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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,223 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,223
Reviews: 1,032
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 14.1%
Wants: 47
Gots: 133 | FT: 2
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:
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 added by: nomad on 06-19-2003)
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Ratings: 2,223 | Reviews: 1,032 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BretSikkink
BretSikkink

Mexico

3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Almost a dark brown color, looks a lot like Duchesse du Bourgogne off the taphead actually. Pretty hazy, with a reddish tint to the large tan head that sticks a while.

The aroma is quite nice; lots of pleasingly sour and tart notes like green apple, tangy pear, etc. Very clean, not too earthy or dusty here.

Strangely strong on the vinegar end. I've really enjoyed this from the bottle before, but it tastes dramatically different here. Quite sour, but not as clean as the bottle: seriously strong vinegar flavor keeps coming back.

Still a lot of fruit, good tanginess, and puckering in the finish for days, lightish body but not too bad. I'm not hugely pleased by the overbearing acidity here. I guess go for the bottle, unless you're near Philly and you know you're getting a good fresh keg.

Serving type: on-tap

08-24-2008 03:20:17 | More by BretSikkink
Photo of PEBKAC
PEBKAC

New York

3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Gift from a friend. Yes I like sours, thank you. :)

Poured into my Ommegang flute that's just about perfect for everything these days.

Thick & heavy two inch French vanilla head. Tipping the glass doesn't change the level on the surface. The color of red oak stain, light takes all angles through but the most direct.

Smells of cider vinegar, maple, an honest assumption of potting soil, & a sweet/sour note that comes off a little like a mix between Chinese s&s sauce, & white grapes. Inviting & confusing at the same time.

Taste is a flash of syrupy sweet juice followed by a quick pat down with oak. Overripe cantaloupe & sour orange throw into the ring, but overall all the flavors remain pretty level. A little bit of something like sour milk & ash in the finish, but it agrees with me(sort of). Just a little bit of rind bitterness to keep things interesting. A little cookie crust overtakes any remaining sour right at the very end.

Carbonation is sitting pretty, & just has that touch about her. Body is thin & juicy, but it spreads itself out too far trying to keep everyone happy. A little brashness is healthy every now & then.

Serving type: bottle

08-15-2008 01:23:40 | More by PEBKAC
Photo of AlexJ
AlexJ

North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ruby chestnut pour with a frothy beige head of large bubbles that falls to a soapy ring.

Aroma is over-ripe apples, tart cherry, must, diluted vinegar, with light toasty vanilla and oak.

Flavor is a near perfect blend of sweet and sour notes; musty orchard fruit, sweet balsalmic vinegar, tart cherries, and a nice winey oak spice note. As it warms a steely minerality comes into play. Not overy complex but very tastey.

Body shy of medium with loose carbonation, a slippery mouthfeel and superb drinkability. A definate session sour.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2008 13:31:24 | More by AlexJ
Photo of tai4ji2x
tai4ji2x

Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

no date on the bottle. possible batch number of U8:44?

poured into tulip

dark, almost opaque reddish brown. red tint under the light. not bottle conditioned, so pretty clear. decent head, but soon fades to a thin, then wispy layer. some good lacing.

very sour and funky vinegar aroma. fresh wood comes in and peaks at the back. balsamic vinegar? cider, crabapple, hint of dried cranberry and raisins. whiff of molasses.

flavors are similar, tart upfront with that balsamic character again. plus more woody notes. undertone of caramelized malts, with that almost-molasses flavor. tartness fades as it continues and you start to notice a gentle (hop?) bitterness. pleasantly sweet and sour overall.

not too thin nor watery. some acidic and tannic texture. moderate and refreshing carbonation.

perhaps not the pinnacle of the style, but you can't beat the price.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2008 03:38:16 | More by tai4ji2x
Photo of aerozeppl
aerozeppl

New York

4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Monk's but this review is from the bottle.

A: Nice cloudy and earthy red color. 1/2 finger of white head with some lacing.

S: Nice and tart. Little bit musty and earthy. Not as potent on a nose as it is on tap.

T: Very tart and vinegary. Nice fruitiness. Not as complex as on tap which is kind of weird but it is still good.

M: Nice tart feel. Syrupy and coating.

D: Very drinkable. Love the huge taste and low ABV. Definitely grab this again if in Philly.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2008 23:46:06 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of largadeer
largadeer

California

3.05/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: 11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass, because I'm a fuckin' rebel. Clear but dark ruby red with great head retention, no sediment. Nice looking stuff.

Smell: Sweet and sour, with an emphasis on the sweet; balsamic vinegar, a bit of cherry cough syrup, slightly mineral/metallic. Pretty middle of the road for the style.

Taste & mouthfeel: Fruity sweetness followed by mild sourness, which leads way to a sweet/sour finish. I'd like a bit less sweetness, but this is pleasant enough. Mouthfeel is a touch syrupy. Decent, but far from great.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2008 01:48:13 | More by largadeer
Photo of happygnome
happygnome

Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: pours a deep mohogany color with about an eigth inch of head that dissapears quickly leaving a good amount of lacing
s: vinegar, funk, cherries are deffinatly present. the vinegar aroma is not overwhelming but ties all of the other aromas together niely
t: sour, vinegar, cherries, refreshing
m: medium bodied ample carbonation

overall, this was an enjoyable beer, I enjoyed it a lot there was a ton of flavor

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2008 23:50:20 | More by happygnome
Photo of Slynger
Slynger

Illinois

3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Murky cranberried brown with a lid of frothy-creamy light brown coloring

Smells of tart cherries, lightly red wine and vinegary, with sweet wood and spicy hops.

The taste has a light brown sugar / woody sweetness before tart cranberries punch me playfully in the mouth. Dry red and caramely malts help to balance with mild herbal hops. Light medium body feels lightly acidic, and has a frothy carbonation.

Pleasant and mild for the most part, it did not come in as sour as I feared it may have. Good flavor and balance to it and one I definitely would not object to having again.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2008 02:09:36 | More by Slynger
Photo of joepais
joepais

Maine

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a sniffer produced a fingers worth of white head that turned to lace on top of a mahogany body

Aromas of funk and cherries fill my nose

Flavors of sour and tart fruit a great treat lots of pucker power

Medium mouthfeel with enough carbonation to keep it interesting

I've had this on tap and I will say that it was better than the bottle, but still a good sour none the less

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2008 01:13:01 | More by joepais
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Russet brown coloured body with a bottom of apricot coloured embers. A brazen maroon glimmers to the lights. A sandy toned khaki coloured head. The beer literally gleams.

With the breeze hitting just right my nose is treated, even from afar, to luscious, almost candy like cherries. Fermenting, drying fruits smell as if covered in sticky, roasting sugar; already sourness becomes wholly apparent. There is a tremendous underlying of mildewed, antiquated, musty oak.

I've had the bottle maybe the better part of a year, the blends themselves were most likely a year or two old before bottling, but this smells centuries old. It has the charm of a medieval castle or Gothic church. Again: mildewed, antiquated, musty oak.

The mouthfeel isn't so sour after all, moderate even for a Flemish. The finish has a chocking dryness that sees flavours part a little more quickly than I'd like them to. The oak splinters through the palate. The low, dying carbonation is felt only slightly, after the finish alongside a hint of melted butter.

My tongue is treated to a unique taste that could be described as fruit infused balsamic vinegar aged over musty wood. The flavour really showcases earthy, bruised orchard fruits. The oak aging results in a touch of port or sherry-like tannins and balsamic vinegar. You almost think you sense a touch of spiciness before the light roast and caramel sweetness of malts set in. Lacticness has no time to react as sweetness ushers in on the finish. This taste more 'bruin' than 'red' for sure.

This was a little acidic, a little tangy, and a little tart, but not a lot of any one of thing, which made it tremendously drinkable. The degree of must the oak brought with it gave this beer a lot of charm. It was a kind of charm I remember smelling a lot of while in Belgium. Flanders Oud Bruins are now reason number 878 for me to move there.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2008 02:49:36 | More by biegaman
Photo of tonistruth
tonistruth

Nevada

4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- deep mahogany with 2 fingers of fluffy white froth, excellent retent, soapy lace

S- sour fruit, funky

T- highly sour, toasted malts, dried fruit, sweet and sour battle throughout

M- mouth puckering sourness, smooth, sticky

D- tasty and refreshing, love the sweet and sour flavors, i really wish brewers would attempt these sours belgian styles as opposes to triple and wits. recommended

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2008 01:08:12 | More by tonistruth
Photo of daftafne
daftafne

Illinois

2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: beautiful dark brown liquid, a finger of light tan head which dissipates quickly

Smell: Vinegar

Mouthfeel: Bubbly, crisp, medium-light body

Taste: sour apples, vinegar, raisins, dates

Drinkability: Not really my type of beer. I have had the rodenbach red and really loved it (similar type of beer though not as overwhelmingly vinegar-esque). Low alcohol so you could have a few if you like the taste. I havent had many of this type so I cant really say how it compares to other sour ales.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 00:43:11 | More by daftafne
Photo of geexploitation
geexploitation

Indiana

3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark russet color with a sticky, tenacious, cafe-au-lait head. From the looks of it, it could be a Belgian dubbel. The nose has the tell-tale marks of acetic acid, along with some sweeter smells (marshmallow). On the palate, there's a brisk, pit-fruit acidity first off, then a switch into some sweeter, almost cane-sugary elements, before a more citric acid finish. Cherry-pits finish things off. Mouthfeel is medium for the style, with quickness and some smoothness in the middle. Overall, this is quite a nice Flemish sour ale. It doesn't have a ton of depth, but what is here is balanced and pleasant.

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2008 03:51:35 | More by geexploitation
Photo of IBUnit63
IBUnit63

Massachusetts

3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bready, rye bread head with Florentine lacing. Deep, dark brown body with moderate carbonation. Has a root beer look to it.

This is an unfamiliar style for me, so I'm getting a lot of vinegar at first. Sweet, sarsparilla malt also makes an apperance. Ample funk.

I can understand the sour vinegar funk but I'm getting a tinny, metallic taste also. Comes off as funky but not entirely in a good way. Underneath the metal there's lots of character, though.

Yeasty, bready mouthfeel - funk evens out with warmth.

This one is a little tough to choke down - decently made but probably not my thing.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2008 13:03:08 | More by IBUnit63
Photo of oakbluff
oakbluff

Manitoba (Canada)

3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Monk's Cafe bottle via tytoanderso. Thanks Tyler! Pours a bubbly light cherry cola color with good clarity. Nose is mostly cherry and vinegar. Taste- Initial tart fruit which dries quickly into a mineral like finish. Dry and wood in finish as well. Would score higher, but the hard water taste is a bit much. Crisp on the tongue and goes down easy.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2008 02:43:34 | More by oakbluff
Photo of Overlord
Overlord

California

1.93/5  rDev -49.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Startled to see a purported Flanders ale for 2.79 at Hi-Times.

Pours a ruddy brown color with a white foam head.

The smell is offputting. Just plain bad. A sickly belgian yeast odor mixed with the familiar citrus zest/lemon tartness of a flanders ale. Does not mix at all.

The taste has some interesting notes, but nothing melds correctly. I get hints of the familiar, delicious vinegar zest, but there's a completely inappropriate cherry/medicinal overtone. It's just all over the map. I love sour ales, but I've apparently focused on the elite. I've now seen what happens when it isn't done well.

Just not a good example of the style, and a borderline drainpour. This noxious brew is sickly, a mishmash of conflicting flavors, and should be taken behind the barn and put out of its misery.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2008 06:06:22 | More by Overlord
Photo of punkindrublic50
punkindrublic50

New York

3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

If you are trying to get a woman who doesn't normally care for beer interested in it this is where I would start. Not overly imposing or intense, but still firmly showing off a solid sweet/sour tart flavor. Cherry is the dominant sour fruit flavor, with solid carbonation and a nice tart pucker on the finish. Definitely not to be confused with the carbonated cherry juice that is sometimes sold as a sour fruit beer (a la Kasteel Rouge or some Framboise's).

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2008 04:43:18 | More by punkindrublic50
Photo of Franchise
Franchise

Oregon

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering pours a deep reddish brown and bubbly leaving a thick tan head sticky and clings to the glass. The aroma is a strong sour cherry, dark ripened fruit, sweet but sour dominate, hay, horse blanket, earthy.

The taste is deliciously tart, it has a slight metallic taste upfront, sour cherries, syrupy in consistancy pretty delicious that finishes by giving you a nice pinch of sourness on the back of the throat.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2008 15:54:51 | More by Franchise
Photo of USCTrojanBrian
USCTrojanBrian

Maryland

4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tulip

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

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2008 22:25:49 | More by USCTrojanBrian
Photo of mpyle
mpyle

Maryland

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

App - reddish-brown color, good clarity. Modest white head, but with good retention.

Smell - a bit like vinegar in the sour, but also fruity

Flavor - Fruit juice sweetness balanced with lactic sour. Finishes with some peppery spiciness, and dries out nicely.

MF - medium body and moderately high carbonation. Wouldn't mind it a bit flatter. Sourness gives a bit of pucker (astringency), but totally okay.

O'all - A very different kind of beer. Believe there are other examples that are slightly better, but highly drinkable if you've got a thing for gently sour beverages.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2008 22:58:21 | More by mpyle
Photo of goschool
goschool

California

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: The pour is light brown with red hues and a medium-sized white head that sticks around until the last sip.

Smell: The aroma has a sour mix of cherries, cranberries green apples along with damp wood.

Taste: The flavor profile brings loads of tartness and sourness accentuated by cherries, cranberry, red grapes, green apples, cough syrup, generic red candy, and oak .

Mouthfeel: This beer is just barely medium-bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability: I really dig sour beers. This one is good, not great, yet it's always nice to try new sour beers.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2008 07:36:07 | More by goschool
Photo of CHADMC3
CHADMC3

Connecticut

3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a smooth mahogany brown with a tan frothy head, which displays its generous carbonation leaving a tight lacing around the glass.

Plenty of sour fruit for the nose, perhaps apples and darker fruits such as cherries. A second visit unveils some grassy notes as well as woody oak and diacetyl.

A sharp sour flavor greats your lips where it will stay for the duration of the beer. Sweet cherries, almost like a kriek, again noticeable oak flavors, and a sweeter, smooth finish.

This beer is very pleasant on the palate and surprisingly balanced despite its acidity. Relatively light, with obvious carbonation that does not overwhelm.

I am not a frequenter of the style, but this beer may change that. Not sure I would be drinking this all night, but it certainly is a great change from other styles. I wish I had some sharp cheeses to sample with this.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2008 02:23:35 | More by CHADMC3
Photo of clayrock81
clayrock81

Virginia

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter and received a murky brown body with a one-finger head that stuck around a long time and left a lace ring. A sour smell mixed with malts and some citric notes (closer to dark fruit but I'll leave it at that) combined with some caramel or butter - also a tad spicy. Very sour, but a good sour, with a smooth body and a bitter fruit taste. A little hop kick or spicy note (something like pepper) that jolts the tip of the tongue, then something akin to sweet malts and fruit (cherry being the most prevelant) hits the tastebuds as it is going down, making for a medium-bodied beer that is balanced and not rough. I don't like sour drinks period, but I thought this was a great beer. I don't know if I'd session it because it might leave a funny taste after a while (think too much OJ), but I recommend to all to try this beer.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2008 13:25:15 | More by clayrock81
Photo of Nutleybeer
Nutleybeer

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

Serving type: on-tap

05-26-2008 12:20:28 | More by Nutleybeer
Photo of MusicaleMike
MusicaleMike

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I met the owner of Monk's Cafe last month and spoke with him about beer and brewing, I was left with the impression that he was a beer man with lots of strong opinions (which is a good thing). With that experience in mind, I was very excited to try a beer that he commissioned himself from a Belgian brewer friend. Obviously, this was going to be a beer that lived up to high expectations. I bought this 11.2 oz. bottle at the Foodery and poured it into a tulip glass.

A: The body is a clear, deep brown color with rich ruby highlights when held to the light. This beer is definitely on the darker side of the style. The head was a thick cream-colored head which dissipated to a thick lace and then stayed for the entire glass. There was a very small amount of lace left on the glass. The visible carbonation was minimal.

S: There is an immediate sour smell that masks the fruitiness. The smell is rich, with notes of dates/figs, cheese, and cherries. There is some aroma that almost comes off as a buttery malt smell, but that could be a trace amount of diacetyl. I also thought I picked up some aroma of hops, but that may have been the lactic sour/spicey quality. These qualities are in no way inappropriate and they were quite enjoyable in this beer.

T: The first sip is very dry, with sourness up front, but with a sweet aftertaste. There is a nice balance to the taste, but instead of the sweetness being balanced by bitter, this beer balances the malts with sourness. The sourness covers up some of the intensity of the rich fruit flavor. There is a somewhat roasty malt character, with flavors of cherries, maybe apricot, and oak. The taste disappears quickly after the swallow.

M: The mouthfeel is excellent. Light bodied with some crisp carbonation to tickle the tongue. It just barely leaves an acidic feeling in the mouth. The relative lightness of this beer certainly helps its drinkability. The label speaks the truth: "Very refreshing!"

D: However, the sheer richness of this beer's flavor would not sit well with me after more than two. I do recommend grabbing this beer if you see it though, for I cannot think of a better example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2008 22:49:45 | More by MusicaleMike
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,223 ratings.