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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

1,098 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,098
Hads: 2,763
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 82
Gots: 374 | FT: 7
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 (92) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,098 | Hads: 2,763
Photo of HipHop5
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poor a medium to dark red Mahogany color.

3 fingers of light beige and creamy head that hang around for some time.

Heavy but perfect carbonation.

Mild dry fruits and funky on the first nose. Acidic lactic tart apple and cherries as it develops in the glass.

Some Oak ,raisin and tart apple, cherries open up after 10 minutes.

Super dry up front with medium light body. Extremely thirst quencher although a bit sweet in the finish with a heavy dose of candy sugar caramel sweetens. Lightly sour and tart in the middle but sweetness covers most of sourness. Well balanced and a perfect introduction to sours. Cherries and musky metallic note are revealed as it warms up a bit more. good sticky lacing.

This is a bit expensive but a great side track brew for the summer. If you ask me what I would prefer instead of a glass of champagne, this would do the trick. Sweet and dry at the same time. The blend of two sours makes this an extremely balance beer.

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Photo of soulgrowl
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Extremely volatile carbonation, spraying bubbles withing itself like a fistful of sparklers. Cherrywood reddish brown when it settles, a pretty color, with a smoggy brown tinge near the top and a yellowy parchment head. Poor retention.

Smell: Extremely red wine-like, with notes of tart cherry, tobacco, yogurty lactic acid, red wind vinegar, raspberries, and oak. Sour and tart, but well-balanced and solidly put together with a toasty, brown sugary and bagel-doughy malt base. I love this style! If there are hops, they express themselves in a very delicate, possibly floral way.

Taste: Dry, very dry, and only lightly tart for the style - no bursting berry flavors like those of the Duchesse or Rodenbach, but it is lightly fruity. Notes of apples, and, noticeably, cranberries are ample, with a whole-grain bready malt foundation. Clear notes of oak, or maybe maple, add a classy character while the vinegary tartness helps keep things bright.

Mouthfeel: Light and nicely effervescent - a tad too watery, perhaps, as the bubbles are very fine. Very clean and dry.

Drinkability: Yum! A pleasant, mild yet interesting Flanders red.

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

Appearance: A rich reddish-brown body capped by a little less than two fingers of creamy off-white head that fade slowly and leave great lacing.

Aroma: Sour and tart with lots of great cherry, sweet malt, musty, and vinous notes--mouthwatering and inviting.

Flavor: A great mix of sweet and sour flavors: lots of fruit (cherries, raspberries, and grapes mostly), wood, a slight acidity, and a base of toffee-like malt. Not overly sour, it's all balanced superbly. The aftertaste is wine-like, funky, and occasionally a little metallic.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with lots of great effervescent carbonation. A drying finish.

Drinkability: As long as you aren't totally put off by sour flavors, this is a highly drinkable brew.

Verdict: Brimming with character and depth, Monk's Café is a terrific beer that really satisfies when I'm craving a sweet and sour beer. If you've never had a sour and you're looking for a safe start, or if you're just looking for something a little different, this would be a great choice.

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Photo of BrewsCrewSA
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out with a beautiful, tan head. High in carbonation; deep ruby, and rusty brown in color, looks very inviting. Head retains well, dissipates after a few, appears to have some sediment on the bottom, not sure if this is normal. Still, a great looking beer.

Faint scents of alcohol and berries, not much here, but still pleasant. Smell reminds me of those few, Belgian krieks such as Cantillon, and Lindeman's Kriek and Gueze.

Tastes great. Just an amazing, tasty quality that's hard to define. I liken it to melting a few red Sweet Tarts on your tongue. That, plus the faint, goodness of alcohol notes toward the back of the palate. A great, sweet flavor that's hard to resist. One of the best Belgian beers I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is incredible, maybe an even better quality than the taste. I was expecting tart, bitterness; what I got instead was a mellow, sweet pleasantness that was happily surprising. Exceedingly smooth, cool, refreshing.

I guess they eliminated drinkability from the review categories, but OVERALL, a great Belgian effort. I personally much prefer this to the redundant, Tripels and Quadruppels. They all taste like apple juice anyway. This Red Ale, I highly recommend.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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...

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,098 ratings.