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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 yeastsipper
4.3/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
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.

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Photo of Kudashov
1.56/5  rDev -59.4%
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 .

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Photo of tprokop7
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Trying this for the second or third time, out of a 11.2 oz bottle into an oversized wine glass. It's not bad, but something about the taste isn't for me. I think it's a little too sweet, and that the sugars are a bit muddled. The sour finish is nice, the beer looks beautiful.

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

poured into a stone ipa tulip

A murkey redish brown, 2 finger head

S FUNKY, real tart fruits( im still getting my sours palate down) im getting some vinegar as well.

T hmmm i get sweet apples, some funk, sour cherry and other spent fruits.

M medium heavy body, suprisingly smooth, ive had others that were super heavy and acidic. this one was pleasant.

O i would get this again to help me build a palate, not so acidic down my alley at this point

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Photo of TaySuth
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark copper red in color with a three finger head of creamy, small bubbles that recedes to one finger.

Smell: Tartness is immediately apparent with notes of fruit, mostly cherry, strongly dominating the smell. Minimal hops aroma.

Taste: Very tart right off the bat with a good fruitiness. The taste then shifts to a strong malt character. Slightly bitter and sour on the finish. Really good.

Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated with a medium body.

Overall: A very enjoyable beer that I will be looking to pick up some more bottles of sooner than later.

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Photo of ryantaussig
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Leaps and bounds better on tap than it ever was in the bottle. I'm so sad the keg at The Good Life was kicked. While very similar to the bottled version. The freshness of it from the keg made for a significantly more sour experience. Same look (although lacing was better), better aroma and flavor. A great beer, especially on tap.

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Photo of Stonebreaker
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Brown with a red tinge and a thin head with strong carbonation.

Smell: Sour cherries, apple vinegar with a little oak maybe.

Taste and mouthfeel: Like a homemade cherry pop, with a touch of vinegar, not my thing but probably good for the style. You can taste the wood immediately then its blocked, by tannins perhaps.

Drinkability: Only a curiosity for me. A very occasional treat.

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Photo of Goldfish19
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

~ Purchased this bottle at Big Z Beverage in Huntington, NY. The appearance is reddish brown with a thick off-white head that lingers around for a while. Unique sweet and sour aromas graze the nose quite well. Taste is sour, but on the mild side. I keep picking out sour cherries from this beer more than anything else. Monk's Café does not overpower in any way. It's clean, light, and very refreshing. ~

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Photo of larsenju
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Rich amber red body with a very tall light brown head, very good retention and lacing.

S-Just a little sour, some cherries, just a little caramel, crisp apple, and just a touch of a vinegar aroma.

T-Lightly tart, I was getting plenty of cherry and a little green apple, I also got some other lightly fruity esters. It wasn't really funky at all, leaving it pretty juicy but it was still pretty nice. There was also a little malt profile buried in there, kind of a mix of caramel and biscuit with just a little bit of oak backing everything up.

M-Lots of carbonation, but its still pretty smooth, and very dry, almost champagne like.

D-I really like a super tart and funky Flanders, and this isn't. That said, its pretty easy to drink making it more approachable than most in the style. If I remember right it wasn't to expensive either.

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Photo of clarkm04
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Very reddish dark with a decent white head retention.

S- Very nice profile. Nice sour notes with strong cherries is the predominant smells I get.

T- Very nice balance between the sour and sweet notes. I get a nice tart cherry taste that is very robust yet somewhat delicate taste. Not as sour as I expected but very delicious throughout with a definite sour note that transpires throughout the whole taste profile. Nicely carbonated and I totally see this as a dessert beer.

M - Very good. Nicely carbonated and the beer sits well on the palate

D- Very high. I wish I had another one to drink.

Overall - Monk's is a very good example of a Flemish Red. Not as sour as some of the other sour beers I have encountered but I really liked the nice balance between the souring effect created by blending the beer with the sweet notes from the cherries. Definitely a beer to try if you are into sour beers.

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Photo of MrBoz21
4.06/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep red, clear and effervescent. What cap that settles into persistent skiff.

Aroma is horsey sour. Crisp.

Taste: cherry tart with nice lactic sweetness.

Mouth: Dry with tart tingle on back of tongue.

Overall: delicious sour ale that is very refreshing and balanced.

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Photo of PiecefulToker
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark, ruby/amber brown color, opaque, with a sticky layer of head that leaves thick lacing in my chalice.

S: Dark cherries, dried fruit, plums, slight vinegar, sweet caramel, sour and tart, lactic smell.

T&M: Much more sour and dry than I expected from the smell. This had kind of a funky texture, but was quite creamy and smooth going down. It was very sour and lactic, leaving an almost burning sensation in the back of my mouth and throat. Not much sweetness at all, but I still get the raisin/dried fruit, plum, and dark cherry flavors, just not as pronounced as I expected. I wasn't sure at first, but I like this the more I drink it. I much prefer Rodenbach.

D: Not very high, though I could take down a few.

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Photo of VoiceOfTheSoul
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip.

A: It pours a dark red, with a tan pillowy head that stays quite well. Some pretty nice lacing.

S: Smells vinous, with apple cider vinegar, lots of sourness, foreshadows the tartness, and has sweetness as it warms.

T: Taste is very tart with sour, vinous, apple and grapes up front with some dark cherry. Malts and more sourness at the end. As it warms, even more sourness comes through.

M: Tight carbonation with a medium-thick feel, similar to a champagne.

D: I could definitely drink a number of these in a sitting, especially for/with dessert. This was a great introduction to sour ales for me.

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Photo of VMWhelan
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby red / brown with a thin head that dissapates quickly.

Smells tart with some sour grape and cherry but also malty with a bit of sweetness to back it up. Also detecting a slight woodiness.

Taste is sweet almost instanty followed by sour and finished with that same woodiness again, though not as prominent. Pretty well balanced as the sourness is not overwhelming at all. Leaves a nice sour cherry taste on the upper lip.

Mouthfeel is medium-light and very very fizzy. This is my first of the style so I'm not sure if its supposed to be this carbonated, but I feel like it fits the flavor well. The champagne of beer?

Drinkability is high. This goes down incredibly easy. I feel like I could drink a lot in a night, though I'm not sure if I'd necessarily want to stick to this style for so long.

Overall, a nice introduction to Flemish sours, looks like I'll be trying more in the future.

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

A- Dark Reddish Brown, creamy 2 cm head that recedes leaving a thing layer on top.

S- Sweet and tart, with hint of acidity and a trace of pepper.

T- Upfront comes sweetness, followed immediately by the tart, once it expands some more pronounced sourness pokes it's head, but only momentarily, as it closes with an oaky tannin quality.

M- Medium, good carbonation.

D- It's tasty. I think it is very accessible for almost anyone for this style, as it's not very subtle and the flavors are very clean cut.

O- Not too sour, and the balance of sweetness is good, but definitely more towards the sweet end. The nose shows this as it doesn't give off that pronounced sour aroma... it's in there if you look for it and the beer has had time to open up. Not to shabby.

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Photo of esv
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Flemish, from Flanders - a region that covers portions of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The head stands at about 1/3'' and I can hear it. It's like a snap, crackle pop sound or like a soft, white noise or a soda. The head flattens fairly quickly but lacing sticks around.

The beer is dark with a deep brownish red glow around the edges. Light doe not hardly pass through the bulk of the beer.

I can smell sour before I even lift the glass to my nose. The nose is both sour and sweet and it truly reminds me of a Chinese sauce.

There is a thin but syrupy-sweet taste and then sour. The beer is really quite sweet and certainly tangy. There is a hint of bitterness that becomes more detectable as the beer warms. It is almost like the bitterness you might taste from a cup of hot tea, when it has been allowed to cool and the teabag was left to sit in the cup. It is a dry bitterness.

The mouthfeel is thin.

I must admit, this is the first sour beer I've had and it will take me some time to purchase another bottle. It was not easy for me drink.

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

A: Poured into a tulip glass, a minimal silky white head topped this reddish-brown ale. A gorgeous looking beer.

S: It has a lot less funk than I would've expected. Its aroma is mild with a hint of sour but non-citric fruits.

T: This is the least sour example I've ever tasted of this style. It tastes of tart cherries, minus some of the associated sweetness. Hints of lemon are also present.

M: Absolutely silky. The carbonation is just perfect, and it's just thin enough that my tastebuds aren't overpowered.

D: Surprisingly for a sour ale, I could see myself drinking several of these in a sitting. It's mildness compared to other sour ales I've sampled makes this the most drinkable example of the style I can think of.

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Photo of kleffman
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay glass. A very dark amber brown color with ruby red when held up to the light. Poured a small tight head with great retention and lacing on the glass.

Aroma immediately hit me with vinegar and that's what I expected out of the taste. Tart fruits and something funky in the nose that I couldn't place until I read a review below saying "wet horse blanket". While that sounds absolutely disgusting, it's sort of true and I'm going to go ahead and say I enjoy this most interesting aroma.

Taste is fantastic. The mouthfeel is divine, more on that later. Flavors of both sweet and sour cherries, plums, and other over ripe fruits. Slight woody character. Quite acidic and sour but not overpowering like many Flanders Reds tend to be. Maybe that's what makes this an Oud Bruin style? The bottle however claims it's a Flemish Sour Red. Definite lacto presence and a little vinegar even though the aromas could've fooled me into thinking it was dominated by vinegar.

Mouthfeel on this is by far the best I've experienced from the Flanders style beers. It's a rather nice medium body with plenty of carbonation helping it finish quite dry and wine-like. I think without this mouthfeel it wouldn't be the same beer at all.

High on drinkability if you enjoy the Flanders beers. It's a new style for me but they're quickly growing on me and I'm trying to really open my mind to them. I wish I could find more of this one, but there was only one bottle left where I got it.

Bottom line is if you come across this beer it's most definitely worth a shot. I only had to pay $2.50 for it, but I would spend more than that.

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Photo of ROBORB
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a ruby, hazy red color with a very thin head. The aroma was teh best part of this beer. It smelled of candy, sugar, and cherries. I found the beer to be overly sweet at first sip but as the beer warmed it started getting more sour. This would be a great transitional beer for someone getting into sours.

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Photo of Sumdeus
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: poured deep ruby in color into a mini snifter. Very little head. Last pour from the bottle is sediment heavy.

S: rich dark fruits with a nice moderate tartness to it.

T: the fruit characteristics are first which develops in to a medium tart kick with a clean finish.

M: good feel to the beer, not too thin, it has some thicker viscosity aspects to it but does not coat.

O: a good moderate sour with some dark fruits and tart cherry that is very pleasing to drink. Nothing out of this world but a good everyday beer for when the sour mood strikes.

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Photo of viverlee
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

More than any other for me, there’s variety in this style. Superlative to good to average to what the fuck, to be more specific. This one, I wanted to like it more.

STYLE: Flanders Oud Bruin

ABV: 5.5%

LOOK: Dark wood, brown, and syrupy. But that’s a standstill take. On closer inspection with a whirl or two around a Belgian tulip it’s plainly lighter, unsticky.

NOSE: Burnt leather, stale coffee, flat soda. Residual cherry and malt vinegar.

MOUTH: Rather soft, mild tartness. The biggest problem I have is reconciling the message (Flemish Sour Ale) with the result (a slightly sweeter, moderately more acidic Killian’s Irish Red). Cherry skins and cola cake, yes – a wee bit. But it’s a struggle to pull more. For a so-called sour, the finish is ridiculously clean, palate cleansing.

Beeradvocate Rating: 86

ratebeer Rating: 92

Hayward Abbey Rating: 77

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Photo of KingG
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served at room temp and poured into my Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance is good. The beer itself is dark red/almost purple. Nice creamy tan colored head with impressive lacing.

Smell is average. Sweet/tart aromas fight to be on top with the tartness winning out at the end. There's a strange stinky garbage smell coming through which isn't pleasant.

Taste is above-average. Initially, a nice fruity tartness hits with tamarind and oak. Finishes slightly metallic and lacks complexity but pretty good none-the-less.

Mouthfeel is good. Medium bodied for the style and a nice level of carbonation. Texture is slightly chalky.

Drinkability is above-average. I'll finish it but I'm moving onto something else afterward.

Not bad for a change of pace but nothing worth seeking out. Above-average for the style.

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Photo of Greenfloyd
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Flemish Sour Ale. That just might be the sexiest beer description ever. Or not....

Poured into my tulip glass with a fairly menacing looking brownish/amber color that is topped off by a long lasting (albeit extremely thin) cappuccino frothy head. The nose brings out subtle malted vinegar and tart apple aromas that only a Flanders beer can. The taste is so wonderfully complex- sweet malty tones with apple cider trail off into a tart, mildly acidic finish. The mouth feel of this ale, as I've been finding out, is indicative of the remarkably refreshing light to medium body these beers all have. A great beer with grilled Steak au Poivre, or with some brie de meaux and crusty French bread. Enjoy.

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Photo of TheMadJack
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. Bottle into Tulip glass.

A: Dark brownish-red with a spotty, thin, light beige head. Sounds like a coke when I pour it.

S: Smells like a tawny port. Caramel, dates, raisins, rye, and wine vinegar. No hops.

T: Lightly toasted malts and a firm apple-cider vinegar flavor are at the forefront. Green grapes, cola, and a little bit of sugar wrap it up.

M: The acid is enough to register on the tongue and make the beer unavoidably sour, but not undrinkably so. The tongue doesn't curl, but the sourness brightens, and mild carbonation further lifts, what would otherwise be a heavy and almost syrupy brew.

D: This is my first exposure to the style and I am greatly pleased. I wish I could find this locally so I could start experimenting with food pairings!

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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.