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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

2,334 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,334
Reviews: 1,042
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 51
Gots: 160 | 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: 2,334 | Reviews: 1,042 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of biggred1
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark reddish brown with a nice pink tinted tan head that leaves fine lace on the glass. Smells of tart cherries and citrus with a mild yeasty funkiness. Tastes of tart underripe fruit. Nice sour puckering quality with some sweet maltiness underneath. Well balanced and medium bodied with seltzery carbonation that adds to the drinkability. A nice,approachable example of the style.

biggred1, Mar 29, 2009
Photo of dukew456
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into my Duvel tulip

A - Pours a clear mahogony/ruby color with a modest head that recedes, leaving moderate to light lacing. Pretty standard fare in this department, but with a splotchy head.

S - Smell is of a very lactic and sour nature, with a slight yeastiness coming through. Dark cherries and other sweet fruits also come through, along with that vinegary burn. I've always been reminded of vinegary, Carolina-style BBQ sauce when I smell these kinds of beers...weird.

T - The taste on this is much more cloyingly sweet than I expected, even for a Belgian sour. Candied fruits and cherries dominate up front, with that reliable lactic funk permeating throughout. The finish is almost port-like because of the sweetness and acidity of this style.

M&D - A tad bit highly carbonated for my impressions of the style, but it still works pretty well. Because of the sugary sweetness that isn't as counter-balanced by the sourness that I would like, I'd probably skip having more than one of these. Still pretty enjoyable though.

dukew456, Mar 29, 2009
Photo of bitterthebetter
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep regal brown with ruby highlights and an off white head

rich, malty, caramel aromas upfront with a sour tartness and slight woodiness

caramel malt upfront by tart malt, slight apple notes, and slight dry woodiness on the finish

smooth, tart yet balanced, a bit sugary but super enticing

a great beer, reminds me of why I love these beers. smooth, malty, sour yet pleasant all the way through its an absolute pleasure to drink this beer

bitterthebetter, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 fluid oz bottle purchased at McKinnon's in Salem, NH. Pours a translucent copper-brown with a half inch of quickly dissipating light tan head. Acidity dominates the aroma, with possible hints of fruit and malt hiding in the background. Tastes both sweet and sour, with the sour bite hitting more toward the finish. A fruity sweet-tart character is there with hints of caramel. Light bodied with ample carbonation. My first oud bruin, but this is delicious, complex and drinkable. Definitely a solid beer for any sour-head out there.

MrHurmateeowish, Mar 26, 2009
Photo of ROBORB
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a ruby, hazy red color with a very thin head. The aroma was teh best part of this beer. It smelled of candy, sugar, and cherries. I found the beer to be overly sweet at first sip but as the beer warmed it started getting more sour. This would be a great transitional beer for someone getting into sours.

ROBORB, Mar 24, 2009
Photo of photomike
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first of this style.

Pours a really beautiful brown with a fluffy brownish tan head. 3 fingers in a tall fluted pils glass. I love to look at this. It is a damn shame I have to drink it all.

Smell is somewhat generically sour. A big vinegary, a bit fruity.

That smell really develops when you actually taste it. Big time sour apple flavors here. Almost like what Martinelli's would taste like if it were made out of underripe apples. Some of that vinegar is present as well, but mostly only right when the beer hits your tastebuds--it dissipates quickly. More sour than I had expected, but certainly not overly so.

Mouthfeel was not bad. There was definitely significant astringency as a result of the sourness. Not that this was necessarily bad or unexpected, but it that is the nature of the beast. I love sours, and puckering like this is to be expected...it was just slightly less pleasant to me than it usually is with sours for some reason.

The astringency makes this a beer that you wouldn't want to session, but this stuff goes down really easy, and I could certainly have a couple.

For the price, a great sour. Now I'm just gonna have to pop one more to get another look at this beauty....

photomike, Mar 24, 2009
Photo of CaptainIPA
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P: Served on-tap @ Comet Cafe and served in a tulip glass. Pairs well with The Stendler: corned beef, scrambled eggs, hash browns and cheese wrapped in a tortilla, and topped with Siracha hot sauce.

A: Pours a dark chesnut-color with ruby highlights and a thin rimming of foam.

S: Sweet apple cider with essences of balsamic vinegar.

T: Opens with a sweet tang of spiced apple cider that flows directly into a sourness characteristic of berry-infused balsamic vinegar. No discernible hoppiness. Nice, subtle earthiness towards the middle. Finishes sweet with a resurgence of apple.

M: Smooth with a lively carbonation that prickles the palate.

D: Wow, I loved this stuff -- especially the sour aspect of the ale. Very unique. Based on this introduction, I feel compelled to explore the Flanders Oud Bruin style.

CaptainIPA, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of krisandajt
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the first sour I've ever had. Just happened to see it on the shelf at my local beer store, and I wanted to try the style. I'm going to do my best to keep the style in mind as I review.

Appearance: Pours a nice clear red with a great deal of head that fades somewhat quickly. Does leave behind some nice lacing.

Smell: Smell is unique - sour.

Taste: Keeping in mind the style...this is a sour brew. In that regard, it excels.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat watery, but has nice carbonation.

Drinkability: If you like this style, then I would imagine this is a brew for you. Personally, this is something I wanted to try just to say I tried it...I don't see myself drinking many of these in my lifetime.

krisandajt, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of PSUBeerman
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle in tulip glass
*First sour I recall tasting

Deep mahogany/garnet color. Head is off white, slightly tan color. Head pours frothy, but dissipated quickly. Definite lacing and retention around glass.

Vinegar aroma hits immediately. Characteristics of red wine in the aroma as well.

Nice carbonation. I thought it was refreshing and very drinkable as far as the mouthfeel.

I thought the taste was well balanced between the sour / tartness and the sweetness. I am a vinegar lover, so I may be biased to say that it was not overpowering with tartness. I picked up some fruitiness, possibly cherry. It reminds me of a local winemaker who bottled a sour cherry wine.

I enjoyed this. Was not what i expected with my first try at a sour ale.

PSUBeerman, Mar 19, 2009
Photo of drseamus
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark garnet body topped with a light tan head. Some visible carbonation. Great clarity.

S: Good sour vinegar up front with some sweet cherry playing just as strong a role.

T: As a disclaimer, I have yet to have too tart or sour a beer. Nice smooth sourness with some tart cherries in the background. I could use it to be more tart though.

M: Nice smooth medium light body.

D: Nice beer but I don't agree with everyone else about the level of tartness. I've had more tart/sour beers and I'd like this one to match those a little better.

drseamus, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of prototypic
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another fine bottle courtesy of guinnessdoc. Thanks, man.

Appearance: It's clear and an impressive deep garnet color. The head is light beige and stands a little over two fingers tall. Carbonation is very active and the head stuck around for quite a while. Sheets of lace clung to the glass.

Smell: The nose smells a little tart or sour up front, but not quite as much as I expected. It features a strong cherry scent that lingers throughout. It smells a little spicy. But, no single spice stands out. There's a bit of light tobacco and leather on the tail. If alcohol is here, I can't tell. It's a nice smelling beer, but doesn't come across as really deep or full of character.

Taste: This is one very tart/sour beer. If you're not into that, you should probably move along. It has a strong cherry flavor to kick it off. Tastes a little fruity otherwise, but not much. The tart blast that follows really stays with you for a bit. Good luck trying to keep a straight face at this point. But, it's a nice tart flavor. Not offensive at all. It is a tad bit spicy, but the individual spices are indistinct. It's somewhat acidic. Yeast is faintly noticeable. There is a little tobacco and leather to wrap it up. Again, alcohol is not noted in the least.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It has a medium body and very active carbonation. It's not quite smooth. Carbonation's a little too high for that. Drinkability is above average. The strong tart flavor just doesn't lend itself to really good drinkability.

Monk's Flemish Sour Red Ale is good beer. I like it. It doesn't really "wow" in any respect, but it's pretty good all around. The tart flavor could actually be toned down a bit and it might be a little better. But, that's probably true to style. I can't say I'm enamored with these types of beers, despite the fact that I do like them. In any event, it is recommended and definitely worth checking out.

prototypic, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of dakid618
1.88/5  rDev -51%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

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.

dakid618, Mar 15, 2009
Photo of DefenCorps
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

DefenCorps, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of PatrickJR
4.75/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

PatrickJR, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of illidurit
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

illidurit, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of Psilo707
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

Psilo707, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of BigBry
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

BigBry, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of Nick3
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

Nick3, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of ScreamForMe
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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).

ScreamForMe, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of dqderrick
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

dqderrick, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of Jwale73
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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).

Jwale73, Mar 01, 2009
Photo of madtowndmb1
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

madtowndmb1, Mar 01, 2009
Photo of Halcyondays
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

Halcyondays, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

SaCkErZ9, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of abfraser
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

abfraser, Feb 22, 2009
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,334 ratings.