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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

1,095 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,095
Hads: 2,741
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 79
Gots: 365 | FT: 5
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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,095 | Hads: 2,741
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 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 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 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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Photo of bitterthebetter
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep regal brown with ruby highlights and an off white head

rich, malty, caramel aromas upfront with a sour tartness and slight woodiness

caramel malt upfront by tart malt, slight apple notes, and slight dry woodiness on the finish

smooth, tart yet balanced, a bit sugary but super enticing

a great beer, reminds me of why I love these beers. smooth, malty, sour yet pleasant all the way through its an absolute pleasure to drink this beer

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Photo of jeremy13586
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured in to a Corsendonk glass.

Very dark red color/deep ruby color. Light tan three finger head that dissipated pretty quickly. Left some alright lacing.

Some sweet malt with a tart fruit sourness and a tiny bit of funk.

Dark tart cherries, green apple. Minor bitterness and funk.

Smooth and pretty dry, but incredibly carbonated. Like, too damn carbonated.

A solid beer, but not very complex. A nice gateway to sours.

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Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I bought this on draught at the Cafe Bruges in Carlisle, PA. It was a deep crimson red with a nice tannish head that sank bit by bit into the liquid, leaving a gentle bubbly mixture on top. The aroma was earthy, with just that hint of tartness I was expecting. When I tasted it, my taste buds just exploded. Now, I should be honest and say I haven't really tried sour ales before, so I had no real comparison to go on at the time. But that initial taste was enough to tell me I had found a real winner. It has a smooth texture to it, and it lingers on the tongue for quite a while. I like the medieval appeal of this ale, and I would definitely get it again and again. It was a real treat.

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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 DrumKid003
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark amber with a little red around the edges, and plenty of sediment floating in the glass.

S: Smells a little like sour apples, but I may be missing something here.

T: Tastes like apple juice on the front mixed with a couple other dark fruits, the sour starts to kick in midway mixed with the malt which makes it sweet, and the finish is a very crisp sour that last a very short amount of time.

M: I'm pretty new to sours, but this was very thin on the mouthfeel considering how dark it is. But the sour warms the mouth as you continue to drink.

O: If I was going to recommend a sour to someone new to the style, this would definitely be one the few, and it's an easy drinker so you could have a 2-3 before the alcohol starts to kick in.

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Photo of atpben
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Had this in a bottle at the Houston Gingerman. Poured into a snifter. Pours a reddish-brown color with a thick head. Aroma of vinegar mixed with cherries and some light citrus notes. Quite tart flavor with more vinegar and cherry in the taste. Quite dry in the finish. Pretty decent sour. A little less sweet than duchess.

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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 petacutlasaurus
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Whew. I enjoyed this, my first sour beer, at The Saloon on U street. Really knocked me out - I had just read an article on sour beers in either BA or on welovedc. Decided to take the plunge and order up one of these fellows. So glad I did. Dominant dark fruits on the nose with a bitter tinge that transforms on the close to a sour and crispy finish. The deep red color, with its fruity bitter smell coming out of the top of the goblet... Ultra-memorable and will definitely jump for a draft of this when I make a visit to their Philadelphia brew house.

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Photo of schroederm
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In a snifter:

Head falls apart quickly, body is a light translucent brown with amber and red hues. Aromas of umami, cherry, alcohol, tartness, and green apple. So sour! This is awesome, so sweet... Like candy. Good balance of bitter. Green apple, plum, cherry. Cider vinegar. Aftertaste is... Ketchup?! It works, though. Very good body and carbonation. I could drink a ton of this. Easy on the palate and delicious.

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Photo of dakid618
1.89/5  rDev -50.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into pint glass. Pours a deep red-brown color with very little head that disappears quickly. Smell is really strong of vinegar with a slight scent of fruits. Reading the BJCP guidelines this bottle may be old as it says the scent should not grow to a noticeable acetic/vinegary character. Taste is also like vinegar and sour cherries. Not malty at all as the guideline says it should be. It's so acetic it burns my nose after taking a drink. Improves slightly as it warms but still way too much like drinking vinegar. Medium bodied mouthfeel that drys out the mouth like drinking red wine. Not drinkable at all to me, the drain is going to enjoy this beer more than me. I've enjoyed all the sours I've ever had but this one, this one is a drainpour. I will try this again to see if maybe I just got an old bottle and re-review if thats the case, otherwise I would advise to be wary of this beer unless you ike drinking vinegar.

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Photo of happy5930
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the first sours I've had. I found it to be smooth, and easy to drink. Not much carbonation. Amber in color, with little to no sediment. Not much of a bite, and not too sour. It was sweet to the tongue and nose. Certainly worth a try, a smooth and light brew, to put back slowly.

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Photo of brow1901
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Dark maroon in color with a small fizzy off white head. Almost no retention and no lacing.

S- The first thing I smell is cherries, really reminds me of those marchino cherries that come in cocktails. When I initially poured the beer I remember a vinegar quality. Defenite barnyard character to it when agitated.

T- Initially brings a slight tartness to the mouth which becomes rounded off to a sweetness. After the harsh tart flavor it is easyier to pick up the complexities, the one that stands out is the cherries again.

M- Pretty thick in the mouth and I really like that with this beer. The finish could have been a bit more dry, it was way to sweet.

D- Highly drinkable, this is becoming one of my favorite styles. Good carbonation, nice body, lowish alcohol, all this makes a real drinkable beer.

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Photo of raoulduke37
4.11/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330mL bottle into a small tulip. Right away, this looks like a photograph out of one of Michael Jackson's books. Perfect 2 finger head ever-so-slightly brimming over the edge of the glass, inviting one to drink it down. Beautiful red luminescent burgundy color, and off-white lace is sticking all over this bad boy. I can't wait to go in closer. Smell is predominantly sour and it is a little difficult to get anything else, no matter how much I try.

As I drink it down, I think to myself, 'I think I'm becoming one of those "sour-loving" guys' and I have no problem with it. Sourness is not as intense as the smell indicates. There are traces of pineapple and raspberries in here. The finish is long, and it surprises you in the end with a touch of banana. Oh man, I'm enjoying every sip of this.

Mouthfeel is tart and carbonated, but very pleasant, especially after shooting some hoops. At $2.99, this will be a regular in my rotation, along with Duchesse and Rodenbach. Damn good. Don't pass it up.

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Photo of PreacherBrewer
4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a beautiful red-wine color. Sports a 2 finger light kaki colored head. head dissolves slowly to a thin film that leaves decadent lacing.

S - Unlike anything i've ever caught on the nose of a beer before. My first thoughts were of vinegar. then some sour smells, yeast, mixed fruit, primarily, grape, prune, and raisin.

T - WOW! this thing has personality! tastes very similar to how it smells: oddly carbonated, fermented grape/prune juice. a little hint of cranberry maybe. An apple cider flavor is lingering in there as well. it's very similar to fermented sparkling apple cider...sort-of.

M - It has a very ticklish, bubbly mouthfeel. very interesting, almost the life of the brew. very unique.

D - Despite what i've herd about the FOB's, and sour ales in general, this is a remarkably drinkable ale. It is mysterious, and captivating. It's interesting, yet not ridiculous. It's very very good. it may not be the thing for you, but you at least have to try one before you die...seriously.

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Photo of Glennlawless
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into pint glass

a - Poured a dark reddish brown with a quickly dying down off-white head.

s - tart grape juice, red wine type smell. not a whole lot.

T - smooth entrance, very mild tart finish. thats all there is to it.

M - very well carbonated. pretty drinkable

overall, this honestly was my first sour style ale.not a very interesting beer per say, but it is what people say it is, an entry level sour. i feel this is a perfect beer to get somebody into sours. starts very mild, and at the end it slaps you with some sour. not overwhelming at all though. a pretty well balanced beer and drinkable. i like it.

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Photo of mortarit
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Having a real hard time getting into these sour beers. They really drive my pallet crazy. My whole face draws up like all of the air left the building, experience.

Overall, the everthing else about this one particularly looks great for appearance, color, and smell.

Maybe, I should eat more sour apples for practice.

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Photo of penguinjive7
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pur is a cloudby brown color with about an inch of white head. Initial smell is of vinigar mixing with spice. The first sip is mostly a strong vinigar flavor is quickly followed by a bittersweet blast of firmented dark fruit. I can definitely taste hints of the oak coming through to further give the brew a flacor reminiscent of vinous almost cabernet-like flacor. The finish has a hint of clove spice to further round out the palate. Wow, this is really an odly balanced Flanders. The sweetness that balanced the sourness of the brew is almost awkward and unexpected, but it really works for this one. An excelent brew that I would have again in a heartbeat.

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Photo of thirdeye11
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this at the Dallas Gingerman. We get almost no sour beers in this market so I was really happy to see it.

A: Pours a nice murky reddish/brown with a 1 finger light tan head. Lacing is good as well.

S: Smells like a flanders style beer in that it's a little bit funky, fruity, and has some spices showing their way through this one.

T: Taste is really nice. Not too sour but it's there. Has some funk to it, but really muted which I'm completely ok with. I was enjoying the sweetness here, almost no bitter whatsoever. Perhaps some oak in it as well?

M: Nicely carbonated, weight is just about right too.

D: Pretty high. I wanted more but it was expensive.

Recommended to any drinker of any beverage. Very drinkable.

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Photo of kylehayworth
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: It has a deep red with some burgundy tones playing aronud as well. The head rises and falls, leaving trace amounts of carbonated foam.

S: It smells a little sour, with a bubbly quality. Almost like a sparkling wine.

T: It has a nice balance of sweet, tart, and sour. The base of all those flavors being cherry/apple.

M/D: Perfect carbonation with a moderate body. The sparkling wine/champagne mouth feel plays well with these flavors.

This is a good substitute for the Enigma I have been drinking and ran out of. All in all a really good beer...

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.