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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.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,517 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,517
Reviews: 1,063
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 59
Gots: 228 | FT: 3
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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,517 | Reviews: 1,063 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Prime16
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Reddish color, nice frothy head.

S: Tart apples, sweet with sour cherries.

T: A little sweeter than I expected with definite green apple and cherry with a refreshing and pleasing sour taste.

M: Satisfying with light carbonation, clean.

O: Enjoyable beer, just a little on the sweet side for me.

Photo of RTJakarta
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber red with a nice finger-length head. The carbonation is kinda loud (I can hear it about two feet away), and the bubbling is actually visible through the head. Nice.

A nice apple smell is what steps out the most. Not particularly sour, but I don't mind a smell that just exudes apples.

Taste gives me a very faint sourness, but an overwhelming tartness. Sort of makes me think of red apples more than green ones, but it's pleasing.

Mouthfeel is pretty moderate, with medium carbonation.

Overall, it's a very smooth, tasty drink. So glad I was able to find some on my vacation here in Louisville. Would be a nice treat every once in a while!

Photo of Mosley1212
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From Spring Break Notes)

Picked this one up at Hop City in Atlanta. This was my first sour from a purchased bottle. Here we go.

A--Poured into my Duvel tulip. Poured a ruby read with lots of carbonation bubbling from the bottom of the glass. Stared at them for a long time before finally sampling the beer. Also, beer had a creamy white head that was foamy at the start and had great retention throughout the drink.

S--Sweet and tart green apple. It is a hard smell to contemplate. Yeasty smell up front with an overly sweet finish. Not what I was expecting.

T--Follows the nose. This is the sweetest tasting sour I have ever had. It was like drinking a sour patch candy for me. Sour at first then overly sweet to finish. What a strange contrast.

M--The carbonation cleaned my palate with each sip. It felt bubbly and delicious in my mouth.

O--Not the best sour I have had. Pretty run-of-the-mill actually, but it was refreshing. I liked the sour finish and I would recommend it for that reason.

Photo of oldsailor
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad sour but also nothing spectacular about this one either. Nice red coloring with a light head. Green apple tartiness comes to mind when drinking. Carbonation is higher than most sours in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing but hurts its drinkability. This is definitely a one beer tasting so the four pack we got ours in is holding up longer than some.

Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one I'm surprised I haven't reviewed.

Light fiizzy head, darker toasty brown color.

Nose of sweet malts, fruit, apple, pear, cider like, vinegar, light lactic acid and very light sour tartness.

Taste is sweeter, light toasty brown malts, fruits with apple pear and tart fruit flavors, light sour and tart.

Mouth is lighter bodied with good carbonation.

Overall not bad, basically what I call the introduction to sours and wilds, etc. It's a light sour tart beer but nice and malty at the same time. And very drinkable.

Photo of StaveHooks
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pours dark brown with lots of red highlights.
Thin khaki head.

S - acidic fruit, vinegar, tart.

T - sweeter than the nose. Cherries dominate and coat the side and back of the tongue with tartness. Hints of green apples and stem wood. Sour but tame.

M - medium bodied, Low but tight carbonation.

This a good mix of sweet and sour. Smells incredible, and drinks very easy. Tame on the sourness.

Photo of goast8127
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer pours a deep red - ruby would be a good one word description.

The aroma is sweet and leans towards grapes. Definite notes of sourness that the name indicates.

Once on the tongue there is a sweet warmth that fills the mouth, finishing with a pleasant bitter, sour sensation.

Feels a little hot in the mouth, likely due to the carbonation. Would be interested to try this beer at a temp a few degrees warmer.

Overall a beer fitting its description. Definitely not a session beer but an excellent pre-dinner selection.

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.

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

On tap at Monk's Cafe. First sour.

A: Poured a deep, clear ruby-brown. Head was thin, off-white, and faded away rather quickly.

S: Smells tart and sweet. Like tart fruits.

T: Immediate taste of fruity sweetness, followed by significant tartness. Tastes of sour apples and cherries. The sweet and sour are well balanced. No trace of hops in the taste.

M: High carbonation that adds crispness. The tartness adds a feeling of tanginess.

D: This is very drinkable. I had misgivings about sours, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It had a nice balance of flavors, and was certainly different from any other beer I've had. It's not overly sweet or sour, and it's very tasty.

Photo of depechemode1983
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a tulip glass a dark brown with deep red tones when held to the light. The light brown head doesn't stick around long and there is no lacing at all.

S - Smell is somewhat of mildew, vinegar, sour cherries, and a toasty. Up front the sour cherries hit you with a bit of a vinegar background. Then it fades off into a mildew like character with a bit of toastyness.

T - There is a very pronounced sour cherry flavor and a nice white wine alcohol character. Again I get some toastyness in the background.

M - Medium bodied and with mild carbonation. Finish is dry.

D/N - This stuff is F'ing delicious. Picked it up out of town. Should have probably capitalized on it.

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.

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.

Photo of Jesse13713
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

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

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

Photo of zachary80
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Photo of angrybabboon
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

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.

Photo of zrab11
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of flannelman808
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

D: high

Photo of Pencible
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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!

Photo of JizackFH
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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

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.

Photo of Vengeance526
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,517 ratings.