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

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

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BA SCORE
87
very good

2,674 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,674
Reviews: 1,105
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 13.51%
Wants: 74
Gots: 325 | FT: 5
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,674 | Reviews: 1,105
Photo of VWBuggirl
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is a new style of beer for me. So here goes!

The color is fantastic! It is a nice dark brown with a reddish hue to it.

The smell on the other hand is very vinegary. Now my rating on smell is based on the fact that this is a sour and, well, I would expect that it would smell sour. If a normal beer smelled this way I would toss it.

The taste is definitely sour. I get a hint of green apple in it. I wouldn't call it drinkable though. Even though I am enjoying it, I am not sure I could have another tonight, and it isn't for everyone.

Photo of TheDTrain
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a deep red, good retention. Aroma is a bit weak but you can smell the sour vinagar, fruits, and grapes. Light body with awesome funk taste from the fruits, vinagar, malts, and sugars. So easily drinkable it's a bit scary.

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

Purchased a single from Colonial Spirits for $5.25 for 33cl bottle.

Appearance: a murky brown, with red highlights, looks kind of like apple cider. Small tan head which reduces to lace quicly.

Smell: Acidic, similar to a red wine.

Taste: Granny Smith apple along with sour cherries backed by malt. Predominantly sour flavors, but not overwhelmingly tart for my palate.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, with a bit of zing from the sour and carbonation marriage.

Drinkability: I really enjoy Belgian Oud Bruins, and Flemish Reds. I could sip on a few of these. But eventually the acidic tartness will catch up and I'll want something to scrub the palate (a nice saison or Duvel?)

Photo of DawnL
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Murky amber with big foamy head that dissipates to sticky lace.

Smell: Slight caramel, with prune notes. It doesn't smell like your typical beer.

Taste: Malt character, then dried fruit, followed by acidic/sour cherry character.

Mouthfeel: This definitely coats the mouth - not really unctuous, but definitely present with good length.

Drinkability: I'm going with good.

This is a strange little beer. I'm still not sure whether or not I like it. I am giving it a pretty good rating, but I'm not sure if I am completely a fan.

Let me explain. I had this with a light fish dinner. I was hoping it would be a bit more sour and was completely surprised by the amber/brown color.

I wouldn't suggest serving this beer with an entree. I wouldn't suggest serving it as an aperitif either. This is an after dinner, bring on the cheese beer. It needs mild cheeses - young mimolette, laughing cow, mild goat cheese, cream cheese even. It would be overwhelmed by cheddar. Maybe a Swiss cheese would be okay. Brie would kill this! Or, maybe it should be had on its own after dinner as a divestif.

It develops an odd bitterness when left to warm. Definitely like leaving prune juice on the counter and letting it come up to room.

If it were a little tarter, it would remind me of those sour, dried, Asian plums. Oh, that would be something to pair it with. Try this beer with Asian plums that are dried and have that sourball coating dusted on them.

I like this beer because it's an oddity. And I know I'm going on a bit, but this taste sensation is so different from anything I've tasted before that I feel like sharing - a lot.

Photo of WhatsNewinBooze
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a great beer! I am a big fan of flanders and flemish ales and this one is right up there. Pours a reddish brown with a light fizzy head. Aromas of sweet malt raspberry and cherry are huge on the nose. The palate has quite a bit of sweetness, more so than other beers like it, but tons of red fruit flavor with a nice sour that isn't over the top. A good introduction into these style of beers.

Photo of NardiByNature
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Aggressive pouring makes a massive, light tan head. Eventually settles down to a nice cap with a little spotty lacing. The beer is a deep, clear mahogany with some ruby notes. The color of this style reminds me of Lipton Brisk.

S: The nose is faint. Smells like carbonation (if that’s a thing), a little vinegar, some cherries.

T: Like the nose the taste is mild, but becomes more pronounced as the beer warms to room temp: sour cherries and some woody flavor.

M: Very smooth, very dry. Fuzzy carbonation. Very drinkable.

O: This is good. Not as complex or flavorful as some other old browns but I like it. Would like to have on-tap sometime.

Photo of Graebner
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a red-orange and brownish color. Little or no white lacy head.

Smells of citric and lactic sours, light biscuity malts.

Tastes of citrus and milk/cheese sourness, substantial hoppy bitterness, and light, biscuity malts. The malts begin to come through more pronouncedly as the beer warms and you drink more, and it ends up being even somewhat sweet.

The feel is smooth and refreshing. It finishes spotlessly, completely clean, only a slight hoppy bitterness to let you remind you of the great beer you just sipped. Highly carbonated, but not out of balance. It merely enhances the brew.

Overall a very drinkable beer. Sour, but very drinkable. It ends up sweetening up after a while, and it does not sour your stomach regardless. The sour is taste only on the palate, and is quite enjoyable to me. It is absolutely superb with a rich, creamy cheese like brie, camembert, Saga blue, or St. Andre. It is a quientessential Belgian beer in both taste and mouthfeel, and anyone experienced with Belgians will note the familiar characteristics. Excellent and very unique beer.

Photo of USCTrojanBrian
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tulip

Dark brown, classic brown color, some violet in there as well. One finger head, aggressive carbonation coursing along the walls of the glass. Beautiful.

Standard sour cherry aroma, potent, but a little more woody than sweet.

Really aggressive soda-like carbonation on the first small sips. Tremendous sweet/sour fruity burst, cherry. Really sweet, the dominant flavor rather than sourness. This may be the kool-aid of Flemish sours, very drinkable. Not quite as complex as others I've tasted but by no means bad. I pick up some other flavors in the aroma that don't quite show up in the mouth, slightly frustrating.

Really enjoyable beer, not much to complain about or quibble with.

Photo of RedSpecial1
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a light copper with a small off white head with slight persistent lacing. The smell is of white wine vinegar with a sour note as well. The taste is initially a touch of sweet white wine fading into a moderate sourness. The mouthfeel is light and fairly dry. The strong flavors in this beer keep it from being too drinkable, but it is an interesting drink.

Photo of SPThirtyThree
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A: Red mahogany with just a bit of haze, massive head on the pour that fades down to a clumpy, sticky lace.

S: This oud bruin slams the nose with vinegar. There's also some caramel hiding in there. Subsequent sniffs after the nose has adjusted to the acetic smell give a slightly sweaty or zoolike aroma. It's a nice amount of funk for the style.

T: Again, sour vinegar up front, but well balanced with sweetness and cloves. Also some bubblegum esters.

M: Very effervescent from the high carbonation.

D: High - it's very tasty, but a tinge less carbonation and a less estery profile would substantially improve the drinkability (although it might make this brew less interesting).

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

Like all sour ales, this is not a style for everyone. While I can't understand how everyone doesn't appreciate a nice goblet of Chimay or Corsendonk, I can fully understand how sour ales are a real acquired taste and not for all.

I tried this at Monk's. I am not certain the style of glass this was served in, different, almost like a tall juice glass (?). Right away, the smell hits you before you take a sip. A strong, bitter, sour cherry scent.

While the bar's darkness made it hard to tell, it appeared to be ruby red-brown in color. A mild head, not too much. Rather refreshing in appearance.

The flavor is complex. A raging war between sweet and sour...with the sweetness taking the lead at the initial sip, but to be overcome by the notes of sourness at the end. Mild hints of yeastiness are mixed in throughout.

Take my review in comparison to other sour ales. Drinkability is scored high, but my hats off to anyone who could drink sour ales all night long. It is an interesting and unique style, but hardly matches well with most foods and definately the sour taste lingers in your mouth well after your drink is finished (similiar to a strong IPA).

Photo of wrycon
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. A ton of carbonation on this. Granted, the pour was semi-aggressive at the start, but a giant head of off-white foam emerged, but also dissipated nicely with good retention. Smells quite sour, some pomegranate some cherry. A bit of apple. Not mind-bendingly sour, but sour enough. Quite flavorful and quite delicious, in my opinion.

Like It? Indeed.

Photo of crhensel
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(12 oz bottle into tulip) I was apprehensive about this one, not only because it was my first sour, but also because I found it after getting as a Christmas gift in 2009(!) Heard a good pop when I lifted the cap, so that was promising. The pour was a deep mahogany with a very pillowy, thick tan head. The nose was at first strongly vinegar, which put me off, so I waited a little bit, then came back and found that mellowed into more or less a tart fruit - apples and cherries - with the vinegary undertone. The drink itself was very smooth, and not as sour as I expected. There was a fruity sweetness up front, but the finish had a nice crisp sour bite making for a nice ending note. I will definitely explore this style more, and this one will be a go to beer for me for a while.

Photo of bgreg3
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

app- deep amber colors are richer in middle of the glass, and has high levels of carbonation far after pouring.

smell- sour smell with sweet notes lingering in the back. Yeasty overtone. very enticing smell.

taste- Other characteristics of the beer stand out more than the taste. Tart and sour sensations rush your tongue but become sweet in just a second. The taste neutralizes to a beer tasting of amber malt and German yeast. No hops noticed, but it works for the most part.

MF- Bubbly and tingly. The carbonations mixed with the sour notes allows the beer to dance on your tongue in a most enjoyable way.

Drink- This beer killed my palate. It would have been difficult to taste other proceeding beers.

Give this one a go! very interesting!

Photo of WOTO97
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: vigorous pour for thick cappuccino head that slowly dissolves to thin bubbly film, thin web-like lacing, deep burgundy red

S: grapes and soft vinegar notes, mild sweetness, very faint malt, distant nutmeg accompanies some burned vanilla notes

T: loads of fresh grapes, mellow tartness that slowly fades on the palate to a nice sweetness

M: slight stickiness in the back of the throat, slight and clean on the front, mellow creaminess

D: incredibly drinkable for a sour but almost to negative results, the grape notes overwhelm the vinegar flavors for a very mellow and clean finish

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

Serving Note: Satan tulip glass

A: A mahogany brown / port red wine with a two finger head and medium residuals left behind on the glass.

S: Whadda ya know? Sour! Notes of black cherries and maybe a blackberry hint with yeast.

T: Monk's Cafe has taken my Sour virginity and I was impressed by the complexities in the flavor profile. I originally had thought that Sours were a gimmick-beer, but this has set me straight. After the initial wince/pucker I truly started to appreciate the tart cherries and the warming alcohol finish.

M: Medium or Med-light body with a crisp finish that leaves the sour notes behind as a souvenir.

D: As much as I enjoyed the sour, I am not sure that I would dare try more than one in a night. However, this goes down smooth enough for me to give it consideration.

Photo of brown2cu
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown and is topped by a massive head that took forever to die down. At the end the head was about a finger width.

S: A solid nose but not a lot of complexity. Sour cherries are the most dominant. There is also an undertone of vinegar.

T: There is definite cherry in this beer and like the nose it is the dominant taste. It is sour at first but ends with an almost bittersweet finish. I may be deceived, but I believe there is a woody undertone in the taste.

M: Low carbonation and I was taken aback by this considering how massive the head was. A very strange feel.

O: Not my cup of tea as far as the style goes, so I tried to review as subjectively as possible.

Photo of ROMER79
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The pour was a dark red with a tan/white one finger head. The initial smell was of berries, vinegar, and cherries. The taste was interesting. I could grab the sour cherries, berries, and I even think I picked up on a milky feel. There were even some sweet after notes that followed the sour taste. It was a milky sort of feel in the mouth and the sour taste got my palate running wild. It was a slow beer to drink, definitely not a session beer. If you don't like the taste it will be hard to finish. Just man up!

Photo of spoons
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle to the tulip

Pours a dark brown with a reddish hue in the light. A super sticky tan/creamy head sits on top.

Smells is tangy. A little malty. Touch of roasted malt in there, some sweetness as well.

The nose is pretty decieving on this beer. Initial taste is way smoother and sweeter than I thought it was going to be. Has an almost soda like body to it. Some acidic sourness, but not a mouth puckering super sour type beer.

A nice beer. I will probably pick up another one of these and see how I feel about it at a later date.

Photo of thydarkprevails
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On draft. Clear ruby amber with a inch thick white head and nice lacing. Aroma is raspberry, and sour fruit. Taste is more raspberry, sour fruit, and light citrus. Thin mouthfeel. Nice sour. Not the strongest example of the style, but it was put together well and is very sessionable.

Photo of Reedbrew
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Decent but not my favorite example of the style. Though refreshing, the flavor is a bit flat and not notably sour.

Photo of Ryan_Graham
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Large head. Dark reddish brown color. Smells like lemons or tangerines. The sourness comes through right away but it's not at all offensive. This is the first "sour" ale I've ever had and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a little syrupy for my taste. It almost tastes like someone mixed a red ale with the the sweet and sour mix that people buy and use for whiskey sours. It's not spectacular, but it's different. And I'll give them credit for going outside of the box.

Photo of yeastsipper
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Interesting beer for me. First had this on tap at Monk's cafe in Philly a solid 3+ years ago now. Scary. At the time, this beer came from another world. Time has passed, and I have had a number of beers since then. I am very happy to say that this beer, while not as sour, was honestly as good as I remember it.

Beer is a copper brown color, with a very thick, off-white head. Pretty stuff. First smell is the funk. Funky, but not overly so. Then the fruit and sweetness kicks in. Nice, deep, dark cherry smell. Maybe some other crisp fruit like apples or maybe pears. Some very dry, woody qualities as well.

Taste is fantastic. Obvious sourness, but amazing balance. Sour for the sake of flavor, not for being puckeringly sour. Again, lots of fruit - the cherries stand out. Some malt and sweetness on the backend. For me this was very surprising. The beer I remember was sour sour sour. I think this is for two reasons: the beer at Monk's was on keg and probably fresher, and I have had a number of other sour beers now, so the taste does not stand out as much.

Great mouthfeel and drinkability. Just an outstanding beer. I am probably a bit nostalgic, and will score higher than the average, but IMO, I am completely justified. I love the combination of sweet and sour, funk and fruit. Awesome.

Photo of dgugliuzza
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip

A- Pours reddish brown with a thick tan head. A hazy red hue settles in the glass. Very good head retention.

S- Smells of sour prunes and sweet dark fruits. The combination of sweet and sour combines nicely. Delicate, yet complex.

T- Tastes of prunes and cherries. Mostly sour and a little sweet. Sour after taste that lingers intensely. A bit overpowering for my tastes buds, but pretty interesting nonetheless.

M- Bursts with carbonation. Medium bodied and quite crisp. Goes down fairly smooth.

D- Not sure if I would have more than one. It's a bit too sour and over carbonated for me, but there is a nice balance of sweet and sour. Granted, this was my first sour so I would like to try a few others.

Photo of Kudashov
1.56/5  rDev -59.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

12 .oz bottle with my belvoved Manic Street Preachers - " Design For Life " on the Hi-Fi .Poured into my Stella Artois glass . This was a call from Dan at Marty's . I enjoy talkiing to Dan about beer and his call on the Avery Hog Heaven was very good but this was not . I guess sour is not my style . Color was a dark red burgundy color with a one finger head that did not last long . Cider / sour apples and cherries . Tasing this is not as sour as I thought it was going to be but the flavor is everywhere and the finish is bleh . It was not overly sour that turn me off but it was a tad watery and the flavors again are everywhere . Really had to fight it to get it down . Not a drain pour but close .

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
87 out of 100 based on 2,674 ratings.