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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

2,560 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,560
Reviews: 1,074
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 64
Gots: 258 | FT: 4
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,560 | Reviews: 1,074 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of angrybabboon
3.38/5  rDev -12%
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 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 pastradul
3.38/5  rDev -12%
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 spoony
3.38/5  rDev -12%
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
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
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 IBUnit63
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
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 Bruiser81
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
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 abuliarose
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
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 jampics2
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
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 MattSweatshirt
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown body and a huge light khaki head.

Head size and retention makes me think this will be mild on the sourness and it definitely is. Dark bread, wood, touch of brown sugar, plum, cherry.

Nothing spectacular. Worth a tick.

Photo of DirtyDachshunds
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
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 illidurit
3.34/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear rust color with an ecru head that's fizzy but is kept alive by an etching at the bottom of my goblet. Black cherry aroma with some brown sugar and vinegar. Flavor is sweet with cherry and apple juice, a touch of vinaigrette, and some caramel. Not very sour really, and barely even tart. Definitely more sweet than anything. Body is very light, bordering on thin. Astringent dryness and a little metallic character. Overcarbonated.

Photo of Beerdster
3.34/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a tulip.

A: Pretty opaque, dark red almost to the point of being brown. Dense white/tan head dissipated quickly.

S: Smells great: fruity, cherry, rounded

Taste: Sourness up front, but not very tart, it quickly gives way to...not much, really. Pretty weak finish.

M: In a word: thin. In more than one word: Thin, with carbonation that's a bit flacid.

The smell and appearance of this one set me up for a bit of a letdown. Almost no flavor on the back end, weak finish and little to no body. Probably a good "starter" sour.

Photo of weatherdog
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
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
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
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 Aml42000
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark brown body with a fluffy tan head. It showed some transparency toward the bottom of the glass and maintains a pretty appearance throughout.

S- A powerful blast of balsamico is hard to shake as you stick your nose deeper in the glass, but some muddled pit fruit becomes apparent with some swirling and persistence.

T- A healthy tension of sweet and sour on entry. The tart components are certainly more prominent on the mid palate. Tart, slighly underripe cherry and rhubarb fill the mouth. The barrel and yeast components take a backseat to the fruity aspects here. Medium levels of acidity for a sour ale.

M- This is a bit linear for a sour. High carbonation makes it more like a tart fruit soda than a sour or wild ale. I like a bit more acidity as I prefer a drier, fresher mouthfeel than this offers.

O- A very safe sour ale for those who aren't familiar with the style. A very versatile beer to serve with food as it has enough flavor to pair with many types of dishes, but gets a little tiresome to sip on alone. I wish it showed some more wild aspects.

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

11.2oz bottle poured into a stemmed glass.

(A)- Pours a deep and dark burnt sienna color with ruby red highlights. Produced a nice fluffy off-white head with solid retention.

(S)- A big dry lactic vinegar up front. Some serious barnyard dirt and vinegar characters.

(T)- Very fruity. Not as sour or vinegar-like as the smell foretold. Some hints at tartness, but otherwise fruity, dry, and earthy with just a small kick.

(M)- A nice crisp carbonation level. Has a nice balance too. Smooth, fruity, and "ripe" tasting. A subtle sourness.

(D)- A solid Oud Bruin. Not as strong as what I anticipated, but it is what it is. Surprisingly refreshing and a nice treat and transition to have as the days slowly begin to warm up outside.

Photo of dar482
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

Photo of Higravity
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
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 jcurtis55
3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
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 ShogoKawada
3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bought on impulse at the store. Poured 12oz into pint.

A- brown with an amazing head. This is some thick stuff. Looks tasty.

S- Cinnamon jumps off the pint, as well as clove spices. Smells like potpourri, honestly. A bit of fleshy fruit.

T- Sour hits the tongue. Wow. This one throws me for a loop. Spicy, sweet, sour. Good, unique, strange. I didn't know what to expect, but this wasn't it. Hmm. Second sip is sweeter, less sour. Clove aftertaste. Gets a little too sweet for my tastes, however.

M- Unique. The sweet and sour play on the tongue.

D- Eh... I'm impressed by this beer. I didn't like it enough to buy some more, but I respect the craft put into this unique brew. A very off-the-beaten-path brew that's worth checking out.

Photo of PeterLemonjello
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Very pretty beer. Pours a dark/rusty ruby color. Clear with nice carbonation. Thin head which remains during drinking. Nice lacing on glass.

S - Smells of sweet fruit with a touch of sour cider. Ever so slight touch of barnyard.

T - Tastes nice but a little sweet. Tastes of sweet cherries with a sour flavor present but just not enough to balance out the sweetness. I want to enjoy it more as it tastes very nice, but the sweetness just needs to be balances out with more sour or more barnyard which just isn't there enough to balance.

M - Lovely mouthfeel with prickly carbonation. Not too think and not too think.

D - Tough for me rank higher on drinkability because of the sweetness. If more balanced or a drier finish, it would be a very good beer.

Photo of Oxymoron
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
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 mrasskicktastic
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Auburn reddish with a medium tan head with lots of lacing. High carbonation is visible.

S - Very sour cherries, apple cider vinegar, faint cherry wood? That is unexpected.

T - Underripe sour cherries and mild vinegar. A bit of faint malt. Aftertaste is a sour and vinegary.

M - Thin, smooth, a little astringent, substantial carbonation. A tad refreshing too.

D - Pretty good. Not the best Flemish sour, but worth a try.

Photo of DavidST
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 33cl bottle into a pint glass, coded bottle date. This pours a crystal clear amber color with a massive fizzy tan head which last for a very long time a leave a duvel like foam. The smell is a little brown ale malty, a little nutty, hints of cherries. The feel is medium to light. The taste is okay, you get a little bitterness, nutty brown ale flavors and a little sourness, but mostly plain and light, this beer has the unfornutate task of following Liefmans Curvee and it leaves a ton to be desired.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,560 ratings.