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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.
BA SCORE
86
very good

1,093 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,093
Hads: 2,713
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 78
Gots: 355 | FT: 6
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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,093 | Hads: 2,713
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. (482 characters)

Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
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. (556 characters)

Photo of emerge077
3.04/5  rDev -20.8%
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. (1,712 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
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. (1,959 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
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. (470 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 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. (382 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
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. (847 characters)

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. (713 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
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. (577 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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. (1,187 characters)

Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one I'm surprised I haven't reviewed.

Light fiizzy head, darker toasty brown color.

Nose of sweet malts, fruit, apple, pear, cider like, vinegar, light lactic acid and very light sour tartness.

Taste is sweeter, light toasty brown malts, fruits with apple pear and tart fruit flavors, light sour and tart.

Mouth is lighter bodied with good carbonation.

Overall not bad, basically what I call the introduction to sours and wilds, etc. It's a light sour tart beer but nice and malty at the same time. And very drinkable. (532 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.88/5  rDev +1%
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. (832 characters)

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first review of a Flanders Oud Bruin style beer. Had a bunch of Belgians the other weekend and found I really have a liking towards their beer, this one being no exception. Pours a brownish red color, not much head or carbonation. Super tasty and sour, a bit of a dry finish. Some nice cherry tones in the mouthfeel. Pretty good beer and I like the style, might be hard to have a few of these in a sitting but as it is, it's a delicious beer. (445 characters)

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. (639 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can't remember if rphogan or jwc215 sent me this, cheers to all!

Pours brown with 1 finger of cream head. Above average lacing & very good head retention

S: Intense tartness & some oakyness

T: Strong woody taste, along with some vinaigrette & hints of apple vinegar up front. I get iron, oakyness & a touch of leather, plus dryness & tartness as this warms. Finishes oaky, tart & puckery with hints of leafy hops & figs fighting through

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation

Drinks pretty good for the style, probably not sour enough for true Flemish red fans. I liked this one (584 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reddish brown color, utterly transparent at the foot of the glass, with a bountiful head, lush, toffee-toned, creamy...very likable look.

Aroma: sour, cherries, underlying yeasty notes..that covers it!Right on target for style, without going overboard.

Taste: ooo, puckering at first, 'course I'm a sour ale wuss, apparently, than it slips away and a bite of sweetness as it leaves the mouth. Like a bite of sour cherries, then ah. Refreshing, despite the puckeration, and 3 sips in, I'm acclimated. Each subsequent meeting of glass and lip is overarchingly happy. Sour, then fruity, and a little sweet, lingering woody brown ale character at the finish.
Medium bodied, long, solid finish, tangy texture.

Fans of Flemish Sours can't go wrong with this one. They're a rabid bunch, but I know this'll please 'em. (821 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From 09/04/10 notes. Poured from a 750ML bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour cherries, dark fruit, raspberries, and a hint of funk.

t - Tastes of sour cherries and other dark fruits mostly. Some fruity malts and spice as well.

m - Light to medium body and high carbonation.

d - Thought this was a a pretty good flanders; my girlfriend loves this beer. I enjoyed the sour cherries in the smell and taste and wish it was a little less carbonated, but definitely a good beer. Will definitely be getting more of this for my girlfirend and will definitely have some as well. (674 characters)

Photo of superspak
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/17/2011. Pours slightly cloudy deep ruby red/brown color with a 2 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of tart cherry, green apple, pear, raisin, plum, fig, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, cider vinegar, leather, hay, straw, grass, musty funk, light oak, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/funky yeast, dark/bready malt, and light oak notes; with solid strength. Taste of tart cherry, green apple, pear, raisin, plum, fig, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, cider vinegar, leather, hay, straw, grass, musty funk, light oak, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Light fruity/earthy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of tart cherry, green apple, pear, raisin, plum, fig, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, cider vinegar, leather, hay, straw, grass, musty funk, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice complexity and balance of fruity/funky yeast, dark/bready malt, and light oak notes; with a good sweetness/tartness balance and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, crisp, and slightly creamy/acidic mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a nice Flanders Oud Bruin style. All around good complexity and balance of fruity/funky yeast, dark/bready malt, and light oak flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. More of an entry level sour for sure, but has all of the normal flavors I would expect from the style; just more toned down and approachable. A nicely enjoyable offering. (1,838 characters)

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

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a tulip.

A - Pours opaque reddish brown with a fizzy half finger tall off white head leaving little to no lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of tart sour cherries, oak, some lactic sourness, and a light sugary sweetness. Not as funky as I was expecting it to be, still a decent amount of sourness tho.

T - Starts off with a bright lactic sourness that fades quickly leaving hints of tart cherries, candied sugar, dry oak tannins, and some dark fruit. Finish is a mix of light sourness and sticky sweetness, lingering for a short time. This was ok at best.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Good amount of pucker initially quickly dieing down leaving a sticky sweet feel. Finish is a mix of light sourness and lingering sweetness.

O - This is far from a bad beer, but it really never wowed me. I liked the flavors but the sourness cut out far too quickly and you were left with an overly sweet red ale. (963 characters)

Photo of jwc215
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass:

Pours mahogany with a one-finger+ off white head that descends to about half the size and stays. Lacing sticks to glass.

The smell is mildly sour, vinuous, candy in the back.

The taste is sour/grapefruity/vinuous. Candy sweetness mixes in to give it a sweettart, dry finish.

Appropriately light-bodied and rather mild (but tasty) for the style, this is an easy drinker. It isn't as sour as other classic examples, but has a nicely balanced sourness to it and could be a good intro to the style. A nicely done brew. Could pair well with grapes and creamy cheeses. (601 characters)

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

Purchased at a local beer bar. I did not see a date on the label or the bottle but it was pretty dark. The menu described this beer as "The Dr. Pepper of the beer world" -- That bar needs to fire its writer. It was not that, not that at all and that is not what I expect from a Flanders.

Beer is served in a tulip, beer is clear with a white head. The beer is brown but at the brown / red interface of colors. Looks awesome. Head is weak and lacing is way down, carbonation is low. Not odd for the style.

Kind of an odd aroma with this one. Slight sour with a hint of sweet caramel, with an acetic aroma at the backend, maybe a little citric.

Beer first is pretty thin. Not watery, just no body. Its starts out sweet but the sweetness gives way to a strong and dominant balsamic vinegar taste. The finish is tart. There is also an odd, woodsey, aftertaste that degrades my pleasure. This is an OK beer but has not been my favorite Flanders. (943 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours deep red to mahogany with a fluffy off-white head and some visible carbonation. There is very good head retention and large bubbles in the head. Very little lacing.

S: Overall the aromas are light in this beer but complex with hints of cherry, raspberry, and cranberry. There is a slight amount of mustiness and hints of some spices.

T: Flavors of cherry/raspberry/cranberry followed by slight sourness and a little bit of funk.

M: Light to medium bodied and smooth with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: I really enjoyed this as a sessionable beer as it is light and easy to drink that would allow it to pair with many different foods. I really enjoyed the acidity in the beer. (694 characters)

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

Cork comes off with a nice pop.

Poured into bruery snifter.

Pours about 1/2 finger of light khaki head. Fades to a thin layer and leaves some splattered lace. Color is a dark ruby hued caramel brown.

Aroma: There is a nice amount of cherries up front, some sour notes that follow, but not overly sour. It seems to have a decent amount of fruit flavor to complement the cherry upfront, Granny smith apples come to mind. I get some oak as well. The aroma is pretty solid.

Taste: The cherries are again up front, but the taste is different compared to the aroma. It has some different fruit flavors here, sour grapes and raspberry, and more of a funky taste. The green apple flavor is here, but not as defined. I actually get a cider flavor out of this beer. The malts also stick out a lot more. The oak flavor is a lot less too.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, smooth, and a little sour. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry and funky.

Overall, this is a pretty decent beer. My expectations were not that high for it, but it not only met them, but exceeded them. A very nice sipper. I am definitely savoring it. It isn't as sour as I would like, but I still think it is good. (1,199 characters)

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

A: Pours a really nice deep red/burgundy with a light tan head that reduced to a thin layer of foam on top. Nice sheets of lacing.

S: Light, tart cherries. A little bit of wood and vinegar.

T: Nice cherry flavor, a bit less tart then I was expecting. The cherry flavor transitions to slight oxidized flavor that remains on the flavor profile on the finish.

M: Medium bodied with nice carbonation.

O: Nice aroma and upfront flavors, but the oxidation was a bit much, giving it a metallic finish that was a bit unpleasant. (526 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,093 ratings.