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
86
very good

1,088 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,088
Hads: 2,699
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 75
Gots: 342 | 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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Reviews: 1,088 | Hads: 2,699
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. (845 characters)

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. (908 characters)

Photo of kpoole25
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 oz to glass. Clear brownish red, tan head. Sour aromas, a little like sour milk or yogurt. Taste has a cloying sweetness along with the sour, it's really like a soda pop. Or maybe if Martinelli's made a sparkling cherry and added a few drops of vinegar for a little extra pucker. I haven't had any other sours but this did not remind me of beer. Still, it was fairly drinkable, went down quick. (399 characters)

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. (271 characters)

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. (720 characters)

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. (637 characters)

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. (910 characters)

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. (768 characters)

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. (1,057 characters)

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. (727 characters)

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. (1,631 characters)

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. (320 characters)

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 (874 characters)

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. (554 characters)

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.

Overall:
Not bad for a change of pace but nothing worth seeking out. Above-average for the style. (817 characters)

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. (701 characters)

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! (777 characters)

Photo of jporf911
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle with no freshness date into my trusty snifter.

Appearance- 2.5 out of 5. Aside from an initial burst of excitingly active fizz, this beer appears very lackluster. A charming ring of slightly tan lace rounds the top, but the beer itself is a dull dark brown that seems almost entirely opaque when held up to the light, ringed only with a little equally dull red. Not only is it rather boring, it's also a bit uncharacteristic for the style-- more translucency and ruby-reddish tint should be present.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. On the other hand, the aroma is refreshingly pleasant and true-to-style. With hints of cherries, woodiness, and fruity wine that's been left out so long that it slowly turns to vinegar, it tickles the nose with anticipation. Pale and crystal malts provide a solid foundation for the rest of the scents, which do not include any hops at all. Nothing overpowering, but it's a step up from the appearance.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. Jesus H. Christ, it's like a sour cherry warhead just pulled out my tongue, cut it off, and proceeded to beat the rest of my mouth with it. Be prepared for mouth-puckeringly strong sourness when you first sip this beer. It fades as your tongue becomes acclimated to it, but my god does it catch you off guard after the deceptively mild aroma. Make sure your palate is cleansed to fully enjoy the sensation. After the initial tongue-punch, it mellows out into sour cherries, fresh tart apples, and raspberries. A little earthy oak peeks in before washing away in a tide of mild sweetness that lingers in the aftertaste. As with the nose, no hops are present. Acidity is low, as is the "funkiness"-- the yeast did a great job of turning out a clean, mellow Sour Ale. The fairly low alcohol is hidden behind everything else going on in the glass. It's a classic example of the style.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Slightly dry with a medium body and astringent finish. Easily quaffable, but why waste such a treat for your mouth? Take it slow and savor each sip; they become creamier as it warms.

Drinkability- 4.5 out of 5. I'm tempted to give this a slightly lower drinkability score because both the price and the slowly-sipping nature needed to truly appreciate it make it a rather poor choice for a session, but if you were flush enough and so inclined, you could easily spend a few hours having a few of these. This is a great choice for people who dislike hops, wine drinkers who want to get into beer, and people who love sour candy and sour fruits. Keep in mind my bias-- this may not be for beginners coming from a macro-lager background. (2,614 characters)

Photo of Beelzebeer
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle, no BB date, served in a tulip. I bought this from a bottle shop in NYC about 2 years ago.

A - Holy head! I had to pour extra slow, just a trickle, to keep this thing under wraps. Maybe it's the age? Alot of bubbles coming up. After a couple minutes, it's still going strong.

S - I can't really get much of a smell. Could be the head, could be my nose, could be the beer. Some sour coming through, but not a whole lot.

T - Malt off the top. A little bread, some light raisin, then the sour kicks in. This is delicious. Very well balanced.

M - Nice. Medium-high carbonation, but not too much, with a chewier body than what I was expecting. A very nice surprise.

O - Killer. Liked it then, like it now. I really wish more sours were available in Canada, let alone Newfoundland. (798 characters)

Photo of nightcrawler
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a scary-looking muddy brown with a brown head. There were red highlights when viewed with a bright light looking through the glass. Lacing was thick and tight on the glass.

Smelled sort of like BBQ sauce with a hint of yeast/bread. Very interesting. Carbonation was like a soda.

The taste was sweet with a cherry wine-like finish. Very easy to drink, maybe too easy. The beer has a creamy feel and carbonation continues to produce bubbles when the liquid hits your warm tongue.

My mouth tingles slightly with the sour after every swallow. Not a beer to chug all afternoon, but very tasty. (605 characters)

Photo of PSUBeerman
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle in tulip glass
*First sour I recall tasting

Deep mahogany/garnet color. Head is off white, slightly tan color. Head pours frothy, but dissipated quickly. Definite lacing and retention around glass.

Vinegar aroma hits immediately. Characteristics of red wine in the aroma as well.

Nice carbonation. I thought it was refreshing and very drinkable as far as the mouthfeel.

I thought the taste was well balanced between the sour / tartness and the sweetness. I am a vinegar lover, so I may be biased to say that it was not overpowering with tartness. I picked up some fruitiness, possibly cherry. It reminds me of a local winemaker who bottled a sour cherry wine.

I enjoyed this. Was not what i expected with my first try at a sour ale. (752 characters)

Photo of cwc
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wow, this beer kind of changed my life, as far as beers go. Never having had a "sour red ale", I really wasn't sure what to expect, but what a treat it was! This is one of the most refreshing and tasty beers I can remember consuming and it really opens up a whole world of beers for future consumption! Really, this is a unique and special beer worth seeking out and trying.

T - very distinct and refreshing. Maybe all "sour red ales" taste like this, but it was a new and distinct taste for me - and it worked!

D - One could probably enjoy quite a few of these very easily. Not too strong by any means. (606 characters)

Photo of VinnyA
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Source: 11.2oz bottle
Served: tulip glass

Appearance: pours a deep red with about 1 inch tan head.

Smell: sugar, sour apple, hint of cherry

Taste: slightly bitter and moderately sour. Low tartness. Notice some vinegar. Beer gives way to a relatively clean finish, it is very much a palate cleansing beer. Tasty, however, I can't quite put my finger on what makes this unique.

Mouthfeel: high carbonation. Monks has a mild bite on the back end of the tongue that fades out into a refreshing yet dry finish. It quenches your thirst and is a nice cleanser.

Overall: this is a good entry-level sour red. I have to recommend having it on draft at monks cafe in Philly, if you're in the area. It is a lot softer, mildly carbonated and sweeter which balances out the sourness brilliantly. Still, the bottled version is a good beer to have before eating meat or as a relaxer on a summer evening. If you like the style, I'd recommend buying a case of it at least once. Very easy to drink. If you're looking for a more complete Oud Bruin, I recommend the Liefmans Goudenband. (1,070 characters)

Photo of jenitivecase
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to EmperorStan for bringing this one back from CA.

A: Pours a clear, coppery red, with a loose, fizzy head that dissipates leaving straggly lacing behind.

S: Clean scent. Picking up the usual sour fruits - plums, apples, etc., with some notes of acidity and a touch of citrus.

T: Very average sour ale. Not too sour, but not too sweet, although there is a good deal of sweetness in the taste. Again, lots of fruitiness, and the slightest touch of barnyard. Makes me think of candy apples.

M: Slightly watery, but not unpleasantly so. Nothing really stand out here, but nothing negative, either. Leaves a nice clean palate behind.

D: This may be a slightly generic sour, but it's a well-crafted one. I would have no problem at all with putting away a 750 of this on my own. Definitely a session drinker. (815 characters)

Photo of djeffbee
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Canal's Discount Liquors in Pennsauken, NJ. Very shocked to see this on the shelf, couldn't pass it up @ $1.99/bottle...

A - Pours deep amber to ruby, with no haze and a short head that fades quickly leaving lotsa lacing behind.

S - Sour cherries and green apples. More pleasant than expected based on other reviews.

T - WOW. Sour cherries (talking sour patch kids) with a mild malty background and no apparent hop presence. This is good.

M - I liken this to sucking on a lemon - a bit tart at first, making you pucker and leaving a very pleasant clean tingle. Nice.

D - Very good. I was expecting so much worse. This is an excellent beverage. I could see maybe two at a sitting, but not much more beyond that. (kinda like you wouldn't drink a few Coke's in a row)

Very enjoyable and will definitely purchase this again.. (840 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,088 ratings.