1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

2,382 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,382
Reviews: 1,047
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 54
Gots: 177 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,382 | Reviews: 1,047 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked this one up at Lee's Liquor off of Lake Mead in Las Vegas this week.

Appearance: Pours a pretty clear reddish garnet color with a small, but persistent, of white head. After drinking the beer, there is some sporadic lacing left on the glass.

Aroma: Light sweet caramel is the first impression that I get. I definitely get some wood with this beer, and this melds with a sweetness and a cherry that are truly defined. There is an evident cherry impression in the nose of this beer, and that hints at the mild sourness to come in the sip.

Taste: The flavor is really mild and clean with some slight tartness. The cherry and the wood are big players in the flavor, but the rest of the beer comes across as really eserved and clean. The finish is wet rather than dry and attenuated like most other examples of this style. The beer is clean with no alcohol apparent.

Opinion: This is a pretty god beer. I am a big fan of the sour ales, and this one is really reserved for this category. I would drink it again, but mostly with newbies to sour beers.

SkeeterHawk, Jan 15, 2007
Photo of ElGordo
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Body is a turbid brown hue with ruby red highlights, topped by a modest off-white head. Tangy aroma that is typical of a Flemish sour - tart cherries, Belgian malt, some light, floral Euro hops, and a decent bit of astringency. Palate is along the same lines, with tart sour cherry dominating up front, becoming more balanced with the light brown malt by mid-palate. Finish is again tart, with a light flash of hoppiness before the swallow. The astringency doesn't linger as long as some other sours, but definitely makes its presence known. Body is a light and spritzy, maybe a touch foamy at times. Be gentle with this one. I've never been a huge fan of sour ales, but this one is passable.

ElGordo, Jan 11, 2007
Photo of lackenhauser
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Muddy brown with some minor reddish highlights. Nice, fruity aroma with a touch of sourness to it. Very berry like smell to it. Moderately sour flavor. A slight hint of fruit to it. Finishes quite dry. Good mouthfeel-very bright an effervescent on the palate. A very drinkable and enjoyable beer. I knock it down a bit for drinkability as it gets to be too much for me after 1 or 2. Dont let that stop you.

lackenhauser, Jan 08, 2007
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very murky brown with ruby highlights. Not much head. The smell is malt vinegar and late sweet malt. Tastes quite sour with a spicy taste redolent of cinnamon on the finish. The mouthfeel is alittle rough and non-integrated for me, but its a quite refreshing brew.

Georgiabeer, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of SilentSabre
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I do not recall having ever had a Flanders Red before now. I was really uncertain what to expect. Sitting on the table in the glass, it is reddish-brown in colour, with spotty patches of frost on the surface. It looks a bit murky. When held up in front of a light bulb, it becomes clear that this in indeed very red in colour, and while still a bit cloudy, it isn't as "muddy" as it appears sitting on the table.
The smell is a bit wine-like. It actually "smells" sour. There is also a damp basement smell present, as well, like you'd find with a gueuze or a saison. Having never had this style before, I am unsure what this should be like, but my suspicion is that this is right on target for the style. Taste is tart and sour all the way through. No bitterness or anything else. Pure lip-puckering tartness. I like this very much. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and pleasant with a lower level of CO2. Quite drinkable. I'm fairly impressed with this one, and certainly glad I tried it. I'll probably buy this again.

SilentSabre, Jan 02, 2007
Photo of oelergud
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear transparent beautiful dark ruby body with lots of carbonation and a nice pillowy, creamy, silken tan head. Good retention and lace.
Sweet and sour scent, tart green apple skin.
Fresh tart fruity taste. Very little aftertaste of green tart apple.
Medium mouthfeel with a finish that seems dry but thats just the tartness talking.
A very different and enjoyable brew.

-Oelergud

oelergud, Dec 26, 2006
Photo of TexIndy
4.93/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Re-review on 8/5/08. Original review at bottom.
Shipped back from my trip to Indiana. Poured from a 330ml bottle with a coded date on the label into my NBB snifter. It had a deep ruby color. It had a small fizzy head that quickly dissipated into nothing. Some carb but no lacing. The aroma was strong sour cherries. Since my original review, I've really grown into this style and absolutely love the aroma on this one. The taste was also incredible. It had a great sour bite that sticks throughout the whole drink. Ends with a sharp pucker. The mouthfeel is great with the sour and carbonation. Overall, this is an excellent beer and I'm so glad that I got to try it again. Originally I wasn't in a rush to try again but now I'm already thinking of ways to get more. Strongly recommend.

****original 12/25/06 review below****
Poured from a 330ml bottle with a coded date on label. Had a decent head that eventually become a thin constant film that also left lacing throughout. Was a medium mahogany color. The smell was strong with the sour cherries and definitely let you knew what was coming. The mouthfeel was good. This was my first sour ale so a whole new experience. Overall, I'd say I liked it but not sure I'm in a rush to get another one right away. This style for me is probably something to try every so often and see if I grow into it. I'd recommend trying this beer as it is top 10 in the style so a good intro to it. (3.5, RB, T, Y)

TexIndy, Dec 25, 2006
Photo of HossMcGraw
4.7/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Monk's.

Dark red, almost brown color with small head and awesome lacing. The aroma is sour cherry and mustiness with some slight malt sweetness in the background. The flavor is phenomenal.

I'm new to sour ales so there are probably better examples out there, but for me, this was perfection. Not too sour but enough to keep you on your toes. Also quite musty and woody with a bit of malt sweetness in the background. Finish is bone dry and makes this ridiculously drinkable.

Mouthfeel is my only complaint. A bit flat for my tastes. Overall though, one of my new favorite beers. I hope I can get this in Lancaster. Planning on buying a case.

HossMcGraw, Dec 11, 2006
Photo of Dukeofearl
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$4.99 (?) at Hi-Time Wine in Costa Mesa, CA., October-November 2006. Pours a fairly clear brown with deep reddish highlights, as it should be. A nice off-white cover sits atop the brew. A small amount of sediment (I assume it's yeast!) accompanies the last of the pour.

Aroma is a faint sour cherry, which is decent enough, but there's also a slight medicinal note that takes away a bit. Still good, though.

Flavor is the wonderful sour I love in these ales. Dark fruits (mostly black cherries, but might also be some raspberry) lovingly wrapped in the wonderous sour. It seems like the sour intensity varies from swallow to swallow- that must be me, mustn't it? Pretty good stuff.

I can drink this happily, one of my favorite styles (and also one of the rarest for me to get an opportunity to enjoy). I have had it on tap once or twice at a few "local" (SoCal) spots that might have this type of beer (Lucky Baldwin's, O'Briens), and really enjoyed it on tap. It was a while ago, so I can't compare directly here. Recommended.

Dukeofearl, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of vtfan77
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark brownish red with a small light tan head that dissipates quickly. Active carbonation with lots of bubbles throughout.

S- Sour cherries, vinegar, and a touch of malt.

T- Tart fruit up front, kind of like apple juice that has gone past its expiration date. Cracker-like malt and a metallic taste combine to form a strangely pleasing finish. However, this beer is lacking some meat in the middle; it's almost as if it's simply trying to ride the initial tartness all the way to the finish. Needs a little more substance there, but it's still good.

M- Light, airy, and smooth. Very nice.

D- Not a session beer per se, but one can definitely drink a couple in a sitting. ABV isn't mentioned, but it can't be too high.

An enjoyable beer, though not nearly as complex as, say, Duchesse. It's probably a better thirst-quencher, though. Certainly one to try, especially if you're a fan of the style. Recommended.

vtfan77, Nov 28, 2006
Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown with almost no head. Cherry aroma. Well malted, more so and less yeasty than the brewery's own version of the flemish sour. Sour, it makes its point, and it's not overdone, there is some balance. Had a bottle again 6.5 years later and its got some cherry but in fact a stouty aroma. Just OK and rerated.

Sammy, Nov 28, 2006
Photo of dherling
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out a murky, reddish-brown color with a thin, bubbly head that dissapears quickly. The nose was a strange combination of Belgian candi, yeasty spice, and vinegar. The taste offered cotton candy, lemon and moderately sour cherries with a pineapple finish. Soy sauce. Hate to say it, but I did. The mouthfeel is thin,
somewhat creamy on the tongue. A drinkable brew, but I almost expect this style to be a bit mroe assertive.

dherling, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy red/orange, thick tan head forms, nice lacing, great retention, really sticky. Smell is sweet and sour, sugary, some caramel, some fruits, excellent funk. Taste is sour, some cherries, funky, fruits, nice toffee finish, more sourness as it goes down. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation, nice Flanders ale. Thanks DrJay!

Viggo, Nov 16, 2006
Photo of Budlum
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This ale pours with one inch of soda-like, tan head that subsides after about thirty seconds. The body is a slightly translucent mahogany with only a barely noticeable red tint.

The nose of this beer starts with a restrained lactic smell before a faint cherry aroma. A yeasty funk is notable but not very powerful. Some sherry vinegar scents add complexity. Overall, this is very restrained in terms of smell.

A rush of tart cherries and grapes start this ale along with an almost port wine-like flavor. The tartness is nicely balanced by a honey flavor. The yeasty funk is very surprisingly restrained. A short finish holds yeast flavors, a black pepper spice, some sweet sugar flavors and more delicious tartness.

The mouth presence is highly carbonated, spicy and refreshing. This example is much cleaner than others but does have some unfortunate watery qualities.

Drinkability is excellent. This example is nicely balanced for the novice but a little too restrained for the fan. A great, sessionable Flanders Red.

Budlum, Nov 12, 2006
Photo of nortmand
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear ruby red with a 2 finger tan head that leaves nice lace.

High lactic acid in the nose. Also a ton of fresh strawberry aroma. Awesome.

Sweet mixed berries on the tip of the tongue. By mid tongue there is a mild lactic astringency. Very light bitterness as well.
Leaves a metallic twang aftertaste.

Low to medium bodied, a refreshing, lightly "sour" beer.

nortmand, Nov 10, 2006
Photo of BlindPig
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- 1/4" tan head on a clearish dark amber body when poured into a flute. Nice thickish lacing that sticks to side of glass.
S- You can smell the sourness. Maybe some malts hidden in the strong sour smell. Some grassy hops with earth tones? Maybe some woody notes in it also?
T- A big strong sour taste. Almost like sour grapes with that same dry finish. Causes some puckering (first proper sour beer). Some wood notes in it too. Some sour cherries or some other kind of fruit that follows that like raspberries or something. It is quite refreshing and the more I drink the more I like it.
M- Thinner in the body but when it sticks after you swallow it almost makes it seem like a thicker body. Low carbonation.
D- First one of this style. Don't think I'm a huge fan of it but it is good. I would probably keep one of these if I could get it just for those occasions when it would sound great.

BlindPig, Nov 09, 2006
Photo of grub
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

DrJay hooked me up with this one. thanks jay!

pours a deep ruby red, nearly brown, with a half inch of dense off-white head.

aroma is nice. distinct sourness. fruity, cherry and raspberry. slightly vinous.

taste is good. nice moderate sourness. mild acidity. cherry and a bit of raspberry. sweet, but not syrupy. slightly woody. at first i thought this beer was a little thin/watery, but it really grew legs once it warmed a little. still feels a bit lacking, but good.

mouthfeel is nice. carbonation level feels a touch low.

drinkability is good. an interesting beer.

grub, Nov 09, 2006
Photo of DogFood11
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a smallish tulip. Good looking brew. Red/amber body with a whispy head that leaves continental lace.

Certainly has a tart and sour edge but overall this has some balance considering the style. Some wooded backer adds to the depth. Cherries and sour apple enter the picture and the tart edge has some similarities to sweet tarts candy. Some hints of Rhubarb here and there with a touch of ripe grape. Pretty dry finish.

Notes: I liked it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Blending old and young beers when done right is awesome. This one is not in the elite category to me but more of a nice representation that stays in the safe zone.

DogFood11, Nov 08, 2006
Photo of kimcgolf
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured to a murky brown, with okay head but little lacing. Aroma was the usual vinegary smell, but nothing else seemed present. Flavor was extra sour, and while I detected a hint of fruit, it was difficult to really tell what it was. Other Flemish Sours tend to be sour, then slide into a sweet aftertaste. This hits you with very sour start, and then sweet, with little transition. It also tended to be a little watery. I really have learned to like Flemish Sours, but this one, while good, was not one of the best.

kimcgolf, Oct 28, 2006
Photo of SacoDeToro
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep reddish brown with a dense tan head that faded to a nice lace.

The aroma of the beer was of sweaty horse hair and that distinct Belgian lactic tang. No hops or maltiness was detectable in the aroma.

The flavor was predominantly tart cherries with notes of vanilla and cinnamon. There were some slight solvent flavors typical of this style.

The carbonation was good, but the mouthfeel could've been a touch fuller to add some body.

Overall, a very drinkable Flanders red ale. Not too over the top with tartness.

SacoDeToro, Oct 23, 2006
Photo of Fugazme
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes:

Hazy/murky... dull brown with flickers of amber.
Head dissipates quickly leaving a soapy cover consisting of various bubble sizes... each swirl brings forth more and creates a nice head.

Aroma is sweet and sour... bubblegum, musty, mint, moldy oranges... reminds me of a produce cooler in a grocery store... in a good way.

Puckery lemon... soda-like... sour apple, granny smith... apple juice. A slight bit of grain. I like it.

Fugazme, Oct 19, 2006
Photo of FightingEntropy
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally got down to the Blue Nile to have a draft of Monk's Flemish Red, and it was really worth the trip. I had a draft at Monk's a year ago, and rated this one higher. For this tasting, the beer poured high with a thick, off white head with lots of small carbonation bubbles which drops to a thin lingering foam that resembles a tan oil slick. Only a small amount of lace hangs on the edge. It is a truly red red ale, dark cherry in color with golden highlights that almost shimmers. Sour fruit fills your nose, mostly cherry, but also raisins/currants along with a light tinge from the oak too. The smell is less complex than the sour/sweet/tart/sour taste--like those expensive dark cherries you let set an extra day or two in the fridge before eating. The malt sweetness is strong enough to try hard to balance, but in the end lose by a bit to the complex yeasty sourness. Perfect. Really enjoyed this beer, but had to head home after two because a third would have knocked me for a loop. Hope that my life allows me to get back for another draft of this very cool beer of an underdone style. Take my review for what it is--I switch back and forth between barleywine and Flanders red as my favorite styles--I like strong, sour, and in your face beers that have strong opposing flavors.

FightingEntropy, Oct 08, 2006
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reddish brown color, utterly transparent at the foot of the glass, with a bountiful head, lush, toffee-toned, creamy...very likable look.

Aroma: sour, cherries, underlying yeasty notes..that covers it!Right on target for style, without going overboard.

Taste: ooo, puckering at first, 'course I'm a sour ale wuss, apparently, than it slips away and a bite of sweetness as it leaves the mouth. Like a bite of sour cherries, then ah. Refreshing, despite the puckeration, and 3 sips in, I'm acclimated. Each subsequent meeting of glass and lip is overarchingly happy. Sour, then fruity, and a little sweet, lingering woody brown ale character at the finish.
Medium bodied, long, solid finish, tangy texture.

Fans of Flemish Sours can't go wrong with this one. They're a rabid bunch, but I know this'll please 'em.

feloniousmonk, Sep 25, 2006
Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle pours a clear dark mahogany body with a small khaki head. Good retention and some patchy island chain lacing. Aroma features light malt and lots of acidic notes of sour white grapes and cherries. Mouthfeel is tart and effervescent, light bodied. Taste is dry and tart. Hints of cherries and sour white grapes. A hint of caramel supports the considerable acidic sourness. Clean and refreshing. A good example of the style, but not one of my favorites.

merlin48, Sep 09, 2006
Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really like this beer.
Poured a deep brown color with tons of carbonation like champagne and a tan head that is very thick and leaves lots of lace.
The aroma is very crisp and has a nice tang of lactic acid with a minerally character, not blood like but metallic.
The flavor is very crisp as well and it begins with a sharp sourness that is not unpleasent at all and slowly declines after you initially taste it. There is not much malt or hops that i can detect due to the sourness taking the lead in this ale.
The mouthfeel is very nice as the sourness dosnt contribute to bite and the carbonation is surprisingly smooth for being so vivacious.
this is extremly drinkable to me and I would love to enjoy it more often but I had to fly to LA to get it so I woun't be enjoying it for a few more months.

RenoZymurgist, Aug 25, 2006
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,382 ratings.