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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,098 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,098
Hads: 2,763
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 82
Gots: 374 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website

Style | ABV
Flanders Oud Bruin |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003

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.
View: Beers (92) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,098 | Hads: 2,763
Photo of ajcormier
3.07/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured from bottle into small tasting tulip.
A - Looks great, reddish brown with creamy colored lacing.

S - Smelled good but lacking in a real sharp tart note I was hoping for. Plums, raisins, cherry and lightly toasted biscuits. Slight musk.

T - Disappointing a suppose. As with the smell I was really hoping for something a bit more puckering. Tasting was similar to the smell but sweeter than I was anticipating.

M - Good bubbles and slightly coating. Dry finish but residual sugars were there.

O - Eh, had way better. Good but not worth buying again.

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Photo of BeerAllYouCanBe
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured slightly below room temperature, about 20 degrees C. Aggressive head, recedes to shallow but enduring, light brown foam on beer surface and minimal lacework on glass. Deep bronze color with slight reddish hue. Pleasant cherry and lactic nose. Grapefruit and cherry on entrance, sweet Concord grape finish. Sweetness hangs in the finish, a bit much, but still quite drinkable. Sourness is mild but present. As others have commented, an easy sour to approach for the uninitiated.

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Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: 11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass, because I'm a fuckin' rebel. Clear but dark ruby red with great head retention, no sediment. Nice looking stuff.

Smell: Sweet and sour, with an emphasis on the sweet; balsamic vinegar, a bit of cherry cough syrup, slightly mineral/metallic. Pretty middle of the road for the style.

Taste & mouthfeel: Fruity sweetness followed by mild sourness, which leads way to a sweet/sour finish. I'd like a bit less sweetness, but this is pleasant enough. Mouthfeel is a touch syrupy. Decent, but far from great.

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Photo of jealousmonk
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is an interesting beer. It's hard to rate too highly--the mouthfeel is seriously lacking, and it doesn't bring the complexity of a really good sour--but it was unusual and fun to drink.

A--Dark reddish brown, poured into a tulip glass. Appears heavily carbonated, but did not feel overwhelming.

S--Smells sour, with strong apple and vinegar. Mild yeast and cherry. The smell is not very enticing--too vinegary.

T--Not terribly sour--more tart, with strong flavors of apples and cherries. The taste in unusual for a sour--far more drinkable than I was expecting, and as I said in the beginning, less complex.

M--Very thin. The carbonation level seems fine, contrary to the appearance of the beer. It could certainly use more body. This might be part of the reason that the flavors have less depth than expected. However, this also means I could drink a few of these. Drinking more than a couple of stronger sours would be very difficult. Overall an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of blakelive784
3.05/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours a dark amber/ruby color with a thin, light tan head that's a finger tall. Retention is awful. Largely unremarkable.

S - Tart green apple, lactic sourness, sweet generic malt, cream, and very light yeasty funk. Surprisingly mild in strength, though it seems very well balanced.

T - I'm surprised at how simple this one, especially in comparison to most other sours. Sour green apple dominates over the crystal malt body. It fairly balanced and the sourness is relatively light. Hints of toasted malt come though. Definitely suffers from simplicity. I wish the flavors were less restrained.

M - Light, highly carbonated and an impressive dry finish. Works pretty well for the beer, though it probably would be less effective if there were more flavors present.

D - It's a decent beer, though it definitely wont hit the spot for someone looking for a big, bold sour. May work as an introduction to the style .

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Photo of MichaelinFishers
3.05/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into two Bell's tulips. Code on bottle is '24CK 15:14' but can't find what that means.

A lot of carbonation released even on a gentle pour, resulting in a lot of head. If I'd been pouring into a single glass, it wouldn't have been possible in one pour. Head settled down with some nice lacing.

The bottle says this is a Flemish Red, not an Oud Bruin. Who's wrong?

It isn't as tart as I'd hoped or experienced with the style before. It's a little sweeter than I prefer in my sours, but there is still a little sour funk going on. No one will ever mistake it for anything other than Flemish, that's for sure. But not my favorite. Mouthfeel follows the appearance at the pour: very carbonated, just this side of champagne-like, but fairly typical of the style.

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Photo of emerge077
3.04/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Alright, i've stayed away from this one for almost 4 years after a bad bottle (it was really terrible, likely infected in a bad way). Revisiting it, there are still certain character flaws, namely an unpleasant aroma (dishrag) and overcharged carbonation. Getting past that though, there were some nice flavors of grape and apple that came out as it warmed, but still somewhat one dimensional. It was prickly and overcarbonated, with astringency amplifying the tartness. None of the sweetness that was present in the 2007 bottle. Overall it wasn't terrible, but there are far better Flemish ales out there, Namely Rodenbach, La Folie, Jacobins, etc.

02-03-2007 2.7/5 rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

For the record, i'm a big fan of sour ales and traditional lambics. My experience with this "Flemish Red" however was seriously subpar.

Dark burgundy brown, a thin ring of bubbles skim the top.

Smells like a donkey with bad hygiene. Stale oats and musky urine...not in the good "horseblanket" way either. Artificial sweetness chimes in. A foul stank on this that surpasses Gueuze, just completely unappealing.

Taste is initially tart and medicinal, becoming sweet, then almost cloying in the finish. Notes of copper, blood, black cherry, and phenolic medicinal funk. Mouthfeel is thin, yields some mouth-watering tartness, but ultimately doesn't deliver. Some carbonation carries it along.

Hard to finish one bottle.

Notes: Not the best example of a Flanders Red, not even a good one. This seems altered from a traditional recipe to somehow cater to the US market. Skip this bastardized Flanders Red and go for the real thing, Rodenbach, Goudenband, etc.

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Photo of coachdonovan
3.04/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

i don't have much experience with sour ales, so coming on the heels of Don Russell's description of the Oud Bruin style, i figure i should jump in. i'll start with one of the more common sours. sample size is 11.2oz bottle. no indication on the label when it was bottled, but hey, this style is supposed to be a blend of old and new beers, so who cares how old this one is.

pours darker than i thought it would, but when held up to the light you can see the nice ruby color that i was expecting. i'm not going to lie - the aroma is somewhat reminiscent of when i dyed Easter eggs as a kid. and by that i mean: vinegar.

good carbonation, and the taste is hard to pin down. there is a definite tartness, but not overwhelming. there is a sweet side also, almost in the way Jolly Ranchers or other candy can be sour and fruity-sweet at the same time.

i can certainly see the appeal to this beer, as it's really unlike most anything i've had. it doesn't have any of the hop profile that you get from IPAs or any of the roasted maltiness from a solid stout. i don't know that i want to drink sours all night, but i think i like this one.

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Photo of MRsojourner
3.03/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

smell is somewhat musty- old fruit and slightly rubbery
dark red with ruby shining highlights- not see thru
Taste is of cherry coke, barely beer tasting. vey clean stone fruits and grapes. super clean with little aftertaste. almost no taste of hops.
imo way to clean to be called a sour. not sure where that notion even comes from. This is not bad by any means its just lackluster.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.03/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours opaque and dark with a ruby hue. Fat head of tan foam that fell slowly and left patchy lace. Nose is faint. I am getting a faint smell of grape, like grape juice and a powdery sweet scent. Not what I expected at all. The taste is nowhere near sour. It is dry, it is palate cleansing. It is not crisp or tart or sour. In fact it's much sweeter than I ever would have expected and there is only a faint hint of vinegar at the back of the throat as it finishes. The mouthfeel is soft and silky and while it has ample carbonation it has not bite, no zing. Oddly I find this sweeter than I think it should be but as it drinks it does become more sour and more dry.

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Photo of dtivp
3.03/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark mahogany brown with hints of ruby, a larger two finger tan head that dissipated very quickly leaving very light lacing.

Aroma of tart cherries with vinegar.

Taste was slightly tart with sour red cherries, a slight hint of malt then a bitter metallic end.

Mouthfeel was a thin light body with heavy carbonation.

Overall I was not impressed with this sour ale, it does not come close to some of the nice Russian River sour ales.

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Photo of mobyfann
3.02/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Paid $1.49 for a single discounted at Ludlow Wines in Clifton...

The beer pours a very dark amber-brown base, huge head, great retention, nice lacing. Smells like sour grapes and cherries, that's about it...

The taste presents sour tones present early, tastes of cherries linger from middle to aftertaste, almost like a defunct wine... bizzare!

It's fairly easy in the mouth, low carbonation but as far as drinkability goes forget it... this ale lacks depth!

Final Thought: For a highly rated beer I'm afraid what lessor beers of the same style would taste like... not very impressed with this guy!

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Photo of Libeertarian
3.01/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not too dark of a brown in the stream out of the bottle, but very dark, and like a garnet in the glass. Medium retention tan head with fine-bubbled, rocky cap coming higher than the brim of the tulip glass this beer was poured into. Aromas of vinegar, fresh paint, wood, and sweet esters or alcohols. In the taste, there's a light fruitiness, cherries I'd say, throughout and more of that fresh paint like quality in the back, to distinguish this from watered down carbonated vinegar. For this, it's not bad if sipped, may even start to grow on you. Very bubbly, lighter body than expected, good level of astringency to match the lingering sourness, as well as warming sensation.

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Photo of brushpig
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Found a bottle at Sams wines in Chicago, the clerk recommended it.

I have never had a flemish sour before so I have no comparision, but I found it very interesting.

A Redish Brown Hue, with a head that was really non existant.

I smelled cherries right off, sour apples, with acidic sweetness to it.

The taste of sweet cherries was right upfront, then the sour, lightly acidic flavor. Not that complex, but a nice flavor.

The mouth feel I didn't like, the finish never finished, and left my mouth tart and sour, but not in a good way.

My tolerance for the sour and tart is not high in a beer, but the flavor was not bad. Not sure if I am a Flemish sour ale guy. I will have to try more to see.

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Photo of FoamFingers
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Not at all sour. Merely tart and fruity. Not bad by any means, but not sour either. 0.5 puckers out of 5 possible. A sour warhead candy is more flavorful than this beer.

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Photo of JosiahS
2.99/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Glass: Snifter

The color reminds me of an amber or scotch ale. Pour produced less than 1-finger of head but it has a nice ring and lacing looks great.

The aroma, what can i say ..Very sour with a fermented cabbage and malt vinegar. Just the softest amount of citrus as well.

Taste; right there with the smell. Sour with a bit of spice to it. It's also slightly minerally.

Mouthfeel is light to medium and has a soft feel. CO2 is light.

My first sour. To be honest, i don't like it. Later on down the road, i will probably grow to appreciate the flavors but it will definitely always be low on my list of beer styles.

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Photo of sustainabrew
2.98/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Look: A deep red that bleeds into brown at the right angles, with a creamy off white head floating atop. Laces quite nicely

Aroma: A mix of funk and sour cherries really stand taller than everything else.

Taste: The ale was surprisingly sweet, expecting a bit more sourness and pop. Sour fruit, like cherries and maybe a tart apple come through, but the sweet maltiness seems to take center stage. Just a bit of carbonation to clean the palate, was hoping for a little more. A medium bodied ale that heads to the heavier side of things.

Notes: A really interesting beer that I quite enjoyed, but I could only really drink one of these at a time. Just cloying enough in its sweetness to leave it a one beer and move on type of drink. Maybe if I was more in the mood i could go for another, but at this time it was a tad much. If you get a chance I would try it, just not sure about going for seconds.

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Photo of PintOHops
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Glass - Snifter

A - Ruby red color with a slight haze to it, it produced a 1-2 finger head that dissipated fairly quick. It left a bit of soapy/splashy lacing.

S - It's definitely got sour qualities, it's like a rice vinegar that's a bit mellowed with the accompanying malts. Soft brown sugar and clove notes is what I get.

T - A bit sour upfront like vinegar, it unfolds quickly into mellow clove & yeasty flavors. It finishes very sour, as it goes down an almost off putting splash of vinegar sourness dominates. It's got some lingering yeasty flavors as well.

M - Kinda thin with moderate crispness. Lite bodied

D - Not very drinkable to me, I'm new to the style and I must say I'm not digging it much. I just wanted to finish my sample and be done with it to be frank, not bad but it takes some getting used to. I'd try another sour for sure but not anytime soon.

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Photo of woosterbill
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Prime 16 into a Monk's Cafe tumbler. Cheer's to matching glassware, even if it doesn't do much to accentuate aroma + flavor.

A: Clear vermillion body under a finger of super-fine tan foam. Decent retention and light lacing. Pretty inviting.

S: Uninspiring: prickly red wine vinegar, overripe cherries, and some vanilla. The acetic tartness increases as it warms, but it's never all that interesting for the style.

T: The sourness tingles the tip of my tongue, but is quickly drowned out entirely by wave after wave of cherry/vanilla sweetness. Tastes kind of like stale Cheerwine (for all you non-southerners, this is basically overly sweetened Dr. Pepper). Not terrible, but way too sweet.

M: Explosive carbonation and a sticky medium body. Exciting.

O: I think I prefer this slightly to Duchesse du Bourgogne, but only slightly - both are unnecessarily sweet and lacking in genuine complexity. While I love a great Flanders sour, I really can't get excited about a mediocre one.


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Photo of waughbrew
2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Murky acorn color with no head, just a collar. Smells of cherries and cider. Flavor is bright fruits that quickly swirl into a tartness that is very present but not extreme. Woody notes add depth at the beginning but disappear as it becomes more tart and dry. Thin body and low carbonation makes this seem like a relative of red wine. The finish does not seem very interesting or complex and fails to really inspire another sip. A pleasant beer that could serve others as a decent introduction to the style.

It should be noted that this beer was the first ever to have devastating effects on my digestive system. You have been warned.

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Photo of shbobdb
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5


It pours a niice red-brown with a rose head.

The smell sets up the taste, it is weak. Some sour, some sweet but nothing too much.

The taste is very meh. It reminds me less of a Flanders Red, it tastes more like a Dubbel with a slightly sour finish. Not bad, if you like Dubbels. I don't. It is also very sweet. Very sweet. I like a nice, crisp sour finish and this beer doesn't deliver.

The mouthfeel is bad. It reminds me of a quad -- both thin and thick at once. I don't like the feeling at all.

Drinkability? I'm having a hard time finishing a >12oz bottle. Would I drink it again? I could get two of Bell's Expedition for the price of this bottle, or half of Cantillon's Organic Gueze. 'Nuf said.

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Photo of viverlee
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

More than any other for me, there’s variety in this style. Superlative to good to average to what the fuck, to be more specific. This one, I wanted to like it more.

STYLE: Flanders Oud Bruin

ABV: 5.5%

LOOK: Dark wood, brown, and syrupy. But that’s a standstill take. On closer inspection with a whirl or two around a Belgian tulip it’s plainly lighter, unsticky.

NOSE: Burnt leather, stale coffee, flat soda. Residual cherry and malt vinegar.

MOUTH: Rather soft, mild tartness. The biggest problem I have is reconciling the message (Flemish Sour Ale) with the result (a slightly sweeter, moderately more acidic Killian’s Irish Red). Cherry skins and cola cake, yes – a wee bit. But it’s a struggle to pull more. For a so-called sour, the finish is ridiculously clean, palate cleansing.

Beeradvocate Rating: 86

ratebeer Rating: 92

Hayward Abbey Rating: 77

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Photo of jeffthecheff
2.93/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a wide stem flute glass. Great clear, reddish brown with an excellent head. Amazing looking beer.

Smell is really strange. Old rotten cherries, grapes, maybe other fruits in the nose. Not very pleasant.

Taste is very interesting and complex. The front of the tongue is like cherry candies. Combined with the high carbonated mouthfeel, it reminds me of pop rocks. This part is good, but the finish changes completely to a rotten/sour like cherry flavor. I just wish the up front flavors stayed, then this would be excellent.

Highly carbonated mouthfeel. Sliding over the tongue feels like poprocks, like I said before. Strong flavors linger a bit too long, though. The poor finish on this beer ruins the drinkability for me. Maybe its just something I have to get used to, I've only had a few sour beers.

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Photo of Beaver13
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle. Pours reddish brown with a big fizzy light tan head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is tart and sour cherries with some woody cardboard and some acidity.

The flavor is sweet and tart sour cherries / raspberries with a little woody funk. The mouthfeel is light bodied and very watery.

Overall, an interesting sour. It's sweet, but not too much so. It is way too watery though.

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Photo of Glennlawless
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into pint glass

a - Poured a dark reddish brown with a quickly dying down off-white head.

s - tart grape juice, red wine type smell. not a whole lot.

T - smooth entrance, very mild tart finish. thats all there is to it.

M - very well carbonated. pretty drinkable

overall, this honestly was my first sour style ale.not a very interesting beer per say, but it is what people say it is, an entry level sour. i feel this is a perfect beer to get somebody into sours. starts very mild, and at the end it slaps you with some sour. not overwhelming at all though. a pretty well balanced beer and drinkable. i like it.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,098 ratings.