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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.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,514 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,514
Reviews: 1,061
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 59
Gots: 227 | 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:
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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,514 | Reviews: 1,061 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wedge
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep garnet with a high, airy head that jumps up and out of the glass. Sweet, tart cherries, plums, very light, clean oak, and a mineral note...a lot more mellow then other examples of the style. Slightly acidic, dry, and fruity with some spicy wood and finishing phenols. A bit acetic and certainly on the sour side of things, but again, lighter and cleaner than most. Some caramel enters the fold towards the end of the glass. Decent, but lacking character.

Photo of jcurtis55
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was my first experience with sour beer. I enjoyed the sweet and sour taste, but had a hard time getting past the vinegar like aroma.

It starts with a tart fruit flavor and sweetens a bit on the back end. I'll try other sour beers, but I just had too much trouble getting past the funky aroma of this one.

Photo of BeerHonky
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

While there's always something wonderful to be said about Monk's Cafe, I have to say that this beer was a little bit of a bummer. The beer looks beautiful. It pours a wonderfully bright reddish brown with a nice fluffy, pale khaki head. It smells sweet and wild and yeasty. A bit of fruityness can be detected here I'd say, but nothing out of the ordinary. The taste starts out really sweet and tart. Almost gummi bear-ish, obviously not as sweet as that, but a little too sweet in my mind for a flemmish sour. There's a decent bit of sourness and a hint of wood that appears after that first blast of sweet and tart changes into a wild and funky aftertaste if you don't go for another sip too soon. The mouthfeel is very refreshing with its scrubby, spritzy carbonation. I must say though, this isn't highly drinkable due to its level of sweetness. Again, I was a little bummed.

Photo of cdkrenz
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Brown body with a purplish accent where light makes it through. Head is eggshell and starts out at about a half inch and fades to leave a thin layer of varying densities at the surface.

S - Smells of a dry white wine. There are apple aromas, what seems to be a woody scent, and a sourness.

T - I taste alcohol, Chex Mix, sour grapes and yeast. One of these flavors in and of itself may not be all that inviting in a beer, however, wrapped up together they're not too bad.

M - Light bodied with a high level of carbonation making for abrasiveness throughout. It does have a nice dry finish.

~ This is a unique beer. Not one that I would seek out necessarily, but definitely a beer worth sampling.

Photo of antoines15
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up at friar tucks, special thanks go out to yeahnatenelson for the parking lot info. The straight truck fit rather easily. On to the beer. The smell is a bit sour and biscuity??? Very dry and highly carbonated. Sour taste and cherry darkness. Dry finish leaves me wanting more. A bit too sweet to have more than one, but still glad I grabbed this one.

Photo of spoony
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle into a tulip.

A-Murky brown with hints of copper/red tones. Opaque. One-finger of tan head reduced quickly to a thin lace.

S-I did not get much on the nose: a little yeast, some floral notes, and (surprisingly), some alcohol, but I had to work at it to get detect fruit. Lighter on the cherries and other interesting notes that you get from good sours.

T-Again...subtly sweet is what comes to mind. I got a little yeast, a hint of cherry, and a pleasing sweet mid-palate, but nothing I would call interesting.

M-Fine carbonation. It lacks the syrupy feel I get from other (more sour) sours. Refreshing. Not a long finish.

O-Not my favorite sour, but not awful. If you are looking for a refreshing beer with less sour notes, check this one out.

Photo of Takahiro
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into Duvel Tulip glass.

A: dark red brown with a very light brown head. The head starts thick and stays thick for a while. Not much of lace left behind.

S: Sour and ester smell up front. Faint whiff of maltiness is felt in my nose. No hop smell what so ever.

T: Sour. This sourness reminds me of vinegar. It is pleasantly balanced with malt flavor, which can be felt in the back ground. This malt is toffee and caramel.

M: Refreshing SOUR.

D: Although it has a fresh taste, the beer's drinkability would be low for me. The flavor seem to stick to the palate and it is definitely not DRY.

NOTE: it went very well with tomato-based shrimp pasta.

Photo of peabody
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out like root beer with not as much suds. Very cloudy.
No lacing to speak of here.
Smell is sour cherry and a slight woodyness.
Taste is really sour at first but the Malt is really strong in the aftertaste and it ends up with a slightly sweet taste.
Mouthfeel is a little sour but seems to be clean after the bretts fade.
Not as good as the Petrus but still not a bad sour ale.

Photo of Politibrew
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Completely translucent, held up to a light, a deep amber red color throughout. Quite a nice color.

Pours into a big foamy head, which dropped rather quickly.

Nose is decidedly vinegar, with a cider, fruity scent. Sour, but pleasant.

My first thought was, this sort of tastes like sour, fermented juice--like a fruit wine. Probably too sweet for my liking. Flavors; grapes, cherry, apple. Sour to sweet finish.

Mouthfeel was clean, smooth, and thin with medium carbonation.

I think this is an interesting enough beer, and probably a good to share with a wine lover, but I was somewhat let down by this beer. I simply can't imagine drinking more than one of these and still enjoying it--and I like sour Belgians. This is a decent, but not excellent, example of the style.

Photo of Rojopunk
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - deep redish amber color (loved the color)

S - First hits you with alcohol then sour doe .Lastly kinda soda like smell

T - sour with a kinda cherry Pepsi like sweetness. lastly bread like bitter after taste

M - medium body with a tingle

O - This was not what i expect but still a interesting experience .Once I poured this brew it started the roll coaster of enjoyment and disappointments. First i loved the color then i was disappointed with the head. Next I like the lacy and took a sip. Once again it fell short.Very nice sour but of course a pepis or wild cherry Pepsi like sweet. Lastly i got a bit of bread sour due like taste. Then that of course was spat down but a bit of bitter that came out of no were .I love sour brews very much sadly this is nothing spectacular but still nice at the end of my work day a average sour brew with a bit of potencial to be something great.

Photo of Bruiser81
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best thing about this brew was its look in the glass with a big ol frothy head. Smell was kinda yeasty. This was my first Flemish sour. Almost reminds me of a gueuze, maybe with a bit more fruitiness. Def a bit sour. Mouthfeel kinda thin but I think that'd be expected? Good beer. I'd drink another.

Photo of birchstick
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Picked this up from the wine and cheese place. This is my first attempt at this style, so I have no idea what to expect.

A - pours a dark ruby with a nice head on it

S - smells has vinegar and sour green apples with some sweet malts. Almost like an apple vinaigrette dressing.

T - whoa. I had to sit back for a while from this one to figure out what was going on. I first got hit with a really sour, vinegary taste. After my tongue recovered a bit, I picked up a lot of sweet malts and a lot of tart green apples and some plumb. It ends with a little bit of vinegar.

M - a little watery and thin - pretty average mouthfeel

D - drinkablility suffers a bit due to the sweetness and vinegar characteristics. It wasn't a struggle to take down, but I wasn't disappointed to see the bottom of the glass.

Photo of DirtyDachshunds
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance
Pours a slightly hazy rich dark mahogany color with a thick off white head.

Aroma
Smell is almost overpowering at first. The smell can be described as ‘sour cherries dipped in alcohol’. The sour and alcohol smell are the most predominate up front with a background of cherries to smooth out the scent.

Mouthfeel:
The sweet and sour mixture is pleasing. I found the sourness slightly overpowering. Low bittering.

Taste:
Taste is refreshing. The sour cherry flavor shines through with a small alcohol presence to add a little warming. Very clean

Overall: The malt and hops take a backseat to the sweet sourness. I get a refreshing aftertaste that leaves me wanting more. Very clean beer from start to finish. Excellent beer to be paired with cheese. Everything about this beer follows the rules, however nothing left me saying ‘wow’.

Photo of axeman9182
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle, allowed to warm slightly before being poured into my Bruery tulip.

Monk's Cafe pours a deep, dark red, and has some good clarity to it. There are plentiful ruby highlights, and maybe a finger and a half of bone colored foam that displays little in the way of head retention and lacing. The nose is nice, with some lactic sourness leading the way. Cherry and oak both show up a fair bit in the background. The flavor profile doesn't pull everything off nearly as well. The sourness of the beer takes a backseat compared to a sweet, cherry flavor, and the wood notes disappear almost entirely. It honestly tastes like someone took a decent Oud Bruin and cut it with a sweet cherry soda. The body is fine, but the carbonation is definitely a little dull, and it leaves the mouthfeel feeling a little too slick a times. Monk's Cafe is an alright beer, but it's one of the less impressive Oud Bruins I've had.

Photo of jampics2
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at the Beer Engine.

Decent looking beer - deep brown with a white head.

Smells of vinegar and sour funk. I don't like the nose on this, but I like similar beers (Dutchess), so I'm not going to totally ding it. It's acceptable for the style, just this particular vinegar smell doesn't make me crazy.

Taste is weird. Sweet and sour collide as vinegar fights overripe apple. Interesting at least.

A little thin and too vinegary for me, but an example of the style every fan should try.

Photo of weatherdog
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Revisited in May of 2010.

Many of my previous notes still hold up except that now that I've had many more examples of the style, my favorite, I can understand how mainstream this example is. The sweetness and lack of acetic character stand out when had side by side with a great example. While I still enjoy this beer and applaud it's availability and affordability, I had to lower the score down a little bit in order to have it more accurately reflect it's rank among other Oud Bruins

Poured from a 330mL bottle into a Delirium tulip glass

Poured a ruby red brown with a one finger head which receded into a small ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass

Aroma is of a tart sweetness and ripe fruit. Not offensive in smell but enough to know the style one is about to drink

Taste starts off with a decent amount of funk that transitions into a ripe fruit tartness. Finishes dry without much residual sweetness.

Carbonation is on the higher side and coupled with the tart dryness the drinkability is diminished and one bottle is perfect.

I'm just beginning to dive into the world of sours. It really is great trip and I enjoyed this easily accessible one. The more pronounced tartness and less residual sweetness of this example I prefer over some of the sweeter finishing ones.

Photo of rwinzing
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 11.5 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A-Dark Red appearance with a tan head.

S - Subtle spice smell, as a hint of apple with the tinge of being sour

T - Hint of sour green apple up front followed by sour after taste. The sour lingers

M - Nice mouthfeel full bodied

D - I enjoy sours and find this one a affortable option

overall this is a sour I can buy by the four pack and enjoy on a regular basis. I think it is a nice example of the style without being a homerun

Photo of IBUnit63
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bready, rye bread head with Florentine lacing. Deep, dark brown body with moderate carbonation. Has a root beer look to it.

This is an unfamiliar style for me, so I'm getting a lot of vinegar at first. Sweet, sarsparilla malt also makes an apperance. Ample funk.

I can understand the sour vinegar funk but I'm getting a tinny, metallic taste also. Comes off as funky but not entirely in a good way. Underneath the metal there's lots of character, though.

Yeasty, bready mouthfeel - funk evens out with warmth.

This one is a little tough to choke down - decently made but probably not my thing.

Photo of Sellen
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Higravity
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A nice solid sour, but kind of a low end attempt. The apperance was Redish and I got a little head. Smells of feet and lactic acid covering up all of the malt. The taste is sour but not overly sour and is kind of one dimentional with the malt backbone most broken. It was also pretty thin and watery, but it could be a nice sipper at a lower price, but I think I would rather go to better Sour ales.

Photo of pastradul
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a lost continent tulip.

poures a deep ruby with a slightly pink head with lots of bubbles riding the glass.

The smell is all viniger, some sweetness fighting through but mainly tart viniger.

the taste starts of with a good amount of sweetness. Lots of cherry or maybe even strawberry would be the closest fruit flavor that would fit. Then a very tart acidic flavor kicks you in the mouth. then finishes with a dry warmth around the mouth.

a pretty good beer. after a couple of sips it grows on you a bit.

Photo of angrybabboon
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Review adapted from notes taken 5/18/10

Appearance: Reddish brown color with a nice foamy, fluffy head - nice to look at

Smell: Sweet, sugary, funky, lactic, some malts in the background - I should note that these notes are from my second tasting - this was my first sour beer, and when I first smelled it I thought the beer smelled like a soggy sponge that someone abandoned for a few days - not kidding - thankfully, it was better the second time

Taste: More sweet than funky or sour - some sour cherry, but mostly the taste is dominated by the sweetness - gets a bit funkier as it warms up - some interesting herbal spiciness, and some wood - but the sweetness never fades, and it is somewhat overwhelming - not terrible, but certainly not something I really enjoy

Mouthfeel: Slightly above average for a sour, some nice carbonation, on the heavy side

Overall: Way too sweet for me to be interested in trying again soon - but it is something I will probably try again in the future

As I've already noted in my "smell" section, I have a strange history with Monk's Cafe. It was my first sour beer, and I didn't really like it at the time. After my first taste, I tried a few other sour beers. Then when I had Monk's Cafe again, I still didn't love it, but I had more specific reasons for not embracing its qualities. This beer is worth a try, but it's certainly not spectacular.

Photo of abuliarose
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass, revealing a decent but fading head over copper-toned body with fair bubble action. The second pour, to top the glass off, left a much thicker head that slides slowly down the inner glass and has quite nice staying power. It's a pretty looking beer. Smells quite metallic with lots of grape aromas, white and cider vinegar and something else decidedly off-putting. If this were any other type of beer, I would be tossing it, but the smells are pretty on for an oud bruin as far as I can tell.

Tastes very sweet and even a little salty with some unami soy sauce-type flavor. I don't get sour in a pucker sense at all except maybe at the end. Most of the sourness is the acidity I associate with carbonation. Mouthfeel is very airy and carbonated with much tingling. Pretty smooth body, light to near medium weight. Lots of sour-type off-malt character at the end. Fairly warming.

Overall, a decent representation of its style. If I could change it, I'd wish it a bit more sour.

Photo of Oxymoron
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to koopa for the trade. Pours a crystal clear amber red color. A fizzy white head but did settle to a more creamy appearance over time. Good retention though did hide to the edge of the glass.

The nose has a distinct sweet and sour aroma. The sourness is not over the top but still noticeable. There is a light vinegar and sour but no real funk. The sweetness comes in with a light fruity aroma on the back end. Some cherries and touch of apples (but not something I would call acetaldehyde) as well.

The taste is very similar. The sourness backs off a bit and has more of a tart flavor. Still provides a puckering sourness just light overall. This helps emphasis the more fruity aspect. Noticeable cherries and sugar plums. Some candy flavors as well. There is a hint of caramel with a light toast note but feint. The yeast is pretty clean for a sour. Some minor barnyard, but mostly clean.

The body is not as dry for a typical sour. Really easy drinking though. Overall it reminds me of Duchesse but toned down.

Photo of dar482
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I had this on tap in Brooklyn at DBA.

The color is dark brown red with some amber on the edges.

The aroma has a sour cherry nose with some funk.

The flavor has a wonderful vinegar sour tart. It starts first is a bit of sour. Then it turns into a candied cherry. It finishes with a fake sweetness, almost like Sweet n’ Low or something.

This is a good beginner’s sour. It isn’t very sour, there isn’t much funk, and there is tons of sweetness on the end. It has a light body. It’s quite drinkable, but nothing too exciting.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,514 ratings.