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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
87
very good

2,433 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,433
Reviews: 1,049
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 190 | 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: 2,433 | Reviews: 1,049 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jsanto
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

jsanto, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of yelterdow
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

yelterdow, Feb 18, 2009
Photo of bigbelcher
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

bigbelcher, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of farrago
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

farrago, Feb 06, 2009
Photo of thekevlarkid
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

thekevlarkid, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

BARFLYB, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of surfer4life
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

surfer4life, Jan 28, 2009
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

TheManiacalOne, Jan 27, 2009
Photo of KevinBrewer
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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. :(

KevinBrewer, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of Franky3
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Franky3, Jan 24, 2009
Photo of Pamola
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had tried this on tap before and wasn't too impressed. It may have been due to its comparison to the other fine brews in a flight at a beer bar, but here goes.

Poured an unaged bottle into a tulip glass. nice two finger head. The color is quite impressive. seems brown but in certain light it's very ruby-colored.
Smell is very reminiscent of Rodenbach's type or sour. Not piercing, but earthy and twangy and pretty good.
Taste is where this brew stumbles. This is an unaged bottle, so I'll reserve the ultimate judgement for a few years from now when another bottle comes out of the cellar. The sourness isn't quite sourness, it's a light tartness one would expect from fresh cider. Overwhelmingly fruity and slightly cloying.
Mouthfeel is jumbled and too effervescent.

Pamola, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of LiquorLockerVP
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Tried this at a private office function, poured from an 11.2oz bottle.

Appearance:
A dark garnet, like slightly red cola. It had a non existent head which was quickly chased away by an almost hissing carbonation. Interestingly, after letting it sit for a while, the remnants of the head formed little islands that looked hauntingly like leering skulls.

Smell:
At first, it was a phenol bomb bringing to mind the dreaded low totem poll halloween "Good n Plenty"s of younder years. Despite my disdain for the candies as a kid, this smell was really pleasing. As the brew warmed up, this candy smell transformed into an nose full of apple vinegar. It was a unique transformation that I found interesting.

Taste:
I recently tried a Geuze, and recognized some of the champagne qualities I picked up in that in this beer. It almost tastes like a marriage between cola and dry spanish cava all built on a backbone of sour dough bread. Very unique, pretty sweet. (sugary sweet, not sweet as in cool). After taste is very much champagne.

Moutful:
The hissing carbonation I mentioned earlier set upon my tongue and sizzled on its surface. Thin and driven by carbonation. Very gaseous and fizzy.

Drinkability:
A little too sweet to do more than one. After sitting out for a bit, its carbonation dulled accentuating the cola taste even more so. Nice beer for an experience, and would work well as a toast, but as far as sessioning it's just a bit too unique.

LiquorLockerVP, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of gameface23
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash tulip glass.

Appearance: clear reddish brown when held up to the light. It pours with an appropriate sized head that leaves pretty nice lacing.

Smell: Straight up vinegar at first sniff. There's an underlying foot smell as well, but that may or may not be a good thing. It's a little weak in the aroma department, though.

Taste: Intertwining sweet and sour. Very sweet near the lips and dry/sour in the middle of the mouth.

Mouthfeel: I've never drank such a dry finishing beer. Halfway through the sip, I was getting a very refreshing feel.

Drinkability: Very good. Considering it's only 5.5% and the fact that it has such a refreshing finish, I could drink a ton of these.

gameface23, Jan 15, 2009
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle > 16 oz. Stella glass

This one is clear and vibrant dark reddish color in amber. Certainly the darkest color sour ale I've seen. A few tiny, relaxed bubbles are quick to form a 1" deep, thick and creamy tan colored head. The lacing is long and very sticky.

The nose is filled with a lush, sour red and green grapes, honey sweet malt, artichoke, zesty green herbs with sweet 'n sour candies.

The flavor is actually much sweeter than I would guess, very malty with a honey current. Ripe red fruits, think wild strawberries, sweet raspberries, and ripe green grapes. Really, only mildly sour with slight tartness that provides a dry, crisp edge to this medium bodied brew. The balance is a bit off, the malt holds to much weight and the sour, might not be sour enough, but it's really enjoyable. I'm thinking Lambic.

Eventhough there might be too much malty sweetness, it's really easy to drink. I will revisit this one in the summertime.

GratefulBeerGuy, Jan 12, 2009
Photo of esv
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Flemish, from Flanders - a region that covers portions of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The head stands at about 1/3'' and I can hear it. It's like a snap, crackle pop sound or like a soft, white noise or a soda. The head flattens fairly quickly but lacing sticks around.

The beer is dark with a deep brownish red glow around the edges. Light doe not hardly pass through the bulk of the beer.

I can smell sour before I even lift the glass to my nose. The nose is both sour and sweet and it truly reminds me of a Chinese sauce.

There is a thin but syrupy-sweet taste and then sour. The beer is really quite sweet and certainly tangy. There is a hint of bitterness that becomes more detectable as the beer warms. It is almost like the bitterness you might taste from a cup of hot tea, when it has been allowed to cool and the teabag was left to sit in the cup. It is a dry bitterness.

The mouthfeel is thin.

I must admit, this is the first sour beer I've had and it will take me some time to purchase another bottle. It was not easy for me drink.

esv, Jan 12, 2009
Photo of HalfFull
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a flute glass. This is my first Oud Bruin and the first time I've poured beer into a 'champagne' glass. Let's see how it goes.

Pours a rather clear deep red/light brown color and easily generates a full inch of head. Offers good retention and yields some artsy lacing throughout.

Smell reminds me immediately of champagne, oddly apropos for the glass indeed. Perhaps a rosé bubbly. Now why does the BA dictionary recognize 'apropos' but not 'mouthfeel' or 'ABV' I don't know. No real vinegar sense here, just some extracts of summer fruit(grape, apple, and plum mostly) and champagne yeast. Sour? Sour notes are minimal and the beer isn't funky whatsoever.

Tastes of slightly tart cherries enhanced by deeper plum flavors, and has a lingering sweet close. Comparisons to champagne continue to the feel of this brew, bubbly and effervescent indeed.

This is an interesting beer but the simplicity of it all limits the drinkability for me. Surely a nice toasting brew, a champagne with a head! Definitely worth a try, an interesting style I'd like to try a few other examples of.

HalfFull, Jan 05, 2009
Photo of Brad007
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color with a thick two-finger head into my glass, leaving a bit of lacing.

Aroma is tart with a strong hint of cherries and spice. Also has a bit of barnyard funk.

Taste is tart and sour upfront with a hint of cherry, apple and barnyard funk.

Mouthfeel is mainly tart and sourness that linger at the back of the throat. Well carbonated.

Interesting example of the style that has a lot of nice characteristics. Definitely a sipping beer and you should only try it if you are looking for something to challenge your palate.

Brad007, Jan 04, 2009
Photo of JayNH
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep clear burgundy color with a small foamy head.

S- Definite note of vinegar. Followed by a sweet but tart fruity smell. Very cranberry-ish.

T- Starts with a tart sweetness that fades to an ever so sour and smokey malt flavor. It finishes with a mild earthy/grassy hoppiness. It's like apple peels.

M- smooth, a little creamy. Good body and just the right amount of carbonation.

D- This brew goes down very smooth.

This is my first beer from this style and I must say it's unlike anything I've ever tried. The taste is very complex and comes at you in waves of different flavors. I will definitely try more of this style.

JayNH, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color, shines like a ruby. A white fluffy head sits on top giving some lacing, but the head sort of fades, which helps you get straight to the beer. The smell reminds me of Easter, dying eggs. Just like vinegar, a bit of apple cider and white wine thrown in too. The taste is just what I'd expect. Like apple cider vinegar, a good balance between sweetness and sourness, like red wine, but leaning a bit more towards sour. Not a whole lot of puckering tartness, but a great taste. The carbonation makes it a bit interesting, and there's plenty to seek out in this beer. I liked it, I could sip on it for a very long time, and would definitely purchase again if given the opportunity.

taylorhamrick, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brownish-red color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates quickly into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a medium-sized ring around the glass. Lacing isn't very sticky.

Smells of tart cherries with a small amount of yeasty funk. It's almost like a light red wine when it's cold but as it warms it gets more of a malty character.

Prepare yourself, because the first sip is VERY sour. I wasn't expecting it to be this tart from the smell, and though it's not overpowering it certainly makes me pucker up a bit. Sour cherry and apple flavors mostly, with a vanilla-esque flavor - almost a bit woody.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness and active carbonation.

Drinkability is good once you're acclimated to the sourness. The flavors are clean and crisp and I had no problem finishing off one - although I'm not sure how much I like the prospect of having another.

Overall this is a great beer for the price. Pick this up if you see it, and the next time I'm in Philly I hope to stop in for a glass.

glid02, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of penguinjive7
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pur is a cloudby brown color with about an inch of white head. Initial smell is of vinigar mixing with spice. The first sip is mostly a strong vinigar flavor is quickly followed by a bittersweet blast of firmented dark fruit. I can definitely taste hints of the oak coming through to further give the brew a flacor reminiscent of vinous almost cabernet-like flacor. The finish has a hint of clove spice to further round out the palate. Wow, this is really an odly balanced Flanders. The sweetness that balanced the sourness of the brew is almost awkward and unexpected, but it really works for this one. An excelent brew that I would have again in a heartbeat.

penguinjive7, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of RodBurg
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, deep red color with a thick off white head and some spotty lacing.

Smells tart and fruity. Grapes, plums, and cherries.

Taste is pretty outstanding. Sweet apples and cherries with a slight sour finish. Very crisp with an intense carbonation.

Very good stuff. Now I know what I'll be drinking on New Year's Eve instead of Champagne.

RodBurg, Dec 23, 2008
Photo of xxthepatientxx
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2oz bottle. Poured into a flute.

A - Pours a beautiful pale reddish amber color with strong, champagne-like effervescence, leaving a dense, lingering slightly tan head. No lacing to speak of.

S - Fruity and tart, perhaps like a plum wine.

T/M - Mmmm! Smooth and viscous on the tongue. A bit more syrupy than I'd like when drinking that much of something, but not unpleasant. Very sweet with an underlying dry tartness like from a granny smith apple. Tiny bubbles tickle the tongue. The taste is very fruity; reminds me of plums. Tastes much like a port. This beer isn't nearly as tart as I expected, having previously tried La Folie. A good intro to the style, in that respect. The tartness is there, though, blending in and lending this certain character and depth.

D - One of these goes down very easy. For me, the sweetness is a bit much to have more than that...at least not without a break in between. The overall enjoyment factor though is very good. Very drinkable...just not sessionable.

Impressions: This brew reminds me of a lighter colored port - the smell, the texture, the sweetness, the the flavors. Very intriguing. And like a good port, this would pair fine with a dessert or stand alone as an after-dinner drink. It also occurred to me that due to the effervescence and distinctly winey taste of this particular beer, it would make a fun substitute to champagne on New Year's Eve. How's that for a way to introduce your friends and family to the world of unusual beers?

xxthepatientxx, Dec 22, 2008
Photo of DoubleJ
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeah, bring on the sour. Single bottle from Total Wine for $2.49, on to the beer:

Poured into an oversized wine glass, its brown in color, interweaved with dark red, and with hues of orange. Lovely color, even cooler when you shine a light through it. The nose is tart like strawberries, and phenolic. It's a good smell, but it lacks robustness for that higher score. Taste...sweet and sour sauce. Me likey. Tart and sugary sweet upfront. Light on the sourness and more focused on a sweet flavor. Burnt caramel sweet. Sour apples. Some might say it's cloying, but it's working for me. Delightful and not too heavy...Intro to Sour Beer 101 is right here.

DoubleJ, Dec 17, 2008
Photo of adamks
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: pours copper/orange with thin, quick to fade light brown head

s: vinegar....woah! some fruity something (cherry, maybe strawberry?), hard to tell with the overpowering sourness

t: sour/vinegar up front, as that fades the cherry/fruit sweetness really comes out, good overall balance

m: thin but well-carbonated

d: this is the best of the few sours i've had, but the sourness could be off-putting to some. maybe not the best introduction for those hesitant to try a sour, but it worked for me!

adamks, Dec 17, 2008
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
87 out of 100 based on 2,433 ratings.