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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

2,298 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,298
Reviews: 1,039
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 14.06%
Wants: 50
Gots: 154 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,298 | Reviews: 1,039 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dakid618
dakid618

Illinois

1.88/5  rDev -51%

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into pint glass. Pours a deep red-brown color with very little head that disappears quickly. Smell is really strong of vinegar with a slight scent of fruits. Reading the BJCP guidelines this bottle may be old as it says the scent should not grow to a noticeable acetic/vinegary character. Taste is also like vinegar and sour cherries. Not malty at all as the guideline says it should be. It's so acetic it burns my nose after taking a drink. Improves slightly as it warms but still way too much like drinking vinegar. Medium bodied mouthfeel that drys out the mouth like drinking red wine. Not drinkable at all to me, the drain is going to enjoy this beer more than me. I've enjoyed all the sours I've ever had but this one, this one is a drainpour. I will try this again to see if maybe I just got an old bottle and re-review if thats the case, otherwise I would advise to be wary of this beer unless you ike drinking vinegar.

03-15-2009 17:32:05 | More by dakid618
Photo of DefenCorps
DefenCorps

Oregon

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%

11.2oz bottle that I grabbed a month back at State Line.

A: In my Unibroue tulip, this beer sits a very regal crimson with red highlights. A gorgeous 3-finger off-white head caps this, and it leaves some gorgeous lace in it's wake.

S: Vinegar up front. In fact, it singed my nostrils! There's sweetness present as well, malt vinegar in character. Sweet with oak and some vanilla, this is pretty solid. There's a mild spicy component in the back, almost like white pepper.

T: Opens up tart with vinegar with and appreciable sweetness, fruity in nature. Truly candy-like with enough sweetness and tartness to go around, this one's fairly simple but tasty at the same time. Vanilla sweetness appears towards the finish

M: Light in body with a great sweetness, this beer could use a bit more mid-palate. Finish is great

D: At $3, this beer is a steal and I'll grab more.

03-14-2009 20:42:58 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of PatrickJR
PatrickJR

North Carolina

4.75/5  rDev +23.7%

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into red wine glass.

A - Clear, right in the middle of red and brown. Rust colored comes to mind but it's a bit brighter and less orangey. A finger of off white, slightly tan head rises with moderate retention. Some lacing.

S - Vinegar and tart fruit are the obvious aromas. Like the similar Flemish Reds, raspberry vinegarette comes to mind. There is also a touch of brown sugar and something that comes close to woody and leathery aromas.

T - Vinegar soaked fruit with a sprinkly of brown sugar dominate early and mid palate. Monk's Cafe starts off with an amazing sweet flavor best described as a mild mixture of brown sugar and vinegar, or even a tart apple juice. Indistinct berry flavors enter into the mix mid palate contributing both more tartness and more sweetness. Sweetness fades a touch while the tart fruit juice lingers on the edges of the tongue. Musty flavors begin their ascent with hints of wood, leather, cork, and oxidation. In some ways the finish resembles an older, fortified wine. Finishes with some residiual sweet and sour and a lengthy drawl of musty, minerally, cellar-esque flavor.

M - Fairly light in body with moderate carbonation. Despite the seemingly heavy and intense flavors, it's quite refreshing.

D - This really couldn't be any easier to drink. The light body and immense complexity of flavors make each sip exquisite, and there's new tastes to pick out each time. Extremely interesting, but tame enough that it never becomes overpowering. Another great experience with a Flemish sour.

03-14-2009 09:19:33 | More by PatrickJR
Photo of illidurit
illidurit

California

3.3/5  rDev -14.1%

Clear rust color with an ecru head that's fizzy but is kept alive by an etching at the bottom of my goblet. Black cherry aroma with some brown sugar and vinegar. Flavor is sweet with cherry and apple juice, a touch of vinaigrette, and some caramel. Not very sour really, and barely even tart. Definitely more sweet than anything. Body is very light, bordering on thin. Astringent dryness and a little metallic character. Overcarbonated.

03-14-2009 00:52:34 | More by illidurit
Photo of Psilo707
Psilo707

California

3.18/5  rDev -17.2%

I believe this is the first Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer I have ever actually reviewed (and in recent knowledge - have even tried), and I was not sure what to expect. The appearance is a very piney red, slightly brown, as it pours with a thick head into a glass. Lacing isn't as nice as the head, but it's present.

Smell is very strong and I like it much. A very cherry and exciting scent, much like a fruit juice but with alcohol.

The taste took me for a surprise and I had no idea it would be this much like a fizzy wine. Now I understand why it's truly called Sour Ale. I didn't dislike the taste at first, but it took me about half a glass to get into and understand more thouroughly. By the end, I was enlightened somewhat. Decent stuff.

Mouthfeel is bubbly and erratic; good overall. Drinkability a bit lower than the rest as I don't think I could continue with these for too long, at least not in my current experience.

Overall I would recommend, but be ready for something new if you've never tried a Flanders Bruin.

03-10-2009 05:29:49 | More by Psilo707
Photo of BigBry
BigBry

Alberta (Canada)

4/5  rDev +4.2%

On tap at Monks Cafe in Philadelphia, had to try their own specialty.
Reddish brown color, off white head. Lots of bubbles but not a really thick and creamy foam, good retention, stringy lace.
Smell has some sour cherry sweetness, and a little yeasty funk. Taste is smooth, with a complicated sweet and sour fruitiness. There is some sour tartness on the tongue, but not the biting vinegar sourness I was afraid of. A touch of wood or oak, earthy. Smooth mouthfeel, low level of carbonation make it easy (too easy) to drink. Tiny touch of alcohol, but adds rather than detracts from the complexity.

03-09-2009 22:27:41 | More by BigBry
Photo of Nick3
Nick3

California

3.6/5  rDev -6.3%

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat tulip shaped glass. Beer forms a nice 3 finger head and a cascade of bubbles keeps the head alive for several minutes or so. Dark reddish, brown in color and nice lace formation on the glass. This definitely looks like a quaffable libation! Smells like sour apples (think Jolly Ranchers) and that typical funk you get from this style. Smelled enticing but not nearly as pungent as I would have liked. The smell is a good harbinger for the taste . . . the flavors of sweet and sour come through with a cherry apple finish. It's a well balanced beer but the taste was just not quite as strong in those flavors as I would have liked. I wouldn't say the beer is watery but I wanted to see the flavor and the sweet and sour contrast come through with more ferocity. Alcohol presence is really invisible and that fact coupled with the subtle flavor composition makes it a beer that you can drink in high quantity if you're so inclined. Overall, I enjoyed this beer but it fell a little short of my expectations. If you've never had a beer of this style and want to start with something mellow, this is probably a good bet for you.

03-09-2009 03:33:26 | More by Nick3
Photo of ScreamForMe
ScreamForMe

Washington

3.78/5  rDev -1.6%

Being another newbie to sours, I was recommended this brew by a local beer store owner.

The only other I've had in this realm (not the same style I realize) is RR's Consecration so that may have stacked the deck. In any event, I found this a good introductory beer for novices such as myself (good call local beer store owner guy).

03-07-2009 23:54:06 | More by ScreamForMe
Photo of dqderrick
dqderrick

California

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%

SOUR VIRGIN!!! (Hop Head and Imperial Stout fan)

Keep in mind that I'm currently acquiring the sour beer taste. This is my second sour. My first was the Duchess de Bourgogne which I didn't put through a proper review. I picked these two sours after seeing suggestions on initial sour beers to try here on the forums.

A - 3.5
Pours a burnt red/brown. 1/4" head, sticks around for a good 5 minutes. Reminds me of a dark lager.

S - 3 (then a 3.5)
Smells like a sour grape juice at first. A little woody. Maybe some vinegar. Develops a sweet smell at the end. After a few sips... I pick up a strong cherry sent. Very cherry.

T - 4
Sour, sweet, juicy. I pick up both sweet and sour. I agree with the label. Very refreshing with a light body.

MF - 4.5
Fun and bubbly. I don't know really what to expect here. I will probably give really high marks on MF until I get a feel for sours. But, I enjoyed the MF on the Monk's.

D - 4
First 4oz was tough. After 8 oz was sipped, I was getting the hang/jist of it. I started picking up the cherry nose and enjoying the overall experience. I've had a few conversations with "sour-heads" and started picking up on their notes. 4 seems a little high... but you know, I actually enjoyed finishing this bottle.

Will I fully pickup the sour style? Time will tell. Check out my reviews after the Monk's.
http://beeradvocate.com/user/beer_reviews?ba=dqderrick

03-06-2009 08:43:23 | More by dqderrick
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73

Rhode Island

3.8/5  rDev -1%

11.2oz bottle served in my new Chouffe N'Ice 25 cl flute at 52 degrees (wish I had let this chill down a little more). Poured a translucent chestnut with a tight two inch off-white head pock-marked on the surface, but composed of compressed, tiny bubbles along the shoulders; head eventually recedes into a consistent, dense cap. A half moon band of lacing coats one side of the glass with spatters coating the opposite side of the bowl. Nose indicated some acidity off the bat; suggests sour cherries. Taste consistent with nose, but sour character is muted and even; not overly bold upfront but consistent throughout the tasting experience. Mouthfeel is light and lively with a slight acidity at the finish. Easy drinking and flavorful with a low abv makes this a great introduction for sour beer newbies (like myself).

03-01-2009 18:38:00 | More by Jwale73
Photo of madtowndmb1
madtowndmb1

Wisconsin

3.68/5  rDev -4.2%

A: Poured a redish brown with a foamy head.

S: It smells fruity and there's a decent amount acid/vinegar.

T: It wasn't as deep as I'd hoped. It started off kinda thin, but the cherry was OK, but the vinegarish flavor seemed too prominent for my taste.

M: smooth, not as harsh with the amount a vinegar I picked up on my tongue.

D: I thought it was good, but I think there are some better out there for sure. Duchesse was a little better I think.

03-01-2009 17:31:14 | More by madtowndmb1
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

3.7/5  rDev -3.6%

330 mL bottle,

A: Pours burgundy with a full, billowy off-white head, gobs of lace, good head retention.

S: A lot more vinegar/acetic acid character than I'm used to in this style, initially thought the beer would be a lot more acidic than it turned out to be. Enjoyable complex smell.

T: Tasty brown ale. Pretty standard flavours - strawberry, wood, vanilla, lactic acid. Complexity is not huge, but it has some interesting notes.

M: Too much carbonation upon the pour, but a couple swirls of the flute takes care of that. Pretty smooth, moderate acidity for the style.

D: A real nice Flemish brown ale and one of the best bargain sours out there. Paired well with some goat cheese I was eating. Recommended as a good introduction the sour styles.

02-26-2009 17:49:24 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of SaCkErZ9
SaCkErZ9

Florida

3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Served on draft at The Thirsty Monk in Asheville, NC. Pours a ruby red color with a small white head. Large vinegar aromas alongside strawberry fruitiness. More tart vinegar in the flavor; a little too vinegary in my opinion. Slippery mouthfeel with okay drinkability. Certainly different than most other styles. This is one of the first one of the style I have had and my interest is piqued.

02-26-2009 00:24:30 | More by SaCkErZ9
Photo of abfraser
abfraser

California

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%

A: Pours a dark red/brown. Nice beige and foamy head.

S: Agree with the comparisons to the Duchesse. Nice faint sour and funky nose, with an underlying cherry backbone.

T/M: Great stuff. The old and new mix to give a earthy, slightly tart cherry sweetness. Nice mouthfeel from a good dose of carbonation. Vinegar characteristics start to come out as it warms up, as others have noticed.

D: Goes down nice and smooth. Could drink this stuff all night, especially given the normal abv.

Overall, a very well done Oud Bruin and would gladly have again.

02-22-2009 21:34:06 | More by abfraser
Photo of BeardedBoffin
BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

4.1/5  rDev +6.8%

This dark brown brew arrived with a light head that clung to the glass. The aroma of this beer had a huge green apple component mixed with fruity Belgian funk and a little vinegar. A light maltiness, almost a sweetness, pervades the palate up front but it is quickly gives way to an intense sourness. The sourness is unripe green apples, tart cherries, and, if it were blistering hot day, very refreshing. This beer is very interesting and I liked it. I wish there were more of this style around.

02-21-2009 23:38:55 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of jsanto
jsanto

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +12.8%

s - on hand pump at monks.

a - copper color brown, and a slight head.

s - sour orange, and sour some more.

t - all i can say is it was very flavorful, and sour red. little alcohol, and cherry.

m - not too much carbonation, and a excellent finish.

d - next time i would have a second one, a great session beer.

02-19-2009 21:12:59 | More by jsanto
Photo of yelterdow
yelterdow

New Jersey

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%

330ml bottle served at just over fridge temperature in a Rodenbach Grand Cru tulip glass. Purchased at Ramsey Liquors for $2.49 on 2/12/09. Freshness code reads 26IG.

Appearance- Reddish brown, this beer creates a three finger rose-tinged bone white head. Bubbles are varied in size, and lacing is heavy but sporadic.

Smell- Very similar to Duchesse de Bourgogne, the nose is funky and sour with some vinegar, then an underlying sweetness that brings to mind fermenting cherries comes through. As the beer opens up, the vinegar character becomes more and more evident.

Taste- It's an Oud Bruin lover's beer, for sure... the blending of old and new batches procures a smooth, sweet-and-sour character that leaves the lips and teeth with a sweetness that counters the tart beginning. The swallow is easy and savory.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Smooth, easy carbonation that makes all of the complex flavors and attributes effortless to enjoy. A bit expensive for such a small sized import, but certainly worth it and one I'd enjoy again.

02-18-2009 03:02:08 | More by yelterdow
Photo of bigbelcher
bigbelcher

Arizona

3.45/5  rDev -10.2%

Pours a nice reddish amber color. A dense, lingering slightly tan head. No belgian lacing to speak of. Huge vinegar like aroma, not the same as Rodenbach. A bit thin on the body indicating low alcohol. Very sweet with an underlying dry tartness like from a biting into a lemon. Very fruity, almost cherry like. A good intro to the style, in that respect but it doesn't stand up to Rodenbach.

02-15-2009 17:52:33 | More by bigbelcher
Photo of farrago
farrago

New Jersey

4.3/5  rDev +12%

Pours with a thin head which eventually falls into a sheet over most of the liquid surface, lacing runs up the glass in veins. Brown to burnt orange in hue, more yellow at the rims, while deep it is also clear enough to view the bubble beads. The nose is broad and you feel the beer's presence in your nostrils, however, it's not trying to bowl you over, beyond the dense candied cherry and green apple fruit scents and damp forest floor matter, it's a man of few words, any vinegar notes subordinate to the fruit, freshly rolled bread dough and dried orange peels about the whole of the rest. Medium-bodied, streamlined and without any fat on the bones. The carbonation disrupts the sourness as it enters the mouth and lets it soak in before you start to pucker. The cherry, apple, apricot fruit remains the star of the show and sweetens the lemon, orange citrus appreciably. The uncooked dough element there, very, very lightly spiced and, again, the vinegar component barely registers. Full through the finish, lingers tactfully. For its type, could put down a few in a row.

02-06-2009 01:12:13 | More by farrago
Photo of thekevlarkid
thekevlarkid

Maryland

3.8/5  rDev -1%

Off the tap at American Flatbread I tried this with a lady who's chest was a big as this was tart. In other words, this beer was really freaking tart. My glass was delivered to me with a thin, khaki head atop a mahogany/copper colored liquid. The lacing was sticky and the retention great. The aroma was very sour with some hints of vinegar but it was still appealing, being wrapped around a pale malt base. The flavors were similar, hints of vinegar, sour green apples, slightly toasted malt, tart cherries and citrus notes of orange and lemon. Lots of acidic fruit presence. The mouthfeel was smooth, the body medium, the carbonation medium. A very unusual style of beer but one of the best examples of it I know of.

02-03-2009 02:52:14 | More by thekevlarkid
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB

Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%

11.2oz bottle poured into a Chimay goblet. Not sure of the date on this one. I've been drinking this for years and it was my first introduction to the sourlike spectrum of beer.

A- Monk's Cafe FSA pors out a very murky and bloody brownish red color bordering on a dark mahagony. A decent 3/4 inch off-white beige head arises leaving some spotty lacing.

S- Pretty much a mix of sweet and sour with more of the former. A whole lot of apples and sour cherries but not on the deep end. Also getting that vinegar scent so common with this elusive style of brew.

T- This is delicious. A burst of apple with some cherries to give that twang i'm looking for. The vinegar aspect common with old bruins is there and cant be denied but does not come off as overkill. Some sweet malt as well and oaky qualities. Not as sour as some may say.

M- This is smooth and easy drinking with a medium like mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. A lot of the oak and apple stays throughout while a nice tartness is present on the top of the mouth.

D- At 5.50% and it being so readily available in my area this one is always a go to for me. When i'm in the mood for a sour "fix" and funds are tight this is the solution. A great candidate for this style brewed by a respectable Belgian brewery for America, what more can i ask for. I'm glad to see this getting wide distribution.

01-31-2009 06:52:24 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of surfer4life
surfer4life

California

4.03/5  rDev +4.9%

Poored from an 11.2 oz bottle into my Flute.

A - Dark Amber with a small head. Minimal Lacing

S - Lemon Juice, cranberries, if food going bad could smell this good, I would probably be sick from eating it.

T - Taste is not a sour as it smells (kind of a let down for me). however, there is a fair amount of sourness on the finish. Sweet cherries and other fruits dominate this in the beggining, small amounts of spices can be tasted throughout.

M - Carbonation is perfect, medium bodies, leaves that pallet clean and wanting more.

D - Not so much an everyday beer, fun for every once in a while or as an ice breaker to the style though.

All in all, this is a great beer and at 3.29 I can see myself having it again sometime.

01-28-2009 03:16:52 | More by surfer4life
Photo of TheManiacalOne
TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%

On-tap 1/25/09 at Julian's in Providence, RI, served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is cherries, light malts and a vinegary sourness.

T: The taste is very nicely balanced for a sour ale, with flavors of tart cherries and other dark fruits. The sourness seems to creep in slowly rather than hitting intensely. The malt character is thin and there's very little hops presence as you would expect. The after-taste is slightly sour.

M: Smooth and very crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I'm not usually a sour ale fan but is one that I liked and is worth drinking for a while.

01-27-2009 15:54:29 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of KevinBrewer
KevinBrewer

California

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%

The dark bloodwood color is impressive. The brew is clear, and it has a nice light tan head with moderate retention and minimal lacing.

The nose is of sour cherries, kind of like sweettarts, balanced with a rich woody scent. There is a slight hint of vinegar in the background.

The taste of sweet cherries is most noticeable at first, followed by a block of wood hitting you in the face. More sweetness and tartness follow the woodiness. The aftertaste is similar to the aftertaste of sweettarts. I can't get that connection out of my head. There is also some grain husk in the aftertaste.

It seems to be medium bodied at first, but the texture melts away halfway through. I think the wood flavor makes the body initially seem heavier than it really is. The carbonation is good, and the finish is dry.

Very drinkable. This is one of my first sours, and I thought it was a real treat. I was kind of scared of it tasting like feet or vinegar after reading some forum posts on sour beers, but I was pleasantly surprised. The woodiness was a nice touch. I'd like to drink another, but I only bought one. :(

01-25-2009 06:52:47 | More by KevinBrewer
Photo of Franky3
Franky3

Maine

3.53/5  rDev -8.1%

Appearance- Pours a darkish red/brown but when held in light seems to actually be a beautiful shade of cherry/grape ruby red. The head was thin leaving a fairly uniform ring around my glass. Bubbles looked somewhat like the craters on the service of the moon which then shifted into thin blotches.

Smell- Somewhat tart with a facewarming sourness. Notes of cherry grape apple vinegar earthy browness.

Taste- Could have been better...It is a bit to flat and syruppy where I feel it could use sourness and refreshing dryness. Just my thought..Lots of tart aged cherries, very old style and good taste for what they are probably aiming for.

Feel- when it first hits your mouth it does deliver a fresh tingly carbonation.

Overall- I like the beer, there is no doubt it took time and hardwork to produce and they certainly came out with an impressive Flemish Red. However, I would leave it at just a Flemish Red, upon a taste you will find there is nothing very sour about it.

01-24-2009 01:34:01 | More by Franky3
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,298 ratings.