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

2,478 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

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Ratings: 2,478
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 208 | 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:
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,478 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of alpinebryant
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a short wine glass / tulip glass. A foamy lacing of miniature oak bubbles that left lacing along the glass.

Smell of tart, sour cherry and raspberry, oak and funk. Vinegar presence also noticeable.

Taste of Sweet and Sour sauce , oak barrel aged funk and vinegar are most prominent. Raspberry and Cherry dark fruit flavors. This has both sides of the spectrum on sweet and sour, both almost equally noticeable. After some time, the vinegar taste is more pronounced.

Strong carbonation and a light mouthfeel, I was happy to have had this one for what I thought to be a reasonable price for sour. 3.99 for a 11.2 oz bottle in afterthought isn't a steal but it is a welcome addition to what I have been able to find in the category of sours which mostly only appear in Wine size bottles of a liter plus.

An enjoyable Flemish Sour Ale that can be enjoyed in sips. The sour funk is only slightly negative on my palate. I would appreciate a slightly cleaner taste.

Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a reddish brwon color with a 1/4" head that breaks apart immediately.

Smell: tart cherries, sourness, and a fruity sweetness is pleasant on the nose.

Taste: mild malt presence with loads of cherry flavor. Sourness is mild but very noticeable. Bitterness is mellow.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Crisp to start, less crisp and a bit dry at the finish. Aftertaste is short lived.

Drinkability: slow sipping beer. Bomber bottle is more than enough for a session.

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2-ounce brown bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a nicely clear copper-brown with a huge billowing head of beige foam that shows excellent retention, leaving fat patchy rings of lacing down the sides of the glass, settling to a thick cap that holds out until the finish.

The nose is a delicious melding of aromas, with some slightly sweet toffee-like notes, lots of oaky wood and a little bit of a sour, musty character.

Body sits on the lower end of medium, with a middling level of carbonation. A mild base of sweet caramel is topped with a nice dose of tartness that consumes the entirety of the palate through the finish, with notes of dark cherries and raspberries toward the back. More musty, oaky and vinous notes fill in the cracks before a slightly sour, medium-dry finish.

Wonderfully drinkable, the balance between sweet and sour here is spot-on, and the low alcohol level lends itself to sessionability. This is one beer that I honestly believe I could drink all night long without tiring of it. Very nice.

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

A: Light brown in color, small head with moderate lacing.

S: Funky yeast, sweet dark fruits, wood. Easily identifiable as a Flanders Oud Bruin.

T: Refreshing and tasty. I always prefer sour over sweet, but this beer marries the two quite well. There is an intriguing, musty, funky aspect to the beer that I am enjoying. The beer definitely has a sweet component, and finishes that way.

M: Moderately low carbonation, nice feel, sweet/sour finish (mostly sweet).

D: My palate can only handle a small amount of sweet beers. This one is very well done, and I'd be happy to drink it again.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a beige head. The aroma is tart apple and tart grapes. The taste is caramel malt as well as tart apples and grapes. The apple is dominant. Low-medium carbonation and a thin mouthfeel. A pretty nice sour beer that is a not as sour as some, but has a nice fruity flavor.

Photo of BeanBone
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A rich reddish-brown body capped by a little less than two fingers of creamy off-white head that fade slowly and leave great lacing.

Aroma: Sour and tart with lots of great cherry, sweet malt, musty, and vinous notes--mouthwatering and inviting.

Flavor: A great mix of sweet and sour flavors: lots of fruit (cherries, raspberries, and grapes mostly), wood, a slight acidity, and a base of toffee-like malt. Not overly sour, it's all balanced superbly. The aftertaste is wine-like, funky, and occasionally a little metallic.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with lots of great effervescent carbonation. A drying finish.

Drinkability: As long as you aren't totally put off by sour flavors, this is a highly drinkable brew.

Verdict: Brimming with character and depth, Monk's Café is a terrific beer that really satisfies when I'm craving a sweet and sour beer. If you've never had a sour and you're looking for a safe start, or if you're just looking for something a little different, this would be a great choice.

Photo of goldbot
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep ruby-brown with thick, tan head and some spotty lacing.

Strong sour apple on the nose as well as some cherry and raisin. Yeasty and spicy with some definite sour notes. Flavor is more sour, fruity notes of apple and cherry, along with a slightly peppery spice and Belgian yeast. Some woody and vanilla flavors towards the end.

Substantial body with a smooth, creamy feel. A sweet, fruity and creamy beer makes it a good dessert option.

Photo of Chronofied
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Cellar temperature, poured in a tulip glass.

Appearance - Brown around the edges, but a dark cherrywood in the center when held to the light. A little bit of orange tint at the bottom. Head didn't stand long, and left very little lace. Relaxed carbonation visible.

Smell - Heavy yeast on the nose, remniscent of the sour fermentation smell of wine grapes. Definite acidity. A little bit more fruit, like a prune/raisin smell as well.

Taste - Sour grape taste right away. Prune and light malt surface. The finish has a hint of carameled apple, sweet and sour. Actually somewhat rich in a strange, sweet and sour way.

Mouthfeel - Way lighter than expected. Really light, more carbonation that the appearance suggested, enlivens the brew on the tongue. Consistency is almost like that of sparkling juice.

Drinkability - It isn't a chore to finish a 750 bottle, but better to share one with someone. It is light enough to easily drink a good portion, but rich enough that one or two servings is enough.

N.B. - I feel like someone blended beer with a prune flavored Izze, and it actually turned out well. That is a major understatement, but that's what I thought of when I first tried this beer.

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

Poured into a tulips from am 11.2oz bottle.

Blood orange in color when held up to the light. Pretty clear with light carbonation. A vigorous swirl generates about a 1 finger head thats light with larger sized bubbles. The color of the head is off-white to a light tan color. Not much as far as lacing going on.

Smell at first is dominated by vinegar. If you swirl it around and really get your nose in there i'm picking out some light oak aromas and also a touch of vanilla. Some sour cherries and also some dark sticky fruits like raisin and prunes.

The flavor is not what i expected. There seems to be more sweetness then i thought. It's like my tastebuds are smacked with sweet and sour together. A bit of vinegary balsamic sour at first followed quickly by an almost sticky like sweetness that stays well after the swallow. A get a lot of grape bubble gum flavors,sour bing cherries and in between some raisiny flavors are there too.

Mouthfeel is super smooth. Creamy and silky. It glides down the throat with little to no effort. Not more carbonation at all.

As far as drinkability. Thats a tought one. It's a very tasty beer. Very smooth and flavorful. The only drawback is the sweetness might become a little too much after more then one bottle. Thats not to say it's not a really good beer because it is.

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

Appearance is a dark red amber with a thick head and fair lace. Smell of young sour wine thats mild with a sweet green apple note. Taste has a nice balance with the sweet and sour thats dry at the end. Mouthfeel has a medium feel with good body and carbonation. Actually better than what I expected for my first sour ale.

Photo of rfgetz
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish mahogany color, dense and creamy off white head, good retention and lacing.
Smell is of new red wine - slightly vinous, acidic and oaky. Taste brings the wine-like flavors with a big hit of balsamic vinegar and adds just a hint of tart cherry and sticky sweetness. Medium bodied, slightly chewy and sticky, palate coating but without a big aftertaste. Decent beer, a little lighter than expected, possibly could use a little more aging on it.

Photo of TwinSox33
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Pours dark rusty brown, with a lacy head.

S: Smells like a strong wine at first, then hints of sour malts and a touch of grain.

T: Very tart; there are some astringent phenolic like tastes intertwined with fruity esters. I think there might be a tinge of hops, but I Can't discern what type.

M: Very smooth at first, then the effervescence rushes up on you after a few sips.

D: Highly Drinkable. Quite unique and refreshing. I'd like to try brewing it myself, as it is a hit-or-miss affair trying to find it....

Photo of GRPunk
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into my tall, Lion Tulip glass. It was a little on the cold side to start.

A- A normal pour left a 2-finger, fluffy, tan head that eventually dropped to just under 1/2 finger. There was a lot of carbonation in the clean, mahogany body. As I drank, it left some of the widest, sticky rings I've seen with spotting in between layers.

S- At first, I got a sense of sour cream with a wet, woody background. There were hints of spice, fruit (something between raspberry and tart cherries), and a little red wine vinegar. A little warmth and some time for familiarity seemed to soften the sour aroma.

T- It's quite complex. There was a good portion of sour, hints of wood, and a little fruity flavor in spots with some lighter, vinegar accents. Very clean, dry in the finish. It says "mildly sour" on the neck. Maybe it's a good initiation.

M- There was a ton of soft and foamy carbonation and it was bone-dry in the end.

D- It's a new style to me (maybe my first true, commericially brewed sour), and it seemed good for the style when I checked out the guidlines. It's not a thirst quencher or a chugger by any means, but I'm sure that's not its purpose. I think it's sour nature is something to appreciate. It's definitely sparked my interest in the style.

Photo of mobyviacheslov
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let this one breathe!

A - Deep, brown hue with hints of red when held up to the light. Very thin head that disolves away rapidly.

S - Subtle hints of caramel and a fruit tartness, with a modest odor of malt-vinegar. Immediately after opening the bottle, the smell of vinegar was overwhelming. I let this one breathe about 20 minutes, and the smells all seemed to mellow a lot. However, the malt-vinegar smell still dominates.

T - After getting a little nervous from the vinegar nose, the beer was a wonderful surprise. The sourness was not vinegary at all, but a super-easy drinking sour-patch kid flavor. The sugars were a perfect counter to the mild sourness (it claims mild on the bottle, and is not lying...); the beer was not overpowered by either sweet or sour, and truly delivered a sour candy effect. There is a refined bitterness, and many subtle woody flavors hide in the malt, but require you to hold the sip for a while and play with it a little.

M - Very thick and creamy, almost gummy, with a pleasant mild carbonation that brings out the sour flavors. Leaves a not-unpleasant gummy feeling in the mouth that keeps the finish going for a while.

D - This truly is a mild flemish red. While I didn't taste it before letting it breath, I would guess it is a little rough immediately after opening. After 20 min, however, it settles in to a tasty yet safe sour ale...probably a good choice as an introduction to the style.

Serving Type: 11.2oz bottle, 55 degrees, snifter

Photo of drabmuh
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at a local beer bar. I did not see a date on the label or the bottle but it was pretty dark. The menu described this beer as "The Dr. Pepper of the beer world" -- That bar needs to fire its writer. It was not that, not that at all and that is not what I expect from a Flanders.

Beer is served in a tulip, beer is clear with a white head. The beer is brown but at the brown / red interface of colors. Looks awesome. Head is weak and lacing is way down, carbonation is low. Not odd for the style.

Kind of an odd aroma with this one. Slight sour with a hint of sweet caramel, with an acetic aroma at the backend, maybe a little citric.

Beer first is pretty thin. Not watery, just no body. Its starts out sweet but the sweetness gives way to a strong and dominant balsamic vinegar taste. The finish is tart. There is also an odd, woodsey, aftertaste that degrades my pleasure. This is an OK beer but has not been my favorite Flanders.

Photo of coachdonovan
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

i don't have much experience with sour ales, so coming on the heels of Don Russell's description of the Oud Bruin style, i figure i should jump in. i'll start with one of the more common sours. sample size is 11.2oz bottle. no indication on the label when it was bottled, but hey, this style is supposed to be a blend of old and new beers, so who cares how old this one is.

pours darker than i thought it would, but when held up to the light you can see the nice ruby color that i was expecting. i'm not going to lie - the aroma is somewhat reminiscent of when i dyed Easter eggs as a kid. and by that i mean: vinegar.

good carbonation, and the taste is hard to pin down. there is a definite tartness, but not overwhelming. there is a sweet side also, almost in the way Jolly Ranchers or other candy can be sour and fruity-sweet at the same time.

i can certainly see the appeal to this beer, as it's really unlike most anything i've had. it doesn't have any of the hop profile that you get from IPAs or any of the roasted maltiness from a solid stout. i don't know that i want to drink sours all night, but i think i like this one.

Photo of gory4d
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear russet with a loosely bubbled, two-finger head; a little lacing. The smell is toffee, marigold, Niagara grapes, and hints of graphite. The taste is big on the brown sugar and toffee, with some grape-skin tang and just a hint of funk and bitterness. The sweetness dominates; it isn't much a sour ale. It's a little syrupy, highly carbonated, a very dense beer. Easy to drink; wish I had another. As Oud Bruins go, it's nothing on Goudenband, but makes for a simpler alternative.

Photo of flagmantho
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: rich brown color with a ruby tinge; one finger of foamy tan head. Nice.

Smell: big aromas of caramel, nuts and toasted malts. There is also an acidic brightness permeating the big malt. I've never had a Flanders Oud Bruin before, but this smells quite good.

Taste: bright, sweet and tart. There are big fruity flavors here; sour apple and cherry are the most prominent among them. The more traditional malty flavors are more apparent in the aftertaste. Overall, these two components complement each other quite well. I very much like this beer.

Mouthfeel: medium body and relatively high carbonation give this beer a nice creamy texture; though it's more fizzy than smooth. Still quite good.

Drinkability: I think this beer is just a hair too sweet to be exceptionally drinkable. Still, the tartness is just enough to keep me interested and I feel like I would gladly include one of these in my daily diet.

Photo of VWBuggirl
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is a new style of beer for me. So here goes!

The color is fantastic! It is a nice dark brown with a reddish hue to it.

The smell on the other hand is very vinegary. Now my rating on smell is based on the fact that this is a sour and, well, I would expect that it would smell sour. If a normal beer smelled this way I would toss it.

The taste is definitely sour. I get a hint of green apple in it. I wouldn't call it drinkable though. Even though I am enjoying it, I am not sure I could have another tonight, and it isn't for everyone.

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

Poured into Duvel Tulip glass.

A: dark red brown with a very light brown head. The head starts thick and stays thick for a while. Not much of lace left behind.

S: Sour and ester smell up front. Faint whiff of maltiness is felt in my nose. No hop smell what so ever.

T: Sour. This sourness reminds me of vinegar. It is pleasantly balanced with malt flavor, which can be felt in the back ground. This malt is toffee and caramel.

M: Refreshing SOUR.

D: Although it has a fresh taste, the beer's drinkability would be low for me. The flavor seem to stick to the palate and it is definitely not DRY.

NOTE: it went very well with tomato-based shrimp pasta.

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

Cork comes off with a nice pop.

Poured into bruery snifter.

Pours about 1/2 finger of light khaki head. Fades to a thin layer and leaves some splattered lace. Color is a dark ruby hued caramel brown.

Aroma: There is a nice amount of cherries up front, some sour notes that follow, but not overly sour. It seems to have a decent amount of fruit flavor to complement the cherry upfront, Granny smith apples come to mind. I get some oak as well. The aroma is pretty solid.

Taste: The cherries are again up front, but the taste is different compared to the aroma. It has some different fruit flavors here, sour grapes and raspberry, and more of a funky taste. The green apple flavor is here, but not as defined. I actually get a cider flavor out of this beer. The malts also stick out a lot more. The oak flavor is a lot less too.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, smooth, and a little sour. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry and funky.

Overall, this is a pretty decent beer. My expectations were not that high for it, but it not only met them, but exceeded them. A very nice sipper. I am definitely savoring it. It isn't as sour as I would like, but I still think it is good.

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

Pours a nice deep syrupy brown with ruby red highlights. Moderate sandy head, composed of larger bubbles that rapidly fades to a ring around the glass. Some lacing. Smell is apple, vinous, slight roasted malt, a bit of vinegar to it too. Taste is somewhat fleeting at first sip. Burst of flavor that ebbs quickly. Let's try again. Tart apples with some sweetness to it, a bit of lightly toasted malt in the finish. Some sourness to it, though quite balanced with the other flavors. Some spice in there too, though not exactly sure what it is. A very slight hint of must too. This is quite good--my first Flanders, but a nice introduction to the style for sure. I can see myself craving something like this (and things far more extreme) in the future. Light, and a bit prickly, this one is actually quite refreshing, now leaving a lingering aftertaste of apples. Quite drinkable, I am definitely impressed with this beer.

Photo of constahoogan
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep red and brown body with a rocky tan head with slightly red hues and nice sea foam-like formation lacing. It smeels like sweet red wine.
The taste is very interesting. It has pruney fruitiness and vinegar tartness. there's a bit of hop bitterness as it smoothes out at the back end.
The mouthfeel is quite good, a bit harsh to begin with, but there's a litttle bit of creaminess that comes in at last minute.

Photo of alleykatking
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a deep amber color. Nice light tan one finger head that fades rather quickly. Leaves some nice skirted lacing on the sides as I drink this down.

S- This has a nice amber cider smell to it. Threw me off at first but nice nevertheless. Vinegar offnotes in this one as well. Not much of anything else.

T- Big fruity (apple) cider upfront with this. Some vinegar notes in the middle of it. Ends on a lighter clove and bubblegum like hints. This is balanced like that all throughout the beer.

M- Medium light mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the beer. Fizzes in the front half of the beer. Cider presence felt also in the front half. Nice apple and light sourness on both the palate and in the aftertaste.

D- This one is dangerously drinkable. I had no problem drinking all 12oz of this bad boy and at a alarming rate. The only set back to this one I would have to say is I could feel this making a mess of your gut if too much was drank. Would recommend this one as a sour to start off with.

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

Completely translucent, held up to a light, a deep amber red color throughout. Quite a nice color.

Pours into a big foamy head, which dropped rather quickly.

Nose is decidedly vinegar, with a cider, fruity scent. Sour, but pleasant.

My first thought was, this sort of tastes like sour, fermented juice--like a fruit wine. Probably too sweet for my liking. Flavors; grapes, cherry, apple. Sour to sweet finish.

Mouthfeel was clean, smooth, and thin with medium carbonation.

I think this is an interesting enough beer, and probably a good to share with a wine lover, but I was somewhat let down by this beer. I simply can't imagine drinking more than one of these and still enjoying it--and I like sour Belgians. This is a decent, but not excellent, example of the style.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,478 ratings.