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

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,478
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 207 | 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 BradLikesBrew
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma is a blend of slightly sweet, slightly tart cherry and a touch of cider vinegar. Very approachable on the palate. Enough sweetness to invite you in with just enough tartness to keep you drinking. Brett provides just a hint of vinegar funk, mostly on the finish. Great entry level sour.

Photo of Goldfish19
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

~ Purchased this bottle at Big Z Beverage in Huntington, NY. The appearance is reddish brown with a thick off-white head that lingers around for a while. Unique sweet and sour aromas graze the nose quite well. Taste is sour, but on the mild side. I keep picking out sour cherries from this beer more than anything else. Monk's Café does not overpower in any way. It's clean, light, and very refreshing. ~

Photo of brow1901
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Dark maroon in color with a small fizzy off white head. Almost no retention and no lacing.

S- The first thing I smell is cherries, really reminds me of those marchino cherries that come in cocktails. When I initially poured the beer I remember a vinegar quality. Defenite barnyard character to it when agitated.

T- Initially brings a slight tartness to the mouth which becomes rounded off to a sweetness. After the harsh tart flavor it is easyier to pick up the complexities, the one that stands out is the cherries again.

M- Pretty thick in the mouth and I really like that with this beer. The finish could have been a bit more dry, it was way to sweet.

D- Highly drinkable, this is becoming one of my favorite styles. Good carbonation, nice body, lowish alcohol, all this makes a real drinkable beer.

Photo of morebeergood
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at PHP in Brookline. Poured into a wine glass. Dark ruby red color. Great looking tan head that lasted for some time. Ample lacing on the glass. Smell reminded me a lot of that funky aroma of a lambic. Taste was good but quite unusual. On one hand, it was tart like any great Belgian sour ale. But it also had a very different sugar flavor profile. It was a lot like the lactose sweetness in a milk stout. I am not sure if I was really in love with this combination. Yes, I will admit that this is a quality beer and I applaud the uniqueness of this beer. But I am not sure if it lived up to what I was expecting, which was something more along the lines of the classic style of a sour red ale.

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

A: Pours a nice 2 finger head that fades fast, but is otherwise clean looking. A little Active carb, but no yeast or haze at all. A basic light brown in color, it's not that impressive looking.

S: Kind of a sweet vinegar like smell I think. A little apple/pear going on. In fact, a lot like apple cider vinegar, in a good way. No hops at all. Not anything like anything I've had before.

T: Again, weird. Still sort of an apple cider vinegar sort of thing, but mysteriously good. Just sour enough, at least for this noob. The fruity sweetness is really appealing to me, but there's also some tartness at other times.

M: Smooth and watery, in a good way. A nice little sparkle

D: Not sure, I don't think I could drink too much of this. But easy going down.

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 8/26/2009 (Bottle):

Pours a nut brown colored body, clear. With a small off-white color head, quickly diminishing. Sour fruity aroma. Very sour, almost like a cheesy sour, but not quite. Some light fruit like apple, or light colored grape. Strong. Sour taste, that same fruitiness in the taste, and the aftertaste, similar to apple or cherry or something. Not bad tasting, not very off-putting. But it does take a little getting used to. Drinking, makes me thirsty for more, which is the sign of a good beer, right? Almost like a nutty taste to it, some substance. Weaker, less flavor as it warms.

Photo of indiapaleale
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here we go...

Pour - Dark reddish brown or auburn in appearance. Nice off-white fluffy head with great lacing on the inside of the glass.

Aroma - Sour malt, vinegar, brown sugar, apple cider and a little bit of a buttery aroma.

Taste - Initial tartness, a bit like sweet apple cider vinegar, gives way to a very sweet malty rush. The tongue is lovingly put the ringer a bit like eating a Sour Patch Kid. Carbonation levels are good and as it warms a bit there are more overripe apple and pear flavors along with brown sugar and caramel. The sour flavors return in the aftertaste and leaves your mouth slightly puckered.

Overall - A great sour for the newbie. Its not too puckering to scare a person away but enough to keep you interested. Very drinkable and very delicious.

Would I buy more of it? - Absolutely! This is one of my favorite Flemish Sours and absolutely amazing on tap if you can find it.

Note: Monk's Cafe was named one of the "Top 10 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die" by All About Beer Magazine.

Photo of livingregret
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle

Appearance: Pours a deep brown, 2 finger head. Ample lacing and the head lingers for quite some time.

Smell: Sour/Tart apple smell. Maybe even a hint of cranberry? Plenty of fruit and a touch of sweetness. more tart than sweet though

Taste: Tart and sweet at the same time. Almost a mouth puckering sour berry that blends in nicely with the apple finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin, bubbly. A touch almost...over carbonated.

Drink: It's good, and i've enjoyed a few of these over the past couple weeks. Always enjoyable but not one I could pound during a night. Only reason it's not rated higher is because the aftertaste does start to wear on you and you could only drink so many

Photo of Cylinsier
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from a 12 oz.

Pours a deep chocolate brown with a red glow when held up to light. Minimal head retains as lacing.

Has a tart smell, like sour apples or sour grapes. There's also a hint of sweetness to it, like cane sugar.

The taste is tart, a bit on the vinegar side but with enough sweetness that it tends back towards green apples with a touch of lemon.

The feel is bubbly and thin, like soda water.

An interesting beer, probably somewhat of an acquired taste for most. I like it okay but would not necessarily seek it out. It would be easy to session though.

Photo of tpd975
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to tampabrew for this one.

A: Pours a dark ruby red that borders on brown. Thin white head with little retention or lace.

S: The aroma is sour cherries, apple, and light oak.

T: Taste is both sweet and tart. Apple sweetness blends well with cherry tartness. Light oak is able to push through as well.

M: On the lighter side of medium, not complex but pretty tasty.

D: Not too bad. Very drinkable. Not world class but worth seeking out.

Photo of cichief
4.53/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 750ml bottle in Columbia, MD.

A- Poured a beautiful ruby-brown, with a nice light brown head. The beer was clear when held up to light.

S- Nice and sour, fruity.

T- The sourness was nicely balanced by a sweetness from the malt. Lots of ripe fruit flavor.

M- Well carbonated, but overly done. The mouthfeel was medium.

D- A very refreshing beer. This was sour, but well balanced.

Photo of jrallen34
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I drank this from the bottle into a chalice.

It pours a medium red brown with a light beighe head, not much retention or lacing.

The aroma is light vinegar and a little tart.

The taste is night and light and smooth. Well balanced with lots of different character. Not too overpowering and has a nice sweet finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is light, but highly drinkable.

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

Bottle purchased at Total Wine in Tustin and poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: An opaque reddish-brown color with an red-tinted foam which quickly subsides.

S: The nose is full of sour cherries, vinegar, and oak. There also seems to be some hints of sweetness coming through the pungent and strong aromas.

T: The taste is quite similar to the nose. The oak flavor is very prominent, as are the dark fruits. The vinegar component is a somewhat muted, compared to the aroma. Overall, the beer is tart, but not overwhelmingly so.

M: The beer is medium in body with a dry finish, and mild astringency. I enjoy this type of dryness in a beer.

D: The flavors are good, and it's certainly not a beer that will knock you over with alcohol. But, the vinegar character and the dryness lead to the beer being something you can't drink too much of.

Photo of Stigs
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.

A - pour yields barely a finger of tannish head. beer is a beautiful dark reddish-brown. no sticking or lacing on the glass.

S - vinegary cider. a little abrasive at first, but dark fruits chime in to save what might be a mess. reminds me a bit of dyeing easter eggs.

T - more vinegary cider going on, but more sweetness. this really almost tastes like an apple cider that was left out too long...but not completely in a bad way. the dark fruits and sweetness again come out strong near the end. warming turns the apples into cherries, kind of cool. very unique, ill give it that.

M - huge lively carbonation which you can feel all the way through the swallow. has a really nice thickness to it which kind of coats the mouth and give you time to contemplate all the flavor profiles.

D - very refreshing, just the right amount of sourness and tartness going on to make it interesting, but not overwhelming. could put a couple of these down. after awhile the vinegar does wear a bit.

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

Poured a ruby red color with a small white head. Nose is vinegar, fruits, strawberry perhaps and a definitevtartness. Taste is self is def tart from begining to end, great tasting blend of fruits, nice body and sweet. Very good brew, on tap much better versus bottle. My wife loved it.

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

On tap at Dexter's Pub in Madison. Poured into a large tulip glass.

The pour produces a murky liquid, more ruby red than brown, maybe mahogany would be the appropriate term? Grows about a finger's worth of light brown colored head, that dissipates fairly quickly, to a bubbly ring, that leaves a small amount of lace.

The aroma: well I think apple cider vinegar sums it up. Quite a sour note, but also a touch of woody malt character with a hint of sweetness along the line of brown sugar, but mostly just...vinegar.

The flavor, fortunately, isn't all that vinegary. In fact, it is very good. A fair amount of tartness as to be expected, with a fruity component, more along the lines of a tart cherry I would say, with a touch of woodiness once again, the finish isn't overpoweringly sour, it's actually fairly sweet, yet retains a certain dryness.

Medium bodied, with pretty mild carbonation. Overall I thought the sour component was definitely tamed, and this might be a good introductory sour beer for the uninitiated. The vinegary aroma was off-putting at first, but it seemed to come into it's own as it warmed, both aroma and flavor-wise. A easily drinkable sour, that I would not mind drinking again.

Photo of pwoods
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz. brown bottle, purchased at Hyde Park Wine and Spirits, poured into a snifter. Notes.

A: Pours a deppish brown, flaming ruby in the light. Moderate frothy head with good retention and clumps of lacing.

S: Lots of sour and tart fruits. Funky, light cheese. Added fruity esters. Very clean sourness. Light grains.

T/M: sour and tart fruits, cherries, strawberries, red apple, light peach and plum. Very lactic. Some apple cider vinegar, not too much. Light grains, some wheat. Body is medium with good carbonation. Pretty dry finish.

D: Refreshing, drinkable, and only $3 a bottle :)

Photo of spointon
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this from an 11.2oz brown bottle into a stemmed tulip glass.

A= This ale poured a medium red/brown color with good clarity and a 1/2" light tan head. The head dropped to a thin cap in seconds and left only moderate lacing behind.

S= This beer smelled first of sourness, then of candy sweetness. Neither was overpowering making this a nice experience for my nose.

T= Much like the aroma, this ale was 2 faced. On one hand it was sour and tart but on the other hand it had a serious sweetness that kept my tongue on high alert. No hops to speak of. The finish was slightly sweet.

MF= Lighter side of medium bodied with a nice crisp mouthfeel.

D= This was a very pleasant surprise. I happen to love this brewery and am very pleased that their sour ale is as good as it is. Very drinkable and very tasty!

Photo of kpoole25
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 oz to glass. Clear brownish red, tan head. Sour aromas, a little like sour milk or yogurt. Taste has a cloying sweetness along with the sour, it's really like a soda pop. Or maybe if Martinelli's made a sparkling cherry and added a few drops of vinegar for a little extra pucker. I haven't had any other sours but this did not remind me of beer. Still, it was fairly drinkable, went down quick.

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

Presentation: 11.2 oz bottle into a snifter.

A- Pours a translucent reddish brown. 1 finger of fizzy tan, which promptly reduces to a thin, incomplete cap.

S- Tart raspberry vinegar, red wine fruitiness, and a slightly funky yeastiness. Interesting and enjoyable (especially if you like the acetic acid stilt).

T- Swirling with fruity, malty, cherry-esque sweetness. Sour notes are fairly subdued, though there is certainly a perceptible amount of tartness. A bit of a sweet sherry thing going on here. Bitterness extremely minimal.

M- Slightly crisp with moderate carbonation. Medium feel.

D- Surprisingly good. I expected this to be perhaps too sour, or cloying, or perhaps too acetic to drink easily....but it was none of those things.

Future outlook: Hmmm...this was quite enjoyable. If I had been served blindly, I could surely have been fooled into thinking I was drinking something other than a beer. My initial impression is that this was an interesting drink that I will be happy to have again.

Photo of rye726
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber with a tan head and some light lace. Nose has sweet cherries, ripe plums and tart yeast. Taste has more ripe fruits followed by a sour yeast presence and a bit of funk. Crisp clean body is well carbonated. Tasty Flanders Red, but not a bruin.

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

A: That is a truly beautiful beer. A deep brownish red color, like cherry or mahogany. A Decent bit of slight tan head.

S: Slight vinegar smell, as well as ripe berries, raspberries in particular. Almost a little bit of sake smell as well.

T: Tart, at first then, very sweet. Lots of berries in this. Delicious.

M: Very dry. Nicely carbonated.

D: A good beer all around, but I don't think it is my cup a tea. I think this would be a great desert beer to split with a few friends, and it would pair very well with something like cheesecake.

Photo of Symptomu
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As a lover of sour brews I've developed a special affinity for this beers different take on sour. The color is a lovely clear but deep brown red and on tap the head is impressive. The sour aroma and even the tast of this beer is very lactic, yogurty, rather than acetic, vinegary. The mouthfeel is thin but not overly so. The sour lends to the brews drinkability without being too tangy, puckery. Flavors hint at cherry, crab apple, molasses, and plain yogurt. This is an excellent first timers sour though may not be much like its brethren.

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

11.2-oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A = Ruby red, good clarity, billowy off white head which leaves heavy lacing as it slowly dissipates into a small foam covering over entire surface.

S = Some light sour funkiness, slight smell of sea salt, cherries, salty Chinese candy, just a touch of sherry cooking vinegar.

T = The saltiness in the nose is also present in the taste. There are also tastes of cherries, oak, sourdough starter.

M = Really froths a lot when first taken into the mouth, almost like a softer version of a soft drink. Medium body, only fair mouthcoating which causes the tastes to disappear too quickly.

D = I would have a hard time drinking more than one of these, though there are definitely things to like about this beer, it just doesn't go down easily enough to be highly drinkable.

Photo of wnh
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours a slightly muddled mahogany with a large, lasting, foamy and creamy and sticky off-white head that leaves thick chunks of sticky lacing.

Aromas of sour (balsamic?) vinegar, tart, lactic lemon, and a sweet ripe-pear-like fruitiness. More tart than sour on the palate than the nose would indicate. Subtly sour lemon peel flavor dominates, with a subtle mix of other citrus fruits, balsamic vinegar, and more ripe pear. Fruitiness picks up as the beer warms, bringing in an oxidized apple and pear note. Complex and alluring.

Light to medium in body, with a high level of carbonation that prevents the intense flavors from becoming thick and sluggish.

Sour, but not mouth puckeringly so. Seems a good place to start for someone wanting to get into sour beers.

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