Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 2,306 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
4.15/5 rDev +8.1%
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.
03-15-2011 23:53:48 | More by jporf911
4.08/5 rDev +6.3%
Poured into my Great Lakes Christmas Ale snifter. I was excited to see this at my local Heinen's after just recently reading that is many BA'S favorite and most drinkable sour. I had no idea it was even around here, as I'd never seen it before today.
Appearance - Three full fingers of unstable and clumpy froth appear right away. Watching the head dissipate is like watching a collapsing foam building. It just has a very unique structure to it. The liquid itself is deep brown with slight hints of crimson and amber. Very impressive lacing.
Smell - Smells very sour. I am most used to Jolly Pumpkin sours, so I have to say it smells similar to most of them; specifically Bam Biere. Strong hints of cherry with slight citrus. Smells slightly sweet and extremely acidic.
Taste - Definitely sweeter than the smell lead me to believe. It is sour as it first touches my tongue, but as I swallow i am smacked with a sack of cherries. This is the most amazing cherry beer I've ever tasted. There is definitely some light lemongrass swaying in the background as well. A slight sour pucker on the finish.Cherry and pomegranate really dominate the mouth here.
Mouthfeel / Drinkability - Now that I look at other BA's reviews, I have to disagree with many of the other statements that this beer is too sweet. I believe it to be very well balanced all through-out. Sourness and sweetness are sort of playing tug-of-war with each other, and sometimes sour wins; sometimes sweet. it just depends on each certain drink to me. Not nearly as sour as I expected. Quite light bodied as well. While the beer is resting in my mouth, I get the feeling that I am going to be overcome by sweetness when I swallow. But when I do, I am pleasantly surprised each and every time I take a drink.
03-15-2011 04:02:03 | More by Jesse13713
3.95/5 rDev +2.9%
Poured from bottle into a snifter at the Alchemist and Barrister in Princeton, NJ
Appearance: deep reddish brown with nice garnet hues, brilliant clarity
Aroma: spiced cider, pears, sour apples, and a bit of lemon
Flavor: cherries, sour apples, very dry with not much sweetness, definite oaky character, tart lemon pucker and a bit of funk on the finish
Mouthfeel: medium body, high on the carbonation...a little too high for my liking, even for a sour
Drinkability: certainly a balanced beer and something that was nice to sip on, think I could stand to have more than one in a sitting
03-14-2011 05:07:37 | More by cuttsjp
3.6/5 rDev -6.3%
Brown Body. Very nice off-white head leaves great lacing
Smell is mostly tart, some vinegar, something that reminds me of leather
Taste is mellow. Slight sour cherry flavors. Somewhat sweet with a short drier finish.
Very drinkable beer.
Not quite the beer I remembered: don't recall the vinegar, and also thought it was more assertive. Still good overall
03-12-2011 04:31:38 | More by zachary80
3.33/5 rDev -13.3%
Review adapted from notes taken 5/18/10
Appearance: Reddish brown color with a nice foamy, fluffy head - nice to look at
Smell: Sweet, sugary, funky, lactic, some malts in the background - I should note that these notes are from my second tasting - this was my first sour beer, and when I first smelled it I thought the beer smelled like a soggy sponge that someone abandoned for a few days - not kidding - thankfully, it was better the second time
Taste: More sweet than funky or sour - some sour cherry, but mostly the taste is dominated by the sweetness - gets a bit funkier as it warms up - some interesting herbal spiciness, and some wood - but the sweetness never fades, and it is somewhat overwhelming - not terrible, but certainly not something I really enjoy
Mouthfeel: Slightly above average for a sour, some nice carbonation, on the heavy side
Overall: Way too sweet for me to be interested in trying again soon - but it is something I will probably try again in the future
As I've already noted in my "smell" section, I have a strange history with Monk's Cafe. It was my first sour beer, and I didn't really like it at the time. After my first taste, I tried a few other sour beers. Then when I had Monk's Cafe again, I still didn't love it, but I had more specific reasons for not embracing its qualities. This beer is worth a try, but it's certainly not spectacular.
03-09-2011 08:05:33 | More by angrybabboon
4.18/5 rDev +8.9%
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.
03-06-2011 19:35:22 | More by petacutlasaurus
4.1/5 rDev +6.8%
A- Pours a Clear dark ruby color.Has a fluffy white head.
S-Smell is very good,has a tart sour smell with hints of grapes and tart apples
T-Has a nce smooth taste up front then finish's with alittle tartness. Very clean and crisp feel
M-Medium bodied with great carbonation
D-This is a great beer. would get this to finish a night all the time. HAvent had much from this style but i love it! Great beer ..give this s try if you havent
03-05-2011 18:53:35 | More by zrab11
3.98/5 rDev +3.6%
A: Bright amber red brown colored beer which is topped with a thin white head with medium to small bubbles. The retention isn't so great either is the lacing.
S: Lactic smell on the nose is very present as well as tart cherry and maybe a mild milk chocolate quality...
T: Sweeter than I remember and very quick finishing. Lots of carbonation hurts the tasting process a tad but thats not to say its not a tasty brew. Bing cherry and cherry herring like flavors ring true. A sweet almost soy sauce like quality follows up the sour with the sweet punch which eventually overtakes leaving the beer sweet finishing.
M: Carbonic tang
03-05-2011 09:51:20 | More by flannelman808
4.13/5 rDev +7.6%
A: This poured a mostly clear garnet with lots of tan head.
S: It smelled very metallic, with sweet prune and earthy caramel and a little balsamic vinegar and herbal hops.
T: It tasted like sweet prune and balsamic and earthy caramel, with white vinegar and metallic tin and sour Belgian yeast. It had a mouth-watering sour aftertaste that was smooth and clean.
M: It was thin with lots of carbonation. Not normally the body I like, but it really worked well for this beer.
D: This had great complexity and balance of sweet and sour. It had very nice scent and taste, with the exception of the metallic sense. Body really helped lighten the intensity of the sourness, making this easier to drink. But it's still better as a sipping beer. Age may help improve, but it's very enjoyable fresh.
03-03-2011 16:07:56 | More by Pencible
2.55/5 rDev -33.6%
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!
03-02-2011 02:57:24 | More by katybee
3.93/5 rDev +2.3%
A - This beer pours a clear dark ruby brown color. It has a nice fluffy off-white head. The color of the head reminds me of an apple slice starting to brown. There are also some carbonation bubbles present.
S - The smell is a bit sour and tart. There is also some oakiness and some funk present. Other notes I am getting include Cherry, grapes, and a touch of vinegar.
T - The taste is sour and tart up front. There is some yeast funkiness in the middle, but not all that much. I am also getting notes of fruit, brown sugar, and some cinnamon. The finish is quite clean. There is no hop presence here at all.
M - This has a medium body and moderate carbonation. It goes down easy and has a good flavor. It is sour and tart, but not too much.
D - It has good drinkability. I drank this faster than I thought I would. It has good flavor and is very easy to drink. I like this beer, and I can't wait to try others of this style.
03-01-2011 13:31:17 | More by JizackFH
3.98/5 rDev +3.6%
11.2oz brown bottle
Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale was red-brown in color with good clarity. It had an off-white head with decent retention and lacing. The smell was fruit (cherries) and vinegar. The taste was sweet and sour cherries with some malt, vinegar and buttery notes. The finish was sweet, sour and semi-dry. The mouthfeel was good with a medium-light body and plenty of carbonation. The drinkability was good as this beer kept me very interested. This is a tasty brew and worth a try.
02-27-2011 22:16:57 | More by afinepilsner
3.93/5 rDev +2.3%
Pours a dark red amber color with a large sudsy tan head that quickly fades away and leaves hardly any lacing.
Smells of sour cherries, apple and a hint of vinegar.
Taste starts off a little sweet with the cherry flavor strongly present. The sweetness quickly turns back to sour, some light apple shows up again with some woody flavors in the back.
Medium carbonation with a thin mouthfeel. A nice mild sour overall.
02-27-2011 21:35:16 | More by Vengeance526
3.58/5 rDev -6.8%
A: nice mahogany red, gotta score high for color alone. fairly fluffy, cloud like tan head gets rejuvinated with a mere swirl of the glass. strands of lacing remain behind strewn all over the place.
S: sour fruits such as cherries and green apple. nice malt backbone.
T: pretty good mix of sweet and sour aspects. sour cherry up front, and sweetish green apple on the finish. after my palate gets used to the first few sips, the green apple really pulls through as a primary flavor. pretty enjoyable.
M: brisk carbonation slams up front and then gives way to somewhat of a smooth middle to finish. my mouth is left quite content after each sip, it really starts to grow on me.
D: i think the serving size for this beer is the right amount. i probably wouldnt move onto a second one, however the one i am enjoying now goes down super smooth and fast.
02-27-2011 01:28:09 | More by Kkottonmouthkngz
4.22/5 rDev +9.9%
Served on-tap in a 50 cl fluted glass at Delaney's in New Haven, Conn.
A: Clean, dark reddish amber color with a thin, creamy cap of white foam which settles to a thin coating, leaving little lace. burnished red color is quite nice and the clarity is good for a seemingly darker red ale.
S: Fruity, floral bouquet of red berries, melon, citrus and musty, old bread. Lots of sweetness and only a hint of spicy, yeasty resin.
T: Sweet, tart and fruity up front, with a big-time sour berry and cherry flavor coupled quickly with rushes of sticky sweet caramel malts. Finishes out a bit chewy, with lingering raisin and berry sweetness among the sweet and tart aftertaste.
M: Medium-full bodied brew with some sticky sweet malts and tart acidity thrown around the palate.
D: A very interesting specialty Belgian brew and at 5.5% ABV it's not a stretch to try a few. The fruity, floral esters of this blended Belgian red ale are balanced, yet sweet, acidic, tart and funky all at once. Quite good if you;re in the mood to maybe pair it with a duck or wild turkey.
02-26-2011 05:22:21 | More by Gambrinus1184
3.7/5 rDev -3.6%
11.2oz bottle poured into a Pretty Things wine glass. Bottle generously provided as an extra by bs870621345, thanks Bobby!
A - This pours a really nice, deep cherry mahogany color, a great contrast between ruby and wooded brown colors. About a finger's worth of head floats on top of the beer, with fantastic retention, lasting for well over 15 minutes. Lacing is thick and generous.
S - The smell is a bit more mild than other sours I've had, but my most recent have been from Russian River so I'm not sure that's a fair comparison given the style differences and such. Tart cherries, fresh apples, some slight cocoa sweetness, and a lactic, vinegary note fill the aroma. A nice combination of sweet and sour funk going on here.
T - The taste is a tamed down version of the aroma here, unfortunately. While the nose boasts elegant bouquets of fruit and some funk, the taste is instead reduced to a barely tart cherry and raspberry juice quality. Even the vinegar in the nose was a little welcome just to keep things fresh, but in the taste its more acidic.
M - Mouthfeel is light-bodied with good carbonation. Light and spritzy on the palate but the frothy head aids some smoothness as well.
D - Drinkability is moderate. The nose really had me excited for this, but the taste is more narrow in focus. It's a bit simple, if not tasty, but the aroma had so much more opportunity. I would've loved to have this as an introduction to more sour beers, as it is gentle and only slightly tart.
02-25-2011 05:53:20 | More by nhindian
2.88/5 rDev -25%
This is one of the first sour ales I've had, and I liked it fairly well.
The appearance is very reddish brown and actually quite appealing with a nice sustained head and delicate lacing.
The smells are almost overwhelming at first, as there is so much going on. Initially the sour cherries come barreling towards you followed by an entourage of sweet and sour notes.
It tastes quite sweet on the tongue and the sourness permeates the rest of your mouth. There's a feeling of drinking balsamic vinegar at times.
Has a very sticky and lasting mouthfeel, very difficult to shake.
02-25-2011 01:25:35 | More by paganbeast
4.1/5 rDev +6.8%
Appearance: Hazy brown with reddish tinge at the edges. Thin off-white head clings to the edges of the beer.
Smell: Tart cherries, estery notes, and a whiff of wheat. I can also detect a touch of lactose and grassiness.
Taste: The initial impression is sweet cherry, think pie, with white sugar and ester flavors right behind. The finish is a mild lactic sourness that is refreshingly dry.
Mouthfeel: Thin mouthfeel with just a touch of stickiness. Wine-like drying finish.
Drinkability: Tartly refreshing and not overly sweet. Highly drinkable.
02-20-2011 22:50:41 | More by thstevens12
4/5 rDev +4.2%
Poured this into a tulip and allowed it to warm up a bit before drinking.
Poured a nice dark reddish amber with a dark lacy head that stayed on the glass.
Smell was acetic with a strong smell of cherries, some sweetness, and an underlying smell of vinegar and funk.
I was a bit disappointed with the taste. It has a good sour cherry with a musty funk, but ends with a bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is a bit heavy and not the degree of sourness I was expecting.
Although I have had better sours, I would recommend this one to those just starting out or to anyone who wants to keep several on hand as they are easy to find and priced well for this style.
02-20-2011 16:31:34 | More by Geuzedad
3.13/5 rDev -18.5%
Poured into a tulip glass and allowed to warm up to cellar temp before drinking.
The body is crisp and clear. A deep ruby red that borders on garnet, it is topped with a fluffy white 1 finger head that leaves sticky streaks of lacing, as well as some spots of foam, all over the sides of the glass. This looks absolutely gorgeous.
The aroma, unfortunately doesn't live up to the high expectations set by the appearance. There is a light acetic quality to the aroma, but more so, there are sour cherries, some cocoa powder, and an underlying sweetness. The presence of a ton of residual sugar is evident on the palate. The sweetness is high, even for a Flanders Red, making this one a bit tough to drink from the outset. Cloying from the start, the flavor has a long way to go to impress me. The dominant flavor outside of the sweetness is red wine vinegar, which is accompanied in the finish by some more slight acidity and some sour cherries.
Slick and heavy on the palate despite being sour, this beer just didn't really impress me all that much. There are far better representations of this style out there, though I can see the value in this beer. It would be a good training wheel sour for someone just getting into the expensive habit.
02-20-2011 05:14:55 | More by NittanyBeerFan
4.25/5 rDev +10.7%
Poured into my Duvel tulip, pours a dark amber color, with quick froth that fills the glass, and receeds to leave some nice lacing. Smell- sour apples, musty funk, sour sugar. Taste- fruit, sour apples, dark cherry, a sweet but not cloying finish. Mouthfeel- nice rich carbonation, smooth feel. Drinkability- if you can stand the powerful sour, this is borderline sessionable.
I'm really loving sours these days...and this is a drinkable and awesome example.
02-20-2011 03:02:57 | More by lnashsig
3.68/5 rDev -4.2%
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.
02-11-2011 04:22:35 | More by DPFRD
4.05/5 rDev +5.5%
Served on tap at Three Floyd's in a Monk glass.
Appearance: This pours a cherry color with a tint of brown and a thin foamy tan cap. It mostly fades to a ring but leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.
Smell: Tart cherries, some vinegar, and surprising raisin aroma, which is pleasant and really some character.
Taste: A dash of light malt starts out the sip. Sweet cherries turn tart, then acidic and vinegary. A dash of raisin is in here, and the finish is more tart cherry and vinegar.
Mouthfeel: Crisply carbonated and a little bit creamy at the end. The tartness leaves my lips puckering and my mouth salivating. Medium bodied.
Drinkability: I found this to be easy drinking, not too tart, but with a pleasant, moderately complex flavor. I would definitely order this again.
02-09-2011 22:50:58 | More by KickInTheChalice
3.8/5 rDev -1%
pours a deep amber tone, sits a chestnut color with ruby tones evident when held to light. foamy finger, finger and a half beige head, middling retention; head lapse into a thin cap... very nice lacing.
nose is a pretty nice bouquet consisting mostly of malts, sour/tartness, and a fruity sweetness.
flavor hits me with a little more sourness than i was anticipating based on the aroma, but not an overly, mouth-pucking sour... interesting balance between the sweet and sour. defintely has some tang to it; sour cherries. tasty and refreshing, though nothing transcendent.
medium-bodied mouthfeel with healthy carbonation. drinks easily. looks like 4s across the board here.
edit: docking the drinkability score a point. it's wearing on me.
02-08-2011 03:03:10 | More by perrymarcus
3.8/5 rDev -1%
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.
02-05-2011 19:27:33 | More by larsenju
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,306 ratings.