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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

1,097 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,097
Hads: 2,759
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 81
Gots: 372 | 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: 1,097 | Hads: 2,759
Photo of albern
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a slightly cloudy brown, with some lacing and foaming on the edges. There is a goodly amount of carbonation, and the smell has all the characteristics of a really nice sour Flemish red. But it stops there. Monk's is a little watery, has a subdued cherry flavor, with other citrus present, but lacks the sourness that one would come to expect with the style. Duchesse and Rodenbach this isn't, and too bad. I was looking forward to the tartness, the chartreuse, the sweet cherry and citrus flavors, but this is lacking in all of the above. It's not a bad ale by any measure, but it just lacks the complexity, the sourness, the chewiness of the better Flemish sour ales so representative of the style. This might be a good initiate into the style for those unfamiliar with the unique qualities of the Flemish reds, but beyond that, why stop at Monk's when there are better available.

I had this on tap at the Sunset Grill in Allston, MA, December 2007. This is a very nice ale on tap, actually much fresher, more refreshing, and eminently more sippable than what I experienced out of the bottle. I would add another full point to this beer on tap.

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Photo of swissmiss805
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love this beer. My first Flemish sour, it was a gateway beer to the style, leading me to all kinds of Duchesse (not a fan) and Cantillons, yet I always go back to Monks. It has all the tartness and acidity without the overly sweetness that can come with the style. Really, I'm just writing this review as a public forum for anyone who's spotted it in NYC/Brooklyn. Please let me know if you've bought/drank it in the area I miss the Monks!

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

Poured a dark reddish brown with a small white head. Smell is all sour apples. Has a much more pronounced sourness than I was expecting. I thought this would be along the same lines of a Rodenbach or a Duchesse. However, there is none of that sour cutting sweetness present in this beer. Reminded me somewhat of a La Roja, but without the complexities. Mouthfeel was OK. For this degree of sourness, a bit more carbonation would have been nice.

Drinkability is not high. This is not a bad beer, but it is a sipper, maybe even a transitional beer. Would be nice to have before or after some sweeter reds, but 2 of these is a row would be a bit much.

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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 Bierguy5
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle, with the code 01 HE on the back. Cloudy, reddish brown color. Decent off white rocky head, which holds together well.

Sour berry aroma, with a bit of funky notes as well. Not a whole lot else.

Flavors begin with a puckering sensation, but quickly backs off. What is left is a bit tart, but not what was expected. Some slightly sour cherries, and dark berries, combine with a bit of earthy and musty flavors. The finish is very earthy, and dry.

Light body, with a good amount of carbonation. Seems to be light in alcohol, and pretty easy to drink.

Overall, not bad, but not as sour as I was hoping, or as the aroma would lead me to believe. The finish was not very good, which hurts the drinkability. This may be a good, non-intimidating intro into sour beers, but not at the top of the list for me.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

murky red brown, with not much of a head to speak of.
sour, flowery cherry aroma, with a faint basement funkiness. hints of wood, and oddly enough every once in a while i get a licorice smell. malty caramel comes out slightly underneath the sour fruit.
sour cherry flavors up front, with a tart apple skin or core flavor following behind. i actually get some malt-like sweetness towards the back half. very faint mustiness.
medium bodied with soft carbonation and puckering sourness.
drinkability is good enough, as the beer i pleasantly refreshing. though not hugely complex, this is a nice tasting flemish sour that does nicely if you're in a pinch for a sour beer fix..

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Photo of BamaScholar
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was pleased to find any Flanders Red Ale or Sour Ale here in Nashville, which, while improving, is hardly a Mecca for interesting fare.

It was a nice pour--the beer is a beautiful garnet tone. I may have even awarded a 5 if there were more carbonation, a better head. This may not be characteristic for the style, however.

The nose is quite unusual, the sour is there! It's like soaked cherries and a bit of musty earth.

It's not really terribly sour, just enough sweetness and bite to make for a balanced and refreshing mouthful.

Again, I could almost use a little more carbonation here, as it seems a little flat. But the dryness is quite nice. "Ahhhh" producing.

Delicious beer but one or two is plenty at-a-go. I will definitely be seeking more examples of the style.

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Photo of brentk56
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy garnet color with a one inch head that caps nicely and leaves traces of foam down from the original head line

Smell: Sweet and sour cherry yoghurt and a bit of wood

Taste: Starts out with a comfortable blend of sweet and lactic sour cherry that builds in sourness, mid-palate; after the swallow, the wood flavor joins in and blends to the finish, which leans to the sweet rather than the sour

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thick and yoghurty with plenty of carbonation

Drinkability: Not as complex as some other Flemish Reds, this is nonetheless very enjoyable, particularly for those who are not enamored by sour beers but like an occasional stroll on the sour side

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Photo of BeerHonky
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

While there's always something wonderful to be said about Monk's Cafe, I have to say that this beer was a little bit of a bummer. The beer looks beautiful. It pours a wonderfully bright reddish brown with a nice fluffy, pale khaki head. It smells sweet and wild and yeasty. A bit of fruityness can be detected here I'd say, but nothing out of the ordinary. The taste starts out really sweet and tart. Almost gummi bear-ish, obviously not as sweet as that, but a little too sweet in my mind for a flemmish sour. There's a decent bit of sourness and a hint of wood that appears after that first blast of sweet and tart changes into a wild and funky aftertaste if you don't go for another sip too soon. The mouthfeel is very refreshing with its scrubby, spritzy carbonation. I must say though, this isn't highly drinkable due to its level of sweetness. Again, I was a little bummed.

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Photo of JimsArcade
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a tulip glass, a minimal silky white head topped this reddish-brown ale. A gorgeous looking beer.

S: It has a lot less funk than I would've expected. Its aroma is mild with a hint of sour but non-citric fruits.

T: This is the least sour example I've ever tasted of this style. It tastes of tart cherries, minus some of the associated sweetness. Hints of lemon are also present.

M: Absolutely silky. The carbonation is just perfect, and it's just thin enough that my tastebuds aren't overpowered.

D: Surprisingly for a sour ale, I could see myself drinking several of these in a sitting. It's mildness compared to other sour ales I've sampled makes this the most drinkable example of the style I can think of.

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Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice reddish brown color. Creamy, slightly off white head that settles quickly, but leaves a film on top and nice laceing.

S - Sour, lactic aroma. Musty, horse blanket with notes of orange and cherries.

T - Sweet and bright, with refreshing acidity of course. Citric character, reminicent of grapefruit zest. Still detecting a cherry like note, black cherry. Lingering maltyness in the finish.

M - Puckering and dry from the acidity. Good level of carbonation keeps it light on the palate.

D - Very drinkable beer, as a flemish red should be. Less acidity than some examples of this style, which makes it less intense and easier to drink, but it is also not as complex as something like Rodenbach.

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Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz. Bottle
Binny's Orland

Monk's Cafe Flemish sour poured with a crystal clear crimson red body into a tulip. Very dark unless held directly to the light. 2 finger light tan head formed but quickly fled back to a solid half finger. Minor spotty lacing.

The smell begins with barnyard funk and lots of it. Ragweed and horse blanket run throughout the aroma. Super tart cranberries show up along with the occasional sour cherry. Smells refreshing.

Starts with a quick flash of tart cranberries that gives that small pucker. Quickly followed by the barnyard and ragweed aromas. The finish throws a quick flash of sweet cherries at me and is then followed up by a mildly tart cherry finish. A small metallic twang on the finish as well.

Mouthfeel is light and refreshing. Lighter body with prickly carbonation. Bone dry finish.

This is a refreshing beer and the light body helps with the easy drinking.

This is only my second sour ale. The first was awhile back and I couldn't take it. I figured I'd give another sour a shot and this was a pretty refreshing drink. A lot different than what I remembered from my last expierence. I'm looking forward to trying different sours in the future.

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Photo of Kudashov
1.56/5  rDev -59.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

12 .oz bottle with my belvoved Manic Street Preachers - " Design For Life " on the Hi-Fi .Poured into my Stella Artois glass . This was a call from Dan at Marty's . I enjoy talkiing to Dan about beer and his call on the Avery Hog Heaven was very good but this was not . I guess sour is not my style . Color was a dark red burgundy color with a one finger head that did not last long . Cider / sour apples and cherries . Tasing this is not as sour as I thought it was going to be but the flavor is everywhere and the finish is bleh . It was not overly sour that turn me off but it was a tad watery and the flavors again are everywhere . Really had to fight it to get it down . Not a drain pour but close .

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Photo of beermanbrian
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy brown apple cider look. Very little head. Nothing appealing about the look at all. Smell is all sour fruit, this is what i was expecting. Cherry notes and maybe it's just the apple cider appearance but i think i pick up notes of sour apple too. Taste is sour, but not completely mouthpuckering sour. It's an interesting taste for sure but not over the top. I don't have much to compare this one too style wise but this is pretty much what i expected. Other than the rather drab appearance, a beer that is worth a try.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single bottle purchased at City Wide in Mishawaka. A very pretty beer in my tulip glass. Perfect look to it, all clear and devilishly red with a fancy soft head and great looking lacing. Stinks like cranberries, sour cherries and red wine. Lots of odor to it = inviting. Taste is tart, but surprizing in that its really not all that complex. Dry cherry flavor, biscuity malt and vague cranberries and they all fade rather fast. Its a lot softer and less aggressive than i imagined it would be from the nose. Alcohol is almost imperceptible. Its a nice beer, overall, but its not, i think, the best of its kind.

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Photo of OStrungT
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a murky brown solor, with a thin tan head. The head fades slowly, leavingfew laces.

This beer has a sour fruity aroma. I smell cherries. It smells tart. It also has a slightly sweet malty aroma. That is about it.

This beer tastes much like it smells. A mild tart cherry flavor. It is slightly sour with some sweet malty flavor.

This beer is hightly carbonated. It leaves a sour aftertaste.

This beer would not make a great session beer. It is sour, and would quickly become overbearing.

Overall: This beer was good, but then I usually enjoy anything from this style.

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Photo of beveritt
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 11.2oz brown bottle into a snifter. Label depicts an oak barrel with the image of a monk on the side. No discernible freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with 3/8 inch of almost white, creamy head. This settles fairly quickly into a thin coating with islands of foam here and there. Nice lacing. The beer itself is perfectly clear and a deep brown red. The red hue only really comes out when the glass is held up to a light. A very small amount of sediment in the bottle.

Smell: A sour, tart cherry-like aroma, with sweet, syrupy undertones.

Taste: A tart, fruity flavor, with a lingering sour finish. Really tastes as if sour cherries, raspberries, or perhaps strawberries had been added to this beer, the yeast effect is amazing.

Mouthfeel: Average level of carbonation and body.

Drinkability: This is my first red ale, I have been dying to try one for a long time. I was worried it may be too sour, the kind of drink you couldn't really stand to have too many of. However, this is not the case, this is a tart and crisp refreshing drink. I am looking forward to trying more.

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Photo of Cresant
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured this 11.2 oz brown bottle into a Triple Karmeliet glass. No date. Moderate off-white head faded to a ring and island. Color was prunejuice, brown with mauve tints. Cloudiness cleared as the sediments settled. Foamy splotches of lace stick to the sides.

Smell was metallic at first. Mild, aged balsamic vinegar. Sugary sweet. Not especially pungent.

Taste reflected the smell. Woody and vinous elements were evident. Refreshingly sour, but not as sour as other Flanders Reds I have tried. Plesant but not as extreme as many.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and effervescent. Nice.

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Photo of AudioGilz
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm not that well experienced with the flanders red ale style, so I didn't know what to expect with this one. I am certainly glad I picked this one up though.

It pours with a high amount of carbonation, yet there is no head to speak of, just a small ring of lace around the top; liquid itself is an enticing dark translucent ruby.

I can't get much out of smelling this beer, hints of sour candy, and old musty aged lambic character.

Immediately puckering on the first few sips, the brew presents a high amount of carbonation, and strong sour fruit character. I can't really pinpoint one particular fruit, it's just more of a general sour candy kind of feel.

The finish is dry on the palate with just enough sweetness to make it interesting and actually quite pleasing after the first few sips. It definitely becomes much more enjoyable as it warms a bit and you work your way down.

My first experience with this style is definitely a good one and I recommend this beer.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Zorro for the bottle.

Appearance: Very dark murky brown body, big head fades to just an off-white band.

Smell: Extremely sour and fruit/vinous, mildy malty.

Taste: Not as sour you would imagine, but you get the idea of what it is going for. The malt is smooth and a touch grassy and metallic, but sweeet and sour overall. Not the most overpowering, but very easy to enjoy.

Drinkability: While not my favorite in the style, still a very drinkable Flemish Ale.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked this one up at Lee's Liquor off of Lake Mead in Las Vegas this week.

Appearance: Pours a pretty clear reddish garnet color with a small, but persistent, of white head. After drinking the beer, there is some sporadic lacing left on the glass.

Aroma: Light sweet caramel is the first impression that I get. I definitely get some wood with this beer, and this melds with a sweetness and a cherry that are truly defined. There is an evident cherry impression in the nose of this beer, and that hints at the mild sourness to come in the sip.

Taste: The flavor is really mild and clean with some slight tartness. The cherry and the wood are big players in the flavor, but the rest of the beer comes across as really eserved and clean. The finish is wet rather than dry and attenuated like most other examples of this style. The beer is clean with no alcohol apparent.

Opinion: This is a pretty god beer. I am a big fan of the sour ales, and this one is really reserved for this category. I would drink it again, but mostly with newbies to sour beers.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Body is a turbid brown hue with ruby red highlights, topped by a modest off-white head. Tangy aroma that is typical of a Flemish sour - tart cherries, Belgian malt, some light, floral Euro hops, and a decent bit of astringency. Palate is along the same lines, with tart sour cherry dominating up front, becoming more balanced with the light brown malt by mid-palate. Finish is again tart, with a light flash of hoppiness before the swallow. The astringency doesn't linger as long as some other sours, but definitely makes its presence known. Body is a light and spritzy, maybe a touch foamy at times. Be gentle with this one. I've never been a huge fan of sour ales, but this one is passable.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Muddy brown with some minor reddish highlights. Nice, fruity aroma with a touch of sourness to it. Very berry like smell to it. Moderately sour flavor. A slight hint of fruit to it. Finishes quite dry. Good mouthfeel-very bright an effervescent on the palate. A very drinkable and enjoyable beer. I knock it down a bit for drinkability as it gets to be too much for me after 1 or 2. Dont let that stop you.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very murky brown with ruby highlights. Not much head. The smell is malt vinegar and late sweet malt. Tastes quite sour with a spicy taste redolent of cinnamon on the finish. The mouthfeel is alittle rough and non-integrated for me, but its a quite refreshing brew.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I do not recall having ever had a Flanders Red before now. I was really uncertain what to expect. Sitting on the table in the glass, it is reddish-brown in colour, with spotty patches of frost on the surface. It looks a bit murky. When held up in front of a light bulb, it becomes clear that this in indeed very red in colour, and while still a bit cloudy, it isn't as "muddy" as it appears sitting on the table.
The smell is a bit wine-like. It actually "smells" sour. There is also a damp basement smell present, as well, like you'd find with a gueuze or a saison. Having never had this style before, I am unsure what this should be like, but my suspicion is that this is right on target for the style. Taste is tart and sour all the way through. No bitterness or anything else. Pure lip-puckering tartness. I like this very much. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and pleasant with a lower level of CO2. Quite drinkable. I'm fairly impressed with this one, and certainly glad I tried it. I'll probably buy this again.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,097 ratings.