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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

2,439 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,439
Reviews: 1,049
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 190 | FT: 3
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,439 | Reviews: 1,049 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of metter98
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer poured hazy dark reddish brown in color into a snifter glass with a finger sized off white head that faded into a thin layer of bubbles that consistently covered the surface. A light amount of carbonation is visible from the rising bubbles.
S: There are sweet and sour aromas of cherries in the nose along with some notes of oak.
T: Like the smell, there is a good balance between sweetness and sourness in the flavors, which have notes of tart cherries and hints of other fruits such as apples. The finish is slightly sweet.
M: It feels light-bodied and smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is extremely easy to drink because it has well-balanced flavors and neither the sweetness nor sourness is overpowering.

metter98, Aug 24, 2010
Photo of GRG1313
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

GRG1313, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of kjkinsey
3/5  rDev -21.9%

kjkinsey, Jan 30, 2012
Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  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

brentk56, Mar 22, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A slightly sourish and sweetly malted Flander's Red with tart cherries, wine-like vinous, oaky-tawny beer with flawed flavors of cider, vinegar, and metal flavor.

Maroon and gold, the beer gives a slight haze and a dainty head that struggles for life during the first half pour but then succumbs. No lacing or legging.

Cherry flavor leads the fruity way with hints toward under rippened berries, crabapples, and lemons. Acidic notes bridge the gap between fruitiness and lactic sourness. Before the beer gets too tart, the malts wrangle the wilder elements and engulf them in a sweeter and chocolatey way. Tanic oak-like flavors give balance in the absence of hops.

Palate cleansing lactic tartness gives medium astringency and acidic bite early, but the malts kick in for a smoother and sweeter finish.

A delightful beer but not as clean or controlled as more noted beers in the style; like Rodenbach.

BEERchitect, Mar 05, 2006
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a brownish red color beer with a medium off-white foamy head with some pretty good retention. Aroma is quite sour and you can already feel the effect of the oak on this beer. Taste is quite acid with some subtle sweetness at the end. Cheery feels is less present then in the Rodenbach Grand Cru but can still be detected. Overall, I find this one to be a good Flemish sour ale and would even say that it seems to be underrated compared to some other Flemish Sour ale.

Phyl21ca, Mar 11, 2008
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overcast, orange-infused apple cider brown on the coaster... lucent dark cherry when held up to my sunlit front window. The pale caramel colored cap looked (and sounded) excessively fizzy immediately after the pour, but has settled down nicely and may last for a bit. It looks like melted styrofoam, though, and lacks character. A few blips of lace is about it.

The aroma is classic for the style and is immensely appealing. It's sour, snappy, tart, tangy, acidic, acetic... take your pick. If forced to come up with a difference between this beer and others of the style that I've tried, I'd say this one is less funky than some.

You better be a fan of SOUR if you plan to drink and enjoy Flanders reds. I can't imagine a more salivary gland-squinching beverage than this one that would still be drinkable. I feel a need to wait for my mouth to unpucker between each sip. Unripe fruit (cherries and green apples especially) comes to mind, although I know that no fruit is used.

Again, funkiness is at a minimum. That isn't to say the yeast strain is a slacker. It's just that it excels at acid production and is otherwise exceptionally clean. Even though my Flanders red experience is minimal, I feel that Monk's Cafe, while perhaps not the best on the planet, is as classic and as representative of the style as any other.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium, with just a hint of stickiness on the finish. I'm amazed at how well the airy, well-carbonated, exceptionally clean mouthfeel dovetails with the flavor of the beer. Any heavier or more clingy and it wouldn't work nearly as well.

No matter how much I enjoy a good Flanders red, I'm perfectly content to go weeks or even months between bottles since my tolerance for sour is a fraction of my tolerance for bitter. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Red is an excellent version, though. If I'm ever in Philadelphia, I'll make it a point to stop in at Monk's for a glass. What the hell, maybe two.

BuckeyeNation, May 07, 2006
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev +4.2%

jaydoc, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of kylehay2004
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Half finger head with excellent lacing on a deep amber body which is very clear. Aroma of dark cherry, not too sweet, with caramel. Simple but many of these tend to be. Flavor is also dark cherry dominant which initially seemed too sweet but this one mellows out. The flavor tastes a little too artificial though, almost like kool aid. Light but oily body and light to moderate carbonation. Not an amazing sour ale. Not terrible just not all that memorable.

kylehay2004, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of mikesgroove
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

mikesgroove, Apr 24, 2009
Photo of womencantsail
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Total Wine in Tustin and poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: An opaque reddish-brown color with an red-tinted foam which quickly subsides.

S: The nose is full of sour cherries, vinegar, and oak. There also seems to be some hints of sweetness coming through the pungent and strong aromas.

T: The taste is quite similar to the nose. The oak flavor is very prominent, as are the dark fruits. The vinegar component is a somewhat muted, compared to the aroma. Overall, the beer is tart, but not overwhelmingly so.

M: The beer is medium in body with a dry finish, and mild astringency. I enjoy this type of dryness in a beer.

D: The flavors are good, and it's certainly not a beer that will knock you over with alcohol. But, the vinegar character and the dryness lead to the beer being something you can't drink too much of.

womencantsail, Oct 31, 2009
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

westcoastbeerlvr, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

SocalKicks, Oct 21, 2013
Photo of oberon
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep red with abrownish tint with about a 1/4 inch head that leaves some nice lacing,aroma is of sour cherries and light mineral notes.Taste is hits ya with a big sour note that slides into some stone-like qualities with that sour lemon flavor always there to linger.This style is not my cup of tea for sure but this beer is complex with alot of different flavors well made.

oberon, Oct 02, 2003
Photo of largadeer
3.05/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: 11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass, because I'm a fuckin' rebel. Clear but dark ruby red with great head retention, no sediment. Nice looking stuff.

Smell: Sweet and sour, with an emphasis on the sweet; balsamic vinegar, a bit of cherry cough syrup, slightly mineral/metallic. Pretty middle of the road for the style.

Taste & mouthfeel: Fruity sweetness followed by mild sourness, which leads way to a sweet/sour finish. I'd like a bit less sweetness, but this is pleasant enough. Mouthfeel is a touch syrupy. Decent, but far from great.

largadeer, Jul 30, 2008
Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Sloeber tulip glass.

Another one of those you have many times and realize you've yet to review it. Or maybe Im the only one? This guy pours a clear dark ruby-brown topped by a steadfast head of khaki foam. The nose comprises vinegar, tart lemon, figs, white grapes, wet grass, and black pepper. The taste holds notes of red grapes, sour raspberries, candi sugar, and a touch of honey bringing up the rear. The body is fairly light, with a moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a decent brew, but a little too timid for what it is. Something like that.

TMoney2591, Jul 23, 2010
Photo of emerge077
3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2012:
Alright, i've stayed away from this one for almost 4 years after a bad bottle (it was really terrible, likely infected in a bad way). Revisiting it, there are still certain character flaws, namely an unpleasant aroma (dishrag) and overcharged carbonation. Getting past that though, there were some nice flavors of grape and apple that came out as it warmed, but still somewhat one dimensional. It was prickly and overcarbonated, with astringency amplifying the tartness. None of the sweetness that was present in the 2007 bottle. Overall it wasn't terrible, but there are far better Flemish ales out there, Namely Rodenbach, La Folie, Jacobins, etc.

02-03-2007 2.7/5 rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

For the record, i'm a big fan of sour ales and traditional lambics. My experience with this "Flemish Red" however was seriously subpar.

Dark burgundy brown, a thin ring of bubbles skim the top.

Smells like a donkey with bad hygiene. Stale oats and musky urine...not in the good "horseblanket" way either. Artificial sweetness chimes in. A foul stank on this that surpasses Gueuze, just completely unappealing.

Taste is initially tart and medicinal, becoming sweet, then almost cloying in the finish. Notes of copper, blood, black cherry, and phenolic medicinal funk. Mouthfeel is thin, yields some mouth-watering tartness, but ultimately doesn't deliver. Some carbonation carries it along.

Hard to finish one bottle.

Notes: Not the best example of a Flanders Red, not even a good one. This seems altered from a traditional recipe to somehow cater to the US market. Skip this bastardized Flanders Red and go for the real thing, Rodenbach, Goudenband, etc.

emerge077, Jan 21, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +4.2%

JAHMUR, Feb 15, 2012
Photo of zeff80
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, dark burgundy color with a one-finger, light brown colored head of foam. Okay retention and it left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled of sour black cherries and was slightly phenolic.

T - It had great sour fruit flavors - like black cherry and grapes.

M - It was crisp with a slightly puckering bite. A light to medium bodied ale with a very dry finish.

D - This is a really nice sour ale. It makes a great brew for a lengthy solo session.

zeff80, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a not that sour and way overpriced bottle in my opinion. at nearly 5 bucks for a shortie, i expected a bit more. pours a molasses looking redish brown color with an active off white head thats nice and thick. smells like tart fruit, not brett or anything like that. notes of oak as well as mild spice on the nose. flavor is sour cherries, brown sugar, and funky yeast. things are balanced well, but this is a pretty tame version of a flemish sour ale. not puckery or tangy at all, just a hint of vinegar as it goes down. feel is nice, bright bubbles and a medium body made to feel quite airy by the carbonation. overall a well made beer, but i prefer my sours with a bit more punch, especially for the price.

StonedTrippin, Apr 30, 2012
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A slightly hazy (but surprisingly clear given the style) mahogany body appears reddish in the glass and reveals crimson, ruby and orange highlights when held to the light. The creamy off-white head holds quite well and leaves some nice streaks and splotches of sticky lace throughout the glass. The nose is vinous with tempting, delicate, tart cherries and what appears to be some oakiness. It's not as bold as many other examples of the style, and it's certainly cleaner; but it is quite nice. A gentle massage of soft, fine carbonation washes over the tongue as it warms to become slightly creamy. The body is light, and it's quite smooth. Again, it's more delicate than many examples but very nice in its own way. The flavor mimics the nose with mildly vinous cherry and raspberry. It's acidity is restrained in comparison to most, and it's quite refreshing without becoming puckering. There's a bit of an oak character to it and it finishes dry with a slight astringency; but the sticky-sweet residue of many other examples is not present. Overall, this is a quite refreshing and enjoyable beer that represents the style well, but is somewhat restrained in comparison to most others.

NeroFiddled, Aug 02, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +4.2%

WVbeergeek, Oct 09, 2013
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.

nickfl, Mar 05, 2007
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 1/25/09 at Julian's in Providence, RI, served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is cherries, light malts and a vinegary sourness.

T: The taste is very nicely balanced for a sour ale, with flavors of tart cherries and other dark fruits. The sourness seems to creep in slowly rather than hitting intensely. The malt character is thin and there's very little hops presence as you would expect. The after-taste is slightly sour.

M: Smooth and very crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I'm not usually a sour ale fan but is one that I liked and is worth drinking for a while.

TheManiacalOne, Jan 27, 2009
Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clouded and very dark ruby that has a light tan head at first but falls fast to nothing. Nose is not overpowering by any means by carries a wood tone and a slight yeast edge. Seems to be a touch of cherries on there as well. Flavor starts off fairly mild but moved to a cherry sugary sweet ending tone with a pretty firm wood overall tone. I kind of wish the flavor profile would stick around longer. Feel is good. Nice liquid feel with a good level of carbonation and bubble hitting my tongue. Drinkable, yes. The more and more I have of this style, the more and more I like it. And this one has helped to further my appreciation.

RblWthACoz, Dec 31, 2007
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
87 out of 100 based on 2,439 ratings.