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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 Jwale73
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle served in my new Chouffe N'Ice 25 cl flute at 52 degrees (wish I had let this chill down a little more). Poured a translucent chestnut with a tight two inch off-white head pock-marked on the surface, but composed of compressed, tiny bubbles along the shoulders; head eventually recedes into a consistent, dense cap. A half moon band of lacing coats one side of the glass with spatters coating the opposite side of the bowl. Nose indicated some acidity off the bat; suggests sour cherries. Taste consistent with nose, but sour character is muted and even; not overly bold upfront but consistent throughout the tasting experience. Mouthfeel is light and lively with a slight acidity at the finish. Easy drinking and flavorful with a low abv makes this a great introduction for sour beer newbies (like myself).

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Photo of rfgetz
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish mahogany color, dense and creamy off white head, good retention and lacing.
Smell is of new red wine - slightly vinous, acidic and oaky. Taste brings the wine-like flavors with a big hit of balsamic vinegar and adds just a hint of tart cherry and sticky sweetness. Medium bodied, slightly chewy and sticky, palate coating but without a big aftertaste. Decent beer, a little lighter than expected, possibly could use a little more aging on it.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Oak Cafe. It's got a pretty solid, burnt ruby color with a mahogany base. It seems to be somewhat translucent, although the bar I'm in is pretty dimly lit and therefore the opacity is hard to judge accurately. Basically no head on top of this one - just a small, beige ring that only stays for a minute or so before floating away.

Juicy, ripe apples and cherries outline the aromatic profile, or at least the first sniff. Residual sweetness backs up the apples nicely; a very faint tartness can be detected at times, though this is still telling me that this brew will be more sweet than sour. Time grants the ability for the beer to open up a bit; berries, darker cherries, acetic acid, light vinegar, and some mild barrel/oak.

Funk in the aroma is definitely there, but in small quantities. There's a slight "wet hay" and faint must character, but it's minimal compared to some other Belgian sours. This follows through into the flavor profile, as the first sip contains almost no funk at all, rather it's pretty heavy on the fruits - cherries, grapes, red apples. Vibrant, zesty, and juicy are good words to describe the flavors.

This beer is mildly tart, but only for a brief moment. The residual-like sugary sweetness creeps in pretty steadily and washes out any hope of this beer actually being "sour", despite the name. More vinous notes come in, although the more I drink, the more it just seems like heavy grapes rather than actual wine-barrel notes. The finish is fruit juice-like with fading cherries and grape skins, and maybe a hint of oak. Still no funk, sad to say. Snappy, crisp mouth feel, wet and slick; thin bodied with medium-heavy carbonation.

Pretty good beer, drinkability is insanely high - a 5.5% ABV beer that tastes like bold fruit juice. I would have like to see a bit more tartness or funk, as this one was kind of mild all around. But hey, perhaps that's the style they were going for. Still a nice drinking sour ale as long as you're not expecting it to be too sour (or too funky).

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Photo of dar482
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I had this on tap in Brooklyn at DBA.

The color is dark brown red with some amber on the edges.

The aroma has a sour cherry nose with some funk.

The flavor has a wonderful vinegar sour tart. It starts first is a bit of sour. Then it turns into a candied cherry. It finishes with a fake sweetness, almost like Sweet n’ Low or something.

This is a good beginner’s sour. It isn’t very sour, there isn’t much funk, and there is tons of sweetness on the end. It has a light body. It’s quite drinkable, but nothing too exciting.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear reddish brown color with a big-bubbled cream colored head. Decent retention and some nice sheets of lace on the glass.

I get some red wine vinegar smacking me in the face, damn near to the point of a nostril burning sensation. Other than that maybe some dark cherry and woody raisin aromas.

Ranks fairly high on the tart-sourness scale. Deep fruitiness reminds me of the time I was drugged to sleep by small green gnomes with red pointy hats and sealed up in a kriek barrel for two days and when I woke up, my wallet was missing. Ok, maybe not quite like that, but the fruitiness is very complex and unique. Still has a slight vinegary feel to it, but not nearly as much as the nose-twitching aroma. I like the fact that I can still detect some maltiness under all the other flavors. I dont think I have ever had a beer that has tasted this much better than it smells. Very good brew that can satisfy a sour craving quite nicely.

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Photo of champ103
4.51/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a cloudy reddish/brown color. A two finger white head forms and recedes after a minute. Light lace is left behind.
S: The aroma is of funky sourness. Ripe fruit of apples, pears, and cherries. Some vinegar, slightly acidic, and tannin aromas. Oak and wood lingers on. I can just plant my nose in the glass all day. Truly amazing.
T: Follows the nose. Lots of barnyard funky flavors and fruits. Apples and pears are most prevalent. Oak and wood. Again this is slightly acidic. Plenty of sweet sourness. Though it never becomes cloying. Very balanced between the Belgium funk and sweet fruit flavors.
M/D: This has a medium body. At first it has to much carbonation. Though as this breaths a little the beer becomes more creamy and smooth. The great balance between the fruit and sourness makes this a treat to drink. I wish the bottle would have never ended.

This is one great beer. I really enjoyed it. Something I would highly recommend.

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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 Darkmagus82
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer served a reddish brown color with a nice clarity. Upon swerving there is a thick white head floating atop the brew. The head sticks around for quite some time eventually fading to leave a decent level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is sweet and tart with lots of dark cherry and plum with souring notes of an apple cider vinegar and some lactic acid bacterial funk smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a sweet dark cherry and a little bit of sour grape and sour cherry. As the flavor advances it gets more and more sour and tart in nature, but maintains, all the while, a good level of sweetness. Apple cider vinegar and some funky yeast flavors accompany the souring and tart flavors at the end leaving a pleasant sweet and tart flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is one thinner and crisper side with tons of tiny carbonation bubbles. The prickly carbonation and thinner body are great for the sweet, sour and tart fruit flavors of the brew and help keep the tart from becoming too overpowering.

Overall – This is a great sour. It isn’t too heavy in any one component – not too sweet, sour, or tart, but the right blend of the three for a very enjoyably drinkable brew.

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Photo of AgentMunky
2.45/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a brandy snifter. Stamped 08KK 17:46.

A: A finger and a half of rich head bubbles and collapses on itself fairly quickly. The beer is barely translucent mahogany brown.

S: Poop, metal, dead skunk, and spoiled wine. This is utterly abysmal. The worst smelling beer of all time? It has not a single redeeming feature.

T: I don't like it...I wonder if something is the matter. The first 2/3 of the flavor is metallic, thin, sour, and poor. However, the last third of the taste really opens up. Fruit (grape soda), wine, tasty sourness, and candy sweetness. The aftertaste is lingeringly (sour) yeasty and perhaps the best aspect of the beer.

M: Smooth (like juice) with a tinge of carbonation. Decent. Grape juice is a recurring theme.

O: I am a pretty generous reviewer, but this is just...unacceptable. Maybe it's better on tap? At any rate, definitely NOT recommended. I will never drink this beer again.

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Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/2 inch head, chestnut colored, clear, with lots of carbonation

Smell: sour apple jumps out with a hint of cherry

Taste: old sour apple domiantes with a hint of cherry, slight malt

Mouthfeel: sour and sweet mix, tart, smooth, with a light to medium body

Drinkability: I will have this again and could have several. I found this to be an excellent value for the price. I think this would be a great starter sour as it is not as overpoweringly sour as others I have tried. The flavor is still there though.

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Photo of thagr81us
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from tap into a Trappe Door tulip. Poured a deep ruby red with a two finger very light tan head that subsided to a half finger quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, fruit, tart, cherry, vinegar, and strawberry. The flavor was of sweet malt, tart cherry, vinegar, cream, subtle wood, and strawberry. It had a light feel on the palate with high carbonation. Overall this was a good brew. I have had this one more times than I can remember out of the bottle so it was really nice to see this one on-tap for the first time. I was definitely not disappointed. All of the right flavors and aromas going on in this one in all the right places. A very refreshing brew that is great for both the beginner and the professional alike. A definite must try if you have not done so already.

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

33cl bottle $3.99 Looked red to me, decent head. Smelled a lot like glue but a cheap kind and not the top shelf Elmer's that I get from La Folie. A little vinegar in the smell also, not bad. Mildly sour but also a little one dimensional. I'd take a rodenbach or la folie over this any day.

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

Tasted on-tap on 03/09/06 at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Full ruby red color with a decent light beige head and moderate carbonation. Definite sourness in the aroma but overall a nicely balanced sweet and sour Flanders Red Ale in both aroma and flavor. Fairly mild overall for the style and therefore makes it a very approachable introduction for newcomers. Medium bodied and refreshing without being overly sour; looking forward to tasting the bottled version but it seems from previous reviews that it may not be quite as good.

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Photo of cbutova
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a gloriously dark red into my Duvel tulip. A head builds up to a few fingers but fizzes out very quickly and you can actually hear it. Dies down to a funky looking cloud and ring. A few sticky suds but looks more like wine with a mutant cloud in the middle of it.

S- Strong and sour. The aroma even made my cheeks pucker. Smells a lot like red wine, a very lot. Lots of grapes, fruit and acetic and lactic acid.

T- Pretty damn sour at first but that goes away pretty quickly. It starts off with huge fruit and vinous notes, lots of grape and dark fruit going on here. The finish is hugely unexpected, malty and very bready. The moderate sour level (after first sip) lends a great touch to these nice flavors. Vinegar levels not very present here for some reason. Wow, toward the ends this really tastes amazingly like tart cherry pits.

MF- The body is fairly light and highly carbonated. It is, however, very smooth and creamy. The sours make your cheeks pucker as the palate is coated with great fruit and vinous flavors.

DB- I bought this because it was the cheapest Belgian single on the entire shelf of a local store. Turned out to be a great buy, successfully blending wine flavors with a great malt and yeast backbone. I would be proud to have this brewed for my restaurant. Probably a one or two bottle thing but still one of the most drinkable sours I have come across.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330mL bottle -no date

appears a dark brown with ruby highlights. off-white head. decent head retention. aroma is bready, belgian yeast, a little funkiness.

taste is a little bit tart. slightly sour aftertaste, but not overpowering. medium thickness, smooth mild carbonation.

overall - drinks nice. the sourness is restrained.

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

Appearance – This red ale is brown in color with a nice head. It is very cloudy and full of small, tight bubbles.

Smell – The sour aroma is rather dull and muted by a malt that almost smells toasted in a way. I can pick up some darkly sweet citrus notes as well, giving this one a decent nose.

Taste – The sourness really kicks things up at the taste, to the extent that it’s about all I can distinguish. The light fruiting wants to come out and play but is squashed like a small bicycle seat engulfed in the ass of a circus fat woman.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation is the strong point of this barely-legal medium-bodied floozie. Otherwise this tease disappoints.

Drinkability – This sour ale went down OK but was nothing special and came in a tad under par for this prolific Belgian brewery.

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Pencible
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a mostly clear garnet with lots of tan head.
S: It smelled very metallic, with sweet prune and earthy caramel and a little balsamic vinegar and herbal hops.
T: It tasted like sweet prune and balsamic and earthy caramel, with white vinegar and metallic tin and sour Belgian yeast. It had a mouth-watering sour aftertaste that was smooth and clean.
M: It was thin with lots of carbonation. Not normally the body I like, but it really worked well for this beer.
D: This had great complexity and balance of sweet and sour. It had very nice scent and taste, with the exception of the metallic sense. Body really helped lighten the intensity of the sourness, making this easier to drink. But it's still better as a sipping beer. Age may help improve, but it's very enjoyable fresh.

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Photo of Rutager
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a pretty clear, deep amber-red with a small head that fades quickly.

Smell. Sweet and lightly sour cherries, pears, and canteloupe with some light, woody funk.

Taste. Nice sweet cherries and apples with a little sourness in the end. Very little funkyness and even less wood.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body, slightly syrupy with medium-low, fine carbonation.

Overall. Nice and easy drinking. Not a whole lot going on in this one, but a fine casual drinker for sure.

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Photo of FLima
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with a thin off-white head with short retention.
Light aroma of red wine and a hint of funky notes.
Wonderful flavor with notes of red wine, bread malt, vinegar, raspberries and cranberries, a hint of sulfur, with a pleasant mild tartness and lactic acid.
Full body with a bit effervescent carbonation and a light acid sensation.
Very assertive and easy to drink. As other Flemish Ales it is a good introduction to Sour Ales.

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Photo of illidurit
3.34/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear rust color with an ecru head that's fizzy but is kept alive by an etching at the bottom of my goblet. Black cherry aroma with some brown sugar and vinegar. Flavor is sweet with cherry and apple juice, a touch of vinaigrette, and some caramel. Not very sour really, and barely even tart. Definitely more sweet than anything. Body is very light, bordering on thin. Astringent dryness and a little metallic character. Overcarbonated.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A dark red brew, with a small whispy head. Aroma is heavy on the cherries, with some astringent, lambic-sour ale funk in the background...way in the background. The taste is sour, and fruity...a good combination of flavors, if you ask me. I have to agree that this is a great sour red ale, but it is not as complex as goudenbond or duchess....the drinkability is good, and the mouthfeel is creamy.

this is a very good beer


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Photo of Stevedore
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

(Note: my personal scoring system is in whole numbers only)

11.2 oz bottle poured into Golden Draak tulip and consumed today 2/20/2013

Aroma: A very nice tart cherry nose with hints of grape and raspberry, and a little bit of malt sweetness. Not particularly complex but is still rather pleasing. (4)

Colour: Really nice ruby-red body when illuminated. Pours with an expansive, aggressive offwhite head that requires a few minutes to settle down before I can complete the pour. Otherwise laces are quite sticky. (4)

Flavour: I get a lot of sour cherry and grape which is what I expected, I actually like it. Not a ton of malt sweetness but it's there. A little bit of plum and raisin comes up if I look for it. Generally a straight-forward combination of flavor. (4)

Mouthfeel: Nothing special, a medium bodied ale with overly strong carbonation and pleasant tart cherry aftertaste. It's nicely dry and really does a palate-cleansing job. If it wasn't as overcarbonated, I'd give it a 4. (3)

Overall: Quite enjoyable to drink but I'm not sure I'd rush out to get more. As I drink more sours, I'll probably revisit this one. As it stands, it's one of the better priced Belgians on the shelf in the US and I will drink accordingly. (4)

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Photo of Suds
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful brown, with a burnt read tinge. The smell is pungent, with sweetness and funky sour notes...interesting and engaging. The taste is sweeter than expected, with a lot of tartness. It is not really sour, but rather intensely tart. Medium in body and enjoyable.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2fl.oz brown glass bottle sealed with a standard crown cap. Main and neck label are the same as the BA Avatar. No strength or freshness listed.

Appearance: Ruby chestnut body with a nice looking light tan colored head that stayed at 1” deep for a short while, even when it settled a uniform cap covers the surface. Conditioning seems low, but the overall appearance is solid. Soft Belgian lacing is persistent.

Nose: Saggy soft sour aroma with a wet wood nose. Like rotting bark after a rain storm in the forest, the nose seems to impart a dying freshness. Gentle funk and a delicate dark spice hint.

Taste: Woody feel, damp cloth and soured malts blend with a background lactic lace. A little reticent with a faded sourness seems to allow the yeast to break through here and there.

Mouthfeel: Light body that struggles to maintain a medium overall projection. Can feel thin but it certainly does not feel wanting, the low density adds to the Drinkability here in this case.

Drinkability: A refreshing libation, the low end sourness and laid back light body all conspire to lend a comfort angle that makes this hard to put the glass down.

Overall: I have not seen this one on the West Coast before, so when I spied this lone bottle on the shelves at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa I snapped up the chance to try it again. Hmmmm, nice enough, but a bit of a let down, I think that the draft version is much better, the bottle just seems to lacks balls.

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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.