Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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86
very good
1,119 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,119
Ratings:
2,855
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
21.61%
 
 
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Gots:
416
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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Belgium | website

Style: Flanders Oud Bruin

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

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.

Added by nomad on 06-19-2003

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Reviews: 1,119 | Ratings: 2,855
Photo of HossMcGraw
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Monk's.

Dark red, almost brown color with small head and awesome lacing. The aroma is sour cherry and mustiness with some slight malt sweetness in the background. The flavor is phenomenal.

I'm new to sour ales so there are probably better examples out there, but for me, this was perfection. Not too sour but enough to keep you on your toes. Also quite musty and woody with a bit of malt sweetness in the background. Finish is bone dry and makes this ridiculously drinkable.

Mouthfeel is my only complaint. A bit flat for my tastes. Overall though, one of my new favorite beers. I hope I can get this in Lancaster. Planning on buying a case.

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Photo of 7ways
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark copper/ruby with a full yellowish-white head that remained at 1/2 cm for quite some time. Ungodly thick lacing.

N- Red wine/apple cider vinegar, sour grape, cherry, and apple. No distinct malt or hops. The smell alone makes my mouth water.

T- Very strong apple cider vinegar, which I happen to love. Quite acidic. Oakey cherry, sour apple candy. Balanced with moderate sweetness.

M- Prickly, but not so much as to be offensive or get in the way of the taste. Slightly more full than many Flemish reds, which to me increases drinkability.

D- I could drink many of these in a session. In fact, I do. Often.

This is only the second dark sour I've had, and it has made me determined to seek more out.

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Photo of earthboundagain
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-This beer is a reddish, brown, reminds me of balsamic vinegar, the head is not huge, but laces well.

S- We have grapes and sweet cherry, and vinegar twang, some woody notes as well. This beer smells of a funky promise.

T- The taste is a sour red grape, mixed with slight cherry and some oak. This so reminds me of balsamic vinegar it is not funny, but it is oh so good.

M- A medium body with lots of carbonation, this beer is a beauty on the palate.

D- The glass empties quickly, with strong deep sips.

I know this beer gets a lot of abuse, but I think it is a good beer. While it might not be top of the line, it is a wonderful beer to keep on hand. I have also used this to convert a few wine drinkers in my time.

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Photo of dejrrma
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

4 pack for about $14. 11.2 fl oz bottle poured into snifter. No date (that I could understand)

a- pours a deep amber, large off-white, froathy, buttery head that slides as i move the glass. a little lacing composed of foamy bubbles.

s- vinegary scent with notes of dark/red fruits (prunes, cranberries, raspberries). A hidden sweet aroma.

t- tastes like tart fresh fruits and balsamic vinaigrette. It's more sour than sweet, as I'd hoped, and but I wish it was more sour. Leaves a lingering earthy/metallic taste. Slight yeast

m- okay carbonation. Light and airy, and refreshing. A little watery as it warms .

o- Good, but not sure if I would buy again.

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Photo of Giovacchini
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a reddish brown with a tan head.

S- cherries, oak, vinegar, malt, and cranberry.

T- oak, cherries, vinegar, caramel malt, and cranberry.

M- mild carbonation, mild sourness and a dry finish.

O- I like this beer. This is my go to so far when I'm craving a sour beer and I don't want to pay 8-10 bucks. Nice beer but not awesome.

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Photo of pastradul
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a lost continent tulip.

poures a deep ruby with a slightly pink head with lots of bubbles riding the glass.

The smell is all viniger, some sweetness fighting through but mainly tart viniger.

the taste starts of with a good amount of sweetness. Lots of cherry or maybe even strawberry would be the closest fruit flavor that would fit. Then a very tart acidic flavor kicks you in the mouth. then finishes with a dry warmth around the mouth.

a pretty good beer. after a couple of sips it grows on you a bit.

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Photo of akolb
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours dark with a huge head. Aroma of tootsie rolls, prunes, funk, and figs. Tart and fruity taste. A very nice beer, complex, sour, and refreshing, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

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Photo of fatmcb1
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber with an off white head that leaves a ring with little lacing.

Tart sour cherries, green apple, and raspberry. Very tart.

Taste is balanced between tart sourness and sweeter citrus. Also, there is a level of funk that changed as the beer warmed.

Very strong, prickly carbonation.

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Photo of cvaypai
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Taken from notes. In bottles at Titletown Brewery for FeBREWary.

Appearance - Deep mahogany red, ruby when held to light. Poured with a tan, reddish-white bubbly head that dissipates at a medium pace and leaves a very nice lacing.

Smell - Smells of sour cherries and tart cranberries, a small bit of sweetness can be picked up. Vinegar and oakey woodiness can be discerned. Other fruits can also be picked out, sort of underwhelming.

Taste - Extremely nice and refreshing. Lots of cranberry and cherry as the nose indicated. The other dark fruits are there and it is a bit lactic and tart but it works well. A small amount of sweet malt on the end and some possible grapes on the finish. The tartness stays and the candy likeness pales as it warms and sour green apples come out.

Mouthfeel - A bit thinner and light but incredibly easy to drink and the tart buckles the tongue. A tiny bit of carbonation works great with this and makes it slightly effervescent.

Drinkability - Immensely drinkable, reminded me of a wine/beer hybrid. Would reach for many more, tastes like candy and goes down like it too.

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Photo of katybee
2.56/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

My first sour ale...this might take a bit of getting used to!

Pours a clear amber brown, and light frothy head which quickly dissipates.

Very light smell, but distinctly not hoppy...somewhat like an aged browned apple.

As an ale, this tastes very different from barley-hops beer. For me, it was similar to a fermented apple cider with less apple, and a little vinegar tartness. Unusual. Very soda-like, with a musky off taste on the tongue. Not as fruity as a [raspberry] lambic, but with no barley or malt character like a wheat beer. No real spiciness I could detect.

The carbonation gave a very soda-like effect, but like soda, and not like champagne. Very light-bodied.

Fortunately, this beverage was alcoholic, which gave a purpose to the drinking of it. The ale might blend well with cheeses and pie or crackers, and as a desert on its own, however the off-ness of the taste, and mild sweet carbonation for me wouldn't sit well with other meals (hamburger, pizza, chicken) and a definite no-no to doritos, onion-flavored chips and barbecue!

A quality taste experience, but not one I'll likely repeat!

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Photo of StevenBilodeau
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have never really been a fan for sour ales, but the Belgians make some very good sour ales. This is a very good sour ale. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale is another amazing ale to add to your repertoire of unique and strange beers. Tart, sour and sweet, this ale is drinkable, but isn't for everyone. Nice head, some lacing, and is a decent beer overall, I enjoyed it.

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Photo of SJ-IABrews
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was my first sour beer, so I wasn't sure what I would be getting into. I was overall pretty impressed with this. Pleasing color and a clean taste, not overly sweet and not as cloyingly sour as I was expecting. Smooth drinking with a very appealing smell. This would not be my go to beer, but I would definitely drink this again.

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Photo of joeysmokedporter
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

A: pours mahogany red, clear, with a 2 finger reddish tan head.

S: dominated by vinegar, although cherry and woody aroma also present. this is one beer where the aroma and flavor are fairly disconnected, and in this case for the better.

T: an aceto-vinegar flavor, but also sour-cherry-like, with a sweet malty flavor coming in and a bit of a tannin finish. while some beers in this style have tasted like salad dressing to me, this one has a flavor that balances between sour, vinegar, and sweetness. Cherry doctor pepper-like flavor is evident in the middle of this, and finishes on the bitter side with a strong hint of wood aging.

M: light although puckering in the end, with the effect of the bitterness. carbonation high but appropriate for the style.

D: The more i drink the more I want. This is quite an enjoyable sour beer. Paired up with trappist cheese for a nice contrast, but alone this beer is fine as a drinker.

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Photo of MOB210SA
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The first sour ale, of any kind, I have tried.

Nice retaining creamy medium tan head about a finger's worth and slowly fades. Some good looking lacing is left after the action. Small patches and thin film cover the beer eventually. Deep colored scarlet, ruby red in color. Lots of scattered lacing cling nicely.

Nose- They weren't lying on the label about a sour lactic nose. Smells of milk, I don't want to say soured milk, but it is a little funky. A very lightly underlying caramel with a wine-like quality too. Maybe light touch of leather.

The taste is like really overripe fruits maybe peach, banana, raspberry smoothie that has a little funkiness too it as if it was left out for a while. I can also taste a hint of apple. Somewhat strange at first, but I tried it with a open mind and slowly starting to like it more each sip. You will probably either love it or hate it. I think it's worth a try and would probably be excellent paired with the right foods.

Medium bodied mouthfeel, smooth, and creamy going down. Rather bitter, sour finish with a lightly sweet end finish. The drinkability isn't high on this one. I really would not want more than one in a day. Maybe once they grow on me more, but right now every sip is a little shocker. Probably the hardest beer I've drank down in a while. Not because its not good, because this beer is just so different, I think I'm still not sure what to think. Usually they go real quick but this one I've been sipping and still have half the 12 oz bottle left. Worth a try, it is certainly different.

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Photo of jhu1995
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red with purple hues. Minimal head which quickly dissipates. Smell is slightly vinegar and sour with some sweetness. Taste is sour, vinegar-like, with some mild sweetness in the finish, mostly cherry-like. Very light and refreshing on the palate. Easy to drink, particularly for a red ale. Worth a try.

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Photo of hayesez
2.75/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Been on a real sour kick lately and have been picking them up whenever I find a new one. On our recent trip to Texas I saw a bottle of Monk's and figured I'd give it a shot. I was in Philly last month and was hoping to try it right there at the café, but wasn't able to make it - the bottle will have to do.

Poured into a wine glass producing almost zero head. A thin ring of fizzy bubbles surrounds the surface, but that is about it. Absolutely no lacing left behind. Sitting on the table, it looks just like a glass of iced tea...color is spot on, and there is no head.

Smells quite strongly of vinegar. Also a slight hint of sweet fruitiness, but definitely hard to get past the vinegar. Zero funkiness.

Ok, the taste of this thing caught me way off guard. You'd think that after smelling the strong vinegar, I'd be ready for the taste. However, after talking with people who have had it in the past, and reading some of the reviews, I was expecting a bit more tart unripe fruit. I was wrong. Apple cider vinegar. Frankly, I'm having a really hard time getting past this. I drank an entire glass being as open-minded as possible, but I have to admit, I am quite disappointed. Hidden through several layers of vinegar, there is a bit of sour fruit taste in there, but that is about it. Mouthfeel is actually ok with a decent amount of carbonation even though this wasn't evident from the pour.

Overall, I was really disheartened with the whole experience. I'm kind of thinking there is a chance that I got a bad bottle. I will definitely give this a shot again down the road, and if different, I will certainly come back and alter the review. That being said, this is going to go down in my books as one of the lower ranked sours I've had.

Consumed: 04/08/10

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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 Mahlik
1.97/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

11.2 oz bottle poured into a HotD tulip glass.

A- Pours a deep, dark burgundy with a one-finger off-white head. Head dissipates to a thin cap. Minimal traces of lacing.

S- Holy god what a terrible aroma. It smells like someone took soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and candied cherries and threw them together with a pinch of Belgian yeast. That is really the only way I can describe the aroma.

T- Not much going on. Rather bland. Some lactic sourness hits upfront and never really fads away. Subtle sour cherries and more balsamic vinegar finish out the taste.

M- Medium body with plenty of carbonation. The mouthfeel is slick and syrupy. Slightly puckering finish.

O- Complete failure IMO. I love sours. I had yet to have a sour that I did not enjoy until now. Nothing about this beer worked for me. I couldn't even finish half of the bottle.

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Photo of B33R501
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

sort of a novelty for me, something i enjoy when i need a change but overall a really good beer.
pretty red color, nice musty sour yet almost a little sweet aroma. and thats what it tastes like, i love the malty sweet / sourness of this beer. very drinkable, could have many more.
recommended.

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Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
4.26/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with very little head but for a filmy ring of foam at edge of beer that doesn't cling. Beer itself looks like dirty apple cider, and wow is this murky! Wayyy up close I can see streamers through the murk, so I give it a few good swirls and am able to bolster up a head about a quarter inch deep. Beer is a dirty, rosewood color with slightly reddish highlights. As soon as beer is poured, lactic, yogurty smells fill up the entire room. Up in the nose this only gets stronger. Bananas soaking in vinegar; pomegranate fruitiness with extreme sharp sourness. Nosefeel is so pungent it feels like buttermilk is clotting inside the nasal cavity, desensitizing the entire sinus... Blades of flavor slice through the tongue--apple juice/cider vinegar, sour whey, and pectin. As it warms, it starts to taste more like gin and grapefruit juice, but.. oh man, this is SOUR! with eons of aftertaste. Pungent! Wanna know what the mouthfeel is like? Go do a shot of lemon juice, it's exactly the same... but put an enormous bite at the end. The alcohol went straight to my head, but the beer is remarkably quenching... it sent cooling waves of pleasure up and down my spine. This is the third time I've had this, and it just keeps growing on me. And people say Flemish Red Ale is hard to love? Haters can send their glasses my way!

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Photo of Libationguy
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reddish color with copper notes. Light tan 1-finger head. Medium retention.

The nose is fairly mild: grapefruit zest, band-aid, horse hair, flint, cracked leather.

On the palate there is a funky sweet and sour pork note, meyer lemon, horse hair, leather and a lactic note on the finish.

Medium bodied.

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Photo of Nick3
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat tulip shaped glass. Beer forms a nice 3 finger head and a cascade of bubbles keeps the head alive for several minutes or so. Dark reddish, brown in color and nice lace formation on the glass. This definitely looks like a quaffable libation! Smells like sour apples (think Jolly Ranchers) and that typical funk you get from this style. Smelled enticing but not nearly as pungent as I would have liked. The smell is a good harbinger for the taste . . . the flavors of sweet and sour come through with a cherry apple finish. It's a well balanced beer but the taste was just not quite as strong in those flavors as I would have liked. I wouldn't say the beer is watery but I wanted to see the flavor and the sweet and sour contrast come through with more ferocity. Alcohol presence is really invisible and that fact coupled with the subtle flavor composition makes it a beer that you can drink in high quantity if you're so inclined. Overall, I enjoyed this beer but it fell a little short of my expectations. If you've never had a beer of this style and want to start with something mellow, this is probably a good bet for you.

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Photo of vrazionale
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 fl. oz. bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a snifter.

A - Body is dark brown with a reddish hue when held to the light. The head is one finger thick (at best), but quickly fades to a light lacing with bunches along the edges.

S - Dark chocolate, alcohol-soaked cherries, vanilla, clove, molasses, anise, sweet bread, roasted nuts. Smells pretty boozy. The nose pretty much exclusively tends towards sweet aromas, but they seem a little disjointed.

T - Again, the flavors here come down on the sweet side of the spectrum. Oaky vanilla flavors come to the fore alongside those alcohol-soaked cherry flavors. There is also a pretty distinct sweet combination of molasses and dark honey. The finish is lackluster and disappointing, though.

M - This brew feels a little sticky and clumsy to me. The carbonation doesn't make itself well-known, and the flavors, while varied and interesting, don't feel right together.

D - Not my thing. I would certainly like to point out that there is a lot going on here, both on the nose and on the palate. But it doesn't work for me. I expected it to have more of a lactic sourness, but all I picked up here was sweet flavors and aromas. This is my first experience of this style, though, so perhaps I will grow to appreciate it more.

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Photo of Takahiro
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into Duvel Tulip glass.

A: dark red brown with a very light brown head. The head starts thick and stays thick for a while. Not much of lace left behind.

S: Sour and ester smell up front. Faint whiff of maltiness is felt in my nose. No hop smell what so ever.

T: Sour. This sourness reminds me of vinegar. It is pleasantly balanced with malt flavor, which can be felt in the back ground. This malt is toffee and caramel.

M: Refreshing SOUR.

D: Although it has a fresh taste, the beer's drinkability would be low for me. The flavor seem to stick to the palate and it is definitely not DRY.

NOTE: it went very well with tomato-based shrimp pasta.

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Photo of Netdigger2
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poors a deep brown mahogany with an amber head that resembles more a Pepsi than a beer... Serious carb.

The nose is of sour patch kids, vinegar, and funk.

The flavor rivals any good flander's sour or bruin gueze, full of vinegar, tart cherries, vanilla extract

Mouthfeel is great, the outrageous carb helps dry it out like champagne, and it has a very light feel on the palate.

For 4.99/ bottle, this is a great sour and will be one of my default brews.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,119 ratings.