weak but you can smell the sour vinagar, fruits, and grapes. Light body with awesome funk taste from the fruits, vinagar, malts, and sugars. So easily drinkable it's a bit scary. (267 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz tap pour into a stemmed glass at bnieman's Dad's house before watching some Brew Masters on Discovery.

A - Beautiful mahogany amber in color with a light tan head. Good retention with some thick lace clinging to the glass.

S - Crisp amber malts with a sweet caramel aroma. A hint of vinegar sourness that is very nice. Good, but a little cold in aroma.

T - A touch of metallic flavor to the amber toasted malts. Nice mild sourness with a little hint of the awesome vinegar I love in this style.

M - Crisp and light-bodied with a smooth follow-through and light sour finish.

D - This will be dangerous on tap in the basement. I could drink this all night if I didn't have to drive (aka didn't feel guilty of emptying the keg). (736 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this long wanted one the other day and I knew I just had to get it right into the rotation. This one I have been wanting to try as I have heard it is an outstanding version of the style. Served at cellar temp and poured into a goblet this one was consumed on 04/23/2009.
 
The pour was wonderful, deep and dark red in color with a light tan head that came up to a height of around two inches before settling back down and leaving tons of lace all over the sides and bottom of the glass while never really falling much below the one inch level. The aroma was lightly tart, sour cherries, hints of earthy and spicy notes and even a touch of what seemed like brown sugar or something along those lines. Rally very well done and quite complex. The flavor was a little less tart then what I would have liked but I have to admit was still done very well. Rich and full, it was never flat or boring and I have to admit I found myself returning back to it time and again for another go round.
 
Overall a very solid Flemish ale, not the best I have had, but this was very well put together. Highly drinkable and something that I would not turn my nose at if I ever received it again, very well done. (1,201 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Saint Somewhere wine-style glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a reddish dark brown color with a 3/4 inch tan head that has OK retention time before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and thin surface foam. Solid threads of lacing.

S- Smells of sour cherries and old grapes at first but then mellows out and allows the fresher fruit aromas of raspberry and strawberry to come through. All very faint though as the malt seems to be keeping everything on a tight leash.

T- Flash of sour that quickly melts away as the heavy dark fruit comes in like a chaser. The lactic acid hangs around in the aftertaste but isn't overpowering. Notes of black cherry and cranberry.

M- Tart, but not very dry which is impressive. Medium-high carbonation brings about many tight bubbles. Sturdy body.

O- I wasn't sure what to expect since I've been to Monk's Cafe once before and they had a bunch of Russian River sours on tap among which some I liked and some I didn't. However, this is one of the best (if not the best) sours I've ever had. (1,057 characters)

Photo of yeastsipper
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Interesting beer for me. First had this on tap at Monk's cafe in Philly a solid 3+ years ago now. Scary. At the time, this beer came from another world. Time has passed, and I have had a number of beers since then. I am very happy to say that this beer, while not as sour, was honestly as good as I remember it.

Beer is a copper brown color, with a very thick, off-white head. Pretty stuff. First smell is the funk. Funky, but not overly so. Then the fruit and sweetness kicks in. Nice, deep, dark cherry smell. Maybe some other crisp fruit like apples or maybe pears. Some very dry, woody qualities as well.

Taste is fantastic. Obvious sourness, but amazing balance. Sour for the sake of flavor, not for being puckeringly sour. Again, lots of fruit - the cherries stand out. Some malt and sweetness on the backend. For me this was very surprising. The beer I remember was sour sour sour. I think this is for two reasons: the beer at Monk's was on keg and probably fresher, and I have had a number of other sour beers now, so the taste does not stand out as much.

Great mouthfeel and drinkability. Just an outstanding beer. I am probably a bit nostalgic, and will score higher than the average, but IMO, I am completely justified. I love the combination of sweet and sour, funk and fruit. Awesome. (1,300 characters)

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great deep amber color and clear, two finger head that slowly dissipates and leaves great thick chunks of lacing.

Smell is fruity and deliciously sour. Yeasty and sweet whilst maintaining a little bit of dry woods character.

Taste is lightly but pleasantly odd and wonderful. It's certainly like a rain shower deep in the woods of the northeast, best as a merkin can really describe it. Although "downright delicious, may I have another" would probably work in any language, on any continent.

Body is light but sweet with a great fruity sour aftertaste.

Overall this stuff is just plain delicious, and works great when you're on a fruit beer kick, but want something just a touch off the wall.

I'm on my second try for this beer, and don't plan to change any ratings, but do plan to leave it on my wants list. Great stuff. (828 characters)

Photo of rayjay
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1st time I had this was when they were premiering it at Monks Cafe in Philly. The owner Tom and a business partner and I had a few and raved about it for a while; they were obviously proud of it, and I think they said they choose it from amoung 8 sours and it was the clear winner. It was so good I had 4 glasses right then and there. That was 4, maybe 5 years ago, so lets see how it tastes these days.

I purchased this one at Healthy Spirits in San Fran, and I was surprised and happy to see it because I thought you could only get it in Philly. I remember it being alot better on draft, but I happily gave this bottle a go.

Healthy head of red foam, purple body, lots of lace, a beautiful beer.

Funky cheese nose that is very appealing.

Some sweetness, a mild sour blanket, and gentle malts come together in perfect harmony. I've had bottles that were just so-so, but this one tastes great. Finishes very dry--sweetness goes right away. Cheese and sour cherries. Restrained, polite flavors that melt in your mouth.

Spicy carbonation that remains active. The sourness and dryness make you chave more. Extremely refreshing and drinkable. One of the finest examples of its kind; puts Duchesse to shame, making her seem like pure vinegar. Seek and consume! (1,271 characters)

Photo of jgasparine
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- An aggressive pour from the 750mL bottle yielded a nice big tan head... a bit rocky and well-retained. Some nice lacing... good carbonation... and a beautiful mahogany body.

S- The nose reminds me of Ludens Wild Cherry Throat Drops (sweet cough drops)... I am anticipating both sweet and sour flavors from this nose...

T- Sweet and sour goodness... with a dry clean (slightly oaky) finish. Can't quite describe the sweetness here... it is unique, cherry cider maybe? The sourness is akin to weak vinegar (acetobacter?). Beautiful flavors here.

M- A bit oily... lots of unattenuated sugar here... and the perfect amount of carbonation. Overall, I'd say this is light to medium body... what I would expect from the style.

D- What a beautiful drink... could go all day with this stuff. The sweetness is never overpowering, nor the sourness. Just plain satisfying and refreshing... (884 characters)

Photo of stephendr
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. glass bottle- color of mahogany, with a thick tan colored head - nose is floral, sour, earthy, and green apples – taste of sour, crisp, cidery, and light- body is medium, and with medium high carbonation – aftertaste of crisp, short, and clean (254 characters)

Photo of jsanto
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

s - on hand pump at monks.

a - copper color brown, and a slight head.

s - sour orange, and sour some more.

t - all i can say is it was very flavorful, and sour red. little alcohol, and cherry.

m - not too much carbonation, and a excellent finish.

d - next time i would have a second one, a great session beer. (314 characters)

Photo of WesWes
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a sour/vinegar scent wrapped around a malt base of pale, crystal, and roasted malts. It has a buttery malt aroma; very nice. The taste is really good. It has a smooth and refreshing sourness along with a buttery malt flavor. The crystal and roasted malts give the beer excellent malt character. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This was a real treat. I'm a fan of sour beers and this was a good one. (561 characters)

Photo of Radley521
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After a nice Sunday stroll along the East Gallatin River, we stopped by Vino Per Tutti, a great little wine in Bozeman that is carrying a great, if not small, selection of craft beers. Brewed for Monk's Cafe in Philly by Br. Van Steenberge in Belgium, Monk's Cafe is a Flemish Sour Red Ale. This is my first dive into this particular sour style. The one notion that keeps coming up in my mind as I drink this brew is cherries. It smells and tastes like a dry homemade cherry wine like some of fruit hooch that I had in my younger days.

Appearance: The head was a thin linen white head. It has all the looks of sparkling cherry juice. Laces glass nicely with sticky little bubbles.

Aroma: Cherries with almost cheese-like funkiness.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated, which effectively cleanses the palette, and a bit thin on the aftertaste, actually.

Taste: Cherry wine with pear notes followed by sweaty horse blanket. Dissipates quickly from the palette. Sourness is not pronounced as I had expected.

Redneck Rating: It's Alright (1,031 characters)

Photo of DrumKid003
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark amber with a little red around the edges, and plenty of sediment floating in the glass.

S: Smells a little like sour apples, but I may be missing something here.

T: Tastes like apple juice on the front mixed with a couple other dark fruits, the sour starts to kick in midway mixed with the malt which makes it sweet, and the finish is a very crisp sour that last a very short amount of time.

M: I'm pretty new to sours, but this was very thin on the mouthfeel considering how dark it is. But the sour warms the mouth as you continue to drink.

O: If I was going to recommend a sour to someone new to the style, this would definitely be one the few, and it's an easy drinker so you could have a 2-3 before the alcohol starts to kick in. (751 characters)

Photo of spointon
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this from an 11.2oz brown bottle into a stemmed tulip glass.

A= This ale poured a medium red/brown color with good clarity and a 1/2" light tan head. The head dropped to a thin cap in seconds and left only moderate lacing behind.

S= This beer smelled first of sourness, then of candy sweetness. Neither was overpowering making this a nice experience for my nose.

T= Much like the aroma, this ale was 2 faced. On one hand it was sour and tart but on the other hand it had a serious sweetness that kept my tongue on high alert. No hops to speak of. The finish was slightly sweet.

MF= Lighter side of medium bodied with a nice crisp mouthfeel.

D= This was a very pleasant surprise. I happen to love this brewery and am very pleased that their sour ale is as good as it is. Very drinkable and very tasty! (818 characters)

Photo of CaptainIPA
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P: Served on-tap @ Comet Cafe and served in a tulip glass. Pairs well with The Stendler: corned beef, scrambled eggs, hash browns and cheese wrapped in a tortilla, and topped with Siracha hot sauce.

A: Pours a dark chesnut-color with ruby highlights and a thin rimming of foam.

S: Sweet apple cider with essences of balsamic vinegar.

T: Opens with a sweet tang of spiced apple cider that flows directly into a sourness characteristic of berry-infused balsamic vinegar. No discernible hoppiness. Nice, subtle earthiness towards the middle. Finishes sweet with a resurgence of apple.

M: Smooth with a lively carbonation that prickles the palate.

D: Wow, I loved this stuff -- especially the sour aspect of the ale. Very unique. Based on this introduction, I feel compelled to explore the Flanders Oud Bruin style. (820 characters)

Photo of rye726
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber with a tan head and some light lace. Nose has sweet cherries, ripe plums and tart yeast. Taste has more ripe fruits followed by a sour yeast presence and a bit of funk. Crisp clean body is well carbonated. Tasty Flanders Red, but not a bruin. (261 characters)

Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 3/4" tan coloured head over deep mahogany liquid.

S: Sour funk and yeast.

T: Yeast, sour funk, rich bready malt, cherries, figs, pears and a sweet finish.

M: Medium viscosity and a medium level of carbonation.

O: A very easy drinker, one of the better Flanders Oud Bruins I have tried. (292 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I don't know how they measure things in Flemland, but this here ain't red. It be brown as a dog's asshole, only in means in which the dog's asshole is made to be appealin', and with a little white head.

Very sour malt. That's it. Intense, candy sour. Very nice; reminds me of when I was little, buying Tearjerkers at the gas station.

Sour! Sweet and sour citrus to start, moving into an almost chemical, candy sour middle, ending on a more dry sourness, like a sour wine. I'm no good at picking out different types of sours: my pallete isn't used to them. Alls I can say is that this is sour, and it's good. (613 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,088 ratings.